“We have all descended from monkeys, and we are still descending.” So said Navjot Singh Siddhu about the IPL auction that concluded recently. Whether he was comparing the ancestral apes with cricketers or the bidders is not sure, but one thing certainly is true that even in the ape world, the male of the species are not up for sale for the powers they possess.
Sports was invented by men long time ago as a recreational activity for men and women after they had spent a hard day in the field tilling lands, chopping woods or making meals. But the definition began to blur the moment the world saw designer handbag carrying ladies and blackberry carrying men shouting, fighting and ogling at men who would swing a bat or throw a bowl in a what is supposed to be a gentleman’s game.
The recreational activity that everyone was reminded of most was in fact not cricket, but something that has been abolished centuries back – slave trade. And the gentle ladies and gentlemen in the bidding room acted true to the character of the bidders who would bid for the strongest or the toughest looking men. In the hope that he would serve them well.
Cold logic, deep pockets or a lack of them and a sheer lack of sentiment were the underlying themes of the Indian Premier League player auction. Shahrukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders emerged winners by grabbing a player for $2.4 million. Who was the player? Sachin Tendulakar? Mahendra Singh Dhoni? Yuvraj Singh? No, but Gautam Gambhir a player who is good but certainly not great, yet.
And in a just a reflection of the modern times where youth are placed far ahead of an intangible like nostalgia Sourav ganguly the flag holder of KKR was left standing in the sidelines, straining his ears to hear his name being included again in his hometown team. But just like a fallen mango is left to rot even if it is still fresh, he was ignored while the bidders fought to rip the cricket tree bare of all its raw or just-ripe mangos.
“Why is the Indian IPL auction conducted in Dollars?” Asked a bemused Sanjay Manjrekar who was observing the auction for the first time. It surely must have been the brain wave of the businessmen who wanted to save the common man from getting an untimely heart attack. They realized that it would be too much of a torture for the common man who toils night and day to earn a living in the 21st century India to know that a certain cricketer is earning double or triple of their lifetime of earning just by playing for a month or so for an IPL team.
And why should the cold hearted businessmen suddenly feel for the common man you ask? Well, because it is they who will spend their savings to watch the matches in the stadium! Pure business sense.
It is though another matter that the same common man will have a tough time deciding on whom to cheer for. Whether it should be Yusuf Pathan now playing for Kolkatta Knight Riders or the Rajasthan Royals he played for last year. Whether they should clap for Adam Gilchrist and Kings Punjab now or remain faithful to the Deccan Chargers he played for last season.
Thanks to IPL players do not play for a state or a country anymore and cricket is not a game anymore. It is an amusement park, a movie or a mela you go to where you get an adrenaline rush for a few hours and come back happy or sad depending on whether the enjoyment offered to you was worth the money or not. Meanwhile those who have pocketed the money you just spent go back home happy all the time. The bollywood babes, the badshahs and the liquor kings who know now that a cricket crazy nation with buy cricket in any form.
A photograph was clicked in the year 1983 of a smiling Kapil Dev lifting the World Cup won by India for the first time. That team and that man could perhaps smile so broadly because he knew that the prize of all the years of training and hard work was that cup and that photograph that will be ingrained in the memory of millions and millions of cricketing fans for ever, even after generations come and go.
The wealth the present cricketers posses now in their safe deposits may surely be enough for their next seven generations but will it help them be remembered for generations to come,that is a question they need to ask especially when there is again a World Cup to win.
Temptations do not create everlasting memories. They feed and will ultimately devour.