memories, Sports

The Tall Little Master

The brisk walk to the crease, the floppy hat, the swinging of arms and we were all excited that a new test match was about to commence.  And happy that India had won the toss and elected to bat, awaiting another great innings from Sunil Manohar Gavaskar. Once the guard was taken, we were treated to that most balanced stance in world cricket. No extra movement, no nervous twitch, only a strong desire to enter the ‘Zone’ as fast as possible. Even the bat lift was bare minimal.

The fast bowlers he faced were tearaways, just the sight of them running in to bowl used to put the fear of God in the best batsmen. Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Colin Craft, Malcolm Marshall of the West Indies, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thompson of Australia, Bob Willis of England, Richard Hadlee of New Zealand,  Imran Khan of Pakistan, such was the undoubted pedigree of those days. And more often than not, Gavaskar trumped them all.

Here he was, ready to put them to test, a test of their patience,  a test of their skills. Ball after ball was met with a straight bat, waiting for them to falter in line and length, waiting for them to tire out and then the full range of elegant strokes were unfurled. If the forward defensive stroke was serene then the cover drive was sheer poetry in motion. And those straight drives, with the head perfectly still; one would be ready to go to any part of the world to enjoy watching.

He was the world record holder for the most number of centuries in test cricket but some of them made a lasting impression. He had announced his arrival on the world cricket scene like a Boss against the mighty West Indies with 3 centuries and a double, so much so that a calypso song was written on his ability to go on and on. Or rather, the inability of the West Indian bowlers to get him out. The innings of 221, batting in the Fourth innings against England brought India tantalizingly close to a memorable victory which  was not to be. It continues to be my personal favourite. The 236 not out against West Indies in India was memorable,  being his record breaking 30th century when he broke the long standing record of the great Don Bradman. The 127 vs Pakistan in Pakistan was in a lost cause as the other Indian batsmen were no match to the guiles of Imran Khan and Sarfaraz Nawaz. And finally, the almost century, an innings of 96 under the most challenging conditions in Bangalore vs Pakistan in his last test match. He retired while still at the top of his game.

Though his ODI career pales in comparison to his Test career, he still had his moments under the sun. From the tortoise paced innings of 36 not out he played in a world cup match to the pinnacle, when he led India  to triumph in the World series of cricket in 1985 interspersed with a World Cup victory under Kapil Dev in 1983, he saw the highs and lows of Indian ODI history.

He was without a century at the Lord’s during his Test career, but he made amends when he played an innings of 188 in the MCC Bicentennial match at Lord’s in 1987, while playing for Rest of the World eleven after his retirement.

Gavaskar inspired a sense of confidence in the Indian test cricket team that they could face the best opposition on equal terms.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Sports

Cricket goes vegan

The diet of prehistoric man mainly consisted of meat and fish. Poor fellow, he wasn’t proficient in agriculture yet. So he had to subsist on food which was achieved by killing other living beings, or rather other animals. In addition to this, they were also drinking the milk of different animals.

Then he progressed and developed agriculture. Now he had choice of a new food; previously this choice had been restricted.

As they progressed further they developed a conscience. This conscience started troubling a few humans. They were overcome by a feeling of guilt on killing animals for food. A few gave up eating animals, subsisting only on vegetables, fruit and milk. They started calling themselves vegetarian while those belonging to the opposite spectrum were non-vegetarian.

After the industrial revolution and especially in the late twentieth century, diary farms were run like an industry, with target oriented milk production. This involved cruel practices like calves being taken away from the cows as soon as they were born and the cows themselves being abandoned as soon as their milk production went down.

Various research and studies also showed that man is not very lactose friendly. Combined with the inhuman practices in milk production, these studies pushed some humans to give up on milk too. They started subsisting only on plant products for their nutrition. A new term had to be coined for this category of humans and the vegans were born.

So today’s topic is Veganism but in an entirely different field. Yes, it is the cricket field we are talking about.

Now you may wonder what is the connection of a game of cricket with Veganism. Well lots, if the English are to be believed.

