The treatment served by the public to Yuvraj Singh for one failure in a crucial match will scar a generation of cricketers to come © Getty Images
As Yuvraj Singh has been targeted by the Indian public, Abhishek Mukherjee raises a bigger issue than the country being a sporting nation at all.
So Yuvraj Singh has managed to do it. He has not done anything new, but just an encore of what Geoffrey Boycott and Mike Brearley had done in 1979, the entire West Indian side in 1983, Mike Gatting in 1983, Stuart Law in 1996, Misbah-ul-Haq in 2007, among several others.
How do the blind fans see it?
The loyal fans, of course, will mention the following:
- He had been a part of all three World tournament winning sides for India;
- He has hit six sixes in a six-ball over;
- He was the Man of the Series in the World Cup, dominating almost each and every match;
- He had been a part of that NatWest Final chase;
- For a time, from 2005 to 2007, he was probably the best batsman in the world in One-Day Internationals (ODIs);
- Despite his failure, he is still twelfth in the T20I rankings, at par with the recently-retired Mahela Jayawardene;
- He is a cancer survivor;
- Many, many more.
And, of course, one can expect him to come back.
How do the neutrals see it?
He has had his days. He has made us proud, but that does not mean we will keep on playing him irrespective of his form. If we have to go by reputation, we can get Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, and Sachin Tendulkar in the side. He looks nowhere close to his best, and it’s time the selectors move on without him.
Having said that, he remains, and will remain one of the greatest ODI cricketers India has ever produced. There have not been many people who have won the Man of the Series in a World Cup. Nothing can take that away from him.
How the mob saw it
It was because of the 10 balls he could not (not did not, but could not) score off that India lost. There was no other reason for them to lose. He tried, but that did not matter: what mattered was the fact that he did not deliver over a span of about half an hour.
He is not there to be targeted, so go after his family instead. The house is unprotected. There are no goons surrounding his place. What can the people at the home do? Call the police? We will run away before that.
Verdict of the civilised section of the world
It was not the right thing to do. Nobody has the right of getting personal and physical with a person who has done so much for our country. He has done so much to make us proud; he has made a comeback after fighting cancer. How dare the mob go after him? We do not live in a civilised society! How can you go after the person you all worshipped three years back?
The same player who won us the World Cup, remember? © Getty Images
The bigger issue
It’s not about Yuvraj at all. The real question we should ask ourselves is: Why is the pedigree of the player important while we express our emotions at a cricketer’s house being stoned? Should it not be the same for everyone?
By some turn of events, a talented individual may rise astronomically and find a place in the upcoming World Cup squad; he does not get to play the matches, but thanks to some last-moment injuries and a few players losing form he makes his debut in the final (the way Yusuf Pathan had in the 2007 World Twenty20). Suppose the person does not have any history of performing for India, does not have a fan base, and ends up doing exactly what Yuvraj did on Saturday night.
Ask yourself: Now that we are not talking of a World Cup hero or a cancer survivor, but an ordinary debutant who has let his team down during a crunch moment, is pelting his house with stones morally and lawfully correct?
The issue does not lie with the pedigree of the cricketer: it lies with the fact that the person is either incompetent or had a bad day, but hasn’t done anything criminal. He has not performed: he has not committed a sin. He can be penalised by the authority (the national selectors in this case) for the same; he can be shunned by the public in cafes and pubs and offices and houses and on social network; but neither he nor his family should be assaulted personally.
It is not even about taking law in your own hands. It is about making people circumspect from going into a profession where you do not run the risk of your family being attacked while you’re away. That was what the mob had done that day: they had scared a generation of youngsters to take up the profession.
(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)