Interview of Cricket Fans – 67
Thank you for your participation in this interview, tell us your early memories of this sport.
My earliest memory related to cricket is getting out for a duck in a gully cricket match. I still don’t know if I had edged that ball to the keeper or not. I think I was bullied to let go of the bat.
On a serious note, I used to hate cricket earlier. My dad used to watch every game on TV and it always meddled with my cartoon time. But one day he brought cricket trump cards home. That was the ice-breaker. I was so awestruck by it, I started questioning him about cricket. Things like what is average, what is strike-rate etc which were mentioned on those cards. Dad caught up on it and he used to call me during his office time to ask the scores. Internet was a big luxury during those days.
Then one day, I decided to watch a game by myself. It was India v England, 4th Test in 2002. After 10-15 minutes, I decided I will follow the game keenly from now on. I also thought I need to have a favourite cricketer. Rahul Dravid was batting at that moment. I thought he looks kinda handsome so I picked him as my favourite cricketer. A few moments later, he completed his double hundred. The whole stadium clapped for him. Then when he was finally out for 217, he received a standing ovation from the Oval crowd alongside the English players. I was awestruck once again. Never thought one can get such adulation from their opponent. For the 8-year old me, it was a moment of heroism. It bounded me to cricket forever.
So you can say the combination of my dad, a pack of trump cards and Rahul Dravid turned me into a cricket fan, the memories I will always cherish to make me who I am today.
Have you been to a stadium to watch a match live? Tell us about your experience.
Yes. Many times in Feroz Shah Kotla and once in Chinnaswamy. My first game was in Kotla, 30th April, 2008 – DD v RCB. A month before the match, we had driven past Kotla under floodlights and it was so mesmerizing, I told my dad that I wanna watch a game there as my birthday gift. Of course, he couldn’t say no. I asked for this specific match to watch Rahul Dravid bat live. RCB lost and I don’t remember Dravid’s exact score but he struck Glenn McGrath for three boundaries in an over.
All the games I have seen in the stadium have been T20s. Except for one game – the fourth day of the Delhi Test between SA and India in 2015. SA scored 71 runs in as many overs during a blockathon. It was painful to watch but ticked a box from my checklist which was to experience a Test match from the stadium.
Share your memories of each ICC event India won in the past 13 years.
2007, T20 – I was just 13 and was hurt after the premature exit from the 50-over World Cup. Prior to the T20 World Cup, I had no hopes from India until they reached the semi. Then we reached the final as well, that too against Pakistan. That was when the emotions reached the summit. It was such a see-saw game, I don’t think I can handle being so emotional ever again. Once India finally won, I was shouting at the top of my lungs with my friend. We did not want to stop and continued shouting until the post-match presentation. I also felt bad for Pakistan. That game didn’t deserve any side to lose.
2011 World Cup- 4 years later, I had become quite mature I guess. India were always favourites and on the day of the final, I was quite sure India should win the trophy. Although, that hundred from Mahela Jayawardene is one of the best ODI hundreds I have seen. Once Sehwag and Sachin were out early, I thought the game was gone and I couldn’t believe the fact that India was bottling the final. However, Dhoni, Kohli and Gambhir took us over the line. A lot was going on the streets after that six from Dhoni but this time, there was no shouting. I was just smiling within myself.
CT 2013- Honestly, I didn’t think India had a chance in that tournament. But the pitches behaved more like those of Asia than England. The first few games clearly underlines India’s supremacy as a side. I still remember India played an unchanged side throughout the tournament. Although, I felt India had lost the final during that Bopara-Morgan partnership. But once they were out to Ishant Sharma in the third last over, the game was done and dusted.
Your favourite Indian cricketers (one current and one retired)?
Retired will always be Rahul Dravid. It is difficult to pick from the current lot. Virat Kohli will always be the undisputed king. But apart from him, I always enjoyed Ajinkya Rahane. Though, he has disappointed with an extended period of struggle. Currently, I will say Jasprit Bumrah. He is easily the best bowler across formats. Moreover, it is hard to see fast bowlers with the kind of mature and clear mind that he has.
I remember this instance from the 2019 IPL final. When Quinton de Kock fumbled the ball which resulted in byes at a crucial point in the game, Bumrah, the bowler, was seen consoling him. That, according to me, is a hallmark to his brilliance, both as a cricketer and as a human being.
What do you make of this year’s IPL?
I will call it the best season of IPL in a long, long time. The fact that the difference between the second and the last team on the table was only 4 points gives an apt idea of how closely contested this season was. Moreover, RR, the side which finished last was also in contention for the Playoffs till their last league game. Even the MVP came to the side with the wooden spoon. Just amazing.
The holes in every team were highlighted, including those of CSK as well. The pitches never really slowed down and ensured there is something for everyone. No team had the home-ground advantage. Overall, a season of competitive cricket and a lot of surprises. Not to forget, the number of uncapped players who made a mark in the season.
India tour of Australia 2020, excited?
Of course. Though I am not sure if I will be able to win my battles with my alarm clock early in the morning now. CPL and IPL have ruined my daily routine beyond repair.
When India won last time, they didn’t have Warner and Smith. This time, India won’t have Kohli in Tests. Plus, the number of rookies who will be taking part in white-ball cricket after doing well in IPL. There is a lot to watch on this tour. And India-Australia battles have always brought intriguing contests.
This series will result in the ICC Test Championship, your views on this concept?
I think World Test Championship is like demonetization. It was much needed but the execution has not been great. I don’t like the points system. They could have given more importance to overseas Test wins. Also, there should have been a two-tier system. Basically, there is a lot to be desired and the system will only improve from here on.
In any case, this was required to assign more significance to Test cricket. I wish it had been in place during my childhood. It’s tough to see a lot of my childhood superstars (Dravid, Lara, Sachin, Kallis, Ponting) never contesting for the Test championship.
India vs Pakistan, India vs Australia, India vs England, out of these three, which is the contest that you enjoy watching the most? And why? Also, mention your favourite match.
India-Pakistan games will take precedence because of emotions but over the years, the battle has lost significance with India turning out to be a much stronger side. India-Australia games always bring the most intriguing contests. But given the current dynamics of how teams are framed right now, I would love to see more of India-England contests as both teams have some of the top cricketers with a never-say-die attitude.
My fav India-Pakistan game will be the Karachi ODI in 2004. Chasing 350, Pakistan came in touching distance, losing by only 5 runs. Such games were rare back then. Favourite India-Australia game which I saw live would be the Adelaide Test in 2003 when Dravid and Laxman added 303 giving the Aussies a deja vu of the Eden Gardens Test in 2001, this time in Australia. Favourite India-England game is the Tied ODI in 2011 World Cup.
Your all-time XI of IPL 2020?
AB de Villiers (c/wk)
And your all-time XI (International)?
I will pick an all-time Test XI based on the cricketers I have seen play
Graeme Smith (c)
AB de Villiers
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
12th Man: Muttiah Muralitharan (who will replace Zaheer Khan in the XI depending upon the pitch)
Yes, I have taken the bold call of not picking Sachin Tendulkar. But it was a direct dual between him and Lara for the no. 4 slot and I have personally enjoyed watching Lara more because of his flair. Similarly, Dravid beats Ponting for number 3. I also feel gutted for not finding a spot for Jacques Kallis but if I have to pick an all-rounder at 6, Ben Stokes is more suited for that number.