I need a sport to call my own. Can I teach myself to be a cricket fan?
In 2019, I decided I was going to make cricket “my thing”. I had looked longingly at my boyfriend’s relationship to football – how it had shaped his life, from semi-professional play and weekly five-a-side, to teammates turned best friends and an instant ice-breaker with strangers on holiday.
I wanted a piece of the action. And so, treating myself like a car that needs a new radio, I decided to install a compatible sports hobby. With cricket I had the backstory (it was usually on at some relative’s house), and I figured my adult passions for British Asian excellence and wearing salmon pink would put me in good stead. All I was missing was knowledge gained through watching, so I could start to discern good play from bad, and follow the narratives of underdogs and giants.
Admittedly there have been logistical issues: not having access to sports channels; attempts to watch in person being thwarted by rain; and one very strange afternoon spent watching in a dark cupboard-sized room, alone, as if it were punishment for requesting it at the pub. But I’m getting there. I think.
Can a person ever really learn to love something? To appreciate is one thing, understand craftsmanship or uniqueness, as with a well-made chair. But to build a passion – deep, enduring love – as an adult? I am not so sure. My life feels richer, but the magnetic pull is not there yet. Maybe that bit is unconscious and cannot be manufactured, or what is key to our passions is people who share them.
Perhaps it’s still early days. Strangely, when I moved flat I had no idea that the nearby sports ground was a cricket field. Now every summer Saturday, the pleasing thud of leather on willow filters through the windows. “Howzat!” they cry, and I think to myself, good. Well, better than it was.