Thursday, December 07, 2006

Gods and small things

Column: Backtalk. Author: Murali Gopy. Publication: Sports Today. Issue: December

Back to Sachin Tendulkar. After yodelling, howling, barking and roaring in his defense, I feel exhausted seeing him do that synaesthetic shuffle on the crease, resulting in a reluctant push of the willow, a snick, and finally, the sitter. It is tough, indeed, to be a fan. One tends to lose perspective. But then, great men do need sycophants like us to see them through tough times, or, that is how I would like to justify myself while among wolves who cry for the cherubic Mumbaite's blue blood. So, here I am, a Tendulkar Knight, armed to the teeth.

The Indian batsmen are hitting (injuring and even murdering) beetles, grasshoppers and mosquitoes with their willow-- everything except that elusive red cherry hurled at them by the SA pace-makers. Quite predictably, fans back home are doing what they normally do when they are disappointed or sad: burn effigies, disrupt traffic, call hartals and pelt abuses.The adage: Beware of the wrath of the tiger and the vengeance of the Indian cricket buff.

In a country where most people have learnt to take poverty and injustice supine, one cannot help depending on Bollywood and cricket for a reason to smile and live. And, cricket has an edge over cinema since it is a better ego-enhancer than the other. There, of course, is a flip side to it, and more than two defeats in a row would prompt the government to provide Z-security to the players.

Enter Mohammed Kaif. The Bruce Lee look-alike had been swinging his bat without success for the last three seasons. His scorecard looks more pathetic than the transaction advice my ATM machine spits at me every monthend. In Kaif's case, it went as per norm. The fans literally took the fight to his home; it was as if they were trying to educate him on the different ways to hit the ball. And what better place to do the demo than at the residence of the beneficiary!

Obviously, the Indian strikers need more than what Greg Chappell teaches them. After all, what can a coach do other than unfold a diagram, put a few dots, engage a protractor, draw a line and snap his finger? What can he do other than think loud, brood bad and launch a ballistic email? Thanks to the sadists who weild the pen and the cam, Greg's old-fashioned Ozzie hat has become a caricatured representation of Indian cricket.

There is, however, a way out for India's cricket icons. A way to redemption. A way back to the winning habit: Watch and emulate Roger Federer!

The Swiss automaton not only connects the lemon but also sends it where he wants to, more precisely than even FED EX. Mortals, like James Blake, Raefel Nadal, Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian, have to do more than just play the prey. They have to learn. They have to applaud. Being gentlemen, they do appreciate albiet with a strained grin and shoulder shrug.

It is with absolute premeditation that tennis buffs walk into a Roger Federer match, these days. It is not "Will he win?" but "How long will it take?" The trap is right there. The metamorphosis of the fan. The genesis of the fanatic. The "My man can never lose" syndrome.

You tend to attach yourself to your idol. You tend to think that he is god. Beware! Behold! The time will come when your idol would fail to answer your prayers. The time when he would scream at himself, sulk and be fallible. Relax. Don't hate him for being just another man. Never push him hard. Never attack his nest. Put your arm over his shoulder and ask, like Daniel Craig: "Ayyuuuu awwwwrite, mayte?"

Wish I could do that!
Wish sachin tendulkar was never a god!
Wish I never prayed!



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