In the ever-competitive world of cricket, winning has now become the most important thing, nullifying all the other elements that once made us believe it was indeed a gentleman's game. It doesn't matter how you win or what you do to come out on top, all that we, sadly, care for today is trophies, rankings and records galore.
Similarly, Indian cricket, too, has witnessed a major overhaul over the years. The technical perfection and humility of Rahul Dravid or the sheer politeness of Sachin Tendulkar are now a thing of the past as the MS Dhoni era focused on athleticism, run-making and electric fielding displays. But, while all those things seemed like the need of the hour in the ever-changing arena of international cricket, what followed later has surely washed away everything we once knew about the game.
Under the tutelage of Virat Kohli, Indian cricket team might have scaled new heights across formats, but there has been a terrifying change in their approach towards the game. From flipping a bird to the crowd in stands, engaging in verbal volleys to even allegedly getting rid of their coach, Kohli has shown a whole new side of the sport that earlier took a backseat, at least in Indian cricket. While some had their concerns with the new culture in Team India, not many cared owing to the massive success of Kohli and his team.
Unfortunately, the patience of Indian cricket fans reached its saturation point when Hardik Pandya, a youngster who's still looking to make his mark, resonated the questionable devil-may-care attitude - incorporated by Team India - in his tone-deaf remarks about women on a popular chat show. From branding women like trophies to shamefully boasting of his 'conquests', Pandya was blatantly misogynistic and sexist, needless to say irresponsible, in his remarks about the other *** on national television.
But, he wasn't done yet. If his boorish behaviour on the chat show left the viewers shell-shocked, Pandya's mockery of an apology which lacked remorse and ownership of his actions further infuriated the cricket fans. The 25-year-old claimed: "I got a bit carried away with the nature of the show". Like, seriously, Mr Hard (as he likes to call himself)?
If the nature of a show can allow sportspersons or celebrities - looked upon as a source of inspiration and motivation by many - to get carried away to an extent where they lose their grip on the sense of responsibility, the wiser call would be, to opt out of such shows. But, even if the chat show had such a nature (as claimed by Pandya), the Baroda cricketer could or should have stayed true to the ethics and conduct of everything that Indian cricket represents and stands for.
Rahul Dravid - The Bakra "harassment" episode. No stains on The Wall.ð pic.twitter.com/qKFHpf2aA2— Vinay (@SemperFiUtd) October 14, 2018
The biggest example is Dravid who once appeared on a popular prank show and still came out as the gentleman we have come to cherish over the years. Appearing on MTV Bakra, the age when the channel had one too many Cyrus', Dravid was tested to his limits amid an annoying environment, aimed at extracting a fiery response from a generally calm and composed cricketer. But, 'The Wall' showcased immense patience that was often reflected in his tireless innings for India.
Now, when you compare Dravid's situation with Pandya's, anyone with a sane mind would agree that the former, in accordance to the format of the show, was forced to endure a more severe and testing environment than the latter. But, unlike Pandya, Dravid neither got carried away, nor he lost his sense of responsibility. The former Indian cricketer could have easily blasted the woman (in the video) with expletives or harsh words, but he handled it like a true gentleman.
Pandya was sitting comfortably, with all his bling, on a couch with his teammate. Even if the host was provoking him with controversial questions, the Indian cricketer could have, a choice he clearly had at that time, dodged it or answered differently. But, objectifying women and, boasting of 'conquests' and possessions like a Desperado on national TV was definitely not how we expect our sportspersons to act.
Back in 2016, during India A's tour of Australia, Pandya was all praise for Dravid, claiming: "For me, everything changed after my tour of Australia with the India A team. It is a tour that transformed me as a cricketer. I can't but thank Rahul Dravid enough for his contribution. I understood that there is a mental aspect about the game that needs to be worked upon. He (Dravid) made me mentally stronger”.
For a man who once claimed that he learned the mental aspect of the game from one of the greats, Pandya, now, needs to learn and instil the mentality of a sportsperson from Dravid. It's one thing to mould yourself with time to continuously grow and compete at the highest level, but, if not anything else, Pandya and the current crop of Indian cricketers can surely learn how to behave and act responsibly from the former greats like Dravid.