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Cricket – Beyond the Boundary
Cricket is a sport that originated in England. As the British Empire expanded its dominance over territories around the world, cricket was also played in England’s colonies. Today, cricket is an international game played in about 16 nations around the world. Cricket is commonly nicknamed the ‘gentleman’s game’, although initially, before cricket became popular, it was a game played mainly by women and children in the country of its origin.
A gentleman’s game?
Many feel that the term ‘gentleman’s game’ is a misnomer for cricket. What with racializing Aussies and sledging non-white players and players, abusing umpires in general, cricket is rapidly falling from its lofty position of being a game for the polite and cultured gentlemen only. But still, the label ‘gentleman’s game’ befits cricket more than football, considered by many to be the world’s most beloved ‘ruffian’s game’. (Football, of course, has never been called a ‘gentleman’s game’.) Besides, with more and more women choosing cricket as their career, it would be positively sexist to say that cricket is a ‘gentleman’s game’.
Cricket is more than a game. It is a great unifying force. When Indian and Pakistani players shake hands or pat each other on the back during or after a cricket match, the gesture is capable of bringing tears to the eyes of fanatics and fanatics alike. It was red-letter when various nations began playing cricket with South Africa after South Africa denounced the abhorrent apartheid, the legal practice of racial discrimination and exclusion practiced by white South Africans against the nation’s blacks. A day in cricket history that bowled everyone over.
With the advent of the Indian Premier League (IPL), cricket has acquired a whole new dimension. A single IPL team is a melting pot of cultures and more with players from Indian, Australian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, English, South African, West Indies and other cricket playing nations. Players who have always played against each other and were considered arch rivals and rivals now put aside their prejudices and dislikes and play together for the same team. As the barriers of language, race and culture disappear with the camaraderie between new teammates, cricket gets a new and interesting face every day.
This is not cricket. Or is it?
It is still the same old cricket but it has definitely gone beyond cricket. The sport has undergone a major facelift in the last few decades. Although five-day Test matches are still revered, they are not in vogue, as they last five days and are boring. Most cricket fanatics look forward to One Day Internationals (ODIs) to enjoy the highs and lows of the game in just one day. But even ODIs have lost their appeal in the face of stiff competition in Twenty20 (T20). Cricket seems to be adapting itself with the times to meet the needs of impatient, frenzied fans. Yes, you might run out of tickets, but modern-day cricket will definitely give you a run for your money, even if you watch the match on television.
Investment in cricket
Cricket, at present, is considered to be a greenfield opportunity for businessmen, a great investment ground that can yield great returns. Many genuine sports fans feel that cricket has become too commercialized to remain a heartwarming game. But many others feel that the ‘business’ of cricket is actually doing the game a lot of good. Putting real money into cricket helps promote cricket, he says. true Check out some other sports in the Indian subcontinent like Hockey, Polo, Badminton, Athletics etc. They are in a deplorable condition and are crippled by lack of finances.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) has turned the cricket field into a gold mine. Celebrities, actors and businessmen line up to buy and sell players like Curio at auctions, sponsor teams and matches and make big bucks. Tycoons are desperately vying for the biggest ticket players, making their bids shockingly high before the hammer comes down. The stakes are very high in cricket today. Winners are praised by their owners, while losers are rejected and quickly sold. Just like what happens in the agricultural market!
Can a brand ambassador be called a cricketer?
Almost all top-rated cricketers have endorsed products at some point in their lives. Cricket is not a high paying game. At least, it doesn’t pay much for the world’s best cricketers with lavish lifestyles. Supporting is the only way for them to live a prosperous life. Some of these ads can really shock you. This is the exact reason why marketers use cricketers. When you see your favorite cricketer on a different pitch, displaying or endorsing a fast-moving-consumer-good (FMCG), you may be prompted to use the same product. Hence, cricketers are a good medium for companies to convey their messages as they make excellent brand ambassadors.
Advertisements also have their flip side. Many players have been accused of making too much money only through advertisements… and very little from cricket. They’re down on the pitch, while their sales pitch is great. They have often run out of steam while their commercials have given viewers and ad agencies a run for their money. As their bank balances are increasingly fattened by brand endorsements, they have been labeled as evil and greedy people who are only interested in money and not in the sport or its spirit.
Wickedness in cricket was at its peak during the era of match fixing. Talking about it in the past tense indicates that the author sincerely hopes that match fixing is indeed a thing of the past. During these sad times cricketers sold their game, themselves and their country to bookies and others to make some quick bucks. Shame! The number of players caught in this heinous case proves that cricket has indeed been bitten by the devil. Wicked players deliberately place their feet in front of the wicket to get out. Sides and teams would deliberately lose matches and tournaments because a single loss was more profitable to them than the prize money of a win. Cricket, country and loyalty were freely traded for hard cash. Cricket has never paid as much as you might think due to episodes of match fixing. Due to lack of money, cricketers are not forced to fix matches. It was greed that drove them. Greed to collect money by mint and hook or crook. When they went out for ducks in the morning and broke the hearts of devoted fans, they might be congratulating themselves on the number of roast ducks they had that same evening with their friends at the best hotel.
It’s not really cricket
Gossip columns in newspapers and magazines contain interesting tidbits from cricketers’ personal lives. Some cricketers like the adamant Sachin Tendulkar are dedicated to the game, while other cricketers have dedications other than cricket. A whole book would be needed to document all their interests, which are sometimes quite unethical and unpleasant to talk about. Do you get the meaning though…? Late night parties in hotels, drinks, the involvement of the opposite sex…..so who wins the toss the next morning? Not cricket. Cricket goes for the toss while the excesses of life give way to it. The player walks back into the pavilion, not with his head down as it should be, but with his proud head held high. He goes straight to the bar and into the hands of the most disgusting member of the opposite sex. But such players could never make or break records. It is a conscientious, loyal and committed player like Sachin Tendulkar who has made and broken records.
Cricket played a brilliant innings and remained ‘not out’
Nevertheless, cricket continues to hold its sway over present and past cricketers as well as thousands of spectators with its inherent magic. A boundary and the stadium, be it Centurion, Lord’s or Eden, bursts into applause. A six-year-old and a terminally ill patient, watching the match from his or her home, laugh. A century and the whole nation is cheering, forgetting all distinctions of caste, creed, race, gender. He can’t raise his finger to help play the game but the umpire cheers the nation as he raises his index finger in the air. Although the thunder and lightning may stop the game and force people to bring out Duckworth Lewis, there is sure to be applause when the game resumes.
Cricket is a game that enchants the mind. Cricket matches can be very exciting and keep people on tenterhooks. One Day Internationals and Twenty20s can really give you a heart attack if your ticker is not able to handle the fear and excitement of the game. Cricket is often used to build relationships between nations, create rivalry, create new bilateral and multilateral relationships. Cricket builds and connects; It brings unity and breaks the ice. Cricket is capable of changing relations between countries and international equations. Cricket crosses all boundaries. How about a game that originated at a grammar school in an obscure English village?
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