Cricket then and now

Jubilant fans...Photo: PTI.  

In 1983, when Kapil Dev lifted the Prudential Cup high over his head with an exuberant smile stretched across his face, reflecting the emotions of a million Indians, the crowds went wild. The spectators poured into the playing field, jumping over fences and wrecking the barricades. They could not contain themselves.

Those certainly were the days. The days that people did not have to worry about threats and terror when they went to watch a game of cricket. Did not have to think about security or be afraid of being interrupted by a gun shot.

Times have changed, and people along with them. I listen to my uncles' stories about how they would queue up all night long just to be able to get good seats to watch Sir Gary Sobers close up in action, and I am amazed at how things were and how they are now. Although the love and the passion for the game still remain, people are more prone to stretching back on their recliners, with popcorn in one hand and soda in another.


And for those who are fortunate enough to watch the matches live at the stadium, in today's world, it is hard to imagine them streaming into the grounds after a victory. Fear of being chased down and shot dead by security guards, or at the worst be given a lifelong ban from the stadium, certainly squashes any such idea. The sport, although not losing its charm, or its popularity, is becoming so glazed over with other things, that the point of the game is lost. Cricket in India now is synonymous with money and politics. The game is being overshadowed by so many different things, that it is hard to list them out. Stadiums are packed to maximum capacity and more for a Twenty-Twenty match where I know many people who go just in the hope of sighting celebrities, or just to dance and have fun.

There still are people who come to watch the game to learn. To watch in awe as the world's greatest cricketers put forth a fantastic display of talent and skill. To analyse, to understand, to have a good time, to be doing something which is worthwhile to them. But these people are fewer nowadays as cricket enthusiasts also lose their respect for the game, which is being drowned in a wave of politics and commercialism. Test cricket never sells out. Off late, neither do ODI's. But T20 games are sold out before one can say “Jack Rabbit”.

All this is inevitable in the fast pace of life today. Innovation, creation; there is always a demand for something new, something more exciting than the old, and cricket is not left out. The expectations always keep rising.

In your face

The changes stare you right in the face. I'm sitting in a stadium, and this is what I see around me. People jumping up and down and dancing without a care in the world. People screaming their lungs out and yelling instructions to the players with such fervour, that you'd think they can actually be heard.

Strangers uniting over teams and players and sharing little innuendos, insightful and completely meaningless as well, with one another. Sitting there, smiling so wide you think your face is frozen, you realise, that yes, it will never be just cricket anymore. Yes, the security annoys you to an unexplainable extent. Yes, the players are just specks on a vast expanse of green. Yes, you can never run free and scream to the world when your team wins, and you can't run to the captain, hug him and cry.

But you realise, that at the end of the day, the game still holds a special place in your heart, on television or otherwise.

The commercialism upsets you, but the passion never dies. Living in a country, where cricket is not just a game, you know that nothing can claim that love from you.

And along with a whole bunch of complete strangers, I smile, my eyes to the sky, as Albie Morkel, playing under M.S.Dhoni, for Chennai, sends a six sailing above my head.

M.Vinithra, finished Std.XII at Sir Sivaswami Kalalaya, Senior Secondary School, Mylapore.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 7:32:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/Cricket-then-and-now/article16301912.ece

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