A foolish cricket fan


Two test matches have been played in the India-West Indies series, and I’m yet to watch a single ball live. Last time they were in India, my dad was able to watch some days’ play live, the ones on weekend. I have myself to blame for missing day-1of first test, yes, but now, I have to pray for the Bombay game to reach day-5 to catch a glimpse of a game live.

How hard is it to organize a game that can ease into the weekends and then finish on a Monday or a Tuesday? BCCI go against the government’s Sports Bill, but the 9-to-5 schedule of test matches on weekdays makes it look like an Indian governmental functionary than many others actually do. Sarkari kaam…

I was atleast able to follow the game by some mean. People come to me a day or two after the test asking how much XYZ scored, or, how much lead India has over West Indies now.  Cricket is slowly slipping out of people’s mind. Such a scheduling is pushing us fans away from the game. In other words, it is not attracting us towards it.

Also found smaller turn outs in stadia during both the English ODI and the WI test series. Myriad explanations and justifications came up for that. Cricket burn out, no-match series, “boring” series (???), and one more that caught my eye – the game is driven more by the television audience. People want to stay home and watch the game rather than go to the stadium. Have heard “when I can watch it here, why would I want to go all the way there and watch it?” Here’s my retort to them – “Why go on a vacation to any tourist spot if you can watch videos and photos of the place sitting at home?”

It was a horrible spring/summer of 1999, after which my family moved to Chennai. I joined my new school 2 months after it had started. In my first month in the new city, I learnt that my school had thrown holidays when Pakistan played the test there. Only one test had uninterrupted play since that, and that game had more security personnel than spectators (vs England, 2008). Never heard any other place giving anything remotely close to a holiday for a game played in the city. I don’t expect them to. I might have ten years ago, not today. It’s how the game has gone. Value for the game has decreased from a festival it once was to an ignorable passing vehicle today.

Test cricket attendance was decreasing, slowly, but I think somewhere recently it fell like an avalanche. Earlier, test and one-dayers existed. It wasn’t tough for people to go for test matches. Today, in comparison to those times, the pay, transport, roads, connectivity, communication and access have improved, but it somehow got tougher for people to go for test matches. I may be a fool in understanding this, but I would like to remain so.

T20 came in. Supposedly the game has been blessed with new fans with the arrival of the T20s. I hope that is true, I’m not yet convinced about that myself. Last night, I was called “shameless” for watching test cricket (SAvAUS, 2nd test, day-2, Steyn and Tahir bowling). Not the first such remark I’ve faced. Rolling back a couple of years, when my college mates were about to turn into bed, my alarm woke me up. It was 3:15 am, and I was heading to the TV room to watch India’s first test match in NZ. I was laughed at. Earlier this year, I “troubled” the sleeping watchman (who had absolutely no business sleeping when he must be doing his job) to watch Pakistan’s tour of West Indies. The college then locked the room permanently which made me miss watching on TV most of India’s tour of West Indies and the English tour. Internet streaming is only a consolation.

“Shameless”? Really? When I quack about dislike of T20s and ‘IPL’ cricket, or bite those fans, I’m a fool, a stubborn narrow minded idiot, but these people who can call me such must be saints, I guess. I have trained myself to ignore “Abbey saale, test match kaun dekhta hai?” comments, 5 years after standing on a dais and begging my class of 73 to give a little bit more importance to test cricket in my first year of college. (That was before ICL or IPL hit any of us.) But of course, I was a fool…

Jumping back to the India-WI series, I caught up with highlights of all days’ play (except last day’s of both test match), and I fail to see what’s keeping the BCCI with the commentators that were on there. Is there no way we can give them a feedback about them? It was easier to watch highlights, since most of their comments would not register on my mind, or, Yadav’s  innocent celebration would divert my attention, or Darren Bravo would make me nostalgic. It all helped, yes. Having heard those muppets over the years, why hasn’t there been any change at all? It’s something I rant about a lot, because a commentator is one of the three things I want to become one day. Atleast, wanted to. I would prefer radio commentary over television commentary, though. No regrets, I became of the other two things I dreamt.

I love this game, but my love was never tried and tested so much. Never before have I felt so distant from the game in my life.

-Bagrat

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3 responses to “A foolish cricket fan

  1. Good post. You know it is test cricket, when:

    – the number of runs scored is more than the number of people in attendance
    – take out the media crew, security and administrators, and the players outnumber the people in the stands

    Jokes apart, what is the solution? Night cricket, better management of international schedule, reduction of T20s and ODIs? Would love a post on possible solutions 🙂

  2. “I love this game, but my love was never tried and tested so much. Never before have I felt so distant from the game in my life.”- nice words.Can understand how much you loved pure cricket.

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