Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cricket Crazy

The 2012 IPL season was drawing to a close and we hadn't yet been to see the man!! Chris Gayle had been regularly hitting sixes into the skies, the stadium erupting with cheers and fireworks. RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) had just beaten top of the league Delhi Daredevils, Chris Gayle having hit 13 sixes! We thought RCB were guaranteed a place in the playoffs, one of which was to be played in our Bangalore Chinnawasmy stadium. We bought tickets.
However, RCB went out with a whimper to bottom placed Declan Chargers and that was the end of them. But we still had our tickets and off we went to see the Mumbai Indians (MI) bat it out with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the first eliminator.
Getting there an hour before the start - and this is India where time has a curiously elastic quality - we assumed the stadium would be deserted and we'd have the pick of the seats in our area. Not to be, the stadium must have already been at least two-thirds full.

The atmosphere was already electric. We were sat between yellow (CSK) and blue (MI) shirts. Flags were flying, posters waving and the match hadn't even started!
The noise was phenomenal - but all in good cheer. CSK batted first. The guys in front of us leapt up to cheer, high five, dance, yell and celebrate every six and every four. True CSK supporters we thought. But then they did the exact same when MI were batting - confused or just enjoying the moment!
Strangely and wonderfully - when Sachin (MI) and M.S.Dohni (CSK) came out to bat (both hero's of Indian cricket) both groups of supporters united. "Sachin, Sachin" and "MSD, MSD" were chanted from the yellows and the blues.

The level of excitement and fervor never fell. This audience of all ages from babies to their grandparents seemed to have unflagging energy until the least ball was hit, just the early side of midnight.

Admittedly, the view is nowhere near as good as that on the TV, even with the big screens, and the commentators do help when one is seated comfortably in one's arm chair - but the atmosphere and experience of just being there in that melee of exuberance and energy is priceless!

The cricketers, on the field, lead such a good example - no red cards, no smashed rackets, no even querying an umpire's decision save by a rolling of the eyes. They also seem to have a respect for their opposition's abilites and if they are bowled by a superb yorker/spinner etc.etc they will acknowledge. In this packed stadium that mood permutates and there is no obvious inter-supporter aggression. Following the British Premiership with its 12 match bans, racial slurs, fouls resulting in broken limbs etc.etc. maybe the footie players could take a leaf out of the cricket players books.

Off the field there have sadly been "instances" this IPL season, but I'm going to remember the sheer goodwill and exuberance at the stadium, even if RCB didn't make the cut and I didn't get to see the man after all!

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