Paan Singh Tomar, at least according to his eponymous biopic, became an athlete while in the army so he could eat his fill of, among other things, bananas — a privilege often denied to ordinary soldiers. On the face of it, the BCCI’s men’s cricket team has little in common with the subaltern athlete-turned-dacoit from the first decades of Independence. But the wealthy members of Team India have the same complaint: During India’s recent tour of England, they were denied nature’s pre-packaged potassium-rich bounty. At the Committee of Administrators (CoA) review, Virat Kohli complained about his team being denied their choice of fruit by the English Cricket Board.
While weighing the merits of the cricketers’ chagrin at being denied the bounty from herbaceous plants, the CoA must keep in mind the power of the fruit to foment rebellions. From the end of the 19th century for about 50 years, bananas were the focal point of anti-colonial movements across South America and the Caribbean. But almighty Uncle Sam would not be denied its share of bananas (or profits). The CoA reportedly laughed off the cricketers’ complaint, saying simply that “the players should have asked the team manager to buy bananas at the BCCI’s expense”.
The administrators must remember that food is a primordial concern. Does the Board want India’s fast-bowlers feeling empty, denied the comfort of their preferred form of fructose, as they charge towards their opponents? Clearly, a psychological war is afoot. What other reason could there be for denying a visiting team their little fruity pleasures? Finally, it was not so long ago that the young men of the cricket team were budding children, hungry for praise and hungry in general. And the BCCI was not the richest Board in the world. A free banana or two, after all, have been well earned.