Indian skipper Rahul Dravid was right in more ways than one when he referred to the shock defeat by Bangladesh in the World Cup as a nightmare. The real nightmare is now playing out at home, both for the Pakistanis and Indians. It is all very well to say that we subcontinentals are very volatile and sentimental when it comes to cricket. No one doubts the intense passion that the game evokes. But the sight of unruly mobs attacking Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s house, which is under construction, in no way reflects a love for the game. It denotes that we are bad losers and poor sports to say the least.
Such hooliganism cannot be permitted under any circumstances and takes away the enormous joy that the game gives millions of people. And, this outburst of mob violence has become a frequent occurrence. Whether attacking players on the pitch or their homes and families when the going gets tough, we are doing no credit to ourselves as a leading cricketing nation. It is fashionable to knock British football hooliganism. But nowhere did fans launch an attack on either the players or coach Sven-Goran Eriksson after England returned empty-handed from the football World Cup. Yes, there was much griping and kvetching. And that is to be expected.
The rate at which so-called Indian fans are going, we can expect few parents to want their children to go into the national team. To some extent, the media cannot escape responsibility for the excesses of mobs such as the one that attacked Dhoni’s residence. The sight of television cameras seems to bring out the worst in lumpen elements seeking their two minutes of fame in the sun. Having said that, it is up to the district administrations to exercise greater vigil during matches. The biggest mistake we have made is to tie a game like cricket up with national pride. Is our pride so fragile as to collapse with one cricketing defeat?
Our cricketers are just as vulnerable as anyone else. How are they expected to perform under such pressure? Yes, they make millions in endorsements. But that is because of the demi-god status they enjoy in good times. A cricketer’s shelf life is relatively short, and we should not grudge them a bob or two more than what many others make. Let’s not be such spoilsports, it’s just not cricket.