When M.S Dhoni went out to bat in the final match of the ICC World Cup 2011, the match was in a position where it could have headed any way. Had he faltered and if the team had lost the match, the media and Indian fans would have made life difficult for him. Questions about his captaincy and performance in the series would start popping from nowhere. But our captain cool played like a man with purpose and won the cup for us.
Fifteen year old Ronnie was the topper of his class. The boy was dedicated, sincere and hardworking. Expectations were at their peaks when he was awaiting his class ten public exams results. But as fate had it, he was not to be seen anywhere among the top five scorers of his school. Ronnie had never anticipated this, leave alone coming to terms with the fact that his dreams had been shattered. During the vacation that followed the announcement of his results, he hardly stepped out of his house. Friends and peers gossiped about his overconfidence called him a choker.
Analogous to the situation mentioned above, our own cricketers have to go through mean spirited media coverage and all sorts of criticism. Indian cricket team has a glorious past. Right from winning the third edition of the limited overs world cup to becoming the title winners of the last edition of the ICC Champions Trophy, the journey so far has seen a good number of talented cricketers. Some left behind their own legacies. Some went through rough patches and career threatening injuries. During situations when they needed moral support and encouragement, as usual the media wrote crap about them and we went on believing whatever was written. Practically, the media, fitness issues, anger of the fans and tight schedules form a vicious loop for our cricketers. An early exit from a big tourney means numerous news programmes that discuss the performance of the team and hell lot of criticism.
The negative impacts which might hit our cricketers’ hard are hardly thought of. In his book ‘The Test of My Life’ Yuvraj Singh wrote about what happened when news spread in India about his treatment. In his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’ Sachin Tendulkar wrote about the most intense and high pressure match he ever played in his life – the ICC World Cup 2011 semifinal between India and Pakistan. Since the match was against Pakistan, it had become more important than the title round and Dhoni’s men were expected to win at any cost.
All in all, the point is, if this is the kind of pressure we create on our players, there are mild possibilities that it might not bring out the best in them. Losing is always bitter, but hard facts have to be swallowed. Life teaches us many lessons. One universal lesson every person learns is good or bad, whatever things might be; they have to be accepted. The same applies to cricket as well.
The lives of many cricketers seem to be studded with luxuries and limelight. But as humans, they go through tough phases. Injuries, rough patches, criticism, personal problems and the responsibility of representing India are some aspects of the rear side of an Indian cricketer’s life. A realisation that should occur to us is that it requires years of hardwork, strainous efforts and practice to reach their level. Their class and efforts deserve appreciation and the game has to be taken in good spirit.