“To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job.”
Anushka Sharma could rightfully argue she was doing that job diligently when somebody’s mobile camera caught her bowling to Virat Kohli. Sunil Gavaskar could say she was not good enough as bowlers far superior will be bowling to her husband in the Indian Premier League. But that conversation has not happened and is unlikely to happen. Anushka is such a high star in the galaxy called Indian cricket that even the first man to score 10,000 Test runs cannot say a word about her, even jokingly, let alone have a serious conversation on the game.
It is not known if Gavaskar holds a grudge against Kohli. On the contrary, former cricketers are regarded as father figures for the current crop all over the world, even in places like England where the ex-players do not spare criticism. But patriarch Gavaskar should have known daughter-in-laws are a different proposition. To question their abilities is sexist, especially when the lady in question is playing India’s fastest ever woman pacer Jhulan Goswami on screen. Perhaps the old man failed to realise that in the age of social media and the Bollywood-BCCI combo called IPL, reel matters more than the real. He should have understood that if Farrokh Engineer’s opinion on selectors matter less than Anushka’s, Gavaskar can easily share the fate of Manjrekar — the gulf in Test runs, language and analytical power notwithstanding.
As some have pointed out on social media, the legend must have become senile. Otherwise he would have understood cricket is strictly a man’s game; you should not drag women into it. Reason the Board has repeatedly reneged on the promise of holding women’s IPL, and the fiery feminist first lady has not said a word. One should be clear about division of work — called sanskar in our part of the world — between the husband and the wife. Hubby will rule on the field; wifey will clap, look good, share the plaudits, be associated with a film on a cricketer. She shall not contribute to the game or be seen trying to contribute. She will bring out feminism only when offended.
Feminism is convenient for men when it is used only to express personal dislike. That is why millions of men (and women) are tweeting relentlessly in favour of Anushka, but hardly anybody asks when Indian women’s team will play international cricket again. Kohli & Co’s WAGs are 24×7 news but women cricketers have to reach a World Cup final or have discontent within the team to become front page news.
Going by the trends (not just hashtags), Gavaskar could lose his commentary contract, reams shall be written on how wrong he was or how he could have avoided such a remark but journalists shall keep asking female cricketers who their favourite male cricketer is. Wonder how Mithali Raj is looking at this Anushka versus Gavaskar non-debate.
P.S. The opening quote is from The Second Sex, written by Simone de Beauvoir, arguably the greatest feminist of twentieth century. See what not understanding context does?