Today in 30 Days, 30 Questions:
Question: We're all fanatical about cricket. We've all got our routines, our superstitions, our war cries, and some of us have done crazy things in the name of enjoying a game. Tell us your story. What extents have you gone in the name of cricket?
Yahoo! Cricket's Answer [By AR Hemant] — India were about 166-5 in 28 overs. Yuvraj and Kaif were at the crease. The target: an improbable 326. "Time to get dinner and turn off the TV," I thought. That's when Yuvraj put Ronnie Irani away for a couple of fours. "Something's about to happen here," I thought, and took my position on our drawing room carpet in front of the TV.
There's this extremely popular superstition in Indian circles that when your team is doing well, you must remain in your position. Even the slightest movement may disrupt the favourable planetary alignments and heap bad luck on the team. I'm not proud to admit that this was a time in my life that I firmly believed in this nonsense.
So, once I had taken my place in front of the TV, I did not move a muscle for the next two hours or so. Not when Yuvraj fell, not when Harbhajan lost his cool, and not when Kumble clumsily lost his wicket. I went the whole distance and remained absolutely still. It hurt. My legs were pins and needles. Only when Kaif had stolen the second run to win the Natwest Trophy did I finally move. More than feeling euphoric for the win, I was relieved to feel my legs again. Later, writing about that famous game, Rahul Dravid revealed that the Indian team had been following the same bizarre routine in the dressing room. Cricketers and their fans — they're a crazy lot, I tell you.
Friends and acquaintances have done more bizarre things. A friend was so incensed by Azharuddin's decision to field in the 1996 World Cup semifinal, he didn't eat or do his school homework that day. Next day, he was slapped by his teacher and asked to stand outside the class.
Later in 2003, one of my college final exam was on the morning after the World Cup final, which India were playing against Australia. Batch-mates ran a signature campaign to persuade the college authorities to postpone the exam. The request was turned down. Most of us chucked our books aside and watched that game regardless, and passed the exam with methods that weren't kosher.
Following cricket in a journalist's capacity helped me meet more such fanatics. There's a cricket coach in Matunga who hasn't missed a single international fixture at the Wankhede Stadium since the time the venue was formed in 1975. Then there was this couple that decided to follow the Indian team to wherever they were playing in the world.
The most fanatical of these fans is perhaps Sudhir Kumar (in the picture above), who can be seen at all of India's games. The bare-chested man from Bihar can be distinguished by the Indian colours he paints himself in. He waves around a massive tri-colour — even while the team is practising, and he does so tirelessly for hours. He must have incredibly strong shoulders. He's a huge fan of Tendulkar, and gets match tickets from him. By some accounts, he is unemployed, and cycles to the match venues.
But we know one thing: he's not the only cricket nut around. So we throw the floor open to you. Tell us your stories of cricket craziness. Post them in the comments below and we'll republish the best ones.
[Update: April 1]: Thanks for sharing your wonderful stories. Here are some of them.
I_Maverick says the don’t-change-your-position still works:
I still remember, after finishing my engineering in 2001 I was jobless for few months. Birds of a feather flock together. Some of my friends were also unemployed. That was when cricket provided us respite. We used to play underarm cricket in the evening and it was fun.
We'd be really happy when there was ODI as it'd mean we'd be "busy" the whole day. We used to gather at my friend Abhishek's house. After taking our positions we used to watch, provide our expert views and opinions as if we knew cricket in depth (as most of us think and like to believe). Then once in a while, there'd be a thriller of a match. That was when the superstitions would kick in. It was when we were not allowed to change our positions and not even attend to nature's call. And if someone did, then he'd surely get birthday bumps even if it wasn't his birthday. Invariably, India would win those close encounters. Of course, nobody in the world knew that we"were responsible for those wins. But then it hardly mattered.
Life goes on. We all have jobs now. Our jobs have taken us away from each other. Nowadays, I don't watch cricket so much but do keep tab on the happenings through newspaper and internet.
And you know what? Our don't-change-your-position mantra still works. I recently tried it in the India Vs Pakistan World Cup semifinal. I sat at Sambhaji Park and kept listening to hoots and claps from the nearby public screen where people had gathered in large numbers.
I just kept calling those "divine powers" we had back in 2001. And then India won the match. How did India win? Do I really need to explain? ;)
Maniraman has some tall tales:
In the late 50s and 70s, we friends would get together — like Lee Marvin’s Dirty Dozen — buy season tickets and sleep at night at the stadium entrance. At 8 am we would flood the entrance and push past the policemen and security guards. Then we would reserve the top three rows and sell the seats for eight annas — half a rupee. Everyone of us carried bugles and drums, and we danced and sang whenever fours were hit. It was rare to see sixes those days. Watching cricket is entirely different these days.
Kedar shares his superstitions:
In late 90s, I used to wash my hands after every two or three overs. In early 2000 I started chanting ‘om namah shivaya’ through the match, but then India lost a few matches on the trot and I realised that my actions are not helping the team. Now I don't have these superstitions. Winning or losing does not matter to me much because too much cricket is being played.
I sleep by midnight and I cannot stay awake even for my board exams. But during rain-delayed games, I stayed up till 3 in the morning. It was my favourite cricketer Sangakkara's match.
Fardeen bunked his exams:
During my engineering studies, my mates and I have bunked various classes just to watch cricket. Several times we have been absent for our internals and suffered in overall markings too — just for the love of cricket.
Venkatesh says he stops watching the game when Tendulkar is near a hundred:
I am following cricket since the late 60s. My only superstition, if you can call it that, is not watching the game if Tendulkar is near a century. I still follow this ritual. During the 2003 match against Pakistan and the recent final against Sri Lanka (both World Cups) I did not watch the much of the game for the fear that India will lose if I watch. I started watching only when the target was near.
Sumitra reveals he’d switched off the TV during the 2011 final too.
Maddy has some bizarre rituals:
Be still like a statue during a match till a particular record is broken; standing on one leg till the result; being religious at times, praying...