Just not cricket

“When and where is the World Cup?” We were in a crowded room which greeted my clearly not-quiet-enough question with a sudden silence. All around me, stunned and stupefied looks are now thrown in my direction. One young man is almost half out of his seat giving me a belligerent look. I look to the nearest exit out of sheer panic. As if on cue, my husband saunters in just then and announces that he’s not impressed with the discussion on the television that’s loudly blaring in the next room. “It’s like everyone has a crystal ball as to who would win this time and nothing else is being telecast...”

Before we’re shown the door, I race out of the party with a bewildered husband in tow. “We didn’t even have lunch, what’s the hurry?” He can’t understand that I wanted to escape being lynched. I belong to that rare club that has minimal interest in cricket. The last time I watched a cricket match on TV at home with guests was when India and Pakistan were the opposing teams. The tension was unbearable. Most of my nails had been bitten off by the first few overs. My constant mutters, sighs and invocation of every God became a side show for the other viewers. In the beginning my husband and his friends gave me indulgent smiles but soon I was the target of their ferocious scowls and frowns. I was asked in not-so-polite terms to vacate my seat from the living room.
All those stories of male-bonding over cricket matches get more and more bizarre with every tournament. Whether it’s placing furniture and other inanimate objects in strategic positions or holding your bladder till the last ball of the over is bowled, cricket fans act in ways that defy logic and biology.

My friends whose hormonal levels fluctuate dramatically just before the World Cup season, pour out their woes. “My husband is already walking around like a zombie all the time!” “My son who’s in 10th standard is now hankering for a huge screen TV.” “My father-in-law who’s fanatical about his puja is now rescheduling his morning routine.
I wonder what the buzz is all about. My euphoria over cricket lasted till India won the Prudential World Cup. I was in high school then and the rush of hearing the commentator on the radio when Malcolm Marshall or Imran Khan bowled from one end was unforgettable. The sound of frenzied crowds in the background only added to the allure. I would imagine myself in the stands cheering along with the other madcap fans for the home team. While I told people I liked cricket, would love to play it myself if only I could rustle up a team, it wasn’t the complete truth. I had already switched over to badminton. With Prakash Padukone eventually placing India on the world badminton map my tryst with cricket ended, in no small measure to his good looks.

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