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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Where the sport is without smear

One of the poems I read as a young schoolboy was Rabindranath Tagore's :

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

This is a very well-known poem. I am sure many Indians would have read it. This poem has always stuck in my mind. There is something pure and powerful about it - there is a cry, a yearning, a prayer, an exhortation.

I started using this to write my own version, directed at the Indian cricket team :
Where the kick is on the rear, and the pleasure is in the cry
Where, in the pain, is the glee

But then I stopped. Enough is enough. Yes, they let me and a billion others down. But there is no point playing that record again and again. All I can say is that I hope some good will come even of this pathetic performance. See, Rahul Dravid is not the only one who keeps looking for positives.

But then my mind went on to a far more serious matter. One that has far graver consequences for this wonderful sport called cricket.

Ever since the Woolmer incident, I have been disturbed. More than just disturbed - I have been distraught. I have been passionately following the game for almost 33 years - and never ever has my love for the game been shaken as much as in the last week. Even the match-fixing scandals of 1999, disgusting and stomach-churning though they were, did not manage to keep me away from the game for long. I was back because I believed that the game could not be held hostage by the actions of a few misguided persons.

Today, eight years later, I am shaken again - and this time the depths are unfathomable. Somebody has been murdered in cold blood - how much worse can it get ?

The investigations are still on - there are many stories doing the rounds. I do not want to speculate on the motive or anything to do with this ghastly and sad-beyond-description deed. I will just follow the investigation revelations closely - and hope that justice is done. Right now, my thoughts go out to the family and close friends of Mr. Woolmer. He paid for his passion for the game with his life.

What game ? One that all of us enjoy almost every single day. One that allows us to laugh, cry, scream, rant - share with our friends and other loved ones the joy of following this wonderful sport.

But the murkier side of the sport has caught up now. It threatens to no longer be the sport that billions of followers around the world (including myself) yearn for it to be. First and foremost, a sport. Competitive - of course, but still just sport.

Borrowing from Tagore's beautiful poem, I am penning some of my own thoughts here about the game I loved, love and desperately want to continue to love.

Where the sport is without smear and no one need die
Where fun is key
Where the game has not been prostituted by the commerce of money
Where performance comes out from the depths of passion
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the simple joy of team effort has not lost its way into the colder realm of personal gain
Where the mind is led forward by the spirit of collective purpose and sportsmanship

Into that heaven of awareness, my Father, let my sport (once again) awake

Amen.

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