Nationalism Vs Cricket
Cricket is an international sport. It had its origin in England and spread to all English colonies in the late 18 th and 19 the centuries. Cricket played a dominant role in these countries as early as in 1930s and developed into a prominent sport. Since cricket originated in England, it has more English cultural elements and identity than the cultural elements of the country to which it migrated. That is why the reputed English cricket journalist Nevelle Cardus said: ‘Take everything away from England except cricket. Still I can regain everything.’
Despite cricket being prominent English sport with its peculiar characteristics, with the advent of Nationalism in the 19 th and 20 th. Centuries, each cricket team that was formed in countries like England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, was identified with its own nation. If the Indian cricket team wins a test or ODI, it is invariably said that India wins the test or ODI. Similarly, die hard Indian cricket fans consider India’s loss in a test or ODI as a loss suffered by India.
For example, if a cricket match is played between the arch rivals India and Pakistan, a win by India is considered as a virtual victory over Pakistan and vice versa.If. India wins a day and night cricket match convincingly against Pakistan, you can see thousands of torch bearers in the stadium holding their torches aloft as a mark of victory to their nation. Similarly if the Indian team loses a match in a lackluster performance, it invites the wrath of the Indian fans that go to the extent of setting everything to flames. To such an extent the spirit of nationalism is predominant.
You can also observe this characteristic feature in the ongoing second cricket test played between India and South Africa in Durban. When South African team was batting in the first innings, the South Africans were supporting their national team and hail each and every boundary scored, the Indian fans (people of Indian origin who migrated to South Africa) were waving their tri color flags and hailed every wicket that fell and reveled in Indian team’s bowling performance and the dismissal of South Africa for a paltry score of 131 in its first innings. It was nothing but a spirit of nationalism.
Pros and Cons of Nationalism:
• It creates a very large and strong fan base for the game of cricket in countries like India.
• By virtue of its huge fan base, cricket also creates economically powerful cricket boards in cricket playing countries that help to organize, plan and run the game more systematically. For example, the Board of Cricket Control, India, is the worlds’ largest and economically most powerful cricket board having millions of rupees and assets. In fact, ICC is largely influenced by powerful cricket boards like BCCI.
• It helps the growth and development of cricket in countries like India. Now Cricket is the most popular game in India In fact cricket by virtue of its large followers has become the religion of India
• It defies logic and negates the real sportsmanship and so creates cricket fanatics rather than cricket fans.
• It goes berserk and at times destructive. Hence it creates an ugly scene.
• It has become inevitable and each cricket playing country largely depends upon it.
ICC (the International Cricket Council) as a confederation of cricket playing nations is supervising and administering international cricket, besides promoting it in various parts of the world. However, ICC is quite conscious about the nationalist sentiments that prevail in the various cricket playing countries including India. Hence, it has taken the following concrete steps to cope up with the growing nationalism in various cricket playing countries:
i) International panel of umpires:
Though each cricket playing country is having efficient panel of umpires, ICC does not favor the idea of appointing native umpires to officiate a cricket match played between the native team and a foreign team. For example, if a test match is played between India and Australia, no Indian or Australian umpire will officiate as umpire in the match; in fact two international umpires who do not belong to India and Australia will be appointed to officiate as umpires in the match. By this way, an international umpire will be free from any isms of nationality and officiate in a cricket match as a neutral umpire, not acting in a partisan manner supporting a particular team.
ii) International panel of referees:
ICC also has a system of appointing a referee for the smooth conduct of each cricket match besides dealing with indiscipline of the players and the irregularities committed during the match. If a cricket match is played between South Africa and India, a referee who does not belong to these countries is appointed.
iii) Playing the cricket matches in neutral venues:
If the law and order situation in a cricket playing country is not suitable for playing a cricket match, again ICC intervenes and selects a neutral venue that is acceptable to both cricket playing countries. For example, since the law and order situation prevailing in Pakistan is not suitable for playing cricket matches, Dubai has been chosen as a neutral venue. Thus ICC solves the problems of law and order situation, besides dealing with the inflamed national sentiments.
Whether you like it or not, nationalism is a force to reckon with in the game of cricket.
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