Let’s just ban cricket

I plead guilty! No, don’t stop me. I insist, I need to get this off my chest. I plead guilty! I did it. And just in case my wife reads this, let me add that this time I mean more than just the toilet seat. I did much more, much more, much more.

As a young child, I fixed matches, not international cricket matches, those are difficult to access and control when you are a nine-year-old. But I did fix matches. Matches played in my building’s colony, matches between buildings and between colonies. We, of course, had nobler reasons than mere money. Reasons such as, we didn’t want to field for long in the hot sun or an urgent need to attend Falguni’s evening parties, or simply that Vishwanath was batting on TV at the same time.
So if there is anybody who can understand the mind and reasoning of Salman Butt and Mohammed Aamir, (Mohammad Asif’s mind is too small apparently to get close to), then it has to be me.
First, a quick overview to the Golden Game of cricket. When International Cricket started in the 1870s, it was played between white people in white clothes. Over the years, the colour of both the people and the clothes started to change and, if you like, grow a bit like Don King’s hair. This exponential growth of the game can only be explained in Russian. Let me elucidate. Around 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev said, “Enough is enough. The old order must go on and the erstwhile USSR must evolve into 150 democratic states and nationalities.” He cancelled the bi-polar, two superpowers theory and introduced us to perestroika, glasnost and very practical hairstyles which he sported himself. Perestroika, which sounds like a word you are saying underwater, means restructuring. Glasnost meant openness and till today remains a word that cannot be rhymed with other words.
Now as noble a thought as it was, the restructuring and openings happened too quickly. And today crime, disorder and indiscipline is rife among the states that formerly existed under the Soviet Union banner. In sporting terms, the states formed from the Soviet Union very closely resemble the Indian Hockey Federation. Nobody knows who’s in charge. Everybody follows different sets of rules and the country itself goes nowhere.
Cricket’s growth from a leisure game on the village green to the pressure game at the bookies’ behest was equally quick. Too many changes, too much restructuring, and everything all too soon has caused the game to go a little out of control. Bookies, coroporates, politicians, film stars, the misses and my nephew Bunty, all jostle for control of our once beautiful game. In a sense, cancer has already set in and the game may need to be operated upon at the very earliest.
You can blame the sub-continent if you want to assign a geographical blame, but don’t forget that the sub-continent is what the British left behind, as is Australia, New Zealand and, to a large extent, the West Indies.
Is there a solution? Can we save the game? And more importantly, can we save the Soviet Union? I have a definite response to both questions — “I don’t know”. However, there is one thing we may do. Maybe we can start all over again. If Himesh can do it, then why not cricket?
As ludicrous as it sounds, I say we have a two-year ban on all cricket while we investigate and clean up the sport. And then let’s try again, with more efficient officials, more dynamic yet patient administrators and morally upright players.
And if the sport is still not cleaned up, it’ll still be a win-win situation for Indian cricket. A two-year cricket blackout will mean that the next time India takes to a cricket field, all our players will be injury-free and available for selection.

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