Dravid reminded us cricket is more than just a game

Rahul Dravid's speech at the Bradman oration has found resonance among thousands of Indians, all of whom are living testimony to his words. The speech, which touched on how the 'language of cricket' has overcome linguistic differences among Indians from various states, spoke of the spirit and passion the sport evoked in the country.

"One of the things that has always lifted me as a player was looking out of the team bus when we travelled somewhere in India. When people see the Indian bus going by, see some of us sitting with our curtains drawn back, it always amazes me how much they light up", he said.

It's true that cricket inspires huge levels of passion amongst not only Indians, but citizens across the cricket-playing world. This sometimes leads otherwise rational people to do and say some very strange things. Some people watching matches have certain rituals that they simply must perform because they fear that not doing so will bring bad luck to their team. There are some people who have never gone to watch a match live, because they fear their nerves cannot stand it. Others like Sri Lanka's Percy, Pakistan's Chahcha and India's Sudhir Gautham travel around the world with their respective teams, making sure they attend every game.

 Dravid reminded us cricket is more than just a game

Dravid's speech was a reminder of how much cricket means to people: AFP

Then there is the story of former Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies who would time his overseas travel to coincide with important cricket matches. An article on Menzies notes, "That practice was obvious even in 1938. In his VCA speech, Menzies noted that by some extraordinary circumstance, prime minister Joseph Lyons had asked him to go to Britain that year to confer with ministers "about something or other", and that he had sent word to the conference organisers asking that they keep the full list of the Australian cricket fixtures next to their inkwells."

Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara famously made a speech at the MCC spirit of cricket lecture, talking about the passion for the game in his country. What some don't know however, is that this same passion almost caused a diplomatic incident between Sri Lanka and Australia! When Shane Warne justified Australia's decision to not play in Colombo during the 1996 Cricket World Cup due to the terrorist threat by saying that he can be targeted by a drive-in bomber while he is shopping, Sri Lanka's then foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar is reported to have said "Shopping is for sissies." Kadirgamar commented later "There was a storm of protest in Australia. A TV interviewer asked me whether I had ever played cricket. I said I had played before he was born - without helmets and thigh guards, on matting wickets that were full of holes and stones, and I had my share of broken bones to show for it. My friend the Australian foreign minister was drawn into the fray. He phoned me. We decided to cool things down... When the whole episode was over I sent a bouquet of flowers to my Australian counterpart. Flowers are also for sissies."

Ramachandra Guha in his article "Prince of Lahore" writes about the adulation for cricketer Lala Amaranath. He writes, "When Amarnath came to Lahore in 1978, he had not been to the city in 24 years. The last time had been as manager of the first Indian touring side to Pakistan. The manager of the present side, however, was Fateshinghrao Gaekwad of Baroda, art collector, shikari-turned conservationist, part-time cricketer, and member of the international jet set. Amarnath was on the same flight as the cricketers for he had been invited to be an expert commentator on Pakistan television. When the visitors disembarked at Lahore airport, they found a bus and a Mercedes waiting for them. The cricketers trooped off towards the bus and Fatehsinghrao, naturally, advanced towards the Mercedes. As he reached the car, he was intercepted by the chauffeur, a liveried Pathan six feet six inches in height. "Tum udhar jao," said the Pathan to the Maharaja, pointing a finger at the bus, "ye siraf Lala Saheb ke liye hai."

Our final anecdote comes from the book Caught and Told by Sandeep Patil and Clayton Murzello. It quotes a story by Pradeep Vijayakar who recounts, "I asked former India great Vijay Manjrekar when he began smoking‬. The reply came in the blink of an eye: When the Indian team was all out for 42 on a perfect batting track at Lord's in 1974."

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Updated Date: Dec 15, 2011 17:36:33 IST