Now, like any other self-respecting Indian cricket fan, I am thrilled at India's recent rise and success on the field. Really, who would have thunk that a team of statistician-thrillers in 1999 would be knock, knock, knockin' on #1's door ten years down the line? And that too, not in the abbreviated (oh wait, I mean the 50-over abbreviated version) form of the game - in the 'real' five-day game as well! Woah! I'm sure all of us are thrilled too - no longer do we have to feel that sense of trepidation while waiting for Cricinfo to load, or groan under the cliches that headline writers come up with. India HAVE finally arrived, and this time, its not a series-in-the-pan phenomenon (some might say, it's a pan-India phenomenon, but I shall shy away from that pun... Wups, too late!). But I just begin to wonder how the average Indian is dealing with this sudden, unexpected phenomenon - success! As a nation, we are used to thrashing our political parties, film stars, cricketers, policemen, political parties (surely, they deserve atleast two mentions) education system, and pretty much anything that we can get our hands on.
We're used to making jokes about our cricket team. Dravid might have scored some of the most amazing innings in Test cricket ever (Ah, what memories the numbers 180, 233, 270 and most of all 145 conjure up!) but to us, he remains slow. Tendulkar is probably a once-in-a-quadrillion-centuries-cricketer, but we will criticize his billboard omnipresence more. It's like we need to self-derile ourselves to keep ourselves from getting too heady, like the West Indies prompltly beating the crap out of us right after we won the World Cup.
So I pose the question : Can we Indians deal with the fact that we might soon become the number one cricket team in the world? Close your eyes for a minute there and ponder over that... How many times, when you grew up watching the Waughs in the 1990s, wished that one day India would reach that, only to have your septuagenarian uncle talk about how worthless these 'commercial' Indian cricketers of today were? We won't have the right to make fun of our cricket team anymore! I mean, you wanna grumble about Dhoni making another few crores in an underwear deal? Sure, he can... He's the captain of the team which he's taken to #1 in the world. What more do you want, until the World Cup becomes on-demand? Who will our mothers and armchair critics vent out frustrations at (it's hard enough explaining to them that it wasn't a stupid stroke but was playing in the interest of the team)?
How will cartoonists earn a living? Sure, RK Laxman has politicians to go after (imagine becoming the best-governed country in the world... No, Laxman's job is safe), but spare a thought for that poor chap who cartoons for Sportstar! How will Sunil Gavaskar give his this-is-what-those-guys-should-be-doing nuggets on air for the benefit of everyone who watches cricket to bat 60 overs to score 36?
As a people, we're used to making fun of everything we're involved with: our country itself, our college (we nitpick at little things and make jokes about it, even if we've struggled like nuts to get into the place - fees at MICA for instance), our race (we can't stand it if a Punjabi makes fun of a South Indian, but Mallus will be the first ones to make Millio-Nair jokes!), our company... Everything. Politicians have always been a safe haven for our senses of humour, and so has our over-hyped, superstar-laden cricket team.
But now, reach a point where we really can't poke fun at them anymore! It's going to be hard. Who do we turn to for humour now (yes, yes, my blog, but besides that, people :P )? We will no longer be able to clench our teeth when they stare at us from hoardings. We will no longer be able to have absurd shows where Villains of the Match are elected (what was that piece of crap anyway?)
Effigy manufacturers, usually slump-proof, are going to see recession too in the dark days ahead.