Cricket and Beer

February 21, 2010

Our hopes had already been dashed when I walked in to bat yesterday. I wasn’t, however, bothered much with the winning-losing aspect of the game. I was already thinking about the succulent boneless wings and tall glasses of beer I had talked to Yogesh about for our lunch. It was three in the afternoon and drinking beer seemed more appropriate than hitting nine runs off one ball—I mean it was outfight unfair. How do you expect me to hit the runs from here? I crooned from the non-striker end to my team that was standing on the sidelines ready with bats to kill me if I didn’t score the winning nine runs off the last ball.

The game was the opening round of the Vibha tournament and we were dressed in red-and-white polo shirts. Our team had exchanged four thousand five hundred and twenty-two emails about the tournament and the game that the top guns of our team had thought, drinking Gatorade, would put us in the winning grove: The beginning of the saga of five games that would turn us into cricketing gods of Atlanta, barring Arpit of course because he didn’t pass the height criterion for becoming a god, he was an inch too short (I’d already ordered my chakra, sword, and mace to match my godly status apart from getting silk pajamas and fancy gold-plated jewelry).

We were set a target of seventy-six off ten overs. I don’t know about others, but for my team, the hard-hitting players we are, it meant hitting just about two sixes every over. But that would mean one hundred and twenty runs at least and adding the two singles Arpit would eke out edging past the keeper, that would be one hundred and twenty-two. Why don’t we just take singles like the other team? I said, and my team called me a mathematics snob and told me to shut the fuck up or they would tie me to a chair and blow cigarette smoke into my face.

As it was already known, Arpit fulfilled my dream and after hitting a few balls with his long and dense polyester bottoms threw his wicket in a smart attempt to edge the ball to the two-run, behind-the-keeper boundary. We still needed seventy some runs and there was nothing to worry about, I thought, because our batting was just getting started.

Surprisingly, the game that should been a cinch and that had turned into a skirmish after the first innings was now becoming a long yawn. I decided, sitting next to Yogesh, who was flexing his muscles for the benefit of nowhere-to-be-seen Georgia Tech sweethearts and saying, “See, see, how big?” that the things the two kids sitting next to him were saying were more interesting than the game of cricket upon us. The kids were talking about how we, the team of Monsters, were not scared of wasps and were instead scared of not hitting enough sixes in the game. They were cute but nothing to keep me from wandering around.

Earlier in the game, everybody except me had bowled with discipline. The faster I tried to bowl, the fuller I got and was thrashed for singles and doubles. It wasn’t new for me to feel frustrated with the way I was bowling, but apart from feeling the constant pressure of self-loathing, I heard Yogesh’s words as he had told me before the game: You need a third man for fuckers like these, that guy can’t even bench press ninety pounds, where do you think he will hit you? Not in the front. It will always be behind the keeper. I had thought of asking him, How many fingers are these?, to double-check if he wasn’t drunk, but when the ball darted past Ninad three times in the first over, it dawned on me that he hadn’t been kidding me, and I was reduced to tears and had to beg Arpit to stand at the first slip.

The opposition had scored in singles and doubles and hit one six and two boundaries in the whole innings. The target of seventy-six was a tad insulting for the first match of the tournament, and I wondered if Arpit had something to say about it, so I asked him when he was busy putting the box inside his pants that if he had any strategy for the chase since the target wasn’t flat by any means. I have to pee, he replied.

Arpit had said the same thing when earlier before the start of the game I asked him to practice with me. I’ve to pee. Arpit, let’s run around the field once. I’ve to pee. Arpit, let’s go eat something. I‘ve to pee. Arpit, let’s find out why this chipmunk looks like you. I’ve to pee. Arpit, let’s exchange the batting order. I‘ve to pee. Arpit, let’s go pee. No smarty pants, I don’t want to.

Arpit’s propensity for peeing hadn't stripped me of the feeling that Arpit had a strategy all right. After lingering around him awhile, I sat down and heard him say, A lefty and a righty, confusing, confusing, huh, very important to have a lefty opener, but as always I couldn’t understand the Einstenian logic behind it. My theory: if the opposition stinks and cannot bowl to a right and left combination without getting their heads all tangled up, one can beat them in half the number of overs, and if the team is good enough to take you to the last over when you need nine runs off the last ball, good luck with your stellar strategy because, I guess, they ain’t no bitches. It’s quite evident watching international cricket, though, that this strategy works, and in a subtle way, but not as much as the simple and tested strategy of rotating the strike and hitting the ball on merit does. Apart from the lefty-righty strategy, there was another plan of action that, I was plenty aware of it, would kick in as soon as the first over: driving orgasmic pleasure from premeditating to launch the ball out of the park.

At the end of the game as everybody was shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries, it occurred to me that I wanted to drink beer. The game was over. You lose some, you win some, but you always drink beer regardless of the outcome. You cannot let a loss make you reconsider how you go about the game, but for a smart person there are lessons in every little thing that happens to him, be it a missed opportunity to get someone out or a swing and a miss.

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Cricket and Beer


Author: DM


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