There are certain games which used to be played by the educated middle class and upper classes like golf, lawn tennis, billiards and of course cricket which demand a certain level of civility from the participants. Talking of cricket, it is still known as the ‘gentleman’s game’ but going by the ugly incidents that have taken place over the years as well as the numerous match fixing scandals that have surfaced over the years, it can be said in all fairness that the game perhaps does not deserve that epithet anymore. However, the nadir was perhaps reached last month (August) when reports emerged that some of the English cricketers urinated on the Oval pitch as an act of celebration after they won the 2013 Ashes.
Although it can be argued that it was only because of a few pesky Aussie journalists, (who were still hanging around after the late finish) that the reports of the incident emerged, it is beside the point since the act was in itself a condemnable one and hence the nationality of the reporter who broke the story is immaterial. Once the story broke out, there was widespread outrage among the purists but the three cricketers alleged to have participated in the particular form of ‘celebration’ either remained silent or denied it completely.
The players in question were Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad and James Anderson. However, what the players did accept was that the whole team had a few beers inside the playing area since it was one of the traditions that the winning team followed after winning a series. Although there were denials from several quarters, it was admitted by the players themselves that they drank beer in the ground and it was only yesterday that the ECB issued a press statement stating that “We got carried away amongst the euphoria of winning such a prestigious series and accept that some of our behaviour was inappropriate.” Well, there’s nothing much that the ECB could do other than to issue this statement but the incident reveals a deeper malaise and that involves the slow extinction of gentlemen cricketers, who are often spoken of with fondness to this day.
The Deeper Cause for Concern
However, the deeper cause for concern is the yobbish behaviour that is slowly taking root among cricketers and this is something that is surely going to erode the deep rooted traditions, that the guardians of the game want its cricketers to adhere to. First of all, The Oval is the oldest cricket ground in England and urinating on its turf was nothing short of an act that shows a complete disregard as well as utter disrespect for the game of cricket. Over the years, we have witnessed many such incidents like ugly confrontations between cricketers on the field of play as well as physical confrontations but this was surely an incident that is a line in the sand moment due to the sheer audacity of the act.
The only possible explanation could be the infiltration of the football culture that has slowly seeped into the psyche of cricketers and it is surely a development that would end in a disciplinary disaster in the coming years. The ECB did not take any action either even though they admitted to the transgressions of the cricketers but it cannot be denied that one might well witness 10 year old celebrating their triumphs in this way in the future and would cause a major shift in the way cricket as a game is identified by people. Perhaps the beginning of the end of the gentleman cricketer is underway.
By Soham Samaddar
Image Source : By user:jguk (Own work) [Public domain], <a href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AOCS_Stand_(Surrey_v_Yorkshire_in_foreground).JPG”>via Wikimedia Commons</a>