By Nishad Pai Vaidya
It is a move that threatens to rock the very foundation of the marriage between entertainment and cricket. The World Cheerleaders Federation (WCF) has threatened to boycott all T20 leagues around the world following Chris Gayle’s hot streak, unless their demands are met. WCF claims that his idiosyncratic batting isn’t just lethal for the bowlers but also detrimental to the welfare of the cheerleaders who have to dance every time the ball sails into the stands – which is almost unabated!
A worried WCF chief, Jane Knowles, said, “Gayle has been bludgeoning the ball all over without any concern or thought for us. We believed he was a cool guy from the West Indies and would be chilled out. However, it is due to him that our members have to hit the stage at monotonous and extremely tiring rate. Forget player burn-out, cheerleaders are in the greatest danger of being worn out. We believe in equal pay for equal work. Hence, we call for a pay hike for all cheerleaders who are scheduled to dance at games that feature Gayle. Otherwise, we would be forced to withdraw our services,” Knowles threatened.
Sources close to the WCF top brass said that they have demanded Ravindra Jadeja’s salary for each cheerleader dancing in matches where Gayle makes a mark. The movement is said to have started when a number of cheerleaders voiced their concerns during the Indian Premier League (IPL), 2012. Things reached fever pitch in the game between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Pune Warriors India at the Chinnaswamy Stadium when Gayle hit five consecutive sixes in a Rahul Sharma over. Apparently, the cheerleaders hardly had a chance to get off stage and were drained out at the end of the over.
A concerned journalist asked Knowles, “What would IPL do without cheerleaders? After all, they have become an integral part of it.”
The WCF chief chuckled and said, “The IPL has Navjot Singh Sidhu in the studios. Why not flash him across the screens after every boundary or fall of a wicket. He would come up with some proverb or a sher to entertain the crowd. If need be, he can be summoned to dance. As it is he used to hop around the studious whenever some of our girls honed their skills.”
When asked as to why the complaint wasn’t raised during the IPL, Knowles said, “When one of our girls blogged about the IPL4, she was packed off home as a disciplinary measure. We didn’t want the same to happen to our entire contingent.”
There was one positive development, though. The WCF unanimously elected Ravindra Jadeja as their favourite player and condemned the selectors for axing him from the Indian team for the Sri Lanka tour. Although, a contingent from the WCF wouldn’t travel to Sri Lanka for the One-Day International (ODI) series, they are heartbroken at the axing of the Chennai Super Kings all-rounder.
“He is without doubt our favourite player. Unlike Gayle, Jadeja is concerned about our welfare and makes sure we don’t have to work more than the expected levels. Jadeja makes up for the damage caused by Gayle,” said a cheerleader (identity withheld for her own safety!).
There were a few disappointments, though. Jadeja’s brilliant all-round performance against Deccan Chargers (48 runs, 5 for 16) wasn’t voted as the disappointment of the season. A cheerleader said, “That performance broke our hearts and we felt he had betrayed our faith. But we have forgiven him as he went out of his way to make amends in the games that followed.”
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a club-level cricketer with an analytic mind and a sharp eye. It was this sharpness which spotted a wrong replay in IPL4 resulting in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. Some of his analytical pieces have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. Nishad can also be followed on Twitter)