“Papa, you must not watch cricket. Watch Football instead!” says my five year old with a dismissive tone about the long time I spend watching the Cricket World Cup 2011. And to top it, he decided that he wanted to go to the park during the epic semi-final match when India beat Pakistan. I conceded and missed Yuvraj dismiss two Pakistani batsmen. He probably thought Football was the biggest game on planet Earth (which it is) due to the fact that the FIFA World Cup was what he saw me following as a 4 year old who could follow what was dished out on the Idiot Box. Little does he know that he will grow up to be one of the billion odd Indians who will do anything to watch India win a cricket world cup?
Cut back to 1983 when I as a six year old didn't know of any other televised game other than cricket. I don't even remember any of those scenes that people from my Dad’s generation recollect so emotionally. Kapil’s running catch to dismiss the great Viv Richards and start the famous march towards a maiden World Cup victory for India. 28 eventful years have passed and I still believe that Kapil Dev was the person who changed the face of cricket in the sub-continent and not just India and brought it to the status it has currently, It’s more than just a Game!
Years from now, my son would hopefully remember fondly that his parents watched the day when India won the 2011 World Cup. Cricket, the game of glorious uncertainties could still dish out something other than what a billion souls wish for. Mother Luck might decide to smile on the islanders and not the Indians. But one thing is for sure, he will remember that there was a GOD that people who followed a religion called CRICKET worshipped. He would be one of those less fortunate to only marvel at recordings of the great Sachin and not remembering watching the legend live.
I was one of the atheists that thought that Cricket was another game and there was always Tennis, Football and F1 to follow. That was all until the day I watched GOD work his miracle. 200 not out; something which no human had ever achieved in a one day international. Over the course of that innings I am sure there were many more converts like me who turned theists and started believing that Sachin was the God of Cricket the religion.
Cut to the 2nd of April, 2011. By the end of the day it would be clear if indeed even God is imperfect. If like the great Don, our own God will end less than a 100%. Or is it that all the forces that matter are playing out the events spanning for 21 years of his career to climax with him bidding goodbye on a high.
Imagine a higher God approaching Sachin the previous night and dishing out a few options to him. There are a multitude of possibilities at the Wankhede. What if he is asked to choose between:
· Scoring his 100th international century in a winning cause and checks the list of to-dos before he calls it a day
· Being a part of the World Cup winning side, but doesn't reach the personal milestone
· The other options I don't even want to imagine
Give these options to Sachin and I am sure he will selflessly choose the second.
28 years down the lane, my son will be in front of a television or streaming the Final live on his pad watching India win yet another World Cup while his 5 year old will pester him to go to the park. He like many his age will fondly remember that there was a God who once wielded a willow. A superhuman, who brought happiness to millions when he was at the crease. A master that ruled all he ventured into. Above all an immortal, who displayed human traits and stood clean in the midst of chaos and flawed mortals.
Sachin do us proud all over again.