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May 6, 2000

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Guilty until proven innocent

Abhilasha Khaitan

That's not the way the law deemed it, but that's what unfolds around us. The headlines scream out, as they're wont to. And as all long as the verdict is not passed, the media sits pretty.

What does a cricket fan say? What does a sportsman say? What can they say, save "Enough, already".

One doesn't know whether the headlines lie, but the sources they quote don't inspire too much confidence. How can a man, for so long removed from the centre of events and so obviously frustrated by matters beyond his control, evoke any belief in anyone? Especially when he points a finger at someone whose commitment and devotion to the nation and the sport cannot be denied.

But then you'd say, did you doubt Cronje's for even a moment?

That would be my cue to shut up. Silence me, if you will, but shake my belief you won't. There are circumstances that may not be explicable, but to find yourself moulding to any opinion, thought or accusation doesn't speak too highly of your confidence in your own judgement, does it?

Do you believe in Kapil's innocence? You do? Say it out loud.

So, you and I may be proven wrong. There is always a finite possibility of even God succumbing to temptation. But, would you stop believing in him. I think not.

Over-reacting a tad, maybe, but frankly, this frustrates me. This entire hullabaloo gets my goat so bad, I want to scream out loud. Feel free to join me. I love the game, dammit, and I have my heroes. And, suddenly, theyíre insinuating that these have feet of clay. How does one react to this?

Numb for a bit. Upset. Terribly hurt. A feeling of betrayal, and mostly, denial.

Hey, do remember that I may be speaking for huge numbers here, because one must not forget that we're not talking about just a sport, are we? We're talking about a national passion, which overtakes just about any other. Not restricted to the slum or chawl dweller, this game inspires the Malabar Hill resident to quit work early for the day. No oneís going to miss Sachinís batting in a hurry.

For a love that is so universal, this wave of discontent can be lethal. Will it kill the love? Or just temper it?

Images of the World Cup, 1983 keep coming back to me. The man who gave Indian cricket its most glorious summer is being accused of a crime, which he believes deserves nothing less than a death sentence. His own words.

For a man for whom winning is a religion, the thought of playing to lose may be sacrilegious even. From bouquets to brickbats, that's the way the story flows.

Once upon a time, there was a game called cricket. It prospered and grew, and gave birth to a lot of princes. We all saluted the princes. But, it turns out, some princes were really not princes.

A wizard called Un-Fixer was hired to separate the princes from the phonies. However, his accomplice, Malice brew an evil potion, the smoke from which was intended to spread across the country, and create ill-will and confusion. The idea was to make it difficult to tell one from the other.

The potion is brewing. The smoke emanates. There is a lid, which can be put on the pot. Itíll take a brave man to do the needful.

Calling some good men.

Abhilasha Khaitan

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