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Cricket? No thanks. Give me House of Cards

On a televised cricket match though, I just don't see it


Nivriti Butalia

Published: Sun 4 Jun 2017, 8:19 PM

Last updated: Mon 5 Jun 2017, 10:32 PM

Last time there was a cricket match, an India-Pak one at that, I was asked to leave the room because I bungled up two names and asked the match watchers, is Mohammed Dhoni out? This caused some anguish. There was judgment and head shaking. In an atmosphere of tense run chases and loud voices saying "come onnn!" and "abbey yaar!" and the smell of mint chutney and onions wafting up from rectangular aluminum containers of ordered-in chicken tikka, you can't go around calling captains whatever rolls off the tongue. Although, don't take my word for whether or not Dhoni was captain then. My recollections of cricket matches I've been made to sit through are rather, umm ... 'un crickety'.
I first understood the meaning of boredom when I was seven. We were visiting Bangalore. I remember sitting quietly, uncomplaining, as my father and brother were engrossed in some odious cricket match. I remember it was a test match because that's when I learnt that okay, the ones that never end 'test' your patience. The quicker ones are like school unit tests, less taxing than the real thing. Too young to be allowed to toodle off on my own in an unfamiliar city, I had to hang around in that TV room when all I wanted to do was go to Weekender and check out their collection of floral-printed tights. Such are the agonies of childhood. 
By the time you read this, an India Pakistan match would have taken place - don't ask me what series, where it's being played, who's captaining. How I even know there is a match is because I would have hosted people in the evening for a cricket party. The doorbell will go tiiing tong and boys wearing India T-shirts will expand into the living room. There won't be a hi, they'll say 'score?' Entertainer coupons will have been used to get one plus one free pizza. Maybe margherita, maybe pepperoni. Maybe one of each. I might roast foxnuts (makhana) as popcorn substitute. I have carrot cake in the fridge, which will do nicely as dessert. My mother made it.
So I will send her a picture of people eating it and she might say, oho you should have kept it for yourself. Or she might say, lovely, did they like it? I don't know. That's my suspense for an evening of cricket match watching. And such are my grand plans for the friends coming over this evening. Oh, and a baby! I'm not sure I've sat through cricket matches with babies, but I'm all for new memories. Maybe I can bowl a foxnut to the baby and yell: Out! And get glared at by the leg-shaking anxious viewers because of whom I can't get on with watching the latest season of House of Cards. I don't know what it is that makes different people interested in different things. Equally, people interested in multiple things. I'm not a 'sports person,' but I enjoy good sports writing and movies about down and out sports persons - what's that one with Robert Redford and baseball?
Also Tin Cup, and Million Dollar Baby, and all the other boxing and running ones. Stories about endurance and the human spirit and all of that when it comes across are fantastic. On a televised cricket match though, I just don't see it. Maybe I'm not looking properly. Maybe I've got to clean my glasses and peer closer the next time Chiteshwar Pujara (does he still play?) bowls or bats or fields or whatever it is he does. But on these live telecasts, all I'm interested in is the crowd, and the 'WAGS'. It amuses me that the cameramen always pan to only the semi-attractive female(s) and allow her to rule the frame till she flicks her hair or looks sideways. I mean, come on, this is just so much less delightful than hearing Kevin Spacey in his Southern lilt, spit out "hwat" (for "what"), and get the better of that idiot beefcake, Conway.
Thankfully the cricket match that interrupts my House of Cards viewathon is just a one-day affair. Small mercies, I say. 

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