It’s that time of the year when there’s money and Bollywood, when there’s commentary and cacophony, when there’s fashion and rant, when there’s celebrities and celebrations, and well of course, when there’s a wrecking ball of the sport, fat and chubby with class and clamor, joy and jazz.
I wasn’t ah… Excited. Which is stupidly unusual. This was IPL. I was supposed to swoon over it. I wasn’t ah… Enthusiastic. Which is a case of a mildly befuddled brain. This was Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. I was supposed to fall over and over again. I wasn’t ah… In love. Which has to be sarcastic. This was cricket. I was supposed to hug the television and talk about Chinnaswamy’s queer wicket to my mum in my sleep. I tried. The exhilaration slipped away like slime.
I’m in bed. 23:45, reads my lock screen. I can hear soft snores and restless tosses. But right now, India’s not snoring, they are sweating over full tosses. Constrained by Silence, I fidget on my timeline, restlessly scrolling for the next delivery. 153 after all! How close can it get? Apparently, very. Even with that broken beard of his, Jadeja can be a little too good with that hand of his. The ball rockets on to the stumps and Krunal Pandya dives desperately. The timber crashes and he lands on his legs desperately, but he’s still short. Still short. I ain’t supporting anyone, my throat is still in lumps after Bangalore Challenged itself out the playoffs race Royally, but dude. This is a super over. I had literally prayed for it two years back when I was asked to meditate in just another yoga attempt. I had also blown an eyelash hair, wishing for it, 248.76 hours back. I turn around, to face the creepy window, for what I promise as the last time. The latest need on LIFE ESSENTIALS list is a televison, but right now, Danny Morrison’s exclamation will not be the most appreciated. Nor will a bright blinding stadium. Back to the ‘G4. Kieron Pollard swings. Swings wildly. I’ve always been a little creeped by the big guy. Especially because of his freaky muscles which can rip apart ‘verbal diarrhoea’ and tear roofs. In a fuzzy blur, they are back in the hutch, but I’m dissing over a highly futile 11 runs. “Futile”. I can hear the Gods ‘muahhhhahaha’ing. Jasprit Bumrah steams, stealths, swings and sets unwrapped a box of excellence. Ball after ball. Each one’s slower, cleverer. It’s a sign of a bowler with a weird action coming of age, the age of winning the ‘death’. Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum are exasperated and frustrated. Their bats make a loud thud against their pads, but the volume is much less against the Jaffa. It’s down to 8 off 2. My fingers are so crossed, it actually is painful. For the love of the Mr. Perfect that Suresh Raina is, I need the Lions to roar to the plush. But, no. It’s the night of the Ro Roar and I want his 30th to be perfect. 7 off 1. A wide. Please. Oh wait. No. I’m confused. But I need the victory. Blue or orange. I need the sleep. I need my nerves to calm the hell down. Yet, I want another super over. I want my breakaway with a bat and ball to last longer, stretch into eternity. I want another match. Another 5-over thingy, maybe. Uff. How good can this damn sport get?
20 overs. 240 balls. A strike rate of 250. An economy of 14.
This was a story of a child, grown through robotic rigidity, religiously obedient and respectable, morphing into a teen rebel, letting it loose on the dance floor, to beats of madness, to moves of funk, for an audience of rush. This was a tragic gamble and the unorthodox has a victory that was so pathetically received, it actually was funny. This was a boulder trying to squeeze through narrow floodgates- it crushed itself and squeezed its hip through, but the later half still lays out the mind, not being able to squirm in. I hated what came in, through the gates. I wanted ‘it’ back.
The niche of true cricket enthusiasts found and still find this form of the game particularly unsettling and unconvincing. Their move from a game that progressed slowly enough for them to drink it in, yet quickly enough for them to blink in in, their move from a game that went quietly enough for them to fuss over it a little, yet loudly enough for them to cuss a little, their move from a charmed charming sport to a hasty, mad and chaotic rush was like moving environments from the Arctic to the African. We struggled and still are, at times to see a new beginning… We saw it as the start of the end. We were pained and still are, at times to see our ol’ mate struggle for applause in the new arena. We were fuss babies and still are, at times. We have moved on, but almost as incompletely as Zafar Ansari’s career.
But cricket? She has to move on. She will find fewer purists embracing her as the aeons pass. She will find fewer priests preserving her. She will find fewer caring parents to cradle her fragile beauty. She will have to travel. Through new roads, to new destinations, with new suitcases. She has begun her journey, leaving her clingy family behind at a homely nest. As she traverses new soil, she stops by a mirror. Her eyes fall on a reflection.
Jerseys dipped in hue. A hue and then a cry. A cry and then a report. A report, an opinion, satire and apathy. Apathy and then inexplicable insanity. Inexplicable insanity and then a wild hue and cry over saturation.
Cricket seems a little appalled by her makeover. She looks ahead, and on the road ahead, she sees a wave, couple of flashlights and funky hair. Her ADHD hits her and forgetting this blunt attire, realising she needs new love, she moves ahead. She still remembers us and rids herself of the accessories to make us heartsick again. But we must nurse this sickness and walk the path with Cricket. Walk her along, yet make our cradle for her stronger. We must open our floodgates and welcome a newer her, but still remember to keep it a little closed. The highway is endless. We must go and yet come back, regardless of the illusions.
Apathy. Love. Hate.