Michael Jeh June 19, 2008

Australia's Indian affair

The cricketers can thank their talents and their bulging wallets for this new-found appreciation of India
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If cricket were a modern Australian fairytale, we would probably see ourselves as the cavalier knight who has fallen in love with Miss India, a beautiful princess whose kingdom is a kaleidoscopic contrast of fabulous wealth and numbing poverty. It is now clear that India is the new dynasty of cricket and the rest of the world, Australia included, is watching this love story unfold with a mixture of emotions.

Not so long ago in Australia, the subcontinent was the butt of crass humour and cheap stereotypes. The famous 'Twelfth Man' skits were hilarious but they hinted at a first-world superiority that made no apologies for making fun of the so-called curry munchers. Ironically, winning in the subcontinent was a major achievement (if you managed it) but losing was a minor irritation. After all, dodgy umpires, dodgy curries and dodgy pitches were standard fare, were they not? Real cricket was always played on fast, bouncy pitches or perfectly manicured green fields in faraway northern lands. Mind you, when the West Indian pace quartet of the 70's and 80's were playing 'chin music', we weren’t that keen on fast, bouncy pitches but that’s another opera altogether!

But Australian cricketers and fans alike are starting to warm to this impending marriage with a grudging affection that is born from being a nation of no-nonsense pragmatists. If you can’t break up the lovers, there’s no sense in missing out on a good party! It helps of course that our wonderfully talented team has all bases covered in cricketing terms. Batting, bowling and off-the-field, Australia is now comfortable with the notion of competing with the home nations in their backyard. The mystique and fear have largely been replaced by cultural familiarity and supreme adaptability in all conditions. No one can argue with Australia's ability to win away from home.

The cricketers can thank their talents and their bulging wallets for this new-found appreciation of India. Let’s be honest – the rupee is now the most seductive mistress of world cricket and any cricketer who pretends otherwise deserves our scorn. There’s nothing wrong with this so long as the love affair is mutually beneficial and not conducted behind a veil of hypocrisy.

From an Aussie fan’s perspective, India is both Montague and Capulet, saviour and villain. Reality suggests that this is where the future of the game now resides in an unholy alliance with the corporate moguls. It may be a marriage of necessity but here is a young maiden who is happy to be consummated on the altar of satellite television. And this bride is neither demure nor is she afraid to experiment. IPL hardly made a ripple here in terms of avid fans of the concept but there was nonetheless an appreciation that India had now changed the face of cricket forever. Whereas Australia used to be the innovator of change in the cricket world, even those who prefer tradition could not help but marvel at India’s ability to put on a show. And what a wedding it promises to be.....

On the other hand, there is also this uneasy sense that this could be a marriage based on a very convenient double-standard. The public perception of India is still that of a relatively poor country with social ills that the average Australian cannot comprehend. Perceptions can of course be wrong but perception is reality. How do we reconcile this poverty with the outrageous dowries being paid for Twenty20 mercenaries and the possibly devastating impact on our own local talent pool? If Corporate India has this much money to ‘waste’ on cricket, perhaps India should be viewed as a first-world country and therefore no longer to be viewed in a condescending (or sympathetic) light when it comes to broader economic perceptions.

South Africa has had to grapple with this duality for a long time and their experiences will provide a fascinating insight into how we understand modern India. Powerhouse or poorhouse?

At many Western weddings, it is customary for the guests to be asked the question: “if you have any objections, speak now or forever hold your peace”. Cricket Australia may have done just that but it is now a faltering voice, ignored by the princess and her followers. Australian cricket is definitely nervous about this shift in power but one hopes it is not a nervousness spawned by cultural prejudice. We ran the game for so many years and expected everyone else to respect our authority. The King is dead. Long live the King. We should now have the grace to hand over the reigns with willing hearts and minds.

To continue with the marriage analogy, it is not so much an issue as to where the Princess hails from but how benevolently and wisely she will govern the kingdom. World cricket cannot afford a ruthless dictator but countries like Australia need to remember that when we ran the show, shotgun marriages were often the norm. The only difference may be that the shotgun is now in different hands.

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jessica on February 3, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    Heck yeah this is exactly what I neeedd.

  • Nathan on July 10, 2008, 4:44 GMT

    Who the hell is Michael Jeh and why the hell is he pretending to be an Australian?! If he dislikes Australia and Australians so much, perhaps he's better off writing about subjects he has a more balanced view of.

  • Mukund on July 6, 2008, 17:58 GMT

    Your article was pretty good Michael! The irony in the Aussies' switching stands is well borne out!!

    But, there is a self-righteousness which isn't justified!! As if the Aussie viewpoint is what matters! What about the rest-of-the-world? Or you don't care may be!!

    India is held in high regard world-wide despite it's poverty and other problems!! We don't claim to be perfect, do we?!!

    The bottom-line is, that however comfortable the Aussie lifestyle may be, rest assured no Indian envies you!!

  • Indian Businessman on July 4, 2008, 14:21 GMT

    IPL is a huge success. Agreed. But today I read in papers that Flintoff is being offered $1 million or more for his contract. He is injury ridden and even English Board would not touch him. I am just wondering if League owners are losing perspective and goals ( to make profits and try to win ) by betting on wrong names based on past history rather than current performance and potential left. League owners have to be shrewd and offer dollars only for proven performers, rather than just marquee names ( Look what happened to Bangalore Royals and Deccan Chargers ) I don't know when this business sense is gonna sink in to them . Please forward this to league owners and management in case if you happen to know any. IPL should not be free ride or free ticket to make easy money ( Look at Dale Stern or some other South African Cricketers comments )

    May God Bless the League Owners to achieve their goals and objectives

  • LMAO on June 26, 2008, 2:45 GMT

    Don't worry India despite what Michael writes, we still hate you. Don't get upset though we hate everybody equally! [OK we hate the Poms the most but we have known them longer]

    And as if who controls the ICC matters one iota!

