The virus of the flannelled fools

The ancients called it de Viris autem stulti flannelled—the virus of the flannelled fools. We know it as cricket


In its mildest form its cure was a simple quarantine of five days though lately that’s been cut to just about two-and-a-half to three days. Photo: AFP
In its mildest form its cure was a simple quarantine of five days though lately that’s been cut to just about two-and-a-half to three days. Photo: AFP

It was a strange but apparently harmless virus. When it first surfaced on this very day in 1877, few thought it had the legs to last 140 years. But it grew with every new manifestation. Initially restricted to a handful of remote islands, it soon did a genetic Yurchenko and landed into the colonies wherein like an Ebola or Influenza it spread rapidly through physical and visual contact. Soon the teeming millions in the subcontinent, already mired in poverty and disease, were afflicted by its dark forces.

At first, its impact was contained to just a few innocent souls that contracted it unknowingly. But as it grew, its ravages became more virulent and soon led to riots, stampedes and even deaths. In its mildest form its cure was a simple quarantine of five days though lately that’s been cut to just about two-and-a-half to three days. Diets though go berserk as the ravaged bodies devour beer and fries to douse the raging fires. Unfortunately, once it enters the blood stream of the affected, it transforms its host RNA and doesn’t ever leave the host body. Most patients, and at last count that number had crossed a billion, carry the virus to their grave.

Its contributory vectors include dollops of free time, mild doses of foolishness and of course oodles of jingoism. The worst part of the virus is that it mutates rapidly, appearing in all-new forms every time one is packed off into retirement. Hutton, Bradman, Shane, Sachin, Virat, just the names change. The symptoms for the suffering souls remain the same. While accurate data is hard to come by, it is believed that the ancient eastern Indian city of Kolkata reported 98% absenteeism across schools and offices following its outbreak.

But, mercifully, amid all this gloom, the spread of the virus and the hunt for a salve has led to major advances in science and technology. The miniaturization of the radio for instance, is a direct consequence of the need for a handy device that could be carried in tiffin boxes and satchels for regular updates during the worst phases of the infection. Thus was the transistor radio born.

The ancients called it de Viris autem stulti flannelled—the virus of the flannelled fools. We know it as cricket.

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