When will Indian fans realize that unruly behaviour is never going to prevent their beloved team losing?
It only serves to reinforce the feeling that cricket followers in India are neither sporting nor knowledgeable about the intricacies of the game.
They lack the maturity to accept defeat—unlike the very cricketers they idolise.
The pelting of the South Africans with water bottles at the Barabarti stadium in Cuttack to signal the crowd’s displeasure with their team’s abject batting display was yet another black mark in the annals of Indian fandom.
Rajarshi Majumdar, writing for International Business Times, termed their behaviour ‘barbaric’.
The journo said:
“The name Barabati can somewhat be related to the word ‘barbaric’ and why won’t someone draw such relations!”
“Will these same bunch of chaotic people throw their valuables at the players when they win a game?”
The South Africans are ranked No.1 in Tests and despite termed ‘chokers’ in ICC ODI and T20 tournaments, are no pushovers in bilateral series.
Team India have ceded the T20 series without much ado.
The initiative has been surrendered.
MS Dhoni was sanguine about the entire episode.
“We should not be taking such things seriously. I still remember we play in Vizag once and we won the game very easily and that time also a lot of bottles were thrown. It starts with the first bottle and then it’s more of a fun for the spectators.
When it comes to the safety of the players, I don’t think there was any serious threat. A few of the powerful people in the crowd were throwing the bottles into the ground and the umpires felt it was safe to stay in the centre or go off the ground.
We didn’t play well and at times you get a reaction like these. It’s only the first few bottles that are hurled with serious intent, after that they just do it for fun.”
His counterpart, Faf Du Plessis, was not.
“It’s not nice to see it. I have played 5-6 years of cricket in India, and I have never seen that. So, you don’t want that to be a part of the game. You come here to compete, and the best team walks away winning.
To have that happening, I don’t think it’s a good thing. It should not happen. Even the way the game was played towards the end, it lost its intensity because obviously India thought that we have already won as we needed only 20 runs. Disappointing in that sense, and hopefully it is the first and the last time we see it on this tour.”
He was not sure whether the boorish behaviour was a sub-continental malaise.
“It is a difficult question to answer. All around the world you get people who get really passionate about their team. Sometimes you cross that boundary you shouldn’t. This is the first time I have experienced in India, so I can’t say it happens a lot. But as you said, it happens a lot in the sub-continental conditions. That’s definitely to do with the passion that fans have. But, it is surely not something we as players want to be a part of the game. Obviously, player security is very important wherever we go across the world. Let’s just hope that it’s a bad day at the office.”
Speaking to NDTV, Sunny Gavaskar blasted the miscreants:
“Cuttack should not be given an international for the next couple of years. As a deterrent, the BCCI must also stop the subsidy to the Odisha Cricket Association.Do the crowd throw valuables when the team does well? When the team does badly, the fans have no business to throw rubbish.”
Aggressive behaviour and attitudes on the field are punished by match referees when reported by on-field umpires. Players are checked by limits imposed by the ICC Code of Conduct.
Is it time sports administrators and patrons of the game demanded the same of fans? Can they be allowed to rum amok whenever they please? Does safety in numbers and anonymity imply that they are allowed to carry their rage over to cricket grounds? Or is it time the Indian penal system implemented measures like in the UK and Germany where known hooligans are closely watched and even prevented from travelling abroad because of the mischief they can wreak there? Isn’t it time?
Anger need not be ‘bottled‘.