    I mean we are still going to play tests together right and whatever breed of administacrat controls the ICC matters nought.

  • Karthik on June 25, 2008, 5:30 GMT

    I guess my point is lost. As you mentioned everyone has their point of view. I just don’t appreciate any cricketer (mostly Aussie and now also includes Harbhajan Singh & Sreesanth) who act like they own the world and above cricket. Don’t confuse this with not being a good fan. I used to stay awake until 3 AM India time to watch Australia tour of West Indies when even Aussie people don’t watch their team. Think before you type.

  • Karthik on June 25, 2008, 5:27 GMT

    jondavluc Wow man you are judgmental too. Who are you to say that I’m a good fan or not. I guess you get your opinions from Australian media that only shows Indian crowds of the 90’s throwing water bottles. I come from a place in India (Chennai) where people are cricket crazy but not psychos as you call them. You may not know it but we (Chennai crowd) gave a standing ovation to a victorious Pakistan team (1999 test match) at a time when India-Pakistan tension was at its peak. I never recall anyone from Chennai ever behaving abusively towards cricketers or visitors. I never recall any of my friends (again in Chennai) who treat Tendulkar like a God. We like him as a cricketer and a role model that’s it. Again don’t just go by your media.

  • Michael Jeh on June 23, 2008, 12:05 GMT

    Biso, it's normally good fun to get involved in a battle of wits but you appear to be unarmed!

  • Michael on June 23, 2008, 6:12 GMT

    Firstly, a clever article whatever your opinion happens to be. Thanks Mr Jeh. I'll get it out of the way first and say I'm an Aussie and as such that neccesarily clouds my judgement, however let me add that I will happily watch any cricket and that I enjoy watching VVS more than any other current player. I consider myself a fan of Cricket foremost, a fan of Australia second. I just wanted to note that once upon a time Australia was in the same position as many Indians feel they were until recently in regards to control of the game. Australia's tradition of leg-spinners is well known, any guesses as to why a batsman can't be given out LBW to a ball pitching outside leg anymore? Power corrupts, everybody knows it, can Indian's really blame Australian's for fearing change? After all, it's only natural to fear what you don't know. Thankfully, I think the BCCI regained a lot of standing amongst Australians when they disciplined Singh for 'Slapgate', I for one expected a lesser punishment.

  • Biso on June 22, 2008, 14:23 GMT

    It is nice to give opinions. It is stupid to hope and pray that the other person starts thinking on your lines. Michael! get that clear.In any case you are after all an asian. Dont try being a Naipaul or Nirad C Chaudhury...

  • Jessica on February 3, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    Heck yeah this is exactly what I neeedd.

  • Nathan on July 10, 2008, 4:44 GMT

    Who the hell is Michael Jeh and why the hell is he pretending to be an Australian?! If he dislikes Australia and Australians so much, perhaps he's better off writing about subjects he has a more balanced view of.

  • Mukund on July 6, 2008, 17:58 GMT

    Your article was pretty good Michael! The irony in the Aussies' switching stands is well borne out!!

    But, there is a self-righteousness which isn't justified!! As if the Aussie viewpoint is what matters! What about the rest-of-the-world? Or you don't care may be!!

    India is held in high regard world-wide despite it's poverty and other problems!! We don't claim to be perfect, do we?!!

    The bottom-line is, that however comfortable the Aussie lifestyle may be, rest assured no Indian envies you!!

  • Indian Businessman on July 4, 2008, 14:21 GMT

    IPL is a huge success. Agreed. But today I read in papers that Flintoff is being offered $1 million or more for his contract. He is injury ridden and even English Board would not touch him. I am just wondering if League owners are losing perspective and goals ( to make profits and try to win ) by betting on wrong names based on past history rather than current performance and potential left. League owners have to be shrewd and offer dollars only for proven performers, rather than just marquee names ( Look what happened to Bangalore Royals and Deccan Chargers ) I don't know when this business sense is gonna sink in to them . Please forward this to league owners and management in case if you happen to know any. IPL should not be free ride or free ticket to make easy money ( Look at Dale Stern or some other South African Cricketers comments )

    May God Bless the League Owners to achieve their goals and objectives

  • LMAO on June 26, 2008, 2:45 GMT

    Don't worry India despite what Michael writes, we still hate you. Don't get upset though we hate everybody equally! [OK we hate the Poms the most but we have known them longer]

    And as if who controls the ICC matters one iota!

    I mean we are still going to play tests together right and whatever breed of administacrat controls the ICC matters nought.

  • Karthik on June 25, 2008, 5:30 GMT

    I guess my point is lost. As you mentioned everyone has their point of view. I just don’t appreciate any cricketer (mostly Aussie and now also includes Harbhajan Singh & Sreesanth) who act like they own the world and above cricket. Don’t confuse this with not being a good fan. I used to stay awake until 3 AM India time to watch Australia tour of West Indies when even Aussie people don’t watch their team. Think before you type.

  • Karthik on June 25, 2008, 5:27 GMT

    jondavluc Wow man you are judgmental too. Who are you to say that I’m a good fan or not. I guess you get your opinions from Australian media that only shows Indian crowds of the 90’s throwing water bottles. I come from a place in India (Chennai) where people are cricket crazy but not psychos as you call them. You may not know it but we (Chennai crowd) gave a standing ovation to a victorious Pakistan team (1999 test match) at a time when India-Pakistan tension was at its peak. I never recall anyone from Chennai ever behaving abusively towards cricketers or visitors. I never recall any of my friends (again in Chennai) who treat Tendulkar like a God. We like him as a cricketer and a role model that’s it. Again don’t just go by your media.

