Over at Clear Cricket, Raza Naqvi has posted a wonderful (if somewhat florid) piece on the solitude of watching cricket in the USA:
Watching cricket with others is an equally agonizing process involving S-video and HDMI cables, compatibility issues and TV resolutions—the seventeen inches of a laptop are not conducive to communal viewing[…]And so cricket, here in America, is not only watched in poor quality, it is watched alone.
Great stuff, and it has rightly received praise from many other bloggers. I particularly like the piece because it neatly falls into a genre of blogging I’ll call meta-cricket — these are posts that deal more with the experience of watching cricket, rather than the game itself. The difference lies between reading another match preview or game analysis (or even selection policy), and reading about commenatators, annoying cricket ads, and new technologies (or old — see Deep Backward Point’s post on Tape Delay Cricket).
One last thing about Naqvi’s piece: he presents watching cricket alone as an immigrant’s attempt to stand against all-encroaching modern America, with its ubiquitous media culture. That’s true, but I’ll go further and argue what I have in a previous post: watching cricket (and especially Test cricket) is also a protest against modernity, a stance against Kim Kardashian, VH1 shows, hyper-politics and corporate ladders (to use Naqvi’s examples). As I said before in a review of cricket in Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse:
Cricket here comes across as a noisy invasion (“the sudden bark”), whereas I enjoy Test cricket most precisely because the long periods of time and frequent intervals of nothing-is-happening mean I can let the game fade into the background, so it becomes a soothing set of sounds (to use Woolf’s words).
Which raises a more difficult question: do you other immigrant-bloggers find now that it is sometimes easier and better and more enjoyable to watch cricket in the USA, or back home in South Asia? Because while I initially thrill to seeing cricket everywhere when I return to Bombay, I quickly sour when I read all the ink wasted on the sport in the papers and the time reserved on television and all the endorsements and the…that little protected space for cricket, so isolated in the USA, gets taken over by everyone else in India. And it’s not always fun.
There’s something very refreshing about following cricket from a place that doesn’t care about it. I spent a while in Eritrea. On the few occasions that I got a dodgy internet connection to work, catching up on the results became a near euphoric experience!
Re: cricket as a protest v modernity. I think this is as true with playing as watching. I’m depressed by the number of my friends who used to love the game but now say they can’t play because they are too busy to give up an entire afternoon on a Saturday. Cricket requires a commitment that ignores today’s culture of time tabling every spare second.
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