For a change, the Indian team is picture perfect

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Two cricketing images from the week gone by are stuck in my mind’s-eye. The first is the mandatory group photograph of the Indian team in blazers before it left for Australia. Sitting shoulder to shoulder in the front row were Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and V.V.S. Laxman.

The second image is of the televised clips of Sachin and Saurav speaking about Kumble during a CNN-IBN hagiographical special on the new Indian captain, shot at the National College in Bangalooru, as Rajdeep Sardesai insisted on calling the City. Sachin speaking glowingly of the single-minded focus of the “great” bowler, and Ganguly of how captaincy seemed to have made the leggie less aggressive than he usually is.

The two images are firmly implanted because, to me, they show what a beautiful team this one is, and what a mature set of individuals these modern Indian cricketing giants are, as opposed to previous worthies.

Think about it.

The first picture comprised five captains, present and former. Only Pakistan has ever had so many skippers in one side.  But unlike our squabbling neighbours, our captains have been graciousness personified. The cynics amongst us might argue that picture of harmony is for photographical purposes only. After all, didn’t Dravid declare when Sachin was close to a double hundred in Pakistan, etc? But when was the last time an Indian team with so many captains sailed along so smothly, each putting team over self regardless of who’s in charge?

Remember the cat fights of Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar?

Or Gavaskar and Bishen Bedi?

The second picture is even more telling. It suggests to me a largeness of heart which is incredible, almost unbelievable in the modern age. When was the last time, our superstars appreciated the sterling qualities of other superstars without allowing their petty differences, real or imaginary, to show? Even the great Shane Warne can’t avoid taking a potshot at the great Adam Gilchrist. Yet to see Sachin and Saurav being so magnanimous is a wonderful sight.

Neither the harmony nor the magnanimity might help Kumble’s men to avoid being steam-rolled by Australia, but as  clean role-models—in their ability to handle extraordinary fame and wealth, glamour and glitz—India’s modern cricketers are cut above the rest. Our own and that of others.