To listen to a beautiful Sahana, followed by Kedara Gowlai followed by Saama (perhaps a vocal flute duet between Musiri and Sruthi Sagar) followed by an evening well spent at a cricket ground (perhaps Chepauk or Wankhede; the red soil pitch offering plenty of turn and bounce) watching Cheteswar Pujara and VVS Laxman take on the spin bowling duo of Shane Warne and Nathan Lyon (aided by the fielding side: Ian Healy (wicket keeper), Mark Taylor (slip), Mark Waugh (silly mid off), David Boon (short leg), Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke (point, covers, mid wicket etc etc). To watch live, as dusk engulfs the ground, with Sahana and Saama and Kedara Gowlai from the morning playing and replaying in your head, VVS and Che Pu take on the Aussies.
The 1990’s were quite a time to grow up as a cricket mad boy in Chennai. Just as India were regularly thrashed by Pakistan (Wasim….Anwar….. Sharjah) so too Karnataka regularly thrashed Tamil Nadu. Particularly embedded into the consciousness / psyche are two heavy defeats separated by nearly 20 years: the Ranji Trophy finals of 1996 and 2015. To see a young Tamil Nadu team sans India test players Ashwin and Vijay defeat Karnataka in 2 days at Vishakapatnam in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal is something to be cherished for a long time. Particularly heartwarming are the performances of people like Aswin Crist, Thangarasu Natarajan from deep in the Thamizh hinterland. This adds to the pleasure of India finally defeating England 4-0 in the recently concluded test series. After winning in England in 2007, I watched, dismay turning into cynicism turning into numbness, India lose 4-0 in England in 2011, 2-1 in India in 2012 and 3-1 in England in 2014. In the heydays of English triumphs in 2011-12, it seemed like India would never defeat England in the foreseeable future. To see this victory now is particularly sweet. Ah, the sweet taste of victory, particularly when (as in Tamil Nadu’s case) it is few and far between.
Dileep Premachandran has a lovely tribute to Sehwag here:
We will never forget the Sehwag of 2004-05 and 2008-10, though. A soft-spoken man with no time or patience for theatrics, he ripped apart pretty much every single notion we had about opening the batting in Test cricket. Others like Graeme Smith were perhaps better across a variety of conditions, but Sehwag, like the floating-butterfly-and-stinging-bee Muhammad Ali, was the entertainer and path-breaker.
For a brief while, in the first decade of the 21st century, India were the best team in the world: the batting greats: Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman and the incomparable SRT, the spin bowlers: Kumble and Harbhajan (but don’t forget the support spin bowlers like Karthik, Pragyan Ojha etc) and the magnificent swing and seam bowling of Zaheer Khan.
The first game of the postseason, the ALCS Wildcard game is on in Toronto: the noise and excitement are unbelievable. Elsewhere across the globe, the Ranji Trophy is going to start (probably in a sleepy fashion) in several venues all across India.
Also, for nostalgic purposes, when Indore gets to host its first ever test match, here is the scorecard from an old game that was played in Indore, way back in 1955.
This was the first time Tamil Nadu (it was called Madras then) won the Ranji Trophy. It has won it only once since, in 1988, about which there is this nice write up.
The cricket archive is a lovely website to look up old cricket matches.
First day thoughts: What a lovely day of test cricket. NZ won the first session, beautiful batting by Pujara and Rahane post lunch and NZ definitely winning the post tea session as well. Eden Gardens, what a ground, what memories from childhood (India winning the Hero Cup semi final and final in 1993, VVS Laxman in 2001, India beating South Africa in 2010 after a massive reargaurd action by Hashim Amla in 2010). The ground is almost empty, very sad, reflects the new age and it’s priorities. But some things remain constant: the stunned silence when Pujara got out which slowly morphed into a massive ovation for his knock is something one can only expect from Eden Gardens.
