I hate cricket…well actually lets make that I hatED cricket. I really could not understand the call of the game. I see my dad sitting in front of the tube, ignoring phone calls, snapping at us if we dared block the screen, not eating, not taking a loo break (some people find the commercials a “not-to-miss” apparently!) and I wonder. More than the cricket match, I sit engrossed watching my dad!
It’s as though from the Stone Age, man was programmed to sit immobile with saucer eyes the moment anything rounded made contact with anything made of willow!
I can actually count the number of times I have watched cricket matches. Possibly a total of three (this is excluding the world cup matches…the interest for which was triggered by the never-say-die cricket fan Sethu).
There were times I forced myself to watch matches with my dad just to grab handfuls of his potato chips and groundnuts and other times I used to scream and shout in excitement just so that mum would think I’m the most patriotic Indian ever and push my homework for another hour or so.
I used to get particularly annoyed when a player used to scream out “HOWWWZZZAAAT!!” I mean how’s what? Was he talking about the weather or how the players were performing or the startling white of the umpires cap? I was so confused! I quit asking silly doubts after my brother started giving me blatant looks of disgust every time I asked him why there was a ball in the bowlers hand when the umpire declares a no ball or how they measure how wide the ball went during a wide or how umpires have such perfect eye sight.
Thus my hatred towards cricket hardened. Everyone usually ends up hating something they cannot understand, and I understood cricket as much as I knew how to spell the longest word in English language at one go! No one would explain the game to me, but they were all gracious and magnanimous enough to give me several looks ranging from anger to disgust to horror and well everything that would have gone into a Friday the 13th movie.
So basically when someone was watching cricket I saw a bunch of guys in bright colours running all over the field with bats and balls, yelling, screaming, cussing, spitting (I still find that disgusting) and well shrieking HOWZAAAAT every 2 minutes. It came to a point where my friends started laughing if they ever saw me trying to watch the game and make sense of it. Trust me if I had asked myself so many questions I would have had a couple of Phds in my purse and a lecturer post at some fancy- schmancy college.
Naturally when I knew The World Cup was fast approaching my mind repelled and I was ready to get a nice double barrel to shoot anyone who spoke about cricket which would have been the entire nation. To add to my rage, Sethu and I had to come out with 37 special features on…THE…WORLD…CUP…so yeah I was cranky and annoyed and royally pissed and tortured!
Then came the weekend that turned my cricket hating world upside down. Sethu’s house is a haven for food lovers like Jewel and myself who are fida over his wife’s (Pooja) cooking. It’s lucky that they live far away else I would have had to let Pooja borrow my double barrel to shoot us for coming over to chow so much! So anyway, after a loooooooong, heavy lunch we were all planning to do a Kumbhakarnan when Sethu flipped to cricket (England Vs Sri Lanka). I moaned and groaned, hissed and spat but to no avail. While everyone slept soundly, I sat bleary eyed with Sethu watching some guys running across the field. And India wasn’t even in the picture. Here I am watching a match played by complete strangers (not like the Indian Cricket team is my long lost family…but still!) along with a person so enamored by the game, he could win a match just by walking into the field. Sethu was howling at times, cussing at times, laughing and clapping at times and then I braved myself enough to ask him my first question “Why are you cheering for teams that are not even your home team?” The cricket guru opened his mouth and the rest is history!
Needless to say, I watched the entire game! Ball for ball and the irony is that I enjoyed it. Sethu is like a gift to the cricketing world. My doubts would have made Dhoni whack his own head with his bat yet this man (and I stress on man, because usually, the men just glare) sat with utmost patience and explained the game to me! And for the first time in my life I shouted HOWZZAAAT along with each player with an absolute understanding of why he screamed that!
Terms I had never seen or heard before started feeling familiar and I could not wait for the next match to test how much I had learnt and what a way to go with the India Vs Pakisthan match. I screamed for my team! I howled with anger whenever wickets fell and slowly I fell in love…well let’s not go so deep there…it’s a school girl crush actually which I hope develops into a lifetime relationship with the game.
Adrenalin ran clear out my pores during the finals between India Vs Sri Lanka. Jewel started saying rosaries at 100 per hour and I sat with folded hands saying “please god! Please let Gambhir hit another four! Please god let Malinga fall flat on his face!” Infact we even made a pact to visit 10 churches if India won…such was the passion we felt!
Our screams when India won would have given any opera singer a run for his/her money! I partied with the nation for India’s win but I also had a private party with myself because considering how much I hated cricket, my love for it now had won a World Cup all its own! Thanks Sethu! :)