ball fanatics among you would have recently witnessed the 5-0 thumping that Real Madrid received at the hands of Barcelona. Spectators were privy to an awesome display of football skill as the boys in blue & maroon stripes dodged and weaved their way around Real's defence to an emphatic victory. This exhibit of soccer artistry was a joy to behold and a delight for watchers of the game worldwide. The only blemish on an otherwise pristine day was unruly behaviour on part of Real Madrid team during the waning moments of this match. As the contest neared its inevitable conclusion, members of the Real contingent could be seen pushing and shoving aggressively, venting their frustration of being whipped so soundly by a superior side.
With intense rivalries and high stakes, such behaviour has become commonplace in the sporting arena. In cricket, when a team is on the verge of defeat, you can observe the tell tale signs of negativity gradually creep into play. The fielding side will stop chasing the ball as it speeds across the outfield but will lazily stroll after it with pretension. Players in the outfield usually stoop on their haunches, on high alert, anxiously awaiting the red cherry to come their way; but as the prospect of defeat looms closer the same players can be seen standing erect, arms crossed, pursing their lips in disdain. On the flip side, the behaviour of the side that is batting is equally despondent. Batsmen tend to pad away balls defensively, concentrating on "spending time in the middle" rather than giving the spectators a memorable glimpse of their batting prowess. Pakistani cricketers are no strangers to this sort of behaviour but do not realize how their actions adversely affect their beloved fans. When our cricket team seems to be heading towards unavoidable defeat, Pakistani cricket fans can be seen throwing their hands in the air dejectedly, the energy slowly draining from their bodies, despite the fact that the match has yet to be concluded.
Where it is understandable that the prospect of defeat is depressing and affects your body language subconsciously, there should always be a conscious effort to give your best no matter the circumstances. There is an art to losing gracefully, to give it your all and go down fighting. What most sportsmen still do not realize is their efforts have a visible and tangible impact on the spectators of the sport. The audience in the bleachers can tell if their cricket heroes are giving their 100%; hence, even in the face of certain defeat, as long as their idols have not given up in the middle they would cheer them on regardless of the match's outcome. For at the end of the day it is not about the numbers on the scoreboard but it is about the game being played in the middle. Millions of passionate fans nationwide do not tune in to see what rank their team achieved in the current ratings, but they tune into watch their sporting idols blaze sixes out of the ground and watch them bowl yorkers that send the bails flying Winning or losing is the inevitable outcome of any contest, but either the case, cricket junoonis should always cheer the exhibition of sporting ability rather than place emphasis on the end result.
This is especially important in the current sporting climate, with the world's apex cricketing tournament just on the horizon. For it is at the highest level of the game, where we the diehard fans, have our emotions fully vested in the success or failure of our national sporting outfit.
This time around it should be demonstrated to the world that we cricket junoonis want above all that our boys perform to the best of their ability, that our junoon is fuelled by a passion for the game not affected by the outcome of our cricket matches, that junoonis across the nation have one demand and one demand only; that our boys wow us with the creativity and flair that they are celebrated worldwide for. If they lose, let us not curse them nor wish them misfortune but let us applaud the fact that they played to their hearts content and put on a good show.
Who knows, they might surprise us all and win us the Cup, a result which will probably be agreeable to all.