It often becomes painful when you are supposed to write the obituary of a man you loved and admired the most. Ask those who wrote Nehru’s obituary. But as a cricket writer, I can say that it’s more painful to write a match report when the team you fancy, loses without giving a fight. I and my fellow sports writers in media are feeling the same at the moment.
The demand of my profession requires neutrality, but the passion, unarguably on certain occasions, gets reflected in work. You may argue on the neutrality part, but honestly speaking, a cricket columnist faces that situation quite often in his life-time.
Yours truly is now caught in a similar situation. Out of the eight matches, KKR has lost seven in a row. Somehow they have managed to successfully chase defeat from the jaws of victory, much to the disappointment of fans and cricket pundits.
It’s not that the situation is unique for me as a cricket writer. I remember writing the match report when India went down to Bangladesh in a crucial tie in 2007 World Cup held in the Caribbean Islands. The loss meant India had to suffer an ignominious opening round exit, as the team failed to qualify even for the Super Six. The next day, a story which could have appeared on the first page saw the daylight on the last page with the header crying, ‘Indian fans marooned in Caribbean Islands’.
It is a similar situation for Kolkata Knight Riders’ fans in the Indian Premier League season 2 (<a href="http://cricket.zeenews.com/ipl09">IPL 2009</a>). Nothing seems to be going right for the team, either in the field or off it. What started as a difference of opinion between skipper and the coach grew into a big controversy.
A media war followed soon and Kolkata’s two most trusted lieutenants turned into protagonists at war. There are numerous theories coming from all quarters, which go into analyzing the reasons for Kolkata’s pitiful run so far. I have already mentioned one earlier in this column.
Then, before that reason could gather some dust, another one came to haunt the Riders. An anonymous blogger called himself a KKR player and created a furore, which shattered the team think-tank completely and that was reflected in their results. Blame it on anything: bad selection, poor cricket, lack of co-ordination, multiple-captaincy, Ganguly being sidelined, Buchanan given a free hand or, to some utter nonsense like not-so-sexy cheerleaders- one fails to heal the pain of Kolkata fans, who love both SRK and Ganguly and want their team to succeed.
Reacting to the consecutive defeats, a KKR fan wrote in his blog; “Can SRK tell us why he cheated us? If Dada does not become a captain within two days, then I will not support KKR. I will only watch a KKR match if Dada is there and will continue to support only Dada, not KKR. I suggested to SRK not come to Kolkata please, because if he comes here, I am sure that he would get a pair of shoes on his face like George Bush.”
Of course, I was putting my money on KKR and the jury is still out on its performance. A friend earlier suggested, "These are different times, and with so much money at stake no one can afford to lose. At least the corporate sector believes that if a product is not delivering, then it is better to withdraw it from the market." Alas! He speaks the truth.
Just like its management, the game of cricket has changed. Gone are the days when one could see players like Zaheer Abbas crafting a memorable century with his deft touches as the packed Sydney crowd clapped in appreciation?
It’s the T20 era where commentators shout at you if the batsman has hit a six or four. Soft touches have become a thing of the past and batting is all about power hitting. Aakash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar of KKR learnt the lesson the hard-way.
The trend continues among fans and sports lovers as well. Defeat is no longer digested somberly; proper protest marches follow it. Fan clubs sprout up on the Internet and signature campaigns are held in order to thrust opinions. If stone pelting was not enough, players have taken the task of slapping each other. Times are changing, for sure.
But one thing has remained the same in sports and I think all our readers would agree to what Benito Mussolini’s Foreign Minister and son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano once said, “Victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan.”
Ask any one in the KKR camp and you will realize how true Ciano was.