Day two thoughts: Matt Henry’s sensational catch at fine leg to dismiss Mohammad Shami generates a warm applause from the sparse but noisy crowd. Lovely swing bowling from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. In this age of weight / strength training in gyms etc, cricket still requires and encourages skill based players with not much strength: swing / seam bowling and slips catching (Rahul Dravid was one of the finest for India) are skills not requires massive amounts of strength. Always nice to watch test matches with proper wicketkeepers like Saha, who exhibits such neat technique and is nimble and dexterous and of course BJ Watling keeps beautifully for NZ. Two beautiful shots by Luke Ronchi: a pull shot followed by a gorgeous straight drive.
Aravinda de Silva
Andy Flower (wk)
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
AB De Villiers
Alright. Today night, India play their 500th test match against New Zealand at Green Park in Kanpur. I hope it is a cracker of a game (no, I hope India trounce New Zealand) but I also want to see a nice hundred from Ross Taylor and some nice swing bowling from Trent Boult and nice spin bowling by Ish Sodhi, most of all, I want to see India’s batsmen: Vijay, Rahul, Pujara and Virat and spinners: Ashwin, Mishra and Jadeja. Here is hoping for a great game of cricket (which is of course the greatest sport in the world).
Wouldn’t that be lovely. Let’s pit the guys who won the 1983 World cup and 1985 World Championship of cricket: a team that contained the lovely batting of Azharuddin and Vengsarkar and the beautiful spin bowling of Siva and Maninder versus the guys who came second in 2003 to the greatest Australian team of some time. Let’s play a 3 game series: one at the Melbourne cricket ground (*without* truncated boundaries) on a wicket with plenty of bounce *and* turn, one on a lively Durban wicket with plenty of bounce, swing and seam movement and another at the lovely Kensington Oval at Barbados, by the sea. Here are my team lists:
SM Gavaskar (c)
S Viswanath (wk)
SC Ganguly (c)
MS Dhoni (wk)
Was rewatching the beautiful 32 VVS Laxman made in the Blomfoentein test against South Africa in 2001. John Wright, the then India coach, called it the most beautiful 30 odd he had ever seen in his life. How beautifully does he bat; The backfoot drives, the pull shot, the hook shot even (does any other Indian even play the hook shot), the serene grace and elegance he exudes. With due respect, I doubt even SRT can play some of the daringly inventive strokeplay that VVS can pull off like a magician; He simply dazzles you with his range of strokes, one is awestruck with wonder at his creative genius. I so wish the great poets like Kamban and Nammazhvar had written about this. A sheer artist (can one say, in terms of Carnatic music, that he is a cross between Ramnad Krishnan and MD Ramanathan?).
Marlon Samuels reminds me a lot of VVS.
Happiness is watching VVS Laxman bat and then listening to a beautifully langorous Marivere by MD Ramanathan.
It is a strange quirk of my mental constitution or perhaps a reflection of my current state of affairs that when I watch movies, thoughts about cricket matches watched earlier are triggered. For example, yesterday I watched this lovely movie OK Kanmani, (which is really Alaipayuthey 2.0 (and this comment is to be interpreted in the deepest sense of 2.0)) thoughts of Baz McCullum’s sensational dismantling of the Australian pace attack in the 2015 World Cup was triggered. The 2015 World Cup was a kind of coming home kind of event for me. 23 years earlier, I had begun watching cricket in the 1992 World Cup also played in Australia / New Zealand. (So many memories of that World Cup which deserves a blog post of itself.) The way McCullum, ebullient and carefree, jumped out of his crease charging the Australian fast bowlers who were bowling at 150 kms per hour and smashing them all over the park…..what an impression it would have left on a little kid first watching cricket (another little aside: the grounds in New Zealand have little play areas for little kids…what a wonderful idea…during the 1992 World Cup, fired up by watching the actual cricketers, how I dreamed of playing cricket….). But more poignantly, the movie was stirring various emotions and all I could remember was a sad time in 1993 when my cousin had lost his father and we had visited him, the entire family shell shocked at the unexpected loss, and as an aid to forgetting it the kids played cricket; He was about 13 then and I was 9, and while batting he would charge down the wicket and try to smash the bowling all over and I remember how ironic my innocent comment then was….”Beware, play more carefully, the way you are playing you are going to lose your wicket”…(which I of course said in utmost earnestness) to a guy who had just lost his dad.