Friendship Cancelled With Football, India Vs England T20 is BAE

Sports

Friendship Cancelled With Football, India Vs England T20 is BAE

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

D

ear Football World Cup,

We need to talk. It’s been great hanging out with you over the past 20 days. But this fling – yes, consider it my monsoon romance – must now end, for my true love cricket is back. India’s tour of England has started and with three T20s (two more to go), three ODIs, and five Test matches lined up, I won’t be able to carry on with you. I know everyone says this at the end of a relationship, but I do mean it – it’s not you, Football World Cup, it’s me.

I gave our relationship everything I could. I pretended to understand the off-side rule. I cheered for countries I couldn’t locate on a map even after I saw them in Bollywood movies. I went full Gerua over Iceland. I even cheered for Mexico building walls during free kicks. But yesterday was a difficult night.

I cheered for England against Colombia, and then switched channels and cursed the English team playing India. How can you go “Come on Harry Kane” and “Fuck You Jos Buttler” at the same time? That’s when I knew I was in a strange, toxic relationship.

I hope you will understand, even though the end of any relationship is hard. It is for me too. I was beginning to feel our connection waning as the tournament progressed. The only team I had some knowledge of, defending champions Germany, were knocked out in the group stages. I was then hoping that Messi and Ronaldo would help me get through the next few days, but they were a let-down too.

I wish I weren’t a cricket lover who viewed the dramatic finishes with a lens of suspicion. Once a match-fixer, always a match-fixer, someone said.

FIFA, you changed. You became a totally different person and it felt like I knew nothing about you anymore. The last time there were so many shock results, we were in the 2014 general elections. Who was I expected to support now? Belgium? Isn’t that where Nirav Modi is? What if I am labelled anti-national? I was out of my depth and panicked.

I’m not saying you lied to me, but there was definitely an oversell on many fronts. You told me David De Gea was the best goalkeeper in the world, but all he did was collect the ball from his own net. Admit it, he’s no match for MS Dhoni. You told me Neymar was going to bring style and swagger to the World Cup, but all he did was kept rolling around. Maybe we can use him as a pitch roller for the Wankhede. If I wanted to see a brown guy with a funky hairstyle doing nothing for 90 minutes, I’d just pick Hardik Pandya instead.

Make no mistake, despite all of this, I have enjoyed my time with you. The last-minute goals are something I won’t forget for a long time. But my past relationships have taught me a lesson or two. I wish I weren’t a cricket lover who viewed the dramatic finishes with a lens of suspicion. Once a match-fixer, always a match-fixer, someone said.

I will always cherish our time together – I owe you so much. You introduced me to the Mo Salah song and the Viking war cry, it was all fun; the cheering and drunk fans almost didn’t make me miss Ganpati. Watching Maradona have a party in the stands reminded me of that legendary moment when Dada waved his T-shirt from the Lord’s balcony. I kept trying to forget about the bat and the ball and you kept reminding me that there can be only one true love. And mine is cricket. And it’s time to go back.

Like all exes, I too will keep stalking you periodically to see what’s going, but I am sorry I cannot commit.

The love of my life is back. I will instinctively get up at odd hours and doze off in office, follow dull sessions of Test cricket like I’m binge-watching a Netflix show, and hype statistics and records in a way that would make my MBA professors proud.

If cricket is religion and Sachin is God, then the cricket World Cup is Diwali and this England tour is like Diwali cleaning. It’s a build-up and preparation for the World Cup to be held next year. It’s not as glamorous as FIFA but you know us Indian men. We will date hip women, but settle down with an Indian girl approved by our families, who will make us feel good about ourselves. That’s what cricket does, it massages our egos. After all, that is what true love is all about.

Comments