This is how big cricket is in India

We'd like to think that this tale explains cricket's popularity in India better than a whole host of journalists saying "cricket's massive in India" would. It probably doesn't.

If this isn't sounding too promising, let us just say that we get marginally humiliated by an eight-year-old midway through the story, so stick with it.

When we were in India, we found that young boys came and talked to us a lot. Other people we were with didn't seem to attract the same attention. We can't really explain it because (1) we're really grumpy and (2) we hate talking to people.

On one particular journey in Karnataka, we found ourself sitting next to this boy on a bus. He was about eight and we just knew he was bursting to talk to us. We were tired and didn't want to, but he couldn't help himself. Fortunately, he turned out to be quite a nice bloke.

As ever in these situations, we started with 'what name?' and 'what country?' We were on fairly safe ground here. His third question rather put us on the back foot though: 'What are the major crops of your country?'

What would you say? We produce quite a lot of graffiti. That's not a crop though. Minor celebrities? It's a tricky one if you're quite stupid and uninformed. We're quite stupid and uninformed, so we turned the question back on him. He listed loads of stuff.

Next we moved onto 'how many languages do you speak?' We thought we'd done quite well by saying two. French GCSE counts if you're talking to an eight-year-old in rural India. He's unlikely to be fluent enough to catch you out. It turned out he didn't need to, because like just about everybody else in the world he spoke five languages. Round two to Shaun - for that's what he reckoned his name was. We're still doubtful.

We decided to steer the talk into safer waters because some people were laughing at us. Cricket. You can't go wrong with cricket. And we didn't.

Now here's the bit where you fully and instantaneously comprehend the importance of cricket in India. This kid's eight. He lives in the back of beyond and these are his favourite cricketers, in order: Anil Kumble (no surprises there); Shaun Pollock (we'll put it down to the shared name); Alan Mullally (weird); and Bruce French...

Bruce French? We've pored over scorecards since we were about four and we still took a minute to remember. How many eight-year-olds in the UK know who Bruce French is? How many adults know who Bruce French is? He was one of Shaun's favourite cricketers. Not Michael Vaughan or Andrew Flintoff. We checked. Bruce French.

For those who don't know him, here's Bruce French's Cricinfo profile. Even they don't know him that well.

Hello Shaun, if you're reading. Our favourite Indian cricketers are Kenia Jayantilal, Dhiraj Parsana and Ghulam Parkar.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012


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2 Comments:

Anonymous The Robert Key Singers said...

I'm of the opinion that old Shaun was such a fan of this guy's because he too was accident prone. Was Shaun sporting a cast on his arm, or maybe a pox?
From cricinfo:
"A remarkably accident prone man, he missed matches through being bitten by a dog, contracting chicken pox from his daughter, and was once knocked over by a car while on the way to hospital to be treated for concussion, having earlier in the day been hit on the head by a ball thrown by a spectator. Bravely for one so cursed by bad luck, one of his hobbies is mountaineering."

5:11 pm  
Anonymous Mahinda said...

If Rob Key sang for his supper, I reckon it'd have to be a full opera.

12:52 pm  

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