I am not an athlete. I am not sure if I could call myself a fanatic fan of anything but if there is one game that can make me appreciate sports from a comfy couch with a bowl of deep-fried whatever and a group of family and friends, it is cricket!
Being born in the Indian sub-continent, cricket was part of my staple diet. It is an essential part of growing up to know the difference between a spinner, medium pacer and a seamer. You just intuitively know why the middle-order batsmen have to be the dependable types, you just know that the umpire was making a mistake when he said that was a LBW! Come on, clearly it was not! And so on, and so forth, you get the drift…. No, I cannot explain LBW – please refer to wiki here.
The entire sub-continent waits with bated breath when arch-rivals India and Pakistan meet on the field. Forget wars, this is where it is decided -an entire nation’s pride. But it is not always mean, there is also lots of love – many an Indian girl carried her secret love for a Pakistani bowler in my youth. The Lankans are so passionate that they would rather watch cricket than eat. Then we have the traditional need to prove ourselves against the English, the wary respect for the West Indies, the fear of the South African fielders and the brash playing of the Aussies. And, then there were the other teams like the Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the Kiwis. They were not that strong when I was growing up– these teams probably play great cricket too, it is just that I did not get to see it that often in the 80s and 90s.
When I was at college in the early 90s, we would all watch cricket in our common room – yes, just like in Harry Potter. There was no fireplace but a TV that showed World Cup cricket matches. If a person had to leave the room, for whatever reason, and a wicket fell, that person, when she returns, shall not be allowed to leave the room till the match was over! This might seem inconsequential to you, unless and until you realize the match goes on for a whole day (well, let us not even start with 5-day matches). At the last World Cup in 2011, I was at my computer to catch the finals where India played Sri Lanka. I had not watched any of the matches till then and India had done wonderfully. When I joked about that in Facebook, the immediate reaction from all my friends and family were: to slowly move away from the computer, leave that room and shut myself in a bathroom and not to come out till the Cup was won! No, my family and friends do not hate me, they just love the Indian team better.
Now, the other part of my family is German. They believe all games should be done and dusted in 90-minutes (perhaps a bit of overtime, alright) with 22 sweaty men in shorts running around. There is usually lots of shouting and swearing and drinking especially the drinking. Copious amount of beer seems very essential to the enjoyment of any football match (soccer to you Americans). Grudges are held close to heart and taken out on the guest team on a regular basis. That means deployment of the Reserve Guard whenever a game is played in town. It also involves something called an off-side, which as a female of the species, my male colleagues in Germany assured me, I cannot fathom. It is supposedly more complicated than quantum physics and needs a life-long study of the Lore. That killed my curiosity about football.
I tried to explain cricket to my father-in-law once, he patiently listened and then concluded :”Achso, it is that game that is played till the Visitors’ visa run out” – well, he said it in German, but that was the gist. That sort of ended my life’s ambition to bring cricket to my adopted country. It seems they like their balls bigger and trousers shorter. Oh and Beer, they like Beer, whereas I prefer coffee/milk-tea with my cricket.
Well, each to his/her own! Prost!
ps: The title is, of course, from the science fiction by H.G.Wells
I think I did not do justice to cricket crazy subcontinent in my post. I forgot to mention the temple visits and prayers that are involved, the trash-talking and the couch thumping, the umpire bashing and conspiracy theories. There are even family rifts and mild violence. For a game that claims to be a gentleman’s game, it sure causes hypertension in my family.