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In his piece for the Guardian's Spin, John Ashdown draws on his childhood memories and mulls on how the seemingly rigid rules of cricket can be warped - with a little creativity - to allow its practitioners a quick game anytime, anywhere.
Problems occurred whenever our dad could be persuaded to bend his back for a couple of overs. The problem for the batsman was two close catching fielders, Valderrama on the off side, a (usually) far less reliable human on the on. The problem on the scoreboards was that the new bowler would refuse to play the role of any cricketer since 1970, invariably nominating himself Fred Trueman or picking a random object from the kitchen. This led to several destructive spells against the cream of the world's early 90s international middle orders for Fiery Fred and the occasional frustratingly random "BC Lara c Valderrama b Teapot 48" in the books.
Shoaib Ali Bukhari is the Bangladesh fan who paints his body like a tiger, attends most home matches and screams all day from the grandstand at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. He has traveled to India, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe over the last nine years following the Bangladesh team.
Usually he is financially supported by corporate houses, current and former players, board officials and a supporters group for his travels. But this time he has struggled to find sufficient funds in his quest to travel to Australia and New Zealand for the World Cup.
As a result, he has appealed to the country's Prime Minister to help him. In a press conference arranged by a supporters group called BCSA, Shoaib said that he is itching to watch the World Cup in person, and knows that his support is what the team requires. The BCB has assured that he will get match tickets.
A motor mechanic by profession, Shoaib has gained following even among the Bangladesh players who call him "Tiger". Taskin Ahmed and Al-Amin Hossain, speaking at a press conference in Mirpur, said that he inspires them.
Al-Amin said: "We always see him in Bangladesh, so we will surely get inspired by his presence when we will see him in Australia."
Cricket's dominance in India might not be fading just yet, but the team's performance has not been as compelling as the last decade and high-profile retirements since have also had an impact on viewership. Ashok Malik, in Asian Age, wonders if a saturation has been reached, especially with other sports enticing the average fan.
Cricket viewership, even Indian Premier League viewership, is not growing. It has either reached a ceiling (IPL) or a floor (Test cricket). Even limited-overs cricket (the Fifty50) game, the mainstay of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is showing a worrying pattern. On-ground presence is lower than previously. The BCCI is masking it by hosting matches mainly in smaller cities and towns, where the novelty may still be there. As for television, a comparison between the India-West Indies limited-overs series of 2011 and 2013 would be telling. Both series were played in India. The first was played in the aftermath of India's World Cup victory and showed a TRP of 3.4 (male/15-34/Sec A, B and C). By the 2013 series, the TRP number had fallen to 2.2. TRP figures for the just-concluded (October 2014) India-West Indies series were not immediately available.