Mostly Thoughtless

Tam Brahm, thank you ma'am

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Fine Legs and Silly Points!

Sachin Tendulkar.

Cricket! Why does cricket have such a hold on Indian hearts? Why is it that we care so much if Abdul Karim Al-Saleh of the Mutawarelite Kingdom of Yemen took 2/43 against the Sultanate of Oman in the Inter-Middle-Eastern-Countries Cup, sponsored by Pepsi, Sahara, Coke and madaboutcricket.com and brought to Indian households by Ten Sports (Live) and DD-Sports (Deferred Live), and watched by all Indians except two, who were busy making a movie about the sport.

Unlike most Indians, I've never felt too strongly about cricket. For example, I wasn't one of the 3,00,000 people who went to see the Bangladesh vs. Kenya game that was played here in Chennai. Of course, that was because I couldn't get the tickets but then I didn't follow up that failure by deciding to hang by one leg from the branches of one of the surrounding trees. Hence, I'm not a normal Indian cricket fan. Sigh!

The few occasions that I did go to watch a game live, I was completely in awe of the crowd at the stadium. You'd suddenly hear a huge roar from the stands, like the one you'd normally hear in Yemen when Abdul Karim Al-Saleh runs up to bowl except that this time, if you had looked at the pitch, you'd have seen the groundsmen rolling it.

That's how popular cricket is in India. People admit their children into cricket academies before they think about admitting them into play-schools and they usually take more time to select the academy than they do to pick out a name for their kid, which would be about 10 seconds.

Dad: Hmmm, it's a boy! What should we call him?

Mom: How about Sachin?

Dad: I like it but no, it's become too common these days. Plus, he's out of form. His average in his last 17 innings is ony 14.63.

Mom: What about Saurav, then?

Dad: Yup, that's perfect, but what if the kid is not left-handed.

Mom: Not to worry, you obviously don't know the piece of important cricket trivia that Saurav Ganguly bats left-handed and bowls right-handed. I have half a mind to divorce you right now and go marry Charu Sharma. That divine man even knows what Mohammad Ashraful from Bangladesh likes to read while in the toilet!

Dad: Damn, how could I have forgotten that? Saurav it is, dear! And hehe, even I know what Ashraful reads, it's 'The Habits of 11 Highly Ineffective People' by Malcolm Gray.

That, in a nutshell, is the name selection process for Indian male kids. If it's a girl, then it's a much easier job. First choice is Mandira, of the noodle-straps fame. Second is Anjali (Tendulkar's wife) and third is Jaswinder (Harbhajan Singh's neighbour's milkman's neice).

I occasionally play cricket myself. I'm a superb leg-spinner with a devastating googly. In fact, I'm so good that everytime I enter a room with a TV showing cricket, someone gets out. And my claim to fame is that I've got Sachin out twice, once in 1999 and once this year. Damn! If I had been a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, I would've been richer by $2000 dollars now!

Ideally, however, I'd love to have been a batsmen. I'd like nothing better than to hit the balls between two fine legs!

And just for your information, cricket is not the only sport Indians enjoy. They are huge patrons of weightlifting as well. Watch a cricket game and you'll find out that the batsman gets the biggest applause when he lifts his bat up over his head, one-handed that too!

However, one thing that irritates me about cricket's popularity in India is all the stupid statistics shows on Indian news channels these days. But we can't blame them, we Indians are absolute suckers when it comes to raw figures. To top it all, they have an 'expert' panelist who was so good that he played for India in 2 first class games against the Namibian Board President's 11. Anyway, a standard such show would go something like this..

Anchor: So, Mr.Panelist, the statistics in this table show that in 17 out of the 29 occasions that Virender Sehwag adjusted his 'box' before facing a delivery, he hit the ball between short mid-wicket and mid-on at an angle of 45 degrees. What do you think this means for the future of Indian Cricket?

Panelist: I think it's a very good sign indeed. Back in those days, when I used to play, the best we could do was hit it between short mid-wicket and mid-on at an angle of 30 degrees. 45 degrees was only a distant dream. These guys today are really awesome. I'm glad that Viru is listening to advice from his seniors. He used to only adjust his pad, shoulder pad, thigh pad and helmet before. Now, he's started adjusting his 'box' and it's done wonders to his game. And yes, Indian cricket is definitely on the way up.

Anchor: So, you're saying that in the near future we might actually be lucky to get to see an Indian batsmen actually hit the ball between short mid-wicket and mid-on at an angle of 60 degrees! (with a disbelieving look on her pretty face)

Panelist: I'm not a fool to say something as presumptuous as that but with the amount of talent these 'kids' have (readers please note that the panelist is utmost 29 years old), anything could happen!

And it's not just watching cricket that's a rage in India. Cricket fans here fanatically devour cricketing books, buy only products endorsed by cricketers, collect cricket cards that come free with bubble-gum and generally participate with great enthusiasm in any cricket related activity. Cricket to India is like Football to Brazil.*

Initially, I was wondering how to start this post but then it dawned on me and I chose to start with 'Sachin Tendulkar'. Why? You wonder? Simply because that man is such a good opener! (I know that was a really really sad excuse for a joke but please forgive!)

And that's all for now folks, I'm off to the nearest bookshop to buy '45 Degrees and Rising : A Tribute to Modern Indian Cricket' by Ramachandra Guha along with Raju Bharatan.


*Not very imaginative when it comes to analogies, am I?

6 Comments:

Blogger Sharad said...

Heh heh,

Interesting post. BTW, it's the parsis who are the walas. The Sindhis are the '-ani's ...like Asrani, Ramchandani, Hiranandani, and so on :-)

10:40 PM  
Blogger Abhimanyu said...

good one...one small suggestion...try throwing your bat in the gully between two fine legs...you can become a prolific scorer !!!

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good rant man, i guess it reflected truly what you have always felt about cricket. You are one of the many partisans of a game so scandulous that if G.B.Shaw had been alive he would have said "Eleven men playing on the field, Eleven thousand men fixing it off the field".

(P.S. : This is kaushik k, i did not want to sign up and then comment.)

8:21 PM  
Blogger Ramanand said...

That's quite a funny post you've got here!

Will wade thru your recent archives for more.

Cheers

5:00 PM  
Blogger Vinod said...

Hey Kaushik,

You know I strongly disagree that all games are fixed. yes, i do enjoy football more but I like cricket too.

Ramanand,

Thanks man! Do visit more often

Abhimanyu,

Trying da, not getting any juicy full toss though!

8:45 PM  
Blogger Aranyi said...

Hehehehe! It might help if you avoided the cricket terminology!!!

6:34 PM  

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