|Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson exults after takeing Kohli's wicket|
Anushka Sharma, the producer and female lead of the film "NH 10", is more in the news these days for her presence in the stands of the Sydney Cricket Ground on the day India lost to Australia in the Semi Final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 than for her film that was generally very well received by film critics. She has been held responsible for the very dismal performance of the key Indian batsman Virat Kohli. The twitterati have been very active about it and some of the tweets went beyond the limits of decency. Even the members of a state legislative assembly blamed her for Kohli’s poor performance which, according to them, led to India’s defeat in the semi final depriving India of the World Cup. Thankfully, the team members have stood by Virat, as also his skipper and the Director of the Indian team Ravi Shastri. The latter, in a column, backed Virat and asserted that Anushka had nothing to do with his dismissal and, therefore, could not be held responsible for it in any way.
In India cricket is considered a kind of a religion. Vast numbers of Indians have two major obsessions – Bollywood and cricket and they pursue both of them avidly. That is, of course, something great for the team. The players are idolized and millions of words are written on them in the newspapers of every Indian language and feature programmes and talk shows are held in English and Hindi TV channels. Enthusiasts crowd into the stands for every international match, regardless of its importance and quality of the opposition and millions of others watch the matches on TV. Cricket lovers of India, by their keen interest in the game, have made India a very powerful country in the cricketing world. Actually, because of this massive support for the game the centre of gravity of Cricket administration shifted eastwards from its original base in London.
The support from home crowd is fine but the kind of fanatic support that we see is not desirable; it leads to utter disappointment leading to curses for the team, abusive conduct against players if the contest does not go according to the supporters’ expectations. A hunt then goes on for a peg from which to hang the person whom the unthinking spectators or TV viewing audience consider responsible for the adverse result. In this case they found two individuals: Virat Kohli and, more importantly, his girl friend Anushka Sharma.
Most of the supporters are laymen as far as cricket is concerned, unaware of its technicalities. They only feel happy when the home team scores runs, preferably in sixes or in fours. They roar in support when the opposition bowlers come in for a bit of hiding or when it loses wickets. With the belief that the home team should always win, they go wild when it actually does so. And yet, most of them are ignorant of the game’s niceties and finer points.
Many of them would not have ever held a bat in hand, leave alone standing at the crease facing a pace bowler. And yet, there has been a spate of criticism, sometimes very abusive and filthy with expletives, in Twitter against Virat Kohli who, batting at No.3, scored four centuries facing all the world-renowned speedsters in the recent 5-Test series against Australia on their fast-paced wickets. The crowd does not know that when a hard and solid cricket ball made of cork and leather weighing almost one-fifth of a kilo is hurled at the batsman over the 22 yards of the pitch at a speed of 140 to 150 kilometres an hour he hardly gets a fraction of a second to judge its speed, the place it would pitch in front or on either side of him and the kind of manipulations the bowler subjected the ball to and then to select a shot. What is more, the pace at which the ball is delivered, its direction and the manipulations to make it swing either way are all varied with every ball to induce the batsman to make mistakes. Hence mis-judgments and mis-timings are seen often enough, sometimes these are harmless and at times they are fatal for the batsman.
It is certainly hazardous to face the speedsters in cricket. Their deliveries zip across those 22 yards and before one count two the ball, if not connected with the bat, would be in the hands of the
standing far behind the stumps. Not many months ago a young up-and-coming
Australian cricketer, Phil Hughes, lost his life after being struck on his helmeted head by a fast rising delivery. That Kohli faced them or even faster deliveries with aplomb all
through the test series against the Australians speaks much about his skills,
technical acumen and quality of his batsmanship. This wouldn’t have been
possible without years of hard work on the nets and gyms with dedication, grit
and determination to do well for India.
|Anushka and Virat|
What happened at the semi final in Sydney was a matter of mis-judgment. The ball seemingly rose more than what Kohli expected and having committed to a stroke he couldn’t leave the ball alone and it took the upper edge of his bat only to balloon up to be held by the wicket keeper. Kohli cannot be blamed for it one bit as that happens in the game, and much less Anushka, who herself must have been appalled at the turn of events. The spectators and TV audiences should not get carried away and blame everyone in what, after all, is only a game. They must take losses in their stride instead of causing hurt to numerous people, especially those who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields.
Photos: from the internet