And you thought it was ‘just another game’?

All I have been hearing across the house is how a simple rickshaw ride made it to the headlines this year, where our 1996 helicopter extravaganza had failed! The Google art too is gushing about WC11 I noticed today morning. All so well and no doubt I am proud, but yes there’s a small sigh I do give out in memory of WC96 which shaped my life.

They say I was dipped in nostalgia while watching television that evening. I failed to explain to them that I grasped to understand where we went wrong 15 years back. As a kid then, to whom all that mattered was to dance well I guess I did not understand the other sides of the coin which would make up February 11, 1996 – yes the date is still itched in my articular muscles, such was the impact! As a young adult, all I could understand was that the pitch I saw them built over those last 3 months at Eden and then cover it up with that huge stage – the moisture infestation brought about the downfall. Now when I look back with a few grey hairs, I see the logic straight and simple – in a country of a million ideas, execution of a single one brought about the downfall.

I stand at the brink of the biggest national political extravaganza (yes it’s voting time – almost!) somewhere the 22 yards make all the more sense to me. It’s always been this way with me – I have found the most difficult of all answers on the cork mixed soil!

When bids opened for the WC11 hoisting, India was all set to be overlooked! A bad history, coupled with no takers of the ‘then’ committed blunder, the Australian and the New Zealander infrastructure sought to rule the bid. However, surprisingly not only did the West Indian vote swung in Pakistan favour on the bid, but Asia went on to win the bid 10 votes to 3!

How, why and when did this happen did anyone wonder then? If day before yesterday 15 years proved too less for erasure of memory, you think standing at the brink of a (then) decade the Eden story didn’t cross anyone’s mind? We got 15 matches then and 29 now after Pakistan’s exit from the World Cup! The solution was simple – coalition!

We did not stand as India then, we stood for the entire Asian community that represented cricket. The world’s richest privately owned cricket body, the island nation which came to forefront because of the game, an under-dog whose claim to fame was still the 1999 victory against Pakistan and a nation on which the media controversies thrived on – we presented the perfect match and concoction!

What seems so spirited, was actually nothing but politics. It amazes me how the game teaches me this lesson too! Is there anything this game hasn’t taught me, I wonder?

International cricket politics lie at the heart of the dispute. Since cricket is the most popular sport in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Asia is of fundamental financial importance to the International Cricket Council. However, historically, international cricket has been controlled by the Old Commonwealth nations of England, Australia, and New Zealand, supported by South Africa. The centre of cricketing politics has moved, over time, with the money, and the Asian nations, particularly India under the guidance of Jagmohan Dalmiya, looking for greater control in the direction of international cricket, and in 2005 Dalmiya said that the Indian subcontinent should host every third World Cup.

But when history is tainted and the world raises eyebrow what do you do? You turn and do it for the first time what Australia did – opt for coalition! After 70 years Australia faced it’s first, two days back the PM expressed his fears on the impending similar natured governance that is approaching the nation!

In the midst of it all we sang in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Singhalese and English – this is going to be the most educative game of all times! Setting ground truly – when was the last time you looked at the 22 yards and saw it defining your life beyond boundary lines? The truth is it does and I have always cried hoarse, wish this year people understand that it’s no longer ‘just a game’!

(Images courtsey: