For a while cricket became invisible behind the multicolour shiny cloak of football. For a while Wayne Rooney, Louis Figo and Christiano Ronaldo adorned the sports pages of Indian newspapers. And Indians went to office bleary eyed and during lunch hour talked about tackles, yellow cards and missed penalty kicks, and turned the afternoon session into yawning session spent day dreaming about football.
What if India had continued their stature in world football as 'Asia's best' into the 21st century?
It is a nightmare for original cricket buffs who have read Beyond the boundary ten times in a row. Cricket would be something like hockey in newspapers and Television. There won't be endless ruminating on cricket by self-styled pundits. There would've been only two or three cameras to cover cricket matches just like Doordarshan covering Santosh Trophy matches. Cricket would've been a day long boring affair that even couch potatoes will avoid.
Imagine India playing against Brazil on the same footing and covered by the best lensmen in the world. Who would then watch an India-Pakistan cricket Test played in front of empty stands as was the case with Tests in the friendship series.
Imagine cricket with administrators and national coaches similar to hockey at present. Sachin Tendulkar will be dropped on account of his huge popularity that the coach will be envious of. Rahul Dravid will be riding a Lambretta scooter through Bangalore and yet nobody may take notice.
Considering the following Euro Cup had in India and the way football stars are familiar to Indians, if Indian football raises from the deep trench it is in and scales a summit or two and one or two handsome guys get contracts with first division clubs in Spain or England, it will definitely put cricket under a veil so thick that what Euro Cup managed for a few weeks will be nothing compared to it.
So cricket buffs, praise the Lord that football is managed like chicken run in our country. And if you find any young 15 something curving a free kick like Roberto Carlos (Beckham doesn't bend anything now) take him aside and tell him about Tendulkar, Dravid and their fame and all the money they earn and how ex-footballers spent old age as pensioners of some public sector company. Make him look at the chequered ball with scorn and if your purse allows sponsor him a cricket kit and walk home with a satisfied smile.
For you have joined the big conspiracy to prolong cricket's tenure as the number one sport in the country.
Tailpiece: Spread a rumour in your office that Euro Cup matches were fixed.