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The Gay Side of Cricket

(This article was published in 2003).

By: Vivek Divan

Although the incredulous (bordering on derisive) looks and comments that I have received from gay folk when I show even the faintest enthusiasm for sport in general and cricket in particular haven’t made me question my queerness (in fact it's been reinforced to an even greater degree!), they have certainly made me feel peeved about the injustice and intolerance of it all.

Well, no, not exactly. Such barbs used to infuriate me but now I don't give a damn. Especially at this time when the Cricket World Cup is on, when there is so much eye candy in the press and on television, when there is all this terrific male bonding going on between guys in uniform. And when, like never before, cameras have access to the training sessions, with all those shirtless, strapping specimens.

Whoa! The Kiwis have never been hotter. James Anderson has restored our faith in the cuteness of Englishmen. The Indian team has this alien (certainly un-Indian) fitness level and some lean, mean machines that bowl you over. The Pakistanis – well, they’ve never flattered to deceive, at least in the hunk department. And with quite a sprinkling of gorgeousness all around, right now watching cricket is HOT STUFF!

But, hey, I’ve always liked the sport regardless of the fact that this World Cup has turned out to be quite a catwalk. Although my interest in it did reach a nadir in the recent past, what with serious match-fixing information coming to light, I’ve been fascinated by it forever, collecting pictures of cricketers as a kid for my scrapbook. And yes, it is far more interesting than baseball, you Statesiders! No matter that Robin Williams may have called it baseball on valium.

It is a pretty faggy sport, really. Especially when one reads its history (homoerotic references in one of Ramachandra Guha’s brilliant writings on the game), sees old visual representations of it in art (rather queer-looking Englishmen in their starched whites) and recognizes the poetry of the game – not just on the playing field but also the phenomenal writing it has engendered, possibly second only to golf. Its even got a ton of queer jargon (if you really let your imagination run wild!) – long leg, short leg, third man, fine leg, deep fine leg, maiden, stump, square leg, deep square leg, forward short leg.

It is (or was) full of etiquette, pomp and ceremony. It used to be formal, elite, languorous and ridiculously time-consuming (the Test Match version of the game – the real thing – still is). Players were steeped in fair play and magnanimity. Essentially, it was all quite utterly English, to my mind in some strangely Oscar Wildean way. It is astonishing how it has now become a sport so deeply rooted in the Indian subcontinent. And we in India seem to be taking it back out to the world now. There has never been a better time really – our boys in blue are the best looking bunch we’ve ever had!

As a gay sport freak there is just one regret about cricket though – I wish it were more of a contact sport!.