Yes, how IS that?! How is that ,that somehow the cricket gene that all Indians seem to inextricably have twined onto their chromosomes,whether X or Y, has completely eluded me? How is that,that when all my Indian countrymen can get their adrenaline going at the sight of a cricket bat, all I can come up with is a suppressed yawn? I don’t mean to. Honestly! I wish I could whip myself into a fever of excitement and enthusiastically discuss LBWs and Ducks or Swans or whatever because it does look like everybody is having a lot of fun but no matter how hard I try, it’s hard to stay in a state of frenzied animation over a lot of men in white taking AGES to hit a ball!
When my husband is watching the cricket, I could leave the room,do a 100 chores,water the plants,dance a jig and somersault a million times ( not that I do you understand but I could if I wanted to) but even then,on my return ,all that would have happened is that the bowler would just have finished polishing the ball on his trousers in preparation to bowl or still be spitting on it!
Ever since moving here,it has been somewhat a relief to find that rugby is far more popular than cricket. I suppose my fellow-Indians will consider this an act of treason punishable by hanging but I find rugby more watchable! It moves, it’s fast and there’s a sort of morbid fascination in watching grown men flinging themselves onto each others’ ankles or piling up in a large heap from which will eventually emerge a tiny ball! But what commends itself most about the sport is that in 80 minutes it’s all over and you can go back to watching Downton Abbey or the re-runs of M*A*S*H!
So as everyone here moves into a feverish state of existence for the next month ( the Indians,not the Kiwis) as India continues to play the Blackcaps, I will have to resign myself to being told updates of the score continually ( which is very painful as every ball takes SO very long) and be educated on the finer points of silly ( how appropriate) mid-ons or run-outs …..or whatchamacallits!
In my defense, I must say that I am not totally ignorant about the game or the players. I do know how it is played and I can see from the score who is winning! I am not that much of an ostrich. I can identify Sachin ( that’s Tendulkar for those of you not in the know), Kapil Dev ( Palmolive da jawab nahin!), Gavaskar, Dravid, Shastri and Imran Khan ( who in my day was considered VERY easy on the eye and yes, I know he belongs to arch rival, Pakistan)!! I realised that I did not know what Nayan Mongia looked like when at Mumbai airport ,my brother whispered to me,” Look behind you! Nayan Mongia!” I spun around obligingly and then had to keep spinning as I did not know who I was looking for! As well as some of the current NZ cricket team, I would recognise Shane Warne and Viv Richards if I saw them in the street.
I know I have little excuse for letting my mother-country down and so to all fellow-Indians,my apologies . But if you can modify and condense the game into say, 5-5 instead of 20-20, I would be sorely tempted to join the happy faces lining the stadium! And no spit with the polish please!
I say I have little excuse for my lagging interest in cricket because I was brought up in the campus of the Rajkumar College, Rajkot ( which is a “public school” in the British tradition ) since my mum taught there . It is a school built by the British to educate the princes of Kathiawar ( hence the Rajkumar) with a beautiful campus ( do google it and see) modelled on Oxford. Cricket was and is to the school what bacon is to eggs or nails are to polish. It’s cricket grounds and pitches were attended to by an army of groundsmen and maintained meticulously. It has a cricket pavilion which now is a part of history and it’s walls are lined with pictures of famous players and alumni.
Stadium,pavilion,Google will also bear me out that the famous Ranjisinhji ( of Ranji Trophy fame) who also played cricket for England and Duleepsinhji,who did the same, were alumni of the Rajkumar College and when I was small,it’s pitches were used for International matches as well ( I used to tag along with my friends to get autographs of players I didn’t know)!
Of course, I never volunteer any of this when Kiwi cricket aficionados would try to draw me into a conversation about cricket! I found that stroking my chin contemplatively and saying ,” Hmm… You may be right there” could often do the trick of seeming knowledgeable or better still narrowing my eyes and saying,” I’ll have to think about that one…”. There was one TV Sports commentator who I would encounter who would always get on to cricket talk till I told him that I would find it hard to name the current captain of the Indian cricket team! So he obligingly switched over to children and monarchs of England ( he would try to name them all) but when he went to cover the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, I was at least able to recommend what ‘dhaaba’ food he must give a go!
So,it is a mystery and a mischievous quirk of fate that despite all this , I have emerged untouched by the cricket madness and let me tell you, life would have been far easier for me if I had been! But at least I may be the only one here ,who no matter who wins, will still be able to say without a qualm that “our boys” won!