January 07, 2008

Cricket for Dummies!

“Hindi Cheeni Bhai Bhai!” When that last echoed, a war was waged on the unsuspecting people of India. And now: an unwritten gentleman’s agreement between the Australian and Indian cricket captains before the start of the test series down under. The outcome may not have been quite “Made in China”, yet it was suitably cheap. However, for once, there are no takers in India. After the blatant betrayal of the Sydney test, doubt many Indians will ever trust an Australian - on or off a cricket field.

Call it stereotyping, call it a chain reaction, call it racism, but one doubts any Indian, or Australian for that matter, is going to call it quits in a hurry. Today we condemn cricket’s “gentlemanly” crooks: who suffer from a public school hangover that prompts them to tell-to-sir! Sadly, the latest developments could spawn a whole new breed of cricket hooligans – more akin to football hooligans. When the fights take to the stands, streets and rear their ugly head like Zidane on the field. What then?

How will a sixty one year old, who cannot hear heavy nicks but sees invisible edges cope – or hope to control enraged cricketers? Is it any wonder that Steve Bucknor ceased to umpire, in his earlier avatar as a FIFA referee because the age limit was lowered to forty-five. What then must the age limit for international cricket umpires be – Bucknor’s age minus how many years? How long back did Bucknor allow his prejudices to creep into the decision making process? When did “Slow Death”, as he’s often called, decide to give India the kiss of death?

And when exactly did the Australian machine start to steamroll umpires with the perfect ten Nadia like appeal routine? But then, they’re hardly appeals. More like crazed celebrations. That cocksure they are. And when their certainty is disturbed, they too are disturbed. And it’s down to anything for that record equaling sixteenth win – shudder to think what they’ll do to break the record.

There’s no denying that Bucknor’s role, in cahoots with the other erring umpire, Mark Benson, is significant in the India-Australia impasse. Swept by the Aussie juggernaut, they too laid siege on India. First it was woeful umpiring – but soon it became bad man-management and a communication breakdown. Third umpires were made redundant. Though when used they were still redundant. Any coincidence the third umpire who gave Andrew Symonds not out (when successfully stumped by M.S. Dhoni) was Australian. Though not as Aussie as the Jamaican, Bucknor and the English, Benson.

South African match referee, Mike Proctor’s conviction of Harbhajan Singh for an alleged racist remark (that wasn’t captured by umpire or camera or microphone) was the skunk poo icing on an already stinking test match. And regardless of which way Bhajji’s counter-appeal goes, the series is already lost in more ways than one. Perhaps the only way to salvage anything from here would be to head back home. Reckon at times what’s broken cannot be mended.

It’s tough to say what our stoic skipper may be feeling – think Jawaharlal Nehru, a few decades back when he was informed of the Chinese invasion. Almost a sense of irony when Anil Kumble says it’s just a game. For, a game it ceased to be a long time back. If you want out or watch from afar, then it might still be a game. If you play or follow cricket with even a remote sense of purpose or intensity, then sir, you know, as well as Anil Bhai does, this is no game. Cricket as we know it today, is indefinable. And inflammable. And as we speak, the media, the players, the two nations feed the flames. And as you read this, you too feed the flames.

It’s obvious now, that the very warped nature of its inheritance, its so-called pseudo good manners are choking cricket. The archaic comparisons with a bygone era, when television didn’t expose players or parade umpires as morons, is strangling cricket. It will continue to do so, unless we give in – to either the past or the future. And though it’s more than likely that cricket will eventually lose some of its charm and quirks, it will resurface as a more agreeable game. Though definitely as one with a lesser I.Q. Welcome to cricket for dummies. A punter’s delight!


Bhaskar Khaund said...

great piece , G - though i reckon there's not gonna be much peace after this - one fuck of a test this was

Naked Cricket said...

Yeah BK - taking a finger out of Peter Roebuck's book, they should play, "who let the dogs out" everytime Ponting's XI takes the field.

Anonymous said...

Absolute Proof India Are Hypocrits