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For Love of the Game.

by Bored Guest

Most of us grew up playing cricket because it was fun. Depending on what you were good at, you used to dream of scoring the winning runs for the gully team or taking a hat-trick in the final over. Some of us thought we were good enough to do both. It didn’t matter how hot it was or if we had an exam the following day, all we wanted to do was play.

I’m not going to go into being proud of playing for the country because that comes a lot later than the joy of hitting the ball over the boundary or watching the stumps go flying. Cricket, like any other sport, is supposed to be fun. It is something you play to get away from that annoying school teacher who gives you so much homework. I assume anyone who takes up cricket as a career would have gone through these emotions when they started playing. Yet, somewhere along the line most of them seem to lose that zeal for cricket. It’s easy to pin the blame on too much cricket, but there are a lot of players who don’t seem into it even when they’re coming off from a long break.

So why am I talking about this? Well, it’s because of a couple of games from the recent Champions League. The first one was between Bangalore Royal Challengers and Delhi Daredevils. The Cape Cobras had just defeated the Victoria Bushrangers, a result that had knocked out Bangalore. That didn’t stop Anil Kumble from leading his side against the Daredevils who needed to win in order to stay in the competition. Staying true to his reputation of a fighter, Kumble strangled the Daredevils middle order before Ross Taylor blitzed Delhi out of the tournament. What was heartening to see was Kumble’s intensity throughout the contest. He looked like he was going to explode every time there was a misfield. The result rendered the Daredevils-Cobras game inconsequential as far as Delhi was concerned. As a result, we saw a Daredevils side sans Sehwag, who had been the one constant in Delhi’s performance throughout the tournament. He was coming off from a long injury layoff but looked like he hadn’t been away from the game at all. So why exactly did he sit out? Sure they won the game without him, but that’s beside the point. Was it too much trouble for him to come out for a game that meant little? What about the sellout crowd that had come to see him bat? These are the people who are responsible for the lifestyle he enjoys, through a career he chose because he loved playing cricket!

The intent of this post is not to slight Sehwag or praise Kumble. I would still like Sehwag to open for India in all forms of the game, and for Kumble to stay retired. But I would like to see cricketers play like they enjoy the game and want to be out there every time they have a chance to play. Let’s put the fun back into cricket!

by Mahek
You can read more of Mahek at his blog Confessions of a Forced Spectator

9 comments:

Naked Cricket said...

Gotta admit my first reaction on hearing the DD final XI was, glad I didn't go, and too bad they did.

And of course, Nagar's perforance in that one game will brighten his prospects for the coming season. Give us a break Viru.

straight point said...

there is one difference here mahek...

kumble played coz he don't have to worry about anything... and that's the only platform he can play now... whilst sehwah had to worry about minor things like the next oz series...

imagine the hue and cry over him had he got injured playing that inconsequential game then you and me would have loath him for loving money of champions league over national commitment...

i tell you these cricketers just can't pacify us... the fans... we will always find one reason or another to bag them... :)

The Chocolatecream Soldier said...

I am as passionate about the Daredevils as I am about India, so I'm not going to cry foul if someone gets injured playing the IPL and misses international cricket. The fact of the matter is people pay good money to go watch these players and it's ridiculous if they sit out a game even after coming off from a long break.

If the same logic applies to other players, why did Praveen Kumar and Virat Kohli play against the Daredevils? Why did Gautam Gambhir turn out against the Cape Cobras?

straight point said...

again there is one difference...

they were not coming off after injury layoff... :)

achettup said...

People have different goals Mahek. You might be as passionate about the DD as you are about the Indian cricket team, that does not necessarily mean everyone - including the cricketer himself - feels that way. While your goal might be to watch your favorite cricket players play 24/7x365, they might have to make the judicious choice of selecting games which allow them to make the most out of their careers. That is their choice. If Stryis, Oram and Flintoff retire from Tests, fans can demand all they want that they want to see them play tests when they are perfectly capable of doing so, but that is their choice. Sitting out of a meaningless club-level T20 to reduce the risk of aggravating a recent injury should not be equated with someone's (lack of) love for the game, but rather the rant of a frustrated fan. Sorry. SP is quite right, the fans really never are satisfied.

The Chocolatecream Soldier said...

It's not about me being a Daredevils fan. It's about players not being up for a game which you took up because you enjoyed playing it, not because you thought you'd make big bucks.

Fans have every right to be dissatisfied if they pay money to watch a player who decides to give the game a miss just because his side is out of the tournament. Sehwag is not earning close to a million dollars from his IPL team to sit out, is he? He's played hardly any cricket since April so it's not like he'd have been fatigued. Missing a game isn't the same as retiring from a particular format. English fans aren't going to be surprised when they don't see Flintoff's name on the scoreboard in tests. They're going to come to games knowing he won't be playing.

Everybody risks getting injured every time they take the field. Didn't Gambhir lead the side against the Cobras? Praveen Kumar being a bowler runs a bigger risk of getting injured, and he needs to fit for international games more than Sehwag since his place is not certain. But he played against the Daredevils.

The point I'm trying to make is cricket is supposed to be fun and people have started taking the fun out of it by crowding the schedule and mixing priorities. Sehwag and Kumble were just examples.

achettup said...

Cricket stopped being about fun and became more of a business when people first started assembling teams and taking them on tours. Cricket isn't just fun for professionals. Its their job. Although they have the choice to do more than whats stated in their contract, they aren't obligated to. Opting out of a match can in this case be considered similar to utilizing your paid leave.

Bear in mind that the only real fun/friendly games are those played for charity etc. For amateurs or those who play the game as a pastime it is fun.
I don't recall seeing any pre-stated conditions in game tickets saying a certain player WILL definitely play. Nobody can give that guarantee. Fans know the risks when they buy tickets, they are fully within their rights to feel dissatisfied, but I do not think this gives them a right to question a player's commitment to the game.

As mentioned before, Sehwag was coming back from injury, an injury that kept him out for quite a while and drew unnecessary media attention and rumours. If the other players chose to take the field that was their choice, some like Gambhir probably had no choice considering their roles. What they eventually chose to do need not necessarily an indication of their love for the game, and certainly if they sit out it shouldn't be taken as such. How do you feel about Sachin sitting out of so many recent matches? Would you honestly say that his love of the game has diminished?

The Chocolatecream Soldier said...

So why exactly does it have to stop being fun if it's a business? Why is it a given that anything that's fun has to stop being fun if money is involved?

achettup said...

If you cannot understand the difference in fun between playing for the fans once you're out in the middle and playing for yourself when prioritizing games for your career, then this discussion has run its course.
You can't compare a schoolboy who's distracted by cricket to avoid his exams and a professional cricketer's decision not to pick one game over another, it is arguable that neither is a measure of their zeal for the game. So I'm walking out of this argument and maybe you can claim Cohen's law and the win if thats so important.