April 4, 2011


India's future is so bright they gotta wear shades: The Cricket World Cup final had a bit of everything – including huge sunglasses – but it was also an expression of a new continent-size confidence (Barney Ronay, 4/05/11, The Guardian)

"People ask about pressure? Pressure makes kettles boil," Botham pronounced, weirdly, but it did at least seem like the right kind of thing to be saying as finally it was time for India's big show. The intrusion of the crowd from passive spectators into an operatic chorus is something Twenty20 has fostered in cricket. In Mumbai on Saturday the crowd was part of the story for other reasons. This is the face India turns to the world through the imperial power-glamour of its big-time cricket. It is an aspirational face, newly enriched and boisterously westernised. Above all it is a big-sunglassed face, an accessory without which Indian crowds are almost unimaginable. If the big sunglasses on show at the Wankhede were laid end to end, together we could perhaps sunglass the world. [...]

The start of the Indian innings was of course the start of India's portable Sachin Tendulkar-swoon, here enacted on his home ground. Great player that he is, the obsequiousness towards Tendulkar can grate. "WHAT A SHOT!" Sanjay Manjrekar quivered as the Little Master plonked a routine back-foot shovel for two. It was tempting – and no doubt also blasphemous –to enjoy the moment of Tendulkar's dismissal. "Out!" intoned Shastri, switching to imminent nuclear disaster mode as suddenly Mumbai became a panorama of ashen faces, trembling lips and big tears behind big glasses.

Fortunately India had another screen-ready leading man in MS Dhoni, whose bull-necked match-winning innings chimed perfectly with the ambience. Dhoni batters the ball with a crafted severity, like a man expertly demolishing an unwanted partition wall. His lofted six to win the game, with heroic, widescreen close-up of his far-sighted boundary stare was a great TV sport moment. There were incredible pictures at the end as Mumbai exploded in a confusion of sweat-sodden firework-flaring ecstasy. It was quite an occasion, not just for Indian cricket, but for cricket as a televised entertainment. For various reasons – of geography, format-tweak and a perfect storm of national ascendancy – we may never see its like again.

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Posted by at April 4, 2011 5:45 AM

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