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Running past the back foot defence


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The last time I leaned back with legs stretched to surf the tv (a much comfortable sport than actual surfing), I was amazed to notice an uncanny comparison which had failed to register in my head till now. Perhaps, a bit slow with grasping. The moment precisely was provoked by the swap key that features now in almost every remote.

And the shows had to be cricket and football. The relation that I, cricket and football share has in fact itself been quite revealing of me as a person. For me, a person who would admire things only if he does it by himself first, both have been a regular part of my life. And these are two elements which have been my major, perhaps only, casual acceptance of social life. A brief description of how they merged, how much ever dragging, is well worth mentioning.

Cricket set its foot in almost as soon as I stepped out. Having your birth in a hospital whose lobby itself would be playing a cricket match on the TV, live or classic, quite as sincerely as your car’s radio that keeps blurting music even when you are too lost in thoughts to notice, assures that cricket does come naturally into your life. Swinging in your parent’s arms and grabbing their whole big single finger with your yet-small palms later in life, you still manage to see just cricket around you at the park.

And first time you step out of the closed family warmth to make yourself a part of new ‘friends’ and  new set of dictators, all under a supposed banner of schooling, is your true first understanding, if not memories. There again, cricket stood by as an old face helping you cope up.  Surely they believe that players like Yuvraj and Pollard may have born with their talent but not the immense power, at least when they allowed us to play indoors with glass windows all around.

So there it was, I now had a reason to reach out to people. Be it to gather enough players to start off the match or to not be a bystander to any cricket event that you had time to be a part of. For a person who would hate to socialise even with his close family, cricket got me naturally to talk to people. I could connect to people who connected to the emotions of the game. Fascinating.

And then there were occasions of watching random local teams play cricket, I can remember the shots but not the teams and players, all afternoon and later trying to incorporate them into your game soon became reason for existence. Here, I would like to mark the importance of coverage of games on television with some sincerity. Without further research on it, I can truly conclude that the acceptance of any sport comes from its exposure. Cricket always seemed to achieve it without much effort, thanks to 1983 triumph that Indians had and the classic heroes that were born out of it.

Enter football. Incidentally, when I had to face my next socialising hurdle in my life, moving onto higher secondary and degree education was another event that marks slightly irritable taste in memories. All people around you changed, your artificial warmth that you had built over a decade vanished. But then there was football to rescue. Even though I knew nothing about the game.

I had cricket to blame partly. The super competition it had created within its community almost made sure that you had to give up on playing higher standards of cricket easily. Or give in completely. And an average fickle human mind is always wary of making such big decisions. On the other end, there was football inviting me in. A team that had to struggle to make its playing eleven caught my attention. So there I went to practise even without knowing the rules of the game, save the aim of the game.

Football since has been a sport I love to play. From representing college in a collegiate competition, with whatever small or no role to play, to taking it as a platform to meet new people, play with them; football started to compliment my passion for cricket. And then they gave me enough exposure to football as EPL specially held its foot strongly in Indian television market. Again, I could notice the skills of the God of the game and give it a try against mortal opponents in next lane. Your naivety fails to horror you on such occasions generally.

Back on the couch, the stretched legs begin to shuffle. A slight bit of confusion stirs the mind. There is this back-foot cut which takes the ball rolling off to the boundary so effortlessly and then there is this holding of ball in the opposition’s half for what looks like hours till you find the first weakness in their defence. Both are unparalleled, yet both are an accomplice to sit back with. Both bring out that innocent cheer from you, one that we so well hide to avoid intruding stares.

Trust me, a choice between cricket and football has much more to it than the classic beer and girl confusion. I got up to reach the nearby window, lit myself some dazzled vision, to ponder and try to choose.

And then I decide to keep the decision for some other day. They are playing Laxman-Dravid heroics to entertain me on my television, something I have seen a thousand times by now. And I am yet to overcome the moments of just concluded Spain’s football world cup triumph completely.

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