The title of this post makes it sound like this is something I actually know how to do. I don't. I'm just trying to learn.
Cricket is a religion, an obsession, a social lubricant and a rite of passage in India. It's simply ubiquitous. Following cricket is like head wobbling, eating masala dosa or honking your horn incessantly the second you get behind the wheel: if you don't do it, you're just not...Indian.
Of course, as an Englishman the running assumption is that I am also a huge cricket fan. Since the English are known for being frankly weird in most other respects, Indian acquaintances will often seize on cricket as being the most likely subject on which they will be able to relate to me.
This is not a wise choice on their part.
It goes something like this, yes?
Anyway, having exhausted the "smile, nod and occasionally say something like 'gosh, that was good bowling, wasn't it?'" technique (which only gets you so far) I've decided I need to actually invest in some cricket knowledge, not least because my job requires me to be able to establish rapport with people I meet in a professional capacity, and cricket is a major tool for doing so. I've downloaded Cricket for Dummies on the kindle (blessed, blessed device), and am assiduously studying googlies, silly mid-offs and exactly what a wicket is (though I am stumped, fnarr fnarr, by the "seamer-friendly conditions" referenced in this article - the rest of which I will be shamelessly plagiarising in my conversations with colleagues tomorrow).
This really is a game that could only have been invented by the English, isn't it? Like morris dancing.
Next step: watching it. TV first I think, I'm not sure I am ready to brave the no doubt highly charged atmosphere of an Indian cricket match. The goal is that by the end of the year I'll be able to blather on about the bloody sport with the best of them, and even if it still bores me to tears I'll at least be able to feign interest. Or maybe I'll actually find myself getting into it and, you know, enjoy talking about it.
Now that is a scary, scary thought.