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Millennium Post

Sinful hanging of a better colonial legacy!

The game of cricket, the most visible legacy of British raj, later proved a unifying catalyst in Indian sub-continent. It intrinsically possessed wound healing qualities, for which Indians were in dire need. Time changed, India has also changed, so too changed cricket by the aspirations of ‘industrial capital’ under its blind mandate of profit maximisation.

The game of cricket, for its salable attributes, was easily picked-up by marketers and stakeholders of different sorts. But now, at the commercial height-the interface between cricket and hyper-commercial innovation seems misleading the essence of this game.

The history of cricket is interesting, as it came into vogue with the spread of empire. But lately, and with its lost character, it bounds to converge with the crowd. The Test format took decades to shape in Britain and its colonies; one-day format was comparatively easily succeeded but it also came into light only after the first World Cup in 1975.

Unlike these two real versions, the by-product of neo-capitalist innovation-20/20 cricket catched-up making obscene profits since its time of incubation. The newly earned commercial gain from this new mode of cricket drama even left behind the inherent logic of capitalism. By effect, this format of cricket turned to be transaction oriented and its instant effect caused cricketers to delink from their national side.

So, it was hardly surprising if India’s latest cricket World Cup victory was not celebrated like 1983. Moreover, India being the host nation of transaction cricket lost its highly articulate minister Shashi Tharoor (he could regain the Ministerial position only after spending long time as absentee) for his adventurous exposure to one among many suspicious deals. Why power of politics and capital suddenly driven to chase cricket? Why players earned the entire careers riches in only one or two seasons?

These all happened with the infusion of surplus investment capital from the backdoor for a secured filthy return -public figures were offered sweet equities and addict spectators, a cocktail of unhygienic shadow of cricket and lethal dance of cheerleaders. All those, who are not agreed with the IPL cricket, are destined to be slotted at fringe-and all the counter-voice would be subdued under the noise emanated from the artificial glitter of stadiums.

Ramachandra Guha, a leading social historian among the best voices on cricket today, too slowed down his writing on cricket which personally I miss equally as much as the glory of cricket. Bu as the International Cricket Council (ICC) has completely fallen under the influence of this transaction oriented version of cricket, we can’t expect the revival of this game in coming time.

Though it hardly surprises, as this organisation is headed by the same person who with little concern, also looking after the India’s Agriculture Ministry- interestingly, he has equal indifference to the agrarian crisis or with the alteration of cricket’ essential rules. Still, a valid question could be raised-who are suffering from putting cricket on backfoot?  Ofcourse all those who love being the natural part of this beautiful game that allows them to cheer with “the men in white” for complete five days or for a one-day format game, with lesser commercial madness!

Still most of us can remember the miraculous inning of V.V.S Laxman with Rahul Dravid against Australia at historic Eden Garden/2001…similarly the memories of their performance on Caribbean pitches will remain vivid in our collective memory. Hardly, anyone would memorize the struggling Sachin, Laxman or vulnerable Dravid of 20/20 Cricket!

Embodiment of professional excellence and national expectations, Sachin Tendulkar, has fan following in millions and from across the globe, too lost his aura under the influence of rude 20/20format that he usually used to carry with the national cap. The lateral realisation could be for him and others that values matte,r especially in a society like ours.

I am quite sure, World Cricket could never get Don Bradman, Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Akram, Murlidharan or even Yuvraj Singh, if they would grew up with the 20/20 format in their formative years. Compromising the basic of cricket will be proved dangerous for the game. Afterall, it will be as terrible as replacing the epic works of literature for commonly ‘standardised texts messages’ where the frugality of words awkwardly foul plays with a language. I would recall, cricket is a special unconscious legacy from the Britishers-two other important legacies-Railway and Armed forces, unlike cricket were the planned projects of colonizer.  The cricket was shaped and popularized under the capitalism but its interaction in Indian sub-continent largely changed the elitist biases centered within it. Other big changes came from the Caribbean domination and their spell over this game for a long time, which eventually broken the unholy myth that white alone can play this sophisticated game.

If such popularization of cricket with nationalistic aspirations given it a people-centric leaning, I am afraid, the IPL episodes will be badly damaging the essence of cricket and common men’s evolved stake over a long period of time from this game.

Private money can’t add sports spirit and ofcourse qualities in the game-we can see that in dwindling ‘country cricket’ and other sluggish club sports of Europe…in actual, the real spirits are no where under the blind capitalism!

The author is a New Delhi-based journalist

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