As events unfold in any major sports championship, there is always a hope of expecting the unexpected. There is always a fear of seeing your favorite team (or player) lose. There is the most inexplicable sadism in minds to see the strongest of the teams or the individuals lose – and then there is a tenable feeling to root for the underdogs. A cricket world cup tournament cannot be dispensed from coming out of the above mold. In fact, world cup cricket may be the third largest viewed sporting event after world cup football (or “soccer” to my dearest & selectively ignorant American football fans who want to label something just because ….) and Olympics. So it is only apt that such a “boiler plate” of adage was developed, only after analyzing the outcomes of this cricket tournament. Well…at least it is the most logical and the most intelligent conclusion one can arrive at, after having followed all cricket world cup tournaments so far.
Week two in the Caribbean islands – and boy Oh boy! Haven’t we already seen some drama and tragedy? Without dwelling too much into the India-Bangladesh game itself, it was evident that there were aspects to the performance of both teams that clearly evoked extreme emotions in the subcontinent. The glorified demigods and the superhuman cricketing icons suddenly were looked down disgracefully and were painted as betrayers or as having committed some murderous act of treason in India. The same neighborhood ‘rowdys’ who were heaping praises on their local hero, turned mindless mobsters and galloped to their local hero’s house to ransack, in a matter of hundred overs. A very similar, yet more violent emotional cords were stuck across the border in Pakistan, when the Haq boys got a heavy beating at the hands of Guinness drinking green boys from Ireland. All these underline a sad truth about the general states of mind of the subcontinent cricket fans. Most of us have taken cricket as more than a sport into our lives. There are sports fans everywhere around the globe – There are passionate & violent fans in all sports like the hooligans of European football or English Rugby. But to deify the sportsmen so much so that they become so emotionally involved with you at a personal level to result in such an outburst is incomprehensible and makes you wonder where the fault lies and how it all began for you don’t see such outbursts anywhere else.
If the minnows thwarting their bulkier opponents were the real upsets on-field so far in this tournament, then the untimely death of Bob Woolmer brought the unexpected tragedy that the event did not need off-field. Autopsy results will become great media fodder and there will be something to chew on, other than just cricket after the tournament ends. All that apart, it is a misfortune to lose an extremely savvy coach who understood the game from angles not perceivable easily and always thought out of the box. The Pakistan cricket players will be under tremendous stress in the coming months to deal with the wrath of their fans(?!) back home as well as to deal with the loss of their ‘hated’ coach in unusual circumstances.
But, Cricket must go on. It is a great game that has no parallel in terms of the sheer entertainment value that it can offer for long durations. Celebrations and Tragedies will continue to be part of this beautiful game where weaker teams will have their good days and stronger teams will have their bad days. World Cup cricket will continue to be a hosting ground for lesser known players and for underdogs to stage their celebratory parades. For, all this defines the magic of Cricket.