The polarization of cricket….


Our country succumbed to cricket many years ago without a whimper. A game that brings the nation to a screeching halt reminiscent of an army flag march, we remain under its tight command . The British raj introduced the gentleman’s game in our country via the East India Company as early as 1721 when the game was first played by the white man on Indian soils near Cambay. It was followed by the formation of the first cricket club in 1792. The English initially must have allowed the original inhabitants of India participate in the game probably out of amusement than anything else and I am not saying this because I have watched Lagaan or have used the movie as a reference point. I say this because the intention of  colonization has never been with a beneficial motto, it has always been for selfish, one-sided, sadistic motives. It was towards the mid 18th century that the first all Indian cricket team was formed in Bombay by the parsi community. Quadrangular tournaments were played by the hindus, muslims, parsis and christians against the Europeans who followed the divide and rule agenda, divided the Indians based on religion even while playing cricket. There was of course Ranjit Singhji and Duleepsinghji who went on to play for the English cricket team and “appreciated” for it by the British as if it were an honor.It may as well have been for the men. The international cricket council, the then erstwhile imperial cricket council invited India in 1926 and India played her first test match in 1932.

From 1932 we Indians fell in love with the Englishman’s game slowly and surely. We follow any of the available versions of the game  patiently while at work, while at home, while driving or while doing just about anything. Nothing else can grasp our attention like the way this game does. We have allowed the game of cricket to play with our minds like no psychiatrist can hope to. We lap up the game like a hungry child licking a melting raspberry ice stick, greedily relishing and savoring every drop of the juicy feast. Due to our own greed we have let the game consume us and we have allowed the game in turn to reverse the fortunes for the players, the board , sponsors , TV channels , politicians and the betting mafias. In short our passion for the game has made everybody rich or richer, except us. Due to this apparent weakness, millions of dollars fill up the coffers of the long chain involved in the game.

We Indians are an emotional breed, but why do we let our emotions get the better of us when it comes to only cricket?  Is it because we have won more laurels in cricket or is it because the smart commercialization of the sport has firmly clasped us. It has to be the latter. Why do we treat cricket players like Gods? Do they deserve to be? Lets be an ardent fan, but lets not be a devotee where we remain blind. We must treat cricket like a game where players are doing their jobs and not as if they are doing us a favor. We can recognize every single player of our Indian team and maybe so for the last forty years, will we recognize Vikram Pillay or Baljith Singh from the hockey team if we spot them at a public place? Chances are we will not even glance at them. We forget that cricket is but the de facto national game. Our national game remains hockey, the game that garnered us the first olympic gold medal and it has been a good long thirty years since we won the last for hockey in 1980. Sometime in the early 70s Indian cricket gained prominence over hockey and the passion of India was cricket, amply reflective with our dwindling fortunes at the olympics post 1980. Any national team to succeed needs the country to root for it. Without our vociferous support for the game , the players, the coaches, the federation and the game by itself began to fester. We are responsible for the downfall of hockey as much as we are responsible for making cricket our crowning glory and the Indian cricket board the richest in the world. People like Pawar would not walk around with a paunch, Modi would not walk around with a smirk and Dalmiya’s slick hair would not gleam under the afternoon sun if not for our blind passion. I am not indicating that passion is a bad thing, it is without a doubt great to root for the national teams but let us not do so at the expense of every other sport. Our blind faith needs to be shown towards non cricketing sports in order to resurrect them. I have known national and state level basketball players traveling unreserved in trains, sleeping by the toilets and playing their hearts out for their state or country after a long journey without a whimper. Try sending our cricket players by train and the country will burn for them. This is our first class preference for the hallowed stars. We glorify our cricket players, perform pujas for their well-being, chant mantras for their victories. If they fail, we conduct funeral processions for the players. Funeral processions are also a sign of popularity for the game. There remains an indifference to hockey, the deafening silence reverberates louder than the anti-cricket slogans. It takes one hundred from Tendulkar to overshadow every pitfall in the game of cricket and every shortcoming of the cricket stars. Players like Sreeshanth have spent more time making money not playing cricket but by being visible in every award , game and dance show. I have also seen him enter the toilet on a Kingfisher flight with his pretty companion much to the passengers bewilderment. All is well, irrespective of. After all cricket players are demigods, they can do whatever they choose to do. Few stray ones like Azharuddin bite the dust, rest get away scot free.Hockey , a poor sibling in comparison where every shortcoming is magnified and ridiculed. No big weights shield the players or pump cash into the federation. The game lies on its death-bed today.

