On the 2nd of April when Kumar Sangakkara roared at the Mumbai sky calling “Heads”, the tumultuous Wankhade crowd masked Sanga’s call. For the rest of his life Sanga would be heckled as a cheat by Indians. On field, it was a minor incident. It didn’t plague either of the captains, nor did it affect the outcome of the game. The solution for the problem came prompt in the form of a re-toss. But the Cricketing devotees of India would find it a conduit to tarnish the impeccable image of Sanga.
Myriad of Indians called Sanga a cheat and they continue to do so hitherto in the Social Networking sites. Every time there is an article published in Cricinfo describing Sanga’s laurel, you can always expect at least one Indian to remark on the aforementioned incident. Before the true fact that Sanga called the toss right and none of the other three could hear the call could put his trousers on, the lie that Sanga cheated sprinted around the world.
Replays of the toss indicated that Sangakkara called heads the first time as well, and the call is audible to producers of the host broadcasters ESPN-Star Sports. Sangakkara’s head was lowered when he called. However, Dhoni appears to have heard it as a tails call, and he turned towards Shastri saying, “We’ll bat”. But neither Shastri nor Crowe had heard Sangakkara’s call, Crowe due to the noise and Shastri because he was looking up at the coin. When Shastri looked across to Crowe, the referee said, “I didn’t hear it.” There was then a brief conversation and it was decided the toss had to be held again.
-Cricinfo reported after the match. Even though, Media have clearly exposed the fact that the fault lied with none and it was just a mishap, the apocrypha still lives among the Indians. Sanga never cheated. But in the social media, Sanga is a cheat who has committed the most ignominious crime of pretending to have made the right call to gain a head advantage.
This incident is the archetype of the ferocious power of the Indians in exaggerating incidents, both positively and negatively- as per their liking. An Indian blogger spreade a rumour, that Dilshan together with two other Sri Lankans had raped a girl in Zimbabwe and Indians circulated the allegation all over the internet that an Indian Media reported with the gossip as the base. To be concise, if Indians like it, you become a hero and if they don’t you become a villain. However, this is true only in Cricket- a sport that they actively dominate and wangle to perpetuate their dominance through devious ways- and not in any other realms in which the world turns a blind eye on them. Perhaps it is for the very same reason that BCCI is eschewing attempts to make Cricket a Global sport by forgoing Cricket’s participation at the Olympics.
India’s population exceeds 1 billion and they form 1/6th of the world population. In a sport with just 2.5 billion fans, it is not difficult to wrap your head around where most cricket fans hail from. Cricket may be the second most famous sports in terms of number of fans, but as far as the number of countries that follow the sport is concerned, Cricket lags behind, even behind individual sports.
Yesterday news media, mostly Indian, ardently reported that,
do you know who Sachin is?” a scribe asked at the post-match conference. Sharapova replied, “I don’t.”
The answer to that question is simple and contain only two words, three when expanded. The truth is that Sharapova is a Russian and doesn’t follow cricket, hence she has no clue who Sachin is.
I have always wondered why Sachin is revered as God while many who were equally capable if not better failed to get the attention that Sachin got. I never saw Sachin as the best. Perhaps because I started watching cricket after 2000, after which Sachin was in his gradual slow wane and was still reveling in the success he had in the 90s. Ricky Ponting was domineering bowling attacks, Lara was mauling bowlers flamboyantly and Kallis was both the batsman and the bowler youngsters wanted to be. Yet, Cricket hailed Sachin, the GOD!
The answer for my biggest question came last night. When the media distorted the news in all possible ways to irk the Indian Cricket Fans into believing that Sharapova had offended India’s greatest human being by not being aware of his existence and when the fans themselves cooked up numerous theories to tarnish the image of one of the greatest Tennis Player, I learnt how the God was born.
For Indians who spend their lives in reverie, Sachin is a world-renowned figure irrespective of the fact that Cricket is not played earnestly outside the 10 top Cricket playing Nation. In their virtual world Sachin is the greatest human being whose soul is dear than any other human beings both dead and living. If Newton was born in India and had he lived through Sachin’s lifetime, his 4th law would have been, “Every being born and to be born in this world must know the prowess of Sachin.” It is this haloed morality that vexed the Indians when Sharapova said that she didn’t know Sachin. People said Sharapova was haughty, complacent and patronizing to deny any knowledge about Sachin.
Why was it hyped so much? Would she have received the same repercussions had she said I don’t know to any other cricketer? The reasons I can think of are
- Indians are complacent and expect everyone to know Sachin. If you say you don’t then that becomes a blasphemy.
- They are unable to digest the fact that, there are people who don’t know Sachin.
- Just because Sachin is famous in India and because Indians think he is the best mean that everyone should accord with them.
- India elevated him to the state of God, hence they think that Sachin is as famous as Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Roger Federer etc., and everyone whether or not they watch cricket should know Sachin.
