The grass is green, but not on cricket's side
Every person has a zone of his own, an area in which he/she is most comfortable. For some, it is the darkness of a movie hall; for others, the library or the stage; for still some others, it's the dance floor; for the artistically inclined, it's an empty canvas, with a bunch of colours at hand; and for music aficionados, the music hall itself, with all its acoustics.india Updated: May 20, 2012 01:36 IST
Every person has a zone of his own, an area in which he/she is most comfortable. For some, it is the darkness of a movie hall; for others, the library or the stage; for still some others, it's the dance floor; for the artistically inclined, it's an empty canvas, with a bunch of colours at hand; and for music aficionados, the music hall itself, with all its acoustics.
For a young cricketer, the ground he plays on is everything. The moment he steps on to it, he feels that God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. The smell of grass - those of you who have smelt it will know - puts him at ease, the expanse of green soothes his eyes, and the sight of the wicket and its nature and character awakens excitement and anticipation. He feels that this is his natural environment, the place where he belongs.
Some patches of green come to acquire greater sanctity for him than others. For millions of aspiring cricketers, stepping on to the ground at the Wankhede stadium has been, and still is, a dream, and I know of many who would have given anything to be able to play a game there - maybe get out first ball for zero, but just feel the thrill of being there in the middle.
Recently, a senior Indian player from the 1990s, not from Mumbai, said that even after he started playing for India, his big aspiration was to do well at the Wankhede, because to do well in Mumbai and to win the appreciation of the city's cricket-loving crowd was to establish oneself as a quality cricketer.
So I object to a bunch of children being allowed to step on to the ground after an IPL game for a game of catch. Millions of cricketers would be grateful if they were allowed to set foot on the ground for a moment; that the Mumbai Cricket Association in the first place tacitly allowed people linked to the team owners to play there is unacceptable.
The blame for that lies squarely with the MCA, which has also done other things in the past to "lift" the IPL to greater heights.
Then, of course, there's the 'star' team owner's demeanour. Shah Rukh Khan had said a couple of years ago that Sunil Gavaskar did not have the authority to speak on T20 cricket, so it would understandably be difficult for him to appreciate what the Wankhede means to a cricketer.
Sadly, instead of being thankful that the children had been allowed to play there for a while, he was angry that they were asked to vacate the field and showed the sense of entitlement that Indian celebrities unfailingly do.
Worryingly, SRK's is not an isolated episode. In this IPL season, another team owner, also from the Hindi film industry, had argued with an umpire after the fall of a wicket, and the IPL bosses had to ask the match referee for a report on the incident.
Sources in the cricket establishment also tell me that some people linked to the franchisees have begun insisting on what kind of wicket to have for a game.
All this is happening because the core values of cricket that a young cricketer grows up with have been done away with, and the places he holds sacred have been allowed to be trampled upon.
T20 and IPL aren't a bad thing at all, but the manner in which we Indians go about doing things, we can rely upon ourselves to completely ruin a sport.