What young Indians can learn from the Sydney Test match against Australia

Indian cricketers Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari | Twitter: @ashwinravi99

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India is playing a dramatic and exciting cricket series in Australia. The recently concluded third men’s cricket Test match in Sydney has scripted history. For a generation that believes in quantifying every aspect of life, perhaps the outcome of this match will not be understood properly. Nevertheless, the youth of our country can draw lessons from it for a ‘good’ life. By labouring the Sydney Test into a draw – after a counter-attack that made even a win look possible – Indian players displayed the virtues of meditation, motivation, and morality.

Meditating on work

Meditation is the unflinching focus on the task at hand. It is the habit and action of taking control of your mind to focus on a particular aspect without any flicker. On the last day of the Test match, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin performed the act of meditation under extraneous situations. There were verbal duels on the field, noise from the crowd and the pressure of the expectations of more than a billion fans. Not only that, Vihari was injured, Ashwin had a back problem and Pujara’s role was physically challenging. Yet, they meditated on the field for each ball they faced.

As young people, we can learn from it. We have easy access to technology. It is empowering and rewarding, but also distracting. The innings played by the Indian team highlights that despite pain and distractions, even the most difficult challenge – facing the world’s best bowling attack – can be managed well if you meditate on your task. We face failures mostly because of the inadequacy to prioritise what is important and meditate on it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, which the Indian team has demonstrated. If all of us adopt this practice in our personal and professional lives, there is no looking back.

Also read: Why India enjoys Sydney draw more than Melbourne win — mystique of Test cricket

The ‘motivation’ ingredient

Meditation requires motivation, which is our second theme. The Indian team came to this match with players like Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami sitting out due to injury, and two batsmen (Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja) injured before the final day of the match. Such a scenario makes one drop their hat and pull out of the fight. However, the Indian team was motivated to overcome this adversity. They believed that every adversity contains the seeds of opportunity and growth. And an injured Rishabh Pant showed this motivation with a brilliant knock, putting aside the backlash he had been facing over his wicket-keeping. Other members were no less behind. Pujara, Vihari and Ashwin, building on the good start by Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, demonstrated the motivation to achieve positive outcomes and did not get bogged down by the challenges. It is this motivation to do well that made this match historic.

Young people, considered as the demographic dividend of our country, must inculcate the motivation to do well even in adversity. With motivation and meditation, even the most difficult challenges can be overcome. Our Constitution exhorts us “to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement” (Article 51A (j)). Unless we are motivated, we cannot strive towards excellence and contribute to our nation’s development, just like the Indian team did in Sydney. Let us inculcate the value of motivation as, what Immanuel Kant says, a “categorical imperative” to achieve the “far nobler end” of performing our various duties.

Also read: Broken bones, fractured jaws, bruised egos — The lesser-known tale of India’s pace bowling

The moral responsibility

To inculcate the categorical imperative, one has to become a moral person. This brings us to our third theme of morality. This match reflected very clearly the aspects of morality and why they are important to our lives. On the Indian side, Ravindra Jadeja was seen padded up with a dislocated thumb. Earlier, Jasprit Bumrah, though not completely fit, bowled with full heart. These actions reflected their commitment to ‘duty’, and thus on their moral personality. As Kant says, performing one’s duty with ‘good will’ is the supreme morality.

Some members of the spectators in the Sydney Cricket Ground used racist language against cricketers Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah. It is not only morally repugnant but also goes against the universal values of human rights of respecting the dignity of an individual.

Even on the field, one of the great Test players of the Australian team, Steve Smith, was caught removing Pant’s guard mark, an act that can be considered a moral misconduct. Although the incident has been explained as an excuse by Australian coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine, it reflects very poorly on the moral aptitude of Smith. Plato, in The Republic, says that a virtuous person has different elements of their personality ordered in a harmonious manner. The said action by this ‘great’ player reflects poorly on the virtues showing one to be morally corrupt. And the philosophers agree that a morally corrupt life is devoid of goodness and happiness. We also saw some of the Australian players mocking the grave injuries faced by the Indian players. This reflects not only the moral bankruptcy of the individuals, but also the absence of humanism in them. One of the Indicators of Humanhood for Joseph Fletcher is the concern for others, which was clearly absent in some of the Australian players.

Also read: Cheteshwar Pujara: The portrait of a Test cricketer as a team man

Dear young Indians

As young people, we shall remember that our national philosophy, through our Constitution, is “to develop humanism”. More than that, it is the Indian philosophy to treat everyone with dignity and have compassion for all. This match showed us how not to be. What not to do to develop a “moral personality”. Immanuel Kant says that “motives” matter irrespective of the outcome. If one scores thousands of runs, earns millions of rupees and performs well in all the fields, but if the motive is corrupt, one does not possess a moral personality. And without a moral personality, life is devoid of goodness and happiness, which is essential for a complete living.

For a good life, one certainly requires morality, motivation and meditation, as we have seen through the good outcome in the Sydney Test. Commentator Harsha Bhogle said appropriately on Twitter that the second name for life is Test cricket. Thus, drawing lessons from the third Test match between India and Australia, we can enrich our lives towards a complete living. Dear young Indians, let’s strive for a ‘good’ life of meditation, motivation and morality “so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement” as, to what Kant says, a “far nobler end”.

Avinash Pandey is an officer in the customs & central excise department of IRS. Views are personal.

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