Monday, December 17, 2007

Are cricket players ‘boys’?

We have often seen the cricket players being referred to collectively as boys. The board officials always express their confidence that the ‘boys’ would do well in the ensuing tour. But then a boy as we know is a young male human (usually child or adolescent). To call thirty plus ageing cricketers who are married and with kids as boys is not what is understood in common parlance. A captain of 30 years and more calling the other players of equal age or more as my boys although collectively is jarring. Particularly when these young men earn what people double their age would not dream of earning and enjoy all the pleasurable past times that normally only adults would indulge in, calling them as boys is not the right thing. True there are some twenty plus in the team younger to the other ageing veterans but that cannot justify their being termed as boys.

When you talk of separating the men from boys we mean men are made of sterner stuff than the weak boys. We would like to believe that our cricketers are real fighters yielding no quarter easily to opponents and would prefer being called men. Matrimonial ads inviting applications for a boy aged 34 is common. But that is private and personal matter of the individual concerned. Not so with the cricketers who are the icons of their vast admirers.

There is one another thing that I would like them to adhere to. They should come to the ground be it for net practice or the formal match smartly dressed, clean shaven and properly trimmed hair(except Harbhajan of course). There should be a natural dignity about them with no place for trivial like ugly stares at the umpire, nodding the head in disbelief on being given out, stamping the foot or the bat, lingering longer than needed to walk away or exchange of words with competing players even under provocation. Even exuberant display of joy on achieving a mile stone is best avoided. A slight raise of the bat or the cap or helmet is adequate acknowledgement of the cheers of the crowd. There are thousands of eyes watching how they conduct themselves. The players should behave like grown up men and not churlish boys. Humility in triumph is the hall mark of great. Can we ever envisage a Don Bradman indulging in crude display of emotions on the ground? Luckily most of our players save a very few earn our praise in this regard. The team should take a pledge that it would shame anyone who provokes them by just ignoring them and leaving the matter in the hands of umpires and the match referee. A fine on the player by the referee should be regarded as a blot on player’s record.

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