Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The lost world of white lilies

Column: Fan Fatigue///Author: Murali Gopy/// Publication: CleanBowled

A requiem to the lazy game Test cricket once was.

It was akin to star gazing, except that the passivity it demanded was a little less romantic.
It lumbered on like a third world sedan. It came to halt like a royal wedding procession. And when it fought with the rain, its worst enemy, it sulked like a steam locomotive stranded “brake-jammed” at some remote Indian wilderness. They called it Test Cricket and relished it, teaspoon by teaspoon.

Creative brains in the gallery had enough time to prepare an elaborate score sheet for the benefit of the long-sighted senior citizen seated next. Wannabe commentators had ample time to discuss the technicality of the cover drive that was executed six overs ago, for a modest three runs. Nerds would bring in their homework or attend to pending office files.

The nouveau-riche ladies, rouged beyond horizontal limits, would clap at the obvious and gift a mischievous glance at the sleepy national TV man perched on a makeshift platform to their right. Underpaid and tired, he wouldn’t take the cue.

The peasant patriarch on the open galleries would bring his grand nephews, a dozen of them, and let the lads handle the boredom while he dozes in the sweet shadow of a past romance.

The well-off lyricist would position himself at the VIP launch near the commentators’ box. He would take off his imported Ray Ban, narrow his eye lids, and exclaim to his bored biologist friend that the ground looked like a green gazelle with white dots on its mane. The biologist would smirk at the ignorant artist but wouldn’t care to correct him regarding the aptness of this wild simile. You win an argument and you lose a friend. You lose a friend and you lose a free lunch, a free lift and a free weekend at the movies.

The existentialist poised at the first class gallery would sigh at this “stupid game”, the futility of which is outdone only by the futility of life itself.

In the middle of the ground would dwell two men in white, tilling the ground with their humble willows, pinning down full toss after full toss in an attempt to stay alive till the end of the world. Bowlers would throw the cherry as if they were giving alms to the poor. The wicket keeper would gather it like some irresponsible trustee treasurer and hand it over, disdainfully, to the ever-crouching man in the first slip.

The ostracized man at Long-On would raise his hand to the head of his ex-tribe—there would be no response.

The ball is now with the Mid-On guy, who would spit at it with certain sadness, wash it and rub it of its sins and give it back to the bowler, who would again run in.
The reincarnation of the delivery.
The cycle of Cricket Karma.

Once in a while would come a scream, a flutter and the agony of the battered stump. It is time for the unfortunate to depart. The Black and White creature on the other end of the “Gazelle’s eye” would raise his fingers to the skies reminding all the “white lilies” of the impermanence of existence. “God is watching your technical imperfections”.

The TV camman, the cranky diabetic that he is, would rush back from his on-time lunch only to find that he had inadvertently tilted the Jurassic equipment towards the most beautiful face in the VIP enclosure. He would blame it on auto suggestion, munch his bread and get back to work. A memo would be issued to him, a month later.

And then, night falls. The ground would erupt into a celebration. Beetles and grasshoppers would emerge from out of darkness and dance to the non-stop drone of the ever-elusive cricket. They search for it but would never find it. “Where is the cricket?” they would ask. The same question asked by the creatures of the day.

The night party would run into the dawn, and the beautiful people would retire to their underworld wishing each other sweet dreams of a happy tomorrow. Of a promised morning of the Twenty 20.

Then, once again, the Men in White would emerge from the green room. It would be Day 2 for them.

We miss you Geoff Boycotts, Chetan Chauhans, Muddassar Nazars, John Wrights, Allan Borders and Siddharth Wettimunys. We miss the Seventies. We miss the Eighties.

Bliss was in that dawn to be in the galleries...
To be a cricketer was very heaven…