March 22, 2013

Are you responsible for destroying cricket?

What kind of a fan are you? Search your soul with these extremely piercing questions

When you look at the sheer number of challenges that the game of cricket has to grapple with on a daily basis, sometimes it feel like you're watching one of Steven Seagal's first few major films - what true Seagal connoisseurs call his "insane but not yet batshitly so period".

One moment cricket is cowering in the kitchen as the BCCI sprays everything with machine-gun fire. The next moment cricket is leaping out of a window to avoid being slaughtered by the DRS crisis. With nary a second to catch its breath, cricket is then plunged into hand-to-hand combat with a roomful of kung-fu match-fixers. "Why don't you just give up and die, cricket!" you feel like screaming at the TV out of sheer pity.

But somehow, after some mild nudity, cricket prevails and lives on to see another Future Tours Programme.

For committed cricket fans this cycle of risk and redemption is nerve-wracking. But what they don't often realize is this:


But then how do you know if you're a good fan or a bad one? How can you tell that you're the problem and not the solution? Where do you start this self-transformation? How? Why?

Enough with the ceaseless questioning. I will explain.

Answer the following five carefully drafted questions. For each one you will have to pick a response lettered A, B, C or D. At the end, see which you letter you chose most frequently. The analysis at the end will tell you what kind of fan you are.

Best of luck. You have ten minutes. No copying or conferring with other teams. No more than two members per team. And one member per person. (Tee hee.)

1. Which of the following is the name of a real T20 team playing in one of the world's domestic T20 leagues:
A. T20 is not a real sport. Your question is meaningless.
B. Can't think of any teams right now. Delhi Sharks?
C. Glamorcestershiresex County
D. Chennai Super Kings

2. After an excruciating work week you decide to spend your Saturday night with some entertainment and fun. Yay! One of your friends says he has tickets to a cricket match between India and Sri Lanka happening at a nearby stadium. Yet another friend has tickets to an Akon concert. What do you do now?
A. If I wanted entertainment and fun I would watch a David Attenborough box set. Cricket is worship. Akon is worthless.
B. You didn't say what format it is. ODI and all will take forever man…
C. There is simply no finer entertainment for a gentleman than the gentle thumping of leather on willow. Give me those tickets right away.
D. Due to unavoidable circumstances the cricket match has been cancelled. Instead, a Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians match has been organised.

3. Earth has been invaded by a vastly superior alien life form that has decided to subject all earthlings to serfdom. The emperor of this alien life form, Lasith Malinga, decrees that all sports venues all over the world will be destroyed, except one for each sport. If you were the popularly chosen representative of all human beings, say Sreesanth, which cricket ground would you choose for preservation?
A. If cricket can only be played on one ground, it might as well never be played at all. Also, these questions are getting tiresome.
B. Whichever has good parking, food, and plenty of toilets.
C. The only name that beats in the heart of every true cricket fan is Lord's, Lord's, Lord's. Let the aliens take everything else but give me my mother, Lord's.
D. The fully refurbished Lasith Malinga International Cricket Stadium in Chennai will open shortly.

One moment cricket is cowering in the kitchen as the BCCI sprays everything with machine-gun fire. The next moment cricket is leaping out of a window to avoid being slaughtered by the DRS crisis. With nary a second to catch its breath, cricket is then plunged into hand-to-hand combat with a roomful of kung-fu match-fixers

4. Complete this sentence using one of the following. "My most memorable moment from the 1983 World Cup is…"
A. That sucking sound that came when India won the trophy, sucked out cricket's soul, and then proceeded to systematically run this sport into the ground.
B. Pele?
C. That glorious Kapil Dev catch over his shoulder that defies all the laws of physics and optics. How did he see that ball? How did he judge that run? How did he… so many questions we will never know the answer to.
D. That in those golden days there were 60 overs in each innings, leading to 20% more television ad inventory.

5. This will be the last question. You are in a stadium on the fifth day of a Test match between England and New Zealand. The first four days have been washed out due to rain, without a single ball being bowled. Officials expect only about four hours of play to be possible on the fifth. What would you suggest they do?
A. Call off the match. Refund tickets. The vagaries of weather are part of the magic of cricket. Don't you dare suggest…
B. That they quickly organise a T20 match! That would be so awesome. And then I can tell everybody that I went for a boring Test match but ended up seeing an awesome T20!
A. Kill me.
C. The temptation at this juncture is to organise a T20 match or some such. But that would be succumbing to the tendencies of cricket's cheap seats. This would be deplorable. However, given that any cricket is better than no cricket all, perhaps we are overstating the case against the T20 format.
D. The first and only Micromax T20 International between England and New Zealand has started. Please take your seats.


Mostly As: Congratulations! Time travel has been invented. Otherwise it is inexplicable how a cricket fan from the 1880s is still around. Your antediluvian, luddite ways will kill the sport, drive away young fans, and bankrupt associations. Shame on you.

Mostly Bs: Good try "mostly football fan who occasionally watches cricket when nothing else is there to watch on TV". You are the low-hanging fruit that advertisers pander to when they corrupt the game with nonsensical mid-over advertising. Why don't you go back to your Europa Champions Cup Winner's Cup League Trophy Premier El Classico Liga nonsense and count how many away goals your team has to score at home to qualify for the next round. Red card!

Mostly Cs: Hello, Mr Hip O Crit. Your chicanery is shameless and revolting. Your interest in cricket is superficial and shallow. You are desperately trying to fit in and seem sophisticated. In reality you are just a highlights package-watching, online commentary-skimming fraud.

Mostly Ds: Mr. Srinivasan, sir! You are a great man, sir.

Sidin Vadukut is a columnist and editor with Mint, and the author of the Dork trilogy