If you Google Indian culture and people it talks about a fragmented country divided by caste, religion, language and state. India is a melting pot of cultures, philosophies, ideas and people. It’s culture shaped across centuries with multiple influences from both inside and outside.
While the North-South divide is evident, state-wide discrimination and condemnation is not far behind. The differences also creep in when you account for modernised cities and a metro versus non-metro competition.
The 'Rat Race' is in full force in the country. But today, it’s not Indian culture on my mind, but the Indian Cricketer. Especially in the IPL.
In my previous post I had referred to how money has changed the game and challenged the loyalties of various Indian and International players.
Indian players of yore were considered to be some of the nicest people going around from the days of Sir Ranjitsinghji to Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. There are numerous players who played the game with dignity and respect not just against the opposition but also with their own team-mates. While rivalries existed and competition was ripe, these were never seen in public and there were no angry spats between players of the same country.
A lot of alleged problems between Dhoni and players such as Laxman, who has retired, Sehwag and Gambhir are purported to exist but none of this was ever publically displayed in a vile and uncouth manner. While tensions may be simmering under the surface, it has never affected Indian cricket.
However, a completely different dynamic is on display at the IPL.
Abuses, swear words, rude gestures and all round poor behaviour seems to be the hall mark of the new age Indian cricketer. Aggression is good. Competitive spirit is even better along with the will to win at any cost.
But when did the Indian cricketer transform to a poor mannered, abusive hot head, who fights against his own people.
Recently thanks to a sponsor I had the opportunity to meet the RCB team in Bangalore. All the foreign players and coaches we met were extremely friendly and spent a few minutes with their fans clicking pictures and signing autographs.
On the other hand, we met three of RCB’s national level fast bowlers and only Zaheer Khan had the courtesy to smile and spend a few minutes with the fans. Two of the other fast bowlers’ just didn't seem to care for any of the fans and attention and one even brushed off a fan who requested him for a picture.
Is success and money getting to the heads of the players?
On field in the IPL, if a player is hit for a couple of boundaries and happens to get the batsman out, he sends the batsman off the field with rude gestures and a mouthful of words that can’t be mentioned here.
Numerous situations and instances can be seen of Indian players abusing each other at the IPL and jousting for supremacy even against their state-mates and friends. Yes, the international stars are also competing and want to out-do their team-mates but there has not been a case of ugly behaviour from them.
Is there a deep rooted sense of difference creeping out? Has there been an unstated divide in the cricket community that kept certain players away from the limelight due to their background or lack thereof?
Today cricketers from different parts of the country are getting the opportunity to earn serious money and play with some of the biggest names in the game, an opportunity that would possibly have never come without the IPL.
There has been competition between Indian players to make it to the national XI as one would expect from a county of a billion people but why is this competition turning ugly with verbal abuses and indecent gestures.
A look at the fair play awards for the first 5 years shows the average fair play points for the winners at 9.6 in 2008, 8.8 in 2009 and 2010. 2012 has the average at 9.6, all out of 10 points. Have you seen this year’s average? It’s a paltry 4-7.5 points per match.
What has caused this dramatic drop? Are the umpires getting stricter? The laws certainly have not changed to reflect this change but the players’ behaviour most certainly has changed over the years.
What is the cause for this new over aggression? While wanting to win is a great attribute to have, why the poor on-field behaviour by the new age Indian cricketer? Is this a healthy way forward?