Friday, April 6, 2012

Why Cricket is Religion in the Land of Zero ?

Why Cricket is Religion in the Land of Zero ? Or Why Cricket is Mathematics ?

Disclaimer: This is an original research article and hence might appear extremely long. Any perceived humor in any part of this article is unintended and is purely accidental like the 23.5 degree bend of Saeed Ajmal's elbow. If any part / parts of this piece appear disjointed like Suresh Raina's technique, that too is coincidental. The author holds all copyrights over the article. Any reproduction of any part of this post done any time in the past by anyone should be considered as pardonable acts of flattery.

While I was bothered by India missing out on an Asia Cup Final berth, most of India was busy celebrating Tendulkar’s 100th 100. So I was wondering, “Is there something wrong with me ? Why am I hurt so much when even the players don’t appear to be hurt by losing the Asia Cup crown they had held thus far ?”

A Soccer fan on Facebook who hates Cricket pestered me a lot the other day. He refused to recognize Cricket World Cup and believed Soccer fans are jovial and Cricket fans turn violent if someone derides Cricket. He used a lot of convoluted logic and then demanded that I must give up on Cricket because I happen to be a Doctor and because one of his teachers believed Cricket meant Crick [whatever that meant].

After banishing him to pavilion, oops oblivion; I sat down and thought; “Why is Cricket so popular in India ? And why do I love it so much ?”. Since I am a hardcore Indian, who has never ventured out of the borders, if I find an answer to why Indians love Cricket so much, we’ll know the answer to why I love it so much !

Here is what I have come to understand why the game is so humongous in India ! The reason is Cricket is a religion in India and we knew it long ago. We have the proof for that and will give a link at the end of this post.
We Indians found out ‘Zero’ and we hold on to the Zero with all the love, affection and even jingoism. We celebrate ‘Numbers’ and Mathematics. Just take a look at our festivals, “Nav Ratra or Dusshera”. They denote numbers. Just imagine the Australians referring to the Don as “99.94 Sir Don Bradman” ! That never happens. But we revere our Swamis with “108 Sri So and So Swami” and “1008 Sri So and So Swami” and so on.

I am often confused about our rituals ‘Sahasra Kumbhabhishekam’, ‘Laksharchana’, “Shata-Koti Rama-naama Japa Utsav” and many such magnificent numbers. I don’t know if we are celebrating the Gods or the numbers. No wonder we are brought up with imposition like “Write this 500 times”.

When someone completes 84 years and 4 months, we celebrate "Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshan" that indicates the person has witnessed 1000 full moons. That is apart from the small numbers like "Shasti poorti" or 60th birthday or "Sapthathi" or 70th birthday. We also celebrate western influenced Silver, Golden, Diamond and Platinum jubilees. We are a land of an over a billion number of people who love celebrating numbers and landmarks; more the merrier !

We have a Trinity of Gods and many Cricket fanatic Indians equate the 3 Stumps to the 3 Gods;BrahmaVishnu and Shiva. We have 33 Crore Gods and we adore a man with over 33,000 international runs as God. How we love our bloated numbers can be understood by taking a look at our ‘Puranas’. 

The creator Brahma had four heads. Vishnu had four hands and Shiva had a ‘Third eye’. Cricket maniacs would love to compare Shiva with ‘Third Umpire’ or the four hands of Vishnu with a ‘Boundary Hit’. A ‘Sixer’ will be equated to ‘Shanmukha’ the God with six faces who went around the world on a peacock, again the national bird of India.
Imagine what Ravan would have done as a Bowler !
Even our villains were no lesser. Ravan was supposed to have had 10 heads, though one always wonders how he managed symmetry and equilibrium with that rather odd looking even number of heads. If Ravan were to play Cricket, would he be considered as one player or ten different players ? Very tough question before the ICC. Thankfully I am not on the ICC and neither is Ravan playing Cricket today.

Cricket Sri Lanka would have done their best to prove that was a congenital deformity that he was born with 10 heads and 20 hands. Murali with just 2 hands was more than a handful for the batsmen. Imagine the confusion the batsman would have faced as to which hand was Ravan going to bowl. Just mind-boggling !

Well, I have digressed from numbers to Ravan. Let me come back to Cricket and the love for numbers. No other sport celebrates numbers like Cricket. We have half-century, century, double century, triple century, quadruple century and a fifty between each landmark. We have five-for as a matter of celebration for a bowler and then 10 wickets in a match. We have seen different kinds of celebrations by different batsmen on reaching the coveted mark. Why a century ? We even had a player do an impromptu dance on the pitch after hitting a six !
Every time Sachin Tendulkar steps on the ground, he is creating a new record. He will retire with the record of holding the most number of records in any sport. I think he already has crossed a century of them; the number of records he is holding.

Every moment in a Cricket match brings out numbers. Kids who play or watch Cricket regularly will be very sound in Mathematics. They will calculate the required run-rate after every over and will be full and thorough with their fractions. How a required rate of 6.15 RPO becomes 6.67 after a maiden over; only a Cricket kid can tell. No other kids can do the Maths in the mind like the Cricket kids. The economy rate, the RPO, the batting average, the bowling average and the strike rate; Cricket has numbers within numbers within numbers and then more numbers, records and then Sachin Tendulkar.

Most of the games and sporting events are over and done within minutes, hours or at worst a day. Mike Tyson had once finished a boxing bout even before people could settle down in their seats. Whereas a Cricket Test match lasts almost a third of an entire Olympic game or a Grand-slam Tennis tourney, 2 days longer than the Davis Cup Final and almost as long as a North Indian wedding discounting the first night. Cricket is nothing but pure and unadulterated Mathematics simplified and made enjoyable for all age groups !

Diving deeper into the matter of Maths, Cricket is played inside an Oval with a quadrilateral pitch in the middle with cylindrical stumps on both ends of the pitch. The ball is a perfect sphere, though it can change shapes when certain highly talented bowlers are in action. The bat and ball have specified weight and size guidelines. We have square cut and square drive which actually are played square of the wicket but somehow end up at point or third-man.

The good batsman is expected to play within the 'V' or the triangle. A bowler's wrist, elbow and the shoulder should have prescribed angles unless he is born with a deformity or has acquired one due to an accident. The concepts of 'line and length' can never be explained better in any other sport. Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan will stand testimony to this. Ask Sehwag about the horizontal bat and Dravid about the straight bat. This simply is a limitless list.

Look at the fielding places. Silly point isn't silly at all; they place the best fielder there. We have slips from where thing very rarely slip. Then there is square leg and squarish gully. Fine Third man from one side becomes long on from the other. Mid-wicket is actually far from the mid point of the wicket. Covers and extra-covers often uncover the best of Cricket.

An Indian's love for Cricket is nothing but an extension of the love for numbers and Mathematics. And people think we are crazy, lazy, unproductive and waste time. Far from it, we actually celebrate Mathematics which is the foundation of all that is Science. Those who don't know Cricket will never understand this. In fact, I strongly believe those who hate Cricket are actually bad in Mathematics. I vehemently recommend, we should teach Cricket to all our kids to drive the fear of Mathematics from their minds !

All original research articles tend to be quite long like this one had turned out to be. There already is a Prequel to this. Readers who haven't exhausted their patience or slept off or not lost consciousness are advised to revise their knowledge with the help of the exhaustive original research article.

We will come back with more details, once people are able to read, understand and digest this piece of wisdom ! 

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

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