So the World Cup has come to an end, and surprise surprise, Australia beat their opponents to pulp, seizing the World Cup for a record fifth time. No other team in sport today dominates it like Australia does in cricket. And yet, in spite of their stupendous performance in the finals, all we have for Australia is a deep, heart-felt resentment.
I dare say that Australia has replaced Pakistan as our arch-enemy in the sport. When Wahab Riaz tormented Shane Watson in the quarterfinal, he was one among us. Bhai tha apna!
I spoke to my friends, and the unanimous reason stated was – ‘They are arrogant’. They abuse, they are ruthless, will spike their opponents (even if they’re minnows), and never, ever give up a fight. They laugh in the face of opponents’ losses, and smile smugly when they win. I have hated the Australian team since 1999. During the 1999 World Cup final, I supported Pakistan (much to the chagrin of my friends), and tried to explain the same very reason to them. That Australia was a team of assholes who care two hoots about the spirit of the game.
I don’t have to rack my brain to list out my least favourite Australian cricketers.
But if you think about it, what is so wrong with being ruthless? Every sport in the world witnesses sledging, banters, and (sometimes) even players biting each other. Players have kicked, beaten, and bled their opponents on the field.
True, cricket is not a contact sport, but why are we obsessed with making it a ‘Gentleman’s sport’? Do we suffer from a post-colonial hangover? Are we hanging on to quaint ideas of civility? If that is true, India should hardly be speaking.
We do not exactly have a clean record of keeping up the spirit of the game.
We have booed our favourite cricketers (Yes, Gavaskar and Sachin were booed in their home ground). Gavaskar once asked his non-striker to leave the pitch after being given out. Bishan Singh Bedi once conceded a match because the umpire wasn’t no-balling the bowler. On another occasion, he declared early. And who can forget match fixing? In most cases of match-fixing, the bookies are of Indian origin. Not to mention that our once captain was accused of accepting money to throw away matches. Also, India has the largest number of players banned from cricket for throwing away matches (5 international cricketers and 8 domestic).
And what about our reaction to matches?
Indians wished Yuvraj died of cancer when he struggled to score some runs. When India was well set to lose to Sri Lanka in the 1996 World Cup semi-final, the crowd began lighting bonfires and interrupting the match, so much so that the match had to be abandoned. We regularly burn effigies of cricketers, stone their houses, and make brutal personal attacks whenever they lose a match. When India lost the semi-final to Australia, the first action taken was to beef up security at his house in Ranchi. It’s just that we have a crazy neighbour in Pakistan, where players get shot and cricketers kidnap their enemies, that we pale in comparison. Do we really have a right to call another nation ruthless? Accuse them of playing against the spirit of the game?
Over the years, I realise why I hate Australia.
It is a mix of envy and admiration. We will never be able to play the sport like they do. We as a nation play and follow just one sport. Australia excels in a number of sports, with the same dominating, indomitable spirit that we hold against them. It’s true.
An Australian cricketer will never be revered in the way that a Sachin or Laxman is.
But may be they do not believe in creating gods. May be they believe in creating an army of warriors. No country dominates a sport like the Australia does. Well played, Australia. You have (at least) one fan in the Indian sub-continent.