My previous post didn’t adequately express my point/issue, which is: how much of cricket is original? I’ve followed cricket consistently now for more than a decade, and like most avid fans of any modern sport, I think I’ve seen it all — ties, “down to the wire” games, breathtaking innings, match-fixing scandals, on-field eruptions, awesome spells, etc. If I’ve seen it all, why do I keep watching? This problem — call it the paradox of modern spectatorship — came to mind when the IPL broadcasters read a tweet from Amitabh Bachchan that noted that a majority of IPL 5 games had finished only in the last over. So then: if you have watched so many sixes, so many close games, doesn’t diminishing returns kick in at some point?
But approach the problem even more generally: the goal for any technically minded batsman is to replicate a shot that follows the textbook’s instructions. Head still, foot to the pitch of the ball, etc — but why do we take such joy from seeing these shots? If you’ve seen one great textbook cover drive, haven’t you seen them all? This problem may be another symptom of modernity; perhaps because of television and increased frequency, we are seeing more cricket than we should. Perhaps it’s also the fact that modern cricket emphasizes individual performance (measured rigorously by strike rates, averages, etc.), whereas in the olden days (an obvious, mythical construct, I concede), cricket was about the passage of time — a chance for a few select fans to head to a stadium, enjoy bright sunshine, and see nothing happen.
And yet, as I said in an earlier post, watching cricket highlights episodes is a chore for me. I have seen every cricket game, and yet I need to watch the next live one. And as soon as it’s over, I crave the next. But why? In college, I was introduced to the school of structuralism, a broad category of literary theory that tries to map out the ‘structures’ of stories — high, low, conflict, conflict resolution, slow, fast. I always wondered: if you know that every story has a particular recipe, why bother reading anymore? Where’s the joy in reading something you know to be merely following in the footsteps of another story?
In other words: am I only watching cricket because I’m addicted? Have we already seen every cricket game?