After a hard day’s work and as a result missing out on all the CWG events, I planned to catch up with the day’s proceedings on the tube. Now I must put it across right at the outset that I’m not a HUGE cricket fan. I certainly enjoy the sport, but my passion may not be as turned up as of most around me, and as much as I respect Dravid, so do I equally revere Gilchrist.
So in the real world I had certainly read enough about India’s momentous victory over the Aussies earlier in the day (well its tough not to when its trending at No. 4 on twitter). And my instant reaction was one of awe for the courage displayed by VVS Laxman, who battled back spasms and faced the onslaught from Down Under almost single handed. However, despite those heroics, I wanted to immerse myself in the 5 golden moments of the day.
So imagine my shock as I tune into NDTV to see an expert panel of Prof. Deano (overacting personified), Jadeja (I really have no words about the “gentleman” of Indian cricket) and Gavaskar dissecting the days play. And over and over….and over they want about bowling analysis, pitch, batting strategy etc. In all of this someone at NDTV’s sports desk seemed to have completely forgotten that in the same day a few other sportsmen and women from India had done us equally proud – if not more.
My point here is not against cricket, I completely agree that yesterday was a watershed victory and a memorable one at that, but for a moment think about the CWG athletes. India has had several momentous victories in cricket – I for one cannot forget Dravid’s winning shot in Australia, or the Kaif-Yuvi show in England – but how many chances do people like Anil Kumar get to be revered for an outstanding performance?
These athletes put in tremendous amount of hard work – as do our cricket superstars – but certainly in much worse conditions with near zero support. They do this fully well aware that all they can ever hope for is a medal at the Commonwealth or the Asian games, or if they’re really talented and in a popular sport (like hockey, or off late, badminton) gun for World Championship glory. So imagine a poor guy from Haryana being denied the high point of his life due to – what if one basically looks, is a routine (and maybe inconsequential) match.
For all my critics let me bring out again, I do not mean to play down cricket, but at this point of time maybe it is prudent for it to take backseat and for the media to forget TRP ratings and applaud the Games’ athletes ahead of the cricketing gods. A good example of such balanced thinking was being broadcast by the rival channel CNN-IBN (let me bring out here that I’ve no allegiances to any channel and do not benefit from praising either one), where a panel of Harsha Bhogle, Geet Sethi, Sanjay Jha & Piyush Pandey were discussing the day’s achievements. There were talks of Laxman, Zaheer and Ishant; proceeded by names like Sanjay Kumar, Narang-Bindra and Ravinder Singh. And it was heart-warming to see all the panellists applaud the medal winners in unison, devoting equal time to each as to the cricket match.
But even then it was apparent of the divide in Indian sport when Sagarika Ghosh had to read out the names of the medal winners – such as Sarnobat-Sayyed – out of a written brief, while she easily rattled out the names of the day’s achievers in the cricketing arena (no offence meant to the excellent news presenter). These games then are a golden opportunity for all of us to recognise the brilliance of these sportsmen & women who gave it their all just to be there in Delhi, and for a brief two weeks let M/s Dhoni & co. take the backseat – trust me they will continue to perform and capture our hearts even after the Games.
Finally I would like to bring out that the medal winners do atleast get this visibility and credit, but what of the athlete who gave his/her all, only to lose out the bronze by a whisker (due to misfortune or a last moment jangling of nerves). As made evident by the “flying sikh” Milkha Singh at Rome all those years ago, the athlete coming 4th or 5th or even 10th is not in any way lower than the best, only slightly less capable – on the given day.
How often then in our quest for glory and gold such tales of courage are lost between the medal tables and political propaganda? How many people remember the athlete who ran 42km with a broken rib in stifling heat or who walked 50km in such adverse conditions in searing pain? In our obsession with the finish line, we often forget the pain, endless hours of toil and a million sacrifices made by the unknown athlete just to make it to the start line. So this time let’s make these Games a celebration of sport and the never-give-up spirit of these athletes. And I’m sure the Little Master won’t mind.