It is for this thing, that I refuse to call a sport, where some loonies in white dresses stand in the blazing sun for hours on end – sometimes days, too (and weeks as well?) – hardly ever moving a muscle.
Two of them carry the thhapa, that short club that women used to beat the dirt out of their laundry before washing machines were invented. Since with this invention the thhapa became redundant, it was put to other use by ne’er-do-wells: they took to flogging balls with it. Cricket was invented and life was never the same again.
So, this bunch of kooks with their thhapas and sticks (which for some odd reason are called ‘wickeds’) get out in the midday sun and spend the whole day there until their brains melt and flow out of their noses. While the two thhapa men and the one with the ball have a pretence to some activity every now and again, as they jog between their two sets of wickeds, those standing at various ‘silly points’ around the ground have only to pick their noses and watch the grass grow. I promise you, I once met one of these idlers who told me that for want of anything better to do during the match he had measured a day’s rate of growth with a vernier caliper and even worked out a daily growth average over two weeks.
He also said that he was actually a bird watcher but because of the cutting of trees in Lahore and the resultant depletion of bird species, he had taken to being a cricketer. Here, he occasionally got to see blue rock pigeons lighting on the green and had become quite conversant with their courtship and mating procedures. He said he was half way through writing a book titled, On the Rate of Growth of Grass and the Love Life of Blue Rock Pigeons.
Don’t even ask me how I know that the two geriatrics on the ground are actually evangelists. From time to time, they raise a finger skyward in the gesture of sages going, ‘Allah aik hai!’ Other than this little bit of activity, you’d think they had long ago succumbed to decrepitude and were somehow defying gravity.
I reckon my carping against this so-called sport over the years has brought about one change. They have now invented a Tea-Twenty version of cricket. In the old days, players could have tea only six times during the match day. Although it is another thing they could have their charpoys brought out for a nap, but tea was served only so many times and no more.
My informant tells me that in this new version of cricket, they will serve a proper sit down tea, with scones, muffins and cucumber sandwiches no less, every twenty minutes. All this on the ground in full view of the spectators — hence ‘Tea-Twenty’. He also tells me that each so-called player, bearded or otherwise, will have to drink twenty cups in each tea party. Anyone shirking on that will be declared out; cheating will call for disqualification until the next tea party in twenty minutes. In preparation of this new version of cricket, the boundary rope around the ground is being replaced with a circle of urinals in stadiums across the world.
PS: My friend Haroun Rashid was a player of the game in his youth and is now an ardent follower. When he reads this, he’ll come for me with his shotgun. I hope he is as bad with the gun as he was with the thhapa. Else, this is my requiem.