You would have hardly ever seen a post related to Cricket, on this blog. (There is one, but then I have recently been accused of being most likely to link to my own posts, so I shall refrain. Update: I have been corrected about this accusation. I meant to link to this post about Sachin’s Century) I gave up on Cricket a long time ago. I saw Vinod Kambli crying (tears and all) during a World Cup, where the audience did some mischief and India was out of the World Cup. I don’t even remember the year. Frankly, I don’t remember the details. The entire concept of cricket, since then, was like diced summer fruits in a blender at top speed.
I gave up.
On cricket, i.e., not on the ‘concept’ of an Indian team.
The joy of having an India Team win a match, hasn’t lost any shred of emotion since when I shouted at the top of my voice when Kapil Dev took a wicket (yes, I am that old).
Monday, 24 September 2007 was unusually rare. I was sitting with a few hundred people in a mall in nearly-central Mumbai watching the final of the Twenty20 World Cup. There were multiple screens and I sat through the twenty overs that India bowled.
It was an amazing match. Stuff that cricket is made of, stuff that an India-Pakistan match should offer. Tension Galore!
Yet, the first World Cup of the Twenty20 (it is the first one, isn’t it)? failed to rekindle the lost love — though all the ingredients were right. Except one.
Did you see the ball to which the last Pakistani batsman got out — did you see the stroke? (Sorry, I am out of cricket vocabulary here — it wasn’t a ’stroke’.) What did you make of it? I have seen some cricket in my life, so don’t get me wrong. I have tried to win matches, so don’t get me wrong. Somehow, the last ball that he played, didn’t seem like cricket.
I completely understand the need for Cricket to become an international and a popular game, lot of money and opportunity there — a capitalist at heart won’t misunderstand that.
Did you see that last ball?
All sporting strokes from Tennis to Discus Throw came into it at the same time. I frankly don’t care that the last Pakistani batsman got out and India won the match — did you see the last ball?
Did you see how it was played?
On my way back from the mall, I saw processions — a day before the Ganpati processions — all celebrating the victory in the World Cup. I was elated, my team had won the World Cup. I could see the infectious sound of victory permeating my pores, yet somewhere the resistance held strong.
If it is only about winning, there are a million ways to do that, I have known and seen this in life. You can do that without violating the rules of the game. Most sport that we play and watch has an element of grace. But wining and keeping the sponsors happy is a different game with different rules. Assuming that the last ball hadn’t been caught, assume that Pakistan would have won the match. Would that last ball have stuck in memory or would the kiss of the World Cup been the retention?
Call me a purist, old-school or what you may. Maybe your argument will be about the batsman being on the lower order. I don’t really give a damn. I support changing the format of a game for a good reason.
I do not believe, however, that that gives you a license to change the way you play the game.
PS: The last over of the match here.