If Dravid was still at the other end or not

I am a typical 90s born Indian kid. I grew up watching cricket. I grew up playing cricket. I grew up loving cricket.

I have some fuzzy memories of the 1999 world cup. Actually, only one. I remember it was an Aus vs Pak final and I bet with my uncle that Pak would win the world cup (I hated Australia like anything), and I lost the bet. He took all my savings, which approximately added up to around 1000 rupees. I ended up crying.

Years went by, and I started playing street cricket. I’d go to the park at 3 P.M and come back around 9 P.M only to finish my homework and then would go to my terrace to play some more cricket. Now when I look back, it seems pretty tiresome but I used to love my routine. Then came the 2003 world cup. I remember that when India played against Pakistan, it was MahaShivratri. I wasn’t an atheist back then. Actually I used to do whatever my mom asked me to do. So she dragged me to a temple that day. When I offered my prayers, the only thing I asked for was a victory for India. That was the amount of craze I had for the game.

Then, I grew up some more. I started learning cricket and I started to love it even more. Though I never got any training or anything because I was so fucking scared of that leather ball. I still am. That thing is like a rock. I can totally relate to the Phil Hughes story, but let’s not go there. Also, football diverted my attention and I enjoyed playing it. During this period, I learned all the technicalities of the game. I loved reading (I still love it), and I remember there was a time when I read all the books in our school library (it was a small library) which were even remotely related to cricket. I even wrote a letter to my principal asking for more books on cricket. I never got a reply though because he was busy nailing sexy KG teachers but that’s not the point. My father is also a huge fan of cricket. The gutsy fellow even played for Rajasthan. He used to wake me up at 4 A.M only to watch the India vs Australia series. That too test matches. I once even cried but this torture never stopped. Eventually, I started loving it. He would do all sorts of things to keep me awake like muting the TV and doing the commentary himself, making tea in the kitchen and telling me that he’d add sugar if I didn’t wake up (he was and is diabetic so I used to run whenever he was in the kitchen only to keep an eye on him). And at 9 AM when he would go to his office, he would constantly call me up to know the scores, to know how many balls Sachin took after 99 before getting that single and to know if Dravid was still at the other end or not.

Now, India is again in Australia. But the craze isn’t there. I don’t know why. Nobody wakes up for these matches anymore. Maybe because of the absence of the likes of Sehwag, Sachin, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly. Maybe because the passion has faded. Maybe because we really have gotten busy with our lives. Maybe because my interest in football overshadowed my passion for cricket. Maybe because I sleep at four instead of waking up. Or maybe because I really grew up. I don’t know the reason. But I miss those times. And I know that my father misses it too.

Whenever I look back, these times will be remembered. For me, and I’m sure for many of you out there, Cricket has been a source of happiness, learning and bonding. It’s not anymore. But I hope it would be again, someday. Also, my uncle gave me 2000 rupees a day after the final match and I was happy again.

First published here.


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