India capitulated in Adelaide, and we the loyal Indian fans, instantly started to look for someone to blame, and calling for the heads of these players. We, the same fans, who are mostly middle class, and are at the forefront with Idi Ameen killing people on his whims, the Roman kings, who were encouraging their gladiators for fights until death, and the Industrialists who when their organizations are not performing well, retrench their employees mercilessly. A strange people we are.
Yes, the Adelaide performance was dismal. It is okay to have some light-hearted digs at your players. It is also fine to analyse the performances, and look for weak links, and plead for removing them. But what we Indian fans do is savage. We hardly think of our cricketing idols as human beings. We are not ready to admit that they can make errors, or their plans may not have worked out at certain instances, or the opposition might on that day have proved just too good for the Indian team and outplayed them. No. We just think of them as the Roman Emperors thought of Gladiators, or as the Industrial magnates think of their employees. Just Objects of use, who can be easily cast aside with a wave of a hand, when they do not fulfil the purpose on even a single instance.
How easily do we forget that these very same cricketers have given us immense joy, moments of elation when they have performed well, and instilled pride in the cricket-crazy nation of ours? We are merely utilitarian and treat our cricketing idols as commodities. And why? Because these players get enormous amounts of money. Is there no blood, sweat and tears expended for them to reach this level? Yes, the amount of money they get is much more than the cricketers from many other nations, but then Indian Cricketers are also lucky to play for a country which has an extraordinarily rich Cricket administration body, which is ready to lavish riches on i’s top-performing players. Would we be happy if a Kohli or a Bumrah chooses to play for some other nation citing the reason (which I would feel is very justified) of fan’s pressure being overwhelming? I do not think that any of the cricketers of this team would do that. They stick to the nation, and the Nation should return the favour by Standing Up for them, in all times good and bad.
Just to refresh some old memories, I would like to delve a bit into the history of the game.
England’s premier batsman of the 1880s Arthur Shrewsbury, Johnny Bairstow’s dad David, Sidney Barnes the prolific opening Batsman from Australia who was one of Bradman’s 1948 invincibles, Ranjitsinhji’s England Captain Andrew Stoddart, our own V B Chandrashekhar, the dashing England Batsman Harold Gimblett… The list is awfully long and in case you all are wondering what these players did, let me tell you that they committed suicide. They gave half of their life to the game we all love, dealt with sky high expectations of the fans day in and day out, which ultimately left them so weak mentally, that they chose to go over the hill, rather than enduring life.
I will furnish another list. Australian all-rounder Albert Trott, Marcus Trescothick, Jonathan Trott, Glen Maxwell, Marcus Stonis, Billy Midwinter, who played for England as well as Australia, Test Cricket’s first double-centurion Billy Murdoch… All these suffered acute depression during various moments of their careers, and some of them eventually died in mental asylums. The reason- the same! Extreme Pressure from the fans, the game they played so well, and ultimately- life.
This is what the blood-thirsty fans repay their Idols with for giving them immense entertainment, joy, and elation.
Coming back to the Indian team, whose careers have we tried to slay, now and then? Of a young man, whose dad gave up his business, and completely focussed himself to try to make his son the best batsman of India? And the boy uncomplainingly gave up his childhood to fulfil his dad’s dream, which we seem to forget. Or the all-rounder, who lost his dad early, whose mothers and sisters had faith in him and brought him up to a level to play for India despite their dire destitute circumstances? We ought to see the human side of our players folks, or else, the next generation cricketer, who was homeless, slept in the Azad maidan, sold Pani-Puri for sustaining himself, went without food for days together, in pursuance of his dream to play for India, would be terrified of the prospect of playing for India if he sees such savagery from the fans.
Worth a thought, isn’t it?