Johann Cornelius Punt
Undercover Cricket Observer and Saboteur
The months of July and August have been particularly fruitful in our relentless quest to destabilise the sport of cricket in India. Events of the past weeks, in particular, have boosted my belief that Indian cricket is on the decline and that Indian football will soon be in the ascendancy. Soon, one day, the flag of FIFA will fly high and proud over this vast, humid land with its many water-borne diseases.
Key observations for this period are as follows:
1. Lord's Cricket Ground: Arrived with high expectations as research indicated that this was the "home of cricket". Was very disappointed to find that it looks like a small petroleum refinery, with an old hospital at one end and a giant paracetamol tablet at the other. Infrastructure is very poor. The playing field is irregular and has a very pronounced slope. I pointed this out to one Lord's staff member, who said, "This is nothing, they used to have a tree inside the ground in Kent!" He said this without any obvious sense of humiliation.
Catering at the ground is no less a crime than punching the Mona Lisa in the face. I was forced to spend 9 for Jamie Oliver's chicken tikka pie and chips. I demanded to see Jamie Oliver for an explanation, but he was not available.
In summary, Stoke City would not play at a ground like this without bare minimum repair work. The ground is also home to the Marylebone Cricket Club. Members of the MCC, perhaps a brotherhood for the colour-blind, wear blazers and ties in fabric with vertical red and gold stripes.
2. Lord's Bicentennial Match: Since I arrived in London a few days in advance of the Indian tour, I attended a special cricket match to mark the ground's bicentenary. The match featured an MCC XI with players from Australia, India, England and West Indies, against a Rest of the World XI with players from Australia, India, England and West Indies. At first I thought this was some kind of elaborate English ironic comedy thing, like Monty Python, and was going to ask for a full refund, ha ha ha thank you very much Mr Cleese. But apparently it was a serious event. (I carried my own snacks from Tesco for this match and saved several thousands of pounds from going to Mr Oliver's underworld mafia.)
3. Sachin Tendulkar: I have written about Mr Tendulkar in several previous secret despatches. It was not surprising that almost all of the spectators for the Bicentenary match were Indians who had come for one final view of this great player on a cricket field. They cheered for him continuously, especially with the classic chant: "Sachinnnnnnn Sachin! Sachinnnnnn Sachin!"
But then I noticed a peculiar pattern regarding when they chanted his name: there was no pattern whatsoever. The following are a list of instances during the match when the crowd broke out in Sachin chants:
a. Sachin appears on the big screen.
b. Sachin walks out onto the field.
c. Ball rolls towards Sachin.
d. Sachin collects the ball and throws it to somebody.
e. Sachin jogs towards boundary.
f. Sachin arrives at boundary.
g. Sachin turns around to look at crowd.
h. Sachin almost turns to look at the crowd but then stops, picks nose.
i. Sachin gestures towards a team-mate for replacement fielder.
j. Sachin walks off the pitch.
k. Nothing happens for ten minutes.
l. Brian Lara appears on big screen.
m. Announcer asks for owner of a purple-green-red BMW to please contact security, presumably for eye check-up, followed by complimentary lifetime MCC membership
4. Indian cricket chants: Previously I mentioned the classic Sachin cricket chant. Over the next few days, as the actual Indian tour of England kicked off, I began to note that this is, in fact, the only chant currently available in Indian cricket. The chant is of the following syntax:
Slow and long screaming of name (pause) short and sharp screaming of name.
So for example:
Dhoniiiiiii (pause) Dhoni
Ishaaaaaant (pause) Ishant
Kohliiiiii (pause) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SAALAHARAAAAMISAALASAALA
This could be largely due to the fact that all Indian cricketers seem to have first or second names with exactly two syllables.
This means that eventually, when India becomes a footballing nation, we will have to waste very little time with chants, songs and other such promotional literature. However, at this moment, it also maybe best to invest our football development funds on Indian football players with short names, such as Climax Lawrence, instead of others such as Pandaravalappil Satishkumaran.
5. India's Shameful Test Capitulation: Rarely in all my life as an undercover sporting observer have I seen such an abject performance from an sporting team that is not Tottenham Hotspur. Throughout the Test Series, except for a brief flourish at Lord's, India were beaten to a pulp by the English. I was fully expecting to see empty stands by the final Test. And yet there they were, several thousand Indian fans absorbing every moment of the humiliation. Puzzled by this, I approached a fan to figure out why he was so upbeat, and he said the following:
"Sachiiiiiiin (pause) Sachin!"
Herr Blatter, whatever be our long-term plans for the elevation of football in this country, Sachin Tendulkar will have to be a part of it. I understand that Mr Tendulkar has purchased an Indian Super League team. But is there any chance we can convince him to play for the Kerala Blasters? This would do immeasurable good to the cause of football in this country.
6. Sabotage update: And finally I would like to reassure you that my slow and steady plan to denigrate the reputation of Indian cricket - Operation HorrorTextile - is proceeding very well. In return for secret cash transfers, Mr Sourav Ganguly's stylist has assured that in the next four weeks he will wear the following at least once:
a. Powder-blue suit with yellow shirt and magenta tie
b. Silver suit jacket with golden suit trousers
c. Black shirt, black jacket, black trousers, black tie, green shoes with red soles
d. A lot of beige
Till next time,
FOOTBALL TILL I DIE!