We came out of the moonshot euphoria a month back. The latest one is the cricket carnival happening in the sub-continent. My wife couldn’t stand the buffering that was happening because one of our internet connections was down. She decided to “play on” by reinstating Tata Play. I walked in that evening and was wondering what was happening. With the sharpness of the picture, I could see those Ultra edge replays up close and personal. As a family, we sat down to watch a cricket match between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka ( unthinkable a month back). In this state of frenzy, there was only one answer. More is better. As I had a partisan attitude toward our neighbours, we are these days praying for certain other teams to perform better so that India gets to meet some weaker team in the semi-finals.
I got on to a local bus for a short trip last weekend. I was ensnared by a group of people who were standing circling me and watching cricket on their smartphones. The commentary was in Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada. Commentators were very vocal for the locals. The only thing that was constant in that moving bus was the cricketing action. It was nicely localised and I felt proud to see the depth of people’s knowledge about cricket. People as I had mentioned in my earlier blog on the flight spoke about how important is the Australia vs New Zealand match as it was a very good match unlike many games in this tournament which turned out to be one-sided affairs. People all kept changes ready for the conductor as they knew the exchange of pennies would be a distraction and that would take eyes off the screen. The glue that surrounded everyone in that drive was the thought: will this be a close match? I was amazed at how far we have come as a nation to appreciate Australian and New Zealand cricket and stats. In fact, I caught the nail-biting finish of that match sitting in a coffee shop on my smartphone.
Back home we are bitten by the Pavilion show. This is a program where there is a lot of expert advice given by four cricketers. In fact, we get up so early in the morning, and with our morning coffee that is the first thing we do these days. Another thing that I noticed was in our last India match we were seeing more commercials than on-the-ground actions. There was a time when we used to dread how Indian wickets used to fall like ninepins. There were periods when we used to switch off the TV once Sachin got out. So when we were seeing what was happening to Sri Lanka in the last match I was mentioning to my wife to savour these moments, as this is one of a kind for us, sort of License to thrill. The euphoria has gripped us off late.
In this euphoric mood, let me recount some of my top 10 cricketing moments that have stayed in the mind:
- Javed Miandad jumping up and down in front of Kiran More around the wicket I guess
- Amir Sohail vs Venkatesh Prasad and finally ball won the contest against the bat as Prasad bowled him out after Amir wacked him for a six in the previous ball. Both of them showed signs that were animated and etched in our memories.
- Benson and Hedges Audi Car winner Ravi Shastri and how they were driving the car on the ground
- The last wicket in the 1983 final and how players ran from the middle of the field towards the pavilion to escape the crowd invasion
- Balwinder Singh Sandhu’s offcutter and Kapil Dev’s s catch in the 1983 final
- Dhoni’s six in 2011 finals
- Sreeshant’s catch in No Man’s Land in T2O World Cup 2007
- Shane Warns ball of the century
- KL Rahul’s reaction after hitting the winning shot in this World Cup
- Shami’s reaction after the latest Five wicket haul against Sri Lanka
There is one cricketer whom I like and admire the most for his superior sportsmanship and that is none other than the great Courtney Walsh. Here is a short piece from the annals of history where he displayed that extraordinary spirit of the game.
It was the 1987 World Cup match between Pakistan and West Indies and it was crucial for the West Indies to win the game so that they stay in contention for the final four. Walsh bowled the last over when Pakistan needed 14 runs. Abdul Qadir and Saleem Jaffar took singles on the first two balls before Qadir picked up a couple on the 3rd delivery – 10 to get from three. Spotting the mid-off inside the circle, Qadir put everything into the 4th delivery to launch a straight six and send the Lahore crowd into a frenzy. Another couple on the 5th ball brought down the equation to two runs to get off the last delivery. Walsh ran in to bowl the last ball and pulled out without delivering as the non-striker Jaffar was well out of his crease. The pacer had a chance to run out Jaffar and close the match but decided against it settled for a warning and headed back to his run-up. Richards brought in the field for the final ball and Qadir squeezed one through to the third-man region to take his team over the line.
These days we have YouTube, Hotstar, and a plethora of websites and channels that keep us up to date on all the goings on in the matches. Cricket has become an occasion for families to come together and discuss various facets of the match. My wife and I were explaining the details of the field to my younger daughter who recently caught on to this bandwagon. She is trying her best to understand a bit. There are still doubts about the future of one-dayers. But as someone wrote in a newspaper the one-day needed this World Cup to bring back the past glory. In our prime days, we looked forward to one-dayers to make sure that we do not plan anything except for taking breaks during their drinks break. My grandfather was also an avid fan of cricket and we used to watch the games together. There was also an episode when my mother and I got up at 4.30 AM to see the World Series Cup which was played in Australia. Those were the days when we used to get mesmerised by the colourful attire, floodlights, white balls, close camera shots, and of course seagulls.
We are living and breathing cricket in these interesting times and irrespective of who wins ( may the best team on that day win) this World Cup has cast a spell like none before for me. We are seeing highlights of matches and also we are watching analyses by experts to understand the technical nuances of the game. There are clips of camaraderie amongst teams in the dressing rooms and that is another feature of this edition. I became euphoric when I decided one day to order an India jersey for our family. The time is now for us to display our support, and wear on a day to cheer from our living room in the upcoming 3 matches including semis. Let us do it this time around and then have a “Siu celebration” (as done by Christiano Ronaldo, emulated nowadays by Siraj).