Half-monty, push-ups, nagin dance in cricket: Item number next?
What next? Perhaps a Bollywood style sizzling item number, or balle balle bhangra, when the Indian cricket team beats England later this summer, writes Amrit Mathurcricket Updated: Mar 22, 2018 08:49 IST
Everyone loves a tight sporting contest but cricket becoming a conflict zone is a different ball game altogether. That Indian cricket officials are squabbling publicly, scoring debating points through leaked emails, is unpleasant and bizarre. More serious is players’ on-field behaviour, first the Kagiso Rabada-Steve Smith spat, then the group riot in Colombo.
Some think this is normal and wonder what the fuss is all about. Isn’t it great, they asked, that Roger Federer cries on live television regardless of winning and losing? Don’t we enjoy Virat Kohli’s raw aggression when he gives someone an earful, after scoring a hundred?
The basic thread of this argument: When winning is everything there will be needle, tempers will rise and words will be exchanged. This is compelling television drama, and cricket needs characters not well mannered robots. According to many, sport at the highest level is about josh and junoon and players must have a license to freely ‘express’ themselves.
When recent events brought player behaviour into focus, it was pointed out that a lot has always happened on a cricket field. Sledging (crisp, targeted communication) invented by the Aussies and evolved into an art form. Others embraced it and, among Indians, Gautam Gambhir is a skilled practitioner.
Gaalis too are a part of cricket (specially in India-Pakistan games) and Virat is only following in the footsteps of the legendary Imran Khan, king of swing and reverse swing, the pioneer who introduced Punjabi passion to cricket’s gentlemanly culture. Virat is a worthy disciple, and going by the blast given to Manish Pandey, MSD (not known to waste words) is talented when it comes to saying a few sharp words.
In times gone, Indians have crossed the line — almost-by getting physical. In a Duleep game, Raman Lamba, bat in hand, flew into such a rage and chased Rashid Patel round the ground.
Serious about maintaining law and order on the field, the International Cricket Council (ICC) put in place strict rules about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Wanting to retain cricket’s character and tradition, and with an eye on kids watching on television, match referees and umpires were empowered to act against deviants with demerit points, match fee penalties, suspensions and red cards.
Traditionally, Indian teams are well behaved and law abiding, careful to project a ‘nice’ clean image. Remembering his playing times one Test star said the team was restrained, and even celebrations after dismissing a top player were so low key they resembled a drinks break!
Of course much has changed. Fall of a wicket, even that of a tailender, is now a team bonding exercise — celebrated by back slapping, hugs and high fives. A win (match or series) is a bigger event, an occasion to make a statement. Sourav Ganguly did a Salman Khan at Lord’s, Misbah did multiple push-ups after scoring a hundred at the same venue. Mushfiqur and his Bangladesh tigers turned snakes for a cobra (nagin) dance in Colombo.
What next? Perhaps a Bollywood style sizzling item number, or balle balle bhangra, when India defeat England later this summer!
(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with IPL in official capacity.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.