Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cricket Frenzy or a Religion?

As i watched the Cricket World Cup quarterfinal match between Sri Lanka and England online, in my room;  from the frames of my window, i saw the warm Colombo night towards the stadium brightly lit with tall gigantic spotlights. R. Premadasa stadium, with capacity of 35,000 was full house(who would miss such an important match) and was the center of interest for the 20 million people of this Cricket loving island nation and cricket  lovers all over the globe. 

I came out to the balcony for the better view of the halo of light over the stadium, i could well imagine the atmosphere in the ground. Crowds would cheer every runs that came through the bats of two opening pairs in the center who looked very solid and were playing their best. The cheers would be deafening especially when the ball crosses the boundary rope for the sixer or the fours. 

The two batsman, Dilshan and Tharanga, with their killer intent took Sri Lanka into the world cup semifinal. The 10wickets win over the England with two brilliant centuries knock from the opening pair who batted despitethe cramps towards the later part of the innings showed how much focussed the batsmen were on winning the match. 

Outside the hotels with the television sets, there were people lined to see their country go through into the world cup. I wished to go to the stadium and cheer for Sri Lanka but it was a race i had to compete with 20 million people for 35000 seats. However some of my friends in the college managed to get the tickets. I would have got too, only if i had the will to go to the ticket counter in 1 a.m in the morning and stand in the cue for 4 hours for a ticket.

 I could see how maddening it is. But for a nation who have embraced cricket like another religion, it is their devotedness to the religion. 

Cricket is played everywhere, no streets are spared, kids and even adults play soft ball cricket  in a narrow strip of road in the neighborhood near my room. Sixer would hit the walls of the three storyed buildings or the ball have to be fetched from the double lane highway. I joined them for a match or two, they display true energy with lots of cheering and shouting, its looks like a commotion at first but people really enjoy this, no body seems bothered by the noise or balls hitting their windows. It is the game of harmony and loved by all. The girls in my group, knows about their cricket team. they are fine critics about the game. The women have accepted this game. Its not unusual to see beautiful girls, painted with the blue and yellow colors from their national flag hopping and making odd dance moves amongst thousand others in the stadium cheering their team.

From the schools and colleges that i have seen around in Colombo, there is no school or college without a cricket ground. Although volleyball is the national game, it is rarely seen playing. The cricket events between the schools is called "Big Match" and it is a festive occasion. Colombo boasts of three international cricket venues, each about two or three miles apart. 

Despite some people charging 500- 800 % more than the actual costs for the tickets, people would not miss the matches. There is one incident i remember where two men in a fuel station were playing cricket at around midnight, i had various thoughts arising in me, "is that a best way to keep away sleep" or ''are they so much in love with the game ''. Cricket is a household talk everywhere. For a nation that loves the cricket so much and people who madly devote to the game, bringing the precious cup back home would be the best gift the Cricketing heroes can gift the nation.  I wish the Sri Lankan team the Best Wishes in winning the final. The island will roar with the victory.  

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