It’s the year 2089. The Fast and the Furious part 34 is a box office success, Quidditch tournaments are a 100% legitimate, and the fidget spinners have finally been eradicated. In this advanced new world, a girl walks up and expresses her opinion about a batsman’s glorious cover drive. But alas, she hears a comment that makes her cringe in disgust and give up on humanity forever- “You’re a girl, you probably watch cricket because you find the player hot.”
Obviously, I’m utilizing a few authorial liberties here and nudging the situation softly into the territory of exaggeration. But the principal thought behind the above sequence still stands true; that girls are not true fans of cricket, that girls are never given the benefit of doubt, that girls are always subject to unnecessary scrutiny for the primary reason that they happen to have two X chromosomes.
I was introduced to the vast world of cricket at a very young age, and found myself immediately captivated by it, just as any other child would be in their formative years. I exulted when India soared to a victory, listened with more concentration than I would bless a math class with when my father explained the difference between an off-spinner and a leg-spinner, and absolutely enjoyed the game. I grew up in a neighborhood where every evening saw a cricket match happening, and this greatly excited me because I thought I could make friends based on the joint interest in cricket. But I was always the outsider, the little girl who used to grace the sidelines, no one knowing her purpose there. I knew as much about cricket and its rules as any boy playing there, but I was somehow always left out of the proceedings. The boys were xenophobic in that they didn’t want a girl there. This lack of acceptance of girls who show interest in cricket, or any sport for that matter, is ingrained at a very young age, and somehow, most boys never grow out of it.
As I grew up, the shunning persisted. Men, for god knows what reasons, tend to be of the opinion that sport is entirely their area of expertise. So naturally, when a girl expresses some sort of interest in sport (cricket, here), she is usually met with the classic Karen Smith line, “You can’t sit with us”. Boys who love cricket bond over it, but, very unfairly, girls who love cricket are required to go through a ritualistic quiz based on obscure facts about the game to ‘prove’ that they aren’t just lying about liking the game. It really is very infuriating and demeaning when they first show surprise in a girl’s liking for cricket, and follow that up with subjugation of her interest to suspicion. The world is becoming older, but somehow, male dominance of cricket never seems to go out of vogue.
Cricket for the two genders shouldn’t be, but is in reality, completely different. A boy who shows flair and unquestionable talent is groomed meticulously to go on and actualize his destiny to become a celebrated player for his state, his IPL team or the country, garnering adulation from the whole country. A girl who shows the same potential is viewed rather dubiously. Firstly, she has to find a coaching academy that would accept her and give her the same importance as they would to a boy. Secondly, she has to bear the brunt of patriarchy and answer a question that should really not exist, that being, “What is the point, really, even if you are good at cricket?”. Thirdly, if she perseveres through all of these hurdles, and lands a spot on the national team, she still has to face the gross reality that whatever she achieves there, in truth, doesn’t matter. As a result, girls usually tend to lay their bat and ball to rest, because everyone was right; there really is no point.
In this progressive world, I really shouldn’t see the necessity of addressing patriarchy. But since it is so deep rooted, and since, even after 20 years, women feel like outsiders when it comes to cricket, I felt the need to throw it out in the open. Girls shouldn’t be reduced to two dimensional caricatures who are so shallow as to watch a sport just because a man who is playing the same is attractive by societal standards. A girl shouldn’t have to think twice before voicing her views about cricket on social media because she expects males lashing out on how she doesn’t really know anything. Things are slowly shaping up for a world defined by more acceptance, but for the most part, it’s still a man’s man’s world for all those girls who can bowl a mean yorker or loft one over long on for a maximum.
Self Proclaimed Agent of Satan