God as Sachin

Satire: Cricket before ODIs

I wish all of life were as unhurried as a 5-day cricket match. There is something extremely therapeutic about watching so many players all dressed in white, standing around freshly mowed grass doing absolutely nothing. A player at deep mid-wicket can easily take a long nap and join the action just where he slept off. In fact, just think back to the county match between Sussex and Middlesex: the guy at the third man boundary – I think it was Colin again – went off to Selfridges to pick up a loaf of bread when the batsmen were running between the wickets, then trundled off to Marks & Spencers to get something for his wife. When he came out, he decided to stop off for a quick beer at the pub, only to find people gathered around the TV set there watching his match. Surprisingly, no on batted an eyelid at his presence among them, notwithstanding his white flannel trousers and cricket sweater; those who did, just thought that here was a cricket player finally doing something useful with his life. Colin watched for a while, and noticed that the field placement had become somewhat sparse. Sparse it certainly was, for sitting right next to him at the bar was his colleague from silly point, watching the game with a deeper interest than he had ever mustered on the field. Colin ordered another beer. Pretty soon the entire Sussex team was sitting at the bar watching themselves on the field, and marvelling at the intensity of their involvement in the game, a sport that had given them many hours to ruminate on life, the existence of nature, and the nature of existence.

That’s the great thing about cricket; it allows everyone to enjoy whatever aspect appeals to them. Some people are intent on winning; most of these are spectators, and can do nothing more than abuse the actual players from the stands. Some cricket people like the game for the time it gives them to think of their families and loved ones without any disturbance of any kind; most of these people are fielders. Remember, once Anil Kumble was fielding at point in the India – Nepal singular when he had this sudden urge to write a love note to his wife. Being newly married this was only natural. Anil pulled out a ream of A4 sheets, sharpened some pencils, and lay down on the grass. It was a five day match so there was plenty of time. He had written some twenty odd pages when one of the batsmen – out of sheer spite for his productivity – smacked a ball in his direction. Anil continued to write, but leaned slightly to the left to field the ball and return it to the bowler. By mid-afternoon of the second day, he had a first draft ready, almost 120 pages. He put these on a laptop borrowed from Joshi, himself working on his autobiography while wicket-keeping, and went off to call Penguin India on his mobile, an instrument Srinath was using all the while he delivered the ball from the Maidan end. Before the match ended, Anil not only had a complete manuscript, as well as a publisher, but also an agent in London who wanted all translation rights. Moreover, the match had been successfully concluded as a draw, and Anil was given a hero’s welcome in Bangalore.

 Such is the complex nature of the game that it allows complete participation in life’s other activities. Cricket is the nearest thing to philosophy, except in philosophy you sweat a little more and aren’t allowed breaks for tea. Besides, if you get stuck on those thorny issues about the nature of nature, or existence vs existance, you can’t have some philosopher walk in from the pavilion and do your thinking for you…

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