Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Talking Point: Debates: South Asian
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Do South Asians take cricket too seriously?
India is celebrating its Test performance after defeating the international champions Australia. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are downcast after their recent defeats.

Nothing arouses so much emotion in South Asia as the game of cricket.

But is the sport a fuss about nothing, just "flannelled fools" at the wicket? And why is it so closely tied to national pride?

Shouldn't national identity be based on weightier standards? Or is sport at this level symbolic of more than just the game itself? Tell us what you think.

This Talking Point is now closed. Read your comments below.


HAVE YOUR SAY

Our love for Cricket and other sports have succeeded in becoming a unifying force that politics has never been able to achieve

Kevin Fernandes, Canada
I was born in Pakistan, with strong cultural and ethnic ties to India, and now a Canadian. I agree with Maganti's statement that the Sub-continent is home to some of the world's greatest civilization's and cultures. However, I still stand by my opinion that because of our very rich history; ethnic, religious and cultural allegiances have always been stronger than National Pride. Our love for Cricket and other sports have succeeded in becoming a unifying force that politics has never been able to achieve.
Kevin Fernandes, Canada


Krikate diverts us away from addressing our need to have a sustainable and happy habitat for ourselves

Vyom Akhil Sambalpur, India
'The oppressed imitate their oppressors' is an Eric Hoffer aphorism. The post-imperial Indian middle-class oppresses our attention with its rancid and stupid obsession for the game of cricket. This class has its clammy and corrupt hands on the levers of power. Our parasitical boobs and baboos - who man our banks, media, bureaucracy and administration - assiduously 'perform' this post-colonial 'Krikate-karma-kaanda'. Flannelled fools, stuffed-shirts and shady characters have now joined them. Krikate diverts us away from addressing our need to have a sustainable and happy habitat for ourselves. The time and money spent on Krikate are more than equal to the value of literacy, nutrition, and health and clean water for all in India. Will a shaman cure our madhya-varga of this obsession? Nehru's blind love for all things white and western made it impossible for India to adopt Hockey, Gilli-dandaa, or Kabaddi as its sport of choice. Like Satan astride over Sindbad, his dynasty was astride our national neck, hobbling us for too long. If India finally collapses into no-return anarchy in this century a cause would most assuredly be the diversion of attention and energy to this gargantuan goofiness of the irresponsible and unresponsive Indian middle-class.
Vyom Akhil Sambalpur, India

The enthusiasm and emotion cricket evokes in SE Asia is quite comparable to the emotions football evokes here.
Jenny W, UK

In no other places have people committed suicide if their country loses a sports game! Cricket, sadly , has claimed the lives of not only people but also has banned the existence of other sports.
Abhijit, India

Cricket is a sport which brings together people of different ethnicity. It's a uniting force in South-Asia which has, of late, seen a lot of political tension. Why not glorify it if it helps lifting the spirits of millions of people?
Pav, USA/India

It is the right of every free citizen to feel elated or downcast after a national game. There has been no political or social upheaval based on cricket outcomes. So, where is the problem of South Asians taking cricket seriously?
Prasad Sundararajan, USA

Indians, though happy to see their country win, are fair minded. How else can you explain the splendid letter sent by a fan from Lucknow which was read out by the Archbishop in the memorial service for the greatest player ever to be born - Don Bradman!
R. Saradha, India

English and cricket are the legacy of British rule apart from parliamentary democracy about which we Indians are really proud of! The game is enjoyed by the intelligentsia as well as common folks and is a strong binding force.
Vijayalakshmi Viswanathan, India

Nothing turns people's minds away from politics more than cricket does, especially so in South Asia. It is definitely more interesting. But few things hurt more than politics in cricket.
Raza Siddiqui, Pakistan/Kuwait

It is better that people of the sub-continent have got refuge in sport. In a region where rulers are traditionally war mongers and where religious hatred prevails upon compassion, for the masses, sport is a refuge. It is better to think about Tendulkar than to think about Agni and Tirshol. Hell with dirty politics, long live sports!
Dr. Ali Ahmed Rind, Pakistan

I totally agree with Richard, and I believe that there is nothing special with it. I mean at least the authorities don't have to call the police to arrest hundreds in every match.
Mohammad Asif, Saudi Arabia / Pakistan

True. Cricket is considered a religion in South Asia, with more than a billion people following it. It's really not surprising, because, what cricket is to South Asia, is what the NBA is to the US and what football is to South America and Europe.
Girish, India


At least we have a sport that we excel all over the world and produce world class players

