India’s Gambhir issue


By T S Sudhir

2G radiation has hit Indian cricket and before you say “I told you so”, let me clarify it has nothing to do with Sharad Pawar. The 2G in this case, Gautam Gambhir whose presence in the qualifier against Mumbai Indians while not being 100 per cent fit, has led to a furious `club vs country’ battle on the airwaves. Angry television anchors have decided that this is THE most important issue facing the country today. After all, India travels to the West Indies soon after the IPL, where its captain, a gentleman called Darren Sammy has declared, the Windies will defeat India.

Damn.

Those who stand accused include KKR, SRK, GG, BCCI, IPL. Now that Gauti has been ruled out of the `crucial’ tour to the West Indies, how come he was allowed to play and aggravate his injury is the question. Didn’t he remember he is the captain for the one-day tour? Did KKR force IPL 4’s most expensive player at $ 2.4 million to play the crucial match? Did the BCCI look the other way? Can a club game be deemed more important than a India game? And lastly, was SRK so adamant about KKR getting into the final so that he could show Dada his place and the world his 6 pack (or is it 8-pack?) by taking off his shirt at Chennai?

The country deserves to know.

I find the number of hours this entire discussion has gone on for, at prime and non-prime time, ridiculous. If this 45-day jamboree of pyjama cricket is only a `club’ affair, why have the TV channels gone overboard, creating special shows for the IPL with retired cricketers and models discussing the Gaylestorms and Malinga slingers daily. The other day, I even heard someone pointing out on TV that IPL 4 has been a bore ; no slapgates of the Bhajji-Sreesanth variety.

And for argument sake, let’s say, Gambhir did not carry an injury but got hit during the match. Would he still be hanged for being `careless’ while batting? What is the guarantee that the final of the IPL will not see a casualty?

When IPL began in 2008, it ushered in an element of pop patriotism. Of cricket fans rooting for their respective city teams. Hyderabad discovered fake love for Gilchrist and Punjab for Brett Lee. The same fans were nowhere on the scene when their Mumbai played against Tamilnadu in the Ranji Trophy. Or Karnataka versus Bengal. The Badrinaths, Ashwins and Pathans who play to a packed house in the IPL perform before empty stands in the premier domestic championship. No TV station evinces interest in which cricketer plays a Ranji semi-final, carrying an injury.

The fact of the matter is that a super greedy BCCI is out to kill the game by pushing cricketers beyond a limit. Cricketers have been reduced to robots and they cannot complain because they are being paid to use their bodies. To run, to dive, to cheer.

And if the Windies tour is indeed so crucial, the same judges at 9 pm should put MSD, SRT and ZK  in the dock as well for choosing to skip the tour. And ask if they shouldn’t have skipped their duty with CSK, MI and RCB respectively to prepare to travel to Port of Spain.

The media is barking up the wrong tree. If it is so concerned about cricket and cricketers and Indian pride, it should have asked why is the West Indies tour scheduled so close to the IPL. It should mount pressure through a campaign for lesser matches and more rest for the players. This trend of `Did Gautam do the right thing by playing the match’? SMS Yes or NO to xxxxx’ is more of a Gambhir samasya for Indian television journalism.

(Pic courtesy : crickblog.com)

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About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
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