It is a world of many ups and downs, a world of infinite twists and turns. A world where it is necessary to bear humiliation before bathing in the glory. It is a world of colossal expectations, often inhumanly tossed upon those who dare to belong to a motley unit of willow wielding, ball tweaking personnel. A billion strong nation finds its identity on a 22 yard strip of soil and calls upon the 11 most worthy among them to be the face and pride that takes upon the best from around the world. Some may call it just a game, but for many of us it is a medium to be a part of something big, something grandiose that eliminates, albeit for a short duration, the possibility of us being just another face in the crowd. Welcome to the world of an Indian Cricket fan.
The game in itself is nothing spectacular. There are more beautiful sports out there which, in today’s fast paced world, are more entertaining and worth spending money on. But what defines a sport in this case is not just its marketability on a global scale. It is a matter of history. Blame it on the English for colonising the country and introducing the game to us. It would’ve been a different scenario if say, Portugal were to be the master of the Indian subcontinent for hundreds of years. It began as a leisure sport for the European elite and ended up being the heart and soul of the nation’s masses. It is a time consuming sport, it is an individual’s play disguised as a team effort. But it suits us just perfect. We Indians are people obsessed with grandeur as it has to achieved just perfectly to be satisfying. We don’t believe in keeping it small and quiet. It is in our culture to include the maximum number of people in our plans and portray everything to be larger than life. Our weddings, our rituals, our movies, our festivals…everything has to be big. Indeed, larger than life. It sits very well with us then when we watch a batsman stroke away ball after ball to make a large number of runs. We are obsessed with numbers as it gives us extreme pleasure because someone has made tens of thousands of runs. It is our lust for the existence of grand events which isn’t satisfied with a short burst of beautiful crisp passes on the field of football resulting in a missed attempt at goal. This combined lust for grandeur and numbers make cricket an ideal sport to be followed by a large number of people in this country.
We glorify the runs made on pitches, the wickets taken, the trophies won. We love our game of cricket. We expect those 11 men on the field to understand our emotions, our frustrations as well as our dreams and hence failure is not forgiven easily. It is a cruel game where a billion dreams rest on the shoulders of those men. And should one fail, even once, it is horrific what ensues. We shout out our anger, we blame them for our failures, we ride on their achievements but fail to give them a space to breathe. It is an unsaid agreement when you don a blue jersey for Team India; we will worship you but we will also never forgive, lest you fail.
It is a tireless journey of a fan who can’t give up and a cricketer who can’t give in.