Cricket, for some, is a season. To many it is something worth living for. Mina Anand looks back at the game's impact on her life.
At a half-century plus, with years of fanatical cricket-watching to frame me, it's time for me to confess all.
Yes, in my obsession with the sport, I've been guilty of certain offences, trivial or otherwise, and now that the “period of limitation” (time-frame) to bring charges is safely over, I can “come clean”.
In the last 25 years, this cricket follower must have watched on TV (ball by ball) almost every single match India has played. (Except perhaps when her son was born, November 1989 — when Sachin made his debut!)
Before listing the crimes, I'd like to briefly touch on what makes me so criminally cricket-minded.
My parents are responsible, for being the sports lovers that they are. It was my mother, specially, who influenced my future actions. She and her siblings played just about every game. Tennis and Cricket were life-long interests. Small wonder that her children were brought up on an enticing diet of sport.My mother's enthusiasm was infectious. Tales of test matches at Chepauk. Captains declaring… teams following on…. batsmen pulling, hooking, cutting, sweeping, ‘gardening'… bowlers flighting the ball… shattering the stumps….
Right up to her 80th birthday, she discussed cricket with fervour. From advising my 20-year-old son on whom to pick for his “ESPN Super Selector League” — to arguing with me on “Seniors v Juniors” (she supports the latter!)
My father, a Service Officer, and a long-distance runner, encouraged outdoor activities. We had plenty of space to grow. Literally. Wide open grounds in our Air Force colonies — to run out and play our favourite game — cricket.
1981. Marriage and colour TV came together! My husband, a keen and “calm” observer of the game, was left far behind in “cricket craziness”, as my eagerness to watch cricket on TV took elephantine proportions. There is often talk about “golf widows”, but I guess it is rare to find a “cricket widower”!
When it comes to following cricket, and cricketing personalities, I am in a different zone altogether — and will do literally anything not to miss the game. Up at dawn for the matches Down Under; and a very good nightwatchman — to take in the all-night Caribbean Calypso shows!
I lap up match discussions, as eagerly as I devour the game on the field. Specially, when it is the inimitable Harsha Bhogle, and his live broadcasts. Having explained my “madness”, I can now list the specific “offences” — with a “not guilty” conscience!
Brief facts — and the likely charges under the Indian Penal Code:
1. Accosting Sachin
Chennai 1999. Soon after the “Tendulkar-Sharjah” series, the Indian Team was in the city and staying at the Taj. Desperate to meet Sachin, I track down his programme from the newspaper. Armed with “an excited nine-year-old son” and dragging a protesting husband, I waylay the Little Master — on his way out of the Taj gym! Perfect “pit-stop” timing — that a Formula One Team would envy! Poor Sachin had no chance of escape. I blurt out that my son wants to “open with Sachin one day” — and ever obliging, Sachin replies, “Ya sure”!
Offence: Section 339 of the Indian Penal Code. Wrongful restraint?
Whoever voluntarily obstructs any person so as to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed, is said wrongfully to restrain that person.
2. Confronting the Electrical sub-station master
Mumbai 2001. India v Australia. Sachin blasting away. The power goes. (Pre-invertor days!)
I recover from the shock and call up the Electricity Complaints: “I cant miss Sachin's batting, so please try your best.”
Hearing the desperation in my voice, the sympathetic BSES official tells me his men are working at a nearby sub-station. I rush off to the site — a “straight drive” from my home, and pounce on the person in charge.
“Sachin is batting — hitting sixes and fours against the Australians? Can you please do something, urgently?”
The gentleman perks up at once. Assures me he will do everything in his power to get the current going. Keeps his word. As I reach home, the lights have come! Thanks to “Sachin power”.
Had I committed the offence of Rash Driving? Section 279 of the IPC?
3. Encroach into forbidden areas
Adelaide Test 2003. Dravid batting for his life and for the team. The power goes again. I rush out of the house, and drive frantically to the nearby Command Hospital. Charge into the TV room. There is pin-drop silence as I realise this is a Men's Recreation Room.
I don't bat an eyelid, just sit down and watch Dravid bat (luckily, I have my son as chaperone).
Criminal Trespass? Section 441 IPC. Whoever enters into or upon property in the possession of another with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy any person in possession of such property.
The Latin words Mens Rea (criminal intent) fitted in with the “men's rea”ctions!
“Acts causing slight harm” — Section 95 IPC
4. Transgressions at A.K. Khan Law College
Pune 2005. I am a law student — at age 50! (Cricket and law go together — ask Sangakkara, Adam Parore, Darren Ganga, or Peter Roebuck.)
No bunking. As classes end when the matches start.
But when my favourite player Sourav Ganguly comes to play a Ranji Trophy match (at the height of his “exile”), I skip a lecture on “Grounds for Appeal”, entering the more appealing cricket grounds. Manage to survive the three years and get a law degree without sacrificing my cricket. (Thanks to the family support, specially my parents.)
My project on the “Ganguly-Chappell” issue and its relevance with defamation has the External Examiner nodding in appreciation. (Must have been a Ganguly fan too.)
5. Jumping the queue
Chennai 2008. India-South Africa Test. Viru's second 300. All roads lead to Chepauk. Sehwag on the rampage.
Rushing to the stadium, my heart sinks; a mile-long queue. I charge up to the counter. “Ladies ke kudu pa (give it to the lady),” from the amused policeman at the ticket stands. I grab that chance with both hands. One, thrusting the cash, and the other, almost snatching the tickets from the ticket clerk. Before anyone can cry,“‘Howzat' lady jumping the queue?” I disappear into the stands as fast as a Sehwag-hit sixer.
2011: As I grow older, and (not so wiser) I find myself outgrowing the need to watch non-stop cricket. Working for an International Law Firm takes care of that. Enjoying my second innings. Writing, following cricket, working with young colleagues and age-old legal principles.
But, cricket lovers, beware. Listening to commentary at work, can cost you your job — as per a recent Supreme Court ruling!
This piece is dedicated to my mother, Kalyani, who passed away last year, soon after her 80th birthday. And to my father Air Marshal P.V. Iyer (Retd), who at 81, continues to run his incredible 10 km daily run.
Keywords: cricket fanatics