Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Reminiscences of an Old Fashioned Cricket Fan: A Flash from the Past

As school life is nearing the borderline, and with each passing day I am inching towards the ‘adult’ lot, my pen makes me realize why life was bliss when I was a kid.

Life was bliss when after a nice chiding by the teacher at school, you walked into your room, and your face immediately enlivened on seeing your MRF bat with a Britannia sticker (yes, my bat was an amalgamation of both Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid).

Life was bliss when you stormed out off the room after learning‘karele’ is what you’ll have to eat today, only to be stopped by your Mother who gave you two rolled paranthas, daubed by Kissan Fruit Jam, which you gulped down in no time (yes, Kissan was more relished than Butter Paneer).

Life was bliss when  you went birthday shopping with your parents and returned with a light blue shaded jersey, that read – ‘Dravid 19’ (yes, ‘Dhoni 7’ came quite late).

Life was bliss when you woke up paralyzed, halfway through the night, after an incubus, and the huge poster of Rahul Dravid kissing his cap that graced your bedroom door, caught your attention. You were re-assured of everything being alright and you crawled back into your bed, to have a good night’s sleep (now you know why I call him my Watchful Protector, my Silent Guardian).

Life was bliss because along with your parents, friends and family, there was a pack of guys who owned you, who inspired you, constantly, and who imbued in you a belief to become whatever you wanted to be, the way they did, ‘cause they were just like you!

There was a short, curly haired, five foot something, who was the only one you hero worshiped, next to your Father. You had heard narratives of people ‘dancing down the aisles’ from his famous Sharjah blitz. You had even braved splintering your ankle as you had climbed up your neighbor’s wall to watch the Indo-Pak clash of WC, 2003, because your house had a powercut. You saw Shoaib Akhtar steaming in, and Sachin cutting him for a six over backward point. You were overpowered, and just then your nearby resident misreckoned you for being another mango heister. You had to race back home before anyone could know what had happened.

There was another man who proffered to you what passion was. He was a blueblood of West Bengal, who didn’t bat an eyelid while facing the antagonists and gave it back with a “right in your face” attitude. Though he gained a lot of negativity after he made Steve Waugh wait for the toss, yet, to you it was just another exemplification of how aggressive he was. 

Having been a customary in gully cricket, you gyred your blazer with your team after annihilating the neighboring colony, in an attempt to emulate the man you fondly called “Sourav Da.”

And then there was him! The one you loved the most, yet never paid any heed to. He was your placating dominion, your tabernacle of certitude. He was the one who made you stand outside your Principal’s office for hours so that you can get your leave sanctioned, and watch him bat live at the Green park, Kanpur. You were so assiduous going gaga over Sachin and Sourav, that you didn’t extol him even once. Still, it was his conquests you took pride in, the most. When one fine day at Adelaide in 2003, he cut Stuart MacGill to the fence, you were seen with the tricolor, skedaddling on the streets with your horde.

If someone ever asks about your best-loved story, you’ll go enunciating interminably about the Kolkata fable, which according to you, is the greatest test match to have been played. Ever.

After the bottomless scuttlebutt of Steve Waugh ordering champagne bottles on the dot, you lived your once-in-a-lifetime kind of a day.

Bhajji’s onslaught, VVS’ canonized knock and Jam’s 20 short of a double ton found each other, and pooled to form a jewel.
You were still not acquainted to monitor scores online in case of an electricity failure, and had to fall back on radio commentary for keeping yourself revised. Hearing about Sourav Da’s 144 at a drizzly Brisbane filled you with inexplicable honor and mirth.

As you grew up, a different cricketing strife took place. The one wherein you could give away anything for a Sourav vs. Akram joust, or where you wanted even Sanjay Banger to wham Waqar for a six!
You breathed for days like the one when Sehwag brought up his maiden 300 with a six, and became ‘Multan ka Sultan.’ The one when India won its first series on the Pakistani terra firma.

Zaheer’s Yorker on his 22nd birthday that castled Steve Waugh, Harbhajan’s 32 wickets against the mighty Australians, the Natwest Final against England, Pathan’s hat-trick, Centurion-2003, Sreesanth’s swing that could not have been more nectarous at Johannesburg and the splendid 163 run stand between Sachin and Yuvraj at Chennai. 

Those were the moments you lived a lifetime in.
Those were the moments that construed you.

You did not have the celerity and flamboyance of T20s, but eye balled the best of Tests. 
With no IPL cash cow, your growth was analogous to that of Indian Cricket’s. 

You completed the assemblage when the necromancers of the game pulled off their puissant deeds. 

You were fidgety when the final two runs were needed for the sorcerous figure of 326.

You were restless when the boyish Turbanator bowled his hat-trick ball.

You were sweating bullets everytime your God took strike on 99.

You were nervous, you were unquiet, and proudly so. Because cricket meant more than a 3 hour entertainment show.

You filled the stadium with your pack on all five days of a Test match.

You clawed biscuit packets in the hope of earning a signature bat.

You went to the stadium hours prior to the game, to see you men tuning up.

You were mad as a March hare for them. You still are!

No matter how regnant, insuperable and prosperous the current lot becomes, you are foreordained to be a hoary, and an old fashioned cricket fan, who’s not ready to let go of her past.

To you there will never be a moment better than a tenderfoot half-pint taking a hat-trick, two of your dearest batsmen showcasing why class was perennial, and your team, winning against the world’s best side, after being dragooned a follow on.

They say you cannot gorge on past glories. But you can, on past memories, at least!
And to hang around your past, you need no time machine.
Your pen does it for you!

P.S. Thank you, Dania, for reviewing the complete write up on WhatsApp itself. I was completely against posting this, had you not given a nod. Also, thanks for the 'R' word. Vee loves you! :)

Swarna Bhatnagar for DieHard Cricket Fans

No comments :

Post a Comment