Talking Sport Harsha Bhogle
I am writing this soon after watching the Rajasthan Royals, rocked by intrigue and glued by commitment, make a heartwarming entry into the final eliminator of what has, from a purely cricketing point of view, been an outstanding IPL. They have added drama, largely unwanted, and as a result have demanded newer skills of its players, the ability to play under the shadow of false media allegations for example. But while the action, even the emotion, was riveting, the backdrop, sombre and depressing, was impossible to ignore. This hasn’t been just another week in Indian cricket, this wasn’t just another tournament.
And so, I find myself in an emotional cauldron; in a sport I love, in a tournament whose cricket I genuinely believe in but in an atmosphere, even if created by a few, tinged with moral decay and danger. I feel sadness and fear, I am angry very often but from time to time expectation wells up within; that my sport might emerge stronger; that out of pain a nicer sport will evolve.
I am partly in denial, I want my sport to be embody everything I have experienced within it; beauty, bravery, flair, everything that brings a smile. I want to be happy, I want to shout out that good vastly overwhelms bad. But another part of me is hoping that whatever has to tumble out must, that cricket reaches its deepest caverns so even those conspiring there can be exposed; that cricket feels so much pain that it will do what it takes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Neither emotion is viable for I know cricket will continue to exist, like everything else, with the nicest and the bravest alongside the cowardly and the machiavellian.
One thing we must accept though; that the events upon us now are not only about cricket and cricketers, they are about insecurity, temptation and a desire to keep up with joneses. Let us look at each.
Cricket, like all sport, offers glory to few and a lifetime of it to even fewer. For the investment it demands it offers short careers, an end when people in other professions are starting to flourish. In that limited time a player must achieve all that he can on the field of play and earn as much as he can on and off it. But not everyone can earn enough to sustain themselves for the