Stop Praying for a Whitewash in Australia

by Devanshu Mehta

I follow politics– U.S. politics– quite closely. In the two years preceding the 2008 election, you could say I followed it more than anything else.

In politics, broadly speaking, there are two types of people– the partisans and the ideologues. The partisans fundamentally want their party to win, and will give up on smaller points of ideology. The ideologues support a cause, and will oppose everyone opposed to their cause, regardless of party affiliation. Obviously, there is overlap between the groups depending on the cause.

Over a long enough time scale, neither side is obviously right. The partisan can claim to shoot for the 80% good solution instead of waiting for 100%, keeping the big picture in mind, and positing that the only way to effect change is by winning elections. The partisan votes for the team that is mostly like them.

The ideologue favors building movements, affecting public opinion. They may largely vote for a particular party, but this is by providence, not by design. The ideologue may be pure in intentions, but also may have the effect of sabotaging long term gains for ideological purity.

The partisan, on the other hand, may do the opposite. He may sabotage short term gains for electoral success. The mental calculus of the abominable partisan goes something like this: “I hope the economy tanks by November, so the ruling party loses and my party wins.”

And this is where we switch to talking about cricket.

Venkat Ananth, the writer for Yahoo! Cricket, has been beating this particular drum for quite some time now:

Four months ago, when Indian cricket should have been introspecting for its failures in England, the BCCI had two clear options – one, to bite the bullet, conduct a thoroughly honest review of everything wrong with Indian cricket and introduce correctives to fix the inherent systemic flaws; or two, to remain firmly in denial as if they never happened.

He launches in to an epic rant on every popular criticism of BCCI and the Indian cricket establishment. I agree with much of it, disagree with some.

Until he gets to this bit (emphasis added):

Lastly and more importantly, I hope that India gets whitewashed in Australia. Call me unpatriotic (and I’ve defended a lot of that tripe in the past), but quite honestly, that could be the best possible result for Indian cricket’s long-term interest, in my view.

So let me get this straight, dear partisan friend. If India end the series on 2-2, coming from behind to win the last two tests in what would turn out to be the most dramatic series in recent memory, you would be unhappy.

Thank you, I have no further questions.

The thing about partisans is that they need the world to fit their narrative. If the economy tanks by November, Obama is toast. So if you oppose Obama, you may end up hoping the economy doesn’t improve. In 2004, catching Saddam Hussein was viewed as a political victory for George W. Bush. As a partisan opposed to Bush, you may wish Saddam had not been captured. For all the wrong reasons

These are wishes (and people) removed from reality, but they pervade our political process.

The weird thing about Mr. Ananth’s article is that what he ultimately wants is an ideological victory– for the BCCI to change to suit his ideal. And it’s a worthy ideal.

But he’s willing to give up the present. He’s willing to give up on short-term victories, on short-term miracles. He’s willing to give up on the grind. Like a comic book villain, he wishes for short-term devastation, so that he can build a new world order.

If I ever wish for an Indian loss for the greater good, dear reader, I give you the permission to slap me sideways.

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