Once There Was A Sport Called Cricket
June 12, 2013
Now there is just entertainment! So why expect more?
Of late, India has been gripped by a riveting soap opera. To borrow Dharmendra’s immortal words...is kahaani mein drama hai, tragedy ha. In short everything that spells ‘high TRPs’. The soap has been titled ‘Cricket’ for convenience’s sake simply because the plotline contains a few elements of the game such as bat, ball, stumps and a few men dressed in blue.
Indeed, recent episodes of this show have proved to be more exciting and entertaining than any movie or TV series released in the last few years. Sreesanth’s towel antics, Ajit Chandila’s sob story and Ankeet Chavan’s wedding drama amidst fulfilling jail duties have been riveting stuff, to say the least! Then came the other more important characters – a beefy Bollywood sidekick with a funny name Vindoo, a big fat expressionless ringmaster called N Srinivasan, whose part-time job includes being the President of the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), his multi-tasking son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan who gives the term ‘enthusiastic’ a new meaning altogether, the lead hero MS Dhoni, who also holds the position of the national team’s captain among other duties, and the two new latest, glamorous entrants – Raj Kundra and yummy mummy Shilpa Shetty. Can you name any film or TV series that has so many characters, each more complex and devious than the other, so many twists, turns and hidden motives that add more masala to an already sizzling tale?
But just when the plot is heating up, come the spoilsport purists with their familiar lament – about how innocence has been lost forever in cricket and how the great game has been sullied. These vocal but boring commentators, writers and arm-chair critics have been trilling a lot about the need to clean up the game. They belong to a different generation and era – a period, when they say, cricket was a great sport and players played for pride. They feel the current spot-fixing saga, in many ways, represents the greater rot in society. They question the silence of the mighty lambs – the Tendulkars, the Gavaskars, the Kapil Devs and so on. They ramble about the urgent steps needed to stem the rot.
They are just talking bullshit. Ladies and gentlemen, THIS - money, greed, sex, ambition - is what the soap called Cricket is all about. Who said it was about pride, achievement, sporting spirit and all those lofty ideas? May be they were, in a different time and zone.
Some are even suggesting that we should stop watching IPL since it’s our eyeballs that account for the TRPs. How silly! In a country where depressing news constantly makes headlines, why should we be denied of our yearly source of entertainment? Getting entertained is our basic human right after all that we are subjected to by our politicians. We can either spend a bomb on tickets, popcorn and nachos and watch a bad movie in the multiplex or watch Cricket in the comfort of our own home – the latter is a cheaper option anyway.
So please, let’s hope the current brouhaha doesn’t lead to the banning of the IPL or any other form of cricket.
Sometimes I wonder why there is so much outrage among fans about the recent developments. If you remember correctly, we, the shock-proof aam aadmi of India, got introduced to the term ‘match-fixing’ in a context other than marriage more than a decade ago. Even then, similar editorials and laments were made. Surely, we weren’t so naïve to imagine that cricket has been cleaned up just because the careers of a few fixers like Mohammad Azharuddin, Manoj Prabhakar, Nayan Mongia, etc ended!
And that’s exactly the point – when you can’t change the situation, change your expectation from it! We feel shocked and angry because we ‘expect’ our cricketers to be honest. Do we feel shocked when news of yet another scam breaks out? No. We just shrug, utter a few expletives, then wearily resign ourselves to the fact that the nation has been looted of a few more thousand crores. So why this outrage over a few cricketers tucking towels in their pockets?
Cynics say the current controversy will also follow the same pattern that other episodes have - expose, outrage, action, discussion, more discussion, some more action and finally….back to square one until the next incident wakes us up from our stupor. Now, after all the hollering and posturing by our TV anchors, despite new juicy revelations coming out every single day will the bad guys get punished? Your guess is as good as mine.
So instead of getting cynical or outraged, let’s change our expectations at least in the matter of cricket. Cricket, henceforth, should be declared a source of entertainment and levied entertainment tax. Characters of the game, like that of a saas-bahu show will come and go. What matters is that the drama is intact.
The next time a cricket match is telecast, let there be a disclaimer like they do in movies – ‘All characters in this match are fictional, any resemblance to any real sportsman is strictly coincidental.’
Similarly, the next time we watch cricket – be it in the stadium or on TV, be it a Test, ODI or an IPL, let’s be aware that what we are watching is one big theatre of the absurd. Don’t we willingly suspend our disbelief when we watch a film? Let’s treat cricket the same way!
Perhaps cricket can also be anointed the biggest reality show of our times since we love reality TV so much. A show which has been carefully scripted by someone sitting in the BCCI or a bookie’s office. We will clap, cry and cheer our on-screen heroes; they are doing such a great job of faking emotions!
Now if you still insist on being silly and feeling the REAL thrill of sport, don’t expect it from cricket. Watch tennis or athletics instead. The cricket, the way we knew it and grew up watching, is perhaps dead forever. RIP.