26 November 2011

Hysteria, and its effect on a cricket enthusiast.

This post is not about Sachin Tendulkar (OK, it might be a little, but he is really a metaphor for a wide variety of things). It is definitely not about some nonsensical milestone that anyone who has to produce a few time-bound-bullshit-words for a living has so much to say about. It is about the popular media, and the effect that unrestrained commercial motivation, a largely unsophisticated viewer base, and a complete lack of imagination have on an intelligent cricket fan.

For the record, I love Sachin. I started watching cricket in 1994, when he was all of 21 years old and I was 9. My granny, whom I watched all my cricket with then, loved him too. But that’s because she thought his trademark grimace when he fronted up was a smile. She liked the way he smiled.

Through the years, my craze for cricket has only grown, as has my respect for Sachin. But he has never been my favorite batsman… never the guy I get up at 3AM to watch in New Zealand or stay awake till 5AM to watch in the Windies. As a batsman, I have always considered him a class apart. I don’t enter into debates about him v. someone else because he is, clearly, a class apart.

He has never been my favorite because of the hysteria. Because his worth is devalued by the excess of nonsense that occupies the public space by the hangers-on… the once-were commentators, the word-for-money sports journalists, the downright-stupid newsreaders, and the rabid and unintelligent dickheads that populate bars and comment-spaces on the web.

Sachin is the greatest batsman I have ever seen. He is also my countryman. And yet I cannot find the joy I should in his feats because of these hangers-on. What fucking assholes! As an extreme comparison I think of what an intelligent and sensitive German might have felt about Luz Long v. Jesse Owens during the 1936 Olympics… When sport ceased to be about the sportsmen, but rather about their damn following.

For an informed cricket enthusiast, the nationalistic fervor, the rabid fanaticism, and the unrestrained commercialism that always surround Sachin are good reasons to not invest emotional energy in his achievements. And this is a real pity, for he is such a great batsman.

For my part, I love the way he scurries around the outfield these days, like the familiar ragged teddy bear that you just don’t want to give up. And for that grimace-smile as he strokes his way to ninety-something.

What’s that? Ninety-something? Not thirty four short of something else?

Stupid Fucks.