Mayanti

Given the tone of her letter it is evident that Mayanti Langer is not happy. Let me first explain what has gone wrong. Indian selectors had picked Stuart Binny for the two-T20I series against West Indies at Lauderhill, Florida, USA last month. Binny was hit for five sixes in his only over, and eventually went for 32. Binny was not asked to bowl again, and did not need to bat either. In other words, Binny had a horror day out there, possibly the worst in his international career till date. It is unlikely that he will have a worse outing.

Fortunately for Binny, he is not on social media (even if he is, he maintains a low profile). On the other hand, his wife Mayanti Langer has a verified Twitter account. Mayanti is no Virender Sehwag (did you know that if you search with Sehwag’s name, Google’s first recommendation is ‘Virender Sehwag Twitter’). However, Mayanti is more or less active on social media.

That was where the problem started. Not for the first time, Twitterati targeted Mayanti for her husband’s failure. To her credit, Mayanti has usually taken things in her stride.

Let me cite an example. A user, seemingly ‘impressed’ with a catch by Binny, had tweeted that Binny deserved a selfie with Mayanti after the catch. And Mayanti had obliged.

 

So far, so good.

For someone who has hosted five World Cups across three sports, Mayanti has been an excellent sports anchor. Her on-air composure was tested yet again after Binny’s spell and India’s defeat against West Indies by a solitary run. No, the viewers never got a hint of what could possibly have gone inside her mind.

It was perhaps Mayanti’s astounding professionalism that made the viewers think of her as an easy target. We are, after all, a nation brought up on soap operas and over-sensationalised news hours. We are used to emotions, often an overflow of it. We are not used to restraint, of self-control when the profession demands a person to exercise it.

We, used to mediocrity on television, were not prepared for such high standards. Exactly what we wanted to see on television is not clear, but we certainly expected something more dramatic.

So we decided to take things in our own hand. Social media, especially Twitter, has made celebrities more reachable than before. Unfortunately, as a result of this, some of us (the count is more than we usually think) consider Twitter as a platform where one has free license to abuse the famous.

So some of us decided to ask Mayanti to file a divorce case against her husband. Some asked her to commit suicide. Some mentioned that Stuart Binny deserved a death. Some called Mayanti a “gold digger”, which made little sense, for the same group had been admonishing Binny for his failures, thereby contradicting themselves.

Let us take a moment away now. Suppose one of us — consider me, for example — had a bad day, or even multiple bad days at work. People across the world have seen me fail. They do not have access to me, but they know how to reach out to my family members.

What do they do? They decide to ask my family members to part ways with me. They ask them to kill themselves. They let the family members know that they would love to see me dead.

I guess that sounds just about perfect, for that is precisely what we have done to Stuart and Mayanti, driving her to an extent where she could not take any more but respond.

In case you have doubts regarding the Indian fans, do check the responses. Of course there are a few sane voices, but they are — not for the first time — drowned by the deluge of moronic jibes from those who refuse to acknowledge that failures do happen to the best.

This brings us to a very obvious question: is it wrong to make fun of sportspeople, or successful people in every profession? Does the entire world not do that?

It is one thing to make fun, of course. We have all done that. Good-natured banter and fun is perfectly acceptable. It need not be of the highest quality, for not all of us have the gift of wit.

What is not acceptable is testing the limits of the performer and their family members to such an extent that they are forced to respond.

Or perhaps that was what we wanted — to take insensitivity to such heights that we end up achieving the Holy Grail of getting under the skin of someone who is normally able to maintain her calm.

We do not deserve Mayanti, for we refuse to be sensitive.

We do not deserve Mayanti, for we have always preferred decibels over quality.

We do not deserve Mayanti, for we believe in lashing out at family members when cricketers fail.

We do not deserve Mayanti, for when we abuse her on Twitter we forget the fact that she is as human as we are.

She is too good for us, the armchair cricket Indian fans for whom rational thinking is as difficult an exercise as actually playing in Indian colours.

In short, we do not deserve Mayanti, for we do not deserve quality.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here)