Last night saw the partial culmination of what is being called the “Friendship Series”. The gangs in green and blue fought it out on the cricket pitch and after a long long time the Indian Captain got a chance to lift a winner’s trophy. As ambassadors of goodwill and friendship the Indian team seems to have won quite a few hearts across the border. Although Captain “Fearless” Ganguly suffered an injured back and had to be carried outside the field, spirits are high in the Indian camp. The much awaited Test Series starts in 3 days time and the media and cricket-crazy people in both countries are gearing up to follow every moment of it.

Since the past two weeks, most parts of the sports page in the daily newspapers are being covered by stories about the Indian cricket team in Pakistan. People associated with other forms of sports have always held a grudge against the media for playing down about their achievements or problems. And their complaint does seem justfied to a large extent. People are hardly aware of any other sportspeople barring the 11 men in flannels. Like seasonal birds few tennis players, atheletes, golfers, shooters and (surprise) formula one racers make a little noise at times. The hockey and football teams manage to grab some footage at times but never like the cricket team who are the permanent toast of the nation.

The other day, I caught a piece of news in one corner of the sports page. The man in focus is called Krishna Raut, who is a temporary worker in the conservancy department of the Howrah Municipal Corporation. 15 days in a month he sweeps streets, clears garbage and cleans the sewers. Nothing remarkable so far, besides the fact that he helps keep the town clean. But he made to the news column for the other identity that he holds and he holds it with a lot of pride. He is a very successful boxing coach and he has coached players who currently represent the country in the boxing arenas. As an upcoming boxer during the early nineties, he was the state champion and later went on to win the gold medal at a national meet. Due to a crisis in the family, Raut had to give up his hopes of entering the National team to take up his present job. He has no qualms about the nature of his job but has been running from pillar to post to get his employment converted into a permanent one for the marginal financial benefit that would help him maintain his family a tad bit better. Boxing is his passion and since the time he had to hang up his gloves, he has been helping numerous others to achieve their dreams.

One only wonders how many more indiviudals like him are working tirelessly to build up the hopes of Indian sports and all they get in return are poverty and ignominy.

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