Why

Why

Sunday, 17 November 2013

OFFLINE & ONLINE CRICKET


I left India for my Master studies in 2009. The course involved sports but when it came to cricket, it seemed as though it was an alien sport.

Except for few Indians in my batch there was absolutely zero interest on cricket and we were the most recognisable Indians, more than Sachin Tendulkar. This is where it hit me, and quite hard. I was in Switzerland and not in India.

It was on a Sunday morning that year on my way back to the room I got a message from my friend. That was the time when I had a normal mobile phone with no internet - no tabs or smart phones. I had to rely on Wi-Fi connection if I were to be connected online. There was cricket being played and it involved India, but no where I saw the buzz or could find enthusiastic people to discuss about it.

I checked the scores on Cricinfo only to find Tendulkar had hit 163 before he left the field retired hurt. How could I have missed it? I cursed myself and in a state of desperation, I found a remedy. A friend of mine, a cricket enthusiast himself gave me the link to a website where I could watch the highlights. I watched it once, twice and few more times.

When the Indians played New Zealand in the 1st Test at Hamilton, I stayed awake till about 4 am watching Tendulkar construct a brilliant innings of 160. It felt different as I had never watched an innings of his live on a laptop. And earlier in India, I had to wake up early to watch a live match from New Zealand and now I had to sleep late.

Over the course of the year, I watched him score a match winning hundred against Sri Lanka, a mammoth effort against Australia. His 175 at Hyderabad reminded of the desert storm innings when he plundered the Australian attack.

I started watching cricket through my laptop regularly; it reminded me the time when I used to watch and follow cricket with my family, friends or even strangers. Be it at someone’s place, or at work or even on a street, cricket was followed religiously and that was the buzz I was missing. Cricket was such a wonderful ice breaker that I started missing the conversations on this sport. Where were the opinionated minds?

After a year of staying and studying in Switzerland, I was back in India on an assignment. I was working late on that evening when I got to know about Sachin’s double hundred, the first in ODI’s. I was sweating it out on a afternoon when I saw the scoreboard of him scoring a Test double hundred against Sri Lanka, I was busily running to different parts of Delhi when he made another double hundred against Australia and I was chatting with my friend on a cold evening with no TV cable connection when he had scored that 50th Test hundred against South Africa at Centurion. He went on to score one more at Cape Town and I missed that too. To sum it up, I had missed the best phase of Tendulkar’s cricketing career in the 21st century. How could I? Why did I not watch all the matches just like the old times?

A couple of weeks before I was to get married, World Cup 2011 had started. I was in Bangalore and didn’t want to miss the chance of watching a match live. After struggling for close to six hours, my cousin and I did manage to buy ourselves a ticket each. Tendulkar scored 120 off 115 deliveries and it was his 98th international hundred. It was to be my first World Cup match and as it stands, it was to be the last time I would watch Sachin score a hundred live on the ground.

I didn’t watch him take that single at Nagpur which gave him his 99th hundred. Like many others, I too waited for him to score his 100th hundred. It wasn’t to be in the World Cup, not when he toured England, not when West Indies toured India or when Indians toured Down Under.

I was in Jaipur working for IPL and a meeting was scheduled to discuss about the preparations for the upcoming tournament. As we went inside the meeting room, there were about 4-5 gentlemen representing Rajasthan cricket hooked on to TV. Sachin was batting and was close to the landmark.

My heart wanted to stay and watch him score that hundred, while my professional head wanted me to go ahead with the meeting. There was a visible reluctance among many to go ahead with the meeting and even my manager wanted to stay back as he didn’t want to ruin the joy of watching Sachin getting to his 100th hundred. In fact, he too was keen to watch the proceedings on TV. He was an ex-cricketer himself and he knew his statistics quite well.

The next 15- 20 minutes went by and finally the moment had arrived. It was not one of his best hundreds and Tendulkar would agree to it. But the burden was lifted. A huge sigh of relief and what next was left for this cricketer? Since then he has announced his retirement in both ODI’s and in the T20 format. Now, he is bowing out of the game in less than ten days time.

I was not in Kolkata and also was not to be in Mumbai for his 200th Test. Like it was four years ago, I caught all the action on the laptop and by this time I have made few friends with whom I can talk about cricket here in Switzerland.

Life as a cricket fan is a lot easier these days, thanks to the internet and smart phones. I can follow live scores, catch the highlights, watch live cricket or even archive videos.

As I prepare to watch his final few moments in international cricket I know for sure, irrespective of where I reside and what’s going on in my life, a glimpse of a Tendulkar’s innings will remind me of those random memories of mine associated with cricket.


I put my feet on the lake and the water gushes away. I am not the same person anymore as the water which gushed my feet is long gone replaced by a fresh stream. Cricket will not be the same to me.