Reminiscence: My first match | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 11, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 11, 2020

Reminiscence: My first match

In these times of social distancing, we must be safe while remembering that we do not get too used to the world being at a standstill. We were meant to go watch matches together, agree with a few of our neighbours and disagree with the rest. So, we are taking turns talking about our first live experience at a sports venue.

It was late spring of 2014 with mocks underway and final exams looming over the horizon. Bangladesh was given the honour of hosting the ICC T20 World Cup, and at that time we felt very proud of our nation.

My hometown of Chattogram came alive with lights and monuments at various points in the city dedicated to the tournament. Big screens were set up at different points of the city so everyone could watch the games. That year's catchy theme song "Char Chokka Hoi Hoi" caused quite a sensation, which added to the anticipation and excitement as the clocks counted down the days.

Crowds gathered in front of the large screen in GEC circle and outside of TV showrooms to watch the wonderfully organised display of performances and fireworks during the opening ceremony.

As the tournament started, streets were filled with discussion and debate about players and teams. You could ask anyone "who are playing today?" and they would be happy to tell you. Our whole nation was unanimous in the hope that we would bring world cup glory home, despite the odds.

I vaguely remember my friend getting us free tickets to watch the England vs South Africa game. To me it was an excuse to have some fun and spend time with my friends, as I wasn't a big cricket fan unless Bangladesh were playing. We joined the long queue in front of the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. Some had their faces painted, some were carrying placards in the shapes of fours and sixes, others binoculars, and tiger-shaped balloons. Our seats were high up in the stands, but I preferred that view over having the backs of people gathered below obstructing the view, albeit closer to the field.

There was an infectious energy all around and it was impossible not to give in. Nearby was a slab where the man with tiger stripes painted all over his body was waving the red and green flag with a passion. Some of us took turns taking selfies with him, the digital memories now lost and all but forgotten.

The atmosphere was contagious and I found myself adding my voice to the crowd as an England bowler made the run up and our screams crescendoed when he bowled the first ball of the game. I would have braced myself had I known I would bear witness to a batting masterclass by none other than the AB de Villiers himself.

My memories of that day are all but faded but I will never forget how devastating the South African captain was that day. It seemed like anything that came off his bat was turning into boundaries. He made it look easy, as great players often do. His unbeaten 69 runs off just 28 balls earned him the man of the match award. The crowd cheered, "char chokka hoi hoi" played in the background, and I joined in on the dance despite myself. It was very different from watching on TV. The noise, the atmosphere, the energy within the stadium culminated in a different kind of experience to what I had expected.

I didn't really care much for the result because the two teams weren't in our group, and I remember leaving early, but I went home that day with a newfound appreciation for the sport. I will never forget that powerhouse performance from the batting maestro, and the precious togetherness that my friends and I shared. Looking back, those times were more precious than we realised.

And especially in these times, I find myself longing for that day in 2014 when I was part of a sea of humanity crying out in one voice.

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