Cricket? Live? Me? It happened - Part I

From the 4th floor balcony of my (old) office at Kasturba Road, you could see Chinnaswamy Stadium. About 5-6 times a year they would turn the stadium lights on. Ususally for a day and night ODI but more often than not for testing. I am talking pre-IPL/pre-T20 days of just three years ago here and I already sound like someone’s grandpa reminiscing about a bygone era. I’d marvel at how bright the floodlights were and how they would make the clouds overhead look luminescent but that 4th floor balcony is about as close as I went to the stadium. Cricket matches were meant to be watched on TV. The unruly scenes I had witnessed at the only rock concert I had attended at Palace Grounds had made me even more wary of crowded places. Why rub shoulders with the hoi polloi when you can watch the cricket in the comfort of your home - a cup of hot tea in one hand, the TV remote in other - looking like a minor Indian deity. In short, I kept my distance - like a sailor who is thankful for a lighthouse but must keep his safe distance from it.

Then India won the T20 World Cup in 2007 and ushered IPL in. I watched from a distance again. Sure I was intrigued, even interested in this new phenomena but cricket still remained something you watched at your home. The first IPL opener happened in Bangalore and I watched the opening ceremony from a Barista at Indiranagar (from home to a cafeteria, some progress eh?) and chased the rest of the match on Cricinfo at home. Quite a few matches followed the opener - a good many of them in Bangalore but I never wavered in my home over stadium approach. The second IPL was in South Africa so the question of catching a game live never arose. By this time however, everyone seemed to have watched a match at stadium. Friends; who knew about as much about IPL as Chirs Gayle knows about synthesizing Buckminsterfullerene, had been to at least one IPL match. Even my wife, who doesn’t get too involved with cricketing matters, had somehow managed to tick this one item off her list.

This year I was determined to make amends. But sometimes there is a sea to be waded between being determined about something and actually accomplishing it. What caused me to set sail was my manager’s generous offer of two free corporate tickets to the Bangalore - Rajasthan match. There was also the promise of being able to watch two all-time greats - Anil Kumble and Shane Warne - lead their teams. Some of my fears about crowd management and basic facilities at the stadium had been allayed by this article by George Binoy at Cricinfo. Still, years of inhibitions are not all that easy to let go of. The ship was cruising but it still carried a considerable cargo of scepticism.

2023-05-20: Updated links to point to rather than

March 22, 2010