England is one of the teams to watch this World Cup © Getty Images
England is one of the teams to watch this World Cup © Getty Images

 

By Avinash Iyer 

 

Throughout the 90’s, the Indian cricket team was a poet’s delight. A team that had more talent than ever before and consisted of a bunch of could-be-world-beaters spun one tragedy after another. Every game essentially was a Shakespearan ballad.

 

The first half was invariably about a great man and his chapter was the hero-vanquishes-all part of the ballad. Then the tragedy would kick in and the subsequent chapters would be where the hero is fallible, hopeless at times, getting into a combination of suicidal and/or hopeless missions. The followers of the ballad expect the hero to rise after the setbacks, but alas, this ballad is was never a romanticized imagination of a great writer and the fight-back happened very rarely. The hero rose, but more often than not stayed down and out.

 

What this phase in Indian cricket left behind is what I call the love-the-inconsistent syndrome. The sheer sinusoidal performance led to some kind of a collective conscience where all cricket fans in India started supporting not only the underdog, but also the inconsistent. Arsenal was the team to root for, rather than Man U. Andre Agassi more loved than Pete Sampras.

 

An entire generation quickly started to hate a ruthless and high-quality Australian cricket team…West Indies and Zimbabwe probably find more supporters in India. Which is why, I am supporting England in this World Cup. I am not romantic enough to believe that they will win the World Cup, but I have a feeling that a large chunk of excitement in this tournament will disappear if this motley bunch of South Africans, Indians, Pakistani, Irishman and couple of Englishmen are eliminated – especially when the business end of the tournament starts.

 

I will probably grieve more if England are eliminated than if India are eliminated. I examined my emotions in detail when I discovered that I am rooting for England, especially when I knew that these guys never really cared about the limited-over versions of the game. I have never been an England fan; they normally play dull and uninspiring cricket, but in this tournament, they are a completely different team.

 

You never know which England is going to turn up to play the next game! That X-factor, that unknown, is the life of this tournament in the league phase, something that was completely missing in the previous edition. Now that I have experienced it, I do not want to let it go.

 

Andrew Strauss and boys, my sincere request, please keep the tournament alive!

 

(Avinash Iyer is a Director in a software company in Canada and an avid cricket fan, a legacy he inherited from his dad. In between indulging in software-giri and braving the awful cold weather here, he soaks in cricket. Cricket statistics stick in his memory more easily than the menu at last night’s dinner. Loves the traditional game of Test cricket)