For a cricket frenzy nation what could be better than winning the World Cup of the game. A powerful and passionate performance, a fitting payback for all the prayers, astute achievement which registers in record books for all tested times to come. And the men who made it possible are indeed heroes for making it possible for the nation. It was indeed heart warming to see celebrations break out throughout the nation. But to the ire and displeasure of many though, I would take the liberty to raise a few questions at this juncture.
Are we overdoing it? Do we need to give them the next-to-god status? Should they be rewarded with cash awards amounting to a few crores per person? Should we come together as a nation only at the achievement of a sporting championship? Should media take these eleven odd men to a pedestal so high that any future human error would make them criminal? Should downing record litres of alcohol, record underage drinking, come as an additional baggage with the win? Should television channels dig into the kitchens to find out from the cooks what the cricketers ate every day? Would Bharat Ratna qualify to be the only award remaining to be conferred upon them?
I have a few answers. Yes we are overdoing it. If as a nation of 1.3 billion people, who profess cricket as a religion for the majority, we could not win the world cup for 28 long years then the folly is of the BCCI and the players entirely. Everyone would agree to the fact that it is not the dearth of quality cricketers that is the shortcoming. Ask any aspiring cricketer, barring a few wonder stories, politics in cricket as a malaise has been and still today haunts all levels of the game beginning under-14 teams to national teams. Will this world cup win change that?
Showering the members of winning team with crores of rupees as cash is a filthy display of wealth and clout. It is not that our cricketers that like of many nations go for office work in the daytime. The match fees given the amount of cricket they play, the private tournaments (read IPL) and of course not to mention the endorsements they make, all of it doesn’t definitely put them in middle class category anymore. What justifies gifting hundreds of lakhs Ms Sheila Dixit when millions of poor can be fed instead? BCCI we all know is the richest sports body in the world with a turnover more than many companies. Do they have any social responsibilities as well?
Cricket binding the nation together is a good notion and a healthy one too. But it only does so when it plays arch rival Pakistan or when it gets home a major tournament trophy. Hit by the match fixing scandal, the fire of which engulfed many a players and refuses to be extinguished even today, the image of cricket took a serious beating only to be revived majorly in the recently concluded tournament. Therefore the idolising of cricketers makes it a over stretched affair. Just like you and me do our jobs, slog to do it most of the times, isn’t winning for a country the cricketers job as well?
Chanting of ‘Vande Mataram’ by thousands together post winning is emotional for any Indian. It imbibes a feeling of deep rooted nationality in times where political leadership (or the lack of it) has let everyone down. But what change does that bring to the functioning of the country. Do the same number of people as the revellers were on streets that night, come out to vote? Do they post comments on news articles, lest support them, when a Anna Hazare fasts unto death for Lokpal Bill? Downing lakhs of litres of alcohol, rise in about hundred percent of underage drinking in the capital have also been hallmarks in the book of achievements. How about the social work that our men in blue indulge in?
This is not to take away the credit from the well deserving men in blue. Thanks to them for bringing the nation together for a moment. Give MSD news space but also do not forget Anna Hazare. Give them adulation unlimited do not shower unlimited money on them. Make them heroes do not make them god. An overdose of everything can be distasteful. This is where we do it wrong.