Thursday 28 April 2011

World Cup Story from the Kanmadikars

It feels great personally to have been in an era where one has seen the Indian cricket team winning the World Cup. Yes, I didn’t have the opportunity to be at the Wankhede stadium, but it does not matter. I am happy about the World Cup. Here in Indore, sitting in the board room of the MPCA, located at the Holkar stadium, I am beginning my preparations for IPL’s debut at Indore.
It feels great to be in a city that has a rich history in cricket, although fairly low in terms of the output of Test cricketers; but those who made it were of rich pedigree.
While on work, a certain gentleman Mr. Milind Kanmadikar knocks the board room and asks for me. Yes, I remember him, as I had spoken to him over phone in order to confirm his role as the home team liaison, we mutually scheduled the meeting. He was the liaison manager for the Canadian team which participated in the recently concluded Cricket World Cup. I enquired about his role with the Canadian team to have an insight about his role and he was very lucid that made us have some interesting conversation. My inquisitive mind did not stop.
I asked him if he was at Wankhede to witness the finals, he said “No” but my son Prasoon did. I got to meet Prasoon two days prior I met Mr. Milind. Prasoon is a freelance lawyer who also happens to be the Broadcast Liaison for the two IPL matches at Indore. Mr. Milind added– “I witnessed the 1983 World Cup at Lord’s”. I was impressed and he continues – “My father was the secretary of the BCCI during that time and courtesy, my dad I was able to watch the match”.

He was referring to none other than Anant Wagesh Kanmadikar, who is popularly known as “The Judge” was in fact a judge by profession. He was a popular cricket administrator whose highlight in administration was holding the post of secretary, BCCI from 1980 – 85. This small chat with Milind was enthralling. Mr. A.W. Kanmadikar was a towering personality in MPCA and Indian cricket administrative circles. He passed away in the year 2005, leaving behind a legacy that saw India winning the World Cup for the first time and also hosting the World Cup in 1987. In his honor MPCA conducts a district level junior tournament and the trophy is aptly named ‘A.W Kanmadikar trophy’.

We both had some commitments to attend and before bidding a bye, I asked if he wasn’t tempted to be at Wankhede. He replied, “I saw in 1983 and I wanted my son to witness this. He cried after India won the World Cup as his son had an opportunity to witness the same and now they both relate this rare joy of achievement among Indian cricket circles”.

Over the course of next few weeks, I will have an opportunity to interact with these gentlemen as Indore gears up to host the IPL for the first time.
(L-R): Milind Kanmadikar, A.W. Kanmadikar, Prasoon Kanmadikar posing with the Kanmadikar trophy

