x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A dreaded feeling for the casual onlooker to the India-Australia game

Hype-wise, noise-wise, the India-Australia quarter-final set for this afternoon in Ahmedabad surely ranks among the loudest sporting events ever.

Indian cricket fans go wild during the World Cup. But not all in the country are taken with the sport. Prakash Singh / AFP
Indian cricket fans go wild during the World Cup. But not all in the country are taken with the sport. Prakash Singh / AFP

The lesser-know Indian cricket-haters have another day of despair ahead as the national team take on Australia

Spare a thought today for the earthlings most sorely in need of earplugs. They would be the citizens of India who reside in India but loathe cricket, and statistically they would have to be some of the most resolute dissenters in all history. They have an irritating day and evening up ahead, plus a Friday promising further unpleasantry.

Think of it. Hype-wise, noise-wise, the India-Australia quarter-final set for this afternoon in Ahmedabad surely ranks among the loudest sporting events ever.

Plenty of events have brought loudness but did so on a less-populous planet. Perhaps no event has lumped together a World Cup, a thrice-defending World Cup champion, a contending host country, a contending host country mad for the sport and a contending host-country population of 1.15 billion.

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Bigger yet, the Times of India reported that Sachin Tendulkar, 37, has told "his closest friends" this presents the biggest tournament of his adored career, even as the newspaper did not divulge how the "closest friends" tag materialised.

Did anybody who did not hear Sachin's words perceive himself or herself a "closest friend" and wind up with hurt feelings? Did anybody who did hear Sachin's words annex a deeper sense of self-worth?

Does he keep a chart?

Now, if you rummage the nether regions of Google, you do find the magnificent malcontents who would care neither where they rank on Sachin's chart nor where India rank in world cricket.

I e-mailed three yesterday morning and heard nothing back.

That could stem from inundation at work. That could stem from everyday shyness.

That could stem from one or more having repaired to a tent in Arunachal Pradesh, basking in tranquillity until some hiker or shepherd walks by with a smallish radio blaring a voice groaning because India went and entered a seventh batsman instead of an additional bowler.

From what I can surmise, the haters seem to occupy at least four categories, beginning with those who dislike the game simply because they find it boring or its participants lazy. Three other divisions compelled me more.

Some seem to resent cricket's soaring rise above other sports within India, sports such as ... such as, well, other sports. These people not infrequently cite the superiority of hockey.

They should hire as a spokesman a resident of New Delhi who joined a cricket-hating group on Facebook and posted: "To reduce the cricket fever in India, the Indian Cricket Team has to go out of the competition. A quarter-final exit would be awesome."

Another group practises sociology, spotting unhealthiness in cricketer salaries dwarfing those of police and military officers. A few call for a ban of the game in India, and never on earth has the urge been greater to say: good luck with that.

The group I enjoyed most, though, would be the one begrudging cricket's intrusion upon daily life.

One non-fan carped that going to the bank during a match intensified the contempt. The bank, it seems, sits next to an electronics shop with a television, to which the bank staff flocks during matches in clear dereliction of duties and inattentiveness toward fee-paying customers. This complaint does seem sane.

Another wrote that when coming home and yearning for real news, it makes the world imperfect to have a brother hogging the remote for highlights "of a match he was glued to and watched every second of yesterday". This would be where the unpleasant Friday comes in.

Continuing with a list of horrors, this non-fan wrote, "Endless discussions of cricket over the dinner table ... Nobody wants to know how your day went, how the headache you had this morning is ..."

Just out of compassion here, I should interject: if you're out there somewhere, maybe in a tent near the Myanmar border, I just want to ask, did that headache ever subside?

I do hope so.

One unenviable soul reported hatred stemming from a childhood with a father who smoked nervously during televised matches in a poorly ventilated house. A protracted match one night could cause a dawn spent with borderline respiratory failure.

Even as somebody who likes sports, I do support drawing a line somewhere above the lungs. And then there was the man who one Saturday in February listened to Ella Fitzgerald on the radio only to hear an abrupt interruption of her voice for the India-Bangladesh match.

Spare a thought for this guy today, for his viewpoint is inarguable. Nothing on this wacko planet, no matter how appealing, ever, ever, ever warrants the interruption of the voice of Ella Fitzgerald.

cculpepper@thenational.ae