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Life as I'm learning it

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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an agèd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Shame on you, Kolkata

After Mohammed Kaif hit the winning boundary this evening at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, to square the series 2-2, Rahul Dravid did a rare gesture, which we don't normally associate with a man of reticence. No, not the shirt swirling "What the f***" à la Sourav Ganguly. He looked at the crowd, raised his bat and applauded them. And that is something which will never happen in Kolkata.

I have great respect for people from West Bengal - their contribution to India has been immense. Eden Gardens has a fabulous cricketing tradition. The cricket stadium with the biggest seating capacity - alas, in a city which knows no respect for people. Which lacks cricketing sense and which has brought untold misery to not just itself, but also to the entire cricketing fraternity.

My first memories of the barbaric attitude of the Kolkatan crowd date back to the year 1996. Semifinals of the World Cup, Sri Lanka v/s India. Sachin Tendulkar had been in pristine form, and India had just beaten Pakistan comprehensively in Bangalore. But once the Bombay Bomber got out, wickets started tumbling and India found itself rattling at 8 down for 120, still a good 120-odd runs away. The stands at the Eden Gardens erupted. There was fire and smoke. Missiles started flying in, and Kolkata ensured that India never got to play another delivery. Sporting sense, anyone?

A couple of years later. The Asian Test Championship. India v/s Pakistan. Sachin Tendulkar was run out in a mysterious manner. Crowd trouble, and play was stopped. Sachin had to come out and pacify the crowd. The last day of that Test match was played before an audience of barely a 100. Why? Just a few weeks before that, India had lost a test match to Pakistan by a dozen runs in Chennai - a match we should have won easily. The spectators at the Chepauk stood up and applauded genuinely the Pakistanis who did a lap of honour. What constitutes cricketing sense, you decide.

Three days ago. You know what happened. The crowd booed and jeered whenever India did anything meaningful. And when Indian wickets fell, or when Graeme Smith and Andrew Hall started walloping our bowling, cheers! Not genuine appreciation. Because an overfed local lad who thought that it was his birthright to be captain, despite his non-performance, till retirement was sent packing, the crowd started acting like a mob. Moreover, the Sports Ministaer went on air saying he wouldn't attend the game because his Prince wasn't playing. (Like we cared.) What the people from Bengal have done successfully is that they have converted this into an issue of Bengal v/s the rest of India. That makes it even more difficult for others to show them any reason. Sporting sense, anyone?

Of course, cricket spectators don't need to be like those gentlemen of yore who used to carry walking sticks and wear round hats and ballroom attire, applauding in unison every boundary. But they can at least stop short of acting like madmen and bringing the game to disrepute. Yes, disrepute - that is what Kolkata is guilty of. Just like in Ganguly's case, too many chances have been given to cricket's other Mecca. It is time we stopped giving matches to a senseless and insensitive audience.

After all, why be Left behind, when you can instead be right?


Blogger Wacky Vin said...

Couldn't agree more than this,Shameless fan following needs a kick at ass.

11/28/2005 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wondering how that guy u met in the train during your trip to Orisssa would be replying to this...

11/28/2005 11:59:00 PM  
Anonymous BongButSceptic said...

Couldn't agree more! Don't know nething about cricket but hated the mass hysteria following Sourov's dismissal! And totally agree to the suggestion that Eden shouldn't be given ne more matches. Chipauk and Wankhede, and if possible Gachhibouli, must be given all matches and, I guess, standing ovation to Pakistan shud be made mandatory everytime they beat us. Cricket is a gentleman's game and the conglomeration of cricket cognoscenti (yucky alliteration!) at Chepauk and Wankhede is neday better than mob fan following!

And I am sure Dravid would be prudent & gentlemanly enough to remember to hide his torso while celebrating a victory! I am sure he will play for a long long time and will replace Sourov as the most successful Indian cricket captain ever. And I am sure some people will finally understand what representativeness heuristic is. Amen!

1/22/2006 07:26:00 AM  

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