In my post on repetition in cricket, Samir Chopra challenged my thesis:
You mean to tell me all cover-drives for four are the same? All wins by one run are the ‘same’? Every wicket that falls off the first ball of an over in an England v. Australia game, whether played at Lord’s or the SCG? And you are changing too – do you really, really think that you are the same person as the one that saw his first game many years ago?
Cricket is one of the few interests I will sustain through my life. So this is a tough question: how does a fan’s relationship with cricket — or any sport, really — change over time? When I first started following the game as an 11-year-old, my primary concern was nationalistic. I cared about the game only because it was something India did well, and India performing well meant I, as an Indian, could reflect the glory. It was only recently — I’d say two years ago, maybe — that I started to appreciate some of the more technical elements of the game and the particular rhythms of Test cricket. Right now, I watch cricket mostly because I want to see good players at their finest — few things compare to a Kevin Pietersen or Dale Steyn in full flow.
But I long for the moment when I grow older and my interest in the game becomes a familial following. Imagine playing cricket with your child! Imagine teaching him/her about the nuances of each over. And imagine growing even older and reminding young fans of players like “Sachin Tendulkar” and “Shiv Chanderpaul,” players you had to see to believe. Then when I’m oldest: my grandmother followed cricket pretty consistently through her life, but now, at the age of 91, she doesn’t remember who “any of these young fellows” are anymore. She sees cricket, but does not recognize it anymore.
Will cricket one day become foreign and strange?