Monday, February 06, 2006


It was on a very routine stroll around the park with my father about ten years back that he casually asked me "so, who do you think will win the world cup this time?". Now, the majority of the population in India do not need a formal initiation to cricket. Even toddlers walk around wielding a plastic bat, hitting a small red ball. This kit is sold at temple fairs, carnivals, your nearest corner shops, and all possible places, to propagate the game. Even if they don't play it, almost all the people in this country starved for sporting heroes do follow it diligently, glued to their TV sets and radios all day long or days long, depending on what version of the game is being played. But I somehow never really took to it, be it the played form or the visual one. Well, up until that moment.

When my dad asked that, I really did not have an answer. Heck, I did not even know which teams were playing. Yes, I knew of India and Pakistan and the West Indies, but that was about it. And I remember that I had got a huge book with plenty of cricket facts the year India had won the world cup. But that was because I had collected all those bubble gum wrappers (Big Fun, which I miss sorely now) and the book had hundreds of fantastic caricatures of cricketers. I muttered something very neutral, something like "I am sure India is not well equipped to deal with it" or something like that. I did not mind much when the cup started.

One match I watched was one between India and Sri Lanka. Rather I watched the first half, Sachin Tendulkar (just Sachin now) smashing the Lankans around the ground to amass 270 odd runs (that was quite a big score then, the pre Jayasurya era). And the I left for school, content that India was going to win. When I reached school, there was some astounding news. The Lankans were smashing us madly, and since we had not seen anything quite like this, our bowlers had no idea how to go about it. They were scoring more that 10 runs per over. GOSH!!Needless to say, they won the match easily, and went on to win the world cup. My mom's Sri Lankan colleague had this message on her answering machine "I am out, CELEBRATING!! WE"RE ON TOP OF THE WORLD!!". UGH! That hurt!! From that day on, I've had some vague disliking for the Sri Lankan team.

The world cup left was not without its impressions. We started playing "corridor cricket" in the small corridor in our home. And then it progressed to some wild 20 over matches in school.
When I came back for higher studies I had lots of fun bowling to my cousins 8 and 10 years younger than me. Just when I thought I had it, well, they grew up and started throwing some "rocket-like" deliveries. Well, well, before I could sustain serious injuries, I moved on to college.
Apart from a few backyard matches of cricket, most of the excitement in college was gained from trips to Ooty and frequent falls from the scooter.
Well, now cricket is limited to hitting the "refresh" button of the browser, and a few weekend games.
But when I see people queuing up at 3 in the morning, in winter, 4 days prior to the game, for tickets, well...

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