Ram Mohan Maganti, USA
I would like to object to Kevin's idea that there is no national pride. It is very fascinating to know that a person who might never have set his foot in a country that is considered as a mother of all civilizations, make up his mind and make such a statement. At least we have a sport that we excel all over the world and produce world class players. Definitely Indians would be proud of such things.
Ram Mohan Maganti, USA

I am from Bangladesh where people seldom have the opportunity to be proud of their country due to poor economy and bitter political situation. But I have seen wildest jubilation among the common people at events like winning the ICC trophy or beating Pakistan in the world cup. It seemed to me that they did not celebrate a mere game winning; they wanted to express their intense desire to be always proud of their country. Cricket can be used as a symbol of our national integrity.
Mohammed Abdul Munim, Bangladesh

Competition always brings excitement and pride. Let the competition be on a wicket, on a hockey field, or on a battle field in a third remote left/right nation! Cricket is a harmless competition! Let us accept reality. Cricket is the game where India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka excelled, and still dominate. They are still top teams in the game. Wouldn't it command the pride.
Kadavul, US


Can we in India really afford to waste time playing five day test cricket?

Mbalaram, India/USA
Someone should look into the number of man hours lost in India due to cricket. No work gets done in many establishments when there is a match telecast. Can we in India really afford to waste time playing five day test cricket? What's worse, one can't even be sure if the whole thing is "fixed" or not. It's time they abbreviated the game even further - like baseball and completely do away with the five-day version.
Mbalaram, India/USA

It's time the English realise that people from the sub continent can play cricket. And also the English players should realise that the colonial master servant relationship is no more and we are all equal. Disgraceful behaviour of the English cricketers was not picked up by the press (except Ian Botham). Also the match refs let the English players off the hook. Cricket is a gentleman's game and sadly we can not see any these days.
Patrick Ratnaraja, UK

Of course we take cricket seriously like people in the UK take football seriously. To us (Indians) cricket is like a religion!
Nick, UK

I am of the view that the popularity of cricket in South Asia is a good thing. With nearly one sixth of the world's population lodged there it is great that there is so much support for the sport. It helps in a big way to make cricket a 'sport' rather than a village green past time that it once was. On the downside of things the money that has invaded every aspect of the game is of concern - but I guess cricket will have to grow up and deal with like all other sports.
Noah, UK

There is no question that cricket is associated with National Pride, especially amongst expats (even naturalized ones) within the US. There is a certain joy associated with staying up the entire night watching (or listening to) a good cricket game here in the US. None of the traditional American sports can compare ... and it's great fun to explain why one was up all night to someone who just doesn't get it. Makes the decision by a certain country to politicize their participation and decline to play even to benefit humanitarian causes quite irritating. India should be ashamed of themselves!
Ali Reza, USA

Many cricket involvers have become rich and famous in cricketing, since a great amount of money is involved in any international game. In Sri Lanka, our people don't take it that seriously in their personnel lives except those who are involved. But it is a great deal of entertaining. This was the only game we were kept on the top of the world. Obviously we love cricket in that sense. But there is neither hard attachments no detachments to cricketers or supporters. If a cricketer does any wrongful act, our people don't hesitate to condemn them. So it is not that serious in our lives.
Sooriya, Sri Lanka


It's a matter of South Asians being the best at it

Thushanga De Silva, Sri Lanka
I think cricket fills an empty space in the lives of all Sri Lankans regardless of their status in society. I don't think it's a matter of taking cricket seriously - it's a matter of South Asians being the best at it, and particularly of Sri Lanka being the best team in one-day internationals.
Thushanga De Silva, Sri Lanka

It has been a symbol of triumph over colonial powers. Whenever India defeats the UK and other western nations, I feel proud of my boys as it shows a great pride and is a kind of revenge for the past. Cricket has become part and parcel of daily life in South Asia. But we should not neglect other sports. In India we have sports persons like Paes, Anand, Bhupathi, Malleswari and of late Gopichand, so we have to give enough support to other sports as well.
Ranga, INDIA

Cricket fever has gripped people of all ages. It is very obvious from the fact that the celebrations continue even after the match fixing exposure. That scandal hurt a whole country of a billion people.
Deepali, USA

I think it is more due to a feel-good factor than due to genuine interest in cricket. When India starts losing cricket matches, then the interest in the sport declines. Again this is human nature to like something that one wins in. For example while India used to win gold medals in Olympic hockey, there was a lot of interest in hockey. Now the interest has declined because India hasn't won any Olympic hockey gold medals recently. Similarly, after V. Anand became India's first grandmaster and started winning a lot of medals abroad, more and more Indians started learning chess.
Arvind, USA


