Deccan Chronicle

Relax! Tempers do rise in high stake games

Deccan Chronicle.| Bipin Dani

Published on: May 3, 2023 | Updated on: May 3, 2023
The recent on-field clash between senior cricketers Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir has once again turned the spotlight on issues like sportsmanship.

The recent on-field clash between senior cricketers Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir has once again turned the spotlight on issues like sportsmanship.

The heated exchange between Virat Kohli and Gambhir after the IPL match, presumably triggered by developments during the final phase of the encounter between their respective teams – RCB and LSG – ended with the entire match fees of both being docked.

Since the audio of the altercation is unavailable to the public, one can only speculate about the trigger for the argument. But what is more obvious is that the ‘power play’ that the IPL tournament is characterised by, pumps a heavy dose of adrenaline into the players. "Their tolerance thresholds might have been eroded due to the pressure of winning," believes sports psychologist Anusheela Brahmachary. 

"It cannot be denied that these matches involve high materialistic and achievement stakes which heavily impact the players’ careers. Under these circumstances, they may lose their calm more easily in comparison to other scenarios. In less stressful situations, maybe the players would have handled the tiff more appropriately," she says.

"The fact that they forgot that the whole world was watching them fight implies that they were not in their best reasonable frames of mind at that point of time and hence could not control their behaviour. Such loss of reason is a common phenomenon in a high stress situation. Players are people, after all!" she adds.

Former India cricketer Karsan Ghavri feels it was a spur-of-the-moment reaction. "Both are experienced players and have played together for the state and the national teams. I presume both are hot-tempered players, unlike MS Dhoni, who keeps his emotions in check. But such incidents keep happening not only in cricket but in other sports also," he points out.

My view is that the young players take the cue from seniors and this could have been avoided", he adds.   

Former First Class cricketer Nawabzada Saad bin Jung, says the nature of the IPL tournament is itself a causative factor. "The IPL is not a short format tournament but runs for over a month. The player has to continually motivate himself in order to stay on top of his game. And Virat has been playing the toughest of cricket, all over the world, for much more than a decade, day in and day out. Under such constraints, any oddities he may have bubble out unknowingly. But it is these oddities in his temperament and make him as good as he is."

Saad bin Jung feels a player of Virat’s calibre can be allowed his idiosyncrasies. "If that oddity is aggressiveness on the field, so be it. It makes him give his best and never affects his teammates adversely, they love it and I am all for it," he says.

Pointing out that today, cricket is no longer a gentleman’s game and is being played solely for the purpose of winning, at any and all cost, he says it is even acceptable for these tantrums to cross the boundaries of the field.

It’s easy to preach...

Former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh in his latest YouTube video said that the fight between Kohli and Gambhir is not good for cricket. "Virat, you are a big player, there is no need for you to get in a fight with anyone, what is the need for all this?" said Harbhajan Singh.

Just asking: What about his ugly spat with Sreeshant years ago? He slapped the poor player and reduced him to tears. An unpardonable act, but Harbhajan got away.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said there needs to be strict punishments to ensure that spats like this don’t take place. He said it was disappointing to see Gambhir and Kohli have a go at each other, crossing limits.

Not everyone is cool like Dhoni

Dhoni does not share the same traits as Virat. If he did and if every player had similar traits, cricket, and I dare say life itself, would be so predictable, so boring. Dhoni was always a cool customer. That is probably why he was a better finisher than Kohli but more often than not, he was finishing on a foundation built by Kohli. I absolutely adore both players and hold nothing against any of them for their individual behaviour and character," Saad bin Jung says.

Indian sports writer and columnist Ayaz Memon stresses that not all cricketers are as hot-headed as Kohli and Gambhir. "Both are very senior cricketers and the IPL matches are being watched by millions of people all over the world and young players get motivated. If such instances keep happening in the game, it will not set a good example," he warns. 

Ex players should stay out of commenting 

Retired cricketers find it so easy to criticise current players who are battling it out in the field. From Gavaskar to Harbhajan to Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag... they are so quick to make derogatory comments on current players. The commentator, many a times, forgets that when he played, he himself could never have accomplished what he is now finding fault with.

"Sadly commentators have started doing this regularly. In this instance, finding fault with Kohli for his attitude in itself is, in a way, lying to themselves. Many of these great players who commentate today have lost their temper and at times, even taken hasty decisions, allowing their temper to get the better of them. I believe they must look back on their own cricketing moments before finding fault with great cricketers of today, who by the way live under greater pressure than the players of yore by the sheer number of games they have to play year in and year out," concludes Saad Bin Jung.

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