Footballer Antoine Griezmann, who claimed the Golden Boot in the Euro Cup last year, not only stunned everyone with his skills but also caught everyone’s attention with his trademark style of celebrations. He would stick out his thumb and little finger on both hands to form a pair of rotating telephones inspired from Drake’s music video Hotline Bling. His teammate Paul Pogba, the Manchester United star has already popularised the dab dance. Then there is Gareth Bale’s ‘heart’ celebrations and his Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘Siii’ celebrations where the latter leaps into the air, spins 180 degrees and flings his arms out by his sides.
While footballers have always been known for their unique style of celebrations, cricketers are not far behind, spearheaded by the West Indies players, whose flamboyant cricket is usually flanked by their Caribbean-style revelry. When West Indies won their first World T20 title in 2012, they celebrated by performing the Gangnam Style. Four years later, when the repeated the feat, the team was dancing to a new number Champion, sung by Dwayne Bravo. With Darren Sammy putting a pacifier around his neck, and sucked on it every time he send a batsman packing, their female counterparts doing the Conga line, to a recent incident of a self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle doing a ‘Salt Bae’ after becoming the first player ever to register 10,000 runs in the shortest format of the game, WI players have done it time and again. Indian players seem to be following suit with many coming up with their own style of celebrating moments.
For example, Shikhar Dhawan, who is in sublime form in the Champions Trophy, patted his thigh after scoring century against Sri Lanka. He does the same after taking catches. Nicknamed Gabbar, the bastman seemed to have ditched his signature moustache-twirling style.
Ravindra Jadeja, who became a father recently, is not far behind. In the last test series with Australia, the allrounder did a sword-style celebration making sure that the opponents consider his bat as a lethal weapon. The new kid on the block, Hardik Pandya jumps in a way that reminds of Brett Lee’s sideway jump that only meant one thing — the bastman is going back to the pavilion.
“The times have changed. Today, everything spreads on social media so fast,” says former cricketer Atul Wassan. He adds, “There are many things influencing the youngsters and they don’t really shy away from expressing their joy. Hashim Alma hardly even raises his bat!”
The cricketers today are not just known for their performances and which actress they might be dating, they are known for being fashion icons. From ‘breaking the beard’ to owning fashion lines, they influence the youth more than one way. Does the celebration add to the persona? Former captain of the Indian women’s cricket team Anjum Chopra agrees. She says, “It’s not just that the youngsters are doing it. Even Shoaib Akhtar used to do his ‘airplane’ celebration. But quite certainly it adds to the persona. Gestures are an extension of the personality. While some may not have one style to mark the moments, someone like David Warner jumps after every century and that’s his trademark style. Earlier people used to watch commentary on radio, now five different channels screen the matches. The audience has magnified and youngsters try to emulate everything about his or her role models.”
These celebrations are not like Sourav Ganguly’s once in a lifetime waving of the tee-shirt or not as mundane as Sachin Tendulkar looking at the sky to thank God and his father. However, all the experts believe that these celebrations are not pre-meditated but are spur-of-the-moment. Commentator Gautam Bhimani first credits the West Indians for bringing this swag to cricket and says, “In 2012, WI team did the Gangnam Style and in 2013, when India won the Champions Trophy, Virat did the same thing. While the WI team has remained unified by its characteristic styles, in India individuals like Dhawan and Jadeja are showing their own style.” He adds, “Sword or the moustache thing, if repeated becomes a fashion but the first time it must have happened as knee-jerk reaction. Once I asked Imran Tahir about his style of running like a mad man after taking a wicket and he was like ‘What celebrations?’ Once I reminded him, he said ‘Oh! That just happens’.” The trend is rubbing from one player to another and Bhimani feels the cricketers who are next in line are watching this closely. “Some young players are bindaas and do look forward to doing something unique. Rishabh Pant, who is seen as the future, is already making headlines for his hairdo and all, I am sure he will be thinking of how he can celebrate a century for India. Or a unique wicket-keeping celebration style which is something MS Dhoni have never done.”...