The IPL 2023 has now entered its last week and everyone including me is waiting for the Playoffs to start. During the previous five weeks and probably even before that, I have observed that people who belong to this generation are more into being fans of cricketers and not cricket or team fans. I know few people who won’t mind Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians getting beaten if Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have scored heavily in those games.
Last night when Gujarat Titans, the team I am a staunch supporter of, comfortably defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore at their own home, many RCB fans were happy because Virat Kohli scored a century. This was actually something unusual or shocking for a person like me who belongs to the previous generation of cricket fans. Yes, we too were fans of different cricketers but when India was playing we would pray for the team’s victory along with our heroes’ grand performance. But time has definitely changed in a big way.
I am not sure whether IPL has to do anything with the fact that people are becoming fans of cricketers and not team or cricket fans because there are plenty of fans who still want their team to win and do well in the competition. When IPL started the governing council allotted greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, and Yuvraj Singh along with Virender Sehwag to the teams that belonged to their respective home cities. The motive behind that is to attract cricket fans living in those cities to become automatic fans of those teams.
But in last the 16 years, IPL teams have got their own fan base in cities across India. You can find Mumbai Indians fan in Guwahati and Chennai Super Kings fan in Srinagar easily. So, having fans from other cities is seems to be normal but when you see great cricketers’ fans become so selfish that they only want their beloved cricketer to do well, and if his team goes to hell they have no problem, at least I see a big problem in it.
In the example I quoted above regarding last night’s game, I am sure the city of Bengaluru must have a huge fan base of RCB and not be limited to Virat Kohli only. For the last 16 years the fans, followers, and supporters of RCB are waiting with heavy breath just to see their team’s captain lifting the IPL trophy. Last night was another day when the RCB fans were denied that chance and it must be heartbreaking for them as well. But I saw many fans of cricketers across social media platforms were happy that in the first innings, Virat Kohli got a magnificent century and so what if RCB has lost an opportunity to win IPL for the 16th time in a row?
It is fine if such a mentality stays when franchise cricket is being played, but it will be a great danger to Indian cricket if this virus spreads into international cricket. Imagine, Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli scoring centuries but India losing the World Test Championship final next month and two sets of fans of cricketers celebrating their heroes’ success and not being sad about India’s defeat would be horrible for sure. Team India at the end of the day is representing India, as a nation, and its victory or defeat should affect every Indian cricket fan for sure.
A great example of what I am trying to convey here is MS Dhoni fans and CSK games. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is anyways hiding behind the long batting lineup Chennai Super Kings has for the last two seasons now. We have even seen memes regarding his readiness to come to bat when CSK is in a comfortable position to win the game and the other way around when the team is not winning. But this year at the start of the IPL 2023 Dhoni gave the signal that this could be his last IPL.
After that signal CSK fans not only at Chepauk but all across India waited eagerly to see Ravindra Jadeja’s wicket falling. Because MSD usually bats at No. 7 after Jadeja, so if Jadeja gets out only the ‘Thala fans’ could see him play, no matter only for two or even one delivery. This is insane. You are sitting in the stadium wearing a CSK jersey and you want an important batter who has all the capabilities to hit sixes in whatever remaining deliveries and put your team in a good position and yet you want him to get out. Why? Because you want to see Thala as many times as you want to because he has hinted that he may not be playing in 2024.
We have also noticed that Dhoni comes to bat only when a handful of balls are left in the innings and sometimes he does hit those balls over the boundaries but it is not guaranteed that he will do that every time. On the other hand, as I have mentioned earlier, Jadeja has all the capabilities to get the maximum number of runs in the remaining balls but still his team’s ‘fans’ want to see his back. I think this is the best example of fans of cricketers taking over the fans of cricket among today’s generation.
This extremely staunch fan following also brings hate towards another player who would be sharing the same dressing room when Team India will be playing. I have noticed not only during IPL but also when Team India plays international cricket fans of Rohit and Virat fight, mock, and abuse not only each other but also those two legends of modern cricket. In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned that the game of cricket is greater than any cricketer, no matter how big he or she has contributed to the team.
When you are abusing Rohit Sharma because you are a Virat Kohli fan or when you are abusing Virat Kohli because you are a Rohit Sharma fan ultimately you are abusing Team India because these two are representing India in international cricket most of the time in a calendar year. Wonder how can two different types of cricketers with completely different playing styles be compared? I am always of the belief that two cricketers of past or present generations can never be compared. Each and every great cricketer is special in his or her own way.
For Indian cricket, Virat is as special as Rohit is, and vice versa. So abusing or mocking these two legendary cricketers should always be avoided for sure. Plus, being their fans and wishing them playing well is fine but our ultimate goal should be the Team should do well. Because they are playing for the team and not for themselves, well most of the time. It is good to be fans of cricketers but it is great if you are fans of cricket and a particular team.
That’s all from me today, till we meet next time it’s Aavjo from my side.
22nd May 2023, Monday