New Delhi, May 9 -- Chris Gayle doesn't want cricket fans to emulate their fanatic football cousins and heckle players the way Virat Kohli was at the Wankhede. No player likes to be booed, especially in his country.
But one wonders whether players aren't already walking down the path Gayle and Virat want the fans to shun.
Aren't they becoming a lot like footballers in how they celebrate success and are ever ready to pick up an argument with another player or the umpires?
Gone are the days when a century was celebrated with a big smile and bat raised towards the pavilion and spectators. For someone like Sachin Tendulkar, the moment also includes a silent prayer.
But as this year's Twenty20 league has shown, celebrations have turned into a spectacle more for TV audience than any spontaneous outburst of emotion. Batsmen make it a point to look angry, punch a hole in the air, thrust the bat violently towards the dugout and spectators. Some even mouth expletives.
The bowlers and fielders are equally animated. Some point the dismissed batsmen towards the pavilion or run across the field evading the tackles of team mates before putting in that football-like slide.
West Indies players were the first to break cricket's tame celebrations. Their high-fives, in the 1980s and 1990s, was imitated as the explosion of one-day cricket also brought fans who were happy to wear emotions on their sleeves.
But they can hardly match current antics. It is Gangnam style for Chris Gayle, a fusion of Psy and bhangra for Harbhajan Singh, random moves for Dwayne Bravo. For spinner Rahul Sharma, it is the take on James Bond shooting. Amit Mishra jumps on to a team mate.
Football celebrations have swung from the funny to the bizarre.
Cameroon striker Roger Milla shaking his hips at the corner-flag after scoring a goal in the 1990 World Cup to Mario Balotelli taking his shirt off and producing the menacing pose at the 2012 Euro, the game has seen it all.
Former India football captain, Bhaichung Bhutia, said: "Footballers have been trendsetters the world over probably because of the reach of the sport. David Beckham is as much a fashion icon as a footballer. Some of the celebrations are spontaneous but a lot of them are planned.
"As a young player, I would dance sometimes on the pitch after a goal but as I got older, it was just a leap and maybe some punching the air. And from what I've seen on TV, nothing can beat Milla's dance."
But there is some concern whether players are getting too combative in the league. The other day, KKR's Manvinder Bisla didn't think twice before jumping into an argument with Rahul Dravid, one of the least aggressive players. And there was Ambati Rayudu mockingly applauding in Dwayne Bravo's face after taking a fine catch to dismiss him. The slapgate is still fresh in the minds of millions of fans.
It's not as if things haven't turned ugly before T20 franchise leagues came along. The image of Javed Miandad confronting Dennis Lillee with a raised bat is played out everytime players clash on the field. What's disturbing, though, is the alarming frequency with which such incidents happen.
Whether there is too much pressure on cricketers or not, they can't complain if the spectators take a leaf out of their book and turn disrespectful.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.