Cricket Stars Have Spoken, but Is This How They Wish To Be Heard?

Rather than platitudes, crickets stars can at least let us know what they really think.

Updated
Cricket
3 min read

(Edited by Sandeep Suman)

Remember the showdown between the police and the people of India during the Citizenship Amendment Act protests? The lynching of Indians by Indians? The communal riots in Delhi that cost many, many innocents their lives?

Did you at any of these historic moments in India's history remember Sachin Tendulkar asking India to 'remain united as a nation'?

Or Virat Kohli asking the millions of his followers to ‘all stay united in this hour of disagreements'.

You know the answer and so do I.

So this piece is not about asking why our national legends, the Gods that walk among us, refuse to be an example for the citizens to follow, sound an opinion that will help them make theirs.

When their faces were needed to do more than just sell ads on social media or make videos washing hands.

The West Indies and New Zealand teams take a knee for the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of a Test match in New Zealand on 3 December, 2020.
The West Indies and New Zealand teams take a knee for the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of a Test match in New Zealand on 3 December, 2020.
(Photo: PTI)

I’m not asking why the global ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement which saw cricketers take the knee in England and in New Zealand but was quietly forgotten when the post-lockdown cricket caravan landed at the IPL.

Because to be a Colin Kaepernick, not only do you need a spine, you also need a heart. A heart that is ready to lose it all just for something you believe in.

Yes, one could argue that having a voice of dissent is much easier in some other countries, but, how do you think it got that way?

It took a Muhammad Ali to become an example that others could follow... Kaepernick took the knee and lost years of his professional career, contracts, and possibly millions of dollars.

Then I look back at India where we have legends whose fame and fandom could by far overshadow that of Ali’s but then I ask — where is our Ali?  

Where is our great, big guiding light who will show the great, big legends how to lead the way?

Because what Sachin, Virat, and Kumble’s silence on the big matters that have driven a wedge in this country over the last decade could not do, their reply to two tweets by Rihanna and Greta Thunberg has accomplished.

Our legends do speak. But only when asked.

Because what happened to ‘staying united as a nation’ when men were being lynched by men in the name of the holy cow or peoples' citizenship was being questioned because of their religion or region of their birth? What happened to staying united when cricketers themselves complained of being victims of racism in cricket dressing rooms?

Why then could they not use those 280 characters at their disposal to help save lives? And yes, I do say ‘help save lives’ because that's what demi-Gods walking among us can actually do. That's the kind of influence they have.

And I must stress here that the problem isn’t that their opinion does not match mine, because of course, this is a free country, you can say what you want, you can do what you want, you can tweet what you want.

But then, at the end of the day, the point I’m making is that at least they could let us know what they really think.

Because if they truly believe as strongly as the words in their tweets suggest, why haven’t we heard from Sachin or Virat or Kumble or Rahane on such matters before?

Virat Kohli, in fact, was asked about the farmer's protests a day after mostly all members of the Indian team tweeted about it, and he said that 'any issue in India is discussed' by the players.

But then, what happened one year back, in January 2020, when the Indian cricket captain was asked to comment on the CAA protests? He had said he didn't know enough to comment on the issue when the country had been rocked by protests over the CAA for well over a month by then.

And so, that is what I mean when I say the problem isn't their opinion, it's that we've never heard their opinion before.

Like if they have indeed seen reason in this current issue that we haven’t so far, maybe the platform standing on which they deliver their opinion is just high enough to make people look up and start a conversation.

Open a discussion.

Give us more than copy paste.

Let us live as a democracy.

Do more with the power that you have been given.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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