Some years ago, before an India-Pakistan match, an enthusiastic fan waved a banner from the stands which read: “Cricket is our religion and Sachin is our God’. Come any match and the congregation of the faithful gather with ecclesiastical fervour to wish their icons godspeed. Can our heroes let us down? No siree, not if they don’t want their homes stoned or the media to blast them out of the water. So they too cannot go in to battle on the strength of their skills alone. They too need a little extra strength from the Lord as we see from the Sri Lankans and Indians in the run-up to this World Cup turning to priests and monks.
But while we imbue the whole sporting exercise with clerical and dark overtones, our opponents are whooping it up. The Aussies, both fans and players, are downing beer after beer and decking themselves up in multi-coloured hues for the big day. The West Indians are getting into the spirit of things with generous doses of rum and the calypso. Why, oh why, can’t we also let our hair down?
Let the boys in blue bat the ball about for a few days while the rest of us, those of us who like cricket, use this as an excuse to indulge in a few excesses without too much guilt. Before we drink to that, let’s send up a quick prayer.