By Arré Bench
Another four years have gone by, which means it’s time for non-cricket fans to sit through another series of 10-hour-long matches, trying not to accidentally carve a hole in their arms out of boredom. Thankfully this isn’t one of those cricket tournaments where each match goes on for five days, so the individual games do eventually end. Unfortunately there are also going to be a total of 48 games played, so at some point, you’re going to have to brush up on your silly points if you want to have something to contribute when you’re watching the match with your friends.
The first thing you need to know before you watch a match is that cricketers, much like sugar cubes, dissolve in water. Makes sense then that this World Cup would be held in England, a country where it rains every single day of the year. Unlike football, or hockey, or pretty much any other outdoor sport, a small drizzle means the game is likely to be abandoned. So while you secretly pray to the rain Gods when you want to get out of watching the match, complain out loud to your friends about how inconvenient rainfall can be.
Once you’re over the fact that no one checked the forecast before announcing the biggest tournament ever, shift your attention to the hot-button topic of this World Cup — a match that hasn’t even been played yet, India versus Pakistan. This one’s a no-brainer; you’ve probably already heard that barring a man named Mohammad Amir, Pakistan’s team is bad and India’s team is good, so I don’t need to warn you against wearing green on Sunday.
For extra credit, and to seem like you’ve done your research, you could bring up the ad warsbetween the two countries, specifically how entertaining you found the whole exchange. As it turns out, 70-odd years of border tension and four wars really add to the appeal of a cricket match.
While the game is on, throw in the occasional comment about how either batsman and bowler are misfiring. When the batsman from the team you aren’t supporting accidentally hits the ball for a six, claim that the boundary is shorter than it usually is. When the bowler from the team you aren’t supporting takes a wicket, comment on how this particular pitch (it changes every hour or so) is making the ball swing too much. It’s always either swinging to the “legside” or the “offside”, which are words that have no apparent meaning to those who use normal directions like “left” and “right”. So just pick a side, stick to it and hope you don’t get called out.
As it turns out, 70-odd years of border tension and four wars really add to the appeal of a cricket match.
Every now and then, a batsman will miss the ball completely, and the bowler will yell and jump like he’s been invited on a comedy show on Colors TV. This is your cue to shout “LBW!” out loud. Don’t worry about looking like an idiot, LBWs are very controversial dismissals. Approximately 90 per cent of the time, even the players and umpires can’t tell whether the batsman is out or not. If you’re ever asked to explain the rule by someone who isn’t sure, just shake your head and say, “You probably won’t get it anyway.” It’s the most honest thing you’ll ever say.
Over the course of this World Cup you’ll hear more names being called out by the commentators than at a Starbucks in Bandra. David, Kane, Rashid, Kagiso — there’s no way you’re going to be able to remember them all. To save yourself the trouble, at least be sure you know who’s representing our country. The big daddy and captain is Virat Kohli, who can apparently take on every other team by himself and sell a few wedding outfits along the way. Then there’s Dhoni, who “still has it”; Shikhar Dhawan, who is not to be confused for Varun Dhawan; and Rishabh Pant, who everyone is pleased to see. Maybe he brought pizza, we don’t know. What we do know is that there’s no other team that has a conceivable chance of beating India.
Gripping stuff, this World Cup.
Once you’ve learned each players’ name, you’re ready for your first official screening. Make sure you carry enough water (it’s always going to be longer than you expect it to be) and maybe a pillow to put your head on when things get “tense” (if cricketers can take rest breaks, you can too). Try not to use everything you’ve learned all at once, because in case you come across as too knowledgeable, you’ll be invited to the next game as well.
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