Crazy about Cricket


Photo Contributed

Thete holds up an Indian Cricket jersey.

Gourav Pany, Staff Writer

Time slows down as English cricket player Ben Stokes runs toward the crease in his attempt to gain as many runs as possible in the third to last ball of the innings. Meanwhile, New Zealand veteran Martin Guptill throws the ball to the stumps with the hope of a run-out. The throw is spot-on, with its arc carrying the hopes of the two desperate island nations and freshman Eshan Thete, who had watched almost every single World Cup match up until that point. The ball deflects off Stokes’ bat and instead goes to the boundary for four runs, and Thete looks on in disbelief as England wins the match in the Super Over, which is the cricket version of overtime.

Cricket is part of everyday life for Thete, as he tries his best to keep up with the latest cricket games despite living in a country where cricket is not readily viewable.

“It’s pretty easy to watch cricket, though it isn’t prevalent in the United States, and it’s hard to find people who really know about it. You can easily find cricket on various subscriptions like Willow, Sling TV, or Hotstar, which is basically the Indian version of Hulu,” Thete said.

Thete’s interest in the sport of cricket originally stemmed from his first encounter with cricket on television.

“My dad watched it so I started watching it because it was really interesting. The gameplay of cricket interested me the most, and it’s the only sport I watch that is interesting because many of the sports I play are boring when I watch them, but cricket just has this magic that makes it really interesting,” Thete said.

This zeal for cricket is why Thete continued watching cricket, which led to magical moments like the 2019 Cricket World Cup Finals and new traditions.

“During cricket matches I wear my jersey to show spirit for the team I am rooting for. This is special to me because it gives me pride and excitement to be wearing the same shirts as the players I’m rooting for, and supporting the team,” Thete said.

Thete’s viewing would later lead to disappointment as the team he was rooting for fell just short of the cricketing title.

“I was rooting for New Zealand because they had beat India in the semi-finals, and if New Zealand won, then India would technically be third in the World Cup since they had technically lost to the best team in the world at that point,” Thete said. “I was really on edge before Ben Stokes scored his fluke boundary, and after the boundary I think I was pretty good at containing my anger, but I still couldn’t believe that New Zealand had lost since they had seemed so unbeatable in this whole tournament.”

Thete’s interest in cricket mostly stemmed from his idol and Indian cricketing phenom Sachin Tendulkar.

“I would say my idol is Sachin Tendulkar. Firstly because he is from around the same area that I am from, and before I was interested in cricket, he was the first player I had known, and since he was known as the best cricketer in the world, I kind of adopted him as my idol,” Thete said.

Though Thete holds international cricket in high regard, he does frequently view the Indian Premier League, which is the highest form of club cricket in the world, with the best players all around the world coming to play for money and entertainment.

“International cricket includes all international teams obviously, and they’re playing against each other for their nation. It’s almost like the FIFA World Cup, where players play for a smaller [amount] of money to represent their country,” Thete said. “Meanwhile, the IPL, which is the most popular league for club cricket, is a lot like the NFL, as there’s a draft and there’s a lot of money involved, while games are often [less competitive] and shorter in format than international games.”

Watching both the IPL and international cricket were interests that Thete had picked up because of his fascination with comparing statistics of the players in the match he was watching.

“My favorite part of watching cricket is probably looking at the stats of the players currently playing and trying to make predictions based on previous trends. For example, a batsman could have been having a great stretch of games for while against certain teams, but that same batsman could also struggle against particular bowlers, which makes it interesting when it comes to the batsman’s stats against a bowler,” Thete said.

Though cricket has fascinated Thete because of its unpredictable statistics and probabilities, the raw emotions of the game are the things that truly draw Thete into the sport.

“The most inspirational thing is how everyone at the end is just fighting for the win and how they’re really trying their hardest. I’ve seen [that] in other sports teams often stop playing their starters or know they’re not going to win, so they just give up. [However] In cricket, they’re not just throwing the match or fading away; it’s really [a] complete battle to the end when it comes to cricket,” Thete said.