One cannot figure out what is wrong with the Indian younger generation knocking on the doors of international cricket. It was disturbing to see the behaviour of a few of them participating in the recent ICC Under-19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
India were playing England in the quarter-final and had to defend a relatively meagre total of 221 to qualify for the semi-final.
After they were 41 for three, England’s fourth-wicket pair of Ben Duckett and Ed Barnard managed to steady the ship by putting on 76 runs. Just as the match was slipping from India’s hands, Barnard skied off-spinner Aamir Gani to the safe hands of long-on.
A few overs later Duckett, England’s top-scorer, pulled left-arm bowler Kuldeep Yadav and Vijay Zol took a difficult catch running backwards.
On both occasions, Gani and Zol abused the batsmen on their way to the pavilion. It was shameful to see the duo use the Hindi ‘B’ word lavishly as they ‘celebrated’ their success.
Zol suspended for one match, Gani reprimanded
England hold nerve to beat India, enter semis
The embarrassing spectacle was seen by fans across the world on television. Both players were chastised by the ICC — Zol suspended for a game with Gani severely reprimanded for breaching the Code of Conduct.
The point is where do young players pick up these vile habits from? No coach will ever teach such tactics. Neither would they like to see their wards display such misplaced aggro on the field of play. These habits are obviously passed down by players who the young generation watches, idolises and emulates.
In March 2008, after India beat South Africa to win the ICC U-19 World Cup at Kuala Lumpur, Indian skipper Virat Kohli ran with a pumped fist towards the Proteas’ dressing room as if he wanted to maim someone in the opposition camp.
Sure, there must have been some heated words exchanged while the match was on but Kohli’s act continued way after stumps were drawn.
The ‘slap-gate’ episode between Harbhajan Singh and S Sreesanth in the Indian Premier League was something that could have been avoided.
Famous athletes should realise there is a young and eager audience audience lapping up every move they make. They would do well to perform and promote good sport rather than be torchbearers of boorish behaviour and violence.
This sort of conduct, unfortunately, is misunderstood as a form of aggression by youngsters who emulate their heroes and pretend to be macho by resorting to foul language and inappropriate gestures.
They could well take a leaf out of the books of Dale Steyn — who punches his arms rapidly towards the ground when he takes a wicket — or the silent but deadly Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid who send a chill down the oppositions’ spine merely by their performances on the field. They could well take inspiration from the recently retired maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who played for more than two decades without a blemish on his record. These are the real macho men of cricket that youngsters need to follow.
(The writer is a former Cricket Club of India captain and Bombay University cricketer)
ALSO SEE - Cricket photos of the week