Matchmaker – World Cup 2011

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It was a crowded frenzy. Or maybe it was a frenzied crowd. Maybe it was both. It was a celebration of wild, unbridled, raw emotions gathered in thoughtless, mindless shouts, cries and howls, But enough about the party in Charlie Sheen’s Jacuzzi. Let’s move on to the slightly saner world of sports.

I say slightly saner, but I am stretching the word thin. Sports is perhaps the last refuge of covert insanity. It is the one arena where it is still acceptable for mature, rational adults to behave like college dropouts on spring break. It is a global phenomenon – across all types of sports. But right now, the news of the hour is the evergreen Indian favourite – Cricket.

 

And I’m not talking about this fella over here.


Cricket, for those who are not familiar with the sport, is a bat-and-ball team sport where the players take turns as the batting team – who fiercely defend three vertical sticks from an onslaught of impeding balls and, having done so, run back and forth across a small stretch of land called the pitch – and the bowling team – who throw balls at the batting team and run after them (the balls, not the batting team) within the confines of a wide ground, which surrounds the pitch. Cricket is known as the gentleman’s sport, invented in England by the late 16th century, presumably by British high-society who got bored between their evening teas. Since then, it has developed into several formats, including the ICC Cricket World Cup, a multimillion dollar televised event where, once in four years, people all over the world come together to side against Australian arrogance.

That doesn’t stop him from spending his Tuesday evenings hanging tight to his… trophies.

This year, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup trophy was pocketed by the Indian Cricket team. It was a proud moment for India. This was our first World Cup victory in 28 years. Most Indians were glued to the TV set for the final eight hour match, and the rest were in the stadium.

My country, India, is often talked about as a land of varied diversity (as opposed to the sort of diversity that is uniform throughout, I suppose). It is a land full of mountains and plateaus, ignorance and knowledge, richness and poverty, and a blend of hundreds of subcultures, languages, religions, cuisines, and artforms. But one thing that seems to bring them together is cricket.

I watched the final match with my friends this year. It was a thoroughly enjoyable display of energy, rigor, team spirit and unity. And I’m just talking about my friends jumping up and down every time India scored. There is something rivetting about the sport… or so I’m told. Personally, I am more entertained by the audience than the actual sport. And boy, are they entertaining. They would jump up on their feet like cartoon characters sitting on a tack. They would cut off mid-sentence if a ball is dropped; they would shout at the players on screen, punch pillows, and dance spontaneously without warning. And my friends are comparatively sane. Sports has somehow become a caricature of explicit patriotism. During the high of the season, there were fans who would consider their day incomplete without the National flag painted all over their face… and other faces too, if they get the chance. Leave no face unpainted. That’s the unofficial motto.

 

This lady was only asking for directions.


A relatively unknown (well, unknown to me, anyway) model called Poonam Pandey had ‘incentivised’ the Indian team by promising to strip naked if the team won. She said her stripping would have therapeutic effect on the Indian team. The Cricket World Cup comes once every four years, India hasn’t won it in the past 28 years, and for people who are basically professionals in the field, the trophy is consideredto be the pinnacle of their career achievement, but no… the real motivation is to get Poonam to strip. Yes, therapy is most certainly required. But this isn’t a new deal in the crazy crazy world of sports… Model Larissa Riquelme had promised to run nude in Paraguay if her team won the football World Cup last year, and even though Paraguay lost, she ran naked anyway. It couldn’t be that she misheard the final score or got a fake newspaper that said Paraguay won. No, I believe she was planning on stripping anyway, and was just looking for an excuse. I wonder how much therapeutic effect she had on her team. But models’ aversion to clothes notwitshtanding, there are crazier people out there… If rumors are to be believed, then an Indian had planned on selling his kidney for buying tickets to the semi-final match. There has been no report as to whether he hocked the other one for tickets to the finals.

 

He had already sold his brain for airfare and his left eye for a very cool eyepatch.

He had already sold his brain for airfare and his left eye for a very cool eyepatch.

