I don’t know about you but I’ve woken up in a very bad mood. I’m both irritated and depressed. What’s worse is that I can’t see any hope of improvement over the next five weeks. If anything, my gloom and misery will only deepen.
The second problem is that the cause of my despondency is, undoubtedly, the source of a feeling of elation and delightful expectancy bubbling away in your heart. What I dread you eagerly and impatiently look forward to. And, in either case, the same three words sum it up: World Cup Cricket.
So, now that I’ve given you fair warning, perhaps you should stop reading. If you’re easily excitable or if you have a dicky heart, turn the page and skip all the way to the sports section till your temper cools down. Frankly, you’re not going to agree with what I have to say. In fact, you won’t even like it.
To begin with, I think cricket is a silly game. While two men stand in front of three embedded sticks swinging bats at balls, another eleven are scattered across a large field to chase, catch or let the ball pass as the case may be. Honestly, what a waste of time! Occasionally, a ball hits the sticks, uproots them and the chap in front storms off, looking sullen. That’s the only brief respite.
This strange charade carries on till ten men have had a spell in front of the sticks. Then everyone changes roles. And the mindless, tiresome stupidity starts all over again. The tedium can stretch for seven hours.
But it’s not just the boring game that I object to. What really gets my goat is the wretched adulation and ceaseless coverage you, my countrymen, and, increasingly, countrywomen give it. Your obsession is so overpowering that nothing else seems to matter to you. And since nothing matters less to me, this can and will only increase the distance and division between us.
If, despite my caution, you’re unwisely and rashly reading what I’ve written I have no doubt that by now you must be frothing. Perhaps you’re even cussing. But the truth is I have a point. Just pause and look at what the advent of WCC has done to our media.
Last week, Outlook and India Today produced the most boring editions you could imagine. Other than cricket they had nothing else to offer. So I didn’t even bother to open the magazines. Next, look at today’s papers. I bet this damnable game and its interminable World Cup feature all over, front, back and, inevitably, in the middle too. And, finally, turn to TV. If it wasn’t bad enough that this foolish game has captured all the news space, it will soon colonise everything that’s left, as hours are devoted to analysing every turn of ball or mishit on the field.
The awful part is everyone is going to transmogrify into cricket experts for the next five weeks. Tens of millions, who would be better advised to maintain an unbroken silence, will excitedly hold forth, claiming an insight they clearly don’t have, as they ponder, prognosticate or just pontificate. Cricket will be the only subject everyone talks about.
But do you know what I dread the most? The possibility that India may win! I know it’s what you want above everything else. And for your sake, I want you to have it. Yet it will make life intolerable for someone like me.
*The views expressed by the author are personal.