Word on the street is that Harbhajan said Maa ki (Your Mother’s @@##) to Andrew Symonds. The Australians, poor things, being monocultural and monolingual thought he said Monkey! This controversy is not going to end. The ‘white’ cricket boards are now worried about Indian dominance and the Indians are loving it. It is not so much about cricket as much about about occupying space on the world stage as a power to reckon with. India won the CB Cup, as Sachin Tendulkar had predicted, in the first two matches. There were the usual firecrackers and the welcomes. There was also money for the cricketers. Rs 59 lacs (?) each. And Bhajji making statements like ‘I am confident, not arrogant’. This is a new era in cricket for India. Young boys want to be the soldiers for the nation in this war. Parents are saying to their kids, ‘Beta, forget your maths tables, go for net practice. Nahi to you will not get rich’.
Star News/Star Cricket of the Star stable owned by Rupert Murdoch takes the lead in stoking these subconscious fires of ambition. ‘And you thought we were wusses?’ said one reporter in Hindi. ‘Look at us now, we have shown you Andrew Symonds/Ricky Ponting etc. Watch out how you treat us coz we can give as good as we get. We are Indians…’ And so on it went; on and on, intercut with visuals of the team popping champagne, arguing players, Symonds and Bhajji standoff, a grim Ricky Ponting, batsmen making classic strokes, cricketers doing duty free shopping and the felicitation by the cricket board. Be combative, aggressive and arrogant in victory, said the subtext. Oh and the Chak De India song ( the title song from the movie Chak De India) playing in the background. These days most ‘news’ channels play Hindi film songs in the background while ‘reporting’ news. Star’s Marathi channel Star Mazhaa contrasted this with a story about a failed cricketer who is now a labourer on a building construction site. So win or lose it still makes a great story on Star.
India also won the under-19 world cup and a lot of money was paid out to players in the second round of auctions for the Indian Premier League cricket. Team anthems, team music videos and what not are the mantra now. If the Australians and the Indians play together in the same team then there might be place for understanding each other, so say the cricketers. Ishant Sharma still thinks highly of Ricky Ponting. Dravid personally called Martin Crowe and asked him to coach his Bangalore team (owned by Vijay Mallya).
I don’t know about better understanding between the Australians and Indians but I sure hope the New Zealand cricketers playing IPL can create more awareness about India in Aotearoa. At least Martin Crowe will not complain about bad Chinese food and the lack of fush-n-chups in Bangalore. Cricketers might do a better job than journalists or government officials? We have to wait and see.