Watery Cricket

April 26, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Ananya S Guha

The decision of an Indian High court to shift premises of the IPL because of drought conditions, and also because of water scarcity has been debated by many including former cricketers and icons. Some of the arguments run on these lines: why only cricket as a sport has been chosen, what guarantee is there that the new venue is also not drought affected? So much for that, but the court’s verdict had of course been peremptorily acceded to, as it has to be.

Cricket has been dominating the Indian psyche ever since India met international standards, started winning abroad and of course after Indian cricketers got more compensation from the Board for their talents. But soon after the BCCI came to dominate all the other Boards by virtue of their wealth and subsequent power. Of course J.M. Dalmiya‘s rise into the scene, his support for the cricketing boards of Asia is well known if not infamous. Very soon the BCCI had enough clout even to ‘over rule’ ICC decisions, and the IPL more of a merchandise, rather than a sport, came into existence with India as the focus, and with the irony that cricketers came to India to look out for more money, the argument notwithstanding that local talent would also be given a fillip.

The cynics had of course to say that cricketing countries like England which taught us the game, were now eating their hats, in an ironic reversal of historical and colonial fortunes. Needless to say the IPL became one of the world’s most flourishing and popular extravaganzas, with cricketers hitting real hard the coveted jackpot, and sometimes even preferring to play in this tournament while skipping duties for their country. Of course out of it, in India emerged players who could represent the country. The T- 20 (which invariably reminds me of a tee shirt) became instant cricket, instant results, and shorter viewing for people, even for aficionados of the limited 50 overs matches.

So it became very populist, and many people who do not know much of the game are now experts on it in India from tea shop owners to people who sell wares on the footpath. Cricket now has a glamour akin to our illustrious film industry dominated of course by our famed Bollywood actors. In fact it has become quite fashionable for film actors to be seen on the galleries of these adrenalin pumping matches! This actually began with the limited overs matches in places like Sharjah, when the Board Of Cricket Control India were slowly beginning to dominate the scene. Foreign commentators also started entering the arena, which added to the glamour. Cricket was truly becoming an international sport, a far cry from the past, but again notwithstanding the fact that about eight or nine nations were actually playing it, or were good at it.

And then it was very prudent to start a World Cup and have qualifiers initially for the 50 overs brand, and now for the nail biting jaw turning T-20. So much for that and cricket has now in India especially become a glorious bed of roses, with cricketers exercising latent skills in advertising, reality shows, and what have you. The relationship between cricketers and actors/actresses have bonded heavily to the point of talking about marriage. A healthy sign indeed, when sportsmanship and showmanship are happily wedded, in both literal and metaphorical senses. Three cheers for cricket. We are just waiting for the fourth and fifth ones, also with bated breath for the inevitable T-5 or even T-1. Then we can expect spectators not only gnashing their teeth, but collapsing after a game due to the sheer excitement and adventurousness of it all! Cricket will surely become the king of games, and all other sportsmen or women princes or princesses. Hats off to this game- from a mere ‘gentleman’s game’ it has now become the patriarch and monarch of sports, though, many ogling at it don’t know it’s history, or who say, the father of cricket was. Mention W.G. Grace or even Garfield Sobers, not to speak of a Hanif Mohammed or a B.D. Nimbalkar, and you might see blinking, blank looks. The alliteration here, strictly unintended. Of course in between I remember patchy details of the fight between Sharad Pawar and J.M Dalmiya. But that is best forgotten. What should not however be is that much of the coffers to BCCI to make cricket a prosperous sport came from the Eden Gardens Calcutta, where 90,000 would watch from inside the space and many more from roof tops and house tops! Even for a Ranji Trophy match there could be at times 50,000 spectators.

And all this while the other sports suffered, not only in terms of money, attention as well. One heard horror stories of a hockey team being lodged in a train in a domestic tournament and so on, a weightlifter or a wrestler hewing stones or selling off his medals. No, these do not make it to the Prime News, they are not reality shows, they are ‘real truths’ and no one likes to swallow such shallow truths, reeking of obsolescence. We must be contemporary, ‘modern’. And that will inevitably smell of a corporate world.

The decision of the Bombay High Court is absolutely correct, bang on the nail. Be sensitive to your surroundings Man. People do not have a drop of water, and here you are bludgeoning a white, or yellow, whatever maybe the case- ball to make those bucks. It must be respected, and it is good that they have shifted it to Bengaluru, where appositely enough other than water, beer too is available in plenty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha was born and brought up in Shillong, North East India. He has seven collections of poetry and his poems have been published worldwide. They have also been featured in several anthologies. He is also a columnist, critic and editor. He now is a Regional Director at the Indira Gandhi National Open University and holds a doctoral degree on the novels of William Golding.

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