Spirit of cricket won when Guwahati fans apologised to Australian team
One gesture can go a long way in mending frazzled ties.
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On September 10, India lost to Australia in the second match of the ongoing T20 series. It was a crushing eight-wicket defeat, levelling the three-match series 1-1. However, worse was to follow.
As the Australian team was making its way back to the hotel, a stone was hurled at its bus, smashing a window pane. It was purely a stroke of luck that no player was sitting beside the window, and no one was injured by the stone which fell inside the bus.
Pretty scary having a rock thrown through the team bus window on the way back to the hotel!! pic.twitter.com/LBBrksaDXI— Aaron Finch (@AaronFinch5) October 10, 2017
While the Indian administration responded immediately, condemning the incident and launching a probe, it still left a bad taste in the mouth of players and fans.
The incident seemed to be one more of the kind that has become distressingly common - varying in magnitude and expression, but born out of the same impulsive readiness for violence and the inability to swallow defeat and differences.
However, on October 11, Guwahati cricket fans responded in an exemplary and heartwarming manner. As the Australian team prepared to leave the city, hundreds of fans gathered outside their hotel, carrying posters and placards with apologies to the team.
The visitors were quick and gracious in accepting the apology, with Australian players and team staff taking to Twitter to appreciate the fans' gesture.
Whilst the bus home last night wasn’t ideal, the support from fans & children across Assam today in response was kind. Cheers 2 good vibes???— Moises Henriques (@Mozzie21) October 11, 2017
The stone-hurling might have been the job of one disappointed, bitter viewer. Some reports have also suggested that the Australian team bus might not have been the intended target at all.
India lost the match with eight wickets, leveling the series 1-1. Photo: PTI
But in these times of indiscriminate hate and ill-will, every incident takes on a sinister hue. This was not the first time that the Australians were targeted recently - in September, a stone was thrown at their bus in Bangladesh.
The matter could have escalated. Indeed, after the incident, an understandably spooked Adam Zampa, the Aussie leg spinner, said in a video: "The Indian fans are so great to us, which is one of the reasons why it's so hard to travel here. They're so loud, they love cricket and they're so passionate about it. Guwahati doesn't get much cricket as it is, so for one person to do that and to spoil it for the rest of the Indian fans, it's pretty disappointing."
There was also the chance of Guwahati not getting to host many international matches in the future. Tuesday's T20 had been the first international cricket match in the city since 2007, the first in the newly constructed Barsapara stadium.
However, the Guwahati fans have shown that love can always trump hate, and one gesture can go a long way in mending frazzled ties. While the government's response was prompt and adequate - both Assam CM Sarbananda Singh Sonowal and sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore were quick to condemn the incident and the police made two arrests - that is their job, and expected from them.
Really unfortunate incident after a great game aimed to tarnish Guwahati's reputation as emerging sports hub. We strongly condemn it. (1/8)— Sarbananda Sonowal (@sarbanandsonwal) October 11, 2017
It was the fans' gesture that was heartwarming, and truly helped in removing the sting from an unfortunate episode. India's craze for cricket is well-known, and the stone-throwing reflected poorly on a nation of passionate fans. However, the Guwahati fans' gesture has to a measure undone the damage.
The fans' effort and the Australian team's gracious response is a great example of how ugly situations can be diffused with love and forgiveness.
Cheers to the Guwahati fans, cheers to the Australian team, and cheers to the spirit of cricket.