Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Magician, the King and the Boatmen

[When Greg Chappell and BCCI joined hands last year, they vowed to deliver Indian cricket across the sea of mediocrity to a never-before land.
Never mind the "Mission World Cup 2007" refrain - that was always an eyewash for the majority of fans of an ODI-crazy nation. The real aim, it appeared to people who bought into the concept, was always inculcation of a team with a mindset that would never stop aspiring for the next higher level in the true tradition of "A team that is not growing is actually dying" and like, a team where individuals would put team needs ahead of his own and yet there would be enough warmth for the unit to function as a family rather than an army of robots.

Let us interprete the saga that unfolded subsequently through an adventure story set in late 19th century.]
A stinking rich Indian King (BCCI) met a Magician from Oz (Indian Coach) and asked him to perform the greatest magic of his life for him. The Magician took the King to the sea shore and pointed to a ragged wooden boat there. "See that boat? It has so far been used only for ferrying passengers in tidal rivers."

Then the magician pointed to a few joyous young men. Attired in blue, they were rowing a fishing canoe near the coastline. "See them boys? Now here's the magic: I am going to make those boys row this boat across the ocean to another land across it. The King challenged the Magician to make his scarcely believable words come true and promised to embellish the sorcerer with unheard of riches if he could do that.

The Magician was keen to initiate the voyage with whatever resources he could muster. The journey would span a couple of years and yet the chosen mode of transport was that ragged medieval rowboat driven by muscle power of a team of rowers. For his crew the magician combined a few seasoned men with a number of untested rookies.

The boat itself was made of high quality wood - but it was understandably a far cry from the treated steel that had come into vogue at the time. The Sorcerer from Oz nevertheless spotted unmistakable steel in the will of a few crew members and entrusted one of them with the cox's duty. Magician brought a flag and tied it to the boat mast. It said: Commitment to Excellence.

The magician's challenge was to impart adequate strength to this boat and its crew in order to get it performing like a modern day steel-hulled ship over the long voyage. Inherent to the ambitious voyage was the danger of the old-fashioned boat giving way and sinking mid-sea but the King and the Magician agreed that it was "now or never". Each person of the rowing group was assigned a distinct oar to row. He was trained to perform his role in an optimum fashion. Yet others were given the roles of keeping the susceptible hull in shape.

The monumental journey started off in a far from smooth fashion. A few members were thought not to be compliant with the common aim and were promptly debarred from continuing the voyage at the 1st port irrespective of their past records or potential. Certain other members of the crew openly showed their displeasure with the magician over one such decision.

The entire Kingdom was always suspecting that the boat and its crew would crack up under the extreme stresses it was going to be put to by the magician; now this initial disharmony testified that the fear was real. This old fashioned boat had a past history of getting harboured numerous times due to various failings. The boat and the diverse crew on it almost resembled an unstable chemical compound and the voyage a surefire way to ignite that explosive powder.

Contrary to expectations though, the bunch on board regrouped soon and responded magnificently to the challenges thrown by Mr. Magician at them. The entire unit worked in unison like a dream. They all put savvy modern-day ships in shame with the performance of their boat. Every little crack in the hull was getting repaired with amazing finesse as soon as it got spotted and the muscular arms of those rowers seemed to generate more power than fuel-powered engines.
The inspirational Cox led like a man with a mission. A few rogue ships tried to chase it but were instead given a tough time by this lot. The news spread fast from the next port; the world sat up and took notice disbelievingly.

The seafaring went on smoothly until the day they had an encounter with the pirates of the Caribbean. These unheralded new generation pirates pulled a few punches above their weight. When the bloody fight was over a number of cracks opened up in the hull of our boat all at once. From that point of time little and not-so-little fissures kept appearing in the voyager at various locations. No sooner than a crack would be stitched, two new ones would pop up at the opposite end of the hull. The magician and his team of faithful maintenance men were running out of choices by now. They had never envisaged taking care of so many ruptures.

Far bigger than the repair problem was the problem with the rowers. Many of the them had started running out of steam far earlier than Sorcerer and his Cox had anticipated. In a last ditch attempt the Cox even took to rowing two ores by himself but he could do only so much. Those first few golden days of voyage had faded in the distant past; all this while the journey was far from over.

I can only narrate the story till this point for the voyage is still on. The sorcerer's magic is waning by the day and reaching that land across the ocean is fast becoming a distant dream. Now we hear that the boat has entered into the rough seas near the Cape, a place where most of the rowers have no prior experience of rowing, just when the magician and the crew would have least wanted to. We can do little else except waiting till the end of it all. Only then do we know the ending of this adventure story and learn if

(i) the ageing magician and his Cox turn back the clock and conjure up a great trick; rejuvenated crew members join in with renewed vigour to fulfil the sorcerer's promise of completing this unlikely journey to 'Neverland' with his original crew, or

(ii) he gets overwhelmed with the increasing efforts and diminishing returns and directly accepts defeat by ending the journey at the next port at the behest of the King, or

(iii) he decides to rethink his methods and replaces some of the stressed out young rowers with a few well-rested and experienced arms at the next port to increase his chances of completing the journey, or

(iv) the senile magician and battle-worn Cox fail to produce a new trick to rekindle the fire in his crew with the magician steadfastly refusing to alter strategy; the boat slowly but surely sinks in the ocean, taking down all on board with it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post... very well written....