BENGALURU: Long, long ago, people did not carry rectangular devices on their bodies. Back in those days, once every four years, advertising professionals and marketing gurus would beam with the joy at the arrival of ‘World Cup Fever’.
Two months before the actual World Cup arrived, the fever displayed its first symptoms. Hoardings wishing the Indian Team mushroomed all over the city. Soft drink conglomerates who on regular days exploit natural water bodies for profit, suddenly slashed their prices out of love for the country. Colour TVs went through a recession leading to the prices falling dramatically. Newspapers, magazines, news bulletins – the World Cup Fever had truly gripped the nation.
As a child, I had been weaned on cricket. I’d been fed nuggets of stories and farex of facts - cricket was running in my veins by the age of 10. Back then, the prospect of a cricket World Cup seemed unbelievable. An entire month - cricket matches being played day in and day out, by the best players from around the world. An entire month! What a joy!
The World Cup has arrived again, but it hasn’t succeeded in inducing a cross-country fever. What we feel this year is one of those dubious ailments that can be solved by homoeopathy.
For one, I find the duration of a cricket match too long to sit through. Each innings takes four hours, and there’s a break in the middle. Add to the duration the pre-match and post-match ceremonies, and the time needed to travel to and fro - it’s a good 12 hours of your day spent in following a sport that only ten nations in the world play!
I find it mildly impressive that as a child, I used to watch entire matches. There was nothing to tweet about – I watched entire matches out of pure love. Twelve hours seem precious to me now. Can you imagine the things you could get done? You could work out, sleep, wake up, work and slip in a few beers within 12 hours. Entire forests can get wiped out in 12 hours. You could travel to the other side of the world in 12 hours.
Then there’s also the aspect of having nobody to discuss the matches with. Nobody to meet the next day, sit in a circle and offer expert opinions on the finest nuances of the match. There is no banter and leg-pulling about cricketers who dropped catches, or played selfishly for personal records. All I do these days is share a meme about the match.
To the discerning reader, it would seem like an utterly solvable problem. Just stop watching the matches, I hear you respected readers whisper in your heads! But therein lies the paradox. I cannot wean myself off of the sport; I experience mild nausea when there’s no cricket around. I have been consuming cricket for decades now. The details are fuzzy, but I remember watching my father watch the match on television, but follow the commentary on radio, as it was a few seconds faster. Even to my seven-year-old brain, the act seemed baffling – but I understood the why of his act. I cannot simply stop watching cricket.
And the thought of the ongoing World Cup seems daunting to me. An entire month – of cricket matches being played day in and day out by the best players from around the world, for 12 hours daily. For an entire month! What a nightmare! The author is a writer and comedian.