October 20, 2023
DHAKA – The mighty floodlights of Mirpur Stadium blaze with the intensity of a thousand suns, lighting up Dhaka’s evening skies. And yet, for some Bangladeshi souls, the glow is not enough to brighten their spirits. Why? Because for them, cricket, the sport that ignites the hearts of millions, is as exciting as watching paint dry on Dhaka’s concrete jungle walls. Some would even rather listen to a political debate during load-shedding than another cricket commentary.
Amidst the raging sea of green jerseys and the enthusiasm of fans who can differentiate between a googly and a doosra, there’s a quiet minority who look at a cricket ball and see, well, just a ball. They argue, “Why spend five days watching a Test match when it might just end in a draw?” Sounds like waiting for a rain-soaked Dhaka road to dry, doesn’t it? To them, the idea of 11 people chasing after it is as baffling as the peculiar preference of Dhaka drivers for honking incessantly even when the traffic lights are red.
To many, the rules of cricket are as perplexing as Dhaka’s maze-like alleyways. Point, silly point, gully—to the uninitiated, these terms sound more like the names of local hangout spots rather than sports lingo. And do not even get them started on the Duckworth-Lewis method! For them, it’s like trying to decode the fare calculation of a fast-metered CNG.
The devotion of true cricket aficionados is unmatched. They stick to their team through thick and thin, almost mirroring the loyalty of Dhakaiites to their beloved biriyani, come rain or shine. They battle hypertension with each ball, discuss tactics more than most politicians discuss policies and even associate superstitions with their attire. Wear the wrong colour fatua on match day, and you have jinxed the game!
For them, a cricket match does not evoke the highs and lows of a soap opera. Now, with the Cricket World Cup 2023 in full swing, the cricket mania has reached fever pitch. Yet, a select group in Dhaka groans internally with every mention of it. To them, every match feels like déjà vu, an action replay of balls, bats, and boundaries.
And yet, the irony is not lost on us. While cricket might seem like an endless saga of balls and runs to some, it’s the rhythm of life to others. It’s a sport that can make an entire nation cheer in unison one moment and then plunge into collective despair the next.
Opinions naturally diverge greatly in a city as diverse and active as Dhaka. Opinions are bound to differ greatly in a city as diverse and dynamic as Dhaka. Bangladeshis will forever love cricket, but for some people, it’s just another activity they find difficult to understand. And that’s really fine. There is space for every perspective, including those that are contrary to the majority, in the magnificent tapestry of Dhaka’s diverse population. Just like there’s room both for the die-hard cricket fan and the one who would rather solve a trigonometry problem in a public bus than watch a match.