  • Michael Jeh on June 23, 2008, 12:05 GMT

    Biso, it's normally good fun to get involved in a battle of wits but you appear to be unarmed!

  • Michael on June 23, 2008, 6:12 GMT

    Firstly, a clever article whatever your opinion happens to be. Thanks Mr Jeh. I'll get it out of the way first and say I'm an Aussie and as such that neccesarily clouds my judgement, however let me add that I will happily watch any cricket and that I enjoy watching VVS more than any other current player. I consider myself a fan of Cricket foremost, a fan of Australia second. I just wanted to note that once upon a time Australia was in the same position as many Indians feel they were until recently in regards to control of the game. Australia's tradition of leg-spinners is well known, any guesses as to why a batsman can't be given out LBW to a ball pitching outside leg anymore? Power corrupts, everybody knows it, can Indian's really blame Australian's for fearing change? After all, it's only natural to fear what you don't know. Thankfully, I think the BCCI regained a lot of standing amongst Australians when they disciplined Singh for 'Slapgate', I for one expected a lesser punishment.

  • Biso on June 22, 2008, 14:23 GMT

    It is nice to give opinions. It is stupid to hope and pray that the other person starts thinking on your lines. Michael! get that clear.In any case you are after all an asian. Dont try being a Naipaul or Nirad C Chaudhury...

  • jondavluc on June 22, 2008, 9:14 GMT

    also i never said we not self rightous i am saying yours are and i never said your team was i said indian fans were there psychos so far i don't have too much much begrudge against the indian cricket team when they do somethink wrong i tend to believes its the fans that are causeing there behaviour sachin has said the fans take the game seriously and most i think think your fans take it way too seriosly. what else umm oh yeah sachin ain't are golden ethier he makes mistakes because his human yet your fans seemed to make him god which is not right because he can make mistakes don't get wrong i like tendulkar very much but i trust ricky's judgement just as much as tendulcar cause there try there best to be fair with the game . finally Karthik take my word for it your not a good fan of cricket and as they say in australia "ain't cricket" thats what you are

  • jondavluc on June 22, 2008, 9:01 GMT

    Karthik ponting never abused habjahn i watched it and you just need to except bad decisions go everyones way look i have seen tendulkar who should of being out by our guys just recently aleast three times he got alote of luck on his side furthur more how about the pakistian guy (i can remeber his name) who called gilchrist a white c**t. lets face i have seen pakistian and india getting away with stuff so often i could go on and on about it . furthur by your ruling mc grath was guilty even if may not of said it it could of being a mistake just like i don't know habjahn ok see how views are different from my point you get away with alote and by you view we get away with alote its foolish to go on . yeah those sides never complain about our side but our fans or umpires i have never heard of anything but from lou vincent calling us arrogant thats it most likely its from you pakistan and india i rarely heard a peep from other countries i am sorry but its fact stop

  • Michael Jeh on June 22, 2008, 1:42 GMT

    My final comment on this topic before moving on. As a new blog author, it's fascinating to see how different people interpret the one message. I've quite enjoyed it, even when someone has misread the author's original intent or spirit. I guess it goes to show that even when you think you clearly represent a view, someone can interpret it totally differently to what you meant to say when you wrote it. I've enjoyed reading the comments, even when I didn't agree with the view or wish they had understood what I really meant to say.

    I suppose it's just like the article - people's perceptions affect the way they view their own reality of a situation. Whichever opinion we subscribe to, we tend to read the story through that prism. Global opinions can polarise but they're good fun nonetheless.

    I'm relatively new to blogging but this sort of friendly banter is infectious. Even those who disagree with me just underscore the point of this blog - different strokes for different folks!

  • Azad Ahmad on June 21, 2008, 15:04 GMT

    On and off the field, India is both respected and well-liked. Oh i have heard it all now,lol

  • summit on June 21, 2008, 10:57 GMT

    Does anybody really care what Aussie players think about India? I do not care.Where are these Aussie players from? Probably from some backward undeveloped part of Australia where they got no exposure until they came to the international arena,and suddenly (to their surprise too) they are being treated as somebody important and their comments being recorded or heard. I live in New York City and we all know how undeveloped (but beautiful) Australia can be. Australia is probably the only developed nation in the world that has an overtly racist political party that finds favor with some people there.We also know that many Australians can be crude, insensitive and basically an unfinished product (especially if they are from smaller cities or towns in Australia).Really many of them ought to be taken seriously only when guzzling a few pints across a table in a bar. because thats where they and their perceptions fit best.So really nobody cares what Australians (or Westerners) think of India.

  • fred on June 21, 2008, 5:53 GMT

    On and off the field, India is both respected and well-liked. you are joking, aren't you?

  • Michael Jeh on June 21, 2008, 4:05 GMT

    Karthik, in answer to one of your questions, I agree totally with you that if Pakistan becomes another IPL fund, perceptions will change. I was at a function in Sept 2007 when a current international player referred to it as "a sh**hole" which proved what an uncultured bigot he is. It was a totally inappropriate comment and yet (shamefully), the audience giggled. They used to say similar things about India 20 years ago but never again (I hope). Sometimes perception is reality for the ignorant until something forces them to confront their own misconceptions and they belatedly realise how wrong they've been all along. India used to be the focus of negative (and wrong) perceptions but the Aussie players are no longer saying negative things (in public anyway!). I can't say if their new-found love for India is genuine or not but it's certainly changed public perception here. On and off the field, India is both respected and well-liked. Why? Everyone loves a winner, that's why.

