The last couple of weeks were the toughest of times for Indians. The terrorists, who wrought havoc in Mumbai, threatened to destroy the very idea of India.
The attack on India’s financial capital has really shaken the nation from its torpor. The incident has made common people take to the streets, cutting across lines of caste, creed, community and religion.
The consequence of the attacks has not even spared the sporting field. To be precise, it has turned India into a vulnerable cricketing hub where any foreign team will now give a second thought before planning a tour.
The terrorists launched their bloody battle in Mumbai when India had thrashed England five consecutive times in the seven-match ODI series, making a mockery of the English snobbery. Already shaken on the field, the Mumbai mayhem traumatized the British team and compelled them to leave the country midway through the series.
Some cricket pundits, administrators and former
cricketers envious of India’s emergence as a new cricketing super power, started writing obituaries for India as a host nation for important cricketing events in the future. This sent shivers down the spines of cricket lovers and administrators in India.
Some feared that India is going the Pakistan way, which was robbed of several international cricket tournaments including the prestigious Champions Trophy in recent times due to security concerns. Nobody wants to be the guest of a person whose house is on fire. None should be blamed for being frightened.
But India is different in every aspect. The indomitable spirit of Indians is its greatest strength. In the past 60 years India has taken such beatings only to emerge as a much stronger nation. The largest democracy of the world may seem fragile on the face value, but has withstood several challenges in the past with resounding courage.
A nation, which braved four (1962, 1965, 1971 and Kargil) devastating wars, is on the threshold of becoming a super power. The nation is desperate to shed its ‘third world’ tag. In every sector India as a nation has shown superb growth and improvement.
It’s no difference in sports. Though in other sports India has only started doing well by securing its first individual gold in Beijing Olympics, cricket is the game the entire nation takes to with passion. It’s all but natural that both as a cricket playing nation and international cricketing hub, India has emerged as a super power.
Our cricket team has emerged from a potential challenger, to becoming true champions by thrashing Australia 2-0 recently. Every cricket playing nation wants India to tour their country because it is the most followed team with plenty of charismatic players in its ranks.
Team India have the capacity to draw people out of their homes to the grounds. When India tour any country, people gather in huge numbers to catch a glimpse of the men in blue that ultimately proves to be a huge revenue generating factor for any country. So it’s all but natural that it will not be possible for any country to sever cricketing ties with India due to security reasons.
With a huge fan following and a powerful media, India’s emergence as the new cricketing hub can’t be ignored. It’s India which has heralded a new beginning in cricket by introducing Indian Premier League (IPL), a city-based rivalry everybody loves to take part in.
The snobbish England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) with ever-conservative MCC at its helm, seems to be losing its ground as more and more English players want to be part of this money making extravaganza in India. Some foreign players may not like this ‘third world country’, but they simply can’t ignore the land which fattens their purses. So much so that the IPL and even Indian Cricket League (ICL) saw players including Adam Gilchrist, Stephen Fleming and Shaun Pollock taking early retirements to get a taste of this moolah.
Moreover, best of the players from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa who generally get lukewarm response from their own people, get a sense of fulfilment when cheered by millions in India as they play for Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Superstars. Money can’t buy adulation.
Indian people, despite having faced poverty, unemployment and terrorism, have always found solace in cricket in their hour of crisis. Even the greatest cynic of the game accepts its overwhelming influence on Indians. The game binds the whole nation on a common platform. It makes them forget their mundane sufferings.
A country in which cricket is considered as religion and its heroes as demigods, a handful of terrorists don’t have the power to destroy the game or its spirit.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)