However it was not the attitude of Indians towards Sachin that flabbergasted me. But what really took me aback was what Indians did to glorify Sachin. Soon after the news broke out, a few Facebook pages were created trolling Maria Sharapova. My Facebook news feed was replete with posts showing crowd taking photographs of Sachin, a man at Sachin’s feet, a large crowd gathering with Sachin’s photographs and posts saying “Who is Sharapova?” The logic was that “We Indians consider Sachin the greatest cricketer, and since we know you (Maria Sharapova), you must know Sachin”. Maria Sharapova’s official facebook page was vandalized by Indians with plenty of abuse and statistics about Sachin.
Some said she lied: There is no way that a human could exist without knowing Sachin. She doesn’t want to acknowledge the truth. Some came with facts that Sachin is more famous in the internet sphere than Sharapova, citing the fact that Sachin has more likes in Facebook and more followers in twitter than Sharapova. Some heckled her calling her a porn star. Even the ones who swooned at Maria Sharapova’s photographs, started posting ” Who is Maria Sharapova?”.
Burried beneath all these were some antics that made me roll out with laughter. People came with stats, quotes and anecdotes on Why Sachin is great within seconds, assembled them and posted them wherever they could. Soon the apocrypha that made Sachin a God was laid in front of me to go through- data that I could not have mined in my entire lifetime. I researched on them and found most of them to be spurious.
I don’t know cricket..i don’t know how Sachin plays..But i still try to watch him playing…B’coz i want to know the reason why my country’s economy goes 0.5% down when he is batting.. – Barack Obama
“I want my son to become Sachin Tendulkar.” -Brian Lara(WI)
”V did not lose 2 a team called India, v lost 2 a man called Sachin” – Mark Taylor(aus)
‘Nothing bad can happen 2 us if v were on a plane in India wit Sachin Tendulkar on it.”-Hashim Amla(SA)
”He can play that leg glance with a walking stick also.-Waqar Younis(Pak)
”There r 2 kind of batsman in the world. 1 Sachin Tendulkar and 2. all the others .-Andy Flower(ZIM)
“I have seen God. He bats at no.4 for India in tests.-Matthew Hayden(AUS.)
“I c myself when i c Sachin batting.-Don Bradman(AUS)
“Do your crime when Sachin is batting, bcos even God is busy watching his batting. -Australian Fan
The above were some of the quotes on Sachin by other great personalities, according to the fans. I dug through the internet and I could not find credible sources to authenticate the above quotes. The only quote that had a credible source was that of Mathew Hayden. “I have seen God. He bats at no.4 for India in tests”. And the quote on Amla had been gainsaid by Amla himself.
Hey peeps,never said this.. ‘Nothing bad can happen to us if we’re on a plane in India with a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sachin?src=hash”>#Sachin Tendulkar on it.’ a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/totallymadeup?src=hash”>#totallymadeup.
— hashim amla (@amlahash) a href=”https://twitter.com/amlahash/statuses/282789243187765248″>December 23, 2012
Even though Navaratinalova’s and Federer’s remarks on Sachin are true, they just reciprocated the general feelings on Sachin, a vestige of their humility.
Exaggeration, hype and hyperbole have made one of the best batsman into the best batsman. Sachin in every sense is a great batsman. The aura that he brought into the Cricket field, the vibe that surrounded him, the passion that oozed out can only be attained by Sachin. That does not mean he is the greatest. There was Bradman who averaged almost 100 in tests and still remains the paradigm of batting. There was Garfield Sobers, who drubbed bowlers, bowled left arm medium, slow left arm and Chinaman. There was Viv Richards who savaged bowling with the Characteristic apocalypse. There was the “Black Bradman” George Hadley. There was Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara. There is Kumar Sangakkra with an average of almost 59 playing test Cricket.
These greats were never hailed as Gods just because they were not Indians. “If we Indians could only spit in unison, we would form a puddle big enough to drown 300,000 Englishmen”, said Gandhi. If all 1.2 billion of them call a man hero, he becomes a hero. Indian media and public have the power of escalating anyone to the level of superiority. When they do that, the rest of the Cricketing world should nod to them in deference, in order to ensure the smooth flow of cash.
India has its own film industry. Heroes come and go there. Certain actors are hailed as legends and enjoy demi-god status. But outside India every one of them is an ordinary individual. Indian Cinema cannot dominate the world as BCCI does Cricket. Hence, also with the presence of Hollywood they cannot easily turn an Indian Legend into an International Legend. That would need the consensus of everyone and not just Indians. People all over the world would have to concur, unlike in Cricket where the opinion of Indians become the opinion of the Cricketing World.
This article is not to denigrate Sachin’s heroics with the bat, but to dwell on the modern reality in the Cricketing Sphere.
“To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.” Sachin is a great batsman. But is he the greatest? Has no one else walked the earth, who could bat better? Just because billion people make a sham statement, does that become the truth? Would the world be flat if the majority say it is flat? Sachin may be an Indian God. That does not mean everyone should accept it.