The true test of character is in times of adversity. For an Indian sports fan, it has been adversity with a capital A, the past two weeks. India has suffered a heavy defeat , actually a pasting, against England. A series , that was billed as the clash between the top two teams in the world, turned out embarrassingly one sided. We can take defeat, but its rather hard to swallow being thumped.
These things happen in sport. India is not as bad a team as it appears. And England is not as good a team as it would like to believe.Nothing went right for India and everything went right for England. England were certainly the better team and deserved to win. But the crushing nature of victory was unexpected, to say the least.
It is in the natural order of things that sportsmen are defied when they win and are torn apart when they lose. The Indian team has already started to take a hiding and will no doubt be insulted with every possible epithet. Somebody's house will, no doubt, be stoned. Pundits, and there are many, will decry the mercenary attitude of the players. IPL has spoilt them. They don't care for their country anymore. The team is ageing and everybody above 30 must be sacked. Blah Blah Blah.
It's in times of adversity that character shows. Character of all the people concerned. The fan, to take it philosophically and to stand behind the team. Resist the temptation to kick the guy who has fallen, for that is all too easy. It takes character to look for flaws to patch up and further improve when you are winning handsomely. And to put an arm around the shoulder and say better luck next time, when the chips are down.
The character of the players as well. To them this has been a ruder shock, they themselves would have never expected. After all they won the World Cup just a few months ago. And these are roughly the same lot who have performed heroics after heroics for many a year. This must be the most depressing moment of all. But this is the time to let true character show. Pick yourself up by the bootstraps. There is one more test to go. At the Oval, where India has traditionally performed well. Put the past three tests behind you. You have nothing to lose now. Stand up tall and be counted. Play freely without the burden of the crushing defeat. And exit the disastrous series on a more positive note.
Its also in moments of great victory that the character of the victors are shown too. To be graceful in victory. They have won a resounding and thoroughly deserved victory. They have been on a roll in test cricket at least over the past 2 years. They are entitled to gloat. But they will stand even taller if they showed some of that noble British quality of restraint and understatement..English cricketers, and sports writers, have not exactly distinguished themselves with grace in the past. Let us see if this time it will be different.
As in cricket, so in life. If it's a moment of great victory for you, you deserve every cheer. But if it's a moment when life has dealt you a rough hand, you deserve a warm hug.
And so to the Indian team. Never mind old chaps. Let's move on. You guys are still our heroes. Tomorrow is another day.