Tuesday, July 11, 2006

DRAWING PARALLELS

In the recently concluded 2006 FIFA World Cup, England could not even reach the semifinals and they lost out on a penalty shoot out. Portugal were the team not fancied to go to the last four. Italy went on to win the Cup and France went to the finals when every one expected not much from the likes of Zidane. The hosts Germany also managed to reach the last four when they were not favoured to do so. England, on the other hand, had all the stars and the talent one could ask for but still returned home with no credit. It is not everyday that a football team boasts of the talents like Beckham, Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole. Even the bench consisted of precociously talented youngsters like Theo Walcott. So what went wrong?

The English struggled against their opponents before caving against Portugal. Now there are excuses galore. First, the target is their Swedish coach Sven Goran Eriksson. The second reason for the defeat is Christiano Ronaldo who caused Rooney to receive the red card. The third reason is the alleged distractions posed by the wives and girlfriends of the English players, called ‘WAG’ by the English press.

The Indian cricket team went to the Caribbean with a lot of hope. The team of Rahul Dravid was expected to beat the West Indies in both the tests and the one-dayers. The Indians won the first one-dayer and then lost the remaining four. The reversal in fortune was hard to explain considering the success in Pakistan and then in India. England and Sri Lanka were trashed. The Indians won the test series 1-0 after a lot of difficulty. Even if there was no Tendulkar in the team, talent was never scarce for the Indians. But most of the players came a cropper. The coach of the Indian team got flak as was with the selectors. So what went wrong?

There was a lot of controversy when a Swede was appointed as the coach of the English football team. There were similar noises when John Wright was appointed the coach of the Indian cricket team. Former greats were appalled by the decisions. The parallels do not end here. The decisions of the respective coaches have received widespread criticism. The pay packets given to the ‘foreigners’ have been the subject of many a discussion.

Coming to the public, a lot of attention and time is given in the following of the lifestyles of the players. The private lives of the players interest most followers of the game. The players are placed highly even if their success is moderate and every failure is treated as a national calamity. If Rooney gets so much attention even when he is relatively new to the international football scene, the birthday of Dhoni is an event to cover for most of the television news channels.

India won only one world cup in 1983 which seems ages ago and England won their only world cup in 1966. But every time the teams step onto the field, there is anticipation which time and again is not fulfilled.

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