Oh God, ‘have we overstayed ?’

Australian player Luke Pomersbach of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team was arrested Friday for allegedly molesting an American woman in a five-star hotel…..

IPl chairman Rajiv Shukla said: “We are not responsible for behaviour of individuals in hotels …

Shah Rukh Khan, co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR),is banned by MCA from entering Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium over his alleged misbehaviour at the ground Wednesday night.

These lines are excerpted from an IANS report that  summed up IPL-related happenings on a given day.  An edit-page  piece by academic Mukul Kesavan  reckons the business model adopted by Indian Premier League (IPL) celebrates decadance of cricket with ‘contempt for convention and procedural scruples’. Glitzy costumes, chorused countdowns, TV commercials that breathlessly talk up individual players,  blur the distinction between competitive sport and Hulk Hogan-style entertainment,  according to Kesavan.

And then my schooldays friend,  S Balakrishnan,  sent me the other day  his take on cricket ,  in  free verse.

The need for this rhyme
Is that in my time
Cinema, cricket and crime
Never were the news prime

Seeing a 7-column front page
Devoted for cricket coverage
In all the Dailies of the new age
It is difficult to suppress my rage

I and my friends are dismayed
Dear God, ‘have we overstayed ?’

When Tsunami lashed Japan’s shore
Our leaders asked, ‘What’s the score ?’
When houses and cars floated like match boxes
Our media lamented for lost matches
And missed catches

They  shout, ‘Over’
When it’s never over!

When crushed by burden of loans
Our farmers commit suicide
For fallen wickets our media moans
And for every run we take pride

Our Appalling moral rot
Illiteracy,  poverty, dirt and squalor
Appear to matter not
So long as our ladies can visit beauty  parlor

What is all this ?
Here everything is amiss
Dear God, ‘have I overstayed’.

Overstayed?  My friend,  at 73,  is  a practicing  Supreme Court senior advocate. We belong to the era of  Vinoo Mankad,  Marchant and Hazare (Vijay).  Though I haven’t known him touch a bat or ball,  Balu closely followed the course of our Madrasi School team in Delhi. And even offered advice, off-pitch, to our captain and mutual friend Kasturi Rangan.  Even without Balu’s guidance we  managed to come close to the bottom of the chart in inter-school tournaments. But then, as Balu would put it,  it’s the spirit of the sport, not the score , that counted in cricket.   Balu still calls me by the nick name – Mankad –  that I acquired,  not so much for proficiency in cricket,  but because I was the only left-handed bowler  in our school team.