I remember a time when cricket meant watching 22 white-flannel-clad men do nothing much for hours on end. You could wander away during a match, take a good long walk around the neighbourhood, and come back a day later to find that somebody had made two more runs. It was an age of leisure and the teams believed it too, standing around on the field, adjusting their cod-pieces and occasionally, very occasionally tapping the ball so it calmly rolled about ten feet away. On good day, there even used to be some running.
Now I wasn't much of a sportsperson even back then but I had a feeling that if something is called a ‘sport’ there definitely ought to be more activity happening than in say, Embroidery 1.1 – Lazy-Daisies Made Easy.
So you can understand, perhaps, why I – fresh from a country where football was the dominant religion – didn’t quite get it. Where was the excitement? Whither the adrenalin? Why was nobody screaming at the television screen? The most excited I ever saw people get while watching test matches, was when someone in the Indian team bowled a wicked yorker - there would be genteel applause and murmurs of ‘good ball, good ball’. I’d seen more excitement on my granny’s morning walks.
So for quite a long time, cricket did nothing for me and since the male-female ratio in my household was roughly 1: 50, no-one really cared.
Then, about two weeks ago, a sports-crazy BIL visited. He, of course wanted to watch the match and by dint of living in a 1 bhk, I was forced to watch it along with him. Only this time, after the first over, I was hooked. For the first time in my life cricket was interesting and more than that, it actually made sense. People were running around, that cork ball was hit to within an inch of its life and it rained sixes and fours. This? This was edge-of-your-seat stuff! Bite-your-nails, pray-to-gods-never-believed-in stuff!
Cricket purists complain that 20 / 20 matches are pale, watered-down versions of the game. “It’s ‘not cricket’!” they collectively moan.
Me? I’m going to fetch a chilled beer, a bucket of popcorn and cheer till my throat gives out.