That Was Not Cricket!
Although my success as a sportsman in my school and college, was not exactly phenomenal, I had a fair measure of success in one game, that was cricket. Of course in those days the macho types played football and hockey, cricket was considered more of an elitist game, as it was in other parts of the country.
I wormed my way into the school team, and in all matches was asked to open the innings, something which I always felt was not so much of a compliment, but a victim as a sacrificial goat. However I took the plunge into facing the cherry from the word go. As I entered college and played matches in Shillong's picturesque Polo Grounds, I realized that I could not face 'fast' bowling. There was a particular bowler whose bunny I was, being repeatedly bowled by his swinging deliveries. In fact things happened to come to such a pass, that on the eve of a match, if I heard that he would be in the opposing team, I backed out by feigning illness! I regret today that he is a banker, because I always felt that he could have contributed substanially to India's weak department of pace bowling!
The other inveterate weakness that I had was fielding. As the ball approached me, my heart would beat with trepidation, so much so that it either went through the legs, or I would fumble with the ball clumsily. The real test appeared when the ball would slow down, before reaching the boundary and I had to throw it to the wicket keeper. It barely reached him, and I was happier to see it cross the boundary!
I spent sleepless nights to solve a problem, which with time became almost insoluble. Having watched the Indian spinner Dilip Doshi who was not exactly known for his fielding prowess, in a match in Guwahati, I decided to take his recourse by bowling and in the process sending the ball to the wicket keeper. But that unlike Doshi's throw would more often than not be awry, with an irate wicket keeper running after the ball. Throw, not bowl he declared.
A solution had to be evolved. I racked my brains. Got it! I said. I could feign injury or cramps during crucial moments and sit in the pavillion, cooling my heels for some time at least. I tried this out for a couple of times, and this worked. Stomach ache, injury were some of the stock excuses.
I look back upon my cricketing days with nostalgia, but still wonder that, with all this dissembling how I was considered to be a 'good opening batsman' !
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Ananya S Guha
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