It's all a part of the game…

“Take a defeat like how you take a victory – sports teach you that important quality”

“Be a sport” is what everyone tells him, when he sits down to watch a cricket match. People know how much he wants his team to win. He gets elated when his team wins, and he is devastated when they lose. People say, “It’s after all a match” – but for him, it was much more than that. He used to wait for days when some important match is scheduled, and he keeps calculating the plus and minus points of the players of both the teams. He discusses for hours with his friends on why a certain player ought to be selected and why someone else shouldn’t have been selected.  He knows exactly who is in form, and who is better suited for bowling/batting against particular teams at home/abroad both due to instinct and his memory of the statistics of recently concluded matches. In fact, he even keeps track of the county team match results, where some members of his team have participated and even the domestic circuit matches. He was almost an unpaid selector, and he dreamt that some day he might become the selector of his national cricket team. Such was his passion for the game.

 

He never prays to God, except before important matches. All his atheism is forgotten during the mornings of the important matches as he just cannot leave anything that might even remotely help his team to win. He always felt that his feelings and prayers were important for his team to win. He was also sentimental – If he sat in a particular chair and his team wins, he sits on the same chair till they lose some match. Then he tries a different strategy. He has sometimes even consulted the road side astrologer with an all knowing parrot, to take a favourable card indicating victory for his team – if the parrot takes a different card, he again tries the next day, till the right card is taken! He cannot stop watching a match even before the day of an important examination, if his team is playing.

During the match, he becomes even more tensed. He has even consulted probability theorems taught during his maths class to judge how many times there is a probability of getting heads or tails according to the conditions of the ground and the force with which the umpire throws the coin. He knows, more than the captain, how important it is to win the toss! He fumes with anger sometimes when his team decides to field first, as according to him they should have batted first. He gives countless reasons for that to anyone who cares to ask him why. All his reasons were technically sound and backed with statistics and his favourite instinct. After all, he leaves nothing to chance and he follows every inch of the game.

Normally a quiet personality, he doesn’t realize that during the matches, he shouts enough for the whole apartment block to hear his expert commentary and his jubilation! It’s a riot when his favourite left-handed batsman hits boundaries continuously and he jumps when a sixer is hit – he loses himself in such moments and doesn’t realize how his emotions are being expressed just inches away from the TV. After all, why should he be so important to himself, when his all-important team is playing!

He is inconsolable after a loss! He has even broken a few glass tumblers after a defeat! He then resigns to his room, suffers alone and is grim-faced for the next couple of days. People have taken that opportunity to tease him, as he is unable to tease them back during those days, unlike normal days. It takes a couple of days for him to do even the post match analysis as he is overtaken by too much grief till then. He has even written a couple of poems during those times, in an attempt to make his heart lighter! He slowly recovers and then gets back to the business of analysing his team.

It was said that cricket was a religion in his country, and he could easily associate himself to that statement. He was sure that there were many more people like him at every corner of the nation. Cricket was every thing to him – happiness, grief, elation, misery, mystery, passion, success, failure and in short – Life.

Till one day when the headlines in the News channels ran, “Match Fixing scandal unearthed. Players fix matches beforehand for money”

He just couldn’t understand the concept. Why would the players agree to fixing? For money? They must already be earning so much through the ads and commercial endorsements… Why would they have to do something like this to earn? There were a billion people who were supporting them, no matter what and this is what their team gives them in return? How can other people take it so lightly? Why was he affected so much? A million questions ran in his mind and he was never himself after that.

“Hey, there is an important match today and you are here reading novels? What’s going on with you? Aren’t you coming down to watch it?” his friends asked him. He replied, “Actually exams are coming within a month, and I will read the novel only for an hour or so, after that I have to prepare for the exams da. You guys watch the match and tell me the result, ok?” His friends were stunned, but he was happy reading the novel. At least in the novel, they mentioned that it was fiction at the beginning itself!”

What the sport couldn’t teach him, the match fixing episode single handedly did. As they say, it’s all a part of the game called Life….

Destination Infinity

You could visit the ‘Short Stories(Fiction)’ section of this blog to read more such stories.

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8 Replies to “It's all a part of the game…”

  1. Recently when we were dropped many catches the doubts returned. I think this shocked everybody, I shared the sentiment in Why would the players agree to fixing? For money? They must already be earning so much through the ads and commercial endorsements… Why would they have to do something like this to earn?… It's never been the same again.

    I feel, money might be just one of the reasons for fixing a match, there ought to be others… There was a story in a Tamil magazine that I read – the captain getting older and older and hence wanted some way in which he could keep the players in control and stay in the team longer and takes up to match fixing… well there could be many factors…

  2. thats what happens when u lose faith in something that u otherwise trusted so much 😐
    u learn thru the game of life… where the stakes are high.. and there is no going back..

    Exactly, the 'no going back' part is the best thing about life… it makes life and its challenges more thrilling

  3. You know DI… I used to bunk school for matches and scream like hell when India won… SIGH! Things changed drastically after that match fixing and its not the same since. I am not just bothered. Lost all interest.

    I can totally empathise with your protagonist!!

    I think with age, all of us lose interest, we are no longer interested in the game like how we were in our teens… match fixing incident, in my case, was just a spark to set off the flame… the fuel was gathering all along!

  4. Everyone knows that politics in selection, makes or breaks a cricketer's carrier. Now, this match fixing episodes…the sincere players also have lost respect from the viewers. Everyone calculates at the back of their mind, how much money he gets for this match and how much he might be earning out of advertisements. True admiration is gone.

    The politics in selection is an important point you have brought… there are a lot of factors that contribute to things like match fixing, some of them might be totally unrelated to the players… like administrative interferences, well cricket is big business now a days…

  5. nicely written…but I don't think things changed after that match fixing saga(just for the initial month people were suspecious )..I mean as a viewer I still enjoy the game…I wonder if ppl still think of match fixing.

    I was suspecting of match fixing before it was exposed in the national media… this was just by observing certain things that players did on the field… there are bigger allegations of match fixing in the soccer club matches, for example. I guess this is not restricted to any single game. I enjoyed watching even the father of all match fixing games – WWF!!

  6. This reminds of Rudyard Kipling's notable poem IF, particularly the lines –
    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;

    I think this poem (fully) was one of the best poems ever written… just because it speaks so much truth

  7. I was cricket-crazy once upon a time. Not any longer. I only watch the game occasionally now, other sports get more time. By the way, match-fixing happens in many sports, not just cricket. Recently the former bosses of Renault F1 team were found guilty of asking one of their drivers to deliberately crash and bring the safety car out in order enable their other car to win the championship. 😐

    These kinds of things makes even the most passionate fan feel cheated and lose interest 🙁

    What surprises me is, why still people watch these fixed-matches? Is entertainment and shouting is all that people want out of sports? I think sports is much more than cheap entertainment, it can teach us a lot of critical lessons, if we bother to observe. SRK's Chak de was an excellent movie, in that sense

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