Come-cricket test match the whole nation revels. National festivals 15th August and 26th January are holidays, so are the religious occasions. It is a one day affair and people enjoy it in their own way. On Christmas they would attend the church service for an hour or two-or may not. Idd beckons people for a mass namaz (prayer) and they go—if they wish they may not. Diwali Puja engages people for a still lesser time—only if they are particular about it.
On 15th August and 26th January only the students and teachers of primary schools and the staff of certain Public Service Units, Collectorates and the like would attend the flag salutation ceremony—the work is over in an hour. The rest of the day they have their own preferences to solemnize things in their own way or may not. They revel for only one day in their own way.
Let there be a test match. It is five day revelry. A few years back people would listen to the commentary on a radio set—a small one that they carried with them or through an appliance attached to their ears—not disturbing any one. It has become a history now. The small screen has replaced it.
Go to a bank branch—the whole staff is busy the other way. They don’t enjoy it at intervals—they attend to the customers at intervals. Go to any other office the scene is the same. It would simply be God’s grace if your work is done. You have generally to curse your stars to be foolish enough to choose a test match day for your work. Don’t you know it is a holiday season—the staff holidaying not at home but in the office itself under the very nose of the boss. No work—no transactions—cricket is the talk of the day. You can just murmur—can’t even make a complaint-you may be considered a bore—a nuisance—not interested in cricket—the national game—a legacy left by our past masters. We should be proud of the game played by the Britons and the commonwealth countries (the erstwhile slaves).
The whole nation is so proud of it as it is of English—the language left by the English—of convent schools and colleges run by missionaries—of our children who study in these institutions and start frowning at all that is ‘Hindustani’—the idiots play Kabaddi and all those nonsense games that dirty their clothes—foolish Hindustanis: The whole mass of rural India just wonders what enchantment—what weird magic is there in the game where thirteen men—two batsmen and eleven fielders—make a fool of millions of people—none participating—all clamouring out the achievement of the elite players of the elite game before a TV set.
Just calculate the work hours lost during these five days. And there are at least three test matches. It comes to millions of hours of production lost. At many places including educational institutions it seems there is a curfew-a voluntary curfew. It doesn’t strike the conscience of the people that they are not paid from the public purse for such a mass revelry. None dare say so. It is the dictum of the combined personnel of the public service undertaking governed not by the administration but the omnipotent trade unions.
Cricket, throughout the world has become a multimillion—or billion affair—a costly game that only the elites would favour. It has overshadowed the sports totally. Sportsmen—even the athletes of national fame are just beggars before the cricketers.
The government, the bureaucracy, the industrialists, the elites in the education, the people in business management— all mad after this game ignoring the sportsmen (the facilities) who go to the Olympics like beggars collecting money for their participation and coming back like hags being scolded for not bringing even a bronze. The biggest democracy fails miserably for all attention—all monetary considerations go to promote the elite game at the cost of sports.
Aren’t all these reasons enough to ban this game of the elite—not because most of the advanced countries in Europe and Asia don’t have a fancy to this wasteful extravaganza but because this poor nation with 50% people below the poverty line can ill afford it? Oh God! Have mercy on the big wigs in politics and administration too who honour a few and have disregard for the poor masses and their sources of enjoyment that can bring real honour to the nation.