I am the best cricket analyst around. No, I am not joking. I am. You may call me an arrogant narcissist but that will not change what I think. I am the best cricket analyst you will ever find.
Eleven years back a friend placed a bet on how many runs did Curtley Ambrose scored in an ODI against India in Perth in 1991-92. I not only told him how many did Ambrose score, I also told him how many balls he played, how many boundaries did he hit against which bowler, who was the highest scorer and who took how many wickets. Once I told a friend at what score did Ganguly got out in second innings of Eden 2001 and what India’s score was by the end of day three, he asked back if all day I do nothing but memorize cricket scores. Once in an interview, an interviewer tried to check my confidence about Tendulkar’s score in 1992 world cup match against New Zealand by saying, “He scored 88 and not 84”, I replied back saying “He scored 84 of 107 balls. Its cricket. I know what I know and I know what I don’t know”
The ego, as you can see, is quite high. I am never, I repeat, never wrong when I claim to be right.
I have failed only twice. Once it was when I answered about the date on which Yuvraj Singh hit six sixes in Durban – I answered 17th September whereas it was 19th September. Second time I failed when I put myself to Albert Einstein’s level of understanding test.
Einstein said - “If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.”
Oh boy. Explaining things to a six year old is tough. Very tough. During every day of any test match, when my six year old asks me, “Who won?” I have hard time explaining that a test match is supposed to last five days and you may or may not get a winner at the end of it. It is not easy to explain to him that in a test match, each team can get a chance to bat twice, one after the other although one team can bat twice successively. Things get tougher when it comes to explaining the rules. Leg before wickets means batsman putting his legs between bat & wickets to avoid getting out. But people have been given out when their shoulders kept the ball from hitting the stumps. If the ball is going to hit the stumps and you block it from outside the line of off stump, you shouldn’t be given out. But not when you are not offering a stroke. How to define if someone is offering a stroke or not is not well defined. But yes, if the ball has pitched outside leg stump, you can do all you want. Now try explaining it to a six year old.
It is tough explaining to him that although a test match lasts five days, days apart from five is a critical word here. Test matches are played during daytime. ODIs are played under the lights. And there is a limit on number of overs bowled in ODIs – you don’t start playing in the morning and play till mid-night. Play starts from afternoon in day night matches. And no, CSK doesn’t play in world cup.
Damn. I failed the Einstein test.
Okay. All those arrogant words in the first paragraph – I was joking. I am not as good as I have written. After all, I failed in the Einstein test.
But then, some failures make you notice something else. Failing to answer some questions make you happy that at least, questioner is inquisitive enough. You feel happy that a six year old is getting interested in the game you’ve always followed so passionately.
When wife asks “Oh ho. He has also started getting crazy about cricket. Does it run in your family or what”, you feel like answering with the biggest grin ever and thumping your chest like a gorilla, “Yes. This is third generation. I am happy.”
But then, all you do is put a mild smile on your face and shrug like Munaf Patel. After all, wives are wives. They aren’t to be messed with.
You feel happy that now cricket wouldn’t be limited to TV and internet and phones and facbook and the likes. Cricket will be played. Someone in the house will do it.
You play with him. In the gallery. In that tiny little space. Shoes kept a foot apart make the stumps. One tip one hand is out. Wall behind you becomes the boundary line. Window panes start fearing for their lives. That tiny little space becomes your MCG, your Lords, and your Eden. The Gayles, the Dhonis, the Mallingas, the Ashwins make frequent appearances in that tiny little space. But after every good shot, the six year old asks, “Don’t I play like Virat Kohli?” Virat is his favorite player. If you ask him what would he like to become when he grows up, “I will play cricket like Virat Kohli”
You are taken aback a bit. Or rather, you are taken back - back in time. Or both.
Few years ago, not so long ago, you had your own MCG, Lords and Edne. The Azhars, the Akrams, the Injemams made frequent appearances in that tiny little space. But after every good shot, you asked, “Don’t I play like Sachin Tendulkar?” Sachin was your favorite player. When you were asked what you would like to become when you grow up, “Sachin Tendulkar” was your answer. You just traverse back in time. But then, you are also taken aback at how time has just flew past by.
You keep throwing balls at the six year old and realize how simple this game is. Even a six year old can play all those famed shots - the drives, the flicks, the pulls.
This is all about how human body responds. The drives, the flicks, the pulls – they are all reactions against the action caused by the cricket ball. These are just names given to how your body moves in a particular situation. When a ball is pitched outside off, it is instinctive reaction to take one step towards the ball, extend your arms and hit it. Nothing special about it. Anyone would play it like this. Barring MSD. He would play the same shot with both feet in the air. But then, he is MSD.
When it’s his turn to bowl, you keep telling him to roll his arm over, “Roll your arm over, don’t bend the elbow”. He tries. Sometimes he succeeds. Mostly he fails.
He asks who he looks like when he is bowling. You respond, “Virat Kohli” – part truth, part fiction. But those six year old eyes just lit up, smile broadens and he bowls the next ball double quick and asks for confirmation, “This is how Virat Kohli bowls, right?”
See, Virat Kohli is back again. Like Tendulkar was. In batting. In bowling. Even in fielding, sometimes.
You somehow persuade him to let you go. The game ends. Not before he asks again, “When will I play exactly like Virat Kohli?”
You respond back trying to calm him down, “You are too young. You will play better than him when you grow up”
“How old I am”
“Not six. Six and a half” he retorts back with extra stress on “and a half”
You smile and come back home and tell him, “If you want to become like Virat, you must eat well”
He immediately demands for a glass of milk.
Ah, you realize it is repetition of past. This is exactly how Tendulkar made you do things which you often avoided to do. This is exactly how it used to happen.
It is just that names have changed. Curly haired teenaged named Tendulkar is a thing of past now. Tattooed Virat Kohli is fast becoming the craze. Like it must have happened few years back. When Gavaskar became thing of past and Tendulkar was the future. The baton was passed then. The baton is being passed now.
While your previous generation and you dreamt of becoming Sachin, you and your next generation would dream of six year old becoming Virat.
But they are all just means to carry something bigger – dreams.
Dreams of childhood. Dreams of parenthood.
Generations have changed. Years have gone by. Roles have reversed.
Dreams, they are still the same. The names just pass on the batons.