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Till some years back I’d thought there was nothing that could put me off cricket. I still stick by it, but there are some notable upstarts who will go to great lengths to make you hate the game.

1. Live telecast of India’s matches: My last hope for preserving the last and first balls of overs on live TV were ESPN-Star. They did a good job of it, but didn’t mind one bit cutting their own commentators off almost before the ball went dead. I realised this (the Champions Trophy) was the first India-related cricket I’d had to see on TV in India after over a year. And the experience was harrowing. I felt like an umpire, having to live with the first images of a ball, without replays and without commentary. Of course, to not make us feel too bad, we had commercials and more commercials.

This shouldn't put you off cricket.

This shouldn't put you off cricket.

2. Go to India’s cricket stadiums: The security during matches is quite ridiculous. The only thing you won’t been subjected to is a strip search. There are dog squads, bomb squads, metal detectors and hundreds of policemen. In all this melee if you want to pee, I have one word of advice, “HOLD!”. The toilets start humming around the time of the toss. By the first Powerplay, the initial stream of bodily and non-bodily fluids march out of the door in unison. At the first drinks break, since humanity won’t heed my advice, much of these fluids are carried to and fro and the entire length of floor now starts humming. In some stadiums, like the one in Rajkot, the outer constructs of the stands become makeshift toilets.
And cricket stadiums after a match are the closest you’ll get to see a war zone. If aerated drinks and remains of rotten samosas litter general stands, the VIP boxes will have plates with parts of a long-dead chicken placed in a unknowingly abstract manner.
One of the better sights in a cricket stadium. At Chepauk's gates.

One of the better sights in a cricket stadium. At Chepauk's gates.

3. Read newspaper reports and watch news channels: Few times I feel completely over-confident is while being informed of the latest developments in our game by journos. The first sentences that I always come up with are, “I can do that job far better than you. But from the looks of it, it’s not worth the effort”. In all honesty, how many really know the game? Despite being a cliche, what CLR James said can always be quoted without shame in this context.

What do they know of cricket who only cricket know.

And to think not a single newspaper seems to have carried any news on the condition of Rajan Bala, one of the last among the old guard of cricket writers in this country.