You might have gathered the impression that yours truly is not particularly fond of cricket. Just so you don’t go away with the wrong impression, “I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT”! It’s crazy. It takes too many people to play it, it takes all day to play (not 20-20, of course) and it’s rules are confounding. But what a glorious game. What a genteel, stoic, honourable, rousing and gratifying game. I suck at it. But I love it so.
And isn’t it wonderful that some of the world’s best cricketers have been South Asian. I’m thinking of giants like Arjuna Ranatunga, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasurya, Sunil Gavaskar (to come up with a rather short, alphabetically sorted list). And even if we go back to the sport’s days of yore, we still have Pataudi and Umrigar and that league of gentlemen who so embodied the spirit of the fine game they played.
I know some purists lament the recent commercialisation of the game. At times, I do too. But hey, lighten up. No amount of flashy clothing, sponsorship deals, fixing scandals and gimmicky formats can take the charm of good cricket away. A good slog is a good slog. I just think of the 2005 Ashes every time I’m worried cricket is selling out is soul. What a series that was.
Instead of resenting the dominance of cricket, I think other sports could study and adopt its more successful strategies. Our cricket idols too, could put their very broad shoulders to the wheel for other sports, using the leverage their popularity gives them to champion the cause of sport in general.
My only lament is that it’s been a while since the World Cup was in our neck of the woods. Oye Kapil paaji, where is your successor?