Wright Thompson goes on the road with the Indian National Cricket Team and its greatest star to discover a sport adored by billions of people across the globe. But not so much in America.
Just a few hours ago, on a mid-February morning, I landed in Dhaka. I came with a copy of “Cricket for Dummies.” The 2011 Cricket World Cup starts tomorrow, India at Bangladesh, and I know nothing about the sport, not even about the tremendous pressure on the Indian National Cricket team to win its second World Cup after a three-decade drought. How tremendous? The Hindustan Times’ logo for their cup coverage says, every day, in enormous letters: A Billion Dreams … 28 years of yearning.
I don’t understand that the sport itself is at a crossroads, in crisis even.
I don’t realize that Sachin Tendulkar is likely playing in his final World Cup, still searching for his first title. Tendulkar is probably the most famous man in India. He’s so famous that people who worked for him are famous: a well-known Bollywood movie character is based on his first agent, Mark Mascarenhas, who died in a car wreck. Billboards with Sachin’s photo blanket India’s cities; every other commercial on television features his face. He’s wildly rich. He is the greatest cricketer in the world. One of the greatest ever.
I know none of that.
At the moment, I’m too busy trying to figure out the definition of a wicket.
I always enjoy these sorts of reporter-out-of-water type stories. Plus, I learned a shit ton of stuff about the sport of Cricket that I never knew before.