Recently my fascination for the game of badminton grew. It may be because of the recent Silver medal in Olympics or due to my lost faith in Cricket. But for me, losing faith in cricket is like losing faith in democracy.

In a country like India, sports and politics go together. Olympics in one sense, is the enactment of that ritual every four years. In fact the Olympics, when looked through the lens of politics summons itself to the battle of David and Goliath. The victory of an under-developed creates a new poetics of imagination that disturbs the world order.

But Cricket was one sport, that bypassed this logic of world order by portraying a sense of citizenship that went beyond the officialdom of a nation-state. In many ways, Cricket was a dissenting game that captured the everydayness of life. Waking up to cricket news and cricketing discussions was part of an everydayness that even politicians and their politics were envy off. As a child, I remember reciting, cricket statistics, as if it were a slokam or mantra.

When Cricket was enacted as a religion, it portrayed a sense of inter-cultural community and participation that went beyond the idea of secularism to challenge the official narratives of the nation-state.

Cricket, right from my childhood was a game which taught me to run, to dive, and to a great extent allowed me to stretch myself, not only in the physical sense, but also in terms of capturing cricket as a democratic game. As a game it appealed to the aesthetics of a diverse country like India. It over the years had grown into a community sport. In short, Cricket, identified itself as a game of democracy. It had invented its own dialects in the form of Test, one-day and Gulli Cricket.

In fact, it was a game that appealed to most, because in one way or the other everyone felt they had a say in Cricket. One could take note of it, when people discuss cricket over chai in pan shops. One felt, Cricket as a game represented democracy better than any science policy, that struggles itself to find its way as a pan shop conversation. As long as one enjoyed the sport, one could understand the dialectics of it.

My childhood favorite was Rahul Dravid, not because he was called the Mr. Dependable, but because as a player, one felt, he understood the aesthetics of the sport. He felt, that Cricket was an identity, and to me, he represented it in the ethical sense. His play, his techniques, his presence invoked a different kind of nostalgia and memory about a society, which thought that cricket was a civilizational game. A sport that combined the colonial past and represented itself as a way of life beyond the hegemony of a modern day nation-state.

Cricket in many ways was more than a civilizational game. The heuristics of the sport challenged the officialdom of the nation-state in its very invention as a gulli and nukkad cricket. The dialects of cricket fascinated me. One felt, it represented the cultural acceptability of the sport as a part of an everyday ritual in cities, towns and mohallas.

The introduction of the T-20 format of cricket, changed the way one felt about cricket as a game. It in fact made one realize, that as a society we no longer cherish ethics and values. T-20 format, secretly made everyone its conspicuous consumer. It in fact, gave more importance to cricket as a game of entertainment rather cricket as a game of an cultural phenomenon. Cricket no longer is a game that everyone could be a part of. It emphasized speed and acceleration rather than peace and sustainability.

Today, there is no difference between a T-20 cricket match and a three hours Bollywood movie. As a movie enthusiast recently put it, the era of cricket as a game is over. People today, can choose between Cricket and a movie in terms of its entertainment quotient. The sadness of cricket, is that, it has lost its sense of justice and playfulness. It in many ways, has become a victim of the corporate glamour. The players command stardom and summon themselves to branding agencies. To me, they no more appear as legends rather they have all become pompous imageries of a consumer culture.

One feels that the challenges, that cricket as a democratic game confronts today is not only a challenge about the sustainability of the sport but goes beyond to challenge the very rituals of democracy. For a democracy to sustain what one needs is not just modesty of claiming democracy but being democratic in terms of our thinking. It is in that sense that one feels, cricket as a game looks incomplete without a democratic imagination that can not only sustain democracy but also cricket as a way of life.

(The author is a social science mimic. He is with KIIT & KISS. Currently, his research focuses on Knowledge studies)