Only One Winner Among the Victors and the Vanquished
There is no octopus in sight yet, and no one has dared thus far to name a definite winner, lest the predictor lands up inside an aquarium. There is however a sense of 'playing safe' among those being interviewed on the possible outcome of the tenth cricket World Cup about to go into session in all but troubled Pakistan of South Asia. How they can be smug with the stamp of punditry if beating around the stumps is all they will do when it comes to making a forecast on the outcome of a 50-50 match is understandable because indeed every game is 50:50. But for now there is no difference between those who adorn the TV studios and the children who make a bat of a twig to have a swing at a bundle of thread.
Pakistan was knocked out as hosts after the cricket world was rattled when heavily armed gunmen, some travelling in rickshaws, ambushed Sri Lanka's national cricket team 3 March 2009 as it arrived for a Test match at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, killing six police guards and wounding seven players. Attacks of various scales on sports people and venues is not uncommon (remember 1972 Munich Olympics when Palestinians killed 11 Israeli athletes) but the Lahore tragedy confirmed long-time fears that Pakistan was unsafe for cricket and ICC took note.
Rightfully, Bangladesh organisers have not taken any chance, and a drill last week saw commandoes in battle dress alighting from a helicopter onto the turf as part of the preparation to tackle any untoward situation. Incidentally, that seems to be the best way to get into the stadium to be part of the cricket extravaganza, what with overnight queuing not being an assurance to get the coveted ticket for a WC match.
If it is any solace, let me tell you from my experience of two world cups, the FIFA WC 1998 in France, and the ICC WC 1999 in England, Scotland and Ireland, there is no place better to watch a match than the comfort of your home. Of course, you have to have a television set, and the number of friends and guests and neighbours that are welcome depends on your age, mood, and health condition. The number that will actually throng in front of your set depends on the number of inches of your set.
We have prepared well, the new look of the venues and even some parts of the city makes you feel proud. It shall be our prayer that indeed all goes well with the tournament; a bonus would of course be some great results for the Bangladesh team. You will note that I have refrained from calling them 'tigers', and that is because my contact in the Sundarbans tells me that the eleven remaining tigers there are actually fighting over names such as Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiqur...
We are not the only ones who are flattered by the animal kingdom. The South Africans are known after brown and white gazelle (Springboks), the New Zealanders take after the flightless birds (Kiwis) and the Sri Lankans lived up to their Lions nickname in the 1996 World Cup.
Among the players Michael Clarke is lovingly known as 'pup', Matthew Hayden as 'big fish', Merv Hughes as 'fruit fly', Clive Lloyd as 'super cat', Glenn McGrath as 'pigeon', Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi as 'tiger', Graeme Pollock as 'big dog', Peter Pollock as 'pooch', Shakib Al HAsan as 'moyna', and Sourav Ganguly as 'Bengal tiger'. You can be pretty sure the teammates have a whole lot of other names for each other that are not available on the net.
For the next few weeks every four shall be greeted with applause around the world, each six followed in bewilderment, every dropped catch sighed, every dismissal scrutinised, every run out pitied, for the world shall once again celebrate a game that began as children's entertainment. Not many games have such a galaxy of trivia and why not? There are ten different ways that one could get out. While caught, bowled, lbw (leg before wicket), run out, stumped, and hit wicket are common reasons for heading for the pavilion, this world cup we could also see dismissals for handling the ball, hitting the ball twice, obstructing the field and for being timed out.
Any world meet is a forum for the game's greatest players to pit their skill against each other. Emotions shall run high. Anyone who knows his 22 yards shall remain engrossed in the progress and the outcome. We shall weep in joy and smile in sorrow. There shall be the victors and there shall be the vanquished, but let us hope that cricket will emerge the winner.
(R) thedailystar.net 2010