I'm writing this post even as the Sydney disaster is unfolding on my television.
We've all seen how eight to ten crucial decisions have gone against the Indians. We've seen how the 14-member Australian team (Bucknor, Benson and the third umpire forming the new 'tail') has taken gamesmanship to new levels. We've also seen how unsportsmanly Ricky Ponting and his men have behaved, particularly in the fourth innings of the test.
Those interested in cricket history will know that this isn't a first for the Indians. Repeatedly, repeatedly, the Indian team has been at the receiving end of umpires, match referees and other officials.
What is most shameful, however, is the reaction of the Indians, in particular, Kumble. Every time things have gone against India, the players and the BCCI haven't protested. Other than the Mike Dennis incident, umpires, match referees and other officials that have been unfair towards India have gone scot-free. Like in this match. There hasn't been a single word or protest. This match should have been nullified. It should not go into the record books, for the sheer lack of any cricketing law being in operation. But who is taking cudgels on the Indian team's behalf?
This is a test that a rising India will face repeatedly. Questions will be asked of India's determination, not just in cricket, but in politics, defence, economics - to do the right thing. Questions will be asked that will require firm, hard answers. Every nation that aspires to become a sporting, economic or political power faces these: China, on the question of Tibet, Sri Lanka, on the question of Muralitharan's bowling, or the US, on the question of terrorism. Nations that succeed give the right answers, remembering that there is a thin line between churlish protests, and just, effective ones.
India, unfortunately, isn't one such nation. We will burn Mike Dennis effigies, maybe shout from the rooftops about trade barriers, and put our collective heads into the ground when China sets up military encampments in our territory. However, we'll refuse to lodge protests against unfair umpiring, we'll refuse to use our clout in the ICC to get rid of referees and umpires that are against us, while not thinking for a moment in manipulating the system to get a Dalmiya or Sharad Pawar into the ICC chairman's post. We'll let countries like Bangladesh walk all over us, not just in World cups, but also on the borders.
Dhimmitude: something India has honed into a fine art.
(On an aside: There is a small distinction between cribbing and complaining. Kumble did the right thing by not cribbing about lack of match practice after the Melbourne debacle. But not complaining about third-rate umpiring? That too after 8-10 abysmal decisions?)
(Aside 2: I wonder how the Dhoni/Yuvraj/Deepika thing is working out. First, Dhoni walks the ramp with her, is impressed, and invites her to watch him play. Then, the lady in question arrives, rejects Dhoni and 'elopes' with Yuvraj. Now, Yuvraj and Deepika are an item, and with them setting off the 'snoops' in all Sydney restaurants, what is the state of the relationship between Dhoni and Yuvraj?)