Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Australia has lost its aura; India has acquired one

Could we have an extra Test in Australia please. PLEASE. I mean England only play Test in February. Don’t you think Virat Kohli deserves a few extra days with his baby-girl. KL Rahul for his sprained wrist which as we writers are familiar could take months to heal. Doesn’t Rohit Sharma need to get a grip on his chip shot? All those groins, thumbs, fibulas, calves could mend in their own sweet time. If Cummins and Starc want, we would have a few further ribs and cartilages gifted to their red cherry. 

And we don’t mind Brisbane too. Another quarantine too. Those house-arrests in hotels which our Abdullahs and Mehboobas are familiar with. If you don’t like our Thakurs and Sundars, take them too. This Indian team is not running out of lives anytime soon. Who knows Shastris and Aruns and Sridhars could be cricketers reborn. 

I am not here to dwell on our misfortunes on this tour. On 36. When mind wanted to fast-forward the end of tour, still a month too far. When openers were scarce, fast bowlers like nine pins, spinners and wicketkeepers like those laptops you make do with even if coming out of hinges. Everyday has blessed us with a new hero, the thrill which is the preserve of unknown, the stirrings which beckons with every new affair. 

Such are not moments to be petty. Karma has its own designs. Who knows if Michael Vaughan and Ricky Ponting are not needed on air; if Tim Paine is attending the DRS classes now that his baggy green looks set to be returned to lockers; our Cummins and Starc nursing a pigeon than spilling blood on the pitch. 

This India needs fresh eyes. No baggage of past. No stereotypes that Whites carry on Brown men. 

I can’t help but think of Joe Roots’ men. One moment, they must have been rejoicing at the prospect of an Indian team without its Playing Eleven. All those charts, analysis, video replays, stance of batsmen, grip of bowlers were hours saved. Now furnish new dossiers on Ishan Kishans, Surya Kumar Yadavs, Devdutt Paddikals. Don’t leave out Nitish Rana and Varun Chakravorty; Rahul Chahar and Rahul Tewatia too. For good measure, keep an eye on Ramesh Powar too. These Indians, not for nothing, are known for their rope tricks. 

This is a subliminal moment in India’s cricket journey. This is when fear of Thommo and Lillee, McGrath and Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Starc stands buried for good. When grass on 22 yards no longer tells of dark forebodings. When Australia has lost its aura; India has acquired one. 

The nitpickers that we are, the bread that we writers have to earn, we could keep haggling over rotation, work-load, elbow-position and cocked wrist. The better ones amongst us would discard Conrads and go for Wodehouses. Or how else we would describe the nonchalance of a Thakur or Sundar on their fifties at Gabba; the heart which some missed in our Viharis and Ashwins, beautiful in all their ugly hops. This game is as much of joy and spirit as of technique and skills. 

May more such men emerge from our Palghars (Shardul Thakur) and Triplicane (Washington Sundar); may more weavers ( T Natarajan Sr) and auto-rickshaw drivers (Mohammad Siraj Sr) catch our eye and hand on purse. This India wants to reach the skies. Let nothing come in between. 

Join your hands and be on feet. 


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