Amitabh Bachchan celebrates after India won their first match against Pakistan in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, in Mumbai, Feb. 15. (Press Trust of India)
World Cup cricket is underway and India has had a good start beating all its opponents so far including Pak and SA, both dangerous opponents capable of winning the tournament provided Shahid Afridi connects with the bat, and South Africa learn how not to choke, writes Siddharth Srivastava.
I believe the South African team has appointed an anti-choke specialist to guard the big moments. At the time of writing the piece, the big news is that Chris Gayle has scored the fastest double century in one-day internationals and the first ever at the World Cup.
Gayle has it mentally sorted. Approach a one-day match like a two and half T-20 IPL match being played in Mohali. Need to check out Gayle’s latest dance moves post Gangnam. I believe it is Zumba. Replicating the immensely successful T-20 IPL format, based on the principle that Indians will never tire of watching too much cricket, Salman Khan without a shirt, and Aamir Khan speaking about social matters, the World Cup too will feature a surfeit of matches at the league stage.
The idea is to ensure the Indian team, the main commercial mainstay of World Cup on TV where the big bucks are made, have a whole lot of matches to win or lose so that the people who need to book profits, are guaranteed their returns, given the crazed eyeballs. And as greed knows no bounds, some will also try their luck via the illegal betting circuit.
Should the Indian team make it to the quarter finals, as seems quite likely now as Virat Kolhi is no longer the only guy scoring on and off the field, there will be even more money to be made, based on the principle that after watching too much of cricket early morning till afternoon, Indians will never miss a cricket match when suffixed with a final, whether quarter, semi or the actual grand finale featuring heroes Virat and Dhoni who won India the last World Cup with a six. The country went crazy. Dhoni may have mellowed, but there are others now willing to don the mantle. Personally, I have moved on from cricket.
I have the auto refresh scorecard running on my laptop but do not make it a point to watch the matches on TV, unless I happen to be in front of a wall-mounted telly, which can be quite unavoidable at times.
When India is playing any TV set anywhere in the country, airport, coffee shop, dhaba, railway station, feature the cricket. And, there is usually an assembly of watchers following the game, dropping work, meetings, wives, family, girlfriends and sometimes a flight. I have really not been able to pin down why I do not go out of my way watch a cricket match anymore. I am in my forties now.
But, that does not mean that I have given up too many of the activities of the past like watching Bollywood movies, reading Chetan Bhagat or trying out very cheap oily roadside chana bhatura. As a matter of fact, I do not mind listening to some of the music followed by my teenage daughter such as One Direction, Maroon-5, even Taylor Swift. I do not think this is about cynicism.
Indian cricket has had its share of problems no doubt due to matters concerning conflict of interest in BCCI involving the stubborn Srinivasan, political, business intrigue and role of the bookie mafia.
However, nobody doubts that our boys (most of them that is), when they play the game believe they are doing so for the country in every emotional and cricketing sense. I do not think this has changed since the time I closely followed cricket, the actual ball-by-ball action, initially on radio then on TV. Looking back, it was actually also an enormous amount of time wasted, the way today’s kids idle on gadgets.
I do, however, believe that Indians my generation grew up following cricket as more than just a game. It was the one way of proving to the world that India too counted in the global platform. The 1983 World Cup victory symbolized just that emotional connect. So did the movie Lagaan, some years later.
However, India today is different. Who wants to make a point about colonialism by beating England anymore? Cricket is not our only global forte´; there are many more in diverse sectors ranging from software to medicine to exploring the moon and Mars.
For the new generation, cricket is a game, hard fought, pulsating and competitive, encapsulated in the T-20 format. But then, there are other sports too that offer similar thrills if not more. World soccer, for example, beamed live from Europe and other parts of the world; car racing. But, that does not mean that cricket is out of my system.
Quarter Finals onwards I am going to be incommunicado. Hope India makes it to the final and Dhoni or maybe Virat seals it with another six against the domineering Aussies. That will be simply fantastic.