March 31, 2011


Why You Should Care About Cricket (Wright Thompson, ESPN the Magazine)

Sachin is both the riddle and the answer. That's what I'm told. You must understand India to understand Sachin, but you must understand Sachin to understand India. They created each other. They are the same.

This, obviously, makes no sense to me.

How could it? Just a few hours ago, on a mid-February morning, I landed in Dhaka. I came with a copy of "Cricket for Dummies." The 2011 Cricket World Cup starts tomorrow, India at Bangladesh, and I know nothing about the sport, not even about the tremendous pressure on the Indian National Cricket team to win its second World Cup after a three-decade drought. How tremendous? The Hindustan Times' logo for their cup coverage says, every day, in enormous letters: A Billion Dreams … 28 years of yearning.

I don't understand that the sport itself is at a crossroads, in crisis even.

I don't realize that Sachin Tendulkar is likely playing in his final World Cup, still searching for his first title. Tendulkar is probably the most famous man in India. He's so famous that people who worked for him are famous: a well-known Bollywood movie character is based on his first agent, Mark Mascarenhas, who died in a car wreck. Billboards with Sachin's photo blanket India's cities; every other commercial on television features his face. He's wildly rich. He is the greatest cricketer in the world. One of the greatest ever.

I know none of that.

At the moment, I'm too busy trying to figure out the definition of a wicket.

Is it the manicured area in the center of the field?

Is it the stumps on either end of that manicured area?

Is it when a player gets out?

(Turns out, according to my book, it's all three.)

Cricket, like India, had long intrigued me from afar. It seemed so mysterious: a game with strange rules, and stranger vocabulary, one that can last for days, captivating billions but meriting only an inch or two in the papers at home. Only madness made it to my radar. Fan hangs himself after India loss. … Pakistan's coach allegedly murdered after upset defeat. There seemed something pure and savage that was missing from the glossy sports I follow at home.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted by at March 31, 2011 7:32 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus