Being exposed to the cricket marketing blitz from the very early years and starting to watch the game with interest at the same time that a certain Mr. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar started appearing on the India Team-Sheet certainly acts as a catalyst. Watching, and listening to the game’s most respected commentators also helped. The likes of Richie Benaud, Michael Holding et al gave out many lessons that I seem to remember a lot better than stuff from the classroom. I remember how I started a daily regimen of push-ups on hearing how upper body strength was a requisite to bowling quick or how I started paying minute attention to my delivery stride trying to ensure that my head stayed upright and that I followed through with force, all this while playing on concrete surfaces with rubber balls! Wasn’t until college that I actually got to feel the brand new leather ball in my hands and that selection routine facing up to the college team’s ‘finest’ is an unforgettable memory. Having never in my life faced the leather ball, the possibility of broken cheekbones flashed through my mind. But I couldn’t care less, only kept repeating to myself “keep your eyes on the damn ball” can’t help but laugh at the thought now. Have had the opportunity to play a fair bit of cricket since then, be it university, leagues in the US or our good ol’ team at ISB. Doesn’t seem to matter where it is, but the cricket field is where I experience true bliss…sigh 🙂 yeah…its like that…
Got to reminiscing about a few of the best moments I’ve experienced on the field:
- 3rd year engg. Inter-College Tourney. Finals against the defending champions, the final year Elec Class. Their lineup was pretty much that of the college team. Big partnership as they chase down our respectable score. Then, short ball, pulled hard, arching over the squareleg fence where N runs around full tilt, leaps with one arm extended to grab one of the best catches I’ve seen! The team finds its voice…and a collapse ensues. High-energy, charged cricket..loved it! We win!
- Day 1 of the league season at the Whitewater ground in Univ. of Wisconsin – Madison. Our newly formed team’s first game. First over, opposition captain faces. Ball 5, goes forward in defence, ball nips, takes shoulder of the bat, My hands reach in the nick of time to pick it out of the air at gully. First wicket down! The Sabers had arrived!
- The Winter League – Milwaukee Sports Club. Defending a low score in the final. Fielding at wide long-on when the batsman smashes one straight down the ground. Spotted the ball in the air, went hard towards the ball and dived as the ball dipped. Caught it in the finger-tips of my extended right hand inches from the ground. Pumped up a flagging team. Lost when a six was hit off the last ball but what a game!
- Regal League game; wookiees v/s jedi. Was asked to open the bowling for the first time. white ball, big swing, erratic first couple of overs. Captain calls for other bowler to warm up, cudnt blame him. I walk over to him and conversation ensues “me: One more over cap: dude, they’re already upto 30/0 me: one more over cap: u know we’re defending a small total me: onnne more over cap: nods…slowly…” next over, couple of decent away swingers. ball 3, reversed the ball in my hand…swings in, batsman hit in front…big appeal…gone! cap and me point at each other…thats what am talkin’ abt!
- Glendale academy, Hyd ISB v Intergraph. Chasing a big total, we needed a bright start. Quiet 1st over, 2nd over, Ball 1 – short outside off, slashed through point 4! Ball 2 – slightly fuller but width, square drive 4! I know the bowler is going to over correct and pitch it fuller and on the stumps. Sure enough, expecting it there, launched into it. Ball disappears out of the ground straight back over the bowler’s head – 6! Damn, that felt good! only if we’d won that game…