Indian fans cheer their team against England © Getty Images

 

By Rajesh Ramaswamy

 

Purely seen from the point of view of our cricket followers (I’m a confirmed case, myself) and their comments that I get to read on the social media and hear elsewhere, we seem to have lost all sense of perspective. We seem to veer from blind idolatry to a faux-agnostic self-flagellation…from worshipful reverence of our cricketing gods, to an almost manic rubbishing of everything our players achieve.

 

I’m not counting, in this grouping, the cricket phobics, whose numbers are growing, but those who profess a love and some knowledge of the game.

 

Our discussion forums are filled with ‘fans’ that put off all and sundry by the sheer degree of jingoism, or by their over-the-top celebration of every ordinary gesture as a manifestation of Greatness. On the other hand, and more disappointingly for me, are the so called ‘classicists’ who seem to find a perverse pleasure in running down everything about the modern game, and, inferentially, the current Indian team. For them, everything a Dhoni achieves is sheer luck, while Sachin is just a vastly hyped up player who’s ‘never won a game for India’, and this refrain keeps getting repeated ad-nauseum irrespective of the context or the result.

 

While the first group dilutes the game by the sheer mindlessness of their following, the latter are the ‘dementors’ who suck all joy out of the game for those of us who still love it (and still believe in Santa Claus, btw).

 

Like the old refrain of ‘If Lillee don’t get you, Thomson will’, the normal cricket lover who enjoys the game and its nuances, yet is willing to be swept along in the ocean of well-being when his team wins, is fast becoming caught between the two extremes, and is perforce choosing to keep silent. Especially on social networks like this one, he dreads publicly sharing his joys and innocent beliefs for fear of being hijacked for the ‘holy’ cause by the flag-waving patriots…..or for fear of being ridiculed by the bile-gargling ‘educated elite’ whose only enjoyment comes from putting down others.

 

Perhaps there was once only one happy group of followers, and the growing influence of one extreme created the other as a counterpoint, but like in all forms of extremism, the collateral damage is always the innocent bystander: in this case, the amateur cricket lover who still loves the game for itself!

 

(Rajesh is a former fast bowler who believes he could have been the answer to India’s long prayer for an ‘express’ paceman. He regularly clocked speeds hovering in the late 80’s and occasionally let fly deliveries that touched the 90’s. Unfortunately for him, the selectors were talking ‘mph’, while he was operating in the metric lane with ‘kmph’. But he moved on from that massive disappointment which resulted from what he termed a ‘miscommunication’, and became a communications professional. After a long innings in advertising as a Creative Director, he co-founded a brand consulting firm called Contrabrand. He lives in Chennai and drives down to work in Bangalore…an arrangement that he finds less time consuming and stressful than getting from one end of Bangalore to the other.)