Cricket sucks. I could have started this piece in a milder tone but I’ve got to warn the cricket-lovers before I sound nastier than I intend to. We all know it's just a lazy sport involving a lot of furniture. Wooden bats, stumps, bails. You get the idea. I must add cricket is a lovely sport as long as you’re not interested in it. Once you become a fan, it’s a frigging downhill thereafter. You get absorbed into this tedious circus of run-bowl-bat-field routine. No wonder this sport is played in less a dozen countries. Nonetheless, they have something called “Cricket World Cup” (CWC) going on as I type this polemic. It’s beyond humour that an event comprising of only 14 nations uses the word ‘World’ matter-of-factly. Unlike Football World Cup, you don’t witness cut-throat competition to qualify for CWC. On the contrary, non-cricketing nations like Ireland, Canada and Holland are invited to fill in spots against established cricketing biggies like India and Australia. There is nothing wrong with setting minnows against Goliaths but it just illustrates the helplessness of a sport in popularizing itself globally at the grassroot level.
One thing that well nigh sets CWC apart from other sports’ World Cups is the fact that it has the distinction of being hosted in all inhabited continents, something even football and hockey is yet to achieve. I know you must be wondering when did South America which might confuse cricket for an insect held the CWC. For the record, it happened in 2007 CWC when Guyana hosted a match and Guyana is a part of South America.
Cricket is a colonial vestige, at least in India. We were matchless in hockey during the time of our independence from British Raj. So naturally, hockey was chosen to be our national sport. As of now, if you look around, you can clearly point out the discrepancy in our attitude towards hockey. For the first time in 80 years, Indian hockey team couldn’t even quality for Olympics held at Beijing. It sounds like a death knell to something that put India on the global sporting map long before we could even call ourselves a free country
Cricket flourished in the subcontinent under the pretext of being the gentlemen’s game. It was called so not because all cricketers were certified gentlemen. They were not. It was just the nature of the sport. To begin with, it’s a non-contact sport, unlike football or hockey where players physically clash with each other. Cricket, on the contrary, is a collective display of individual space. The bowler has his predetermined run-up. The batsman has the 22-yard limited sprinting arena. The wicket-keeper stays put at his spot. The fielders have their designated area of concern. Even the umpires hardly move. The only thing that really helps this otherwise stationary act is the ball that can be shot in any direction by the batsman and occasional castling of stumps by bowlers. That keeps the momentum and excitement alive among the hapless fans.
And talking of ‘gentlemen’s game’, cricket is quite free from hooliganism that is prevalent in football and other popular sports. But then that is discounted passion. In cricket, the “gentlemen” do something worse. They are known to manipulate match results through match-fixing, spot-fixing, slow-overs and whatnot. It’s pathetic, to say the least. Moreover, cricketing body is known for its leniency towards drug abuse which is conspicuous in its reluctance to work with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The recent sacking of three Pakistani players on doping charges is just a start.
Take a look at our cricketers; you just can’t miss their paunch. It just demonstrates the level of fitness a “sport” like cricket entails. Or at least our cricketers believe it entails. Besides, even on newspaper, cricketers are mostly shown practising all other sports except cricket to “stay fit”. It’s like a colossal joke that has been tolerated for too long.
As you can guess by now, I’m not a cricket fan. But it doesn’t diminish my Indianness. Of course, I’d love to see India win CWC coz the last time we did, it was more of a miracle and less of everything else. I can’t deny cricket is the only thing that actually binds our diverse country north to south, east to west. Nothing else comes even close to cricket in fulfilling this arduous task. Not even Bollywood. And then there is Sachin-factor too. I want him to retire with that one laurel missing on his legendary mantelpiece.
Lastly, this drivel won’t bring a revolution of sort and there must be millions of people who won’t agree with me but it doesn’t change the home truth that we nearly don’t exist in other sports despite having 1.2 billion people under one flag. Cricket’s unprecedented (read: commercial) success has a lot to do with this dismal scenario. It’s a shame but in ways more than one, cricket alone is not to blame. There are lots of other factors that goes in to play and when I say play, I don’t mean sports.