Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Cricket Religion - An Appeal

The so called 'Cricket Religion' has managed to play a spoil-sport in the minds of many and it is in an extremely disturbed state of the game that I am writing this. As a kid, my dad took me to the chepauk stadium, I was in my fifth standard then. That was the first time I saw Kapil Dev in his reality. As he walked past the dressing room, I shook hands with the giant form. He was all smiles to inspire the eleven-year-old boy about the game, shook my hands real hard and said "grow up and play the game there", pointing to the green field. I might not have grown up to be an Indian cricket player but was proud I shook the same hands that held the world cup in 1983 when I was barely an year old.

The fire still burns in me. Every game that India plays, I cheer on - till the last ball, till we lose or win. But at the end of the hundred overs, it is still a sport. I treat it that way. If India loses the match today, that doesnt mean we are not winning tomorrow. After all, isnt life so much like cricket? We raise everytime we fall and that is success. When the philosophy of life itself is such, why cant it be applied to a sport? Why cant we treat cricket just as a game? We do not burn our homes everytime we fail at work. We do not call names at our relatives if they let us down once. But when it comes to cricket, we are maniacs.

A good fan is one who appreciates the game, for the spirit of it. A good fan is one who backs his star, accepts his mistakes and shows belief in him to come back again. First of all, do not be extremists! A moron who burns the effigies or posters or the national flag because we lost a game of cricket is no less than a terrorist, causing disturbance and provoking anger in others' minds. But unfortunately, public memory in India is very short when it comes to Politics and Cricket. The same moron can be seen cheering in the stadiums if India is playing well again. This is definitely not an acceptable behavior. There are heart attacks, are we so meek-minded? Cant we accept failure? There should not be so much of passion for any single entity. There should not be mails flouting around demeaning our own country-men players. Fun is fun only when it does not cross the line.

A few years back, fans in the sub-continent were known for their spirits, now is the region any safe to play a game? Lose a match, and a house in Baroda goes to rubbles; Score a naught and effgies are burnt all over the country; Is this the support we show to our so-called super stars? Shouldnt we rather treat them like wounded heroes, accept them with a warm welcome and prepare them for the future? These shameful acts only work to bring down the performance of the team and put extra pressure on the players. How can someone win with the fear of losing at the back of mind? The situation in Asia is so bad that players are advised not to come back for sometime to their own country. Who are we to decide this fate for them? We drink Pepsi when they drink it. We use Mysore Sandal because Dhoni says he is using it. We even shave with Gillette pro plus because Irfan finds it easy to bowl. We do pooja when India plays a match. All this nonsense need a call to be stopped immediately. We do not neeed Sachin to tell us Sunfeast is good for health. Cricket can do better without Mandira Bedi's show offs to increase the TRP rate. A game is a game and please do not bring the concepts of religion, passion, media and extremism into this. Our behavior so far is a shame and let's stop giving cricket more credit than it deserves. A sport is to delight you, do not fall a prey to it.

The Indian team might have bowed out of the world cup, but there is always a future. The game is still on. Do not lose your spirit because of the extremism in you. Be a fan, not a fanatic. Let me watch cricket in peace and remember Kapil's words forever.

keep smilin,

PS: The world cup is still happening and there are loads of excitement in store. Ricky Ponting and Tameem Iqbal can still thrash the ball and I definitely want to see it cross the boundary line. Mutthiah Muralidharan (wow, he was splendid in the field, playing against India and yes, I have the humility to accept that. The catch he pulled off to dismiss Saurav made me stand and clap. This is the commitment that keeps the game going. And oh yea, I am an ardent fan of Saurav Ganguly) and Mashrafe Mortaza are still bowling and I definitely want to see them ripping the stumps off. Am sure cricket is more fun if we stop attaching emotions and watch the game for the spirit of it.