How many days have we spent listening to the clichéd adage- “change is necessary?” How many moments of our childhood have we lost pondering over the actual meaning of the words we heard so often? Maybe it was a haircut that brought about the promised change. Maybe a change in the stickers scrambled across our small pencil boxes, as we made the shift from Scooby Doo to Hot Wheels to Captain Planet or the change that ushered in the death of Nataraj pencils and aroused the importance of Linc Ocean gel pens. Maybe that is the change that was being spoken about. Or was it the permanent move from the phase of rubbing the white Keds with chalk to the era of well-polished black shoes. Professional. Office-like. Formal.
But those were hardly changes, in retrospect. Just the normal progression from one stage of life to another. It was what compromised growing up and the initiation into the new bad world of adulthood. The changes soon shifted from becoming astronauts to the more achievable engineers; from models to the more appreciable teachers. Yet, some things were just held on to with dear life- that precious bicycle that had seen more punctures than rides, that one-armed Barbie with golden-smooth hair, those handmade cards which would transport us back to the days of innocence or the pure old days of watching cricket with our grandparents, as they feebly sat across the television sets, imparting all their knowledge into our minds.
Brimming with excitement at a Wasim Akram reverse swinging delivery or chuckling in glee when Steve Waugh scored another century, the days of appreciating good cricket outlived the patriot.
Yes, evenings were spent shouting for a Sachin Tendulkar hundred but Jason Gillespie was duly appreciated if he managed to stump the former. There were days of Test cricket and days of One-Day Internationals. With insane fast bowling heroics and the fight back for a high target. Those days spent huddled across the fifteen-inch screen still manages to bring a sheepish smile. Those were the days actually worth remembering.
In only ten years the vast totality of the word “change” has crept upon us. From gorging on mum’s snacks to nibbling upon the bland office food, we somewhere grew up and so did the sport, which had been relegated to the backwaters courtesy our hectic schedules. The only glimpse of our love for the game amidst the piling list of e-mails and presentations was the small app in our touchscreens, which would be opened every few hours for a quick glance before the deadlines were remembered. The hours became days and as we remain engulfed in the crazy world of workloads, the paradigm shift in our relationship with cricket was noticeable to one and all.
It was not only our bond with our childhood memory that was changing; cricket was changing just as well. The fast bowling prowess declined and the run-machines erupted. The coaching-manual shots dwindled and the new format emerged. Fast-paced and aggressive; volatile and competitive. As the visions of friendly banters blurred, giving rise to sledge-hammers, a group of cricket fanatics overgrew their feelings towards cricket while another just remained confined to the comforts of Test cricket, refusing to accept the new change that had swept over the cricketing realm.
“Life goes on with or without you
It’s up to you what you’re gonna do
You could go or you could stay
Who cares anyway?”
Left rueing the transformations, individuals were soon reminded by a crooning Fergie that cricket, as life, has to go on. One may have preferences and choices but the beauty of the universe lies in its accommodative nature. For the traditionalists, who keep going back to platefuls of Biryani, gorging on the tender pieces of meat that have been cooked with great care and technique after a long day, there is always the reserved Test cricket- with its orthodox playing style and the challenges that are reminiscent of the days when the whole family accumulated together to have a peaceful evening together.
For the urban youth who would rather venture into the fast-food zone in any food carnival, hoping to relish cheese and mayonnaise; ketchup and spice and vegetables and flavour all at once, the T20 arena, with action-packed games that hardly take up much time, offer them a slice of cricket, garnished with nerves and excitement; challenges and celebration.
For the ones who would rather have an adventurous palate and push boundaries to infuse in a bitter-sweet experience, the 42-inch screens can prove to be an ideal location for the viewing of Test cricket. The electronic sales that get way before the Indian Premier League houses state-of-the-art TVs to enhance the T20 viewing system but for the ones who intently followed the second game of the Ashes and debated Steven Smith’s decision to not enforce a follow-on and then quickly switched formats to pick and discard the players who should be retained for the franchises in the IPL, witnessing the DRS in HD bears the same phenomenon as the 360-angled shots in T20s.
From childhood glees to hectic schedules; to preferring one mode over another or just silently enjoying The Beatles’ “Within You Without You” as George Harrison drew inferences from Pandit Ravi Shankar’s classical music while munching on mutton halwa or bacon ice-cream, cricket today remains a fusion of flavours and textures, all combining to create a cacophony of intense experiences.