Nike's TV commercial that absolutely captures the passion, vivacity and chaos of India's obsession with the game of the erstwhile sahebs. I love it! The dialogue is in good ol' Bambaiyya. The fantastic song is in Konkani (incidentally the language of Goa, one of the most Catholic states of India), whose refrain is "rao patrao rao, khel maka di." I think, "Stop buddy, stop, let me play!
Well, the World Cup is about to begin, and the excitement and hype and hopes rocket upwards. (India thrased West Indies in the final warm-up match). The last time India won was in 1983. I remember it so clearly, that image of Kapil Dev riding around a stadium in Australia, lifting the trophy high.
There's a neat piece in today's Business Standard on the ethnicity of the national teams: South Asians dominate as a whole, being present not just in India and Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also (of course) in the West Indies (i.e. the Caribbean, in US terminology), England, South Africa among others. (Heck, I didn't know the Netherlands fielded a team in the World Cup. Nor Canada!) The diaspora at work.
The next World Cup begins in the Caribbean in three days and a look at the names, surnames and ethnicity of players throws up no less than 23 players — two playing elevens and an extra — of South Asian origin in the teams of Bermuda, Canada, England, Kenya, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland and West Indies.It's even spreading to the United States ...
Taking into account the 15 each of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, that makes it no less than 68 players at the tournament whose origins lie in the undivided India. And we have not counted Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan — given the geographical proximity, it is only to be expected — and Australia’s Stuart Clark, whose parents, both of them English, met in India. “South Asians are the new ambassadors of the game. Largely, the future propagation of the game is in these hands,” says commentator Harsha Bhogle.
Pramod Mistry, a California-based tour operator appointed by the International Cricket Conference and a friend of Majumdar’s, has his packages to the World Cup sold out. “At least 20,000 from the US and 15,000 from Canada will go the Caribbean for the World Cup,” he says.Go to Field E of the Blatt at USC in Columbia on a Sunday evening when school is in session, and you'll certainly hear "Howzzat!"
But the most telltale sign came a few years ago. The serving US ambassador to India at that time, in a speech to Confederation of Indian Industry, said President Bush had developed his foreign policy much the same way as the captain of a cricket team approaches an international Test match. The President, he said, was not interested in limited overs.
The game has entered the lingo of the top echelons. What next? Shouts for LBW?