You know what cricket reminds me of these days: a school kid that’s desperately trying to make itself popular. I mean think about it. Remember back in the early 70’s when cricket was really admirable. It was its own man like Ferris Bueller. Though it didn’t hang out with the cool sports, it was still occasionally invited it to their parties. Mostly though, it mixed better with socially awkward types – sports like Hockey and Badminton and Lacrosse. These sports all looked up to it, especially coz it moved at the beat of its own drum. Sports like Croquet and Polo loved how it could hypothesize for days and days and still keep your attention (well for the most part.) Tennis loved the tasteful way that it dressed. Baseball, its exchange-student overseas cousin, loved the timbre of its leather on willow. It was a well-respected sport – an intelligent and unobtrusive bookworm at sports Hogwarts. But that all soon changed, didn’t it?
In the late 70’s it started to mope around, didn’t it? Its grades began to drop and it was soon in sessions with the student counselor. It turned out that it was having problems at home. It said its parents were fighting with a fat bastard. “His name is Packdock or Packshit or something.” It said it was having trouble staying focused with all this going on. The problem went on for a whole semester. Then something unusual happened. After the break, it returned to campus with a whole new attitude. It started to dress flashily and to strut in a whole new way. It still hung out with close chums Hockey and Tennis but they could tell that its mind was elsewhere. Whenever the cool sports were around, they felt its mind wandered over to what they were up to. The really cool sports Footy and Rugby soon took more notice of it too. They began to wave it over from the back of the bus. “Yo bitch,” they’d call; “Over here,” they’d tack on. As though knocking down tenpins, Cricket would then scythe through the geeky sports to get to the seat they’d saved. Before long, it made it over to them without being waved. It was around about this time that it hardly took notice of the awkward types in used to call friends.
Now that it was in with the cool sports, its personality really changed. The long-winded hypothesis’s that it was admired for – especially the ones that took 5 days – became less and less characteristic. It started to rap like the cool sports. It talked trash and slouched like them. It told smutty jokes and shot peas into the back of the necks of geeky sports. Then it turned really nasty. It started dishing out wedgies. One time, it, Footy and an awful ethnic kid named Soccer dished out an atomic one to Croquet. Croquet couldn’t use its mallets for weeks after. It was around about this time that it really got in with the wrong crowd. It started hanging out with Skateboarding and Surfing. These burnouts soon had it behaving in an even more radical way. It adopted a new nickname and called itself T20. T20, as it was now known, started smoking reefers and getting teenage girls pregnant. It was disruptive in class and nihilistic for the sake of being boorish. It also hung out with Bodybuilding and Kickboxing and really beefed up. The tasteful cream flannels that it used to wear were now mothballed. The lovely meandering philosophical discussions that were its intrinsic charm were now secondary to fart jokes. It was then that it got a tattoo.
Cricket before the introduction of the short form games functioned on dignified terms. I loved it for that. It wasn’t cool, but it was respected. It was a game that inspired literary explorations and a game for the intelligentsia. It wasn’t meant to be calibrated to be as popular as football. And that was its appeal. Of course, this couldn’t last. In the age of professional sport, a Kerry Packer type was inevitably going come along and ruin it all. Owing to a world that puts a dollar sign on everything, cricket is now a cyber bullying slacker, that wants to gangsta rap. No thanks to the market forces that dumb down everything, cricket wants to “get jiggy wid it, bitch.” To sign off deflatedly on that note, “It’s a motherfucking shame.”