The march of a national game

01 October 2014

IN SEPTEMBER 2007, the International Cricket Council hosted the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. The best Indian players, including Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly, declined to play, thinking it an inconsequential sideshow. An inexperienced team was sent, captained by the then relatively unhonoured wicket-keeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Six months earlier, India had been knocked out in the preliminary rounds of the main, or fifty-overs-a-side, World Cup. The early exit prompted protests by fans across the country. Effigies of players were burnt, mock funeral processions held. Police pickets were posted outside the homes of the (temporarily) disgraced cricketers.

A cricket fan has his head shaved to mourn India’s early exit from the 2007 fifty-overs-a-side World Cup. The loss prompted protests by fans across the country, who burnt effigies of players and held mock funeral  rocessions.. RAJESH KUMAR SINGH / AP PHOTO A cricket fan has his head shaved to mourn India’s early exit from the 2007 fifty-overs-a-side World Cup. The loss prompted protests by fans across the country, who burnt effigies of players and held mock funeral  rocessions.. RAJESH KUMAR SINGH / AP PHOTO
A cricket fan has his head shaved to mourn India’s early exit from the 2007 fifty-overs-a-side World Cup. The loss prompted protests by fans across the country, who burnt effigies of players and held mock funeral rocessions.
RAJESH KUMAR SINGH / AP PHOTO

Ramachandra Guha books include India After Gandhi and An Anthropologist Among the Marxists and Other Essays. He lives in Bengaluru.

Keywords: Sachin Tendulkar nationalism cricket IPL World Cup National Game T20 Board of Control for Cricket in India commercialisation
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