Cricket was born when the bored British, having conquered most of the world and not knowing what else to do, decided to play a game. The intent was to create a single game including the maximum number of players. They had a lot of spare time, and decided to extend the game over several days just because. They made a ball out of cork covered with leather and a bat out of willow wood.
The British made three wickets, or sticks. The job of one team was to guard the sticks from the ball, one player at a time, and the other team’s job was to get through the defense and break the sticks, which would build strength of the players.
The defending team would hit the ball with their bat as far as possible, which was a test of their strength, and would run from one end of the playing strip, or pitch, to the other. This was repeated many times before a player from the opposing team stopped the ball and threw it back to the sticks. The running was a test of their endurance and agility. Thus did the British create the game of cricket.
This is not a “how to” guide on cricket, however. I found that, while writing this article, Wikipedia has done a pretty good job at that. I will leave the rules and the procedures to the experts and go into the significance of the game in India.
First, cricket is not a game. I know I said it is, but it is more than just that.
From the entertainment point of view, cricket is a game. From a psychological and national standpoint, however, it is a phenomenon, a religion that brings people from all over India together for one cause: victory. Nothing unites the common man of India like cricket. He forgets everything. Rich or poor, Hindu or Muslim, educated or uneducated, minister or laborer, everybody sits in front of their televisions — a lucky few thousand in the stadium where the game is being played — and cheers on India to a victory. In that moment, nothing else matters but the country. Next to defending our country, cricket is what Indians unite for the most.
Cricket is a demanding sport. It strengthens every individual involved in the game, from the little children playing on sidewalks to the professionals playing for the country. It helps you learn many lessons in rapid-fire speed. You take your eyes off the ball for a second and the next thing you know, you have a lump on your head comparable to the ball itself. That’s the lesson on concentration and focus.
India is a hot place; well, most of it is. And cricket is a summer game, which is why children are usually bare-bodied out in the hot sun playing cricket all day. That’s their daily dose of endurance and determination to keep going in very little fun-filled capsules. It is a lot harder than it seems to hit the ball past all the players standing around you, ready to grab it. That teaches those who play to think outside the box, get creative and tackle problems with a sense of aesthetics.
All these lessons are what the kids carry forward generation after generation, as they grow and implement cricket in their daily lives wherever they go and whatever they do. Rarely will you meet an Indian kid who has not played cricket in his or her life. I’m not saying cricket is the reason for India’s growth or unity, but this is my attempt to show the impact a simple game can have on the people and a country if played and watched passionately. That passion is what drives India forward, in every walk of life today.