Cricket, by far the most popular sport in this country, is worshipped like a religion. Whenever the national team plays a match, the country is on a standstill.
However, at Woodstock during these occasions, life is quite normal. No one is stressed about the result of the game and, for most, cricket hasn’t even entered their thoughts.
How is it possible that in a country where cricket is worshiped, no one plays the sport here?
The senior boys team is on the brink of extinction; this year there are only 10 boys who have signed up. Everybody else who has played either graduated or left the team to pursue other interests.
Harsh Shyamdasani, Class of 2020, said, “A few years ago when the class of 2016 were seniors, it was a golden age for cricket. Woodstock had won a match against Wynberg Allen School for probably the first time in recorded history. Cricket lovers like us had a lot of hope back then.”
Those hopes were crushed by the collective apathy of the majority of students.
Palden Gonsar, Class of 2020, said, “Cricket was never really that popular at Woodstock. I joined this school in 4th grade, and I feel like this school has more of an American approach to things and therefore, cricket has never been popular or pursued.”
The players who do care, however, are worried about the sport and the circumstances that they have had to go through.
Abhik Mehra, Class of 2020, has been a member of the team since 2015 said, “It has been really hard for the coach to build a team. We’ve had to get a lot of underage people from younger grades to fill in the empty spots; with the lack of experience, we don’t stand a chance against the local opposition.”
It is not that the Woodstock sports department has not tried to encourage children to play cricket. There has been installations of new facilities such as nets and a bowling machine down at Hostel. Also last year, for the very first time, the student presidents hosted a sixathon (a five-a-side cricket tournament). Despite these efforts, students have ignored cricket and are not interested in committing to the sport as a regular weekly passage.
Others believe that the reason people have quit cricket is to concentrate on other popular sports such as basketball and football which are recognised not only at Woodstock but locally as well.
Rigpea Wangchuk, Class of 2020, believes that “with basketball and football, there are major tournaments such as the Jackie tournament (for football) or Win Mumby (for basketball), which get you popularity amongst your peers. With cricket there is no such major event that us Woodstock students know and acknowledge. Therefore people have never really been interested in joining the team.”
Samarvir Rathore, Class of 2020, has been a part of the Rajasthan state team and has played the highest form of cricket a school boy can play. He feels that in India there are a lot of tournaments which are “extremely popular amongst the locals,” but when he arrived at Woodstock, the majority of the students did not have a clue about what they were. He said, “I am not surprised that the cricket team is struggling in finding new players.”
Rathore also believes that “if Woodstock held more cricket matches or tournaments in their own home cricket would have a more enthusiastic following than it does now.”
Changes have to be made fast to the students’ attitude towards the sport or the passage as players such as Jiten Taneja, Class of 2021, believes that “at this rate the passage will be closed.”
Photo by Chittish Pasbola