As you know, the cricket ball is a covering of leather encasing a core of cork which is layered with tightly wound string. This leather is cow leather but let me assure you that there is nothing cruel about this industry.

However, since it is leather, an animal product, it had to come under the scanner.

It so happened that a new owner took over one of the many small cricket clubs in England. This person happened to be vegan. But he was disturbed that one of the key ingredients of the game involved animal hides which usually gets a good hiding with the bat. He decided to do something about it.

His idea and some entrepreneur’s enterprise has resulted in a ball which is covered by rubber instead of leather.

It’s another matter that this ball bounces till the first floor currently but they assure us that it will be brought down to earth soon.

I wonder whether world cups of the future will be divided into vegan non-vegan teams playing with extra long bats to negotiate the delinquent balls.

Yatindra Tawde

Sports

Virat…

Virat Kohli…he is a cricket robot made by a super secret society of cricketer scientists which explains his robotic consistency in run making.

A chip is installed in his brain which enhances his reflexes against the best of bowlers and enables him to out think them.

A combination of booster joints in his arms, shoulders, wrists, hips and legs enables him split second reactions and deposits the ball out of the boundary.

And a set of spring loaded thighs propel him to run very fast to convert ones into twos and further.

He has been given specially developed cameras behind his eyes, based on pioneering work done on study of eagle eyes, to find gaps where non exists for mere mortals.

And to hide this ultra mean and efficient machine from prying eyes of the general public and inquisitive sports reporters, they installed a motor mouth which spouts well meaning expletives whenever a milestone is reached.

And let me add, they also installed a bender in his back which gets activated whenever the God of cricket, Shri Sachin comes into the camera range of his eyes…

Yatindra Tawde

Sports, Uncategorized

Boom Boom Becker

It was a game of tennis like nobody had seen before. The flamboyant German teenager was dominating the play like no one else before him. His opponent was an American, whose countrymen had dominated the Championship for many years in the past. After all, the American had defeated two other American Champions, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, to reach the finals. The teenager’s serves boomed across the stadium, such was the strength he exhibited. Soon he had ran away with the first set, winning it comfortably, 6 games to three. But then the American showed just why his countrymen had dominated the sport for so long as he came back strongly in the second set, winning it, 7 games to 6. But still, the teenager had run him close. The teenager was young but he played mental games with his opponent, as he sent hostile stares to him, before and after points. And the moment arrived, which changed the entire tenor of the match. The American was leading 3-2, when he sent down an unplayable cross court drop shot, which seemed beyond the reach of his opponent, when out of nowhere, the German produced a spectacular dive, to reach the ball, and caught the American off balance. The German won the point, but more importantly, he broke the resistance of the American to win his maiden Wimbledon handsomely. That day, a Star was born. A Mega Star named Boris “Boom Boom” Becker.

 

The year 1985. The same year when India won the World Championship of Cricket in Australia and Ravi Shastri became the Champion of Champions. Those were the days when you had ample time to see the Wimbledon championship from start to finish. Thus, there I was, watching the Wimbledon finals. This year, the finals was between a veteran player, an American, Kevin Curren, and a flamboyant German boy, Boris Becker. By the time the Championship was over, everyone across the tennis watching world had only one name on their lips, Boris Becker! He had become the youngest Winner, at 17 years and 7 months. His overtly aggressive style of play was loved by one and all. And his crinkly eyes, muscular but athletic build and blond hair, charmed the girls to ecstasy. What endeared him to them was the power of his booming serve, his menacing stares to his opponents and his never say die attitude, displayed through his diving across the tennis court, to reach and come out with winners, in near impossible situations. And he reinforced his reputation the next year, when he defended his title by defeating the ultra cool Ivan Lendl. And the next few years he was always among the top seeded players, who entertained the tennis watching aficionados, with their great rivalries on court. I for one, never watched a full tennis match, after the retirement of Becker, even though there were great champions like Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, later too.

Yatindra Tawde