“It’s when I’m thinking and writing cricket that I’m feeling the most sane and calm.” | ICF – 123
J – Thank you for your participation in this interview, tell us your early Cricket memories.
One of my earliest memories of cricket is related to the Lord’s 2002 Natwest final. Was only 5 years old but I remember my father saying, “itne runs 50-over ke game mein nahi chase hote”. So there was a sense of inevitability about it till deep into the chase we thought hang on, this could be done!! My father was the happiest proven wrong when Kaif and Zak ran across for a two on that overthrow.
J – How has this sport played a role in your life?
From childhood to today, through the ups and downs of life, cricket’s been a constant. It’s been my strongest companion. The current phase hasn’t been the easiest for me on an important front but I’ve realised it’s when I’m thinking and writing cricket that I’m feeling the most sane and calm.
J – Tell us your journey as a Cricket Writer.
My journey as a cricket writer started around 4-5 years back when I got convinced that this is what I really want to do. To start off, I wrote pieces for my friend’s blog and used to funnily share those links by tagging a lot of the prominent names over Twitter, which I was very new to at the time. So instead of tagging multiple names in one tweet, I would send multiple tweets with one name tagged per tweet. I hope no one goes about searching them now, coz it would be slightly embarrassing haha. But through one such tag, former India Test cricketer Deep Dasgupta reacted to a link and wrote that he agrees with my assessment. That was a huge moment for me and something I will never forget. Soon I opened a page called ‘SwitchHit’ over Facebook (through my old account which I deactivated and that removed the page with it). On that page, I wrote multiple pieces but one of those gave me my biggest breakthrough. The piece was about ‘all-rounders’. All this while I had been in contact with some people and seeking a cricket writing job somewhere. It didn’t arrive for some time. Then one day as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw that ‘Circle of Cricket’ has asked for CVs for a full-time writing gig. I didn’t just send my CV but also attached that write-up with it. I was later told that it is this write-up that got me their nod among other candidates. Life’s not been the same ever since.
J – What inspired you to be one?
No bigger inspiration to write than the cricket itself. If you love this sport, it loves you back. It’s not cruel at all. It’s the kindest, most beautiful game in the world.
J – What are changes do you see, so far, in the way Cricket is being played post-covid, compared to pre-covid?
When the pandemic started, there was a lot of talk around the ‘saliva ban’. It was genuinely felt that if bowlers can’t maintain shine through the traditional method, there’ll be high-scoring games. This was pertinent to Test cricket where the red-ball swings and seams, unlike the limited-overs game where the white Kookaburra doesn’t. But as it has turned out, via surfaces and overall conditions in which the matches are being played, bowlers have retained the upper hand – which has been the main feature of this era of Test cricket.
The other aspects of cricket during the pandemic have been the pre-series quarantine periods and ‘bio-secure bubble’ with which they’ve safeguarded fixtures. And while there are multiple challenges of enduring life within one such bubble, it has meant teams arriving quite earlier than the norm for their away tours; getting more time to get accustomed to the conditions, especially when allowed to train during that quarantine period. We’ve seen quite a few stand-out results from visiting teams in this phase, the most heartwarming being India’s remarkable win Down Under.
J – There seems to be a lot of talk on the pitch especially during the on-going England tour of India, what are your thoughts?
Home teams prepare tracks depending on their short to long term aims. It’s all tactical. Much of the talk in the last few days, however, have taken this issue on the ethical front. It’s as if preparing a turning pitch is somewhere ethically wrong to gain the home advantage. How is it any different to England preparing a green top for India when we travel there? It’s just another cricket pitch.
J – Do you have any unpopular opinion on this sport?
I have a lot of ‘unpopular’ opinions on the game but a recent one that I’ve developed is that there should no ‘free hits’ given in ODIs & T20Is. It’s unfair on the bowler. No-balls are rare, and most no-balls are marginal. A no-ball is a result of a particular ball where a bowler hasn’t executed his action properly. That’s all there is to it. Contrary to what we are vulnerable to believing, no single no-ball can decide the result of a cricket match. And so bowlers don’t deserve to be penalised two balls in a row for one rare, basic mistake.
J – What is your all-time XI?
We’ve been following each other over Twitter for a while, Jay. You would know I don’t believe in the concept of such fictional XIs. Each player is a product of his time and should be looked at keeping that context in mind. And so, I believe there can’t be an ‘all-time XI’. They are all different players with their unique cases which I think shall be explored separately.
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