Friday, June 19, 2009

Cricket to Counter Colonial Rule

(Published in Zeitgeist, The New Indian Express, on 13 June, 2009)

“I’ll talk to you later, I’m filling up application forms!” has become my mother’s favourite line when I call her up to commiserate over the domestic crises in our lives.

She’s been filling up college application forms for my brother since he finished writing his twelfth standard board exams., and realised he could play FIFA without constant recriminations from my grandmother for not studying hard enough.

The GoM – Gang of Mothers – she’s a part of, has put down filling up applications to the most esoteric colleges as the key point in its annual agenda.

“What to do? With sixty-nine percent reservation, these children may not get seats anywhere,” the flag-bearing member of the GoM once told me, “so first there’s the paper work. And sending them abroad is cheaper than paying capitation fees, so Sumathi (Secretary of the GoM), is looking at universities and all. We have to apply for visas next.”

As the chances of my telling my mother about the electric lamp I fixed myself grow dimmer, and politicians offer to lay down their lives at the altar of the Women’s Reservation Bill, I had an argument with a friend of mine about the pros and cons of our country’s obsession with reservation. A feminist by breeding, he is an ardent supporter of sex-based and caste-based reservation, and insists it makes more sense for a ‘majority’ to take two steps back to even out the equations.

Since most progressive individuals find it to be a good idea, I think we should look beyond confining reservation to the borders of our country. We could begin by applying the laws of reservation to the game of cricket, which from being the national pastime has become the national preoccupation as the ICC World Twenty20 Championship is played out. Here’s a list of amendments that should make up for the four hundred years of colonial rule under which we Indians were deprived of our basic rights.

The Handkerchief Amendment:

Re-written Law 29 of the Marylebone Cricket Club’s ‘Laws of Cricket’ (Batsman out of his ground):

The batsmen can be run out or stumped if they are out of their ground. A batsman is in his ground if any part of him or his bat is on the ground behind the popping crease. If the batsman is Indian, his leg-pad, gloves, abdomen guard, chest guard, helmet, cap, socks and shoes may be considered a part of him. This pays tribute to the ancient Indian tradition of reserving seats on buses by throwing handkerchiefs there.

The Swayamvara Amendment:

Re-written Law 1.2 of the MCC’s ‘Laws of Cricket’ (Nomination of Players):

Each captain shall nominate his players in writing to one of the umpires before the toss. No player may be changed after the nomination without the consent of the opposing captain. An exception may be made in the case of the Indian team. The Indian team captain will be allowed to kidnap up to three members of a neutral team, and if the opposing captain is unable to stop them before they reach the dressing room, they will be considered members of the Indian team for the match. This pays tribute to an act of valour from the Indian epic, The Mahabharata.

The Endorsement Amendment:

Re-written Law 31 of the MCC’s ‘Laws of Cricket’ (Timed Out):

The incoming batsman must be in position to take guard or for his partner to be ready to receive the next ball within 3 minutes of the fall of the previous wicket. But an incoming Indian batsman will be given grace time amounting to the sum total of the air time accorded to endorsements by each member of his team.

If Women’s Reservation were to ever open the gateway of the BCCI to me, I plan to make these points part of my manifesto.

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