Sunday 3 April 2011

Slum Shot Millionaires

If I would like to comment on the ending of Slum dog Millionaire, I feel it isn’t filmy like most Bollywood movies that come from the school of formula movies. One feels ending was a miracle, but I feel it wasn’t. In some way today I was got a feeling that India’s victory in this year’s World Cup was quite similar and in the end, the Three Musketeers turned out to be Sachin, Gary Kirsten and Dhoni.
Right from the start, this World Cup was played in a normal way by the Indians. The hype was there, no doubt, but it wasn’t like 2003, 2007 or other previous editions where people hoped for miracles than believing that team could do it. Never in the history of Indian cricket, had a team displayed such consistency over a period of time across the globe. It was not a one man show, it had characters who encountered different situations time to time and in the end the blow of Dhoni was similar to Jamal answering the last question.
Both the protagonists had a mission and took upon themselves to find their destiny. And some might call it luck, but every puzzle India managed to solve had a solid reason behind it, something very unusual when we look at the other Indian teams from the yester years. One had solid reasoning behind every milestone.
We are a nation fascinated by glory associated with miracles. This victory wasn’t a miracle; it was sheer hard work, of course things went India’s way on some occasions but overall if you ask anyone in our country, you find more optimists than pessimists. In the end it wasn’t the World Cup that interested us; it’s the journey from 2007 that helped the entire nation to believe it wasn’t a miracle after all.
Quite a few parallels if we compare the Indian team of 2007 to the start of the movie. We were at some point in time literally in shit or so as many believed we were after a dismal performance in 2007. The turnaround was through sensible choices and one such was appointing Dhoni as the captain. One must not forget the contribution made by Anil Kumble to bring in the character that was required in order to win the final war. Many battles were fought between 2007 and 2011, some were lost but the most important thing was progress and it was towards winning the war.
Personally I was happy to witness the metamorphosis of this team and on the final day in Mumbai, it was similar to Jamal being driven to the studio for that one final question. Who believed Jamal would falter at the last hurdle? None, somehow people were convinced he would answer and win the ultimate prize. The question wasn’t easy and it was a tricky situation but he went for it and in a similar fashion MS Dhoni took upon himself and went for it. After having played brilliant cricket, this team wasn’t destined to fail. Next moment all we see is people cheering as though they have personally accomplished this feat. Such is the emotion about yesterday’s victory.
Come next day, it is business as usual; people are recovering from the hangover of yesterday’s victory. The moment has passed yet the memories shall remain for the people who witnessed personally and to the millions and billions of other fans who followed it through some form of media.
All good things must come to an end; if it isn’t good then it is not the end. It wasn’t good for Sachin in 1996 and 2003 and his career wasn’t going to be a collection of sad ending World Cup stories. Reward finally arrived; good it came what he always wished for; even better the fact that it came at his home ground in India.
Jai Ho

Saturday 2 April 2011

In Memory of My Mom, Wife and the World Cup

Two people whom I am missing at the moment are my wife and my mom. Mom is the one whom I would to credit for my liking towards cricket. And to my wife, all I would like to say is: Honey, Here’s our wedding gift. I am in a hotel room while she is away in another continent, but tonight comes across as a night to remember for both of us along with all the Indian fans. I have heard my mom telling a lot of cricket stories while growing up and now I keep telling or writing my girl friend/wife a lot about cricket.

Coming back to the moment when M S Dhoni hit the winning runs with a massive six over long-on, all I did was; stare at the TV screen. No one around to hug or shout and India winning was something I knew would happen, so it wasn’t a surprise.
Few minutes later seeing all the players running on to the field, tears of joy started, a smile and the moment I was waiting all these years finally came through. Like I said, it wasn’t a surprise after watching India pull off a stunning win against Australia in Ahemadabad. In a way it completes a full circle to me personally with this Indian victory. The journey of watching cricket started with 1992 and if I go back in time, I vividly remember waking up each day to watch cricket. The past 45 days have been really special to me; watching Tendulkar score a hundred, a tied match, few days later tying knot to my girl friend, watching India win a match with my wife and now India winning the cup.

I managed to speak to both my mom and my wife. Three weeks after India won the World Cup in 1983; our parents got married. And three weeks after my wedding India wins again. Mom always used to tell me about India’s win over West Indies when I was a kid and in fact when she called me right after India winning the cup, she in her exciting voice shared her 1983 memories and also told me the prayers she did today for India to win the cup.

Coming back to the man who was instrumental in today’s match when it mattered, MS Dhoni. He showed why a World Cup final is a platform for champions to shine. Looking back at other World Cups in the past, either captains or players who have captained always had a big role to play. Now Dhoni has everything; he won the T20 World Cup on the evening of 24th September 2007, #1 ranking in Tests, #1 in ODI’s, Winning IPL, and Champions League prior to this night’s triumph. One common factor surprisingly is the feature of tied matches – each and every major competition Dhoni has won, it involved a tie at some point in time.

To end this celebration, I would like to salute the man who continues to inspire me in my personal life till this day. In a way it is fitting that he won the World Cup in front of his home crowd, in a World Cup whose finals were in India and more importantly he won it as a part of a team and not as an individual. I remember his interview six years ago when he mentioned his ambitions in cricket – To be part of #1 Test team and World Cup winning team. Well he can be proud of himself for having achieved both of them. What lies ahead of him is best left to him.

I am a bit tired but would like to say one thing – Team India you did it.