The confession fever is gripping the internet now. Facebook and Twitter have all donned the role of a father in a church clad in whites and have been publishing a plethora of confessions. There is a confession page for every nook and corner of the world and believe it or not, there is a confession page for my apartment. Under the veneer of anonymity, the confessions page have catapulted to an addiction. A few interesting confessions apart, majority of them have been lame and petty.
The fever hit me soon and I am here confessing. I started watching cricket from when I was 9 and there are a few nasty confessions to make. I do not endorse any of it, these are purely confessions.
As a young cricket fan, I was lured into flamboyant cricket. Big heaves, the ball rocketing its way past the boundary, the ball hoicked into the stands, the stumps cartwheeling, etc captivated me. Hence, I developed a hatred towards batsmen with a low strike rate, completely turning oblivious to their technique. One such batsman I scoffed at was Rahul Dravid. As a kid, everytime he walked to the middle, I booed. I laughed at his batting. Every time he defended and the ball stood still, in complete obeisance to its master’s order, I failed to understand the nuances of it and derided it. I was bored just by the sight of him walking to the crease. I impugned his batting prowess often. Rubbing salt to my wound, he was often compared with Tendulkar during my school days. This very fact vilified him. The comparison to me was preposterous and in the argument, I was profane. Throughout his career, I looked to insult him. Only after I understood the game I was completely in awe of his batting. His fortitude and diligence was just impeccable.
I’m from Chennai, a city that possesses a rich cricket heritage. Club cricket was prevalent in Chennai as early as the 1930s. Though Chennai hasn’t produced a Tendulkar or a Gavaskar or a Ganguly, Chennai’s crowd are a well informed lot. We aren’t the fanatics Kolkata’s got or the waspish people of Mumbai. Our cricket knowledge is rich and we’re an ebullient as well as erudite lot. In recent times, our IPL franchise has been a cracking team and are the undisputed champions. When every Chennaite reels under the showers of their overachieving franchise, I’m there in an egregious spot. I’m an ardent fan of Tendulkar and cannot stand to see him lose. I’m that fan of him who would cry when he gets out, jump in joy when he scores and tears of joy would flow out when he plays the straight drive. Hence, I can seldom digest the bilious sight of him ending up on the losing side. The lackluster performances of Mumbai have not deterred me and I’m there cheering for Mumbai. I’ve prayed God, to the religious one, for CSK to lose. I confess this. I’ve been a betrayer, a traitor. I am a disgrace to the Chennaities.
This confession applies to every Indian, at least most of us. Brothers, for ages now, we’ve been booing Pakistan. Pakistan has been one of the most competitive sides in the history of the game. There remains some indelible memories etched in us by Pakistani players. Be it the last ball six by Miandad or the reverse swing of Akram and Waqar, Pakistanis have been indispensable. Yet, there remains an inexplicable hatred in every Indian towards Pakistanis. Sadly, this hatred is the child of political tensions and even worse, religious difference. We do hate Australia and Australian cricketers, but that is an healthy rivalry – a cricketing clash. There’s a difference to why we hate Pakistanis and why we hate Australians. I confess for my undue hatred towards my brothers across the border.
I grew up watching Tendulkar, Dravid and listening to tales of Gavaskar. Hence, batting was a well defined art to me. There was a framework to which one’s strokes need to conform to. Sachin was cheeky, yet it looked like a cricket shot and it appealed to my senses. Dhoni, on the other hand, has broken the shackles of conventional batting and has gone on to redefine batting. He has starred in many a victories and has engineered a lot of impossible finishes. Today, he is the best ODI batsman. The best finisher and the best accumulator. His knock that won the world cup for India accentuates his fortitude and his knack of thriving under pressure. All this excellence has been pushed beneath the carpet, the carpet of unorthodox. His unorthodox ways have drawn flak from a lot of corners and I have been an active detractor. He has gone on to become the most successful Indian captain and this has been a harsh reality for me. I still keep detracting his captaincy and hail Ganguly as the best captain ever. He has proved me wrong on every front. Yet, I live in denial. I am misled. I confess heartily for denying the plaudits he deserve and for living in the old school of batsmanship.
In the recently concluded Test series between India and Australia, in the Hyderabad Test, Murali Vijay and Pujara were playing a gem of an innings and a historic partnership was on the cards. Yet, for every LBW appeal, the crowd cheered; at least a certain sect of the crowd did. When the umpire turned down the appeal, a wave of disappointment swept them. This gesture of cheering a wicket of the home team befuddled the Australians. Later, they understood. The crowd had come to watch Tendulkar and were waiting with bated breath for him. The No. 3 batsman in India is the most unlucky cricketer ever. His head always wins a bounty. The fanatic I am, I wish for the scorecard to read 2 wickets down as soon as possible. I wanted the master in, as quickly as possible. If the master was gone and the score card read 500-3, I would switch off the TV and walk away. On the other hand, if the master was batting and the score card read 50-6, I would be glued to the TV, totally unswayed by the team’s performance. He came first, the team next. The onus was always on his performance, not on the team’s. This is a blot on the landscape of a cricket fan. This is a crime, a sin. I am sheepish even to confess. One of the nastiest confession of a Sachin fan.
Every fan has something to confess about, every fan has something to be proud about. As Ravi Shastri, the great renowned commentator puts it, it is cricket which is the winner at the end of the day. Cricket that has given us so much to reminisce about, cricket that has given us heroes, cricket that has given us villains, cricket that has given us coffee table buddies, cricket that has given us enemies, cricket that has given us our livelihood, and it is certainly the winner.