December 2, 2008

When cricket becomes irrelevant

However much I try, despite our first win of the season, I can't really write anything on cricket this time

Dear readers,

As I'd mentioned in my earlier post, we have been closely following the events in Mumbai and were deeply concerned and disturbed. As of now (the time of my writing this blog), the operation against the terror attack has come to an end but I'm still glued to the news channels to know as much as I can about it.

We [Delhi] were scheduled to play a Ranji Trophy game against Orissa two days after the terror attack in Mumbai. Playing cricket in these circumstances is the last thing on our minds but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

We observed a two-minute silence before the start of the game and both teams wore black arm-bands to show our grief for the victims in Mumbai.

I've never been involved in match like this, where the first thing one would ask on entering the dressing room, whether it was in the morning or at lunch time, was to turn on the news. Everyone would just watch the news in silence. Talking or discussing about cricket was left to be done on the field and as soon as we were off the field everyone wanted to know what was happening in Mumbai.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to playing a game of cricket in these circumstances. Since playing any sport is a form of entertainment, one thought would be to stop playing the game in such times. Our country's security was at stake and our fellow Indians were suffering and here we are playing a game of cricket! But on the other hand, if you stop living and put everything on a hold, the whole purpose of these terror attacks is served. They say cricket, or for that matter any sport, can be a ray of hope in these days of gloom. Well, honestly, I don't know whether that's true, or what is the right thing to do in these circumstances, but since we had a match scheduled, we played.

Even after our dismissals, after a few minutes of reflection and thought, we would soon get involved in listening to the horrific stories emerging out of Mumbai . How was the whole plot planned? How did the terrorists manage to get into Mumbai and how much ammunition did they have at their disposal? While these questions kept resounding in our heads and on all the news channels, we were also feeling very proud of our security forces who kept fighting the terrorists while risking their lives. There was so much everyone in the team wanted to share and know about the events in Mumbai. Not even once did I hear anyone discussing the game and how to tackle Mohanty and Co on a track that was posing all kinds of problems.

While we were on the field we were totally focused on our aim, but once off it, we were in a different world with no connection whatsoever to what was transpiring on the field. It was a strange situation as we kept moving in and out of two completely different worlds. We would still celebrate a wicket while fielding or feel equally sad when we saw our stumps uprooted but everything else seemed so trivial as soon as we crossed that white line (boundary rope) and started watching the news.

However much I try, despite our first win of the season, I can't really write anything on cricket this time. Please bear with me.

God bless, always.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here