It has been speculated that Prince Edward (the one with questionable sexual inclinations), the son of Edward Longshanks (who captured and killed Scottish nationalist William Bruce, as depicted in the film "Braveheart") played a game something like cricket in Kent in 1301. The origins of cricket has definitely been traced back to 16th century Tudor England. It soon became the national sport of England. When the sun shone on the British Empire, the game was exported to its colonies. Ironically, today, these very same ex-colonies manage to thrash the English regularly at their own game.
Cricket conjures up the image of teams in gentlemanly whites playing demurely and even having tea breaks over a 5-day test match. That was the way it was for a long time. But with the advent of one day internationals and the the more recent 20/20 forms of the game,cricket has thrown off its colonial heritage. It is now a colourful exciting game. The 20/20 matches even have cheerleaders!
My attention span is ideal for a 90 minutes game of football (soccer). Fast-paced action with just one half-time break. Within 2 hours, the match is over and one can go about one's business with the 'high' induced by the game. Even as a tennis fan, some of those slug fests which last 3 to 5 hours are hard on the attention span. So imagine my chagrin last Sunday when I recklessly decided to watch the India vs. Australia one day international cricket - the match started at 9 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. I kept my interest in the game whetted by rooting for the doomed Indian side, but still I think I have just watched my last 7-hour game!
It was an important game. Australia is ranked No.1 in ODI cricket and India No.2. They were playing a 7-game series this time,in India. Australia led the series 3-2. So India had to win this game to stay alive. India had lost the previous game by only 3 runs, despite the 175 scored by Sachin Tendulkar. So it was anybody's game.
Unfortunately, it wasn't! India had 27 runs and 5 men out, due to the heroics of the Aussie bowlers Johnson and Bollinger. Tendulkar was out for 10, Sehwag and Yuvaraj for even less. A good partnership between Jadeja and Parvin Kumar helped India a bit, with both scoring over 50. Anyway, all out with 170 runs. The Aussies started batting. Their star batsman Shane Watson scored 49 before Harbhajan Singh got him to hit a flyer for a catch. Harbhajan got the dangerous Ricky Ponting out too. But one cannot hope for miracles, not with a measly 170 runs against Australia. The Aussies won by 6 wickets, and my 7 hours ordeal was disappointingly over.
My post last June was on the 20/20 world finals between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, played in England. I ended it by saying, "Whoever wins...the trophy will be held high with pride and the world of cricket will marvel at the heroics of these young men - from South Asia!" It was my personal ode to regional South Asian pride. South Asia could not lose in June. This time, it did. So until next time, regional pride will have to be patient...and I shall not be watching entire cricket games anyway, unless they are 20/20 matches which last only about 3 hours. One consolation I do have from last Sunday is that I won a $10 bet from an Aussie friend who was betting on the Indians! Now I have to figure out which country's dollar is strongest before I collect my win.