  • digitaleye on June 21, 2008, 1:10 GMT

    Why should an article about burgeoning cricket commercialization in India be written and interpreted through the "crappy-indian-this crappy-indian-that" tinted glass. Why can't an Indian concept or argument be evaluated on its merit? why should it be downplayed on the grounds of our country's social and economic status.

    As another poster noted, Indians are touchy about this constant reminder of 3rd world status. We are touchy because as much as much as it offends western sensibility, widespread poverty in our country pains us tremendously too. And, we don't certainly welcome a Western big-bother constantly bringing up this painful side of our country for his own ends (ends like trying to be a bully on an internet message board). But, as Sach said, we don't need to be apologetic, it was an old colonial trick to bang this sorry attitude into our heads. But, times have changed, and we will greatly appreciate if westerners realize this change and adapt accordingly.

  • digitaleye on June 20, 2008, 16:48 GMT

    Michael, thanks for taking the time to reply to the irate comments and reiterate your intended point. Many rabble-rousing authors just let the fire blaze, an A+ for you for being sincere and humble.

    Your article is well written and the 'irony' you call attention to as seen from a Western perspective is grumblingly noted. But to bring up such anachronistic prejudices and stereotypes in the tone you have used in your article serves to more to legitimize those negative generalizations than to signal the dawn of new India. Besides, it also conveys a general idea that its wealth which makes an Australian (or any Westerner) to show basic courtesy or respect towards another country. This is a very squalid view of the world (albeit, very prevalent in the white countries) and a good author should not be piggybacking on such despicable notions to add substance to his writings. Good luck! and look forward to future articles.

  • Karthik on June 20, 2008, 15:26 GMT

    You talk about Lehmann. What about Glenn McGrath calling Jayasuriya a “black monkey”. Aussies have denied it throughout and got away with it. I agree Harbhajan and Sreesanth are obnoxious but Harbhajan had been verbally abused by Ponting, Symonds, Haydan before he lashed out at symonds. Moreover he said “Maa-ki” to Symonds which is a Hindi curse word about one’s mother not “monkey”. The referee Mike Procter another “12th man” for Australia does not even check the facts with Sachin but agrees with Hayden, Ponting and gives the verdict against Harbhajan. How does Hayden’s and Ponting’s words carry more weight than Sachin’s . Classic case of Aussies having unfair advantage. Asian players have always been fined more and often when it comes to appealing and abusing. Australians are let away with a reprimand or a smaller fine even though they are notorious “sledgers”.

  • Karthik on June 20, 2008, 15:13 GMT

    jondavluc Nobody is making excuses for losses. But if you have 7-8 decisions go against you, you are bound to be agitated. I recall in the 2001 series, Michael Slater claimed a catch that was clearly a bump ball and yelled at Rahul Dravid to take his word for it. How is this “hard and fair”. Its “hard and unfair”. Don’t deny that Aussies are self-righteous and cry babies. I have never seen players from any other countries abuse an opponent when they knew they were clearly wrong. Andrew Symonds was out 3 different times in the Sydney test, thick edges, clear deflections go unnoticed whereas Indian players were given out even if the bat & gloves where no way near the ball. The “twelth man” and even the “thirteenth man” was always with Australia. Ask West Indies, Pakistan, South Africa when they toured Australai. In the tour of SA in 2001, Indians were charged with excessive appealing but I see Aussies get away with excessive appealing all the time. Indians never get away with anything.

  • Mihir on June 20, 2008, 13:20 GMT

    For a while now cricket's 'first world' has been wary and resentful of the growing clout that India wields over cricket. It took the IPL to change that attitude by sharing some of India's fabulous wealth. Hypocrisy? Most definitely - subtly alluded to in this article, yet plain for everyone to see.

    Still, I wish we'd lose the new money attitude. We wear our success on our sleeve and bristle at the slightest allusion to our problems. Yes, India is one of the growth stories of this decade but a great many Indians live in poverty that can only be called numbing. This duality has been part of India since time immemorial and is only now blatantly obvious to the rest of the world. Powerhouse or poorhouse? I don't think there is a categorization that fits. I hope that the west learns to accept that as fact. I also hope that we stop defending ourselves against their reationalizations because we really have nothing to prove - our success on the field and in the boardroom speaks for itself.

  • jondavluc on June 20, 2008, 13:09 GMT

    Karthik

    its high time india check there attiude too harbjahn has proved to be nothing but a pain and sreesenth too not to mention there fans take there cricket far to seriously and need to calm down and looks who concredicting india have proved to be nothing but self rightous even when there lose they feel the need to make excuses and say" if we did this ""if we did that" you got to be kidding australians are self rightous the indian fans over in india feel the need to burn effiges everytime they lose to minnrow (bangladesh) or if something doesn't go there way. all i ever see is your players get away with everything!!!! last time i checked the aussie's take it on the chin look a lehmann he made racist remarks and said sorry for it stop given you crap indian fans i know this sterotype but lets face your psycho's further more though i still like the indian team and i hope that whatever the problems are will be fixed and we can get over this bull of australia being self rightous

  • Ganesh on June 20, 2008, 13:05 GMT

    I like the article.But many people are concerned about the poverty in india.Its true that nearly 30% people in india are poor.But the number of millionaires there equals one third the population of australia.So dont look at india as poor country any more.It has more wealth than many other countries but it is unevenly distributed.

