Beloved Indian cricket,
Remember? It was April of ‘98, when a little guy named Sachin Tendulkar was storming the deserts of Sharjah, adjusting his thigh guard and running down the pitch to make the Kangaroos cry. Like a canny mutual friend, he introduced me to you, in his own shy, subtle way, and that was it. I was in love. There was no turning back.
Like lovers, we spent sleepless nights together, via satellite, right under the nose of my sleeping parents. I skipped my final exams on two separate occasions to be there for you, on your big days.
Point is, dear, despite you being so popular and me being a rejected wannabe writer, you still can’t ignore our moments. I am not counting them because then you will cry and I hate tears, re!
It won’t be a hyperbole if I say that my relationship with you was a “journey of blood, sweat and tears”.
It was never about players or matches though, but you, your concept, the adrenaline rush you gave me. The toil for runs against all odds, the joy of watching the stumps skittle, the catches that won matches (as Mark Nicholas would say). It was orgasmic. I wanted to do it, I wanted to see it.
We didn’t win much but ah, even the lost games were glorious. Every match seemed important, like a national affair.
Those were the days when you were not so fancy, not so flashy, not so shallow, not so “IPL-ish” but just…cricket, my love, my religion.
When, one summer afternoon in Bhopal, the great Sachin Tendulkar did the unthinkable, deservingly making the first ever double century in ODIs. It was thrilling. It felt extraordinary, for only the God could score a double century in a 300-ball game. It still felt very acceptable because it was unbelievable. It seemed once in a lifetime affair. The fun was still there, the thrill was still there, the suspense and the beauty of your soul unharmed.
Then the world cup was won and you gave me the biggest joy of my life. It was like holding my own child for the first time.
But, you had become adulterated, in front of my eyes. You just became a very different thing and how quick!
T20s, IPL, spot fixing, Mr. Srinivasan and overkill of cricket. A lot happened, so suddenly, that I couldn’t even grasp things properly. You were not just cricket anymore but a brand. In the process of serving “entertainment” to the fans, your caretakers made a “dirty picture” out of you.
Didn’t you ever feel icky or hurt, O my beloved?
Still, I wouldn’t give up on you. Because, where there is love, there is no judgment. I still felt that, at least on the field, with so much influx of heavyweight talents, the Kohlis and all, my darling was safe, alive and kicking.
My diffidence raised head again, when I actually noticed the on-field action.
Every night a match is happening. If not International then IPL; if not IPL then CLT20. For the first time, as a fan, I am tired of watching cricket.
Yes, it is no small feat to score two double hundreds in a 300-ball format. Bravo, Rohit Sharma for your fitness and talent! But your 264, with all due respect, made me yawn and sleep and then quietly switch the TV off. Cricket was never so generic, never so boring. As if the entire concept of the game was down the drain.
I have to confess something. I know, not many will agree with me but I will still practice my freedom of speech.
I have fallen out of love with you, dear Indian cricket. I dont salivate over an upcoming team India match.
I can’t bear those sick sixes and fours anymore. I would rather watch the Indian Super League (yes, football).
But will that change anything? Will that make those 50s in 70-odd deliveries relevant again? Will a crisp swinging yorker be worth noticing again? Will a beautiful off spinner ever be discussed? Will you regain your beauty ever again? Will you just be “cricket” again and not what you have become?
I am not a pessimist. I am just sad. Despite being a 90s kid, who once walked and talked cricket, I don’t want to watch Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli (despite them being supremely talented) bat and boast about their records (21 tons Virat! Wow!), when the same men find it impossible to bat 30-overs collectively in test matches on English and Kiwi pitches. I don’t hate you my love, I hate this pretence. I abhor this pompous pride that is taking over Indian cricket. *deep breaths*
In simple words, I miss the fight that I still see in Australia Vs South Africa matches.
Soon, there will be more apathetic souls roaming around, untamed, not interested in your existence at all. It would be tragic for you my love, to be a fallen star, trampled under your own glory, self righteousness and tons of ODI double centuries and a few triplets too.
I hate to say this but since “the god” retired; you don’t seem like a “religion” anymore but just another sport. Isn’t that scary?
Shakespeare began his classic “Romeo and Juliet” with,
“For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
But, the legend of me falling out of love with you is even more tragic and woeful. It is a catastrophe only you can understand.
Take care, my love.
PS: I *want to* LOVE YOU.