The only sport I had known. Everyone I had known always spoke about it.
Dad, Brother, Uncles, Aunt, Friends and anyone I had known. We played it on the streets with rubber ball, tennis ball, rubber cork ball, cork ball and finally proper cricket ball. We played it every day on the heat and dust of Indian summer. We used all forms of handmade bats and stumps till we had enough money to buy proper kit.
We discussed endlessly about it. We discussed, argued, fought and made friends and enemies. We saved all those bubble gum wrappers for months and sent it in exchange for a simple cricket poster. We remembered the matches, results, batting averages, bowling averages, strike rates and every single statistic about cricket.
In the early days, we listened to the radio commentary. My little bit of Hindi language skill is attributed to Hindi cricket commentary. We only read cricket columns on newspapers. We walked miles to watch cricket on friend’s homes. We learned to bear with people’s weird comments while watching cricket on TV. (Example: Ravi Shastri/Manoj Prabhakar’s good looks, The reason for a side screen, How Jayasuriya cheated with a illegal bat etc.,)
After those formative years we finally started to appreciate good cricketers irrespective of their nationality. We grew up to appreciate our early hate figures like Viv Richards, Waseem Akram, Glen McGrath and Sanath Jayasuriya.
Finally when we saw cricketers of all nationality play together as a team we rejoiced. It looks like the rejoicement is coming to an end. This IPL circus and actions in the past few weeks has brought all sort of sinister notions to our beliefs. Our beliefs we deeply cultivated over decades.
Should we forget all our memories and walk away from cricket?
Or should we stay oblivious to all this and continue to watch our beloved sport?
I am confused.