(Excerpts from ‘Sporting Chance’ in ‘Everyone hates the English’)
Indians will always prefer cricket to football.
Vijay understands the Indian’s passion for cricket, he really couldn’t imagine a more fitting sport for the mainly frail creamy intelligent tigers. But the English’s craze for that weaklings’ sport alongside a maddened hunger for football and rugby is to say the least, quite baffling.
The artistry in the dexterous requirements in the football craft are very English, just as their heavy beer drinking and brawling nature is captured in rugby, which is tastefully quite English.
Vijay struggles to place the lazy pretentious athletic guise of cricket in the rugged Isles of the Brits. With their woodlands for Archery, their vast greenery across the broad island screams for racing horses, their neatly cut lawns fitting for tennis and golf, their long coast line and rivers demand to be rowed and raced in. But it baffles Vijay where the idle desire to spend an entire afternoon watching able bodied men, fully dressed in surgical whites and safari hats, just to repetitively throw, whack and catch a wooden fist size ball, over and over again, comes from. It beats the imagination and is simply juvenile to have grown ups endlessly count the number of times a ball is thrown, hit or caught repeatedly. It feels like teaching erring adolescences to count while punishing them for doing their sums badly.
Vijay’s conclusive theory is the English lords had simply wanted a ball game of their own that can rival football. The rich lords of old England hated the advent of original football and the trampling of their vast green lands by their peasant tenants it encouraged. The lords hated that it curbed their fox hunting and pony jumping. It also disturbed their arrow shooting. They also hated the fact that football evolved into quite a popular pastime amongst their rebellious subjects who chose to still revere their lordships, even as they pretend not to by openly governing themselves democratically. So the English lords sought for a way to be seen as taking to the field on their feet, running and throwing, hitting and catching too, like in football.
It had to be on their terms, completely non-contact sport, one befitting royalty and allowing them to be well dressed, with sitting ladies watching out of harms way, like in polo. The thought of it being otherwise is appalling, to say the least. Cricket is paced leisurely, in usual unrushed aristocratic manner and its lingo also comes from established elitist pastimes. Visiting teams are tourists and half-time is tea time etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Enter Cricket for English royals and landlords.