You think cricket isn't sexy?
Sure, there are drink breaks and people used to play in sweater vests but cricket can unite nations.
My lack of exposure to “American” sports while growing up is never more apparent than when I’m at work.
I’m surrounded by hardcore football, baseball, and basketball fans.
Now, to be clear, I’m a sports fan. I no longer call it “American football”, and have had my heart broken by the Bears offensive line time and time again. I’ve cheered on the Bulls since I was a kid (D Rose for MVP!), but my sports of choice have always been soccer and cricket.
So, while my colleagues are all about their brackets for March Madness, I’m streaming the cricket World Cup on my computer. They don’t get how I watch anything that lasts eight hours. I’ll admit, cricket is not exactly as “sexy” as basketball. And yes, there are drink breaks, and people used to play in sweater vests. But there’s a whole history there you’re missing out on when these teams meet on the field.
The rivalry between some of these teams hold more political and emotional weight than any regional bracket. For some, they’re playing against their former colonisers. For others, it is another part of a long lasting regional rivalry that has resulted in multiple wars.
This is a game a nation’s hopes and dreams get pinned on. So, while I was bummed that Pittsburgh’s elimination sent my bracket into a tailspin, I was eagerly looking forward to arguably the most anticipated match in the entire World Cup: Pakistan versus India.
I was rooting for Pakistan and not only was the cup on the line, but so was my national pride.
When Pakistan lost yesterday, I was amongst the180 million people who felt pain. Supporters were stunned as our boys walked away from the field for the very last time this tournament. And yet, all of us still had something to be proud about.
Our country, a perpetual loser in the PR war, held its head high because of these young atheletes. Pakistan is known to the world as a dangerous, unstable country but despite the dropped catches, our team gave us reason to rejoice over a month and a half.
They raised the Pakistani flag and sang our national anthem in Mohali. They gave every curbside kid and aging grandparent from Karachi to Peshawar a reason to unite.
Has your college basketball team ever done that for you?
So for those who still question the validity of cricket as a world sport, just know that whoever lifts that cup on April 2 can actually call themselves a world champion, unlike anyone who has ever won a “world series”.
If you won a world series, you at most played a Canadian team. You’re not fooling anyone. At least my tournament is relevant to a billion plus people.
So, if you saw me yelling at my computer screen on Wednesday morning and were wondering what the hell was going on, just know that I’m as much of a sports fan as you.
The only difference is, I like to break for tea.