India is a nation infected by frequent bouts of civil disharmony on the grounds of language, caste and most importantly, religion. In spite of this, one major religion binds Indians together, be it anytime of the year. And that is Cricket. In the case of other religions, one’s gain is the other’s loss. But in the case of this special religion, the entire nation is unanimous.
The much awaited ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 co-hosted by India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka started with a bang and the excitement about it kept increasing till the end. It didn’t require the current World Cup to prove that Indians are not just cricket fans but fanatics! The smallest of match statistics were being recorded by the Organising Committee, their details being compared with previous World Cups, captains being put under a lot of pressure and every move of players being marked. While majority of Indian fans hero-worship Sachin Tendulkar, the ousting of former captain, Sourav Ganguly was not taken lightly by his fans. This issue was hyped by the media for days and debates on various news channels and in newspapers ensued to arrive at a consensus as to whether it was the right decision to make. In the end, the only conclusion at which sensible people arrived was that Indian cricket fans are not a rational lot!
Simply because people are glued to their Television sets because of cricket, it cannot be assumed that the latter is forcing the most sensible public to do something very insensible. Even if it were not for cricket, the other plethora of programmes wouldn’t have kept people away from passing time incessantly in front of the ‘idiot box’. Like many other technological wonders, Television has to be indulged in during one’s spare time or during times of emergency. For people who are not quite dedicated to their work, the habit of conveniently stretching their ‘spare’ time comes very easily, Cricket World Cup or not. On the other hand, undedicated people may end up indulging in destructive pastimes, whereas in comparison, television which teaches them modernity and the world, would be a wise alternative to choose.
Cricket, as the biggest religion in India, has become a major decision-maker as to whether a large population of the country will be happy or not. Hence, the argument whether endless discussions on the strategies of each team are actually required, can be considered very audacious by most of us, fans. Since the end of the British Raj, cricket has been the unprecedented driving force which has been responsible for unifying the country to such a large extent. One major win can become a matter of unimaginable pride for the country as opposed to one loss which can shatter millions of hearts. Following India’s loss against South Africa, Indian fans have proved that as much as they adore Dhoni for leading India to win the T20 World Cup, they can badmouth him equally bad, if India lose even a single match.
The so-called fans fail to realise that they embody the true essence of a ‘fan’ only when they support their team in times of adversity as strongly as they cheer for them in their fortune. Cricketers are being considered ‘Gods’ by mindless audiences and the fact that there exists a possibility that India ‘may’ lose has totally been forgotten. When India wins, it is their job, but when they lose, they are worth much worse than abusing and hurling stones at!
This craze for cricket cannot be traced back just up to the demarcation of the World Cup, nor is it obliterated once the cricket season ends. It hangs on to people like an addiction. People crave to know about the personal lives of their favourite cricket stars, as an alternative to their gossip about Katrina, Shahid, Priyanka and the latest Bollywood affairs. Wives and Girlfriends (WAGs) of cricketers and other celebrities have become the hottest topic to discuss and ‘analyse’. Even during working hours, people take special interest in arguing about the right and wrong of these gossips. The media instead of taking special interest to pursue moral obligations like reporting about farmer suicides and honour killings, creates an artificial desire to know more about what motivates cricketers to do what they do and what keeps their non-professional lives ticking. The indecisive Indian public gets tempted by this newfound hunger and tunes in to television channels and flips through newspapers in search of more gossip. Recently Yuvraj Singh attributed his good form in the game in this season to some ‘special’ person in his life. The media did not once think before pouncing on this bait, and started profound speculations as to who this person was. Advertising and other forms of marketing reached their highest points during the World Cup. Advertising companies have carried out extensive researches to help their customers in projecting the most successful advertising campaigns. Here too, people get to watch their favourite celebrities endorsing various products and services, and get glued to the television. This does the job of the campaigns – maximum promotion!
We have always considered ourselves as good ‘sportsmen’. But sportsmanship spirit, in the true sense of the word, occurs only when one learns to accept defeat as gracefully as a win. Cricket as a religion in India has made its fanatic followers turn a blind eye towards rationality and logical thinking. We let a simple defeat spoil our mood and have let it affect the work in our professional and personal lives too. No doubt, any game played for the sake of winning, adds a competitive charm to it.
But having said that, the audiences should bear in mind that their part is just to watch the game, enjoy it for a while and get back to their real lives as soon as possible. We must realise that whatever happens, the cricketers have already made their mark in the world by the mere fact that they are playing for their nations. Now it is our chance to make a mark through our deeds, and we must not gamble it away endlessly basking in the glories of cricket ‘victories’ or crying over equally delusional ‘defeats’.