Don't cry for cricket

Fans need to be angry and BCCI needs to reach out to them

It was a day of untold sadness and vast opportunity. Three players betrayed their fans and their team and dragged our game into much notoriety. They wounded cricket deeply. But by pushing Indian cricket into a corner, they raised the hope that the necessary reforms would materialise. Hopefully, what is lost will produce some gain.

First, the sadness. There is, within all of us, a romantic; we spend hours talking about, and with some of us, reporting on, heroic deeds on cricket grounds. This kindles the love of the game in another generation and forms the foundation of all sport. The sportsman is important but the fan is as vital. Every time a fixing story emerges, a little bit of the love diminishes.

Incidents like these will make fans question more and more; any mistake will now be scrutinised in search of a dark motive. An unorthodox shot, a gamble with the ball will not produce a thrill and a sigh but anger. It won't just be the fans, but also captains and teammates who will feel that way. If Rahul Dravid throws the ball to his bowler for another over, and after a good first over if the second is expensive, will he doubt his judgement or his bowler's integrity?

The fan has a right to be angry and let down. And there is a part of me that wishes the anger continues for a while. Indian cricket must hurt, it must not only grieve. Thirteen years ago, when the first match-fixing matter erupted, India's cricket fans weren't angry for long enough. Maybe the coming together of the most outstanding set of people I have met in sport healed the wounds and gave hope. For the next few years, Indian cricket, through this fine set of people, gave much joy, and occasional despair, but brought trust back. Tendulkar, Dravid, Kumble, Laxman, Ganguly, Srinath when they lost we thought again that it was only defeat and nothing else. And that was acceptable.

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