After a week in England, the sun finally comes out – even though as I write a shadow chuckles across the sun.
But what a week – and what a final Test. The English media loved it, because they love to poke fun at English sport, especially cricket – and a 95 by a Windies number eleven is a perfect chance to jibe and jest.
If only... if only - it had been a four-Test series, and the rain would have blessed the fourth Test by staying away... aaah...
I have felt for the past five years that there should be a Premiere League in Test cricket, with the bottom four Test teams being in Division One. If two Premier League teams played each other, then the series has to be of five Tests; if a Premier team plays a Division One team, than of three Tests and if it is Division One against Division One, then of two Tests – and at the end of each year, the top team of DO goes into the PL, and the bottom team of PL goes down to DO.
There is an absolutely wonderful cricket paper here in England, which comes out every Wednesday -- called, simply, "the Cricket paper" – and it includes, amongst much detailed and fascinating county information, a column by my favourite, Nick Compton – by the way, he looks dashing in his photo. He would add not only talent to the English team, but a hint of glamour as well – as his Grandad did.
And Mike Atherton in the Times is the best writing right now in England on cricket.
And what both Atherton and the others were writing about with deepest concern was the recent English policy of resting key players for the final Test – most were not in favour of it. There was a chart on the telly, showing Ian Botham's workload of thirty years ago against James Anderson's of today and Botham was ahead on all counts – not to mention runs scored.
The point is that a winning team should be left alone – to win again.
A year ago, India rested far too many of our leading players for the series in the West Indies. The result – well, the past year in Test cricket speaks for itself – a team that is winning, and we had just won the World Cup, has an energy all of its own and it is that winning energy that sets a winning team apart – and when the team is broken up, the energy breaks up as well. The great Test teams of the Windies and the Aussies in the 80's and 90's remained so because of a core team of players missing none of the matches.
We became number one because our core players hardly missed a Test – and if you check Gautam Gambhir's record – and I mean him no disrespect by saying this – you will see that after he missed the Sri Lanka Test in Mumbai – the Test where Sehwag went wild; his batting has not been the same – and at that time he was batting like a true champion.
To be number one in anything – art or business or sport – or life – is a comittment to excellence which develops its own ebb and flow – but you must be alive to that ebb and flow, always moving with it, always adjusting it and with it – and if you remove yourself from that art or pursuit in which you are number one, the ebb and flow leaves you behind, both within and without.
Meanwhile, there are no top Indian players in county cricket – and you do not have to look far to understand why.
And a chap called Meaker from Surrey is bowling up a storm – just as Zaheer did not so long ago over here, and thus recreated himself as world-class Test bowler.
And as the sun shines again, and the shadows have chuckled away, I dream of covering an English county season – with Test matches thrown in as blessings. From beginning to end... rain or shine... wail or whine – it would be bliss.
And as football and the Olympics overrun the home of cricket, the sound of bat on willow still resonates across Cardus' countryside.