Unconscious prejudice is the hardest thing to get at. No matter the amount of knowledge a sports fan possesses, he sees what he wishes to
Brahma Iyer, The Hush Post: If Sachin is the God of cricket, why does most of the cricketing world say, he is the best batsman after Bradman, exclude the Indian fans. Many tone it down to “Tendulkar is one of the best batsmen after Bradman.”
Sports fans are as prejudiced as people across the world are at times with their respective patriotisms. And unconscious prejudice is the hardest thing to get at. No matter the amount of knowledge they possess, they see what they wish to.
The great Indian cricket fan bias suffers from this as do the Australian or the South African fan. And it doesn’t stop just there. Even the so-called experts of the game do.
After the recent 4-1 defeat of the Indian team at the hands of England, India is still the best team in the world. This comes from none other than the cricket experts of the likes of Ashish Nehra and Ajay Jadeja (of course in the rankings they are). Their reason: Because in all the recent series they played abroad they were able to win a one-odd match against the English or the Proteas. While in their own backyard, India gave a complete whitewash to their opponents.
For most Indian fans Sachin is either better than Bradman or they obfuscate the matter by calling him ‘God of cricket’
On the similar lines, is Sachin Tendulkar the all-time batting greatest? By the way, Bradman made 29 centuries in 53 Test matches and Sachin Tendulkar made 51 in 200 matches. Yet for most Indian fans Sachin is either better than Don or they obfuscate the matter by calling him the ‘God of cricket’ which is a way of putting him ahead of Bradman. If someone called Maradona the God of football, Pele would be automatically relegated to the number two position.
Coming back to the two giants of cricket, ask an Australian fan and he too obfuscates the issue of who is the best. He forgets the length of time Tendulkar played compared with Bradman, that there was no LBW rule when Bradman played, he played against only England and the Proteas or mostly played in his own backyard and didn’t have to play ODIs.
The answer to this question lies in the fact that whoever controls the politics of the game, controls the game too. Earlier Australians and the English did. Now India does. Broad cricket fan base of Indians, which brings in more spectators to the cricket stadium, thus bring in more money, and power and thus the reckoning in the ICC, the highest governing body of cricket. And thus the brand created by Indian fans is the ‘best’ brand.
Jimmy Anderson & Stuart Broad better bowlers than Shoiab Akhtar but certainly not better brand
And how does it affect the game? It brands players on the basis of their fan base and not performance. So a Shoaib Akhtar or Zaheer Khan becomes bigger brand than Jimmy Anderson or Stuart Broad. Remember Shoiab just played 46 Test matches and plucked 178 wickets an average performance. Zaheer touched a little more than 300. But look at the figures of Broad. He is one wicket short of Kapil Dev’s 434 having played 123 matches. Anderson has played 144 Tests and has 564 scalps and just bettered McGrath’s record in the recent Test series against India.
Kumara Sanggakara has played less cricket compared to Rahul Dravid and scored more centuries at an average of 57.40. Dravid played 164 Test matches and made 36 centuries. Sangakarra played 134 matches and made 38 tons. Of course, there are other variables in a game of cricket. But those too would be a two-way sword affecting both the teams.
Who is the best finisher of the game? India unfortunately has none in the league of Brian Lara in the Tests. But an Indian fan talks of Virat Kohli not as someone who should emulate Brian Lara, but someone who is already ahead of him, which all the fans across the remaining 11 cricketing nations will definitely question.
In ODIs, MS Dhoni would definitely take the cake and rightly so. But we do forget a certain Steve Waugh and don’t remember the number of times Australia’s scorecard read 17/3 or sometimes even as worse as 5/3 and in walks Steve Waugh and Australia wins the match or poses a strong 300 in ODIs.
Probably, Indians are not fortunate to have more privilege of prejudice beyond cricket or hockey
Apart from cricket hockey was, still is in certain parts a popular sport. But ask an Indian fan, the ardent ones from Punjab or Jharkhand can’t or won’t think of a name bigger than Dhyan Chand. Probably, he was in the likening of Bradman. But few Indian fans would regard the great Aussie Jamie Dwyer, the five times best FIH player or the Dutch Teun de Nooijer at par with him. That’s what we call is unconscious prejudice heard to get at.
Probably, Indians are not fortunate to have more privilege of prejudice beyond cricket or hockey, despite the exploits of the Neeraj Chopras and Manjit Singhs, Swapna Burmans and Jinsen Johnsons of our universe. Thus the burden is pushed on to our cricketing heroes.