Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cricketing Exploits


Look at me today and it is difficult to believe that I was a very popular cricketer in my youth. Batting, bowling or fielding I was the darling of the crowds. It was either a conspiracy of fate or the envy of my fellow-cricketers at school that I did not find a place in the cricket team of my school and a promising cricketing career was nipped in the bud.
There are batsmen who attract crowds with their shots. Since they only play these shots every now and then, the crowds get entertained infrequently. I, however, entertained the crowds from the moment I took my stance. Having never seen any batsman spread his legs wide apart and tuck the bat in the geometric center of that space, the spectators were normally all attention on me. With the way I stood, it was a toss-up as to whether I would hit the shin of the right leg on my backswing or the ankle of the left leg when I swung the bat forward.  I believe that the first instance of ball-by-ball betting in cricket happened then, when an enterprising student started taking bets on which of the two would happen.
You know how hide-bound people can be. The games master instructed me to place my legs closer together and I tried out his way. This insidious plot aimed at minimizing my popularity was foiled by the fact that, whenever I tried to hit the ball, I would gracefully topple over thereby managing to rivet the attention of the spectators. I, thereafter, reverted to my usual stance. The red letter day in my batting history was when I managed to avoid the front leg and hit the ball for a boundary. Or, at least, it would have been a certain boundary but for the fact that the fielder at point was inconsiderate enough to get in the way and claim a catch.
I truly do not like blowing my own trumpet but I was probably the first slinger in the history of world cricket. At least the first slinging spinner! I really do not know whether Malinga was a part of the crowd of admiring spectators. Seems unlikely but the world is full of unlikely incidents. Who knows, I may have been the primary inspiration for his slinging ways.
The world is full of jealous people. Can you believe that people actually said that the only way I could get a wicket was if the batsman fell asleep waiting for the ball to arrive? I was a vicious spinner of the ball and could have extracted turn better than Murali. The problem, however, was that the batsmen just wouldn’t wait for the ball to pitch before hitting it. Here I was using all my guile and craft to impart spin to the ball such that the batsmen would be deceived by the turn after it pitched and those idiots would not even allow the ball to pitch. They used to run half-way down the pitch and take it on the full. Is that fair? Cheating, I call it!
Still, no one could rob me of my popularity. The spectators normally cheered non-stop while I was bowling. My detractors were, as usual, keen on robbing me of the credit. They claimed that the spectators were cheering the batsmen for their prowess in hitting boundaries. If they were cheering the batsmen and not me then why do they cheer mainly when I was bowling? Can you answer me that?
Fielding, I must modestly say, was always my forte. I had an uncanny ability to time my catches perfectly. Do you know of anyone who could invariably take a spooned catch on the tips of his fingers? Every time I managed to do it and, instead of lauding me for the accuracy of the timing or commiserating with me in my pain, people used to shout at me for missing the catch. I don’t know what they mean by missing – considering that the ball has never once missed knocking off a nail from my fingers.
As for ground fielding, if I told you about my contributions you would not believe it. Oh! All Right!All Right! I will tell you. In a time when Indian cricketers were shy of diving while fielding, I was always diving around. Whenever the ball was struck firmly in my direction I used to dive – the other way! Only a suicidal person would get in the way of a rapidly traveling cricket ball!
Considering my all round abilities to entertain on the cricket field, I know that all of you must be convinced that I would have been a shoo-in for any cricket team. So I would have been but for the rampant favoritism prevalent in the country then! It is a tribute to the essential sweetness of my nature that I am still able to take interest in Cricket!

38 comments:

  1. hahahaha. even i have similar abilities when it comes to the game which i love. and yes, even i am sure Malinga was there in the crowd, yup.

    absolutely loved it :)

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    1. Malinga must hv been a pretty busy person in those days:) Maybe he deserves the credit after all for having travelled around India picking up his tricks:)

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  2. that must have been the conspiracy of the century -- keeping you out of the Indian team, that is :) What a great cricketer. And yes, you are super nice to still be interested in the game that treated you so shabbily :)

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    1. Glad you appreciated my sterling talents and my generous nature:)

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  3. awww, Suresh, you are so sweet to still take an interest in a game that has treated you so poorly!!!

