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Wake me up when it's over

In a nation of a billion-plus cricket and cricketer lovers, the exception speaks up, Sanchita Sharma writes.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2011 22:33 IST
Sanchita Sharma

Cricket is easily the world's most boring spectator sport. And this is what makes it perfect for busy people in search for a reason to slack. It makes a virtue out of indolence and a traitor out of people who choose work over play. And supporting a team playing against the Boys in Blue makes you the proverbial leper for life.

Don't get me wrong, I like sports. Watching players dribbling, controlling and passing the ball in high endurance games such football, hockey and basketball is a lot of fun to watch.

And what do our busboys on steroids do? They wear shades that make them blind and swath their faces with sunblock that makes them ridiculous. Then they swagger into the field, a feat that clearly tires them as they spend the rest of the day scuttling around their silly points and mid-offs trying desperately to stay awake.

Team India's brief appears to be staying on their feet for an inning, which they do by moving as little as possible. And if they have to dash a few yards to reach the ball, they pant like lung cancer survivors without oxygen on Mount Everest.

The batsmen, on their part, arrive wearing protective gear that would have driven Harold 'Bodyline' Larwood to choke on a cricket ball in frustration.

As much preparing our dark knights to take on deliveries rarely faster than the neighbourhood pizzaman - the pizza makes it to your door just under time, so you don't get it free - helmets provide commentators with the onerous job of naming the men behind the mask.

Few spectators realise that since all players in gear look the same, a commentator's job is a lot tougher than stating the obvious "Bowler bowls a delivery to the batsman, who cringes again."

But you cannot grudge batsmen this obsessive self-preservation. Their mugs are their fortune and, despite unenviable voice and diction, help to launch a thousand products. Endorsements, however incoherent, also do a great public service by unmasking the player for the nation.

If it wasn't for advertisements, both Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar would remain what we see on the field, midgets in armour who waddle between wickets. I won't even bother with the bowling.

That India's not a bowling side is obvious from the fact that unlike batsmen, bowlers rarely appear in ads before and after 'Teletubbies for Toddlers' and 'Pranayama for the Comatose'.

Yet, such is the magic of cricket that it'll drive the 1.5 billion minus one fans in the subcontinent into a frenzy today, more so if Pakistan makes up its mind to win to end interior minister Rehman Malik's match-fixing concerns.

If India wins, the highlight for me will be betting on which player will use his newfound fame and money to get hair grafts to replace those lost over the stress of losing the last big cola ad.

Come to think of it, my aversion for cricket could just be undiagnosed arachnophobia - irrational fear of spiders and creepy crawlies - triggered by the wispy hair grafts that spread spider-like on the pates of cricketers and commentators.

Do away with that, and cricket may get another convert.