Wednesday, March 23, 2016

ICC World T20 Cricket and Lord Wavell

India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup Match
Photo Courtesy
On Saturday evening, in addition to chatting about the awesome weather (rain in March!), I ask Anna if he would like to watch the India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup match. I hope watching the match will break the cycle of lethargy and depression. It doesn't.

Anna has never been a big cricket fan.  He is probably a part of the 1% of Indians who are not cricket crazy. However, I was banking on the legendary rivalry between the 2 teams on the cricket field to snap him out of his current state. He is not even remotely interested! He decides to nap before dinner instead.

A Bomb Ladi
Photo Courtesy
India, of course, wins the match and the city resounds with the sound of crackers in the middle of the night. I worry that Anna will be woken by the sound of bomb ladis. That his sleep will be disturbed. That he will call me in fright. Nothing happens and the rest of the night passes peacefully.

I tell him on Sunday that India won! Still no interest. Then I remember a story about my mother and cricket. Actually, about my mother who watched Sunil Gavaskar's famous test début in Port-of-Spain in 1971.

Anna was working for the UNDP in Trinidad & Tobago. The West Indies had, and probably still has, a vibrant Indian-descent population that embraces and celebrates all things Indian, including Indian ex-pats. So, when the Indian team came to play against the West Indians in Port-of-Spain, Anna got tickets for my mother and himself, to watch the match at Queen's Park Oval.

Photo Courtesy New Arya Bhavan

Amma and Anna spent the first three days watching the match at the Oval, from start to finish.  On the fourth day, the rest day, some members of the cricket team came home for breakfast at 7 am. Amma made idli, sambar, chutneypudi, ghee and of course, coffee.  The table groaned with food, and there was not a quiet place in the house. The little kids (like me and my sister) watched as Gundappa Vishwanath devoured more idlis than we had ever seen anyone eat before. S Venkataraghavan played chess with my brother. Sadly, Sunil Gavaskar didn't come to breakfast that morning. I think that 7 am breakfast went on till noon with many rounds of coffee and home-made ompudi.

Sunil Gavaskar is garlanded at the end of the Test Match
 against the West Indies at Port of Spain
Photo Courtesy
The following day found Amma and Anna back at Queen's Park Oval watching the match.

After the match ended, Anna asked Amma how she liked watching a test match. India had won and Sunil Gavaskar was a sublime batsman.  Amma was non-committal at first.  Then she said, "I don't understand this game. A man at one end, throws a ball over his head at another man at the opposite end, who swings a bat in the air. And they do this for 5 / 6 days at a stretch! Isn't there something better they could be doing?" Amma clearly did not understand the game of cricket!!

Anna smiles as I recall this story.  He tells me that Amma never went to see another live match even tho' there were plenty of opportunities. She found cricket boring. Then he tells me that Amma echoed the sentiments of Lord Wavell.

Printed in The Canberra Times on 27 October 1947
Photo Courtesy
"Who Lord Wavell?", I ask.  "What did he say?"

Anna tells me, "Lord Wavell created a huge controversy in the late 40s when he said that cricket was wasted time and effort."

I respond with, "Really?" hoping to get him to talk more. He obliges.

"Yes", he says. "Lord Wavell said it was the height of absurdity that 22 men could spend 5 / 6 days playing a game, and that too for months on end. And that the British had created the sport merely to provide a spectacle for large crowds of people, wasting a colossal amount of time, money, and manpower."

Insightful, that Lord Wavell chap, I think to myself.

Little did Lord Wavell know the spectacle the game of cricket would turn into! 


  1. Wow! Didn't know if the Wavell quote! Totally get how you're mom felt. After being an addict, I have reached the same state as her now :)

  2. When Anna told me about Lord Wavell, I thought he must be mistaken for a few seconds, before I remembered that his memory of the long gone past is very very clear. I looked up the quote and there is was!