Cricket is perhaps the greatest unifying factor since independence

Amit, USA
In a country where so many people are either poor or unemployed, their lives have an emptiness around them and their motivation and inspiration have often hit rock bottom, cricket - especially an Indian win - provides them with hope and spirit. For a nation with so few icons, especially in the sports arena, cricket is a means of expressing the Indians' national pride. Because India is a country with a tremendous variety of backgrounds - ethnic, religious, social and geographic - cricket is perhaps the greatest unifying factor since independence.
Amit, USA

I am a minority in the sense that I believe that South Asians do take cricket a little too seriously. It is not a game that is in any way indigenous to the region. To speak bluntly, it is a white, elitist game that South Asians embraced in order to subconsciously elevate themselves in the minds of their colonial masters. The legacy of that still lives on.
Riaz Osmani, USA/Bangladesh

People must have something to feel proud of as a nation. In South Asia where corruption and various forms of bigotry are rife, cricket offers a means of participating on the world stage with the "big guys". In short, it's a form of escapism for the masses. They'd be better off facing reality and venting their spleen on those largely responsible for their misery - namely politicians and religious bigots (of all denominations).
Henbane, UK

Cricket is part of everybody's life in India. Any country in the present situation cannot wage a war and win, but the same satisfaction of winning a war is achieved through sports. We can beat Pakistan, Australia and any other country we wish to. It gives immense satisfaction to everyone who is supporting the winning team especially if it is with our archrival, Pakistan. We don't want to lose the war (match) at any cost.
Rajesh V Duggineni, India/U.S.A


This desire will never let the passion for cricket die

Irfan Jaffry, Germany
I think cricket is in our roots. Youngsters grow with strong passion for cricket. Cricket simply brings everyone together, no matter whether they're young or old, poor or rich. Everybody simply loves cricket. Cricketers do feel great pride in playing for their country and in Pakistan only 10% make it to the national team. There are scores of boys who just spend their time playing cricket in the hope of being spotted and getting a chance of playing for Pakistan. This desire will never let the passion for cricket die. It goes on and on.
Irfan Jaffry, Germany

What kind of idiotic topic is this to debate about? It is pointless and can easily be countered by saying, do the British take football too seriously - especially the Geordie fans? Sports are important no matter where you go - different sports dominate different regions.
Mohammed Arif, Pakistan

South Asians are more emotional in character. One can experience it in South Asian films. Poor performance in football has also boosted the feelings for cricket. Huge population, high unemployment and family support for educational and day-to-day expenses allow young people to devote time to such a lengthy game. Gradually they become part of the process and start feeling all the joys and sorrows of cricket as their own.
Noman, Bangladesh

I just can't think of any logical reason why as a nation we Indians take cricket so seriously. Not only are illiterates crazy over the game - as is the case with politics - but the educated elite also, unfortunately, are equally crazy. For a nation devoid of anything to cheer about even in sports, an isolated win in cricket against Australia is surely something to rejoice about. Similarly, for a country where indolence is not considered shameful, wasting precious time watching just moments of excitement in an otherwise dreary game is considered perfectly all right by any standard.
Albert Devakaram, India

Even Indian expatriates in various continents are mad after cricket. Recently, we had a gathering of Indians at Kigali in Rwanda and some of them were seriously discussing the recent cricket match between India and Australia. Soon it became a debate in which many took part. My nephew is just 7 years old and his knowledge of cricket is tremendous; he knows the names of all the cricketers in the world and their records. At times various state governments in India declare public holidays in view of some cricket finals. This makes people lazier. Another reason why the game is popular in India is that the game is played the whole day and it helps people escape from reality.
Albert P'Rayan, India/Rwanda


Cricket is the roti, kapra and makaan of the teeming millions of the subcontinent

Waj Syed, US
In the solemn shadow of endemic corruption, a 'brown sahib' complex, engrossing regional tensions which make the patriotic and fanatic supply-demand curve meet, cricket is the roti, kapra and makaan of the teeming millions of the subcontinent. For us Pakistanis, it's the equivalent of the pride of nations - winning a big game is right up there with the Americans' moon landing, the Soviets' Sputnik, Japan's post war recovery. The cricket match is the socio-political seat of nationalistic fervour. It is the pride - and hope - of an otherwise moribund Pakistan. So yes, we do take it seriously. We have to.
Waj Syed, US

Not all South-Asians take cricket too seriously. It is popular only among the non oriental South Asians, especially Indo-Arian and Indo-Dravidian, whose regions were unified by British direct rule. So it is not a surprise that the game is popular among these ethnic groups. In the predominantly oriental present-day north-eastern region of India - which was not under the direct rule of Britain - the game is not popular at all.
Birbal Chungkham, US

