It doesn’t matter whether Sreesanth is guilty or not. What matters is that the common man’s faith in the religion of the land – cricket – has gone for a toss, again! And, it just isn’t fair: Surely not fair to the man on the street, not fair to India. Outside shops and restaurants screening cricket matches whether they’re international or the India-bred IPL, masses throng and wait, with bated breaths, each time an Indian bats, bowls or fields with a sense of passion. For a diverse-as-ever India, Cricket has been the best leveler as it transcends all barriers of caste, community, creed and culture to bind the state together.
Right from the time a diminutive Sunil Gavaskar held his ground and India’s collective pride together before a West Indian blitzkrieg led by a towering Clive Lloyd followed by the dreaded Malcolm Marshall and his lot of hurtling-faster-than-ever bowlers; a belligerent ‘Maharaja’ Ganguly took off his shirt and waved it wildly to rub a point into a lost English Side and Sachin Tendulkar faced a swashbuckling Shoaib Akhtar with supreme spunk and pelted him across the boundary over and over again and into meek submission, India had arrived. This was followed by the IPL, where Indian owners ‘bought’ a host of foreign talent to play for Indian teams across Indian cities live. There was national pride in the brand new Twenty-20s which saw the introduction of lavanis to replace the all-too-angrez cheerleaders.
Throughout the IPL, small bars across the nation, in towns like Nasik and Aurangabad, registered devout regulars lining up in their respective spots well before the matches for the day start. The bartenders know the orders well in advance and any queries in the middle of an over are met with sharp, caustic quips even violent reprisals from one and all. Nobody wants to miss watching a ball spin out of control beyond the keeper to reach a boundary or a nick completely out of time resulting in a catch. After all, it’s a huge celebration out there…the alcohol is only collateral to the cause…cricket.
It isn’t rare to find gestures of gratitude and compassion among complete strangers bound by one single passion – cricket. What else explains the equalizing effect of cricket that witnesses the affluent businessman; the local shop-keeper; the roaming marketing executive; the student and the homeless standing shoulder to shoulder peering at an overhead screen displaying the latest score at a railway station?
Angry fights and squabbles all take a backseat when a match is on. Bets of sorts are placed over drinks and rounds get paid, each time someone from a ‘rival team’ gets out; a favourite manages to score amidst pressure or a particular team wins. The masses have a code of conduct. An unwritten code of conduct that simply isn’t broken. An underdog is loved, cherished and nurtured match after match till he becomes a hit. After which, all the concessions go and his performances are measured on par with the rest. But till then, he’s protected like a fledgling readying for its virginal flight.
So, when Sreesanth arrived to the scene as a young Malayalee bowler, he was protected much like the rest. The masses cheered him each time he swore animatedly at a ‘rival’ batsman and celebrated with him as he danced in mirth each time he bowled someone out…even attributed his celebratory trot and twist to his and India’s success. And then, he grew in size and stature, measuring up to the rest, picking up fights with Harbhajan Singh and more. He danced, he sang and performed…even failed, at times before it happened. Sreesanth became the face of Team India’s nemesis…spot fixing!
For a diverse-as-ever India, Cricket being the best leveler cut a now-larger-than-life Sreesanth to size. And, almost all of India stands united in their contempt for the act…and the ugly face of its perpetrator, Sreesanth. For the sake of the game and the only leveler in India, we need to get to the bottom of the truth. It doesn’t matter whether Sreesanth is guilty or not. What does is that the common man’s faith has been rocked out of place. And, we all need to get it back…as soon as possible!
Image Source : IANS