  • sumit sharma on June 20, 2008, 13:03 GMT

    I do not know if the writer of this article has the credentials to write about what he is writing? He was obviously born in Sri Lanka and looks the part too so what is this nonsense about him sounding more Aussie than somebody born and brought up there? The analogy drawn between present Indian cricket as the 'princess' and Aussie cricketers (or is it the board)as the suitors lacks any depth and seems like a mere attempt to conjure more words to finish the article.I don't know what it is about these writers who write about India and the language they use...some of the harshest words are used to describe a country which is simply magnificent. Does the writer want me to believe that canned baked beans, soggy crips/wafers/fries (whatever you call it),stale bacon etc. are better than cuury? Or is it better than dodgy curry? I think we are better off without such articles than with such articles. Such people can live in their perceived 'Australian-ness' and spare us their critique.

  • Rahid on June 20, 2008, 10:07 GMT

    I dont know why it is never mentioned that Land Rover and Jaguar which are/were a british cars were recently bought out by Tata, indian motor company. its the tour last december which changed the perceptions of aussies about indians. Stuart Clark said they would go unbeaten through the summer(Test series, CB series)..results are history obviously. :)

  • Amit Puri on June 20, 2008, 9:52 GMT

    A top article, but I don't understand why everyone is making a big deal of the money in the game now. Top Indian internationals have been making a packet for the last decade atleast (one only has to see Tendulkars wealth, est at $60m to see this). Cricket in India has been big business since they hosted the World Cup in '87, more so after '96. England & Austrialia have always viewed the Asian block with an air of sceptisim hence they never profited from the lucarative Indian market. I put it down to ignorance based on old sterotypes. I remember reading an article in a British magazine that had an interview with Shane Warne, declaring 'an interview with the worlds wealthiest cricketer', which was nonsense but reitarated the West's view that surley the money in the game can only be generated by the 'white nations', not the 'bumbling curry munchers' that India were percieved to be. Let's not forget that until fairly recently England & Australia were the only ones to have the right to veto

  • Pradeep Narayan on June 20, 2008, 9:18 GMT

    The Author attempt to write on a difficult topic must be commended. It will always be difficult for an outsider to characterize India but Michael has made an honest attempt with analogies that are quite Indian in nature. India would not like to be viewed from the prism of a First/Third world positioning. For far too long, India fought against the these stereotypes and now the time has come for India to take its rightful place as a great nation!!

  • Ravi Kumar on June 20, 2008, 8:59 GMT

    Michael, accepted that references to food and umpires were used for irony. However, references to "numbing poverty" and "social ills" were anything but, and totally uncalled for. Remember that a lot of Indian cricketers, through the entire history of Indian cricket, come from humble backgrounds and risen through diligence and dedication. I would rather there was reference to their commitment, and not to the poverty and social fabric. It is as bad as Ian Botham's "25000 convicts" comment in the 1992 World Cup.

  • Karthik on June 20, 2008, 8:02 GMT

    Where were these "knights" 10 years ago when the "princess" was more of a "curry muncher". If India Cricket loses its current charm, Cricket Australia is not going to show the same "love" & respect as its showing now. Michael Jeh, we would like to know if Pakistani Rupee shows similar "seductiveness" in the future, will CA drop their "security concerns" and finally go play cricket there. India, SA, SL etc have had no issues with playing there. CA will always act "romantic" when the "in-laws" are rich. Historically, Aus/Eng players were always called fair players even if they were cheating and Asian players were accused of cheating when they were not. So if the "rub of the green" goes the Asians way, Aussies need to take it with a grain of salt and stop acting self-righteous. Michael, now its not about how Aussies view Ind but how Indians view Aus. Indians view Aussies as obnoxious and self-contradicting when they call Indians as obnoxious. Its high time they cleaned up their act!

  • Karthik on June 20, 2008, 7:58 GMT

    Where were these "knights" 10 years ago when the "princess" was more of a "curry muncher". If India Cricket loses its current charm, Cricket Australia is not going to show the same "love" & respect as its showing now. Michael Jeh, we would like to know if Pakistani Rupee shows similar "seductiveness" in the future, will CA drop their "security concerns" and finally go play cricket there. India, SA, SL etc have had no issues with playing there. CA will always act "romantic" when the "in-laws" are rich. Historically, Aus/Eng players were always called fair players even if they were cheating and Asian players were accused of cheating when they were not. So if the "rub of the green" goes the Asians way, Aussies need to take it with a grain of salt and stop acting self-righteous. Michael, now its not about how Aussies view Ind but how Indians view Aus. Indians view Aussies as obnoxious and self-contradicting when they call Indians as obnoxious. Its high time they cleaned up their act!

  • fanon on June 20, 2008, 6:56 GMT

    Odd, or is it really, that it took money for most of the the Australians to treat Indian and Indians with a modicum of respect. One can look upon the fractious contentious relationship between Australia and India particularly with regard to cricket as one that self-righteously privileged the Australians, as being more civilised, honest, hardworking, intelligent. Essentially superior. When that superiority eroded, evidenced by parity on the cricket field over the last 10 years, the relationship became more problematic and hostile. Does anybody need a reminder of the contentious affairs of the past summer? Money the great equaliser has obviously healed many great grievances, rather quickly. Which answers the question, which is that we are most willing to serve. The self of course. Like most of us the Australians cricketers and their loyalties, will go where the greater money is, like all mercenaries.

  • Anjo on June 20, 2008, 6:34 GMT

    I thought it was a good article, though I don't think we should fool ourselves into replacing hypocrisy with a sudden appreciation of a "new" culture. From Brett Lee's strategic winks/sledges, Ponting's hugs in the IPL, to the "racist Indians" propaganda that has appeared on so many Australian and blogs, its harder to believe stereotypes and prejudice are being re-examined rather than tactical decisions being made on how best you can take advantage of the situation. And it goes both ways, people from India will only be too happy to accept their new "status" in this relationship, however fake both perceive it to be. Can somebody please exlain this 1000 character limit, when terrabyte storage costs under $300 USD, or 3 billion characters cost a dollar (maybe 1 billion accounting for storing on three separate devices) is Cricinfo seriously saying they can at best afford a minimum of a million comments per dollar? I come here for the comments almost as much as for the blogs.

