Monday, September 20, 2004

World of cricket

Cricket..... One word, one sport...and so many sweet memories associated with it. There are people who hate cricket or who don’t follow it... but there are cricket lovers who love this sport more than anything else. Cricket surely has its own charisma. You love cricket or you hate it, you cannot ignore it.

Cricket is not all about technique (otherwise Manjrekar, Artherton, and Boycott would have been gods of cricket). Crickets is not all about grace and style either... (Otherwise Mark Waugh, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and David Gower would have ruled the cricket world). What makes cricket more interesting is the application of technique, absolute determination and grace to achieve something more than normally expected from a cricketer (that’s why Steven Waugh, Lara, Tendulkar, Dravid, Hyden are great... because they are so determined and focused at their play that they cannot go wrong). Very few cricketers are abundantly talented (a few examples... Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Akram, Kallis and more recently Andrew Flintoff. I had almost included Ajit Agarkar.... but he himself doesn't know how to utilize his talent. He wasted so many opportunities.. I feel sorry for him)...

Still... cricket is a treat to watch. It’s been a while since I have seen a cricket match, and I miss that dearly. Last time I saw one was the India-Australia test series in December 2003. After the fourth test... I was a big big fan of the artistry of VVS Laxman... he was very very special in that series indeed. I was thinking about that series a few nights back... and thought... these memories; and not a few individuals; make cricket a truly great sport... there are so many of them, and if you are an avid fan of cricket... you would also recollect the thrill associated with such moments. A few instantly came to my mind were:

* Anil Kumble coming out of pavilion with a broken jaw... with bandage all over his face, to bowl to Brian Lara: It was one of the most unforgettable moments for me... India-West Indies test series... Indians were loosing the grip on the game... and Brian Lara was slowly getting in his own mood. His wicket would have given India a victory, but sadly no bowler was looking dangerous. And all of a sudden this guy comes out, when no one expected him to... he had a big fracture in his jaws. He came... he bowled... one can imagine how much pain he would have suffered.. And all that for one wicket... of Brian Lara and for India. Hats off to Kumble.

* Tendulkar hitting Shoaib Akhtar's first ball for a six over covers in 2003 world cup: India-Pakistan match in a world cup.... whoever wins goes to next round... whoever looses goes back home. Akram, Waquar playing their last world cup... out there to prove that they still are the best...Akhtar wanted to bowl the fastest ball...and India needs more than 275 to win the battle. It doesn’t get better than this. Does it??. Indian batting had performed poorly in all the previous games... their supporters back home were furious.. Some of them event attempted to attack players' homes. It was indeed do or die for Indians. A pressure cooker situation.. Akhtar comes running like a horse... and bowls (or throws) to Sachin... I can never forget the way crowd erupted at that moment. India won that match there itself. Memories of Miandad's sixer were erased from our minds. Akhtar has never been at his best against us after that.

Some other unforgettables:

* Warne's first Ashes ball to Gatting: Ball of the century.
* The entire 2001 India-Aus test series: Harbhajan's hat-trick and 32 wickets, VVS Laxman's epic 281 at Eden Gardens, and his partnership with 'the wall' Dravid. India didn't loose a single wicket on 4th day of the match. Isn't that amazing?
* Jawagal Srinath's 6-21 against South Africa in 1996 at Ahmedabad. It was indeed a master-move by Tendulkar to bring Srinath on, on a dead-as a dodo-pitch.
* India-Pakistan series in 1999: India should have won Chennai test. It remains one of the worst failures of Tendulkar's career. It was a shameless act by Mongia, too. And of course 10 wickets for Anil Kumble at Feroz Shah Kotla. It was Sunday.. And Kumble-Harbhajan pair was really giving a lot of trouble to strong Pakistani batting. Last wicket was Wasim Akram :c Laxman b Kumble 37. Laxman caught that bat-pad catch, umpire Jaiprakash rsaised his finger, and thats it!!! No one can forget the celebrations after that. It was a great achievement from a man who can't turn a ball for nuts and still calls himself a spinner and takes all 10 Pakistani wickets.
* If you have seen 'cricket classics' on ESPN-star sports, you can't forget first India-Pak match held at Sharjah: India won it by 38 runs after scoring 125. Full marks to Sunil Gavaskar, for his captaincy and some amazing catches he took in slips.
* And of course 1983 world cup win
* Speaking of catches.... Do you remember Ajay Jadeja taking Border's catch in 1992 world cup?... and a Ganguly's catch taken by James Kirtley in 2002 Natwest series?... it takes a miracle to do something like that.
* One more catch I clearly remember was in 99 world cup: Lance Klusner to Robert Croft.. croft hits a full blooded shot... jonty rhodes leaps in the air, stops the ball in the air, and takes an unbelievable catch...and his feet are still in air. I clearly remember... Bill Lawry was the commentator. He said just 3 words, "He is special". It says all.

There are so many more... these memories make me love this game of bat and ball.

1 comment:

Chirayu said...

Hi Vivek,

A nice post on cricket.