The cricket world cup has taken the (cricket-playing) world by storm. It seems to be all that Indians can watch, think and talk about. No morning is complete without an update of the team standings etc. and of course no morning is complete without more on Bob Woolmer's death investigation.
This world cup seems to be like the cricket version of the Munich Olympics (albeit on a smaller scale) surrounded by death, scandal and inexplicible losses.
My interest in cricket can be described as moderate, at most. Being Indian one is generally swept away in the mood of things. I still remember a world cup match from the years past. The Indian team was playing in Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore and of course the top order had crashed (or had it?!). Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble (designated bowlers!!) were at the crease, they battled it out and won the game for India. The game ended after 10 pm and everyone went crazy! People were gathered on the streets, distributing sweets at traffic lights. No, it wasn't like India had won the world cup, we had merely won our way into the quarter finals (I think it was) but the Bengaluru boys had done us proud and we were going to make sure they knew it!
That is my most distinct cricket memory. Since then I have never felt such pride and triumph. After moving to New Zealand my interest in the game withered. Although, I was happy to stay up to date with current goings on and every so often got a chuckle out of listening to my friends bicker about the ODI rankings, I never really felt much for the game.
Cricket is India's national game and I will not let anyone convince me otherwise (Hockey?! you can't be serious!). Nothing else could explain the fanatical actions that follow a win or a loss. I have lived in Australia for over two years now. Australia is the undisputed champion of cricket (as far as I am concerned). They have exhibited skill, resolve and sheer determination to seal their position as the world's best. Yet, I have never seen the Australian people burn effigies of their players when they lost to Bangladesh. This fanatic streak, I have seen predominantly in the sub-continent (and maybe English soccor fans!).
However, I digress.
There was much speculation following India's loss to Bangladesh and from the snippets of information I gathered that India had.... wait for it... a bad day! A top-ranked, world class team is beaten by a team (Bangladesh) that played very well and everybody says India had a bad day. Alright, granted.
I do not discuss cricket with my friends anymore. They all are of the opinion that India is a great team with a lot of bad days. They pull out age-old statistics and are more than willing to sit me down for hours and explain to me, on the basis of statistics, that the Indian cricket team is a good cricket team and anyone that thinks otherwise does not know a thing about cricket.
I cannot argue, I do not know statistics, I do not carry match scores around in my head and I cannot rattle off Tendulkar's average per game or what-have-you. All I know is the opinion of a country, of course that is not good enough!
However, this world cup has changed all that. These 'ardent fans', these 'true fans', these people that know cricket, live and breathe it have been taught that one cannot expect much from somebody who is really without much potential. If we are good, they are better.
Actually, that is a fact of live. If you expect nothing, something is good enough. If you expect something, nothing is good enough.