The long-awaited India Cricket season 2016-17 begins tomorrow with Team India’s 500th Test match.
Cricket, the game, is one of the things that I’ve been following and loving for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories of watching the game is of the 1996 World Cup. We didn’t have cable tv but the whole tournament was broadcast live on Doordarshan (DD), India’s public broadcaster and right until that semifinal meltdown, Team India were going great guns.
Then there are the Test matches. I don’t remember much of the format from the 90s since the away matches weren’t shown on DD and we used to be in the school when the home matches used to be played, from 9/10 am to 5 pm. However, one of my sharpest memories is of the Indian team’s 2003-04 Test Tour of Australia. The matches used to start at 0530 IST and in the absence of even the All India Radio (AIR) commentary broadcast, we used to get the lunch-time scores on the 8 am news, right before leaving for school.
I have fond memories of the early 2000s in that regard. Me and my brother used to keep the radio hanging at one end of the courtyard/lawn at our home and play cricket for hours together, just the two of us. We experienced Sehwag’s Multan 309 and Chennai 155 like that. That latter series was a disappointing one for the team with the Oz winning for the first time in 35 years but the last test, in Mumbai, was special. It was getting dark in the evening and mother was asking us to switch off the radio and sleep for an hour or so, so as to be able to study at night. We lied on the bed side-by-side and kept the radio between our heads, the volume at the minimum. With each falling Australian wicket, we fist-pumped and rejoiced.
There are a lot of people who think that Test cricket is boring and dying, that it goes on for 5 days, 35-40 hours. In these times of living in the moment and instant social-media gratifications, people think the format is a waste of time. Well, I don’t subscribe to that view.
Test cricket is, and has been, a unique sport in that it lasts so many days and challenges its practitioners in such varied manners in one single game. What’s swinging bananas on the first morning might turn square by the fourth afternoon! And like life’s ebbs and flows, Test cricket offers a narrative that is peerless in the modern age. Like life, there can be a fightback in the second innings. A counterattacking century can turn a dicey situation to one of strength. A lionhearted spell can bring the team back into the game after having been outplayed for 12 sessions. In short, those predicting the demise of the game, and the format in particular, have been doing so for the last 140 years. And despite that, fans like us keep loving it.
While I love T20 internationals, I am not a big follower of the myriad domestic leagues, IPL included. For me, cricket is the best when it’s Country v/s Country. As it will be come 10 am on Thursday morning at the Green Park, Kanpur.
About that, I saw this image of the pitch on Espncricinfo and I have to admit that I was less than flattered. We fans don’t want matches finishing inside 3 days. Give us the traditional Indian pitches of the last decade and earlier back. Even the ones for the 2013 Australia series were great. Creating rank turners will only succeed in making Sodhi, Santner and Craig look better than what they are. Whodathunk that Dean Elgar could grab a fifer?
Here’s hoping for a keenly-fought contest over the next 13 tests this season. And may Team India win them all! 😁
Thanks for reading. Do share your thoughts on cricket and the upcoming series in the comments section.