We Indians are Cricket enthusiasts, more by birth than by will. Probably, enthusiasts is a very mild word. Mania. Religion. Passion. Imagine an India-Pakistan match in Eden Gardens. The excitement in the air. The pulse of the audience. The nervousness of the players. Electric. Cricket is our right. Probably the English invented it but it lives because of us. Cricket today is what it is because of East Indians, those folks who gave the world Aryabhatta, Tagore, Gandhi but also Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Kumble. Nothing unites India like Cricket.
Anyway, this post isn't about Cricket. I mean it is, but not just about Cricket. Its about that romantic tryst between us, me and the game we all love. As a kid, I've never enjoyed watching the game. Playing it was pretty much inevitable because people here play it all the time, everywhere. But watching it was always for me a bore. 6 deliveries in about 4 minutes is as slow as it gets. Unless it was slam bang cricket, I never watched it. I mean unless India were winning or something ofcourse. And with these bunch of Indian folks, you never knew if you were winning or not.
But as I grew up, I loved watching test cricket. The sporadically filled Melbourne Cricket Ground(or popularly MCG), the grass in various shades of greens, the just-right overhead conditions, the well rolled pitch with that hint of grass and those men in whites walking in from the depths of the pavilion. Heaven, ain't it? Somehow I can connect to test matches in Australia personally. Probably because those matches started at about 5.00 in the morning IST and when my uncles were around, we'd have the TV switched on by 4.30. I wake up to the sound of Harsha Bhogle's comments on the surface of the pitch and how 'juicy' it was. I haven't spent a lot of time with both Bujji mama and Moni mama but whatever quality time I have spent, it has been during those mornings watching Mcgrath bowl Tendulkar just outside the off-stump with late outside movement on the ball.
Now, when I think about it, its all very nostalgic. Its a very nice feeling. Waking up so early to watch quality cricket and most importantly, watching it all as a family. Gasping at a dropped catch or beaming at a textbook late cut by Dravid. All very binding.
People say Test Cricket is dying and all that but I don't think so. It is the purest form of the game and if someone like Lalit Modi ever manages to shelve it, the game wouldn't be the same again. Agreed T20 is really cool, fast and juicy but it leaves you with nothing. You don't remember anything of it after you go back home. And that is what I find very annoying about all the gungho surrounding it. Nothing ever can capture the zeal of the Ashes or the satisfaction of a Test 300.
Maybe we won't have Test matches soon. They would be a thing of the past then. People might refer to it like they talk about Dinosaurs and Ice Ages with no emotion but I, for one, have a bundle of memories. Whenever I see those green fields, those gentlemen in white wearing Baggy Greens or Navy Blues, I'd be reminded of all that I was once and about how Cricket helped give me moments of familial bondage.
And nothing ever would replace the lump in my throat when I think of a Brett Lee scorcher just miss Tendulkar's bat and Harsha Bhogle exclamation. Nothing ever. Probably that is why they say Test Cricket defines all those good times, when people played for the love of the game and were honoured to represent their country.