Before we start I would like to give a disclaimer that I am from the past generation so my thoughts given here may sound outdated for many of those who are from the current generation. Even if I had not given this disclaimer the fact was, is, and will always remain that the game is always greater than those who play it. Be it Sachin and Dhoni or Virat and Rohit the great game of cricket was played before them and it will continue to be played when they are retired.
In fact, Sachin has already retired and Dhoni is on the brink as he has now started to give a few more hints about his retirement once this IPL 2023 gets over. My point of concern for today’s generation’s diverted passion for the game of cricket was always there before but in the last few weeks, it has grown a few notches further. First when I read a forwarded message on Sachin Tendulkar’s recent birthday, saying that he made this game popular. The second message I read last week only was saying that Dhoni has made Ajinkya Rahane ‘a Test player’ converted into ‘a T20 player’.
Before we move forward let me tell you one thing both Sachin and Dhoni carry great respect for me and I believe that they are a few of the greatest cricketers India has ever produced, but at the same time that respect is not greater than the respect I have for the game of cricket. So, when I read that first message about Sachin making the game of cricket popular in India I just laughed it out at the intelligence of that unknown person who must have not given ample thought before even writing and sharing such stupid thought.
There is no lack of fan following of Sachin Tendulkar even after his retirement he finally announced some 8 or 9 years back. So his fans must have got impressed with such a message and made it viral. But for people like me as I have mentioned in my disclaimer who have been now watching the game of cricket for last 40 years almost it was not only a stupid kind of thinking from a Sachin fan but also kind of insulting towards the game of cricket.
I am sure even Sachin would have laughed it out had he read that message. The game of cricket was always a popular sport among the majority of Indians even before we got independence in the year 1947. The first-ever Test series win in England and the first-ever Test series win in the West Indies just added more popularity to the game. Then came the big one, the unexpected win of the 1983 cricket world cup followed by another spectacular win of the 1985 mini world cup that played in Australia.
All these happened before Sachin Tendulkar happened to Indian cricket, and cricket was already at the peak of popularity when he entered the big show. What Sachin did was that he gave the impetus to the game which was already having no competition when it comes to popular sports in India. Yes, Sachin at times was a lone warrior for Team India and made some impossible wins possible but cricket was popular before his debut and is still popular after his retirement.
Now, let’s come to the Dhoni part and the claim that he made Ajinkya Rahane a Test player into a T20 player. First of all with all due credit to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s fantastic ability to captain any cricketing team, there are many others who also make a difference in player’s changing attitudes towards the game. There is a coach, there is a batting coach, and there is a support staff and many others who can help a player to put his focus in the right place.
Not to forget the player himself. We all know that Rahane struggled in the last Test series he played for India. So he too must have spent hours and hours in the nets to correct whatever mistakes he felt needed to correct. Not taking any credit away from Dhoni for posing his trust in Rahane that he can hit the ball batting at No 3 in the CSK batting lineup and trust from your captain can do wonders. But then the execution was solely in the hands of Rahane. Yes, all those from CSK including Dhoni helped correct his game or made him the aggressor but at the same time we must give ‘some credit’ to Rahane for executing that in the correct way.
So, my point is Sachin and Dhoni are the best in whatever they have achieved but that doesn’t mean that the sport they played or the players they played with are nothing before them. The game of cricket was mighty popular before Sachin arrived and Rahane was a good batter before Dhoni posed his faith in him and told him to go bonkers no matter what during this year’s IPL.
Let me get you all back to my time when cricket fans of India were divided into the Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev camps. People like me who represented the Gavaskar camp would always mock or troll in today’s language the Kapil camp fans, but when it came to Team India we all would back the team and appreciate each other’s stars’ performances. Even when the Chappell era hit Indian cricket, despite knowing that Rahul Dravid had done great injustice to Sourav ‘Dada’ Ganguly under the influence of his cunning coach, I being the vocal Dada fan had never cheered for India’s defeat under Dravid’s captaincy during that time.
Why I am remembering those eras now? Because Apart from Sachin and Dhoni fans the current crop of Kohli and Rohit fans are totally reversed to what we were in our childhood and young days. I have seen many times that Kohli and Rohit’s fans always like their heroes to play well and score big runs but at the expense of Team India’s defeat. Yes, whenever India has lost a game and neither Kohli nor Rohit has not played well or contributed very less, either of the camps feels satisfied and not hurt by Team India’s defeat.
The behavior of Kohli and Rohit fans on social media is nothing to say about; in fact, it should be ignored. Both play for Team India and both are proud of doing that but their sets of fans would not only mock them but also call them with some insulting adjectives and I have always found that disgusting. Yes, one can understand when the IPL is going on and fans of RCB and MI can have friendly banter against each other, but even then they call Kohli and Rohit bad names. Do you remember one particular incident when a Virat Kohli fan in Tamil Nadu killed a Rohit Sharma fan after having a heated argument?
The worst part of these abuses is that these fans call themselves ‘cricket fans’ on social media. When their heroes do well like Sachin and Dhoni fans they make them gods and express their feelings as if without them Indian cricket would have been at a big loss. Just like Sachin fans that couldn’t digest the rising popularity of Dhoni, currently, fans of Kohli and Rohit are unable to apatite the rising stature of Hardik Pandya ever since he took over the captaincy of Gujarat Titans and later the captaincy of Team India in T20Is.
Sadly, I don’t see that in the future the scene I have described in detail now will change. The current generation sees players as greater than the game and my generation would see that in a totally opposite way. So if this generation is like this then one wonders what will happen to the upcoming generations. The person who would love the game of cricket more and not a particular cricketer will be mocked and trolled heavily in coming years it seems.
This blog is just a try to convey that not Sachin and Dhoni or Kohli and Rohit it is cricket that is great and has made all four of them and many others greats. Again if this sounds old-fashioned then so be it, because that is where the truth lies. I can only hope that Indian cricket gets stronger and stronger and we have to see more and more greats in coming generations but then the game of cricket should always have the highest respect from the fans.
That’s it from me today, till we meet next time it’s Aavjo from my side.
26th April 2023, Wednesday