June 13, 2014

How cricket can remain relevant during the football World Cup

Greatest show on earth? Pity the poor fools who think it's football

"Wait, what sport are we promoting with our shiny round heads again? Billiards?" © Getty Images

Keep your chin up, cricket. Just because it's World Cup football season, there's no reason for you to be down in the mouth. While it may seem at times that all the attention is being lavished elsewhere over the coming days, you will always remain, like a less obviously successful sibling, special in the eyes of those who claim to love you. Here are a few things to remember that should help boost any flagging self-esteem and help you remain relevant over the course of the next month or so.

They needed a cricketer to kick off their World Cup
Did you catch the opening ceremony yesterday? You will have felt no small measure of pride, then, when that hideous TV "ball" peeled back to reveal, in varying states of undress and ready to perform the World Cup song, Jennifer Lopez, Claudia Leitte, and Herschelle Gibbs. While it's safe to say that Gibbs was better as a batsman than in his new incarnation as a singer (indeed, the moniker "Pitbull" would have been more apt while he was bludgeoning attacks in his prime), and let's not even talk about those trousers he was wearing (goddamn, son), the fact that he had such a central role to help kick off such a major event should nevertheless make you feel good about yourself, cricket.

India v England
With due respect to the football World Cup, and to a lesser extent Sri Lanka, the biggest draw of the summer is obviously England v India. English football may as well come to terms with the harsh truth: this tour still represents England's best bet at winning some silverware this summer in any sport. So don't miss the ceremonial Losing of the First Test by the tourists, and watch, riveted, as they play their traditional game of catch-up for the remainder of the series. If all this isn't enough to excite you, then I have just two words for you that should get you sufficiently pumped: Stuart Binny.

We have Test cricket and they don't
To borrow a phrase from Braveheart: they may take all the TV ratings over the summer, but they can never take away the sanctity of Test cricket. Granted, Spain v Netherlands tomorrow does have a certain appeal to it, but hey, it just so happens that we have West Indies playing New Zealand not all that much farther away. Spoilt for choice is what cricket fans are when it comes to their viewing pleasure. Truly, there really is nothing quite like the sight of "real" cricketers resplendent in their traditional whites, the atmosphere punctuated lazily by that one-of-a-kind sound of bat meeting willow, amplified as it resounds off the cavernous, traditionally half-empty stadium. Ah, Test cricket these days. You just have to breathe it in.

By asking what all the fuss is about
Oh, football, it's cute that you're excited about your World Cup. I remember a time when cricket used to have a World Cup once every four years as well. Now, due to the fact that we have more formats in the game than we do months in the year, it would seem that we have one every few days or so. How lucky are we, right? Right. World Cups are so passe. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, football. Except, I bet you don't even smoke a pipe. You don't even wear a tweed cap, do you? God, I feel sorry for you.

It's not like it's the IPL
Cricket, you'll be the first to admit that the sound of a football World Cup in Brazil does carry a certain golden aura about it. But you will also be the first to just as quickly admit that it doesn't matter, because it's not like it's the IPL. They don't even have cheerleaders at their games. And what kind of crowning event of a sport doesn't have an announcer on hand screaming into the crowds the names of the two teams playing every ten seconds or so? How is one to know who is playing who? No wonder football games are so noisy: uninstructed, the rudderless fans simply don't know when to express their appreciation, and so resort to simply making noise all the time. Oh, and not one cutaway from live action to a celebrity in the crowd struggling to express themselves through the plastic cast of their faces? Yeah, file this one under not impressed.

No controversies about where to play
We don't have any controversies of the type FIFA is struggling with at the moment with regards to whether or not to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, or with the protests against holding the current World Cup in Brazil itself. We just hold our World Cups in India whenever the BCCI demands it and everyone is just fine with that arrangement, or else. In fact, we do many things whenever the BCCI demands it. It's a simple, one-stop solution to a great many of life's problems. You should try it sometime, football.

R Rajkumar tweets here.
All quotes and "facts" in this piece are made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?