In a week that's resembled the midpoint of the French Revolution, it's easy to feel depressed if you're a true cricket fan. Two Twitter-obsessed men with power at loggerheads, the BCCI at war with its own, wherever you look it's madness, not to mention an overload of DLF Maximums and Citi Moments of Success. It's frustrating and it's sickening. There's a storm swarming around the IPL, and it's making international headlines. When did cricket come to this?
What happened to the days when it was a contest between bat and ball, and the only men whose opinions mattered were the captains? Why do 'sweat' equities and the nitty gritty about a consortium grab more headlines than a Test match? It's at times like these that the fan inside me looks back to better days, to times when I was drawn to the game for real reasons.
When I first picked up a bat and looked up at the bowler running in with a tennis ball. When I first cracked a proper shot. When I was first dropped. When I first took a catch. When I first heard a game relayed over a crackling radio. When I first heard Richie Benaud. When I first saw Warne bowl. When I first went to a Ranji Trophy game. When I ran five kilometers to reach a town shut down due to curfew and banged on the shutters of an electronic store to watch India play Pakistan. When I woke up a friend at 3am to tell him Sourav had won the toss. When I sat and discussed Tendulkar's batting with friends.
When I sipped tea and talked cricket as over the radio Zaheer yorked Steve Waugh. When I sat and watched India struggle against Holland. When I ran from my dorm in the winter to a friend's room after he called me to tell me India were batting. When I square-drove in my room as on the radio I heard Yuvraj do the same to McGrath. When I woke up my room-mate who had an exam in a couple hours and got him to dance in celebration of India’s win. When I logged onto the Internet to check the score of the match between Kwazulu-Natal and the Nicky Oppenheimer XI. When I sat and watched my Internet connection come and go as West Indies steamrolled India.
When I drove cross-country laughing with friends and listening to Springsteen after a loss to a rival university. When I woke at dawn and put out a mat before a match. When I sat and watched the rain play spoilsport two hours later. When I took two catches at slip in the same match. When I watched Akram square up Arnold four times in a row and then clap for him when he got bat on ball. When I rooted for Tikolo even as Kenya were dismissed for less than 200. When I called my boss and said I couldn’t come into work because Dravid and Laxman were batting. When I won my first match as captain and picked up the kit bag. When a friend and I stepped out for coffee at an ungodly hour of the night and returned to see India had lost two more wickets. When I sat with friends and relived a match. When I argued with a friend about who was better, Tendulkar or Lara.
That was cricket, and that was life. What first drew you to cricket? This may be the time to remember.