Bullies of football and cricket

Bullies of football and cricket

There were times when the cultists of cricket and football were vying for supremacy. Even Shakespeare’s Montagues and Capulets in Verona might have once in a while mistakenly smiled at each other but the cricket and football zealots did not enjoy any camaraderie due to several variants in the basic structure of the game and the players’ persona.

The cricket lobbyists strongly felt that any pastime that failed to bring out the refreshing candour in a man was not a sport but a boorish exercise to settle primordial scores. Cricket’s protagonist was a circumspect gentleman, who would never appear in public or remain in the confines of his residence unshaven, unkempt or ill-clad.

He eulogised cricket since during matches the players always wore white pants and full sleeves, (unlike foot ball players) lest their hairy legs and hands were exposed to the ladies present. Television unheard of, his bonding with cricket was confined to pictures of Test matches in sports pages and the ball-by-ball radio commentaries of stalwarts like Maharajkumar of Vijayanagram (‘Vizzy’), V M Chakrapani, Anand Rao and their ilk.  

Pitted against the soft, wispy cricket’s natty gentleman were scruffy football aficionados. They pooh-poohed cricket, in their opinion, a colossal waste of time running to five days of inactivity, and adding insult to injury with a day of rest (rest from what?) after the third day, whereas the football frenzy was over mostly in 45 minutes, not counting the 15-minute interval. Fancy that!

In stark contrast, football players like gladiators attacked their opponents without a shield, sword and a guard to safeguard you-know-what. They ran helter-skelter like excited cockerels, dribbling the ball, with no fear for limb or life, with the sole object of shooting the ball through the goal posts, making sure they were not their own! The referees who ran along side, to see no foul tackle was resorted to, had to be more active, agile and mobile than the two in cricket who at best pantomimed as if in a dumb show. “Football is for the fearless, fleet-footed daredevils. But cricket is for namby pamby, lazybones, somnambulists, who stood mystified coming to life once in a while, god willing!” — thus spake a football lobbyist.

But time has proved there is little difference between football and cricket. The gentleman’s game has now ‘sledging’, a vocal process to demoralise the batsman by hurling a mélange of foul words that will sizzle and make the eardrums singe. A shocked old guard of cricket may further recoil with horror at the dress (or the lack of it) of the pom-pom cheer girls, as also the players’ spirited spitting spree on the ground. The Montagues and Capulets seem to have come together in the last act!

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