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CWG managed to shift interest from cricket

More than the medals won and wonderful infrastructure, the Commonwealth Games' greatest triumph was it focussed attention on sport and pushed cricket to the background. For once, India decided to celebrate the feat of unknown archers/gymnasts instead of getting obsessed with cricket.

cricket Updated: Oct 17, 2010 23:19 IST
Amrit Mathur

More than the medals won and wonderful infrastructure, the Commonwealth Games' greatest triumph was it focussed attention on sport and pushed cricket to the background. For once, India decided to celebrate the feat of unknown archers/gymnasts instead of getting obsessed with cricket.

The shift is significant because the Tests were riveting and Sachin Tendulkar was in prime form. Still, the CWG became the main news story, cricket the non-lead, mentioned only as part of the other sporting action.

To many, this was just as well because for a long time cricket has grabbed disproportionate attention and other disciplines have got a raw deal. Cricket admittedly is part of India's DNA, all of us have succumbed to its charm but this does not justify that sacrifices and success of other achievers are ignored.

Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara are already popular heroes - despite limited success on the big stage -- but most of us have already forgotten the names of the female athletes who won the relay.

It is unfair that MS Dhoni's wedding and Sachin's fitness is a national issue but not many are moved by the boxer who gets up at 3:30am to train.

The CWG legacy is not about the spectacular ceremonies, the world-class Village or the heady India-can-do-it feeling. The real gain is not even the 101 medal count but the sudden realisation that India has abundant top-level talent. And if this is supported by good governance, instead of being systematically strangled, we'd be a major sporting nation.

Despite the CWG euphoria, questions remain. Will the momentum sustain, will we lose interest, and will cricket recapture headlines and our attention with the World Cup and IPL? As it is, cynics feel the crowds at the CWG were not driven by sport, instead they came to check out the modern stadium, and in next month's Asian Games the medals tally will shrink drastically. It would be sad if the CWG turns out to be a momentary triumph of the athletes, compared to the privileges of the cricketers.