Always think of successful sports team as metaphors for the countries and economies that produce those sports, and in the details, such comparisons don’t always hold. Taking care of the welfare of millions of citizens is very different from training talented athletes. But sometimes, teams still meaningfully reflect certain qualities that their country has, or even certain that they lacks.
India’s chronically poor performance at the Olympics is a sign of greater political dysfunction in the state – nepotism, corruption and mismanagement that has tripped up not only aspiring athletes but also aspiring businesses. But Indian cricket doesn’t like this model. The team is a world leader. While India’s cricket system is riddled with many of the ills that plague the country, it has managed to create a competitive market where the Indian government has been unable to manage its economy.
The IPL is a good example. The annual tournament between city franchises, which began in 2008, consists of short but sharp competitions, often accompanied by corruption and conflicts of interest in India. But the IPL offers even young Indian players of limited age the opportunity to compete with each other and mingle with international stars. This exposes them to high pressure cricket, so the good ones develop the skills and confidence to step up to that more intense game.
Indian cricket has found a way to be truly competitive. But so far, the economy has not.