Monday, 22 February 2010

The Game Plays Us

This post is loosely based on the glorious uncertainties of cricket set against the backdrop of how we Indians 'are played' by the game...literally.

Cricket is a funny game. When a player is in, he is actually out on the green facing the bowler. When he is out, he's is in the pavilion. There is a third man, but hey who are the first and second?? And there is nothing so silly about silly point. Paradoxes and unexplained quirks are two of the defining aspects of the game of cricket. In no other sport does one have to take into account so many variables to win a match. In football if the field is muddy the players changes their spikes. In cricket, if its rained the previous day, the entire team composition changes.

India's love for the gentleman's game is not mere coincidence. We connect to it in a deeper way. Its our culture, religion, our destiny. And I can vouch for my statement, being a witness to, two instances of 'cricketing' stampede. Once when the Indian team was leaving for West Indies, WC 2007, pandemodium ruled as people from across the city thronged the Mumbai airport, way past midnight, for a glimpse of their heroes or demi gods rather. And the second time when we won the inaugural T20 WC, which was the cue for open topped bus ride through Mumbai. No other sport in our country, unfortunately, enjoys such a fanfare.

The pace of cricket suits us perfectly. The bowler's leisurely walk back to the start of the run up, the lunch and tea breaks, the game unfolding over five days like a raga. Though with the advent of the slam bang version of the game, the raga has been looked upon as a saga. Cricket purists would anyday prefer the men in white under natural light over the men in coloured uniform under floodlights.
Each time the team steps out to play, a few lucky ones make it to the stadium raucously cheering for their heroes, few others hooked to the TV or huddled around the radio sets, employees and bosses alike hunched in front of the PC's following....err Cricinfo tongue wink, but everyone makes it a point to 'feel the game'. Debates, discussions, predictions and numbers just adding to their mirth. No other sport produces so many numbers, numbers that can be crunched in so many different ways and things. Cricket is layer upon layer of statistics stretching to infinity. And we Indians can argue about their meaning till half past the end of time.
Everytime a Bhajji or a Dhoni strides out onto the field, ten thousand youngsters know that their dreams can come true.

And the recent IPL bid fiasco also proved that, today cricket is often politics and politics is often cricket, within the game, within regions across the globe. This mesh being pulled tighter overs the years. the sport is now too important politically to be left to cricketers alone.

I still wonder if cricket was really the British's find. No, it couldn't have been. tongue laugh 

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