Byline By M.J. Akbar
Cricket, tea and murder in the vicarage were the three archetypal metaphors for the British empire: Dennis Compton (Brylcreem and straight drives), Rupert Brook (tea at four at Grantchester) and Agatha Christie are the architecture on the cultural landscape of an empire sleepwalking its way towards new nations that would throw out
The ironies would leave Christie breathless. Bob Woolmer is an Englishman who served the progeny of empire, and was killed by the new culture spawned by independent nations, a mindset controlled by crime and greed. Crime has maimed
Gentility began to ebb out of the gentleman’s game a long while ago, being shoved aside in rough stages by intensity. The British began to mix metaphors first, when the masters of the world were defeated by the minions of the world. Their first defeat by
Cricket is a family game, hence the intensity. Would Cain have killed Abel were he not his brother? Unlikely. There is no ‘world’ in this World Cup. There cannot be, when you need seven joke teams to make up a tournament of 16. Bermuda was led by a sumo wrestler who defied the laws of gravity just once to take a magnificent catch against
You could see the smugness return into the eyes of our spoilt, overpaid, pampered, immature dead duck cricketers as they hammered
Crime and corporations are the godfathers of Indian cricket. The two keep their distance from each other, but both know that they are linked by the cricketer. Crime got its opportunity because governments imbued with false morality have refused to permit licensed and regulated betting on cricket. For some obscure, fundamentalist reason, it is perfectly moral in
Everyone knows that a cricket team on tour lives two lives. One is on the playing field that you see on television, and the other is in hotels with groupies who cajole and bribe their way to the penumbra of cricket celebrities. That is where the stench of corruption begins. It is in the interest of cricket’s administrators to pretend that they cannot smell the stink, since cricket has given them budgets that are beyond their wildest fantasies. But it has always been understood that this malicious odour would not waft into the public domain. Criminals have broken this implicit rule with the murder of Bob Woolmer. The culprits have surely left enough clues. Woolmer recognised his murderers, or he would not have allowed them into his room. That tightens the circle of suspicion. It is very likely that the murderers were seen by others when they knocked on Woolmer’s room or after they left. Woolmer was living in the team hotel, not in a monastery. If the murder is linked to betting syndicates, then either the game finds the will to change its structure or it will die an ignoble death.
Corporations may be guilty of no worse a crime than hysteria, but it is time to check what price their artificially injected mania has begun to demand. It is always a trifle risky to place nationalism in the custody of multinationals. Multinationals never get the balance of nationalism right, since their functioning ideology is non-patriotic. You do not have to scream like a banshee in order to sound like an Indian. That Jharkhand fan who broke a wall or two of Dhoni’s new home, being built on land gifted by a stupid government, was absolutely right when he alleged that Dhoni was much more interested in modelling than in cricket. Even if this is not completely true, since that modelling contract will not come without performance, it is fair to suggest that the Indian cricketer has acquired a split personality. A new, young and semi-tried fast bowler whose name I prefer to forget makes millions out of a war dance on the field, and is honoured by his state government after his idiocy: on which rational axis would you expect his brain to function? And it might be a good moment to ban all those ho-ho-ho cricket commentators who glamorise absurdity in order to keep on the right side of their paymasters.
The purge of Indian cricket can start with a simple decision. Sack the whole team and select a completely new eleven. After all, they would still defeat
How do you convert a sport into a bloodsport? Mix greed, megalomania, nationalism, God, politicians, advertising and murder.