Okay. I am a typical cricket fan – played with dreams in the eyes as a kid and now follow it even in my dreams. Cricket to me has been more than a hobby; it is more like a habit. It has been a stress-buster, a something which I eagerly look forward to in an otherwise mundane life. It has occupied more than 90% of my mind over the years irrespective of the situations, most of the times.
When India was playing Sri Lanka in 1996 world cup semi final, I was more worried about the score than my board exams. I could sail through empty mindedness in the college during the last semester just because of the historic series in 2001. Couple of years back when my career was in total doldrums, not that it is any better now, I found solace in India’s victorious campaign in 2011 world cup.
Such has become the habit that quite often I have followed cricket not because I have really liked doing it, it is because I have not had anything better to do. In fact, I have not known anything better to do.
Hence, no matter how much I ridiculed IPL, I still followed it – with almost equal vigor of following the international cricket. If I say I didn’t like it, I would be lying.
But now I have been told that some of the matches I followed with keen interest were fixed. Okay spot fixing it was but that doesn’t matter. Three of the players have been alleged of being involved, one of them has reportedly accepted it. That’s utter dishonesty – with their profession, their team, their bosses and most importantly the fans. That’s what everyone pretends to be saying about them. Right now, entire world is a statue of honesty and those three are the dishonest lot, the only dishonest lot.
The thing with honesty is – the entire world is illuminated with the masquerade of honesty as soon as it finds a dishonest corner.
A news channel reported it as cheating with billions. Someone tweeted – “Yes definitely. Tribal in Kalahandi can no longer trust their favorite IPL team”. Touche is the word that came to my mind.
Another news channel told that these players are so characterless that they had prostitutes visiting them in their rooms. The same channel reported about Sanjay Dutt’s possible breakfast in Jail, Poha and Upma, for next two days. So much for the character of journalism, is what I thought.
A politician demanded strict punishment for those found guilty – life ban, at least ten years of imprisonment and seizure of wealth accrued by playing cricket. The same politician was a front runner in “pardon Sanjay Dutt” brigade. Need I say more?
Morality is nothing but just a word. I don’t possess a character strong enough to claim otherwise. I am imbibed with two of the human traits – greed and fear, as much as anyone. I don’t have a right to say what these players should or should not have done. Even if I have, I am too small to use my rights to make a difference. Remember, I am just an average cricket fan?
Such event has not happened for the first time. I clearly remember 2000. This will not be the last time also. I will clearly remember 2013.
What such events do is that they create an element of mistrust in your mind. Mistrust is like a mustache sported by a gorgeous girl – no matter how beautiful she is, the mustache will be the first thing you are going to notice. It may well be the only thing.
With such revelations, how do I trust if other matches were clean? How do I trust if any of the matches were clean?
Today Rahane didn’t appeal for a run out? White strangely failed to throw the ball. Sammy terribly misfield-ed at the boundary. Did it all just happen or it was made to happen?
I have serious doubts about RP Singh’s no ball. I will never understand why Kedar Jadhav didn’t break the stumps? How could Pollard drop three catches in a row and how could Hussey offer three catches in a row to the same fielder? I may never get the answers. But that’s okay. Few years from now, remembering these names will be difficult. I don’t really care about these names.
Mistrust grows. Unless treated properly, it just does. More you focus on the mustache of that pretty lady which makes her look not so beautiful, more ugliness you will find in her. After all, there is nothing called perfect beauty.
What if my mistrust grows to other names, bigger names? What if it reaches the names which matter?
Dravid didn’t really cry after losing the match tonight. Was he really disturbed after losing? By the way, he is leading the team which had those three players in the wings. Can he be? Losing trust can be disastrous. Or faith is the word. Being semantically challenged, I will stick to trust.
Dhoni’s dropping Morkel in the last season’s play off or sending Ashwin up the order this season is anyhow seen as a doubtful act by some news papers.
Last season, Ganguly could neither get out nor hit out while playing for PW. PW lost almost everything. Was it age getting better of Ganguly the batsman or something else? A batsman can always get out whenever he wants to, isn’t it? If I am losing the trust in entire system, how can I trust anyone?
Time for a bit of blasphemy – Sachin retired hurt citing cramp in hands in the match against SRH. Eleven years back, when Gibbs retired hurt citing similar injury and his team lost the match after that from a winning position; a friend of mine raised the fixing angle. I didn’t agree one single bit. We agreed to term it as choking.
Oh, maybe I am getting a bit too finicky. Sachin cannot be corrupt, after all he is Sachin. But is it not the same way people would have thought about Hansie Cronje – he couldn’t have been corrupt, after all he was Hansie Cronje. Since it has come down to Sachin, I will use the word faith. Losing faith makes you blind. Once you are blind, you cannot differentiate. In fact, you don’t.
What if even holier than thou are proved, or even alleged, to be corrupt. How am I going to feel? It will feel as if you have been giving it all to save the life of a terminally ill loved one but the doctor tells you – “Sorry, no chance. Actually, he never had any.” You would feel betrayed by no one else but your own hope. There is no bigger betrayal than someones own hope betraying him. Saying “it will hurt” will not even be a gross understatement.
What should I do? Maybe this is a wrong question. Life is not really about what you should or should not do. It is more about what you can or cannot do. It is about the options you have and how, if at all, you can exercise them. There are always at least two options – either you can fight to live another day or give up an embrace the ease provided by death, death of fight.
I have three options too.
I can believe in the theory that everything, from top to bottom, from start to end, each and every match I followed with keen enthusiasm was fixed. I can believe that it was nothing but a well rigged reality show. Thus, I can give up on my habbit, my hobby. But that won’t be me. I won’t be me after that.
I can still follow the game but with suspicion. But that will not let me enjoy the game. Every dropped catch will be seen with the eyes of doubt, every bad over will sound fishy, and every poor dismissal will look fixed. It will be even worse than giving up on the game. It will be like quitting smoking but deciding to smoke only when you drink tea and drink a dozen cups of tea everyday.
There is another option. Believe in the belief with which I have followed till now – it is all clean until proven otherwise. Believe in the belief that holier than thou are actually holier than everyone. Believe in the belief that every batsman bats to hear the sweet sound when he times it perfectly, every bowler bowls to hear the sound of timbre, every fielder takes immense joy in making an impossible stop. The option is to keep believing that cricket is a game where people possessing different arts try to outsmart each other and that’s their only objective when on the ground. I took this option in 2000 and it paid rich dividends. I know people who took the first option after 2000 and I know they’ve missed a lot. I got to enjoy a golden period, got to enjoy the showmanship of some real heroes and got to hold on to a hobby, the only one. I will take the third option this time also. And maybe next time also.
Challenge of life is not looking at what’s bad and giving up. Challenge lies in searching for what’s good and looking at it. Challenge is in making yourself see beyond the mustache and enjoying the beauty. Challenge is in keeping your faith in tact. Challenge is in keeping the trust in tact. Challenge is in not letting a few tornado rattle that.
One may call me a foolhardy but if fooling me keeps hopeful of getting to see one more golden period, I would say there is a challenge in fooling yourself too and I accept it.
Don’t forget, Indian cricket’s last golden period came after a fixing fiasco. Who knows, next one may follow this one.
And this time, I am sure that SIR will bring it.