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    1. Can't blame the game for the short-sightedness of my games master, can I?:)

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  4. Oh...and all along I thought you were describing your expertise in Kabaddi, a sport in which I am undoubtedly the biggest star that the world has never seen! Imagine my surprise when I read Cricket at the end of this essay.
    :D

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    1. Ah! Rickie! Why don't you write about your kabaddi exploits so that I can return the favor by interchanging kabaddi and cricket in your comment? :)

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  5. Sir, having read your memoir, I felt impelled to check out the meaning of 'cricket' in the venerable Oxford Dictionary. Here is what it says:

    "an insect related to the grasshoppers but with shorter legs. The male produces a characteristic musical chirping sound."

    I have never herd of a more perfect example!

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    1. Holy cow, Uma! :) Now in what way do I exemplify the cricket - the legs shorter than a grasshopper, in being an insect or in making musical chirping sounds? :)

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  6. I am heartily enjoying your exploits be they about cooking or cricket!! What other talents do you have hidden away?

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    1. In every human endeavor I am inept :) So, that list is virtually inexhaustible :)

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  7. Wow now that is really interesting. I swear I read the first singer in cricket and started imagining all kinds of things. But I had misread, it was slinger :).

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    1. Now that's an interesting thing I missed on :) I was also singing in my batting days - I may have missed all the balls but not all the balls missed me and I was quite frequently singing in pain :)

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  8. Hmmm...You are what the Indian Cricket team needs Suresh as a permanent-member-no-matter-what :D

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    1. Of course, Jaish! :) I mean with me around all the others will feel like they are the best - and confidence is half the battle won :)

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  9. Haha, very enjoyable read....The narrative is excellent and the humor is unmissable.... :)

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  10. Nice one Suresh. They at least let you bowl. No one ever even trusted me with me with the ball.

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    1. They never let me in on the matches, TF! Otherwise they let me bowl because they liked hitting sixes :)

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  11. Nice one Suresh! I found a resonance there with why I was skipped out of the tournaments!

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    1. Lots of injustice everywhere in team selection :)

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  12. Lol....this is way too funny for me to handle. I am reading this at work and my colleagues are giving me weird looks for every other minute, I am bursting out loudly with laughter :D :D :D :D

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  13. So you were an all-rounder par excellence. So much so Colin Bland, Rusi Surti and Eknath Solkar (both RIP), Venky, Abid Ali, Madan Lal, Ajit Wadekar, Brijesh Patel among the earlier lot and Kapil Dev, Jadeja, Dravid, Yuvraj Singh in the latter lot must have learnt the fielding traits from you. By the way, who was your sponsor then and now? Jokes apart, there was this sports correspondent R Arvindam of Deccan Herald in Bangalore during 60s. He used to profile various sports personalities in his weekly column, probably for a record number of five to six years. Once he wrote about S Krishnamurthy, the wicket-keeper & opening batsman of Mysore state team. In that piece he wrote to say S Krishnamurthy never conceded even a single bye as the opponents scored some 400 and odd runs. At which my eldest brother Dinesh (now settled in Ahmedabad) quipped to say: Yes, that was because the batsmen of the opponents were too good not to leave any ball as such it was not Krihnamurthy's ability; the credit should go to the players of the batting side...

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  14. And these jackasses are celebrating Sachin's 200th test and his fortieth birthday and things like that. I tell you this whole thing about you not being selected for Team India reeks of a controversy created by Ramakant Achrekar and the Mumbai clique of the BCCI. Just imagine if Srini Mama were the Chairman of the BCCI in the early 80s, today Suresh Chandrasekaran would have been the toast and the cream of the cricketing universe and would also be doing ads for all products except Brylcreem as it would have made his bald pate shine too much in the sun.

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    1. Matters did not rise as high as the BCCI - unless they were managing even school cricket then :)

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  15. Oh that I could have been at a match in which you played, Suresh!

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    1. See what one hidebound games master ended up denying the world :)

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  16. This is so funny. You are a genius! I was smiling all the while reading it.

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    1. Thanks Anirban. Certainly no genius at cricket :)

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  17. Cricket lost what literature gained! :D

    I'm sure that you would have given Mr Siddhu a run for money! Hats off to you, sir! You are awesome!

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    1. Thanks Rakesh! I write better than I speak, I think :) Siddhu is safe :)

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