Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cricket: The Why and The Why Not!

My creative energy is scattered. I have a simmering anger against something that I have to cope with on a daily basis: collective indifference where action is much needed. My muse is holidaying in Puri with her parents. With no one to talk to largely, I took to the IPL like a free-falling person takes to the cold, cruel ground. I always liked watching cricket but after the match-fixing scandals broke out, I stopped altogether. For years I didn’t watch a single match on TV. With my faith betrayed by some money-hungry scumbags, it was not easy to love the sport again with unadulterated enthusiasm. I remember I used to switch off the TV when Sachin took the field with the bat! I couldn’t bear to see him get out. When he played one of his many legendary innings, I watched the highlights. Even now I pray when he’s at the crease. It’s involuntary. It is part of my system, as it is for millions of Indians.

The IPL has blurred the colors of loyalty. Suddenly you have to choose between the city you live and love and your demigod of a cricketing icon. I live in Kolkata and root for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by default. A very interesting situation is when KKR plays against teams that have Sachin, Yuvraj and Dhoni on their team lists. I find myself hoping that these players score tons of runs but the sum total falls just short of the KKR total! I want them to go hammer and tongs and yet I want them to somehow stop short of batting KKR out of the game. I tried to train myself to will the KKR bowlers dismiss one of the names I mentioned, but I failed to do so hopelessly. The same goes for Shane Warne. I want him to win. Always. No matter which team he’s leading against. Except for KKR, of course!

In all this positive hullaballoo, I noted a rather disturbing trend. Sledging has been part of cricket folklore. The cricketing gods were not innocent of sledging. In the good old days, an aggressive bowler would stare and glare at the batsmen, making them cringe. The clever, witty batsman would reply with a snide remark or allow his bat to do the talking. However, in the recent times, I see players openly mouthing the f-word and even vernacular cuss words. The idea of cricket as a gentleman’s sport is slowly crumbly with the young guns making it top-heavy. Kids watching the match would love to catch what their icons are doing on the field. They are more likely to grab the idea that the best way to tide over your opposition was to get into verbal duels with them. That is not conducive to the nature and future of the game. I just desperately hope that we don’t come to times when sports telecasts will contain a P/G rating! Till then, enjoy the IPL!

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