The RELIGION of CRICKET
“Cricket is like religion.” A common phrase, especially to describe the popularity of the sport in India. Taking that into account, this religion has gone through its trials and tribulations through the past one hundred years and more and now finds itself in three denominations (Test, ODI and T20s).
Just like actual religions it has its followers who behave in a certain fashion. Based the various opinions about the three formats and have come to the following interesting observations. Now please take this with a grain of salt as I am mostly dealing with the vocal and extreme viewpoints of each group. The comments here do not necessarily reflect my opinion on actual religion and definitely not targeted at a particular religion but generalities as a whole.
Test Fans: T
hese are your purists. The majority of the extremists lie in this group. Just like those that believe they are the true followers of religion, Test cricket followers believe that their format of choice is the one, the only and only they are the true aficionados of the sport. It is original and to speak ill of it is blasphemous. Even to engage a follower in conversation requires conceding that this is the true and pure format and must be preserved and respected whether you agree with it or not.
Just like strong religious followers, they believe the format is untouched and stands the test of time despite ignoring obvious facts (8 ball overs, unlimited time to complete a match etc.). Any changes draw ire whether it be allowing colored jerseys or changing the ball or even playing the match under lights for that matter. Some believe its their mission to diminish other formats and see anything other than what they believe in as a threat. Almost any comment that doesn’t include a praise or a positive reference to Test cricket is seen as a personal attack on the format and leads to an argument geared at de-crediting the opinion poster instead of the opinion. And just like you have the extreme group that are louder in preaching than in practice, there are those Test followers that get sucked into the other two formats but somehow find an excuse to blast them and pretend that following ODIs or T20 is really not their choice.
These are your more modernized religious followers. They state that they believe in the core but don’t live a rigid life as prescribed. They use various logic to justify their action. They believe in modernization but to a degree. They consider themselves fans but are not as loyal to the original format as others. They believe that the ODI structure meets the need for the times but are yet skeptical to acknowledge the logic for T20 that they themselves use to justify the ODI. Just as the vast majority of people that claim to believe in religion acknowledge the basics but also practice based on real life needs in order to separate themselves from the extremists, this group will also just fall short when it comes to crediting the next step in evolution (T20) as a viable forma. Although they will keep an open mind to it and watch it unfold.
These are your agnostics and atheists and those that aren’t sure if they believe anymore. They may have started as a Test or ODI fan and believe in the beauty of cricket or they maybe newcomers to the sport with little regard for the history and tradition that exists. They are vocal like the Test fans and are quick to point out what they believe to be the hypocrisy and flaws that exist with the beloved format of the ‘true followers’. At the same time, they see the tie-ins of reality, that sport is not purely a sport but a business and a livelihood for many. They can watch a session or two of Test, enjoy the ODI world cups but just as easily find beauty in a domestic league filled with the world’s best talent. Truth be told, they are more at ease with their decision and find attacks on their beliefs at a less personal level than those of the other two.
Now if cricket is to be that religion and to be successful all three followers need to coexist in order for survival. It’s the purists who hold on to tradition and the naysayers that help bring about much needed change. It’s the middle group that keeps things at a level by not letting one side get too powerful in the process. Each side can benefit from the other as long as everyone is open minded and understands the value and importance of the other groups.
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