There's one thing you have to envy the Western world for. Most of the people there have actually seen their sporting heroes in action on the field of play. Be it cricket, baseball, American football, the game the rest of the planet knows is really football or rugby, the stadia are by and large conveniently accessible, the tickets more so and the facilities in arenas are at the least, decent. Contrast this with India where you'd need to have crossed the realms of passion and entered those of masochism to actually go watch a cricket match in a stadium. To enjoy a game comfortably the Indian cricket fan needs to be both loaded with money and know some bloke who may just have an uncle who knows an official who has passes to the good seats for the match. 1 seat.
If the recent test match in Mohali is any indicator, one should be able to easily saunter into any venue hosting tests (barring the 5 main centres, the 4 metros and Bangalore), tickets be damned. A lot of comments have been directed at the poor turnout, but what is one to expect ? The PCA stadium is the home of the Kings XI, which means the audiences have been brought up on a strict diet of "slam-bam-thank you ma'am" cricket. The nuances (or whatever is left of them) of test cricket must bore the living daylights out of the average bloke at these smaller grounds. Not that the 5 biggies have too much to crow about. In this day and age, one can't afford to swarm to watch test matches unless its the weekend. Stories of diabolical schemes to go watch the game successfully executed or sympathetic bosses turning a blind eye are an modern myth too. Besides, with tv so accessible, who's going to take that extra effort ? Especially when spectators run the risk of being treated like dirt anyway.
When I see videos of tests from the past, I thoroughly admire the passion and patience of the throngs cheering (or raising Cain) in the stands. To actually not mind being treated worse than an animal, to allow yourself to be subjected to the Indian heat and the humiliation, to mildly grumble about being packed in the cheap seats like sardines and to fork out the criminally astronomical amounts of money for what pretends to be food and water. And all this, knowing that players with Sanjay Manjrekar's approach to 'attacking' cricket are definitely going to play too. Mind-boggling, I tell you.
So, while I've prattled on and on about my love of test cricket, I've never developed the courage to flagellate myself by watching a game live. There are only 3 cricketers I've ever wanted to watch in a live game and I have, as of today, not seen any in a test match. SRT, obviously. I was fortunate to see Kumble bowl in an ODI in Pune but I'll never get to see him bowl in a 5-day game. And frustratingly enough, I have yet to see that epitome of pure batting grace, play the game - Rahul Dravid.
However, the Aussies are in India no ? India almost lost the 1st test but VVS and Ishant Sharma hadn't read the script clearly, apparently. No matter. The next one is in Bangalore. At some point in the day, one of the Indian openers will lose their wicket. He will begin the walk back to the pavilion as India's greatest number 3 will stroll to the wicket on his home ground, air-practising the straight drive. I hope to be in the stands watching.
I guess some moments are worth waiting 28 years for.
Song for the moment: Knockin' on heaven's door - Bob Dylan