Monday, April 30, 2007


all about the bad side to Cricket
Wait a minute! There is one? Yup, Im afraid there is – just as much as there is a bad side to anything and I actually went deep into thought on the subject last Saturday night.
Have you noticed there is nothing like electricity cut to get one really philosophical? It’s the sudden withdrawal of constant media overload , that abrupt silencing of soap, sausage and posh car adverts and the compulsory return to nature which drags us protesting back to the stone age*, where hairy cavemen sat huddled around wood firelight worrying about what might be lurking beyond it - last Saturday this was excellently simulated in Kolonnawa and the resident mozzies found poor Al sitting in pitch darkness at 3 am in the morning in heavy humid torpor listening in horror to the distant rat a tat of something that just could not have been crackers (duh, we were losing according to sonny boy, whom I consulted for updates from his squeaky portable pocket radio from Pettah) .
Along with vague but serious anxieties that the country was being taken over by armed rebels, SMS-ed rumous that Colombo was under siege and that doomsday was nigh, I was also subconsciously formulating a solid case against cricket, and now that I have my broadband back I can actually put it into words and on line.
For a start, I might as well admit, shockingly, that I am not a cricket fan, and have never been able to sit still long enough to understand what all those guys are trying to achieve running about with little white balls. It looks like something that only mad-dogs and Englishmen would want to do and I cant for the life of me understand why anyone would continue to submit to this torture once the cloying mantle of colonial coercion had been withdrawn.
But they do, and not only the team (bless their cotton socks, they seem like decent enough chaps!) but the spectators-at least in my estimate 65 % of our population who are mad about cricket are willing to put career, family, romance, peace and indeed anything aside just to fixate on this game, not just while its being played but to watch the re runs , spend hours afterwards analyzing it and if that’s not enough they will read about it too in the papers and write home about it just in case anyone has missed a single ball .
Lets start with the effect on the economy:
So for a poor third world country if you do the maths ,the reason we are extremely poor even if we are a happy bunch ,may possibly be traced to the fact that we have more holidays than anyone else, and to the estimated effect of just one fairly interesting game of cricket on the local GDP
The mathematics works out like this 20 million people x 65 % x two working days =Rs 13 Billion (because the average manual laborer can make 500 a day and here I have taken minimums- if you are a doctor who earns 10000/= a day well, do enjoy your holiday because its expensive) Electricity consumed to watch and analyze the game – do get these horrible stats from the CEB but Im sure its nothing less than Rs 2 Billion-so total at a minimum 15 billion loss to the country from one game of cricket. Probably more than our politicians can swindle us out of in a month of corruption and being really immoral! (two working days comes from : 8 hours for the game, 4 hours for the drunken stupor afterwards + 4 hours discussing and anazlysing and another 2 hours writing home about it -like Im doing now . Also note Saturday and Sunday in middle class Sri Lanka, as many of you will accede, are days we often work harder than the weekdays )
Then there’s the effect on Family life.
The average couple returns from work , the guy takes to the tv cos its his day. The kids are running about unwashed, possibly in the process of developing the addiction, ignoring their homework. The mom of the house has enough steam coming out of her ears, to pressure cook a village-chicken. She will need to stay up till 1 am just to get the housework done and the rest of the family is in a trance, where you cant get a coherent response from them. Trust me there will be repercussion. I don’t need to tell you all of this – you see it in your homes often enough haven’t you ?
The effect on romance
Same as above. What was that saying again, when poverty knocks ,love flies out the window? Well , when poverty and cricket knock , homicidal rage sneaks in too. Hence the bashed televisions, women with black eyes and occasional suicides during cricket season-and this even when we are winning!
The effect on peace and camaraderie
Well, until Saturday I thought there was a positive effect on general peace in the country what with everyone gathering if not around the negotiating table, at least around the flat-screen at the same time, cheering in unison for the same multi-ethnic bunch.
This lovely thought used to bring a warm fuzzy feeling to me and a tear to my eye, not to mention an emotional twitch. But alas the effect is now irreversibly spoiled by the realization that there are probably unexploded ordinances in the canal behind our house, and that what happened last Sunday was just not cricket! So apart from the loss to the economy of my estimated 15 billion, the other lesson learned would probably be that one has to be more paranoid than usual during matches, if such is possible**….so cricket simply increases tension , if that is possible , for the already stressed sentinels who guard our perimeters…that’s a truly sobering thought any day.
But what about how happy it makes people?
Yes, indeed, and there you have it , this is probably why Sri Lanka although poor by economic standards may nevertheless be quite high on the unofficial Happiness Index. That is why I have decided to quit being so grinchy about it and try and figure out what its all about so that if I cant beat them, I can at least join them next time and share in the fun!

After all , cricket may be evil but that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy it !!!
* Or at least the kerosene age
** and Im not going to even begin to comment about the international signed balls controversy because the gurus have already been there and done that. Do write in and give me al l the good reasons why I should join the leagues of the cricket crazy


N said...

btw you forgot to add the fiscal losses of paying for the politicos and their goons to go for the in point

old Jeevan and his boy and girl toy enjoying their spoils...

al juhara said...

point taken. Id say 15 Billion is the BARE MINIMUM loss per match, the actuals must be closer to double that.
and another point I have always wanted to raise a question on is WHY Sri Lanka which has the MOST holidays in the world , also has the highest Suicide (when last counted). theres something we are just not doing right...