It comes across as a surprise to most people that I don’t like cricket. Yes! I don’t. The immediate reaction I receive is appalling; it’s like I tell them that I hate my country. It’s funny that in a country which calls itself secular, you see racists everywhere and they’re running Scot-free. And when it comes to cricket, nobody wants to hear anything bad about it because it’s the only thing close to religion which people believe in wholly. What’s ironic is that the same team that everyone cheers for is the same team they stone if it loses. Ironic again, now this is also fundamentalism in a way. And we are the fundamentalists, not a small section, but the whole country.
The past years have rocked India with various scams, each overwhelmingly huge than its predecessor. And as they kept getting pressed (don’t have to mention by whom), came the world cup! And lo, all the anger and frustration in the mind of the common man against losing his hard-earned money to corrupt politicians was gone. It was like people took refuge against their problems in cricket; which was a boon for the government. Now it didn’t have to answer to any angry people. You’d think that my words may be a little sarcastic, but they’re not. I don’t think that even 15th August 1947, our independence day was celebrated as much as India winning the world cup. Sure, it makes us proud, but at the cost of what? Our future. Yes, because we treat this game like it’s something far greater than one: like it’s above everything else. We treat it like salvation. And in that moment lost is our realisation that we need to stabilize our economy which has been reeling from shocks. Looking at the problem as a whole is a different thing, but looking out at our streets, our cities we need to realise that it is a game after all. The closer we bring it to ourselves, the more damage it causes.
As a citizen, student and a part of this country I’ve realized long back that for as long as we consider this game equal to religion, nothing much will change. Cricket is one of the contributors to corruption. The bigger it gets in the country; so do the scams. Cricket overshadows every other game singlehandedly. Even people who seem to have talents in other sports still pursue a future in cricket. It’s like throwing away what you have just to get a piece of what everyone is eating. How often do we hear of national or international players from other games barring few sportspersons? We don’t. Only people associated with the sport do so with some effect. Barring few sports enthusiasts hardly anyone knows a thing about the rest of the sportsmen in the country who are also gold medallists. Nor is anyone interested. We don’t even know the names of our country’s hockey players; it’s pathetic that some people do not even know that hockey is India’s national game. But we all know the names of all the cricket players, even people not interested in the game are aware of the names. Leaving the popularity, even the facilities provided to state level cricketers are much better than that provided for other international players. Nobody denies all of this, yet there is not one who has done something to break the imbalance. Other sports do not have many fans, agreed, but is it right to deny them the right to shine in their own game? If one is allowed to raise his game only then will he be able to stand at a high position in the world or compete at that level.
Cricket is so deeply rooted in India that even the population living in the villages seem to forget their suffering and cheer for India. People who don’t pray, actually do just for the sake of their home team winning a game! Too bad they don’t realize that their prayers could profit themselves and others too. I don’t understand the craziness behind it because one must understand that if he loves the game so much, tomorrow he may be denying his own child from shining or harnessing his talent towards another game. The only good thing this country gets out of cricket is unity and solidarity. For once the whole country joins for something as a whole. I wish that was the case for justice; we often don’t care about injustice meted out to someone. But when something happens to ourselves, we complain. Why can’t we join our hands for other things just like we do for cricket? Is the game above us and our integrity that we forget it all? In a democracy there are no liberators, the people must liberate themselves. And in India that is what we need to do right now: liberate our minds from the shambles of cricket.
Winning the world cup isn’t a great thing; it just proves that our team is the best. What’s next? It won’t last forever, nothing does. The worst thing that came out of the world cup was that all the players were awarded a huge cash prize along with a car for each player. Now this is insanely stupid or ridiculous. At a time when scams in the exchequer have reach lakhs of crores, what is the government doing gifting money when it can spend a third of it for the poor to help them? Not just cash prizes but even first class travel has been allotted for them for free. For what? For merely winning the world cup!!! It’s not like they eliminated India’s poverty, lawlessness and injustice; nor did they rid the world of its many problems. They’re treated like deities in a country which considers cricket a religion. 37 % of the populace is still under poverty line and nothing is being done for them. But for the twelve players who won the world cup, life is heaven. Remember they’re some of the same players whose houses were stoned. They don’t make even a meagre percent of the population, but they earn higher than probably a huge chunk of the population.
What we need to understand that cricket is just a game after all, that’s all there is to it. Whether we win or lose it doesn’t really make a difference. What really matters is that we address the real problems leaving the temporary bliss cricket gifts us. If the poor profited from it, India surely would have held its head high that the game its people worship would at least give something back to the country. All I can say is for as long as this fanatic sport fundamentalism exists India will still be living in a paradoxical environment.
So win or lose, India will still be the country where the pizza delivery guy reaches before the ambulance does.