Monday, November 09, 2009

Reminiscences from cricket fans - 1

In response to this, my friend 'Ramster' of college days sent me this in an e-mail! The more I get hold of such pieces from the blokes I knew in college - the ones who helped enhance my knowledge of the game and had the patience to indulge in endless cricketing debates - the more posts will follow randomly. Most of these guys are currently in oblivion and I have hope that they will write in bits and pieces sooner or later! So let's sit back and enjoy these interesting reads.

A bit about Ramster - rarely spoke in college but post-college, online discussions proved interesting and was pleasantly surprised to receive this long mail from him.
I could not, not post it on a blog because this one needs a wider audience. With his due permission here it goes, verbatim from his mail.

It is hardpoint to pinpoint turning points because fandom evolves but I will try my best.

First up, I would rather play than watch. I am not sure if that makes me less of a fan but going in with 100 to win in 12 overs even in my college edges out watching India try to do the same. There is a certain magical feeling about trying to achieve something individually for a bigger team but maybe that why I always fared better in individual sports than team sports. You cannot replace the feeling of being out there all alone against an undefined force.

I think I love cricket more than IPL, test cricket, ODI and whatever. I truly believe any sport surpasses the stage on which it is played. I love sport. Any sport. I think sports have the ability to bring vast masses of people together for a common cause. I respect every athlete no matter what level they play because as a very bad college player I know how hard it is. The difference between good and great is so small in terms of results but so large in terms of effort. I have watched people way less talented than me make it and I love them for it. I remember losing a soccer final in penalties in Azad Maidan to St.Francis, Bandra and crying for 1 week because of it. I have watched Dennis Xavier be the brightest young tennis star in India and die at 22. I have watched his dad coach him way into sunset at Chembur Gymkhana.

I believe sports gives you a natural setting to experience these emotions like no other. Some events that enhanced my cricket fandom, in no particular order of effect, they are:

1.Vivian Richards 100(77) in Rajkot.
I remember it was some Nehru centennial celebration. Centuries were not supposed to be scored in 77 balls in those times. There was nothing elegant about batting that morning. It was pure violence and maybe thats why I like to watch boxing. I don't think I ever missed Vivian Richards batting after that. The chewing gum, the front-foot hooks and pulls, the utter disdain for the ball but much respect for the bowler. Although the sport is what attracted me, I quickly realized in sport...No Heroes, No game. Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards changed the way I looked at all sports and maybe what it takes to be successful in must look to dominate or you will lose, it is kind of cliched and I don't follow it all the time, but I do while playing any sport :) I never paid for posters except one of his, a big Sportstar poster of him chewing gum - Rs.2

2.Australian TV and commentary
There was something magical about waking up with my dad at 4 in the morning and watch Terry Alderman/Mike Whitney/Craig Mcdermott (ok and everybody else) run in to wreck India. Maybe it was Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry and the gang. I hated waking up in the morning to watch India lose but I did it anyway.

3.Sachin Tendulkar

For what he does off the field - nothing, is what makes him so great. His batting isn't too shabby. To be able to make a billion peoples moods swing along with your willow is a little hard to understand.

4.Wasim Akram 1992 World Cup final vs England
I remember he scored around 40 but there was a cover drive which he hit which is etched in my mind. The ball was hit so hard that the sound of leather on wood and then leader on bill boards was at the most 2 seconds apart. Of course, Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis are still wondering where the 2 balls came from. I hate Wasim Akram, I hate Pakistan but I can never forget those 2 deliveries.

5.Venkatesh Prasad knocking off Aamir Sohail's off stump, 96 WC QF vs Pak

Prasad is enshrined in my hall of fame for that one ball. He needn't do anything else to impress me.

6.Mumbai - Hyderabad Ranji Trophy semi finals, Wankhede, forget the year

Lots of stories, Tendlya losing captaincy to Azhar, Laxman possibly taking over the mantle as India's top batsman, maybe Tendulkar should stop opening since he has lost aggression. Some Hyderabadi bowler got rid of Samir Dighe - biggest mistake in his life. Tendulkar score 124 not out by stumps. It was unlike 1. There was no violence, just a gradually asphyxiation of the opposition. I can recall nobody compared Laxman with Tendulkar after that. My respect for him increased even more because he was advised to rest in that match. Again, the ability to dominate never ceases to inspire.

I think that's it. But my favorite player is still Steven Waugh.



AverageJane said...

Used to be an avid cricket follower in India but am completely out of the loop now. :( The 1983 WC is still discussed ad-nauseum by cricket loving cousins, aunts and uncles. :) I think the 2003 WC semifinals win against Pak was also mind-blowing. :)

Nita said...

Hi. Came here from IHM's blog and it is interesting to know that you are such a sports fan. You know a lot about sports and cricket, and I confess I know next to nothing. In fact I prefer the IPL as it is shorter! I guess I am not a real cricket fan. However I like Sachin Tendulkar. And some other sports people like Roger Federer and even Nadal. I guess I just like to see them play.

Minal said...

@AJ:Talk about Jadeja - all my friends had their crushes defined so we did not tread into each other's territory:-)))LOL I knew loads who were crazy after him and btw I found him too cute !

@Nita: Welcome! Yeah A major cricket buff I'm;-) I try to write on other stuff - so do visit again:-)