18 June, 2021

The Rage Of Passion

Tribalism in sports is not unusual, and the one-day format serves to intensify it

The Rage Of Passion

I looked out from the dark pillbox which goes as a television commentary box at Eden Gardens and saw the disappointment rise in the crowd as India stumbled on the march to the World Cup final. Match abandoned: Sri Lanka win.

We know how crowd behaviour at a sporting event can turn into blanket tribalism and we each have our own memories. During the 1996 World Cup I have been carrying my diary of 1973, an account of the days when I led England in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Recollections might be interesting—that was my original thought—but until the game at Calcutta I had not been drawn to quote from them.

India beat England in Calcutta on January 4, 1973. "We heard youths screaming as they were pressed against the scaffolding by a crazy crowd. The police started to whack the front row with their lath is as if it was possible for those at the front to move back. A young man's head was cut open...and this incited greater hostility. The crowd was now mad and started to throw anything at the police they could lay their...

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