This “Black Saturday” I am back, blogging about something I feel must be said, especially in the context of India’s loss against Sri Lanka in the last league match of the first round of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007. First, I admit I am more than just disappointed at India’s dismal performance in the tournament. Second, I personally think that Bangladesh deserved the victory against India in the first match. After all, they played well. And after all, India were the underdogs when they won the Cup in 1983. Every cricketing team comes of age at some point in time. And this World Cup, it was Bangladesh’s turn.
This said, one would do well to remember that cricket is a sport. It must be treated as such. My happiness does not hinge on the fluctuating fortunes of the Indian cricket team. India’s loss, while certainly disheartening, is far from being the most serious thing to worry about in today’s world. The loss of the Indian team in a game, is just that, a loss in a game where the better team prevails. It is not the end of the world, nor is it a matter of life and death, except maybe for the betting mafia that makes money off it.
This is precisely why the behaviour of the average Indian cricket fan not only baffles, but also greatly saddens me. Why do we have to vandalise Dhoni’s property because he was out for a duck in one match of one tournament? Why do we either deify or demonise our players? There are no shades of grey in our approach to them. They are either omnipotent, all-conquering gods, or they are the ultimate representation of evil and must be done away with. Are they not human too? Do they not deserve to be treated as such?
Another issue that must be addressed is the magnitude of the loss and its repurcussions on the cricketing world. One Economic Times article suggested that the team must pack its bags and bow out of international cricket altogether. This suggestion is both unfair and premature. It is one tournament. Not the end of the world. The very same “analysts” suggested, with great enthusiasm that India were well on their way to winning the Cup for the first time in 24 years, after resounding victories in the warm-up matches. Has the world changed so drastically in a fortnight that the Men in Blue must pack up and hang their boots, and possibly look for alternative careers as lorry drivers and cooks, as one email forward suggested of the Pakistani team? Oh cmon guys!! Its a game. And let us treat it as such.