Yeah, that’s what Cricket was referred to as once. Almost like golf – where players come well-attired, shake hands, show a good game, and part with another shake hand.
But is that still true?
The game is a sensitive topic in India, at least right now. Just yesterday millions of disappointed fans saw the Indian cricket team taking a ‘gentlemanly’ exit from the world cup. The trouble being that Indian team took the ‘gentility’ to the literal execution. They played with sophistication, running the least, leaping the least and ofcourse, none of the players sweating too long in the sun. But is it their fault – why did you call it the gentleman’s game if what you wanted was killer instinct? Since when do gentlemen have that?
The arguments not withstanding, the team would be scared of returning home, dashing so many hopes at such an early stage of the tournament. There is already some security provided to a few of the players. And if the previous examples of stoning, wall-painting etc are a cue, it was a well-taken preemption.
But certainly, the high expectation from the teams does create tremenduous pressures. Couple this with the heavy money involved – both in book-business and sponsorships, and with political powerplayes. – What you get is a mixture of semi-prepared players who are more comfortable advertising Reebok than playing on the field. The ones that throw away a large number of extras and keep their foot firmly rooted to the ground even as the ball swings by.
However, neither the political humbug, nor the over-involvement of players with advertisements, nor the consistently inconsistent poor perfomance of a team could be as disturbing as a cold blood murder of a distinguished coach. The murder of Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer raises many questions about the sanctity of the game and the illegal, dishonest nexus that runs beneath it.
But again I wonder, which part belongs to the gentleman’s game? The selection drama, the finger-pointing, the game fixing, the exchange of sneers and curses on the field , the stoning of losing captain’s house or the murders and arrests?