Cricket, inglorious cricket, with a spin of laughter

 

Cricket, inglorious cricket,  with a spin of laughter

Published: Fri 14 Jun 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 21 Jun 2019, 9:55 AM

In thousands of homes across the cricketing world, everything has been placed on hold while the World Cup holds total sway. By now, deeply trapped in the throes of this 45-day sports ambush, we are - for the most part - willing hostages. Even as the non-cricket loving minority wonders at this epidemic and marriages are placed in jeopardy and socialising becomes a war zone and children vie with parents over the TV screen rights and conversation from the men is more grunts and 'uh huhs' and 'ok' without really listening, errands are left undone and wives are exasperated, like what's the big deal?
Cricket, inglorious cricket. can't have enough of it, that is the big deal.
So, I am flying back to Dubai and this man next to me is a professor and he hates cricket. I ask him why he hates it, I mean you might not like the game but why do you have to actively hate it?
"Complete nonsense, two men standing in front of sticks and 11 others hanging around and millions watching, what a waste of man-hours," he says.
"Could be soccer," I say, "same number of people and two men guarding some netting from the entry of a largely inflated leather sphere." The expression on his face is one of sneering impatience like he was talking to a cretin.
I love the game. I think the rules get more absurd by the day and believe that technology has turned the umpires into rubber dolls and I have no idea how Duckworth and Lewis did the dirty or that stupid line belongs to the umpire and even though they made me school captain of the team (largely because I was the tallest in the class), in this game, I was singularly untalented and hated being at the wicket, waiting for that whizzing ball. It is a terribly lonely, exposed feeling.
But I don't mock it, albeit I can make a couple of jokes about cricket, secure in the knowledge that cricket and its opponents are hardy enough to laugh along.
Comedian Robin Williams called it baseball on valium, it is so slow. Actress Gina Lollobrigida reportedly sat through two hours and then asked when the game begins. Some poet once called it chess without the intelligence. Edward took his blonde girlfriend to a test match. Not only did she not understand the game, she was completely bored. After tea, a batsman hit a powerful six over the long on boundary. "Thank heavens! Now they got rid of the ball!" she shouted in delight. "Now we can all go home!"
At the height of WWII, Winston Churchill said, "A fanatic is someone who can't change their mind and won't change the subject. A bore is someone whose chosen subject is cricket." In a competition held for anti-cricket sentiment, the following made the finals: What's the difference between watching test cricket and the TV screen test pattern?
A 1: After a while, the test pattern starts to look interesting.
A 2: The test pattern is more colourful.
A 3: There is more movement in the test pattern.
But the first prize for anti-cricket feelings goes to American bestselling author Bill Bryson who wrote these words:
"It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavours look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side effect. but it is an odd game. It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares its name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as players, more if they are moderately restless. It is the only competitive activity of any type, other than perhaps baking, in which you can dress in white from head to toe and be as clean at the end of the day as you were at the beginning."
The Ashes lend themselves to good humour largely because of the razor-sharp historical competition:
The Australian bobsleigh team have asked the Aussie cricket team for a meeting. They want to ask their advice about going downhill so fast!
On his way out into the middle to bat, Ricky Ponting gets a call from his wife and teammate Michael Hussey tells her he's heading out to the middle, his turn to bat. His wife replies, "I'll hold, he won't be long!"
What do you call an Australian who can hold a catch? A fisherman.
My favourite story is called Cricket Heaven. Two cricketers, now elderly, 85 and 82 years old, are sitting on a park bench outside Lord's cricket ground, feeding pigeons and talking about cricket, past Ashes series, and past tours like they do every day.
One turns to the other and asks, "Do you think there's cricket in heaven?" His friend says, "I dunno. But let's make an agreement: if I die first, I'll come back and tell you if there's cricket in heaven, and if you die first, you do the same." Soon after, one of them dies.
A few days later, the friend hears a voice and it says yes, there is cricket in heaven. That's awesome good news. There is also some bad news. What could that be? You are slated to open the innings on Sunday.
wknd@khaleejtimes.com

By Bikram Vohra

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