Monday, April 26, 2010

CSK - the "fair" winners

Chennai Super Kings made it to the final of the IPL in 2008 and 2010, lost in 2008 and won in 2010 - but what they won both times was the Kingfisher fair play award. Ostensibly just another category allowing a heavyweight sponsor to stamp its brand, this award nevertheless created a different perspective to view the proceedings from - awarding the means rather than the ends. And CSK scored a perfect 10 this time!

Just a bit of background - the fair play award consists of 10 points per match to be awarded by the umpires. Up to 4 points on how the team upheld the spirit of the game, and up to 2 points each for the respect the team showed to the opponents, laws of the game and umpires (2 = exemplary, 1 = good, 0 = average). At an age where we are almost accepting sledging as the fourth aspect of the game, where we revere the brash Australian ends-justify-means competitive spirit; recognizing and rewarding "fairness" is probably the carrot everyone needs.

The T20 format in itself rules out a lot of negative tactics we see in tests and ODIs, but there is still a lot of personal discipline and ethics called for from the players. Its hard to keep aggression, pressure, disappointment and triumph tacit, but not that hard to keep it unoffensive. Have you ever seen Dhoni utter so much as he did after the couple of sixes he hit off Irfan Pathan at Dharamshala? Probably not. But did that offend anyone - absolutely not. In the finals, Sachin gloved a ball down the leg side, Dhoni appealed but it was given a wide. What happened then? No words exchanged, no angry glance, no dissent for the umpire; a bitter pill swallowed and moved on. Respect to umpire, opponent and laws of the game - all embodied in a few moments of doing "nothing".

We once admired the mighty Australians who were at the top of the ranking charts in any which form/aspect of cricket, and tried to learn from them, but that learning came with a side effect that was visible on Zaheer Khan in the 2003 WC final. Now, IPL is the new craze, IPL champions the new heroes, and we want to learn from them too - but this time without any side effects. When you can lead like Dhoni, bat like Vijay, field like Raina and bowl like Bollinger you don't have to make gross predictions in the press conference like Ponting, throw jelly beans like Flintoff, talk about the batsman's wife like McGrath or declare your intentions like Aamir Sohail.

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