Pimp my Cricket

India\’s Cricket World Cup 2007 Debacle

After 3 bottles of greedily gulped down Kingfisher light beer, I was too drunk to have patience, or hope. So when Dhoni\’s wicket fell, I finally asked my good friend Sumanta to switch off the TV. He readily agreed being equally drunk. But I could feel his pain coz he\’s a big fan; and a Bong on top of that. I went to sleep immediately not wanting to know the result. The next morning I woke up still not wanting to know the result. I truly didn\’t bother. Nor did Sumanta. Though we did see on a news channel in the passing that India had lost miserably. Life has to go on you know. And sports is entertainment. It is also a nationalistic expression in some ways but a facile one.

But there were others who didn\’t take this lightly – many fans, the BCCI, the media, corporates, betters and bookies. I can understand the anguish of people who had hoped to make a profit out of this extravaganza. But what I don\’t understand is the way some fans reacted to this debacle. Blackening the posters of our cricketers, breaking and stoning their houses?? So you can deify and vilify the same person within a few hours? I mean what kind of really silly behaviour that? Who needs who more? I\’m sure that our sports persons need their fans more than the other way round. So how about due to the absence of support during a cricket match, later the cricketers come and smash the houses of fans for failing to show up? Is there some kind of contract here? In a civilised society outpouring of public sentiments should limit itself to peaceful means. And in the case of something as harmless as cricket, fans really need to chill.

In fact I\’m pretty sure that the insanely high expectations of Indian fans had made our cricketers so damn nervous that they forgot to play their \’natural game\’. Looking at a genius like Sachin get out definitely made me feel so. The Bastard Cricket Czars of India act like a local politician, the fans act like lustful customers, the advertisers act like pimps. Where does that leave our poor cricketers? Can they still play cricket for the love of the game? Anyway they are not paid as much as Bollywood stars. Also unlike Bollywood stars, who do subjective entertainment, our cricketers perform objective entertainment. Either you win or you lose. A film star makes the same amount whether the movie flops or hits. A cricketer loses a lot if the team doesn\’t win. Nobody gives a shit if a movie is a hit or a flop. Everybody abuses our cricketers if they lose one. Why this step-motherly treatment? Do they need to succeed in every match they play?

I\’m not a great fan of \’Success\’. I\’ve never been very successful myself. Moderately, somewhat, but not massively. The thing is, success as an end is as hyped as \’nirvana\’ is as an achievement. Too much focus on success makes us look at life not as \’line\’ but as a \’dot\’. A line can be straight or curvy and extended to make beautiful shapes. A line is a journey, but a dot is…well, a dot is a dot is a dot. Nothing else. Of course, success has its place in situations where success means ending a living creature\’s misery. But success in a cricket match? Surely, you cant say that you were miserable before India went to play the World Cup? And that your misery could only end if India wins the world cup? Ironically, Cricket in India, is a victim of its own popularity. But its still a form of entertainment and recreation. We must not make it an issue of life or death. Definitely not the death of the players or coaches. I think a nation\’s morals can be gauged by its predominant form of entertainment. At the peak of the Roman Civilisation, people paid money and sat in huge stadia just to see human beings chop each other off. The fans screamed, shouted, howled, clapped and whistled with every limb being severed and every eye being gouged. Free concessions for the audience made matters worse. And that was perhaps the real peak. The slide began soon after that. If we have to save our nation and not disintegrate then we must have a more sensible approach towards our entertainment-whether its cricket or saas-bahu serials.

The kind of money that is pumped into cricket defies all sensibilities. So partly media and corporates who look at viewers as milch cows are responsible for the state of affairs. Of course all this attention has helped the cricketers in getting paid, but I\’m sure that if Sachin had not been a sports person, he would\’ve been good at whatever he did. Thats the kind of person he is! The characters surrounding the cricket drama have only overdone the whole thing like a gaudy nautch girl. No wonder the fans are reacting as if they\’ve been denied a good night\’s romp after having paid for it. And the local politician has no accountability and all the control. If we can fire the coach, the captain, why not the Board President? Are only the players answerable to the fans? That really isn\’t fair at all! BCCI is nothing but the emperor who gives the thumbs up or thumbs down to decide the fate of the \’down but not out\’ gladiator.

My grouse against BCCI is that it is an enterprise meant to promote a concept but headed by people who have nothing to do with the concept and have no love for it. Why do you think Sharad Pawar, a politician, is the President of BCCI? Is it because he was a star wicket keeper in his youth? Or is it because it will ensure a good sugarcane crop in Baramati? More of the latter I think. The immense success and appeal of cricket in India has meant that politicians and businessmen have successively controlled BCCI. It ensures power, popularity and spotlight. Just imagine that Google\’s CEO has the controlling stake in Google, and Larry and Sergei are just hard working coders.

Whoever names a promotion and lobbying body \’Board of Control \’? I mean you\’re here just to control, is it? Is Cricket going out of control in India? Maybe it is! Right from the media to the fans, everyone is going berserk. Then there are the bookies who must have gone berserk after India\’s exit. Poor Woolmer bore the brunt of one shock. I wouldn\’t be surprised if a few similar incidents happen in India too. But then the people who bet big on India\’s matches live all around the world. We will never really know how many lives were destroyed that fateful day. But sure there are a few who must be still stuffing their mattresses and pillows with banknotes, their insane guffaws still trembling the corridors of betting syndicates.

They say that hundreds of crores or Rupees has drowned in the Caribbean seas. When you see the ads of Hutch and Kingfisher and many other Indian companies swamping the West Indian stadia, you feel, \”is this match happening in India?\” Indian money is traveling far and wide and has almost bankrolled the 2007 world cup. Indian fans from the world over were supposed to stuff the pockets of Caribbean hotel owners. Now that they are not coming, the hotels, the stadia and the streets seem empty and worthless. So I think the biggest actual stakeholders of this charade are Indian corporates and Caribbean tourism. So to be fair to everyone, why not just give India a confirmed berth in the finals? I\’m sure the Indian fans would love that. I\’m sure the corporates would love that. And I\’m sure BCCI would see merit in that idea. After all it is flexing its muscle! I don\’t know who can be more shameless in Indian Cricket today.

A few days back I got an sms rumour that India made it to super eights because Bangladesh was caught doping. I almost puked with indignation.

PS: Hell, BCCI doesn\’t even have a website of its own. What kind of promotion are they doing God only knows. Well, Devil may care..

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

One thought on “Pimp my Cricket

  1. Recently there was an article in the newspapers about the \’look alikes\’ of indian cricketers and their plight post the world cup debacle. Angry and blood thirsty fans in Ahemedabad and other places across india have mobbed their houses! talk about displacement! Most of them have gone under cover to protect themselves and their families. Some of them were quoted stating a desire to change their profession.. start a business or something.. a business other than riding on the highs of others and having to suffer their lows too! This is as bad as it gets.. Cricket in india is nothing short of mass hysteria..the most explicit example of the common weak man\’s attempts at projective identification!

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