March 27, 2011
As I write this article, it is hard to find one sensible Indian.
No sir, I am not insulting my fellow countrymen, I am just talking in Cricket Language.
I was in church yesterday. Normally we go to church to pray, so can you imagine two youngsters, instead of entering the church, having a mild bet on the result of that day's match, that too in the church compound!
While the way the present world cup has been conducted so far has been professional, it has given some spirited and fun-filled moments to all the cricket loving people. In a country like ours, where cricket is next to religion and Sachin is next to God (for some, the real God), we are in for extraordinary days of fun or tragedy as the tournament progresses.
In a country with a billion-plus population, it is but natural that we have a billion-plus cricket pundits. You try to disagree with any one of the opinions, it could cost your leg or may be your life. It is not easy to be a cricket expert, cricket player or a cricket watcher – not at this moment. All of these categories will have great risks attached, like a fight in a pub when, say, two friends from different states fight when a fellow state player is run out because of the other player from a different state; or for that matter, while sipping beer, one of them simply says, next ball the batsman is getting out and bingo, that’s what happens. What do you expect then? Third world war – between the two best friends. So just imagine the life of the cricketer who was God one moment and villian the next - he may not have a roof to stay!
And what about superstition? I know a jolly couple who never bothered to say rosary before, have started saying one now every day since last three weeks! What priest failed to do, this world cup could did to them.
Let me ask a question to all the readers. Do you really watch TV when India is playing? I can safely say fifty percent of the readers may not – especially if the match in question is a do-or-die match, for instance, the forthcoming match on March 30 between India and Pakistan. I am sort of a lucky guy. I was telling my wife that we need to do something next Wednesday, to avoid any kind of contact with the external world, and beamingly she replied, let's go to retreat in Abu Dhabi church. Well, to be fair to my creator, I have never attended one for the past 15 years, so this is the year I get to return my thanks, for all the good things that He has given me (including my wife). Did you say hitting two targets with one stone?
This reminds me of an interesting incident that happened about ten years ago while watching cricket at my Kuwait home. My daughter, in early teens then, was not so interested in watching cricket and at times used to nag me for not letting her watch her favourite programmes. In that particular match, India was defending a total of 202 runs and the opposition at that stage had scored 194 for the loss of three wickets with 15 more overs to spare.
My daughter said, "Dad…is it not stupid of you to watch a match, when you know the result already?
I replied: "How can you say that?"
"Come on," she said, "Don't just try to prove that you are right always…"
I said, "What if there is a hat-trick?
"What is a hat-trick?" she asked.
That is when I explained to her the meaning of hat-trick, which was a new phrase for her. As I was explaining, a wicket fell and it was the 5th ball of the over. Quite naturally, my explanation and some happening on the field created some interest in my daughter towards the game. Another wicket fell on the last ball of the same over. She asked, "Now what?" I said, "You have to wait for the next over of the same bowler, as is the rule." The wicket-taking over was followed by another over in which there was a run out, and suddenly the score was reading 196 for 6!
Then came the great over of the bowler in question – and to our amazement, he did get the wicket on the first ball of his next over – ahat-tick indeed. That day, I can safely say, I converted one soul - my daughter - into a passionate cricket fan. Now you have to see the beauty of her teaching everything about cricket to her friends and at times to her mother too! I may add that the match was won by India by two runs.
How many times have we seen a batsman getting out at 13! There are so many numbers that batsmen can get out at – from zero to 300 I guess. But just watch the scoreboard next time, especially when India is playing. The maximum outs in an average match is at the score of 13.
Even though I consider myself as a mini cricket pundit, I have failed to unfold this mystery so far. Any explanation from any one? I have also realized that if the batsman remains at 13 for a period of time, his chances of getting out sooner is more realistic than not. But there is asolution to this problem. If the batsman, after scoring 13, hits a boundary or a sixer in the next ball, chances of him getting a hundred become brighter. My observations are from the past, you may watch in the future.
Likewise, even cricketers have their own superstition, like one batsman insists that his family should not watch while he is playing or another batsman always wears the same undergarment for all the matches that he is playing, or most of the batsman start believing in the divine power during international matches.
End of the day, cricket is a team game, and should be played as a team. Secondly, cricket is a sport and sportsmanship should be maintained. Thirdly, with the right spirit, it can bring two fighting nations together – I am referring to cricket diplomacy as we know by now, likely to happen next Wednesday at Mohali. What no man on both sides of the border could do, let one game of cricket do – bring peace and tranquility to people of both nations.
As an Indian, my support and prayer is always with our team. And as a citizen of the world let me say – let the best team win. Over to you folks. I am starting my retreat from Monday and will not be available for the next four days. Jai Hind.
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