As an Indian cricket fan, I have to admit, I am guilty of a few quirks. Every time my team wins, it doesn’t take any time for me to jump around like a maniac – like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone – screeching myself hoarse in the process. Age and maturity don’t enter into the equation and to be fair, they never have in all these years that I have been a fan of the Indian cricket team.
Over the years that I have been a cricket fan, while relishing and reliving the ecstasy and spark of India’s victory, I have also had innumerable opportunities to experience the bitterness of losses as well. Glaring losses these have been too, humiliating the very construct of my – a fan’s – existence.
Like the one suffered against New Zealand, not so long ago which piled too many insults on top of a very long list of injuries.
Was it demoralising? Incredibly so. Was it demeaning? Absolutely. Was it the straw that broke the camel’s back; making me turn once and for all from Indian cricket and all that it entailed? No, definitely not!
Call me a masochist for emphatically deciding to continue to follow the game that has only brought forth agony and frustration in the past few months. But no matter what tags may float around me, it isn’t going to bother me or detract me from being a foul weather fan for my team and by extension, the sport that most of my countrymen revere. For, supporting the Indian cricket team has always meant going through an indescribable roller-coaster ride where losses invariably tag along the wins in close succession, much to a fan’s chagrin.
But, despite the inexplicable vagaries in Indian cricketing fortunes, I still believe the team can and will be able to overturn these humiliations into something positive and concrete. It’s not blind faith that makes me say so. But testimonies from various events in the past where the Indian cricket team has gone on to turn tables on all the teams that abased them in the first place.
My surety however isn’t lackadaisical in nature and nor do I wish to defend the outrageous insipidity of the Indian cricket team while at New Zealand. If I were to say it bluntly, they were beyond pathetic in the way they lost the second Test despite having a commanding lead to start with.
The whole defensiveness in their game reeked of casualness and nonchalant over-confidence as if they had nothing to lose. But no matter with whose assistances Brendon McCullum heaped on the runs, the situation is going to get salvaged by doing the blame game routine.
Yes, changes are needed – more forceful than ever before – and I totally accede to this, but honestly, this scenario isn’t at all unlike old wine in a new bottle. One horrifying series; crucify the captain and his tactics. One miserable run overseas; discuss the potentiality of getting a new guy onboard who will perhaps do better in the next couple of tourneys and then fall short in some other country.
The piece-by-piece, meticulous dissection of team members – names who otherwise were the reigning favourites – does give some sort of satisfaction by allowing pent-up emotions to be vented out.
But I realised one thing that I could never be frustrated with the sport or with the sportsmen for long. Because, at the end of the day, no matter how savage the satisfaction gained by nailing the cricketers’ mistakes, cricket shall the first sport that got me hooked to the genre – if I could call it that – in the first place.
The enigmatic attraction of all those years ago that kept me glued to the TV set even when I was so young that I could barely distinguish offside from onside or a leg spinner from an off spinner or clearly define the various fielding positions.
The one thing that never failed to make me pause everything else in my life to watch a bunch of people create an unsurpassable clarity on the field, in the midst of incessant chaos prevailing all around it; like now, with all these chaos hovering around.
However, there seems to be no clarity anymore giving me all the more reason to put all other stuff on hold and follow the sport in anticipation that better things and better days will soon follow for Indian cricket, repeating the queer cycle that seems to hound Indian cricket, time-after-time and generation-after-generation.