What would wonder what Michael Jackson would have done to influence the game of cricket? But he has, touching many a cricketer’s heart and those of cricket fans as well.
It is not every day that cricket becomes a back page news item in India, especially when it begins its tour to the West Indies for the first ODI in Sabina Park, Jamaica.
Music lovers, including cricketers, woke up to the news that Jackson had passed away for reasons not yet confirmed. And while for most who grew up on his pop music were left stunned, there were a few cricketers who would have been deeply saddened by the news as well.
It was not just the depression in the Arabian Sea. Perhaps even the rain Gods that refused to relent despite the please decide a downpour was in order upon hearing the sad news. Michael Jackson can perhaps argue that he alone could have rivaled the demand for tickets normally seen for a cricket match in cricket fanatic India. His concerts had that kind of effect.
Just how much Michael Jackson had influenced cricket could be heard from his hits from the eighties belted out as batsmen walked out to the crease with their favourite song playing in the background as recently as in the ICC World Twenty20 in England. His effervescent “Thriller” and “Bad” being amongst his popular, not to be forgotten were his “Man in the Mirror”, “We are the World” campaign against hunger, and “Billie Jean”.
seen with Guns N Roses Slash during a “Black or White” performance
But it was not only Jackson’s music that influenced the cricketers who are often seen walking around with the ipods firmly attached to their ears. His dancing has inspired many a left footed man to try his hand at Jackson’s own moonwalking. The latest and perhaps the better fleet footed cricketer has been India’s own Sreesanth who can always contemplate an alternative career in dancing and the movies.
While some found his pelvic gyrations too much to handle, to others, his lyrics came across as a desperate cry for help from a boy who never found his childhood in the midst of fame and money. But a global icon, perhaps Sachin Tendulkar, even with all his glory, would be inhibited to achieve the same fame the world over not because he lacks in talent but simply because cricket has not been able to cross bridges across nations as effectively as Jackson as done as is evident from the worldwide mourning since the news first broke. The man who confessed to being a rather lonely man does not have the opportunity to even fathom just how much he was admired, perhaps more so in death than in life.
If indeed his death is attributed to prescription drug overdose that caused the cardiac arrest, it will be the second publicized shocking incident amongst celebrities in recent times, the other being actor Heath Ledger.
with Quincy Jones at the Grammy Awards in 1984
For the vast majority, the legion of cricket fans were also admirers of the man’s music, perhaps more than the man himself. For the man who gave a generation and more its identity, he died plausibly trying to find his own. Perhaps for the burgeoning IPL honchos or even the ICC, it is a timely indicator that all the money in the world cannot buy you love…