Thursday, December 03, 2015

India-Pakistan bilateral series controversy

Any Cricketing decision made in India will attract controversy. And I mean ANY decision! Even Anushka's presence in the stadium when Virat Kohli was woefully out of form became a controversy. Shahrukh Khan messing with the cops at Wankhede stadium (Mumbai) became an IPL controversy. We are good at it, aren't we? We link anything to everything we see in front of us. Maybe we misunderstood the "connecting the dots" concept. Anyone remotely linked to Cricket inadvertently drags Cricket into the mess around them. Or if they don't do, the media surely obliges. Why? Because it sells.

Either ways, we now have another controversy to deal with. I won't say its needless but its too sensitive and any decision favouring one party will hurt the other. The controversy is the resumption of India-Pakistan bilateral series. There are largely two big factions with strong views. One faction want the series to be scrapped and the other sees no problem in resumption of this series. Following are some of their views and what I think about it.

This is what the people who don't want an India-Pakistan bilateral series are saying - 
  1. How can you play against a country that has brought terror on your own country?
    My Take: This is a highly debatable topic and I personally don't have a clear stand on it. First of all, blaming a country in general is not entirely correct. There are organizations in the country that are terror oriented. Also, they themselves are victims of terror within their own country. Even schools are not spared. Having said that, it's not a justification of what happened in India in the past. Given this background, should we play cricket? I don't know. I will, however, take a stand (not clear, again) and say it's not the right time to play bilateral series, even on a neutral venue. Our soldiers and our people who were victims of terror deserve a closure and this series is by no means helping the cause.
  2. This is no friendly gesture. This is simply a money-making series.
    My Take: Obviously it is. Let us not be naive in thinking this will bring brotherly relations between two countries. Cricket is a sport and, like in all sports, there will be competition. Competition is always intense between arch-rivals. Indian and Pakistani players won't give even an inch on the field. Same goes with the fans of the respective teams during the match. So, the idea of "increasing" brotherly relation goes out of the window. Relation among fans have generally been warm and receptive. And that should / will never change. But this will be primarily a series that will make lots of money for the respective cricket boards, marketers will rake in more money from more sales, new cricket stars will be formed, memories will be etched (we still remember Sreesanth taking the catch to dismiss Misbah and help us win the inaugural T20 World cup in 2007, don't we?). Let's be honest here. Its serious business and all about the money. Let's call a spade, a spade.
2007 T20 World Cup Final India Pakistan Misbah Sreesanth

This is what the people who want an India-Pakistan bilateral series are saying - 
  1. Cricket will help accelerate peace talks between two countries.
    My Take: I don't think so. It's like saying, the pain in your leg will go if you massage your hands! Yes, I agree, Cricket is a virtual religion in India and Pakistan. But the issue at hand is far bigger and more grave. This may / may not work. Let's not over-complicate things here. Cricket is a sport. At max, it will allow key personnel from both countries to come together for a photo-op. Nothing more, nothing less. Remember, the photo ops that happened when India played Pakistan during the 2011 World Cup? Lets not make Cricket something it clearly isn't.
  2. What Cricket has to do with politics?
    My Take: In an ideal world, Cricket has nothing to do with politics and government between the two countries. But this is not an ideal world we live in, right? So, whether we like it or not, Cricket will forever be linked with politics and the government of the day. There's no shying away from it. Ironically, India's foreign policy is also connected to the relations we have with Pakistan. Cricket simply adds more masala to it.

And this is what the rest of the folks feel - 
  1. Don't care. My take: Who's to argue?

Honestly, we have a lot of issues within our country to fight for. Playing Cricket with Pakistan should be least of our worries. In a way, it's good that the series will be held at a neutral venue. Local fans don't have to pay for tickets and can watch it at home, thus saving hard earned money. Neutral venue fans will be able to witness high level of competition. Country hosting the series will rake in more money than what they do when their own team plays (marketing magic). And people within India who doesn't want this series can chose not to watch it at all. Win-win situation for everyone right? Wrong. I am sure our media will still find controversies in this issue and we will quickly lap it up. 

That's the way it goes.

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