The Great Indian Cricket Show
Why cricket gets greater public attention than even price rise is a point to ponder Indians are cricket maniacs; we all love cricket; we are...
Why cricket gets greater public attention than even price rise is a point to ponder Indians are cricket maniacs; we all love cricket; we are cricket crazy; it's the king of sports and those who play the game have fame and name and those who make them play are monarchs. If they were not in the beginning, they will be after some time, thanks to Indians' insatiable thirst for the game. They lap it up, every hit, every miss, every run out, four and six. Each and every player is a role model for the young and every budding cricketer in school and college sees himself in the shoes of Sachin, Rahul Dravid, VVS or somebody else once they finish the secondary education.
The game, for reasons unknown even to the best of pros, has turned out to be a magnet for one and all. One can't vouchsafe that it is 100 per cent love for the game or passion for cricket in a country that is as diversified as the United Nations and with as many sports and games. Initially, it was enthusiasm that had spurred the teens to take to ball and bat and with the onset of TV, exposure to a wider audience. Now, it is money that makes the game run, both literally and figuratively. Or, vice-versa. Nobody can say, for sure, if the scams and scandals in which Indian cricket, its organizing bodies and the controlling authority are embroiled. The moolah involved in betting rackets, fixing matches and other not-too-well-known ways of making money shames some of states' annual budgets. Thousands of crores (and the figures keep changing as new scandals emerge) are involved in the business of cricket. Since it is a game of business, it has its highs and lows and moves according to market principles. The stakeholders can manipulate and reap rich dividends in the name of cricket. Since they make Mammon the common cause, all is fair in cricket. And, we love it as it is being evidenced now. The Great Indian Cricket Show has been going on for over two weeks now, running simultaneously in Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi. Like in our folklore theatre that used to run for one whole night, two or three actors had to play out a character in different situations to give relief to the other. In a similar way, in the cricket show, we have made stop-gap arrangements and introduced relay actors whose role and responsibility is essentially to let the show go on, perpetually perhaps, to the amusement of millions of Indians and cricket-watchers in our neighbouring countries and beyond. The show is a great crowd-puller, if we go by the print and electronic media coverage. Columns of newspaper space is being devoted to feed the cricket-hungry and hours of TV time to analyze the role of dramatis personae, their actions and reactions, and, in the process, trying to score a few Brownie points and ratings. If space and time are relative according to Einstein, they have been made relevant in the context of Indian cricket. Nothing else matters. Our fixation with it on the field is as much as it is off the field. We are affixed to newspapers and glued to the TV, reading every word printed on how the gentlemen's game has been turned into a league of punters and watching footages on how the cricketing heroes 'fix' their deals. That is lesser entertainment than the one compered by the bosses and big bosses who have turned the whole show into a farce, making us fools for investing so much time and money in games that are sham. Incredible performances suddenly become incredulous and raise doubts in our minds about not only one game but about all. Indeed, it is a dilemma. Reality is surreal and bizarre is real. It's a cocktail, stirred well at every turn of event, without shaking the precipitous rot. That's the beauty of it. On the surface it's glam; once you scratch it is sham. Still we love it because of their juxtaposition and what lies beneath. Like a nail-biting end of a match, the suspense, the drama and the winner-takes-it-all mindset keep our adrenalin flowing. The denouement comes when anticipation turns into disappointment as a lot of it is happening now. Call it d�j� vu, or by any other name, the fact remains that everything other than the cricket skullduggery is out of focus, relegated to the backburner. Our priorities, national and regional, have gone for a toss. Whether our growth rate has fallen to a decade low, whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in India or abroad (does it really matter?); whether our lifeline, the south-west monsoon, for a change, is on predicted time; whether vegetable prices are going through the roof; and hundreds of such other things are clouded by the cricket scam. Why it keeps hogging the limelight as if nothing exists in this world is mind-boggling. In other words, why the scandal � which in reality is only one of many other scams � has suddenly turned us cricket-eccentric? We need to introspect. The patronage extended to cricket in this country is unparalleled, and if some individuals and bodies abused it for self-aggrandizement and profit, the time has come to declare them 'out.' But who umpires the proceedings in a situation where fair play is conspicuously absent? The people, the cricket fans, patrons of the game and all those who want to clean up the mess. It is also time to encourage other sports which are often given step-motherly treatment and denied their due place in the country's sports map. There is life beyond cricket.