  • Amit on June 20, 2008, 5:51 GMT

    Mikey, C'mon man stop defending the article. You are runing it with the explanations. I think your views are well articulated and show the funny and hypocritic side of things. its well written, soak it in.

  • Michael Jeh on June 20, 2008, 4:44 GMT

    Perhaps the concept of 'irony' is lost on anyone that reads this piece as being critical of Indian food, umpires, success etc. I'm not saying these impressions are true or valid. All I'm saying is that these were the prejudices that were held by many in 'The West' (incl the cricketers themselves) until recently. It amuses me greatly that all of a sudden, these misconceptions are being blown out of the water and I'm wondering if it's pure coincidence.

    Anyone who has read any of my previous cricket writings (a simple Google search will fix that) will see that I don't automatically defend Aust. I haven't always been a fan of the WAY Australia plays. Far from it! Their skills are one thing but their on-field behaviour has sometimes alienated me. No first-world superiority here mate. I'm just making the point that Aust has no right to fear for the future just because we're no longer in control. So long as India governs for the overall good of cricket, that's all we can ask for.

  • digitaleye on June 20, 2008, 4:33 GMT

    Why should an article about burgeoning cricket commercialization in India be written and interpreted through the "crappy-indian-this crappy-indian-that" tinted glass. Why can't an Indian concept or argument be evaluated on its merit? why should it be downplayed on the grounds of our country's social and economic status.

    As another poster noted, Indians are touchy about this constant reminder of 3rd world status. We are touchy because as much as much as it offends western sensibility, widespread poverty in our country pains us tremendously too. And, we don't certainly welcome a Western big-bother constantly bringing up this painful side of our country for his own ends (ends like trying to be a bully on an internet message board). But, as Sach said, we don't need to be apologetic, it was an old colonial trick to bang this sorry attitude into our heads. But, times have changed, and we will greatly appreciate if westerners realize this change and adapt accordingly.

  • Ravi Kumar on June 20, 2008, 3:40 GMT

    Michael Jeh seems to see more of India's "poverty" and "social ills" than its cricket. And that is what makes this another piece of drivel. The rest of it is the same standard stuff that most Brit and Aussie writers have been peddling for the last few years, growing increasingly strident with the coming of the IPL. More interesting is the polarization of views, including the standard rants about food and umpires. You would think Darrell Hair or Mark Benson or Steve Bucknor or Lou Rowan were the figment of someone's imagination - or Indian.

  • Michael Jeh on June 20, 2008, 2:48 GMT

    Author's note: the 'beautiful princess' analogy was meant to convey the impression that Australia (cricketers and administrators alike) have only started to treat India with the respect she deserves since it became clear that she was a force to be reckoned with. Until then, the love affair was never really considered in Australia. Lately, no one's talking about India in disparaging terms anymore, not even the cricketers who used to view a tour of India as a punishment. No one's saying that anymore. It's all sweetness and light now. Is that because the princess has become more beautiful or have we only just started to appreciate her beauty?

    Listening to Australia's views on the Indian cricket scene now, there's a huge shift in sentiment and perception. I reckon that's great. They respect the skill of the Indian team, they respect what it takes to beat them and they also realise that this is a very 'advantageous' marriage indeed. Even fairytale romances prefer rich in-laws!

  • Bals on June 20, 2008, 2:30 GMT

    Had fun reading it (and some comments ;) ... keep them coming Mr. Jeh

  • Wicketman on June 19, 2008, 23:14 GMT

    Hey Buddie, How about your inept umpiring, crappy cuisine and percieved superiority (god knows why!)

  • Ranjeet on June 19, 2008, 22:32 GMT

    Answering haidar ali's assertions, India is able to run a profitable cricket enterprise because of its vibrant economy, open culture and less meddling of government/religious affairs with business. I don't even want to start comparing that with our beloved western neighbour. Equating success with the size of population is ridiculous and hilarious at the same time.

  • Sach on June 19, 2008, 19:59 GMT

    Nice article. But lets be clear on one thing - india has nothing to be apologetic about. With their money & power, they finally are a voice from the sub-continent thats being heard. Haidar, The size (or population) of a country are hardly deterimental towards the way its cricket team performs. Otherwise the USA would have been world beaters in cricket :-). On the contrary, India's strength lies in the unabashed love for the game that the general population has, which, like you rightly pointed out is about a billion strong. That, coupled with a decent economy translates into a very strong market for cricket. That I belive was the point of this article. As far as the performance is concerned, the Indian team has done quite well and way better than expectations, specially given their inherent traits of unpredictability, which they incidentally share with their Pakistani neighbours!

  • SHAILESH KUMAR AMBASHT on June 19, 2008, 19:01 GMT

    Well believe me, IPL was a great success, considering the fact that i have not seen so much crowd in domestic matches. And the australian affair with INDIA is not new, we have had a great batlles with them. The future truly belongs to subcontinent because of the popularity and yes dont mind the pakistanis , they are copy cats. When India introduced PREMIER HOCKEY LEAGUE, they replicated it and now they are replicating IPL in the form of PPL If they had done the same with elections,they would have never had so many security issues. And dont be surprised if pakistan wins champions trophy against an understrength australia, england , newzealand and west indies.

  • vish on June 19, 2008, 18:42 GMT

    Mr Haidar Ali plz get up from sleep. I wld say tht pakistan & SL have to improve their cricket as they are the teams who are going through bad times. When was the last time pakistan bt Aus in one dayers or test n tht too in Aus???? Can u plz answer.

