Ah, Indian cricket fans!
Ah, us Indian cricket fans! We don’t watch cricket, we indeed pray at the altar of the gods of cricket… cricket is our raison d’etre; and all this, while we find it impossible to make a rational argument on the game at any point in time.
We aren’t ignorant about the game, mind you. We know the scientific machinations behind bowling the doosra and the reverse swinging yorker, we appreciate the difference between setting the 6-3 versus the 7-2 field, and our analysis of non-Indian players and matches where India is not involved, is well nigh as precise as you can find it out of any general mass of people.
The confusion’s only when we discuss our own. And that is when our logical reasons (reasonably precise and accurate otherwise) go haywire in the face of a full-frontal attack by our cliques and cabals and me-and-my-tribe instincts. We don’t remain base cricket fans anymore, appreciating and analyzing the game like we tend to do so well otherwise. We become men (and women) of religion, be that religion that of Sachin-god, or Very-Very-Special-Laxman-god, or the Namma-Rahul-god or the immaculately named Bangalir-Gourob-Sourav-god.
And we are pulled from different directions, the primary one indeed being from the country-within-country that we belong to. So the Bihar-country boy and the Tamilnadu-country boy will not see eye-to-eye in discussions over who the greater god is among Dhoni-god and Karthik-god, and merits a place in the pantheon that is the team. And of course Sachin-god is the biggest god of them all, but does the Jat-country boy take kindly to Sehwag-god being any lesser?
And then there is continental pride, whereby the East-continent rises up in fury at any indignation, perceived or otherwise, at the great Sourav-god. Or the old very-Very-Special-god being vilified by the north-continent for keeping their devoted Yuvraj-god out of the pantheon, and the vice-versa by the south-continent for a perceived Damocles’ Sword perennially hanging on the Very-Very-Special-god’s head, even though he has played nearly a hundred tests now. (I’m not kidding about the Damocles’-sword quote, I have actually read it in some reputed newspapers and forms of Internet media).
Really, I remember in college, when I was discussing the merits and demerits of including L Balaji in the team, a classmate, visibly in disagreement with me over my perceived slight of his beloved Balaji-god, tried to end the debate by suggesting that ‘Ganguly is a bastard anyway’, knowing that I, indeed, have my base at Bengal-country***.
Oh and then there are those other invisible strings…
- The genteel gentleman cannot appreciate the modern cut-throat no-quarters-given version of cricket that is perpetrated by the teams under Sourav-god and Rahul-god, and would suggest repeatedly how the gentleman’s game is not what it used to be. (Even the ‘How dare he make the white man wait’ ideas have been bandied about).
- The old-timer has his own gods, whereby Kumble-god (if I weren’t a cricketing atheist, I would have prayed to him ##) is never given the credit he so deserves, because there are, in his mind and heart, already Prasanna-god and Chandra-god and Venkat-god and Bedi-god. So they call him a glorified medium pacer, completely disregarding whatever logic would have suggested otherwise.
- The polished gentleman (and lady) cannot appreciate the bucolic allure of a Sehwag-god or the heartland vibrancy of a Dhoni-god, like he/she couldn’t the unpolished charms of one Kapil-god.
- Why, there can even be, say for example, my evil boss (or say my ex-girlfriend) is an Andhra-country person, so I will berate the Very-Very-Special-god come whatever may (who, of course, is the Not-THAT-Special-god to the rest of the country).
And yes, I did hear your question. And I was indeed trying to dodge it all this while. Who do I support in the Ranji trophy? Sly fella, you, no? Well put. So here’s the answer. Bengal. Karnataka. Delhi. In that order.
*** What could I have answered? Well, having no definite locational root apart from that of language, the affront did not affect me. So I mentioned that I haven’t ever had the good fortune of meeting Ganguly or his parents and discussed this specific case of parenthood. Has he?
## As for Kumble-god, I will agree that (apart from his being so worshippable) my worshipping would have had some basis to my tribal heritage; he indeed is a senior alumnus from my college.