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Cricket’s Baptism of Fire


As the adage goes, Cricket is a great leveller; it’s the game we follow religiously and in return receive a plethora of joys and sorrows since we landed on our planet Earth. The rich history and tradition of the sport bestowed royalty within us.

The sound of the ball hitting the bat and the non-striker false hearing resulting a run-out has always remained entrenched in our memories. At a tender age, we have heard about the stories of the invincible West Indian side of the 1980s which ruled Cricket for more than 15 years.

Listing from the flamboyance of Viv Richard, the panache of Brian Lara and the feistiness of Malcolm Marshall has created a revered image of the Caribbean side.

But deep inside, we appreciated the performance, never the colour, not even once. Day in day out, we raved about their body structure, but when it came to skin tone, we gently kept our mouth shut. As the former great Micheal Holding said last week, “We were never taught anything about Blacks in school” it epitomized racism in life and sport.

Over the years, Cricket has seen some horrific events of prejudice on and off the field. We thought of revisiting some of the ugliest moments that has ever engrossed the 22 yards.

Cricket's Baptism of Fire 1
Tony Greg’s ‘Grovel’,

When the West Indies decided to tour England in 1976, a certain gentleman, the skipper of the England side, the late Tony Greg used the most ill-suited word ‘Grovel‘ in the era where the ashes of racial discrimination were still burning. The word changed the history of the Caribbean and world cricket.

The remark made the men from the Caribbean so determined that their lanky fast bowlers peppered the English batters with intimidating bouncers and made Tony Greg’s team surrender with their hand over their heads. The result depicted the West Indies winning the five-match test series 3-nil.

Cricket's Baptism of Fire 2
Harbhajan SinghAndrew Symonds

The infamous Sydney test can be referred to as racism or pure misjudgment of the language of two players but the drama that unfurled later one was damaging for both India and Australia.

The test match commenced with airy-fairy decisions which resulted in anger, frustration and vengeance.  In the first innings of the Indian innings, Harbhajan Singh was accused of calling ‘Monkey’ to Andrew Symonds. Later on, it was found that Harbhajan Singh used a north Indian slang but it Harbhajan became the cynosure of all eyes in Australia.

Fortunately, the game of Cricket has seen a lot less when compared with football or other sports. It’s not a thing to be proud of being called a racist game, but the situation has not aggravated. The players have not widened the gap, which has resulted in a fascinating viewing of diversity.

In my opinion, the breakthrough moment and the most influential 30 seconds ever in the sport’s history happened when the players from West Indies and England took a knew and made Cricket stronger than it was ever before. The BLM logo test kits symbolized the importance of gravity of the situation.

“Finally, Cricket has managed to play the most deceptive delivery ever bowled by any bowler towards long on for a single.”

Article Written By Sobhan Garnaik

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