The much anticipated and much hyped ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 has been finally concluded. India suffered a thumping defeat against the mighty Australian team thanks to Travis Head’s brilliant display of attacking batting and his partnership with Marnus Labuschagne. India’s defeat comes after months of hype and followed by weeks of brilliance by the Indian cricket team on the tournament which made Indian fans believe they are guaranteed the World Cup. It was India’s only loss at the tournament but unfortunately for India, it has come at the final leading to Australia’s record extending 6th World Cup win in 8 final appearances.
After the loss, an online mob of Indian fans flocked Travis Head and his wife’s Instagram profiles with obscene and abusive comments. There was a mixture of rape threats, death threats, name calling, abuse among other despicable comments. Even the 1-year old baby was not spared by the mob some of whom were in the anonymous/fake IDs.
The mob even targeted Glenn Maxwell and his wife Vini Raman prompting them with a response to these comments and messages.
In the Narendra Modi stadium too where the World Cup final was held, there were boos and unruly sloganeering during the presentation ceremony. Even umpires where booed in addition to the Aussie cricketers. Quite ridiculously, the online mob even attacked Jimmy Neesham, a New Zealand cricketer who responded with a witty reply that the trolls don’t even know the difference between Australia and New Zealand.
Cricket has always been a religion in India. Even in past instances of India’s defeat in World Cups and other major tournaments, there were stoning of houses of cricketers and burning of effigies. But now, opponent teams and the women & children in their families are getting attacked, threatened, and abused. It even goes to babies and children. It happened to one of India’s biggest cricketing icon, Mahendra Singh Dhoni too. In 2020, rape threats were made against his daughter.
Winning and losing is part of parcel of the game. As a nation, we have to learn to take defeat of our favorite team, be it India or any of the IPL franchises, that we support and are passionate about. After all, it is just a sport. But unfortunately, these feelings are being fostered and fed constantly by some elements. Even in this World Cup, there were religious slogans raised against Pakistani cricketers and religious songs were played during over breaks and innings breaks. This happened in the same Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, where the final took place which had its own fair share of unruliness as mentioned earlier.
With cricket already considered as a religion by millions, now politics and actual religion are mixed into the game as well. All these are not healthy signs for the sport as well as the image of the nation in the international arena.