Six Word Summary: 11 washouts take on world, lose.
I rate it 8.5/10
Growing up without an interest in cricket in India has to be very similar to growing up as an atheist in the bible belt: you have a lot more free time because you don’t spend hours attending meaningless rituals. And you get heckled a LOT in the playground. Like, really a lot. People call you names and push you, till you begin spending recess time in the library.
Despite all the explicit peer pressure, I never took to cricket. Grown men in flannel fancy-dress languidly chasing a ball and taking themselves way too seriously failed to appeal to either my sense of absurdity or my sense of realism.
Strangely, the peer pressure has not declined in my adult years, and perhaps because I’m growing more tolerant, I have begun giving in more often. I was dragged out by friends to trawl the roads of Hyderabad at midnight when India won the World Cup in 2011. I have been coerced to write this mockumentary style (almost entirely fictional) article about Stephen King’s cricket connection. I am often bullied into taking cricket quizzes which calculate how much I know about fast bowlers (absolutely nothing) and which Indian cricketer I actually am (Virender Sehwag). And sometimes I am given cricket book recommendations, which I generally manage to duck (hee). Except this once, when I read Penguins Stopped Play (admittedly, I had asked for a recommendation this time.)
Harry Thompson, despite his love of playing, was such a mediocre player that he was perpetually left out of his school and college teams. Frustrated by the lack of opportunity to play cricket, he and his friends formed a team of their own, named it after history’s most tragic runner-up, Captain Robert F. Scott, and began challenging various village and school teams to play. Captain Scott XI, unfortunately, absorbed its philosophy from its eponym and deemed it far more honourable to lose than to try to win, with the result that most teams refused to have anything to do with such willfully feeble opponents after the first game. Nonetheless, the team thrived and grew, but with the inclusion of fresh blood, cracks began to develop. The new players were just as rubbish as the original ones, but they, especially the ones from the colonies, actually thought it was worthwhile and fun to try and win. That is a very basic difference in ethics, and expectedly, after a bout of mutual petty sabotage and bitterness, the team split; Harry Thompson continued to skipper the fighting team while the layabouts went their own way. Continue reading