The Indian Juggernaut!

Posted: July 13, 2011 in Cricket, Speeches, Toastmasters
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(This was my CC Project 7 – Research Your Topic speech )

Dinner is ready. Will you all come? No response.. What are you all doing? Renu comes to the main hall shouting. Sshhhhhhhhhh. Her father-in-law was almost on the verge of getting a stroke. She could hear the loud thuds of her husband’s heart beats. Her son was a frozen statue. Suddenly, the whole house erupts in joy…Indiawon the T20 World Cup!

Cricket.. Today is unofficially our national sport. But if we look at the early days of this great game, it had a very humble beginning. The exact day when this game took birth inIndiaremains a mystery but the best available proof states that the first cricket match was played in the year 1864 betweenMadrasandCalcutta. In the year 1892-93, a European team and Parses team played the first ever officially declared first class match. But Cricket remained a colonial game in 1890s, controlled by the British in all the countries they ruled during that period includingIndia.

When the white masters played cricket in the Indian maidans, an Indian slave watched kneeling down with curiosity and anxiety. What his master was doing was new to him. Every time he heard the bat hitting the ball his heart skipped a beat. He wanted to play the game with all heart but was suppressed.

Towards the 1920s, the British started losing their strangle hold on their colonies as cricket was slowly gaining prominence. In 1932,Indiawas finally allowed to form its own test team.. the first test team. C.K. Nayadu was the first Indian Test captain.Indiawas defeated byEnglandin that match by an innings and 158 runs but an Indian slave’s dream became a reality. In defeat, we saw victory.

Things changed for the better asIndiagot her independence in 1947. The slave was gone forever. An Indian fan was born that day. Fittingly, an independent India’s first cricket team came alive. The frequency of playing cricket increased. In the early years, especially from 1947 to 1952 India was happy participating in cricket matches and winning was a distant dream.

Finally in the year 1952, the Indian fan realised something special.. something extra-ordinary.. something that happened for the first time in his life. Yes..Indiawon. Victory.. victory..!! Never had the Indian fan known what a winning feeling was until India defeated their arch rival Pakistan in 1952. What a feeling it was!Indiabasked in glory. SlowlyIndia’s performances improved with strong teams likeAustralia,EnglandandPakistanto draws and defeatingNew Zealandat home.

Two decades rolled by but a victory in the foreign soil remained elusive. Came 1971,Indiadislodged the mighty West Indies andEnglandon their home turf and the elusive foreign soil victory was achieved. Ajit Wadekar was the captain of the Indian team. This was the beginning of the golden era as the passionate Indian fan stood up in awe of his heroes – The Little master Sunil Gavaskar, the maverick Gundappa Viswanath, the dreaded spin quartet of Bishen Singh Bedi, Bhagavat Chandrasekar, Prassana and Venkatragavan and a lanky paceman from Haryana, Kapil Dev.

Indian cricket folklore would be incomplete if the year 1983 was omitted.Indiawon her first and till date the only one day world cup under the captaincy of Kapil Dev. That day the picture of a kneeling Indian slave was erased completely and the Indian fan was jumping in joy, applauding and crying in tears of ecstasy looking with pride at his men who became the ‘World Champions’. A watershed moment!

After 1983, the Indian fan was no more solitary as he gained more force & might as many inIndiaconverged onto him. Many started following the game in transistors; lucky few watched the live matches, interested few took to the sport seriously and one man among the masses rose to the Indian colours at the tender age of 16 in 1989 -Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. This man has been a true inspiration to modernIndiaand a superb ambassador of the game – 21 years of focus, dedication and love for the game.  Today, I can proudly say “I did not see Bradman play, but I have seen SachinTendulkar bat.”

The journey of Cricket inIndiafrom 1864 to 2010 is a fascinating one and today, the Indian fan is no more a mere fan.. he has become an unstoppable force – a Juggernaut! All this Indian Juggernaut prays for and desires today is another World cup victory in 2011. If 1983 was for the solitary Indian fan, this one will be for the Indian Juggernaut – I am proud to be one among the Juggernaut!

(When I gave this speech on Dec 18th 2010 I wanted India to lift the 2011 World Cup and that prayer was answered on April 2, 2011. Very happy to post this speech script especially after India being crowned the ‘World Champions’)

India - World Champions 2011 (courtesy: google images)

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