Friday, April 1, 2011

The gentleman's game

I felt I didn't have much of an option. When the whole country would be glued to the TV to watch the match, I could not afford to be the odd man out. An unprecedented hype had been generated in the week before with all the newspapers devoting their first pages to its possible outcome, analysing the past history of clashes between the two teams and their current strengths and weaknesses. Someone even went into a hyperbole and wrote that it was the game of the century which, of course, was a tall claim considering that the century is as yet too young. But then, it was not just a World Cup semi final played by India, it was a semi final between India and Pakistan. And that makes it different. It was not only two highly skilled teams meeting in the cricket field, but two nations born twins in 1947 and having a long tradition of rivalry clashing metaphorically, in a simulated war - a Kurukshetra of cricket in which national prides get involved.
I watched the game and was glad that I did. What happened is now history. India won though there were times when it looked like they wouldn't. The game went almost through a roller coaster and there were occasions when you could bet either way. It was undoubtedly enjoyable cricket with some good batting, some good bowling and fielding, some goof ups and some miraculous escapes.
Any way much has already been written on this game and on individual performances by better experts than me. I don't intend to cover the same grounds here. I will leave it to the political analysts to speculate over the outcome of our Prime Minister's diplomatic initiative in inviting the Pakistan PM to watch the match and having a cosy chat with him during the game and then at the official dinner hosted in his honour. It is better left to them to speculate on the political significance of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi's presence amongst the aam admi in the stands at Mohali and of course on her smile which is indeed rare and the jubilation expressed by her after the Indian victory.  For me, this only indicates the significance of this game and also shows how much cricket has become part of our popular culture.
Oh, well, I forgot to mention Sourav Ganguly who seems to have added another feather to his cap by debuting as a commentator in this match. His was the sole Bengali presence, if not in the field, at least associated with it.
Those things apart, what I felt and I am sure everyone else who watched the game did too, was the palpable tension all through and the strain on the nerves individual players must have undergone with the burden of expectations they were carrying from their respective countries. What really was praiseworthy was the total absence of any foulmouthed abuses or lack of decency during the game which is not very uncommon these days. Even in this war of nerves, the teams kept their cool and played like gentlemen.


  1. At the end of the day it's just a game.But the media has created such a frenzy, on wednesday, the roads were empty, offices deserted,even the doctors chamber saw no patients( much to my husband's chagrin).While the people of Japan spend sleepless nights,we light crackers to celebrate cricket.

  2. The media didn't create the frenzy, merely fanned it. Just think, some people have spent more than a few lakhs of rupees to purchase a ticket for the final tomorrow. A socio anthropological study is needed to understand this phenomenon.It is not unique though. England is as crazy about football as we have become about cricket.So players are becoming millionaires, soaps and colas are getting opportunities to insert ads and the telecaster is earning a lot of revenue.

  3. Its just a means to make money .Just as IPAD2 is. These are things people do not really need, but has huge business potential, or for example soaps (serials). I never understood how these things sell so well, but they do and that's the reality.

  4. Dwiju

    I am not a follower of cricket although I was when I was young, even went to Eden Garden once to watch the game. Never been to a cricket match in Oval or Lords although Bulu insists that I should as she knew my childhood interest of collection of the paper cuttings and listening to cricket matches in the radio.Even I played cricket once or twice here.

    To me the cricket was spoiled by the greed and the money and I donot find it attractive any more. Indian cricket has a lot to do with it as the indians have been the greatest beneficiaries of the spoil. Indian cricketers have been the demigods, good luck to them.

    Nevetheless I followed this years world cup although I did not watch it in the television as I donot have sky.

    I have failed the 'cricket test' of Norman Tebitt, a British politicion and minister, who said some 15 years ago that all Indians in the UK should aupport England to prove their allegiance. I am sorry, if it was a game between India and England I would have supported India.I am pleased that that India had won not only against Pakistan but also against SriLanka. I did not think that Pakistan was good match for India but I feared SriLanka.
    However Indian cricket has come a long way since my time in India and it has to do with the progress she has made in every sphere of life. Whether that will reach all Indians during my lifetime I am not sure.

    I won't touch on the politics of the subcontinents from here as I am no longer an Indian. But I can surmise it is in turmoil both in India and more so in Pakistan. The politicians did not have any options but to be there even if the respective Prime ministers have any interst in cricket or not.

    With regard to the Indian cricketers I am wondering what would have happened if India would have lost against all those hypes. What would have been the consequences of failures? Apparently at the last world cup when India was knocked out of the world cup a wall of Doni's house was demolished. I read in the paper that when Sourav Ganguly was asked how he copes with all the attention when he goes out. His reply was ' Go out?' I don't. Perhaps the teams were all were thinking of one thing and the alternative was disaster.