 As a multitude, if we reserved a fraction of our support for hockey, the game would not be in the doldrums . Today, the players are not being paid by the hockey federation due to lack of funds.Our passion contributes to building wealth for the sport and helps in keeping its head above waters . If we do not watch the sport, none of the corporates will step up to sponsor matches, air time revenues will not be generated, the federations remain needy along with the players and players do not earn extra pocket-money via endorsements. By rooting for our national game, we can also kick-start it. MS Dhoni has stated that his team will gift 1 crore to the hockey team. The game that has brought laurels to India eight times over at the Olympics like no other sport has for us to date stands with a begging bowl in front of cricket today.

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17 Responses to “The polarization of cricket….”

  1. Cricket started gaining unprecedented popularity in India from the year 1983, when we the underdogs of world cricket managed to snatch the ODI World Cup from the unbeatable reigning champions, the West Indies. This one victory caught the fascination of a success-starved country like nothing else could. We felt indebted to our cricket team for giving us the rare pleasure of holding our heads high on the field of sports. Thus began our long romance with cricket. And even to this day, cricket is the only sport that gives us something to cheer about. And most importantly, cricket was never dependent on the Govt. for its survival; cricket created its own economy, its own finances and played by its own rules. I strongly believe that the other sports administrators should stop sulking and try and learn a few things from our Cricket Board. Public support, spectator interest and everything else will automatically follow.

    • Melwyn – Fair points, cricket has been a unique exception because its foundation was laid a long time back by the British. Just like our Railways , cricket too was the brain child of the Raj and a history of 250 plus years unlike hockey which was introduced probably less than 80 odd years. Because of the head start it would be difficult for the federation of an other sport to match it’s strength and resources. All other sports in this country need public support at the outset to gain any importance from the Government, sponsors etc. The dilemma is our reluctance to encourage a sport which is our national game.

      • Melwyn – BCCI is a power centric board where commercialization overrides the game by itself. They have been for long wanting tax exemption based on charitable grounds. Over the years they have provided flimsy evidence of actual tournament revenues, players remuneration details and so on. The tax dept are in the process of imposing hefty penalties. They have just completed the assessment and this is their comment even on the promotion of the sport.The ITA response – ” element of benevolence and promotion of the sport was not found after the scrutiny of tax related returns,”

  2. Salman Shahid Alvi Says:

    Sharmila,I agree with you in all respects.But we cannot force anyone to skip his interest for cricket and pay for buying tickets for a hockey match.Until and unless people are not made aware of its vitality and contribution to the country,things are very unlikely to change even if each player contributes a crore.Though,its a very bold and appreciable step by MSD.

  3. Typical Indian Psych has been slave of Brits life style & thinking till date & cricket is the Best & Biggest example of it in my opinion. so many Human lives & Working Hours must have been wasted over it and will continue to as craze for it is and has been growing at ppl’s expense which is however beyond common men’s ability to comprehend. probably that’s the reason India is the biggest market for anything & everything which is saleable or not saleable in the world.
    when the likings & appreciations turn into ‘craze’ for anything is harmful and shameful. i really pity those who due to lack of such understandings victimize themselves of such fanaticism happily & proudly whether it is for a Cricket Player or An Actor/star/Superstar/religious leader/political leader…..
    why certain professions only should be highlighted when others are no less important to run the entire show !? every kind of work has its own important factor and so do ppl marvelling in their own line of work !
    situation of India’s National sport Hockey is really shocking and heart aching. so shameful to know about the discrepancies other sportsmen like basketball and other have to face! what’s fun to make ‘Rich’ ‘Richer’ and neglect other talents!? isn’t it the same attitude prevail for Movie stars vs Drama actors?!no matter how talented Drama Actors are in compare to those Movie stars, the latter win all the attention,appreciations and accolades from the mass. to the extent that some are Idolized and worshipped as Demigods !!! in my opinion its nothing but a suicidal tendency for that particular race & country where rationalism is at stake and being rational is considered as a curse and those few rationals are being labeled as Black Ships.

