Confessions of a cricket-aholic
I was born to cricket-crazy parents, who, during their brief courtship period, had spent 80% of their very few telephonic conversations discussing their favourite cricketers – Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar and analysing cricket matches! When I was young, I would bawl my lungs out in an attempt to get their attention, whenever they were glued to a cricket match! To avoid my tantrums, they briefed me about the rules of the game and inducted me into their team so that they could not enjoy their games peacefully!
I started following the game from World Cup 1996, when I was in class IV and just 2 weeks away from the Annual Examinations! I assured my parents that I was on top of the syllabus and just needed one more revision the day before the examination, sat between them in front of the television set and bombarded them with questions about the rules, players, match, teams etc. My parents were too happy to oblige, thinking they had passed on their best combined gene to their only daughter.
That series was my initiation into the religion named cricket! I fell in love with Ajay Jadeja’s ballistic 25-ball 45 in the semi-final against Pakistan and declared to my alarmed parents that I would marry only him.
Examinations, results, studies – all went for a toss the days cricket matches were to be telecast. The television used to face the sofa and the living room door. My mother would be sitting on the sofa with her back towards me and would not notice my small head peeping through the door. Every time she got up, I would run back to my room and pretend to be deeply engrossed in solving the same arithmetic problem for 2 hours!
However after few years, we shifted house and I lost this advantage. My mother, by this time, had become wiser to my antics and she would ensure that I close the study room door before she switched on the television. I had no other way but to stand crouched with my ear pressed on the door to be able to catch the commentary. After all, how could I concentrate on the intricacies of English language when my mind was buzzing with curiosity about fate of the game?
By this time, I had moved on from Jadeja to Shahid Afridi, just after his world record of fastest ODI century in 1996. Apart from all matches featuring India, I now began to follow matches played by Pakistan too. If there were time constraint in terms of homework, studies and class tests, I would beg my mother to let me watch at least the first 15 minutes of a Pakistan batting innings since most of the time, he would last in the crease for those few minutes only! I gradually lost interest as his game and age remained the same😉
During the 1999 inaugural Asian Test Championship, I did the wackiest and craziest thing of my life with respect to my craze for the game. It was the first match between India and Pakistan being played at Eden Gardens. I was studying in class VII then. The first four days were on weekdays, which meant the day’s game would be over by the time I reached home at around 5 pm. On the second day, a friend and an equally crazy cricket lover [who now blogs about mouth-watering recipes at Guilt-free], brought a portable radio to school to be able to get updates about the match during class breaks (and to appear cooler than all of us ;-)). That week, luckily both of us were sitting in the last row (our classroom had a policy where students would change rows on a weekly rotational basis). During a very boring Mathematics class, I requested her through sign language to pass on the radio to catch a quick update about the match. Shocked, she mouthed, ‘It’s HER class’, referring to our stricter-than-Hitler Maths teacher. I shrugged, trying to appear totally nonchalant about any consequence of getting caught by her with a radio inside the classroom. My friend passed on the radio and I lowered my head, put one earpiece close to one of my ears and tuned into the commentary of the on-going match!
Imagine the thrill of being able to know match updates, sitting in school, that too in a Maths class! As a favour, I passed around chits to my classmates whenever any wicket fell or an Indian batsman scored a six (and managed to up my cool quotient ;-)). During the class breaks, the radio would be passed around to others, but during the next 6 periods, it remained with me. No one could muster enough courage or rather, had enough enthusiasm to listen to radio when classes were going on. I did not stop even when we had to do our Biology practical class in the last period in an open lab and snuck in a few minutes of commentary every now and then. At the end of the day, my friend told me that she was not going to bring it back the next day for fear of discovery and seizure of her precious radio due to my reckless acts! I pleaded but she stood her ground. I cajoled her with ice-cream but she still would not listen. Finally I promised a poster of Anil Kumble, her favourite cricketer (which would wipe away whatever remained of my allowance for that month) in exchange of her radio for the remaining days of the test match.
That particular test match will be remembered by other cricket lovers for all the wrong reasons – Sachin’s run-out, Wasim Akram’s refusal to call him back, the frenzied Eden Gardens crowd erupting in disappointment, Sachin’s personal appeal to resume the game peacefully, the crowd being driven away from the grounds by the police and ultimately ending in Pakistan’s win. However, for me, this match will always be memorable for the risky and daring acts of defiance committed by a 13-year old me for the love of the game of cricket. Since then, I have done many crazy acts like requesting for an adjournment of a matter (remember, I am a lawyer?) to catch the India-Pakistan semi-final in the 2011 World Cup, refreshing cricinfo.com every two minutes on my newly acquired smart phone during client meetings, shamelessly grabbing every opportunity of going to Eden Gardens to witness a match, even if it meant taking favours from not-so-favourite people, defending my team (Kolkata Knight Riders in case of IPL) in an anti-KKR crowd, losing my voice from cheering and then faking a cough next day in office and so on and so forth. But to me, nothing beats what I did way back in school!
For the children of 1990s like me, the game has changed so much over the years – the format, players, playing nations, rules, even ease of viewing! Star Sports now has free video streaming of the ongoing Pepsi IPL 2014, which allows me to enjoy the matches over internet, even if I am nowhere near a television set! It seems that I have come a long way from radio commentary to internet viewing! Such interestingly innovative times we live in!
P.S. At the end of the post, I realised that I have confessed a little too much! I just hope my parents and my Mathematics teacher will forgive me for these crimes of past. If not, I can always cite the law of Limitation
P.P.S. I had mentioned about this ‘radio activity’ while writing about my classroom antics in this post in 2010.