Nothing turns people's minds away from politics more than cricket, especially in South Asia. It is definitely more interesting. But few things hurt more than politics in cricket.
Raza Siddiqui, Pakistan/Kuwait

It is better that people of the sub-continent can take refuge in sport. In a region where rulers are traditional warmongers and where religious hatred prevails over compassion, for the masses sport is a refuge. It is better to think about Tendulkar than to think about Agni and Tirshol. To Hell with dirty politics, long live Sports!
Dr. Ali Ahmed Rind, Pakistan


Cricket can be used as a symbol of national integrity

Mohammed Abdul Munim, Bangladesh
I am from Bangladesh where people seldom have the opportunity to be proud of their country due to the poor economy and bitter political situation. But I have seen the wildest jubilation among the common people at events like winning the ICC trophy or beating Pakistan in the World Cup. It seemed to me that they did not celebrate merely winning a game - they wanted to express their intense desire to be always proud of their country. Cricket can be used as a symbol of our national integrity.
Mohammed Abdul Munim, Bangladesh

Cricket is considered a religion in South Asia, with more than an billion people following it. It's really not surprising, because what cricket is to South Asia, NBA is to the US and football is to South America and Europe.
Girish, India

I would like to object to Kevin's idea that there is no national pride. It is very fascinating to know that a person who might never have set foot in a country that is considered a mother of all civilisations, makes up his mind and makes such a statement. At least we have a sport that we excel at all over the world and produce world class players. Definitely Indians would be proud of such things.
Ram Mohan Maganti, USA

Competition always brings excitement and pride. Cricket is harmless competition! Let us accept reality. Cricket is the game where India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka excel, and still dominate. They are still top teams in the game. Wouldn't that command pride?
Kadavul, US


Can we in India really afford to waste time playing five-day test cricket?

Mbalaram, India/USA
Someone should look into the number of man-hours lost in India due to cricket. No work gets done in many establishments when there is a match telecast. Can we in India really afford to waste time playing five-day test cricket? What's worse, one can't even be sure if the whole thing is "fixed" or not. It's time they abbreviated the game even further - like baseball - and completely do away with the five-day version.
Mbalaram, India/USA

It's time the English realise that people from the Indian subcontinent can play cricket. Also the English players should realise that the colonial master-servant relationship is no more and we are all equal. The disgraceful behaviour of the English cricketers was not picked up by the press (except Ian Botham). Also the match refs let the English players off the hook. Cricket is a gentleman's game and sadly, no, we can not see any these days.
Patrick Ratnaraja, UK

Of course we take cricket seriously like people in the UK take football seriously and South Americans take soccer seriously. To us (Indians) cricket is like a RELIGION!
Nick, UK


The money that has invaded every aspect of the game is of concern

Noah, UK
I am of the view that the popularity of cricket in South Asia is a good thing. With nearly one sixth of the world's population lodged there, it is great that there is so much support for the sport. It helps in a big way to make cricket a sport rather than a village green pastime that it once was. On the downside of things, the money that has invaded every aspect of the game is of concern- but I guess cricket will have to grow up and deal with that like all other sports.
Noah, UK

There is no question that cricket is associated with national pride, especially amongst expats (even naturalised ones) within the US. There is a certain joy associated with staying up the entire night watching (or listening to) a good cricket game here in the US. None of the traditional American sports can compare...and it's great fun to explain why one was up all night to someone who just doesn't get it. It makes the decision by a certain country to politicise their participation and decline to play even to benefit humanitarian causes quite irritating. India should be ashamed of itself!
Ali Reza, USA

Cricket has become part of many people's lives. If India wins they think they have personally won.
Prasad, India

I don't think the deep passion for cricket is any worse than the passion held elsewhere for football across the world or for baseball in the US. The legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankley once said that football was not a matter of life and death, "it's much more important than that!" It's the same across the world. People take their sport seriously and those who aren't into that sport sit back and wonder what they are getting so het up about.
Richard, UK

In a region where there is so much ethnic diversity and where politicians have failed to instil in people a sense of national pride, cricket among other sports has been able to fill that void for a national identity, transcending social and ethnic barriers.
Kevin Fernandes, Canada

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Listen now....
...to both sides of the debate
See also:

22 Mar 01 | India v Australia
India triumph in tense finish
22 Mar 01 | Cricket
Wellington put boot into tourists
21 Mar 01 | England on Tour
Sri Lanka axe World Cup hero
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Links to more South Asian stories