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Cricket & Schrödinger’s Cat: Can Indian Men’s Team Address Systemic Paradoxes?

After the T20 world cup debacle, the Indian cricket board should also address the issues outside cricketing jargon

Published
Opinion
4 min read
Cricket & Schrödinger’s Cat: Can Indian Men’s Team Address Systemic Paradoxes?
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Austrian physicist and Nobel laureate—Erwin Schrodinger in his pivotal experimental theory of 1935, gave the paradoxical Schrödinger's cat analogy. According to his famous hypothetical study, if a cat has been placed in a closed box with radioactive elements— it may simultaneously be considered dead and alive until the box is not opened.

This theory has been used as a metaphor, especially by performance analysts to depict a paradoxical state under which all the results are possible. However, if a curious individual wants specific answers and is willing to shatter these dubious binaries, they have to approach and open the box; until it is not opened, the paradoxical state continues to prevail.

Something similar can be observed in the present Indian men’s cricket team in a state of absurdity. And under this article, as a performance analyst and ardent cricket follower, the writer used Schrödinger's cat analogy as a metaphor to elucidate the current paradoxical state prevailing in the Indian cricket system riddled with failures.
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Indian Players’ Highs and Lows

The famous Shakespeare’s Hamlet quote, “To be, or not be”, appropriately defines the Indian men’s cricket situation. A team that in the recent past has been compared with Sir Clive Lloyd’s 70’s West Indies and Waugh’s and Ponting’s early 2000 Australia for their on-field extraordinary performance. A team that has forced cricket analysts and pundits to affirmatively claim that this era of cricket belongs to Indian men’s cricket. Moreover, how could someone forget Justin Langer’s interview after the heroics of Gabba, where he profoundly claimed, “Never ever underestimate Indians."

So there were never questions regarding the bench strength and the talent the Indian cricket team acquired in the last few years. The cricket fraternity has accepted and celebrated the rise of the Indian men’s cricket team.

Nevertheless, one may argue that these accolades were mainly given to the Indian team based on their Test performance. However, isn’t the Test format considered the pinnacle of cricket?

As the cliche goes, if a team is good at the test format, axiomatically, they become good in shorter formats of the game. The great West Indies and Australia started their dominance in ODI after proving themselves the best Test team of their cricketing eras.
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Consecutive Defeats in International Cricket

Even the Indian men’s team, while dominating the test arena in the recent past, has done quite well in shorter formats. Both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have winning percentages over 50% in white-ball cricket.

However, it’s the consecutive failure in the T20 world cups, especially the humiliating loss to Pakistan in 2021 and England in 2022 that forced cricket experts, analysts and sports lovers to wonder whether it was too early to put the Indian men’s team in the same bracket with mighty West Indies of the 70s and Australia of early 2000.

Moreover, after India’s defeat against England, the cricket legends and pundits have pointed out various cricket-specific setbacks the Indian team suffered in the last few years.

The England legend Nasser Hussain blamed the conservative approach in powerplays for India’s defeat. Ajay Jadeja has criticised the selection committee for rotating captaincy within the team, and the mighty leg spinner Anil Kumble has called out the absence of part-time bowlers in the Indian batting order as one of the areas of concern.

However, what is surprising is that none of the opinion pieces or cricket analysts have tried to go beyond the cricketing jargon and examine this defeat from a different perspective.
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How Paradoxes Jeopardise Team India’s Chances

It has already been argued that the talent is there, the bench strength is there, and the team has been provided with the best of facilities. Nevertheless, since the last few years, precisely since Covid, the common idiosyncrasy associated with this team is that it looks baffled. Whether we talk about the clumsiness with which Kohli’s captaincy issue was dealt, the unexpected re-emergence of Ashwin and Shami in the 2021 and '22 World Cup teams, or sidelining the best Indian spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in consecutive world cups—has only highlighted the paradoxical state of this team. A psychological state that the sports community avoid being in, as sports is about precision with no place for improbabilities.

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How Can BCCI Solve Conundrum?

To resolve this perplexing situation, the questions Indian spectators need to ask the Indian cricket board are why this mind frame is prevailing for long and how BCCI is planning to untangle this psychological block. Because in the pre-Morgan era, the English team faced a similar issue. The English cricket board, as a part of the big three, saw itself as the saviour of the Test format, and until the arrival of Eoin Morgan as white-ball captain, the board was adamant about not making any substantial changes in their approach toward ODI and T20.

In hindsight, it seems BCCI or Board of Control for Cricket in India— the wealthiest and most powerful cricket board, has taken that baton from the England and Wales Cricket Board(ECB) of safeguarding Test format, and there is no wrong in protecting the purest form of cricket.

However, the Indian cricket board must understand that millions of emotions are attached to this team whenever it participates in an ICC white-ball event. And while spectators appreciate the rise of Indian men’s team within the Test format, the same sort of fighting spirit they want to view within the T20 format also.
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Rise of IPLs Leading to Frequent Burnouts

As the saying goes, power is a double-edged sword, and with the exponential rise of BCCI and its million-dollar league (IPL) within the cricketing world, there is a possibility that extra pressure has been added on players to justify the growth of BCCI in terms of quality of cricket the wealthiest board is producing. And unconsciously, this extra pressure creates mental fatigue within the players where they have to prove every time on the field that they are the best cricketing side as they are represented by the richest board and have the fanciest cricketing league.

Hence, while going through the fundamental changes after the T20 world cup debacle, the Indian cricket board should also address the issues outside cricketing jargon—the issues like the paradoxical state and unconscious mental fatigue have kept the Indian men’s cricket team in the distance away from the winning podium. It’s high time that BCCI took a step and removed the lid from the cat box.

(Satkirti Sinha is a PhD research scholar in the Performing Arts department at DMU University, Leicester. His areas of expertise are Folk Culture, Dalit Theology, Performance Politics, Feminist Theory, Post-Colonial Theory, and Sexual Politics. His email address is: Satkirti.Sinha.2016@live.rhul.ac.uk)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Indian Cricket   BCCI   IPL 

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