I would always wonder, how people actually stuck to their television sets early mornings, giving up sleep for a cricket match. Little did I know, 15 years down in life, I would be the biggest follower of cricket, giving up my beloved sleep for a glimpse of the game. I remember my father watching Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman crush the ‘invincible’ Aussies to bits in the Adelaide Test of 2003. I also remember my uncle narrating to me the story of how the same duo brought India out of a follow-on to script a historic Test victory at Kolkata in 2001. Highlights of these exciting matches could never do justice to its magnitude later, I knew I’d missed perhaps few of India’s life-defining cricketing moments. As I grew up and as the love for the sport multiplied, I understood how India’s tours of Australia and England held more importance than anything else. Every ball depicts a story, it’s about how you engage yourself in it. The intent, passion and an unconditional love and devotion towards the sport today, pumps up adrenaline to its peak, especially on every such winter morning.
Formats have changed and so has the pace of the game but the love for the sport has only ubiquitously increased. The shorter versions of the game have added a new dimension to the cricketing universe but having being introduced to TEST cricket first and the shorter forms much later, falling in awe of the longest format was meant to be. It still sends jitters and produces goosebumps alike the shorter formats. The elegance, patience and skill that the format brings in stays admirably distinguished in all regards. Every match and every ball possess a different challenge. Living up to one’s own expectation is the biggest for matches at home while the real test in the foreign countries lies not only about facing a stern opposition from the superpowers but also acclimatizing to the conditions and the characteristics of the unfamiliar cricketing atmospheres. The journey through India’s foreign as well as home tourneys has given me tons of memories and continues to teach me every minute detail of the game. Every new day, as a new page of the cricketing book is overturned, it leaves a lesson and a value to be learned. India’s recent test win at Adelaide is just the 6th on Australian soil but is held in high regards by the entire cricketing generation. India’s all-round progress in the foreign frontiers this year, despite contrasting results, has been one to seek inspiration from. Indian bowling, once looked upon as a possibly subsiding dynasty, is today arguably a reigning superpower. The credit reaches out to the association, support staff , the fans or even the criticizers at every level of Indian cricket.
Over the past two decades, not only has the game matured but the fan culture in India has also hit puberty. Interacting with people over the sport since early teens, I realised that India stood divided despite having the widest fan base. I witnessed how people celebrated Indian victories enthusiastically and at the same time, cursed the same players for playing miserably.
However, today most fans regardless of the result stay dedicated and believe in the nation. The dynamics and the balance of the game is well restored and understood deeply by almost everyone. It is heartening to see how Indian fan armies like The Bharat Army has transpired both in India and abroad. Australia and England at times seem like a second home as the Indian supporters overwhelmingly exceed the number of natives in the stadium. The atmosphere, passion and the patriotism amidst the fans is evident and contagious, even through the television screen.
Another aspect of cricket is how it influences the lives of the people. The induced habits like suddenly completing the bowling action while walking on the road, imitating idols, relating real life happenings with cricketing incidences and bombarding friends with a constant cricketing knowledge are those every cricket fan is proud off.
It’s always worth investing time in cricket, be it on or off the field. Coming out of the teens and looking back over the past decade and a half, I’d surely remember and treasure all the memories cricket has given me. Maybe now it’s about time when Virat’s men pull off the impossible, maybe it’s about time when India reincarnates the Australia of 2000s, but right now is certainly the best time to be a cricket lover in India.
(There probably exists no Indian to have not tried these actions)