Saturday, December 4, 2010

The religion that cricket is.....

Having had my childhood in the 1990s, I belong a particular special generation of Indians who know what it means to stay awake in the post midnight hours to watch the results of an India Pakistan one-day match in Canada!! I distinctly remember those years when we used to wait for these specific yearly cricketing events like Sharjah or the Sahara Cup in Toronto to watch India establish its supremacy over the archrivals. This was all just a decade ago but it seems like that era has passed when cricket was followed religiously by people like us for the sheer magnificence of the sport. And when I say magnificence, I mean the feeling and passion that you get from watching an Azharuddin leg glance, a Rahul Dravid square cut, a Sachin Tendulkar straight drive, a VVS Laxman on drive and above all a Sourav “Dada” Ganguly’s cover drive that earned him the tag “the god of the off-side”... This is just the Indian version of the fabulous game that I am talking about. The global scene has a longer list of tremendous exhibition of talent that is just impossible to list. But in any case, like 90% of the Indians, I am a fan of cricket but an aficionado when it comes to Indian cricket....
There are people who fail to understand what is so peculiar about this sport that it’s the most widely followed “religion” in India and as a friend of mine often says, it is probably the only sport where people get to stand in the field doing nothing or sit on the pavilion just watching for the most part of the game!!!! If you talk with logic and reasoning, there seems to be a point there. After all, compared to so many other sports like football, athletics or tennis, the stamina involved is much lower... But then, the charisma in this sport lies not in the game itself but the perception. Let me be a bit clearer. This game brings out the patriotism hidden inside every Indian and those who remember the night of the Indian win in the 2001 series against Aussies at home turf or the famous Natwest final, or the ICC championship (formerly called mini-world cup) will know what I’m talking about. Just to think of those moments gives an exhilarating feeling that only a true Indian cricketing fan can understand.
It’s a sad state of affairs that the very concept of patriotism that used to define the Indian cricket is fading with the concept of IPL coming in. Not that I do not follow IPL (as I said, I’m a cricketing fan and any version of the game is appreciated!) but the speed with which test cricket is losing its charm among the “aam aadmi” is a bit worrisome. I don’t know how many people will agree with me but cricket in its purest form is losing its meaning. The sport has become a business... It hurts when you have to support one of the teams in a KKR vs. MI match.. Come on! I was the biggest admirer of the opening partnership of Dada and the little master. They are meant to play in the same team. Anything other than that seems absurd to me. If I choose to support MI for the master, how can I cheer when Sanath Jayasuriya takes a catch off Shaun Pollock to dismiss Sourav Ganguly.. What a fix a true Indian fan is in!!!
That apart, it feels good to see that there is still that generation of people that I grew up with, who watch cricket for what it was a decade ago. This post was inspired by a morning call with my bro, my oldest pal when it comes to discussing cricket, where he reminded me of the Ashes series that still remains one of the most popular yearly events despite all the 20-20 buzz that has been gaining momentum consistently! There is still a bunch of cricketing buffs at my workplace where everyone gathers in front of the common TV area to watch VVS save a test match for India and to wait for Sachin to hit his 50th ton! It is moments like these that remind you of those days when you used to get up at 4 in the morning to watch a test match in Perth from the moment the coin is flipped in the air and this is when waking up in the morning is the most hated thing for a night person like me...
As busy as life has become giving you hardly any time to focus on anything other than the job at hand, cricket still remains the only distraction that can bring 100 odd people on a JP Morgan floor at a peak hour to leave their work to applaud for an Indian test match victory!!! Proud to be an Indian cricket fan.....


  1. Nice post Suree! :) I suppose the point is largely that T20 watchers belong to the category of people who seek "entertainment". The shortest version offers it alongside cinemas, music, reality TV etc, only better because it is live high-voltage entertainment as nail-biting as a thriller if not more! :D

    Test cricket is more about appreciating the nuances of everything about the game, yourself, the conditions, the limitations of the human body and mind etc. Which is why it is called "test" cricket I reckon. I often equate test cricket with life. Perhaps I will soon write a post on the analogy :)

    Have fun!

  2. Vs Aus at Eden Gardens Calcutta in 2001
    from a deficit of 274 to a victory by 171, Laxman, Dravid and Harbhajan, remember every moment of that match

    Vs Pakistan at Multan in 2004
    1st win in Pakistan, Sehwags 309 and Sachin being called off on 194 by Rahul Dravid...

    The friend of your's who believes cricket is less athletic as compared to other sports, tell him to play a test match, I am sure his opinion will change... :)

    Very well written post, brought back all those cricketing memories, thnk you for reminding those golden test days... :)

  3. The least I can do for fellow cricket fanatics who make this sport what it really is :)