If one said that, Sri Lankan & Indian cricket fans only had a few things in common, I don’t think that many would disagree. Let’s say the common facts being their unending love for the game, great knowledge of the game and the fact that more than most of them have played cricket for their schools, clubs or at least out on the streets, are some. What are the not-so-common aspects of the fans of our countries?
Generally speaking, for most of the Indian fans, cricket is a religion. For another fair bit of them, it’s something called, gambling. For the media, it’s an area where they can find a hot story any day of the year. For some it’s life and that’s all they got. With a population of more than a billion and almost all of it following cricket, the pressure they create among themselves and around their players is un-imaginably massive. When the team wins, the celebrations are breath taking. A billion people go nuts. When they lose, I’ll tell you they lose it all! No need to describe how far they go when they get to that boiling point. I’m sure you’ve seen it.
Then comes the sweet little island nation, Sri Lanka. For the normal Sri Lankan fan, cricket is first love. For the media, it comes after the much hotter and spicy politics and recently popular reality TV programmes. For the housewives, it’s still the game that they can’t figure out, but still they care. For the normal Sri Lankan, it’s one of the few things which takes everything away, something that makes them lay back, remind them of their good old days and brings pride about their nation. Gambling is almost unknown, they’re not cricket crazy but they do know the game. When their team losses, they take them back with arms wide open, no matter how bad they feel. They do not go and set the houses and business places of players on fire, as a matter of fact, most of them don’t even know where they live, or they don’t really want to know.
Of late there have been changes, maybe not very big, but undoubtedly noticeable. There has been lots of criticism of the team about the slightest of mistakes, drama and hot stories developing around players, and more than anything a group of ‘Sangakkara haters’ has developed. The people behind all this, I’d say a very few, to give you a percentage, probably 3-5% of Sri Lankan fans, but they do cause a lot of chaos on the internet and on some TV channels.
Fans have the right to criticize, their teams, as a matter of fact; fair criticism brings the best out of teams. But losing temper over each and every mistake is really not that Sri Lankan. We are way better than that.
Controversy around Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas has been there for a long time. It is said that Sangakkara wanted both of them out of the squad probably because he was building a team for the 2011 world cup. Sana and Vaasy are all time greats of Sri Lankan cricket but must point out that every player come to an end of their carrier and its fair for the captains and selectors to look into replacements and giving youngsters the opportunities to gain experience which will be advantages in the world cup and after that. Sanath has been out of form for a long time. Vaas has been in form recently in the IPL, but now he’s been dropped from his franchise. Looking at all of this, if I was given the opportunity, I would pick two youngsters into the World cup squad rather than going there with two out of form, middle aged players who definitely will retire very soon.
There has been an argument building around the curios case of Lasith Malinga too, though I admit, this topic needs some attention. The exclusion of Malinga from the Test team is just, a big joke. He’s an aggressive wicket taking bowler and we have no bowler of his calibre to replace him.
What I cannot accept is the fact that people have chosen sides and started hating on our captain, Kumar Sangakkara! Recent blog posts have clearly shown this hatred towards him. Whenever Sanga or his IPL team a KIP loss, which is all they’ve been doing for a while, there have been so many people cheering to that!
A recent blog post indicated the fact that Sachin Tendulkar’s ability to get the best out of Malinga. Okay, maybe Sanga has been wrong with field placing with Malinga. Why should the writer include a detailed paragraph of one of Sangakkara’s dismissals including a video link on a post which’s main subject is not Sangakkara’s batting? The motives are ugly and clear.
It is fair to criticize and look into suspicious facts, but there has to be a limit. The writers must not be biased or driven by their personal feelings towards players, which clearly is the case here.
This is not who we are. These are not the real Sri Lankan cricket fans. There are millions of people out there who are not heard, who appreciate the pride our players bring to us. Who respect both young and old talent of this country, who stand by their captain and more than anything until now they’ve always had a respectable way of bringing out their points? Sadly, there’s a few wrong people causing havoc out there, destroying the image of a whole fan group.
Lions do not roar when they hunt, but hyenas really do bark and make a big scene! No need to tell who wins.