I closed my eyes and imagined the score line was reversed, that I could throw Martin Johnson’s response at the end of the 86-87 Ashes series back at a certain Mr. Darren Gough’s face. If wishes were horses beggars would ride! I have to open my eyes. And wait for the reality to sink in.
It just took 4 weeks to blur the image of a famous victory at Wankhede. What happened in the intervening weeks?
I try to look beyond the headlines and sloganeering.”Mr. Fletcher be more proactive! “Drop Raina! Drop Sreesanth! Drop Harbhajan! Get bowlers who can take wickets!
I wait. Maybe time will dull the pain. Order will be restored with T20s and all will be right with the world.
No luck there.
But wait. Maybe the phoenix will rise after all. Maybe the ODIs will be a different story. Maybe just maybe…
Granted there was a tie and a washout that could have gone favorably. It still would not have changed the final narrative.
Being a fan is tough. There are moments of pure ecstacy – like the World Cup most recently and moments of absolute agony like this one. One learns to expect these and over time the memory of one helps you tide over the other. What hurts is the feeling of lack of effort or commitment from the team. Sure there are injuries, conditions and the usual share of marginal decisions but the unease at the back of my mind is something I cannot recall experiencing in recent times.
At any other time I probably would have been looking forward to another series to dull the pain of the loss. With so much cricket being played its easy to forget one bad series and look forward to the next. This time though I feel the urge to do some introspection.
Maybe it’s a good lesson in the uncertainty of life (isn’t sport a prism to life?) Maybe fans have been spoilt on some good times recently and this is nature’s way of saying you never take anything for granted. It still doesn’t make it any easier for a fan
People say its lonely for the players when the team is losing. I would think most players would want solitude to clear their heads. But what they get is advice from all quarters, solicited or not. This time there probably won’t be an official post-mortem because Big Daddy says so but unofficially the recriminations have started.
But what about the fan – sure one can engage in frivolous discussions with other fans, flame the websites at times but it still feels lonely after a loss. The only advice a fan like me gets – there are other things in life than cricket. Aur bhi gham hai zamane mein cricket ke siva, raahatein aur bhi hain ? (a turn of phrase that must be causing Mr. Faiz to turn in his grave)
When people say that to me they don’t realize the extent my affair with cricket. I am in many ways a lost cause.
When I was growing I was willing to give up some of the more material stuff like fireworks for Diwali or kites for Uttaran as long as my parents would give me the money to buy cricketing literature.
My friends from grad school would call me from all over the country for a rapidfire phone quiz with nuggets like “What was Anshuman Gaekwad’s highest score? who was the opposing team?”
When I was waiting for the birth of my child I had Virender Sehwag for company (actually it was the closest thing to the man himself – video of him from Multan).
So as an experiment in self-denial, self-awareness or self-BS – I am trying out a period of seclusion from all things cricket. That means of course – no visits to cricinfo for hourly gratification, no ball-by-ball commentary, no lengthy discussions with friends and no replays of past matches on DVD.
Most addicts are advised gradual withdrawal and that’s what I am on. Whether this amounts to death by a thousand cuts I will soon find out.
I will try to record what will in effect be a diary of a recovering “cricketaholic”. That would probably mean I will have to find other things in life to distract me.
PS. Anshuman Gaekwad scored 201 out of 387 against Pakistan at Jalandhar. It took him more than 600 minutes to do score. I probably would have sat through the commentary of his entire innings if I was not forced to go to school in between… like I said I was a lost cause from a very early age.