The fervor of cricket is once again sailing high with the ongoing Gandhi Vs. Mandela series. The howls and growls of cricket fanatics are both deafening and enthralling. While, cheers of a ‘six’, ‘four’ or an ‘out’ are healthy, quite a few instances have brought shame to this renowned game of cricket. It is now debatable whether this term, ‘gentleman’s game’ does justice to it anymore. After all, not everyone is Rahul Dravid or Sachin Tendulkar.
From myriad cases of both verbal and physical fights between the sportsmen , match-fixing and derogatory comments being made in books against former coaches; to the recent case of angered spectators booing the officials and throwing bottles on them, there is hardly anything gentlemanly about this game anymore. Many cricketing legends have repeatedly cautioned and others expressed dismay over the essence of the game being lost.
“In my playing days, the ice was kept for the beers”, recounts famous player Michael Holding
The greedy maws of conflicted interests have tarnished many respected figures in the game. Reputed names like S. Sreesanth, N. Srinivasan, Raj Kundra have been sacked by BCCI; leading to life ban on the Sreesanth.
Betting has been one of the prime causes of such acts. Media estimated that Rs 5,000 crore was bet on the 2013 IPL Twenty20 competition so far. No legitimate business can match such lucrative returns, it is the flame which keeps the gambling/fixing fire burning.
The tarnishing image is to be duly credited to all its stakeholders. First, to those players who have over a course of time forgotten what sportsmanship means. Gone are the days, when cricketers like Tendulkar used to walk off the pavilion upon getting out, even if the umpire’s declared otherwise. The officials, with whom vests the power to clean the dirt of match-fixing, have at times been found trapped in the greedy maws of conflicted interests. And then there are the fanatics who mindlessly add to the shame in front of the entire world.
What is completely baffling is how all these people have greater issues to deal with but is till engaged in the snobbery of calling cricket a gentleman’s game. A gentleman, by definition is a ‘chivalrous’, an honorable man. Count the number of these honorable men and you’ll come up with a smallish list. The spectators have also undergone a paradigm shift for the worse. Those who earlier embraced the talents and praised them are now found mouthing foul words and committing acts of disgust. Betting has been one of the prime causes of such acts. Those who bet thousands of money on a particular player, game or just a shot sometimes encounter the scariest moment of their lives. All the money is lost in the blink of an eye. Where does the frustration go? On the officials, the players, the fellow spectators.
Unequivocally, money controls the game now. While this condition is saddening for the true lovers of this game, there are some who have vouched to reinstate the lost sheen of the game. BCCI president Shashank Manohar had sworn to clean Indian cricket’s image after his appointment. Dada Ganguly being appointed the head of West Bengal Cricket Association is yet another silver lining. But, great efforts have to be made at large by the ICC, whose double standards have stirred the hornet’s nest quite a lot of times. The audience also needs to understand the true spirit of the game and take it like that. For, acts like the recent one is not only a strain on the name of Indian cricket but also their morals and institution as a country.