This is cricket season. Everyone is glued to the TV sets. Tweeting simultaneously. Commenting on how squalid Ravi Shastri’s commentary is or how queer the pitch is and how this game could be a ‘cracker of the game’.
Ofcourse, expert comments come from people ranging from the next door aunty to the ex-gully cricketer who now spouts a belly and has a ton of stories from ‘my playing days’.
The eloquence that is waxed on players and their performance, is a perpetually swinging pendulum that swings from creative abuses that will shame the insipid listlessness of a laggard bowler and extend all the way to the elevation to a GODly status when a personal milestone is cracked !
Before you label me with definitively pronounced adjectives like ‘unpatriotic’, ‘unfit to be Indian’, let me hasten to add that I follow the game too. Not quite with the same intensity that people put on display in restaurants and public places. And boy who can forget twitter. Tweeting fervently, exhorting others to sit where they are or hold on to their pee until another man scores a century ! ( No, am certainly not making this up).
Am not necessarily an ignorant small towner. My own growing up years saw many a summer day that slipped by in battling bowlers from the next building with utter disrespect for the Sun and searing heat. To hit, to run, to roll arms over irrespective of where the sun was in the sky, as long as he was out there in the sky! Ah, it’s a lovely game. Yeah. G-A-M-E !
Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. Age takes a good catch, always. The hair on my head is receding and whatever is left of it is as stark as the black & white photograph. Cricket is well, different. The frenzy is several time more pronounced. Outlets to wear it on your sleeve, is multi pronged. TV channels are a famished lot without the game. The result: everybody is an expert. Vocally so !
Truth be told, I can never get myself to sit before the TV for many hours on end and confine my exercise to jumping to conclusions, stretching the statistical truth and pushing the country’s luck (exhorting people to stay still and hold their pee)!
I harbor no ill-will against the people that are more passionate. The world is made of all kinds. For long, several well meaning people have popped the obvious question at me : Why ? Why don’t you follow the game as closely ?
For an equally long time, I have either maintained a stoic silence. A silence that could outdo a hermit in deep penance. Or have hidden behind a decorated façade of ‘a game is meant to be sweated out’ argument. Now its time for a confession. The real reason is Statistics !
Yes. Really. Statistics.
The sheer magnitude of statistical trivia that International cricket can spew ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, perpetually pushing the boundaries of both the sublime and the ridiculous! Quite obviously what is sublime to one has another searching for words that amplify ‘ridiculous’.
‘Dilshan is the seventh batsman to face Abdul Razzak when he is bowling from the Khetaramma end in the Premadasa stadium’.
Well, well. That could well be a rather tame concocted example.
The more informed amongst my friends rattle of statistics that could perk the ears of an encyclopedia maker and could go like “This is the third highest, seventh wicket partnership between Kenya & Zimbabwe, the second highest in in a one day game in Nagpur and is also the seventh highest in all world cups and 293rd in the history of one day internationals “.
Even as my mouth opens in awe, experience has taught me not to be surprised if someone else strikes a degage pose and throw a rejoinder that could go like “It actually is the 294th. The 167th got mired in a controversy because of a thunderstorm which sometimes is not counted…”.
Such powerful stuff is pregnant with poignant potential of sending the partially interested into perpetual coma!
That’s when I go looking for my running shoes.