Wednesday, January 09, 2008

An Embarassment Down Under

When I was much younger (fifth grade?) we used to play cricket in parks (breaking numerous windows, causing physical harm to numerous unsuspecting aunties sitting in the park and scaring the living daylights out of (and sometimes, provoking into aggression) numerous stray canines). We were, as a consequence never popular with the flora and fauna, but we did have to good time. Oh, we had our own fair share of sledging (almost everyone called me "fat"; someone else was called "Godzilla" (because the individual had an uncanny resemblance to the lizard in question)). We had our own fair share of racism (saala "madrasi"/ "sardar"/ "bihari"/ "chinki" : all not in the sense of utmost amicability). We had our own fair share of physical violence - I remember fighting with someone when we had a disagreement over a run-out. We had our own biased umpires (often quite blatant, often just plain incompetent like Steve Buknor).

Turns out professional cricket is just the same - no matter the colour of your skin, no matter the amount of money you earn. I must say, all the gentlemen who claim that cricket is their game must be spinning in their graves. Not that I care. Not that anyone does.

There's no way anyone can beat the Australian team right now. Since actual test victories against the Australians are so hard to come by - the team from the Sub-Continent will try to do the next best thing. Steal a moral victory. Does the term "sore loser" ring a bell somewhere?

But that being said, the issue of Harbhajan being reported for racism one so full with irony that it is identical to Mahmoud Ahmedinijad joining a Feminist Rally. The Australians are the master sledgers: almost as bad as that bully who used to play with us in the park (Let's Call him M.) . M had the choicest things to say about his victim's parents and siblings in Hindi. Let's jt leave that there with the confidence that all my Indian reader(s) familiar with Hindi would more or less have understood what the offensive terms in question are.

It is pathetic to hear Sharad Pawar consider abandoning the series. We never abandoned our games when we played in the park: even if one side had to bat in pitch dark. (One can imagine the umpiring standards in pitch dark!)

Here's what I say to the Australian Team. It is incredibly stupid to report Harbhajan for acrimonious behaviour. It is Indian culture to make fun of other people's races. Indian Ancestors did not enslave black people, so they're not that sensitive to racism*. (If you want to be a stickler for facts, direct Australian ancestors did not enslave black people - but the sensitivity to racial discrimination is owing to the European and American experience with African exploitation). Deal with it. You're no angels either. You sledge like crazy. Withdraw all charges against Bhajii and go to Perth and start sledging. And be sledged too.

And here's what I say to the Indian team. It makes me SICK to see you resort to emotion off the field when you find yourselves incapable of making your game speak. It's just too bad Buknor is going blind and deaf. Shit happens. Deal with it. Go and play the game in Canberra. Go to Perth and try to avoid an innings defeat. (That would be quite an achievement on that bouncy pitch). And then, try to beat Australia in at least one one-day match. And then go back to India, overthrow the BCCI monopoly, let the ICL give it good competition so that one fine day, any domestic team from, say, Hyderabad can beat the Baggy Green.

* I hope Indians get sensitive to communalism, regionalism and casteism (Indian forms of racism). But it does not look like happening anytime soon. Contemporary Indian society is bigoted to the core. Luckily, the government is not, thanks to universal franchise, a triumph of democracy.

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