Call me a curmudgeon, but this endless talk of cricket is doing my head in! There is no respite from cricket, everyone wants to talk about it, everyone wants to watch every last second of it. As someone has said, “It is an Indian game accidentally discovered by the British.” Played in the village greens of England, cricket has managed to become India’s national sport, taking up everyone’s prime time, raking millions in revenue for television channels and transfixing viewers.
In spite of its repeated falls from grace in the form of allegations of corruption and match-fixing scandals it rises from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix. In fact, I don’t think that there is any other thing in India that unites the entire nation, young and old, man and woman alike. So what is wrong with being cricket-mad? You don’t hear anybody complaining of baseball in the US or football in the UK. But don’t forget there are always great achievers, sponsors, money and followers for other sports, too, in the West.
Isn’t there something wrong when the people of an entire nation are turned into zombies or more like followers of some religious cult? The spectacle is reminiscent of Roman emperors using gladiators fighting the beasts in the Coliseum to keep their subjects happy. Not that I am suggesting any conspiracy from the powers that be to keep Indians glued to their television sets to avoid any Arab Spring.
But it is also a fact that Rome did not last much longer after the days of the hedonistic spectacle that was enacted in the Flavian amphitheatre year after year.
In any case isn’t it a crying shame that a nation which is the home for around one sixth of humanity can hardly manage to get any medals at the Olympics? This is an often touted and controversial subject, where different causes from genetic make-up to malnutrition have been attributed to India’s dismal performance. If only some of the money that was being generated from cricket was diverted to other sports!
Think about the loss of productivity India faces as a nation during the cricket season and the power consumed by millions of TV sets and the never-ending cups of tea and platters of pakoras. Surely, we are not made by God, that is if you believe in divine creation, to play and watch cricket and only cricket. We have the people, the talent and the will to excel in other sports as well.
What we need is government involvement for world-class infrastructure by way of stadia, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses with matching training facilities. For a moment don’t think we are a poor country that can’t spend on sports. Hark back to the debacle that was the Delhi Commonwealth Games. Or just think of banning this game and count on the savings by way of electricity, manpower and of course the pakoras.
I am sure Ebenezer Scrooge would agree; “Bah, humbug!”