Statutory warning: Cricoholics are advised to read this only if they are free from hang-overs (kaunsa over???)
Clocks should be re-constructed and time re-defined in terms of number of balls and overs. In future years, India’s victory in the 2011 World Cup should be celebrated as ‘Victory Day’ and given the status of Diwali. (Already there are talks of ‘Ramas’ beating the Lankan ‘Raavans’ during the finals.) Four days of celebration would be spent garlanding pictures of cricketers and doing pooja and aarthi in their name. I’m surprised—why hasn’t a temple for cricket (or a cricketer) been built yet?
It’s beyond -philia and -mania—even ‘cricket fever’ is an understatement; it’s “cricopathy”—a disease that grips the nation. I wonder if anyone can unearth the mystery of its roots. And how young does it start? Not a Bollywood movie, not the CWG, not the Oscars, not even the Miss India contest draw as much viewership as cricket does. An India-Pakistan match takes the cake—it’s a crown on the cricket head.
If one has to ‘visit’ the workplace on a match-day because a few ‘inhuman’ bosses refuse to declare a holiday, one would constantly be on mobiles/laptops. If it’s banned at the workplace, people would be miserable and hence, unproductive anyway.
Even in England, the nation of the game’s ‘not-so-humble’ origins, it doesn’t receive so much fanfare. But here, even if you wish to ignore and stay away from the maniacs, you’re not allowed to. There’s always a father-and-brother team, or a colleague, who ‘shush’ you from talking when a match is on. Or if India loses a wicket when you enter the room, you’re done for—they give you angry glares, branding you an evil creature. All over the physical space and cyberspace, you’re bombarded with cricket news; everywhere you go—home, office, streets—people talk of nothing else. As though the non-cricket oriented sections of their brains are locked up during these days. Plus, if India loses, you’ve to deal with grumpy, gloomy faces and put up with a collective bear of tempers.
In this country, saying you don’t like cricket needs more courage than declaring yourself as gay. Probably, cricket being a ‘gentle-man’s game’, I am ‘disabled’ to appreciate the game and its nuances. (I’d like to add here—how many really like the game and how many are wannabes, who like it just because it’s the ‘in’ thing?)
When one event alone is hyped beyond imagination, others that ought to have at least an equal footage get sidelined. Like internationally renowned conductor Zubin Mehta’s concert on the same day as the India-Pakistan semifinal. Incidentally, Mehta offers a solution—he says that the match could be screened (behind or adjacent to the orchestra) on mute, so that people could watch the match and listen to the concert at the same time. He adds that his ‘Mahler’s First Symphony’ would be a good background score for the match!
If it’s about the game and not publicity-induced passion, why doesn’t the Indian women’s cricket team get so much as a paragraph written on their achievements, forget the front page or supplements? How much attention did they get even when they were the runners-up in the 2005 World Cup?
Crores of rupees, acres of land, and so on, for the World Cup victors—I suppose tax payers are so happy with the win they would sacrifice their life-savings, and even somebody else’s, for cricketers. (Cricket atheists like me have no say in it.) As if politicians and actors were not enough, even the government wants mileage from cricket.
I have to add here, that one must laud the unifying spirit of the game—in a nation ripped apart by religion, region, politics, there is at least one cause which people come together for. (For this reason alone, IPL can go to hell.)
Also, one must sympathise with the players—what pressures they must play under! It’s not a game but a matter of life or death for them—who knows whose home will get burnt if they lose!
I’ve no objection to people loving the game, but the extent to which some go to—foregoing dinner if the team loses, committing suicide… Are you addicted to the game? Are you dependent on it to feel good? Do you get depressed when there are no matches going on? Does watching too much of the game interfere with your personal and professional life? Are you filled with anxiety during a match? If yes, it’s time to visit Cricoholics Anonymous, à la Alcoholics Anonymous.
Cartoon courtesy (with permission): Satish Acharya