My Dad has been a cricket buff [to put it lightly] for as long as I can remember. From waking up at unearthly hours to catch a test match in its entirety to hauling the family along to watch domestic games, his love for the sport has always shone through and has, to a very small extent, rubbed off on me too.
I’m guessing that a lot of you follow or at least know about the nation-wide cricketing tournament, the Indian Premier League –IPL for short- that’s played over the course of a month and a half across various Indian states every year.
And I suppose that most of you know about the Chennai Super Kings [CSK], arguably the IPLs strongest team. Well, ex-team.
You see, a few months ago, CSK was caught in the middle of a heated match-fixing scandal along with two other teams and all three of them have been sentenced to a two-year suspension from the league.
This may not seem like such a big deal to some of you, but to me, it means a LOT. Here’s the thing; I was born in Chennai and M.S Dhoni, CSK’s cucumber-cool skipper is one of my favourite cricketers.
Do I need more reason to root for CSK so passionately that sometimes when I start talking about the championship my friends need to forcibly get me to sit down and breathe normally??
IPL season used to be my favourite time of year and the fact that it coincides with my school’s summer break is a delicious added bonus. Two months of no homework and daily, exhilarating T20 matches to look forward to?? Count me in!!
During CSK matches, you’d usually catch me hunched in front of the telly, my fingernails white because of nervously gripping the armrest so tightly, my throat hoarse thanks to all the screaming.
Not anymore, though.
Ever since the match-fixing was unveiled, things have changed. At first, I was just mad about not being able to see my favourite squad out on the field for two long years. But as time unfolded, I realised that, more than anything, I was disappointed.
This was all one big sham, wasn’t it?? Were any of those spectacular displays of athleticism genuine in the least?? Had we even won a single match on merit alone?? Are important contacts and money all that dictate success anymore??
Incredulous questions buzzed in my mind for weeks and in the process, my faith was shattered.
CSK has lost before, of course. Like every sports team in history, we’ve lost matches and we’ve been beaten at a couple of finals and we’ve had humiliating, crushing defeats.
Like any true fangirl, though, that didn’t weaken my support in the least. If anything, it made me cheer more fervently at the next game. It made my shouts of encouragement the next time around even louder –which is saying a LOT. It made the obsessive supporter in me creep out a little more.
But this?? Stooping this low?? Using cold, hard cash and influence to buy out your opponents?? To CHEAT??
Not only has this ruined my perfectly pleasant status as a fanatical devotee, but it’s crushed my faith in sport as a whole. Now when I see a particularly impressive play, the first thing I think isn’t “WOAH, that is some serious talent” but “I wonder how much they had to shell out to win this match.”
All I’m going to say is that I highly doubt that when CSK comes out to bat in 2018 that I will still be tensely waiting like I used to. The catchy Chennai Super Kings chant won’t be repeating itself in my mind. I won’t feel that physical pang in my stomach every time a batsman gets bowled.
I’ll be indifferent.
And that stinks.