  • Amit on June 19, 2008, 18:07 GMT

    Reminding us Indians of our country's 3rd world status is always a risky move, though a well written article none the less. In India, cricket is a much much biger entity than just a game. I look at it as a trend setter, an indicator to future economic growth. India after 60 years of its independence has finally started making some money and the first significant investment in public domain has been in...wait for it...cricket, surprised? should'nt be. Cricket is the biggest seller's market in the subcontinent, so this investment was due. With time and more money India will find better and more impoportant avenues for investment and hopefully that will help in redefining India's image abroad. Lets just That said, lets hope this inflow of capital into cricket continues. For the time being lets just enjoy this new cricketing alliance that India has proposed. If things go well, we might see a typical, long surviving Indian marriage.

  • haidar ali on June 19, 2008, 17:53 GMT

    adarsh, India is only country in South Asia to do so is purely because of the size of their population.They are 1 billion compared to tiny populations of Pak and SL.Infact India,s onfield performance is still not a lot better than other two.

  • digitaleye on June 19, 2008, 17:48 GMT

    Cricket wants to be at its byzantine best but at the same time wants make huge money. You cannot run a commercially successful enterprise hedging your bets on just the puritans. The Indian suits saw this gaping logical hole in the Western cricket model and cashed in. All it takes to reach this simple conclusion is common-sense not rambling romanticism.

    Also, India's poverty is not a justification for anyone's bigotry and self-assumed sense of superiority. The author's background and tone reminds me of V.S. Naipaul, a faithful British lap dog.

  • Saurav on June 19, 2008, 17:45 GMT

    As would be obvious, I am an Indian cricket fan. I am amused by the influence that sports in general has on people and cultures.

    As an Indian I have some inputs. There is no doubt IPL was a success and India is the emerging power in world cricket.

    The white world sadly still looks at south east asia as a region of snake charmers.(amusing at times but mostly illogical). This is changing now. The average educated Indian middle classer is more open aware and enterprising than most English and Australian middle class. Its like one of those stories where a guy from the ghettos enters the high life. India is not the seductive princess. Its the street smart guy from the ghettos whom the city guys(Eng,Aus) eye cautiously. With all the caution thr also comes respect, as wht the guys doing ,should have been done by Eng Aus 15 yrs ago, only if they were not so wound up in old mindsets and illsns.This Ind is not biased.It respects 2 thngs:qlty and the pwr of money..and thts all tht matters

  • Ashok on June 19, 2008, 16:16 GMT

    'Dodgy pitches and dodgy curry'! That indeed was the ususal refrain. Who can forget the English teams' 'bad prawns' story! and Warne's craving for baked beans. It did not matter then as the cricket experts, administrators and all the money resided in the 'first world'. Time is indeed ripe for a change of guard. I just wish I can share the optimism that India (with the current crop of BCCI honchos) will be a force for the good of world cricket.

  • mahe on June 19, 2008, 14:48 GMT

    mass rules. money follows mass. mass and money makes and breaks perceptions, attitudes, priorities and loyalties. any emotion against money and mass might come and go. nevertheless ultimately such emotions will be comfortably forgotten. and in cricket today, India has become the first world. Australia, England a distant second world countries.

  • RedNeck Ricky on June 19, 2008, 14:26 GMT

    Impressed, Michael Jay.

    The Indians are finally calling the shots on the future of this quaint English game. The bogans Aussie cricketers and adminstrators better to come to terms with quickly.

  • Prashant on June 19, 2008, 14:19 GMT

    Cricket survived Packer and South Africa. It will survive this. It has the enduring quality of operas and good literature (to use two cliches) and will, in the end, resist attempts by loud-mouthed American businessmen to alter it.

  • Adarsh on June 19, 2008, 14:05 GMT

    I actually quite liked the piece. true, general perceptions of India have hardly changed in the "western" world, and rightly so since India still has a long way to go to reduce to wide spread poverty that corodes the country. And it is also true that the Corporate moguls of the BCCI will try everything for commercial success. But I fail to see how South Africa's lesson's apply to India. It has to be said that out of the three south asian countries where cricket is very popular, India is the only one that has been able to do this. India has been the only one that has been able to harness its position in the cricketing world and create something new, and for that i feel the BCCI should be applauded. Even the Australians I am sure agree with that.

  • Rose on June 19, 2008, 13:46 GMT

    Good article, Mr Jeh. Some of the responses are a bit one-eyed ("by romanticizing, the author is simply trying to create negativism" - how ? aren't fairy tales for everybody, isn't that the whole point of them ?; and, Swami, I think the author is referring to the fact it was Australia who needed the money to sit up and take notice - the tone suggested the author has known all along ?). Anyway, the bigger point here, I would suggest, is that (from the outside) it looks to have taken an internal, conscious and economically-based change in the psyche of India as a nation to drive change through its cricket team's approach to matches. As a neutral (Pom), I've thrilled to the sight of Indian players going toe to toe with the Australians, confronting the historic aggressors with aggression of their own... and at times winning. The IPL looks like a stunning success, and one only hopes the ECB will allow the English players to take part next year. India is a big force for good in the game.

  • Karthik on June 19, 2008, 13:01 GMT

    I still feel cricket is for every one no matter from where they are. By romanticizing, author is simply trying to create negativism.

  • ajay on June 19, 2008, 12:28 GMT

    This is like the Who song Meet the new boss Same as the old boss The changing of the guard is inevitable but the real fear is that the game will be given short shrift at the altar of Mammon. I have yet to see the BCCI do anything without a commercial motive. There is no reason to suppose that they will start now. However, it is nice, from an Indian perspective, to see the erstwhile masters (Tyrants!?) being forced to accept that the boot is quite firmly on the other foot, now.

