Related Link : South Africa in India
It was one hell of an affair for the Indians yesterday. It was as though they were playing in a different country altogether. Maybe they were, because as political analysts in India feel, the Republic of Bengal is surely different from the Republic of India. It was something that was not expected at the Eden Gardens, but this team did not deserve such a treatment. It seems shameful to even expect the half of 95,000 going up in arms, when Charl Langeveldt castled Rahul Dravid, a sight which will surely make an Indian question – Should we ever play at Kolkata again ?
Have we ever come across seeing Indian spectators carrying South African flags, and in plenty ? It may have augured well for the spirit of the game, but in this case, it was more of a deliberate excuse to just turn up in huge numbers and show their disinterest for the match in which their local boy-turned-hero wasn’t included in the team. Didn’t the same Kolkata stand up in arms to congratulate Rahul Dravid when he smashed that 180 against Australia in 2000-01 ? Here, the same personality was booed, when he was making each and every move as skipper. Perhaps the 10-wicket victory not only bolstered South Africa’s confidence, but in more ways than one, was a moral victory for the Kolkattans, for whom there is no life beyond Ganguly. Disgraceful is one word that could best fit for these pseudo-posers, whose line of thinking was “Yeh team Ganguly ke bina nahin khelega (This team can’t play without Ganguly)” – a notion that has been proved wrong by the recent fortunes of the Indians.
The Republic of Bengal is surely not new to such incidents. The overcharged spectators of the City of apparent Joy virtually denied India a chance to play the finals of the 1996 World Cup after their obnoxious behavior forced the match referee to forfeit the match to the Sri Lankans. Their emotions overflowed yet again, when Pakistan toured here, and besides watching the cricket, they started taking their own shots at the visiting players, and the teams were forced to play in front of an empty stadium. The Kolkattans showed their side of unsporting behaviour yet again, more in a milder tone, when they booed Salman Butt, the Pakistani who guided his team to victory last year. So, with emotions literally seated in every chair of that stadium, it will be worthwhile for them settling down and perhaps then deserve a game, because with such a pathetic track record of emotional outbreaks, a cricket match between two evenly matched teams isn’t something, which the Kolkata public deserve to watch. Perhaps they need to watch some home matches involving Bengal to bask in the glory of Sourav Ganguly.
This was only a result of a symptom that conjured post-Chappell-Ganguly saga. One didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what was in the offing. But, as an analyst, we much condemn such acts and not encourage them. Two days back, I came across a report saying the Bengal film industry protesting the exclusion of Sourav Ganguly. I for one feel that this is just taking the issue too far. If Ganguly chooses or wants to make himself felt in the team, let him score runs or take wickets, as he exactly did against Maharashtra at Pune and then get included, no one will question that. It seems atrocious that a rather dormant film industry of the country, earlier used to be a pioneer in its art, has to come down and protest outside the Taj Bengal just for Sourav being excluded. What are they deriving out of it ? Just a normal waste of time and money and value for the sport.
Perhaps, retrospect was something worth having at this point of time. India should have taken this emotive issue into consideration while scheduling the games. But, I do not blame them, as the spat between two individuals has turned into a national issue. It will surely be time to introspect and look back at the scheduling process and see if Kolkata should be included in future games, especially involving India. Its time the BCCI, which is based in Kolkatta gets strict with its own hometown and maybe to prevent history repeating itself, a 2-match ban could be a likely solution. Its time for them to learn and learn from their own fellow centres like Bangalore and Chennai – who have a rather simple and rational approach to cricket-watching – “May the best team win !” and those are two centres where I have not seen any brooding over lack of local players, and that maturity surely needs to sink into the minds of the Kolkattans. Its time they realise that the show has to go on, even if the lead actor (in this case Ganguly) is missing.
Reality does not bite, it stings. And trying to sting it back is not the ideal solution. For now, its time to take a break for the emotional sulkers of West Bengal and watch the action at the bull-ring of Wankhede Stadium. As I am going to be a part of this gripping encounter (I hope), I can promise, the Mumbaiyya crowd, cheering not just their hometown heroes – Sachin Tendulkar and Ajit Agarkar, but also Team India.