Gulf News Opinion first published this in print and online.
May the best team win!
The first thing the Sri Lankan maid asked me when she entered the house is, “Watched the match last night? Sri Lanka came close, so close! Pakistan won, but only just!” The cricket World Cup is well and truly under way and we have had some exciting humdingers already.
Life has been breathed back into the 50-over format of the game as legendary rivalries are rekindled and people around the world watch 22 men go nuts over a ball smaller than the palms of their hands.
Groups of people gather at common places to watch their team play at the highest level as musicians and clerics, teenagers and parents, teachers and students and bosses and employees all come together to watch history in the making. Viewing high-octane sport for a couple of months is no less than an addiction and many wonder what will they do once the games are over. (I daresay in my case it will mean hot meals served on time).
The atmosphere in the stadiums is electrifying but even in homes and offices, the World Cup is definitely creating an impact. Indians and Pakistanis shudder at the thought of the other winning against their country — for who will face the smirks and remarks at work tomorrow? We in Dubai live in a multicultural environment and sport, in general, has almost become an identity. Sport is something to talk about after dinner conversations — a safe topic which you can be sure will invite people to debate.
Millions of viewers around the world will catch the action on television and spectators glued to their TVs and computers will put their hands on their heads and exclaim animatedly as the ball beats the bat and people will rant about each lbw or caught-behind decision that the umpires got wrong.
Odd promises such as ‘If England don’t lose a wicket, I will shave my moustache/ I won’t change my shirt’ will be heard and people will not budge from their seats if the team they are supporting is having a good period of play — as though it’s them watching the game that’s making it all happen!
Some passionate viewers might even smash their TVs and swear. Player effigies may be burnt as violent mobs vent their disappointment.
The cricket extravaganza continues and while many people feel that this World Cup is too long, I for one revel in the fact that for nearly two months there will be high quality cricket to watch.
The commentary can sometimes be bland, but it can be equally witty too, as some seasoned names like Ian Chappell, Nasser Hussain and Tony Greig help us enjoy and understand the game just that little bit more. I do hope, with all my heart, that the disturbing issue of match-fixing or spot-fixing does not raise its ugly head and that the World Cup is played in the right spirit. May the best team win!
Mehmudah Rehman is a freelance writer based in Dubai.