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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Blame the fans

Pratik Patel, an Indian cricket fan, residing in the United States has written a very sensible letter to the Cricinfo Editor. I am reproducing this mail, which appeared in the magazine's May issue. I particulary liked the comparison of a demigod with god himself. Here goes...

And so ends another Indian World Cup dream, the dream of the "blue billion". Alas! Tomorrow, I will hunt down the nearest Indian cricketer's house and paint all kinds of not-so-nice artwork on the walls outside.

Late last year, the low turnouts at the Champions Trophy proved that Indians only love Indian cricket, not cricket as a whole. And the World Cup has proved that they only love the Indian team that wins, not the one that plays.
Indian cricket is in need of unconditional, unemotional supporters. Supporters who'll have a beer while watching the game, another after it ends, then go to sleep and get on with their lives thereafter. Not supporters who turn up every centurion or five-for-earning bowler into a demigod; not supporters who resort to burning effigies of those demigods after a World Cup defeat. We never reserve such disrespect for our gods when natural disaster strikes; there's no reason why the players should be subjected to it. Just because we have the power to create demigods doesn't mean we can un-create them when they fail to live up to our expectations. Amid all the media hoopla, it's easy to forget that cricket is just a game.

In another section of the same issue of Cricinfo, Sanjay Manjrekar writes:
In a nation of passionate cricket watchers like India, bold cricketing decisions are not made without public support. When India were knocked out in the first round of the World Cup, the BCCI knew it had the support of the public to take the bull by the horns, and in the process even take on some of the heavyweights of the team.
What the fear of a backlash from the public can do is evident from the BCCI's reactions to comments made by Sachin Tendulkar at two different times in his career. An understandable, human reaction by Tendulkar on Greg Chappell's views on himself earned him a show-cause notice from the board. But a more serious violation - a public display of disappointment after India declared at Multan in 2004 when he was just short of a double century - was ignored. This was because India were playing well then, and Tendulkar himself was in good form. The public was with the players.
Whether public sentiment should become such an important factor in the board's decision-making is debatable. It may be the fans who make the game special in India, but they now seem to have been promoted to the status of shareholders in the company that is Indian cricket.
I am tempted to think, like Churchill was, about 60 years back, that Indian cricket is not yet ready for (Westminster style) democracy. Neither is it the time for the BCCI to go public!! Even if it does, management control needs to be in the firm hands of a sane minority. This country has often been witness to the crossing of the fine line between democracy and mobocracy. India, the nation was strong enough to prove Churchill wrong. Indian cricket may not be that resilient.


angshu said...


Excellent cricket blog after a long time. Nice work - keep it up. And those opening lines of verse on your favourite Dada post were simply great.

Amit Bajaj said...

Many thanks, Angshu !

It was turning out to be a good day, and you just made it better. Keep coming, keep saying nice things :)