A Religion that Unites the Nation – Cricket

Cricket is not merely a bat and a ball game, it is not about just winning or loosing; in India it is a religion that unites people, barring disparities in social status, caste, creed or culture. Cricket in our country has always been excused from the infection of religious conviction. Hindu-Muslim, Bengali-Punjabi-Gujrati-Malayalee, men-women, rich-poor - a vogue flanking on passion unites the nation when it comes to cricket.

The country comes to a halt when a cricket match is
being played - the roads are deserted, parties are postponed, meetings are rescheduled, students go to the extent of even bunking exams!
Why does the game of cricket drive a billion people into a state of helm?

The eleven players become the topic of discussion at dining tables and cafeterias in office. People whom we have never seen in life – we talk of their style, their likes and dislikes, their family, even about their girl friends and other obsessions. In India, cricketers make news even when they sneeze!

Suddenly there's too much happening in the game of cricket. But nothing to cheer about - it is not all about the game. Sledging, wrong umpiring decisions, and racism - the list seems to be getting longer day by day. Millions across the country have been fastened to televisions watching India play Australia. But what they watched is not just cricket! Australian player Andrew Symonds accused Harbhajan Singh of racism. From media offices to people on the streets, everybody believes that the Indian player has been mortally victimized. Indians were disgusted by ICC’s double standards. The issue found its way into parliament, with members describing the incident as disrespect to India's national dignity.

The support that Team India got has been tremendous. Cricket fans have smashed the decision to ban Bhajji. They rallied behind the players and joined far-reaching battles to show their support and love. It is not a matter of an individual despotic ban on a player but more a matter of hurting our national sentiment, pride and honor. The support that the Indian team has been receiving only goes on to prove that cricket is more than just a game for Indians!

Now, the flip side of the coin:

“Police strengthened security at the homes of Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble in Bangalore”.
“Furious Indian fans stormed the house of captain Dhoni to protest a five-wicket defeat”.

These headlines get printed in the newspapers quite often.

Why do people take loss in a match too personal? Why do the media turn furious? Indian cricket fan is fanatic. He will go to any extent. Reviewing the anger, one would have imagined that the players had done something outrageous, such as supporting Pakistan or engaging themselves in match fixing. Cricket fans take pains to stay awake all night to think of ways to upset the players if they perform badly. “Aree Sewag..”, They scream at the television set at home, “Come on, you are batting like my sick Naani!” At any cost, people want Team India to win every match they play!

Intellectuals, social scientists and sports writers have tried to find out justifications for India's cricket madness - but none has come up with a satisfactory answer. May be, love for the game is just in our blood...!!

Across the country, once a child learns to stand on his feet, he tries to reproduce Tendulkar’s winning shot in the last match. Every kid dreams of wearing colors for the country – as a child, he lives to become a Dhoni or Yuvraj.

Cricket is for India, what football is for Brazil. Perhaps.. much beyond that!


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