Cricket is the No. 1 sport in India by a wide margin. In fact, if you were to rank the popularity of sporting events in India, it would be something like this: (1) men’s cricket; (2) boy’s cricket; (3) women’s cricket; (4) wheelchair cricket; and (5) monkeys trained to play cricket.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the 2015 Cricket World Cup, being played in Australia and New Zealand, has given a huge boost to certain segments of the Indian economy. Many fans love to eat and drink while watching cricket, so they’re spending zillions at restaurants and bars.
“My husband, Anthony, is going overboard on wine and beer,” complained a Goa woman named Nalini. “He thinks ODI stands for One Day Intoxication. I think it stands for One Day Idiocy.”
“Just my luck, I had a severe toothache and had to see a dentist during the India-South Africa match,” said a Hyderabad man named Mohammad. “When he finished extracting the tooth, I saw that the match was on the TV in the waiting room, so I just stayed there and watched. The dentist came out and said, ‘What, you want more work on your teeth?’ and I said, ‘Only if you can do it in front of the TV.’ So he extracted five more teeth and gave me a denture. I’m going back for more dental work soon, whenever India plays again. I hope my boss doesn’t suspect anything.”
Varun Das, who owns a vegetable stall in a busy market in Delhi, has been outselling his competition during cricket matches, all because he has a TV.
“Many people stay for a long time after buying vegetables,” Das said. “One young woman bought vegetables from me, sat down and was cutting and peeling them right here, while watching the India-Pakistan match. ‘If you have fire and a pot, I will do the cooking here too,’ she said. I think I’m going to marry that woman. She cooks and watches cricket. What more can a man want?”
Among the biggest beneficiaries of the World Cup are the people who do their best work while others are preoccupied: crooks.
Thieves have been stealing everything from cars to cameras while owners are focused on cricket matches. “The best time to steal is when Virat Kohli is batting,” said a Chennai man named Rohan. “As soon as he swings his bat, I pounce. I grab something and dash off. Nobody notices anything. It is a good time to be a thief, unless you like to steal TVs. You cannot steal any TV at this time. But everything else, you can take. During the India-Pakistan match, I even stole a nice chair. The man who was sitting on it got up to cheer when Virat reached a century, so I took the chair and ran. He saw me, but he was too happy to chase me. My wife was thrilled to see the chair. By the end of the World Cup, we will have furnished our whole house. That reminds me: Do you know anyone who has a computer desk?”
Perhaps the biggest economic boost during the World Cup has been felt by the IPI (Indian Pickpocket Industry). “We usually have to create a distraction to pick someone’s pocket,” said a Mumbai man named Yogendra. “That’s why we work in pairs. But no distraction is needed during World Cup. Just put your hand in pocket and take. And don’t worry about police catching you, because they are busy watching World Cup too. As long as India is beating someone in cricket, no one is getting beaten at the station!”
An IPI spokesman named Handeep Mann said the industry has done so well during World Cup 2015 that it is considering being an official sponsor of World Cup 2019.
“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “All of our members are out there working: the full-timers, the part-timers, the two-timers. Even some old-timers are working. They like our industry because we have no mandatory retirement age. One man I know, he is 80 years old, yet he’s been out there working. You won’t believe this, but I saw him picking the pocket of another pickpocket. He stole a wallet that had just been stolen. I said to him, ‘It’s not fair. You should give opportunities to young people,’ and he said, ‘You know what’s unfair? It’s unfair that the World Cup is only once every four years. How is an old man supposed to survive?'”