Bravo for cricket – The New York Times

Bravo for cricket – The New York Times

The Australian letter is a weekly newsletter from our Australian office. Register to receive it by email. This week’s issue is written by Times Editor Vivek Shankar.

A stadium filled with thousands of noisy fans. The electric atmosphere. Hundreds of millions more are glued to their televisions. Two teams – Australia and India – at the top of their game.

It could very well have been the World Cup final last Sunday in Ahmedabad, India, but this instance It was almost eight years ago at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Supporters from both teams came in overwhelming numbers.

At a pivotal moment in the second half of the match, a voice rang out from part of the stadium: “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” Local fans dutifully responded, “Oh! Hey! Hey!”

The same voice then let out another cry – in Hindi. “Triumphant! Triumphant! India will triumph!

My wife and I had just moved to Sydney after a long stay in San Francisco. I was thrilled to once again live in a cricket-loving country and introduce my other half, an American, to the captivating pleasures of the game, both in a stadium and on television.

Growing up in India, cricket was all around me. I never had any special ability in the sport nor was I an avid student of the game, but I played every chance I got, like so many other kids. So I didn’t miss cricket much when I moved to the US in my 20s. Yes, I hunched over a computer screen for hours watching the odd game, but I wasn’t a devoted follower of the game, even though streaming technology made it increasingly easy to catch the action.

Landing in Australia was a game changer. It seemed there was still some form of broadcast cricket, children played it in parks and on beaches, and it was possible to see the professionals in some of the sport’s most iconic venues.

I started playing again, in a recreational leaguethe majestic beaches of Sydney providing the perfect balm for aching limbs no longer accustomed to the rigors of the game. But there was nothing like cheering India on in what was, in a way , now my home stadium, the Sydney Cricket Ground.

One such moment was the night the fan led the cheers for India and Australia. I suppose he was an Indian immigrant, like me, to Australia, and had fallen in love with his new country. But his support for the Australian team – a team with a reputation for ruthlessness – was not calculated.

In hindsight, it should have.

Over the decades, cricketers of South Asian descent have played for the West Indies, England, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. There have been other instances of cross-pollination, with, for example, West Indian heritage represented in the England team.

CLR James, in his seminal book “Beyond a Boundary”, explored how cricket, a game popularized by British colonizers, played a role in break down barriers like class and race. That night at the SCG, perhaps I needed to cross the boundary of identity.

As it was Sunday evening in Seoul, where my wife and I now live, the nearly seven-week World Cup had found a new cricket fan: our five-year-old son. He was born in Australia and that is where his cricket allegiance lies.

When India’s defeat was official, it wasn’t all gloom and doom in our apartment. The resident Australian fan, who had fallen asleep during the Indian innings, had just woken up to see Glenn Maxwell, one of his favorite players, scoring the winning runs. It was the stuff of dreams.

Now let’s move on to this week’s stories:

  • Hall sues Oates. On what is a mystery. The duo, whose songs regularly topped the charts, are embroiled in some sort of legal dispute, but a judge in Tennessee has sealed the court case.

  • How electricity is evolving, country by country. Renewable electricity is growing rapidly, but the global energy mix remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels – for now.

  • 100 notable books of 2023. Every year we review thousands of new books, looking for the best novels, memoirs, biographies, poetry collections, stories, and much more. Here are the notable articles, selected by the New York Times Book Review team.

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Eric D. Eilerman

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