Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cricket - An Outsider's perspective

      Unless you ve been living under a rock or in the Antarctic, you know that Cricket is a sport and not just an insect that makes annoying sounds. I am Indian so there is no way for me to be impervious to the influence of Cricket. Peers discuss it, Commuters on buses enquire about the batting line up, auto drivers criticize the selectors, milk men summarise the pitch report, shop keepers place bets - yes, Cricket is a national obsession.


      Our house was not a place where this obsession took hold. I was aware of Cricket and enjoyed it occasionally but was more into other things. In our Quiz team, questions about Science, Mythology and Pop culture were more my forte while all questions about Cricket and other sports were my quizzing partner's responsibility. The only reason we were any good at quizzing was because my partner took care of the obvious lacunae in my knowledge ( I ve never thanked you enough for that, Dheeraj Prasanth )

      In College, the whole mood changed when a cricket match was on. Observing the faces of my friends on these occasions was fascinating. Their faces were so naked with emotion; the people who usually exhibited less emotion on their face than a Parkinson's patient suddenly became animated and transparent, the atmosphere in the TV room reflected the state of the match - shouts of jubilation when Sachin scored a boundary, profanities muttered vehemently when a catch was dropped, looks of homicidal intent when the power was cut during the match, a chillingly eerie silence during the tense final moments of a particularly thrilling match which preceded either a celebratory roar or a muted shuffling out of the hostel TV room depending on the result.

     I was an interested onlooker but not a passionate participant. I never understood what drove normally sane and self possessed individuals to exhibit their rambunctious side. George Bernard Shaw is said to have famously remarked that Cricket was a game which involved 22 fools playing and 22,000 fools watching. I wouldn t have put it quite that bluntly but I felt he was not very far off the mark. That was until I watched a match with my friends.


      I don t quite remember the particulars of the match, but by the end of it, my voice was hoarse from shouting and I truly felt jazzed up. The body slams, the jumping up and down with barely contained excitement, the boisterous howling - By partaking in these and other similar seemingly inane but thoroughly fun rituals, I was initiated into the tribe of Cricket lovers. I am still not a Cricket fanatic but ( as the song goes ), now I 'm a believer.

      Watching Cricket together made me aware of things about my friends that were unknown to me; the superstitious nature of one friend who kept changing chairs till the batsman scored a boundary, the incredible memory of a friend who recited statistics of players like a nursery rhyme, the hidden strategist in another friend when he detailed where he would place fielders on the ground and why.

     The most humbling aspect of it all was how patient they were with me when I asked the stupidest questions; ( I have been short with any number of people when they ve asked me stupid questions ). I understood for the first time why Cricket appeals to everyone. Playing and watching Cricket together promotes a sense of camaraderie; it provides a space in which athleticism, leadership, team spirit and strategic thinking can thrive. It is an arena where skill is matched against skill and differences are blurred. It is loads of fun too.


    The gentleman's game may be a patrician sport in England but in India it transcends economic and social strata. The Cinderella stories that abound in the Indian cricketing world are a source of hope and inspiration for many Indians. In the end, I think that Cricket is a unifying factor, a sport that galvanizes people, a sport that gives people a reason to take pride in their country and is one of the few bright spots on the gloomy Indian horizon today.
    

4 comments:

  1. What!!!!!!! Just one article this week

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  2. when did this rechristening happened?
    never got the outsider view when i was watching cricket but this observation is good it is how i feel when i am watching it
    Gorge bernard shaw is form Ireland so he knowws nothing about cricket

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  3. '...a source of hope and inspiration for many Indians'...very true! :) Anyways, your knowledge at Quizzes has been very exclusive (if we leave out the quizmaster :) ) and so very significant! Thank you :) ...Great to read this just after watching the Aus- NZ test match this morning!...Cricket is life! :)

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  4. I never thought you would write anything about Cricket. :)

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