Crowd Behaviour: Inspiring and Intimidating

raam shankerContributor IOctober 12, 2008

My latest rant comes in the wake of England fans booing Ashley Cole at Wembley on Saturday. I am forced to write about crowd behaviours that I have come across in the past.
Personally, I don't give a toss when England play. I was a huge fan of England until the 2006 FIFA World Cup. I was not up for any more heartbreaks with a team of world-class players that wouldn't play as a world-class team. Coming back to the point, I did not see the England game.

This morning I read in the papers that England fans booed Ashley Cole after he bottled a pass and "Borat" scored the equaliser to make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan. Yes, I agree, fans pay to watch and if their team does not perform it is a gut-wrenching feeling.
First of all, because it is your national team and most importantly because you've paid a heavy price for the ticket (trust me ticket prices in England are stupidly high, that's why I don't watch games in the stadium).

However do any of these reasons justify your act of booing someone who is wearing your national colours and acting as an ambassador for your country and all it represents. Do you—as an England supporter—want to portray yourself as an irresponsible, inebriated imbecile, who will thwart and intimidate his national team so much that they're scared to play on home turf?

Certainly qualifies as intimidating.

Being an Indian, it is blasphemous not to follow cricket. As a teenager I used to follow the sport with a certain degree of interest. The highlight of it all was the 1996 Cricket World Cup where we made it to the semifinals. Yes the match that is the issue of debate here.

The game was played in Kolkata, which believe it or not, is the football capital of India. India won the toss and chose to field and had the Sri Lankans tattering with the early dismissals of Jayasurya and Kaluwitharana. Then came D'Silva, who guided the Lankans to a safe total.

When India came to bat, the wicket was turning big time and soon we were looking like a bunch of archaeologists, buried in ruins, when the first artefact landed on the field. A bottle thrown by an angry "football fan" who accidentally was watching a cricket match. This was followed by a few more missiles forcing the match referee to hand the game over to Sri Lanka, who went on to be World Champions.

Crowd behaviour—Appalling.

Of all cricket rivalries I've seen, India against Pakistan stands out for a lot of reasons that I'll not get into. In 1999 Pakistan were on a two test tour of India. The second test in Chennai was a closely fought one and Tendulkar took India to the point where we needed under 20 runs with 3-4 wickets in hand.

Needless to say we lost! However what I remember most about that game was around 50,000 cricket followers in Chennai, bonafide Indians giving Pakistan a standing ovation for a job well done! I've never come across such a response from an opposing crowd during any game!

Crowd behaviour—Exemplary!!!