There is something about cricket that makes it a more egalitarian sport than football. If football is paalada prathaman, cricket is ari paayasam, anyone can make it.
You can play cricket at any age, and that too reasonably well. Football is different. It exacts a toll on your body. One and a half hours of constant dribbling and running is what only professionals can do. You will follow the English Premier League and the Spanish League without missing a single match but you may not be playing football every day. On the other hand, many of us have stopped following cricket matches, thanks to the IPL overkill, but still turn up every Sunday to play tennis ball cricket.
Our affair with cricket that started with a World Cup win, is still going strong. And 1983, a new Malayalam movie, tells that story. Nivin Pauly plays the central character, Rameshan, and there are many Rameshans in our midst. The connect is instant, no signal trouble.
Every world cup coincided with an exam, and you know where our priorities lay. Many a studious student picked cricket over engineering and medicine. The movie is nostalgia. From the cricket bat made from the coconut tree to the matches in paddy fields, from the gali cricket rules to gali tournaments, the film reminds you of your childhood and youth, as if it's playing out in front of your eyes right now.
Yes the film has its minor weaknesses, but that happens when twenty-somethings try to tell the story of forty-somethings and when twenty-somethings play roles of teenagers. That's one thing we will not grudge the filmmakers Abrid Shine and Bipin Chandran.
This Sunday our local cricket club, yes most of us nearing forty or having crossed that landmark, will play our juniors. Let me tell you, if we were to lose, we would still feel the pain. The same pain we felt when a miscued drive by my teammate ended our run in the local tournament final. If only he had not played a fraction too early, if only he had not played it across the line, if only he had played it along the ground...
Oh God, can we turn back the clock please?