Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Where did all the desi cricket fans go?

The 2007 World Cup is a fun tournament for sure. It’s cricket’s premier championship festival. Every team prepares for it for years. Every player dreams of playing in it. And everyone tries their damndest to put on their best performance. For a fan, it’s a chance to see the best in the world all on one stage playing each other. And if you are watching it on satellite, you have to pay only once to watch every side in the world of some consequence.

A Lack of Interest
Yet everywhere I go and try to discuss the latest happenings in the World Cup, I’m met with a roll of the eyes, a sarcastic chuckle or a shrug of the shoulders from my friends. You hear them tell you why they don’t care about the Cup anymore. “I’ve lost all interest in it, yaar. (looks into chai morosely)” “I just don’t feel like following it anymore. (rage stamped all over face)” “So who played who today again? (looks away)”

Loss and shame
There were scenes after India’s losses which fans would like to forget: people in the streets burning effigies of cricketers (don’t these people have work to do?), a mob with madness in its eyes standing over the demolished construction site of Dhoni’s new home, analyses of shame and personal loss blanketing the media. Pictures still circulate of Dravid, Tendulkar and Sehwag watching India go down to Sri Lanka from the balcony. They all look positively shell shocked - like they were watching a global disaster unfolding.

So where are they?
Whatever happened to enjoying the game? Why doesn’t anyone get excited when Clarke or Sangakarra stride in to bat? How about appreciating the tremendous bowling of Powell and Muralidharan? How about observing the gradual order of alignment in the Australian team after a major upheaval? Is anyone interested in the spades of New Zealand who always come up aces when it matters?

Where did all the fans of cricket go?

Indian fans have always been global
As Indians we’ve always enjoyed sports without getting tied up in nationalism. We didn’t have a choice really. If we didn’t find joy in the Borgs, McEnroes, Navratilovas and later Sampras’, Federers, and Williams’ we’d never be able to watch any tennis. The same goes with Track and Field. Or Formula-1 racing. In fact, we do this so well that we’re constantly accusing others of being closed off to the world – unaware of anyone but their own heroes.

Sure, as a die-hard fan, disappointment overwhelms you when your team loses. You hang your head and down another shot of Tanqueray. You might even show up glum-faced the next day at work. But it’s a game. It’s about entertainment, not about sticking it to another team. And there is so much fun to still be had in the World Cup.

Insular behavior
In the aftermath of the early exit of India in the World Cup, this is an example of Indian fans behaving insularly. Someone once said to me “Indian cricket doesn’t deserve fans like us”. I couldn’t agree more. But I’d argue that cricket doesn’t deserve fans like those who operate as if Team India and cricket are one and the same.


Kalyan said...

What If I bought expensive package to Caribbean to see team India play at least one game.Economics might take over the fanism.I know some of my distant friends struggling to cancel the super eight packages who by default assumed India is into super eights.For that matter 1 billion minus Indian fans should have guessed the same that Super Eights is a default.Here the line of demarkation is Indian fans and Cricket fans.Now IMO cricket fans of India are ones who is still watching the game nodding their heads that every game Bangla's play thinking India if it made to super 8 we have been in Bangla's palce getting thrashed by SA.

Unknown said...

I heard a bunch of Team India fans were trying to get their travel arrangements changed after India's loss but no dice from the travel agents. So they were there in the Bangladesh-England game holding up cards that said "We love our neighbors".

At least they are in the Carribean and not in the Midwest freezing their butts off.

Unknown said...

I enjoy skilled cricket coming from any side, in any game, and you know what? I always have a good time. I just love to see wonderful cricket skills. Period. After all, in Gita, Krishna says, I'm the ability in man. So, how can you go wrong if you reverence that ability? My favorite batsman could be Sachin, but then my favorite bowler could be someone from the W.Indies, my fav all-rounder could be from Australia. And so it goes. So, win, lose, or draw, I always have me a good time.

Unknown said...

Noodler, good man, we need more cricket fans like you.