Thursday, 12 April 2012

Kontagious Kricket

They gave us the system of telegraphs.They gave us our first railway line.They gave us the postal system too.They gave the Penal Code and the Indian Military Academy.They gave us missionary schools.They gave us our first cricket bat and cork ball.Then they divided us and gave us independence but enslaved us to cricket for generations to come!
Cricket in India was an unknown entity before the advent of British rule in India.The closest we came to it was our game of Gilli Danda.The Gilli is a small oval shaped wooden structure.The Danda is a stick which is used to  flip the Gilli into the air and then hit it as far as possible,with the player running a certain distance while the Gilli is retrieved.This game has been played in India since ancient times.In fact,some scholars believe that the early Europeans who came to trade in India took back the idea of this game with them,which subsequently evolved into Cricket in England and Baseball in America!The Gilli was transformed into the ball and the Danda became the bat!Whatever the origins of cricket,the fact remains that while Gilli Danda is almost obscure in the India of today,it is indeed,cricket which rules the roost!The new twenty twenty format and the million dollar babies of the Indian Premier League(IPL) only appear to have fueled cricketing passions further!
It is also interesting to note that the top cricket playing nations of today are England herself and all the former British colonies-India,Pakistan,Bangladesh,Sri Lanka,Kenya,South Africa,Zimbabwe,West Indies,Australia and Canada.So for those of us who are not Kricket Krazy it is easy to know whom to blame!The game has spread as rapidly as a contagion and the best time to go for a drive in any city in India is when the final of any major cricket tournament is being played.The streets,the malls,the multiplexes are all empty with every Tom,Dick,Harry and their wives being glued to the television screen!The only downside of shopping during this time is that all the sales people in your favourite store will be clustered around the tiny television set at the reception!If you dare to ask for help you will be given the most disgusted look possible for daring to disturb them as they worship the new Gods -the cricket players!
When we moved to Nairobi and into our beautiful apartment,it was obvious after a glance at the landscaped grounds that the builder had to be a person of Indian origin and a cricket lover to boot!He had ensured that the wide strip of lush green lawn on one side of the parking area was big enough to double up as a cricket pitch!And sure enough a fellow resident of the complex was quick to inform me that all the children played cricket on week ends and from morn till night during vacations!
The nationality dominating our complex is Kenyan-with a twist!They are all of Indian or Pakistani origin with most of them being third or fourth generation Kenyans which means their grandfathers or great grandfathers had moved to Kenya from India or what is today Pakistan,during British rule here.Many of the children have never visited their country of origin,have no ties whatsoever there and naturally consider themselves Kenyan.
So I was astonished,to say the least,when my new acquaintance informed me that when people have guests from overseas and there are lots of kids and adults playing cricket,the teams are divided on the lines of India and Pakistan!
When Sir.Cyril Radcliffe who was the Chairman of the Border Commission,drew up the Radcliffe line in 1947,dividing India into two countries,(often dividing a house into two,with some rooms in one country and a few rooms in another!I am surprised they did not demand  that people standing on the border be sawn into two as well!),I do not for a moment think he realized that it's repercussions would,one day, be felt across the Indian Ocean in another former colony.That too by little children playing cricket,a game they had introduced in their colonies for their own amusement,children who had seen neither India nor Pakistan and probably never would!The binding link,cricket,is of British origin,the divisive link too has the same roots!It is a delicious irony.Or is it a pathetic one?


  1. Nice post,
    Liked the way how you it started with the origin of cricket and twirled up ending on the border issue.
    I think for all the countries mentioned above -
    the present cricket team has at least 1 player of Indian origin!

    1. Thanks,Priya!You are absolutely right!In fact I recently read that there are Indians or people of Indian origin living in every country of the world-except Pakistan!How ironic is that!Specially as they are Indians to begin with!

  2. Good things have to be taught bad things come naturally
    While few women would fathom a group of men chasing a red cherry many men would appriciate the probability of the red cherry behaving like a women - uncontrollable given the same circumstances of the ball moving off the seam but the result being different all the time.

    1. So is cricket good or bad?Or is it the hype around it that should be questioned?Specially when India's national game is hockey!

  3. Yay, I'm your newest follower, feel free to follow me back at:


The Nuances And Nitty-Gritties Of Being Neighbourly

6:05 pm : I am walking in our front garden, free in the evening, on a week day, after many months, as the academic year comes to a close in...