As penance for this written last week, here is the companion piece that rounds off the subject on a happy note. And to think I don’t have to mention much of what is scribbled here, there are more reasons to love than hate cricket.
1. The proper sport: One of my references for building a layered liking for cricket were two photographs taken by two different photographers at two separate years in the 90s. Both had something to do with Sachin Tendulkar, but you could see more than just about him in them. I found one of the photographs on the cover of a defunct magazine called Cricket Talk. So that saves me 1000 words.
Ayaz Memon, who edited Cricket Talk, wrote about the cover picture in his editorial, “It manifests camaraderie and innocence, cricket’s two strongest virtues…” Quite appropriate that this was printed right in the days that followed the match-fixing scandal, when both those said virtues had been safely put to bed.
What strikes you in this photograph is the time the game affords. If I’m not wrong, Savita Kirloskar shot this on a rain-curtailed day. While the interpretation changed significantly in 2000, it has something in it which makes me think I finally understand what timelessness means. There cannot be another game that allows you so much time. This is the time you have to make bigger mistakes and create happier moments to remember.
The second photograph was shot in 1999-2000 in Australia. Even though I remember it being credited to Getty Images’ Hamish Blair, the search on their site thinks it was Jack Atley who shot it. Maybe the one used in the book I first saw it in was Blair’s photograph. The caption on the website says, “Seagulls look unimpressed as Indian captain Sachin Tendulkar trudges from the ground…” But the caption in that book which carried this moment had said something like
“The seagulls on one side seem to represent the all-conquering Australians whose strength is balanced by that of this one man.”
Or maybe I just made it up. This is what I thought of the photograph. One man could yet be a match for all eleven opponents. The individual could still be larger than a group.
Two photographs showing two factors which influenced Indians to follow cricket. Time and individuality. Some would infer these as sloth and selfishness. Don’t believe them.
2. The “villages”: Quite a lot of cricket writing in the past was all romance and “love for the game”. Anyone who is inclined towards literature can find a great number of books to chew on. You’ll read about the Doctor, the Ashes and of course the village greens.
By “villages” here I mean the smaller towns in India who get an international game once in two years, at best. I cannot forget a day in Baroda when after India won a day game, the entire stretch of road leading to the team hotel was lined by people. They were children, old people and women with their newborns. It was an outrageous sight for someone who wasn’t even among those for whom they stood waiting.
3. The characters: Some of the funniest people have either played or followed cricket. For some it is a livelihood. Amongst these are people who had quit studying long before their class number had a double digit. They have made playing tennis ball cricket their bread winner because they are a rare breed, those who can do unimaginable stunts as batsmen and bowlers. They rush from one game to another plying their trade like a perfect businessman. Some make money while some loiter the streets.
There are those who play no cricket but write a lot about it. They have all been reined-in here for good measure.
I have to admit there are no real characters in the Indian team right now, unless this qualifies.
There are of course many more I can preach as reasons to follow cricket, but that will only happen if this article gets a minimum of 20 hits and 4 comments. Till then, watch out for the Long Hop.