  • Swami on June 19, 2008, 12:09 GMT

    Interesting article. But it is slightly amusing that it took the seductive mistress, as the author puts it to make him sit up and take notice, and not the considerable cricketing skills exhibited by the Indian players that prompted him to accept India's dominance in cricket.

  • hick is a legend on June 19, 2008, 11:39 GMT

    Good on ya cobber! Quite a nice bit of introspection sans the navel gazing outlook such pieces often entail. Whilst Shashank (presumably Indian and feeling a bit pumped up by the new found perceived might!) feels irritated, Azad (presumably his cousin from across the border) finds it hilarious. To a neutral pom like me, I think it is time we took stock of the 'third world' paradox and India's switching gears between the third and the second world. China is probably in the same place. However the new generation of these boys will not be dictated by our lot any more and it is quite correct too. However this must not mean that Indians now display the same horrendous hubris we did till very recently (see ICC management as exhibit A!). Otherwise a good irreverent look overall. Keep writing old boy.Good work. Perhaps the next one could be the Sri Lankan lack of self belief?

  • Azad Ahmad on June 19, 2008, 11:08 GMT

    Indian insecurity knows no bounds.

  • shashank on June 19, 2008, 10:47 GMT

    this article is a waste of time. dont bother reading it.

  • Abid Vali on June 19, 2008, 8:41 GMT

    While I agree with the general spirit of bemused tolerance in the article and even applaud it... the cynic in me wants to see the remnants of that 1st world/3rd world hangover in the picturization of India as a "beautiful princess" who, obviously to advance the fairytale, needs rescuing from itself by the 'white' knight... how about Australia as the flashy gold-digging vamp then?:)

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  • Abid Vali on June 19, 2008, 8:41 GMT

    While I agree with the general spirit of bemused tolerance in the article and even applaud it... the cynic in me wants to see the remnants of that 1st world/3rd world hangover in the picturization of India as a "beautiful princess" who, obviously to advance the fairytale, needs rescuing from itself by the 'white' knight... how about Australia as the flashy gold-digging vamp then?:)

  • shashank on June 19, 2008, 10:47 GMT

    this article is a waste of time. dont bother reading it.

  • Azad Ahmad on June 19, 2008, 11:08 GMT

    Indian insecurity knows no bounds.

  • hick is a legend on June 19, 2008, 11:39 GMT

    Good on ya cobber! Quite a nice bit of introspection sans the navel gazing outlook such pieces often entail. Whilst Shashank (presumably Indian and feeling a bit pumped up by the new found perceived might!) feels irritated, Azad (presumably his cousin from across the border) finds it hilarious. To a neutral pom like me, I think it is time we took stock of the 'third world' paradox and India's switching gears between the third and the second world. China is probably in the same place. However the new generation of these boys will not be dictated by our lot any more and it is quite correct too. However this must not mean that Indians now display the same horrendous hubris we did till very recently (see ICC management as exhibit A!). Otherwise a good irreverent look overall. Keep writing old boy.Good work. Perhaps the next one could be the Sri Lankan lack of self belief?

  • Swami on June 19, 2008, 12:09 GMT

    Interesting article. But it is slightly amusing that it took the seductive mistress, as the author puts it to make him sit up and take notice, and not the considerable cricketing skills exhibited by the Indian players that prompted him to accept India's dominance in cricket.

  • ajay on June 19, 2008, 12:28 GMT

    This is like the Who song Meet the new boss Same as the old boss The changing of the guard is inevitable but the real fear is that the game will be given short shrift at the altar of Mammon. I have yet to see the BCCI do anything without a commercial motive. There is no reason to suppose that they will start now. However, it is nice, from an Indian perspective, to see the erstwhile masters (Tyrants!?) being forced to accept that the boot is quite firmly on the other foot, now.

  • Karthik on June 19, 2008, 13:01 GMT

    I still feel cricket is for every one no matter from where they are. By romanticizing, author is simply trying to create negativism.

  • Rose on June 19, 2008, 13:46 GMT

    Good article, Mr Jeh. Some of the responses are a bit one-eyed ("by romanticizing, the author is simply trying to create negativism" - how ? aren't fairy tales for everybody, isn't that the whole point of them ?; and, Swami, I think the author is referring to the fact it was Australia who needed the money to sit up and take notice - the tone suggested the author has known all along ?). Anyway, the bigger point here, I would suggest, is that (from the outside) it looks to have taken an internal, conscious and economically-based change in the psyche of India as a nation to drive change through its cricket team's approach to matches. As a neutral (Pom), I've thrilled to the sight of Indian players going toe to toe with the Australians, confronting the historic aggressors with aggression of their own... and at times winning. The IPL looks like a stunning success, and one only hopes the ECB will allow the English players to take part next year. India is a big force for good in the game.

  • Adarsh on June 19, 2008, 14:05 GMT

    I actually quite liked the piece. true, general perceptions of India have hardly changed in the "western" world, and rightly so since India still has a long way to go to reduce to wide spread poverty that corodes the country. And it is also true that the Corporate moguls of the BCCI will try everything for commercial success. But I fail to see how South Africa's lesson's apply to India. It has to be said that out of the three south asian countries where cricket is very popular, India is the only one that has been able to do this. India has been the only one that has been able to harness its position in the cricketing world and create something new, and for that i feel the BCCI should be applauded. Even the Australians I am sure agree with that.

  • Prashant on June 19, 2008, 14:19 GMT

    Cricket survived Packer and South Africa. It will survive this. It has the enduring quality of operas and good literature (to use two cliches) and will, in the end, resist attempts by loud-mouthed American businessmen to alter it.