And then I read his recent remarks in The Indian Express. Gavaskar admonishes cricket fans not to doubt the integrity of people tasked to investigate the actions and activities of Gurunath Myeppan, the son in law of BCCI president N Srinivasan who has taken the stubborn brazenness of a limpet to new heights. Inundated by angry media reports about the “conspiracy of silence” revolving the sordid IPL scam, I was already losing faith in the divine powers of Gavaskar. I mean, how could this brave hero who has fought so long and hard for the dignity and pride of Indian cricket remain a mute spectator when Indian cricket was being gang raped? Even worse, how could he say even one word that looks supportive of the BCCI? Like a lover scorned and spurned in the throes of unrequited passion, I raved and ranted against the perfidy of Gavaskar and his betrayal of Indian cricket fans. In a manner redolent of Biblical wrath, I cursed him for selling his soul for thirty pieces of silver. I was heartbroken because he proved to be no better than Ravi Shastri, the man who evokes a visceral dislike in almost all cricket fans. I could understand Rajiv Shukla, Arun Jaitley and Farooq Abdullah betraying Indian cricket because of vested interests. After all, it is an article of middle class faith that politicians as a class of heartless fixers who betray Mother India at the drop of a cricket bat. But a middle class icon like Gavaskar? That was betrayal with a capital B. Apocalypse Now suddenly became Apocalypse Right Now. Suddenly, for the enraged middle class maudlin in me, Gavaskar had “descended” to the level of Lalu Yadav and Mayawati who reveled in corruption of the hitherto downtrodden because the oppressors had oppressed them once upon a time.
And then the penny dropped courtesy my spouse. In polite company, she accepts the fiction that she is a cricket fan with a straight bat. In reality, she thinks Long Leg is Deepika Padukone; Short Leg is Rakhi Sawant and Silly Mid On is Mallika Sherawat. But the blissfully ignorant can be brutally honest, and often right. She asked me to get down my middle class high horse and give a honest answer to this simple question before condemning Sunil Gavaskar with hell fire, brimstone and a leading role in Bharat Nirman ads: Would I come out all guns blazing against my paymaster if I were getting Rs 3.6 crores a year and a chance to shake a leg at after match parties where nubile nymphets were single and ready to jingle? I cast aside my middle class cloak of respectability for once and jumped into the boiling cauldron of honesty. The answer my friends, was revealing: I would have done exactly what Gavaskar is doing for far less. Once I came to this numbing and humbling conclusion, the crazy and schizophrenic media coverage of the IPL scam became less of a puzzle. After all, our media caters to and reflects so called middle class values. So you had a situation where TV news channels lambasted the likes of Gavaskar for their “greed and pusillanimous” behaviour even as they did half hour per match “sponsored” sneak previews of the IPL final. So classically middle class India: savage the corrupt ruling class and quietly pocket the bribe. I suddenly recalled the hysteria around the Anna Hazare agitation of 2011 when it looked as if the media and middle class India had finally revolted against the corrupt and unethical ruling establishment. The problem is a lot of these middle class warriors blithely broke red lights after shouting slogans at India Gate and reflexively offered a bribe to the traffic cop. And then I thought a little more about the “Conspiracy of silence” of BCCI officials and stakeholders in the aftermath of the IPL scam. I jogged my memory a bit and went back to the winter of 2010 when the Nira Radia tapes were leaked. Then, the “middle class” media was even more deafeningly silent about the dubious activities of their peers! So I forgive you Gavaskar for you are merely doing what we middle class folks routinely do. But I still have a problem: how can you tolerate Ravi Shastri?