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It's a toss up...Hockey or Cricket?

846   //    25 Mar 2011, 04:26 IST

With India having beaten the Aussies to the Cricket WC semis, who wants to read about Hockey?

I’m hoping that in the cricket-mainc euphoria of the Indian diaspora, there are a few Hockey lovers who will. By a few, I mean several millions. India is a very populous country, few almost always translates to millions. 

This is not a post about Cricket vs Hockey, nor about what shoud be India’s national game, etc. etc.  It is meant to keep hockey interest alive in an otherwise cricket-centric people. Hockey after all, is about an adrenaline rush like no other packed in a 70 minute game. No other sport can deliver in that short a time span. Not like hockey!

Or, that’s what I thought until this WC match.

Firstly, I was ecstatic to see the men in blue dismantle the Aussie cricketing machine with disdain (except for a few anxious moments). It made the winning moment even more precious because the Aussies bring a swagger and rudeness to the field, they can no longer afford. Which the Indians destroyed by sheer great play. No hostility, the Indian way. Champions have the exclusive right to a swagger. Rude behaviour is not for any sportsman, or anyone for that matter. We all saw Pointing, with a puzzled look on his face conveying that he was not sure if he had taken the catch cleanly – right under his own nose. Do his eyes need corrective surgery?  This borders on deceit and is just poor form. Something I’m sure he feel ashamed about…or not. It’s the Aussie way after all! 

I senaked out of home at 03:30 to dress and drive to a friend’s place where five highly opiniated men bayed and screamed with every run that brought the Indian team closer to victory. Raina’s explosive cameo role will definitely be a fond cricketing memory for me, always. His six off Bret Lee was the crowning (and crowing) moment of the match. Bret Lee, bloodied and “punch”-drunk will have nightmares where Suresh Raina will terrorize him for some time to come. Tait will have to find another gait, more sedate and humble. Besides, he now has a tag – The Wide King. The width being the air filled space between his ears. Undisputed. Pointing is no Pointing-Pontiff, he had a sterling knock, but then undid the good by being deceptive and knowingly attempting to claim a false catch. Gambhir needs to rein-in his electric  reflexes and should learn that not all are wired like him. Not even the fabled Yuvraj. I mean a WC quarterfinal is no place to check how lucky you are. Gambhir should go to Las Vegas to check that. The “God” of Indian cricket showed that he is fallible too, albeit after 50-some runs. Sehwag, the “demi-God” of Indian cricket should be his swashbuckling self. Playing a contained knock is not his cup of tea. He’s there for one purpose and one purpose alone – to be the storm in the tea cup. Sehwag is the Shiva to Tendulkar’s Ganesh. Enough said about the players.  

Most of the Desi commentators are always “looking to” say something. In all the years that Shastri has been commentating, don’t you think he would find other phrases that better convey what the batsman is thinking to do or what the captain is deciding, rather than use the beaten phrase “looking to”? His commentary is as stingy as his crciket. Manjrekar was a stylish and eclectic bat, but his commentary is anything but. Ian Chappell let’s his guard down once in a while and then his Aussie bias clearly comes “shining” through. I’m not sure which of the brothers has a bigger chip on his shoulder and meaner Aussie-bias. Ian or Greg.

Now for the umpires - I guess Rauf was more a spectator enjoying the camera limelight and sharing dirty jokes with Nehra, than being an official. Ian Gould did well, but sneaked in a sly grin when he thought no one was watching. That’s the imp in him…I guess. The third (TV) umpire was hardly required as both Dhoni and Pointing inssited on challenging the wrong ones. Even I (an unadulterated hockeyphile) knew that the referrals will be turned down. Is it possible that they take advice from the spectators first before making in-cmaera mistakes. There are thousands who would gladly share their opinion. Maybe cricket needs to have a time out of a different kind. Where the captains go into the crowd for pithy advise and sage opinion from the thousands of cricket lovers in the stands. Then maybe they’ll be less confused. It would also make their job easier too! The captain’s, that is. 

The Motera crowd was a peach. Most of the ladies there were peachier. And peppier. Can someone please tell me – Do Narendra Modi, Praful Patel and Ambani have a day job? I mean, when they sneak away to watch matches do they write in like mere mortals to say that; “Regret, cannot come in to work today. Have the runs. The stomach is attacking me!” Or maybe they don’t answer to anybody. Not to their polity nor to their share-holders! Typical.

Where were the token starlets. Missed them. Saw an aging Amol Palekar hiding under a sun-hat and a perplexed Pankaj Udhas out of his comfort zone. Must be miserable for him to watch matches and not be able to scream himself hoarse, as I did. His voice is his bread and butter. What’s with the stunned silence whenever an Indian batsman gets out? Are they immortal on the crease, never to return back to the dressing room once they go out to “battle”? The modern “Yodhas” using their bats as bludgeons, decimating a slew of yellow Aussies?


Who is the conch-blowing Indian flag painted onto a human body? Indefatigable, the perpetual mascot.   

OK, OK, I admit it. I confess I enjoyed it as much as any cricket crazy nut. Maybe, just maybe, I got the same adrenaline rush (if not more) as I would on a hockey field.

Remember, this after all, IS about Hockey.

Now I just can’t wait for Wednesday to see what Mohali has in store for us. Am I now a reformed hockey fanatic? Can’t wait for Wednesday…

The Afridi’s, the Gul’s and the Razzak’s…you guys have a game on your hands. And I’ll be there. Watching and enjoying and screaming…if I get my voice back by then.