Two absolutely delicious Tests from the most unexpected source – Sri Lanka vs England – a legend in the making, Cook – quick bowling backed up by the best spinner operating today, with an absolutely clean action, Swann – weather and green grass and sun-kissed crowds and rain-darkened clouds – decisions and collapses on the final day – spells of liquid batting, followed by dour defending – the ebb and flow of play, day after precious day – no hurry, and then sudden panic – ease, and then such labouring effort…
Sadly, only a three-Test series – should have been at least four. Would Malinga, IPL-cursed, have made a difference? Without a doubt. Without a shadow of a doubt.
A proposal – divide Test teams into two divisions – A and B – if an A-team plays an A-team, the series must be of five Tests; if an A-team plays a B-team, a series of three Tests; and if B plays B, then two Tests – nothing less than this. A review of the standings at the end of every calendar year – And just watch Test cricket come alive again.
An old scrapbook of mine from the early 60s – covering tours of England, and including matches against all the counties – tours by India and Australia – Bill Lawry, Pataudi, Simpson, Harvey, Manjrekar, Sardesai – names which roll off the tongue like poems – O’Neill, Engineer – on and on – black and white memorials to county-grounds where Bradman once ruled – the leisure of a summer – rain and sun and doing and done.
Our visit to England this summer is going to be very, very special – two Test teams in peak form – on the green pitches of England. But, first, the Tests in the Windies – without Sachin – ’76 – and we beat the Windies by scoring over 400 in the second innings. I sit on the verandah of my paying-guest apartment in Santa Cruz West, and hear again the rifle-shot of Vishy’s square-cut of Holding, the swish of Brijesh Patel’s wand deep into the night – all through transistor magic – and no weak Windies team that – Holding, Roberts, Richards, Lloyd – all the ‘dadas’ – and we beat them in their own den – their own galli – Anshuman and Sunil and Mohinder and Gundappa – and then Brijesh and Madan – we did it – one of the great Test victories of all time.
May the Tests in the Windies surprise us all – may Gayle return, and may Sachin sit at home and regret and regret and regret.
Meanwhile, empty stands greet our team as the one-dayers are under way. What did we expect? Six stars missing from our team, and one big one from theirs – and timings adjusted for TV viewers in Bharat – IPL and TV marketing – what a deadly combination…
But a bonus – Parthiv Patel, a personal favourite, his childish face now lined and plump, back in the team – how the hands of the clock sweep across the fields of cricket and life.
And, finally, back to Alistair Cook – watch out – he has elegance, determination – is handsome in face and form – watch out. And Trott – Test written all over him – and yet he averages over 50 in one-dayers as well – watch out for him, too.
Two delicious Tests – two too few – but delicious, nevertheless. The arc of slips in sensual white, caressing deep green. The hush of thousands, and then – the muted gasp of those same thousands, as white and green combine to paint a portrait of perfection.
Time – the passages of time – the ease and effort of time – this is what Test matches are all about — this is what life is all about. Cook and Trott – watch out for them as Tests and time delight us.
And Laxman and Dravid – watch them, too – you will not see others like them again. And they will be in the West Indies.
Published Date: Jun 09, 2011 01:47 pm | Updated Date: Jun 10, 2011 02:59 pm