By Sushil Kutty
There was God, the ‘God of Cricket’, Sachin Tendulkar. For a people with 33 million gods and one more discovered or invented every once in a while, this wasn’t a surprise. Like somebody insignificant pointed out, gods should be shown their place except the ‘One’ almighty who scares you stupid in your imagination. But, where there are Indians there aren’t too many surprises left, at least when it’s cricket.
The gentlemen’s game which the pagan adopted and adapted to with the felicity of a chameleon changing colours, should not surprise anybody if the USA women’s cricket team for the U-19 T-20 Women’s World Cup is almost entirely ‘Indian’. That said, it is a cricket team and not baseball.
Indians or PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) have cricket in their DNA, so to speak. That cricket is India’s most popular sport isn’t good for other sports but who cares as long as one can hold a bat and thrash the ball to kingdom come. There was a time when we had rajas and nawabs of cricket, these days it is the commoner hitting the highs.
And India has a tough Indian women’s cricket team, hitting the ball as if born to the game. But to have a USA women’s cricket team with universal Indian names is like having an Indian in every pie, and under every stone. That’s like saying there’s a Malayali (Malabari!) under every Dubai stone. Remember the Dhoni-led T-20 team at the World Cup when Sreesanth held a catch and everybody said there’s a Malayali standing next to every blade of artificial grass!
It’s uncanny, go anywhere and everywhere on the planet, from the African Sahara to the Siberian Tundra, and there will be an Indian. The easiest people to raise in an hour’s notice anywhere is the Indian diaspora. Half the reason why Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets worldwide fame (notoriety at home!) is because Indians are there in substantial numbers in every country on Earth.
They say the next 50-100 years will be the Chinese and Indian to own. Cool! But there’s a difference. The two are expansionists of different makes, like there are fossil fuel cars and there are Elon Musk electric vehicles. The Chinese are salami-slicing expansionists, while Indian’s take their culture and their cricket and add them to that of the countries they expand to.
So, there will be two world-class cricket teams with an Indian flavour at the U-19 World Cup. Call them curry-cricketers. The best thing about the USA U-19 women’s cricket team is that the “Indians” in the team aren’t transplants from India, young girls who migrated to the USA for a US citizenship courtesy cricket. The USA cricket team’s “Indians” are all proud “Born in the USA”.
Getting a place in the Indian women’s cricket team is difficult. It must be the same for the USA women’s cricket team. And the 15 “Indians” in the USA U-19 women’s cricket team must be only the tip of the number of “Indians” vying for a place in the USA team. There must be hundreds, nay thousands, of “American Indians” playing cricket in the USA, fighting to make a mark.
The USA team for the ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup will be in South Africa in January 2023. The 15-member squad will be led by skipper Geetika Kodali. Fellow ‘Telugu’ Anika Kolan is Vice-Captain. The team is dominated by ‘Telugu’ players, which should not surprise anybody because there are more Telugu Indians in the USA than there are Punjabi Indians and other-language Indians.
And, as if having Indians to play for the USA isn’t enough, the head coach of the team is also a person of Indian origin but not hailing from India, or the USA, nevertheless having ‘Indian’ in his introduction! Yup, West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul is no stranger to India or Indians worldwide. His name is Indian, and that is enough to make the bloke sound like an Indian.
The USA team will be in the “challenging Group A” along with Australia, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Just imagine if India and USA end up facing each other in the knockouts? That will be a dream game and let neither team play the game by ignoring the rules. There shouldn’t be bitterness like that which plagues Indo-Pak fixtures.
Then again, that’s an extreme. From the names of the USA cricketers posted on social media, there seems to be no “Pakistanis” in the team. The “Indian monopoly” is near absolute. Then again, desi-Indians should refrain from calling the USA team the “India B Team”. The United States cricket team is as USA as the Indian cricket team is India.
The best part of the deal is, India and Indians worldwide have two teams to cheer for at the U-19 T-20 Women’s World Cup, the one in blue, and the other in blue and red! To top it all, the venue is South Africa, a country where Indians used to get thrown out of trains but never left because the world is an oyster and you can be where you want to be as long as you play the game and play by the rules. Howzat! (IPA Service)