    • MonaLisa – Very well put indeed. I agree with the extreme fanatical approach we have with cricket and bollywood and even our netas. The jobs that you and I do are as important as what these stars do. But, how few realize this.

  4. oops ! ‘sheeps’ it is, not ‘ships’ ! Typo…..!

  5. On another news, BCCI wanted tax exemption based on charitable grounds. The ITA response – ” element of benevolence and promotion of the sport was not found after the scrutiny of tax related returns,”

  6. Cricket is religion in India and how do you separate religion out of one’s mind.everything overides in life over a phenomenon called cricket.each one of us has own say and can belittle any selector down under for the sake of the game.Commercialisation,politics and more importantly money has spoilt the entire spirit of the game.cricket may be passion to the viewers but it’s quick money making machine for the players who spends a lot to get selected.sehwag pointed out this to the Delhi board recently.nothing will change and the betting will continue and rule the sport for the want of ridiculous some of money .Who can forget the indecent incident of Bob Woolmer ,who was murdered for this sport only.Golf is king of sports and the most money spinner to say the least.the whole world was shocked with tiger woods incident and most respectfully he’s in the rehabilitation centre now but the sport of golf continues and the enigma dies.had it happened with the most famous cricket player of india ,it would have incited god knows what and the media rampage and cricketing abuses et al.the guy would never had made a comeback but tiger woods will for the benefit of the game and to share another story as a role model for millions.all in all it remains my favourite sport but i have lost the pleasure of watching and mostly check the score online .the fanaticsm rules the game and must end.As and when other sports get international recognition like tennis ,boxing,badminton the individuals are roped in for brand recognition and that’s how the individual’s game and focus is diluted in the wake of money which lures one and all.Donating 1 cr from dhoni is more of an insult than help,it may be a friendly gesture but it insults the game of hockey and humiliates to such a level that shows the domination of cricket and death of other sports in India. Big corporates like sahara will be saviour of their own benefits than of the sport itself.The system should be cleanesd of the filth from top to bottom and lessons for the love and pride of sport should be learnt from other countries ..see china has eclipsed the olympics medal tally and the others like russia,germany who used to rule the roost have been shown the dust by mighty chinese….The Americans were really scared in bejing Olympics to see the rise of Chinese…It’s the wake up call for the administrators or shall I say the perpitrators of the game. ARISE!AWAKE!AND STOP NOT TILL THE GOAL IS REACHED. … Swami Vivekananda
    For the love of sports we pray and may Almighty help wisdom prevail on indians.Amen

    • Vikas – A brilliant comment from you. I agree that the power centric game needs to undergo a cleansing process from bottom up. The point is, nothing will deter the passion for the game. It has grown on us. We sit up and notice only victories and mock failures. We noticed shooting because of Bindra’s gold medal, who is now having a show down with the federation for interfering too much. But even this was one off passing phase. Do we follow shooting? If it was a major commercial hoopla where cheerleaders danced, had a major draw , rolled out millions in prize money , attracted sponsors we would have.

  7. yeah..missed on mentioning Bindra,,i really appreciate his parents to encourage and let him pursue shooting as his profession(possibly 3 idiots style).The mental opposition will continue and the sport will suffer.Sharmila,Nice write up especially the BRIT HISTORY,As they use to say Angrez chale gaye ,yeh thank you,sorry aur cricket chod gaye.

  8. to hope for cleansing and better system is a very optimistic approach. however corruption has grown into the system such a way that cleansing seem almost impossible .it grows further more speedily like cancer which needs extreme measures to eradicate.

    • Correct Monalisa – Corruption remains the impossible cleansing act. It exists in every sector, every sphere…it has seeped in everywhere. Somewhere, there is a little hope that one day things will surely and slowly change though.

  9. is it not fanaticism to make a particular sport one’s religion !?

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