Fans should give India hell

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Zaahier Adams says that India shouldnt be given an easy ride by local fans on of their shortened tour to South Africa. Photo by: Brandon Malone

Perhaps it has something to do with our past – both for the oppressor and the oppressed – that South Africa’s sports fan culture is a rather reserved one. Besides perhaps rugby’s citadels of Loftus Versfeld and Ellis Park, a trip to a South African sports field is almost a pleasure for visiting teams.

Even our football teams don’t create a hostile atmosphere like Orlando Pirates experienced in their recent African Champions League final in Cairo against Al Ahly. After chatting to a couple of Pirates players recently, they could not hide the “fear” they experienced just upon making their way to the stadium through the thousands of people that lined up outside the stadium ahead of the game.

I understand that cricket has always been the “gentleman’s game”, but watching the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, it once again vindicated my belief that we as South Africans are a little “soft” at “giving it” to the opposition from the barracks.

Now I am not calling for plain silly behaviour that a few idiots at Newlands were guilty of during the first T20 between the Proteas and Pakistan when they proceeded to drown a couple of celebrating Pakistani fans in beer, but rather for more vocal support from the grass embankments, especially when their team are down.

Why the sudden call for patriotism, you wonder? Well, India are here – finally after all the preceding tour squabbles – and they have come to South Africa to plunder and pillage.

India are THE superpower in world cricket. They boast the financial power that some emerging national governments can only dream of. And with the current supremos that sit at the executive table of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) well aware of it, they will continue to rule world cricket with the iron fist of Stalin.

But what does this have to do with the players? Nothing actually, if you are of the belief system that “as long as I benefit, I am not required to stand up for anybody else that is being oppressed”.

Indian players have for too long been silent on the way the BCCI administers the game. The BCCI may not be the International Cricket Council (ICC), but in the real world the Indian board has far greater influence.

Not even the untouchable Sachin Tendulkar ever expressed his personal views without fear of censure. Even when his role in a ball-tampering affair that ultimately led to a Test being stripped of its official status, due to the continued involvement of Scottish match referee Mike Denness in 2001, was there a steely silence from Tendulkar.

It was only recently that Anil Kumble, the former India captain, called on the BCCI to use its position as the dominant power in world cricket to “demonstrate leadership with responsibility” and to “wear power lightly” during a speech at the MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture – hosted by the BCCI – in Mumbai.

Although it was a careful critique of the Indian board’s often overbearing tactics, it gave hope that there might be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Perhaps when MS Dhoni joins the likes of Tendulkar, Kumble and Rahul Dravid in retirement can India begin to think of a Players Association that will facilitate a voice for its players.

Until then, though, India will be in South Africa with their new brash talents such as Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin wanting to further implement the BCCI’s stronghold on the field.

Without resorting to racist and offensive chants, South African fans at the Wanderers, Kingsmead and Centurion – the only three venues the BCCI approved for this tour – need to remind these new-money IPL babies that touring the Republic is not a leisurely safari, but actually a trip to the African jungle where only the bravest survive.


@GraemeSmith49: Tough and emotional last 10 days, time to get strong again. Hope everyone has a good week. – The Proteas Test captain speaks out on the loss of his grandmother.


@RossLTaylor: The former New Zealand captain has found some form with a century against the West Indies in Dunedin this week.

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