I have to be at the airport in London – Heathrow, where the heaths have been replaced by row after row of aircraft – to read in the paper that NRD Compton.
Nick Compton – the grandson of the great Denis – has by far the most runs in the county season – 736 at 122.66 – (the next highest has less than 500) — and is on the way to scoring 1000 runs in May, a feat which even his grandfather never accomplished.
And in two blessed sports-sections of two blessed papers, there is no news of IPL except Pietersen’s belated backing of it.
And there are entire pages devoted to the county game – and my mind and heart leap back to the late 70’s and county cricket news in Indian papers and a certain name – IT Botham – appearing again and again — wickets and catches and runs and wins and personality in those black and white numbers – and the feeling growing inside me that here is a future star for England.
And here is Denis Compton’s grandson – yes, the same Denis Compton – the original Brylcream Man – who for twenty years was the Sachin of English cricket – quick and attacking and with a personality to match. He averaged over fifty in Tests, most of them against Bradman at his best – and in the post-war greyness of both England and cricket, he brought light and life to his game and his country – and during that war, he spent much of his time in India, playing cricket and football – both sports in which he represented his country.
Here is Denis Compton’s grandson as the story of the county season, and we know nothing of it from our Indian papers – instead we have colour page after colour page whining and dinning over IPL.
And the Windies about to start a series against England – a very important series. England, on the brink of losing their #1 status, and the Windies on the way up – and our papers carry news of this series as if an apology.
And in their first tour match, does anyone remember what a tour match is? – They have the MCC colts on the gallop, or at least the canter – and Nick Compton scores only 21, but another innings is left tomorrow, and maybe Nick will be in one and find his way into the English team.
He is blond and lean and has a that look about him.
His grandfather used to fall down after sweeping the ball – as did the Sachin of West Indies cricket – Rohan Kanhai – and even the great Bradman praised him when he first played and succeeded against the Aussies in ’37.
And I have to be sitting at Heathrow with four hours to spend between flights to find about Nick. By the way, the last batsman to score 1000 runs in May was Hick, not Nick – and his immense potential – and to once again, after years, see in print those numbers – those figures; those initials; those crisp scorecards; those sculpted words describing a day’s play; those pictures of white and green elegance; those evening shadows lengthening across the outfield like memories of a time gone by; those names of counties like lines from Shakespeare.
And I write this sitting in Wooster, Ohio, USA – at the college where my son and his Indian and Pakistani and Sri Lankan and Zimbabwean and Bangladeshi friends played the great game together as one about a decade ago – in this beautiful corner of the American universe, cricket is still loved and followed with a passion – and I close my eyes and my son and his friends and I are playing on green, green grass or in the basketball auditorium or in driveways or in hostel corridors and the world is in such harmony.