The all-night watching game
Staying up all night watching and then dragging oneself to work the next day, bleary, bedraggled, hungover with lack of sleep: I really thought I wouldn’t have to do this before the Super 8 stage. But then, we all know what happens if India loses tonight, don’t we?
So here we go. My five tips on how to stay up late for the big game. Or rather – given my experience – how to try to stay up and then fall asleep on the sofa. I shall be watching in India. But if any of you (anywhere in the world) have more tips (How to skive off work and catch the cricket; how to lie in late and watch a game), please keep them coming in. Who knows who’ll need which ones when?
Don’t go to a bar to watch the game: You’ll be too far away from the screen. The commentary will be drowned by the cries of angry waiters asking people to wait, they’re getting the next drink, and shrieks of inebriated laughter from people who find Lasith Malinga’s hairstyle funny. Besides, by the time you get in (or at least every time I have gone to a bar and got in), there will be a bloke twice as tall and four times as wide as you are right in front. Oh, and he’d be there just because some of his friends are and he couldn’t give two hoots about the game.
Actually, stay off the booze altogether: Yes, even at home. I know it’s tempting, especially since you’ve already had dinner and will be giving your metabolism a good chance to work but really, you should know better. If I do it, I begin to nod off ten overs into the second innings. Worse, if you’re smoking along with your drink, you risk falling asleep with your hand curled around your glass and the cigarette burning dangerously down to a stub. I know it’s only me but I once came close to setting fire to the house doing this.
Keep in touch with like-minded, fanatical friends: Text messages are the best. Try and not abbreviate but type the way you would on a computer screen. It keeps you occupied between overs. The witty response requires concentration. (That helps keep you awake.) It’s the only way to watch a match with friends who aren’t in the same city.
Keep the ads on mute: Programme your TV in such a way that the ads, when they come on, go mute. If you can’t do that, press the mute button. Every time. It is acutely disconcerting to hear ‘Oooh, aaah, India, Rah-rah India’ when the team is 64 for 4. Or something. I can barely blink back my tears. Or wish away the sense of the absurd.
Have your defence mechanism on default: We all have ours, don’t we? Being in denial won’t help (I am told that that is the first stage of depression), so have your defence mechanism ready. Here are mine: ‘There’s always next time.’ ‘It’s only a game.’ ‘They tried, you see.’ ‘It happens to the best of us.’
What works for you?
Soumya Bhattacharya is the editor of Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He is the author of two volumes of cricketing memoirs - You Must Like Cricket? and All That You Can't Leave Behind - and a novel, If I Could Tell You