I've never been a soccer fan, but I've followed this World Cup. It's a first for me, but I've enjoyed the 22 men plus one referee running brainlessly around a football field chasing a ball.
I've also understood (or have I?) what an offside is in football.
In cricket, the offside is, according to Indian fans, what Ganguly is a master of. Personally, I think that's all he could play, apart from slow left arm bowlers, except for the end of his career where he proved that he can actually bat.
But this piece is not about Ganguly. It's not even about the World Cup.
It's about cricket boards from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, West Indies, Australia and England putting cricket schedules in the middle of the world's biggest sporting tournament. I hate to say it, but it's true. Football's popularity will always exceed that of cricket. It's probably because the game is brainless and the fans can create riot-like situations. Those have been seen in cricket as well (think Calcutta semifinals of the 1996 World Cup) or read the Wildest Tests by Ray Robinson, if you find it that is.
Asia I can understand, particularly Pakistan and Sri Lanka, playing cricket in this time. Urban India and most of Bangladesh (mainly because of their Bengali roots) are football crazy, but cricket still rules in terms of viewership in India. While Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad may sit for an evening drink and watch the match on a plasma screen, the smaller towns will probably follow the Asia Cup.
What I don't get is South Africa, England and Australia playing cricket now. South Africa is hosting the World Cup and the people rather blow the vuvuzala than see their cricket team annihilate the West Indies in the Caribbean.
It wouldn't matter if England beat Australia 5-0 in the Ashes now, thumping them by an innings in each test match. The Englishman likes his football and would rather watch Wayne Rooney slap a referee than Collingwood become the leading run scorer for England in one-day internationals.
The Australians don't care about soccer, as they prefer their Australian Rules Football, which looks quite similar to what the guys in the NFL play.
The ECB, SACB and ACB need to get their heads examined. As for Asia, who cares anyway? They can't play football to save their fucking lives.