I have great respect for people from West Bengal – their contribution to India has been immense. Eden Gardens has a fabulous cricketing tradition. The cricket stadium with the biggest seating capacity – alas, in a city which knows no respect for people. Which lacks cricketing sense and which has brought untold misery to not just itself, but also to the entire cricketing fraternity.My first memories of the barbaric attitude of the Kolkatan crowd date back to the year 1996. Semifinals of the World Cup, Sri Lanka v/s India. Sachin Tendulkar had been in pristine form, and India had just beaten Pakistan comprehensively in Bangalore. But once the Bombay Bomber got out, wickets started tumbling and India found itself rattling at 8 down for 120, still a good 120-odd runs away. The stands at the Eden Gardens erupted. There was fire and smoke. Missiles started flying in, and Kolkata ensured that India never got to play another delivery. Sporting sense, anyone?
A couple of years later. The Asian Test Championship. India v/s Pakistan. Sachin Tendulkar was run out in a mysterious manner. Crowd trouble, and play was stopped. Sachin had to come out and pacify the crowd. The last day of that Test match was played before an audience of barely a 100. Why? Just a few weeks before that, India had lost a test match to Pakistan by a dozen runs in Chennai – a match we should have won easily. The spectators at the Chepauk stood up and applauded genuinely the Pakistanis who did a lap of honour. What constitutes cricketing sense, you decide.
Three days ago. You know what happened. The crowd booed and jeered whenever India did anything meaningful. And when Indian wickets fell, or when Graeme Smith and Andrew Hall started walloping our bowling, cheers! Not genuine appreciation. Because an overfed local lad who thought that it was his birthright to be captain, despite his non-performance, till retirement was sent packing, the crowd started acting like a mob. Moreover, the Sports Ministaer went on air saying he wouldn’t attend the game because his Prince wasn’t playing. (Like we cared.) What the people from Bengal have done successfully is that they have converted this into an issue of Bengal v/s the rest of India. That makes it even more difficult for others to show them any reason. Sporting sense, anyone?
Of course, cricket spectators don’t need to be like those gentlemen of yore who used to carry walking sticks and wear round hats and ballroom attire, applauding in unison every boundary. But they can at least stop short of acting like madmen and bringing the game to disrepute. Yes, disrepute – that is what Kolkata is guilty of. Just like in Ganguly’s case, too many chances have been given to cricket’s other Mecca. It is time we stopped giving matches to a senseless and insensitive audience.
After all, why be Left behind, when you can instead be right?
No related posts.