It is a quadrennial break of the epidemic that India witnesses since 1975. Many call it the ploy of the ruler to keep the subjects occupied and away from the more sinister dealings of the state. Yes, this opium of the masses was formerly called the ICC World Cup and I fully endorse this drug for it sets open certain dormant sections of my mind and heart!
Now this is a season where everyone, I mean everyone including the disciplined armyman, the cricket ignorant housekeeper, the friendly street beggar cum junkie, little kids and a wide range of a billion varieties this country offers become an avid expert of the gentleman’s game (mind you, they would in a very democratic and hence right way vote to simply kill the opposition to raise the trophy). What strikes me the most is that one can come across some of the best debates and expressions of emotions if you eavesdrop on such conversations taking place in every home, office, street or the favourite spot of the nation – The Nukkad.
Here’s an extract of the cricketing folklore I overheard:
Scene – A nukkad in the City of Gardens, Bangalore
Two men can be seen in an animated discussion amid the humdrum of the tourist filled streets. One is a prime example of physical fitness and the other, a chubby guy with a gusto to match the biceps of his fellow arguer. On hearing from closer quarters, I learnt that the first guy was a respectable Mr. Arora (henceforth, Mr A) who was battling it out with words with the ‘healthy’ Mr Rastogi (referred to as Mr R).
Mr R – Bhai, I’m telling you, Zaheer must be rested in the first stage of the World Cup if we have to ensure a lethal and refreshed attack in the quarterfinals and ahead.
Mr A – Kya bakwaas! Zaheer is our strike bowler. If we need any window of opportunity to hold the World Cup, he has to not only play all the matches, he has to take the maximum number of wickets for India. I can bet my life if he plays all the matches, he is a strong contender for the Man of the Tournament.
Mr R – Ok, I will agree with you. But Bhai ji, can you tell me what will happen if he strains his hamstring in the first three matches? What will your Man of the Tournament do then? It’s a fault of the BCCI and selectors if they ask him to push himself from the first match and losing him when we need him the most. We have to be realistic, our guys get injured at the drop of a hat and it would be foolish to injure them with overburden.
Mr A – If I had a gun I would have shot you down and done Mother India a favour. How can you even think of resting the strike bowler in a premier tournament like the World Cup? Injuries can happen anywhere, even in the dressing room toilets. Are you suggesting we should send a guard with them there also? If the cricket fraternity thought like a doting mother, chances are that our team would still have been battling like minnows.
Mr R - And if it was up to hard nuts like you, all our team would have been permanently injured for long due to sheer negligence (Mr A breaks the monologue here with one of India’s favourite curses sending Mr R into an even more animated swear attack).
A lot of @#$$ later, I was sure of a skull being cracked when someone mentioned Pakistan as the underdogs who could beat India….Now my dear friends, this was the point where the two bickering nukkad cricket experts looked at each other and in the next moment, were at the throats of the adversary who mentioned the unmentionable. The rest as they say is history.
As for me, I simply shrug off with the sinister thought of breaking the bubble of the people here, telling them that a World Cup conquest cannot be simply taken for granted. We cannot simply assume that we’ll roll on from one group stage to the other, especially with the ignominy of being knocked out in the first round three times in the past and reaching the finals only twice.
With the thought in my head, I moved on to ‘Saddi Dilli’ for some work, but what I heard there breaks all records of cricketing passion. Stay tuned for more on that! Till then happy cheering!