Just to clarify – when I said I ‘watched the final match’ with my friends, I meant I looked up from my laptop a few times to glance at the live telecast. I am not into sports, I’m not into cricket. These traits are considered so un-Indian that it took the government thrice as long as usual to process my passport. But despite my disinclination to the sport, I was enamoured by the last few overs… I watched India’s winning moment. I guess you don’t have to be a fan to connect with a victory for the nation. For an actual fan, the moment must be even more intense. And for the actual players, it must be indescribable… certainly a stronger high than Poonam Pandey’s therapy. Kudos.

Congratulations, team India. Keep up the good work.dailymail.co.uk

Congratulations, team India. Keep the trophies coming.

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8 Responses

  1. Dheeraj says:

    Nice 🙂 I was expecting a WC related blog from you 😛

  2. Dhanya says:

    Hey… Cricket is indeed the largest followed religion in India of course after the religion that one of the largest parties promote. I am sure given a chance, one of the promises for their election campaign would have been… il ensure India wins the world cup! but thank god for small mercies. 🙂

    jus an update… the last we heard of Ms. Pandey was that she has switched off her phone. I am sure… she would have made that announcement thinking India is never going to win. but little did she know…. Now wht Ms. Pandey…

  3. Gurpreet says:

    A fun and interesting read Hammy!! Congratulations to the Team INDIA and all the Indias! I am sure Murli and Bharath were jumping when u guys were witnessing the Indian dominance! 😉

  4. Manjeera says:

    Being an “un-indian” myself (not into sports n that includes cricket!), could totally relate to your post 🙂
    gr8, funny, write up! 😀

  5. Ginger says:

    The Brits love crickey too. I was at a church event and every one was glued to the 55inch screen. I don’t understand the game but I took joy in teasing my Sri Lankan girlfriend.
    Congratulations!! (you still get to receive congratulatons – love the game or not. you’re Indian duh!)

  6. hammy says:

    @dheeraj:
    Really? Including me, that makes one of us. 😀
    Most people know by now that my association with sports has been sketchy, if you want to stretch the truth, which is that we’re strangers to each other. Hardly anyone expected me to glance at the match, leave alone write a whole article about it.

    @dhanya:
    A party that promises World Cup victories. You know what… That just might work. It’s not like the election promises mean anything anyway. Might as well make them funny. And regarding Miss Pandey, most people seem certain that she is blushing away into a shy recluse after India won. I seriously doubt it. I have no doubt that Miss Pandey would be more than happy to run around in her birthday suit. She’s only looking for a legal way to do it. And I don’t think her desire to run wild and free has any strong correlation with the world cup.

    @gurpreet:
    It was fun, the whole fifteen minutes that I watched. And I am pretty sure that the rest of the audience enjoyed the full match as well.

    @manjeera:
    Ah, welcome to the BBYYs, Manjeera. And yes, life is tough for us ‘un-indians’, but generally, the male Undian is more affected than the female… Cos by and large, guys are universally expected to be interested in sports and while people may nod in approval if the girl shows interest, it is acceptable if she does not.

    @ginger:
    Well, you teased your Sri Lankan friend. That’s pretty good as far as understanding sports goes… I mean, that may be the whole point of any sport… to tease the losing teams and anyone associated with them… At least, that’s what I think. But what do I know about sports?
    And thank you… I am all up for gathering congratulations whether or not I deserve it. So send them in anytime.

  7. mathew says:

    i was really happy that i could enjoy the cricket world cup in india…and now watching the IPL is absolutely boring..:( nice to read your blog after a long time..

  8. hammy says:

    @mathew:
    Welcome back, Mathew. Been quite a long time. Good that you enjoyed the match. The match does seem to have been quite an event. My boss is has already downloaded the HD version of the match to preserve for posterity. And I’m thinking of giving that to my dad as well. I mean… I may not be crazy about it, but I can recognize craze when I see it.

    Just wait till the high wears off a bit and then maybe the IPL may not seem that boring. Of course, what do I know?

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