Winning isn't everything

Make no mistake, Indian cricket needed this tour of South Africa. A team of young and inexperienced batsmen yet to prove themselves needed this journey to hell - playing the best team in the world in their backyard is as close as you'll get to sporting purgatory.

updated: September 02, 2013 20:20 IST
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If you're a sports history buff, this is an important week. September 2 is the birth centenary of Bill Shankly, the manager who took Liverpool Football Club from second-division mediocrity to European football's top table. September 3 will mark 43 years since the death of Vince Lombardi, the American Football coach who took the Green Bay Packers, a franchise from a city with a population less than one-tenth that of a New York City borough, to five NFL Championships in seven years, including victory in the first two Super Bowls.

Both men, born within months of each other in 1913, epitomised sport at its finest, with an emphasis on building from the ground up and commitment to old-style values. Decades on, fans of their teams and others revere them, such was their transparent passion for the sports that gave them everything. They may have been larger-than-life figures with a penchant for outlandish quotes, but the dynasties they built weren't concerned only with winning. They also recognised the valuable role that sport can play in making sense of the world around it. "Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilisation work," said Lombardi.

In a week when we honour the memory of two such men, it's deeply disturbing to read of the uncertain fate of India's tour of South Africa. The itinerary that Cricket South Africa (CSA) had originally drafted included three Tests, seven ODIs and two Twenty20 games, and was supposed to start in mid-November and finish on January 19. With a series against West Indies now penciled in for November - they were supposed to tour India in the winter of 2014 - and the tour of New Zealand starting on January 19, it's evident that any tour of South Africa, if it takes place at all, will be an abbreviated one. (Related blog - The inexplicable ways of BCCI)

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