Of The Loud Edges And Extinct Peaches

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Of The Loud Edges And Extinct Peaches

With the changing of seasons and passing of years, experts and legends have said that the game (read gentleman’s sport) of Cricket has revolutionised in itself and only witnessed and experienced changes in positive vibes, aka development. Starting as a 5-day format in the land of royals and colonial colonies, the game initially had few, but worthy takers. The true legends of the game have all been great test cricketers. Even the ones in the modern era are known for their ‘test’-ing abilities.

Then came evolution-I with the advent of One Day Internationals, and it was there to stay. The ODI format totally revolutionised world cricket arousing interest in the sport in many a country world-wide, especially in the sub-continent. And it is the sub-continent, which has now become synonymous with Cricket. This shorter version of the game changed the way batsmen dealt with the swing of the red devil, its spin from the 22 yard rough terrain. Scoreboards ticked along faster as scorers had to maintain well-oiled hands. The crowd at the stands got more opportunities of fielding practice as the ball often sailed over the boundary ropes (nowadays bearing advertisements). This form of action packed sport was accompanied by loud music in the stands, the blowing of trumpets and the phuss-phuss of Bhopoos. If Cricket was thought to be a thorough gentleman’s game, ODIs made the head-scratchers think twice. It started to involve fiery on-field rivalry, at times, leading to heated discussions. Batsmen slogging the fast bowlers straight over their heads resulted in them facing some chin music thereafter. But nothing bogged down the spirit of sportsmanship. The records, both international and domestic, in this format are composed of huge variety. From the fastest hundred to maximum number of balls taken to get off the mark, almost each has been unique and appealing in its own way. ODIs have witnessed changes, few in rules and a few in terms of use of technology, constantly from time to time (read Tendulkar’s career span)…….the greatest cricketer of the modern era with no fool to doubt it.

But all this bakwaas can go on at some old-age cricketing club. The times have changed; cricket is no more for the faint-hearted. We now live in the fast paced lanes of 20-20 action packed drama which no reality TV script can ever match in their wildest of dreams. The T20 for every common man is the ultimate epitome of entertainment. Every match comes with bundled packages of high levels of tension and nail biting pressure. Surprisingly, after a hard day at work, this is what every cricket lover asks for at the end of the day, every one just asks for this never ending euphoric tension to relieve them of their stress. But no, T20 is not a vitamin capsule. If to be described metaphorically, it is a 3-hour roller coaster ride and one hell of a ride. Just the thrill and sensation of the game will urge you to say “do hell with technique and grammar, I don’t care”.

Here, batsmen turn butchers as bowlers step in the shoes of scape-goats. No length of distance of the boundary ropes seem to be long enough to hold the white slightly deformed (from the fierce hitting) spherical demon from sailing over it. Every spot on those cricketing bats turn sweet during the batsman’s short stay on the wicket. Unfortunately, it’s not so with the 22 yards and for the bowlers running in and putting their heart out every time on those ‘belter of a wicket’. Some may call it injustice to the bowlers while some may call it a batsman’s game (which I believe, it is), either way round, at the end of the day, you’re in or you’re OUT, clean bowled. That tells me, the scene of the castling of the stumps by a fast bowler breaking away through the defence of a batsman has become an endangered and almost extinct art. Every time I am sitting in front of the television watching one of the daily doses of IPL, my ears long to hear the words such as “a peach of a delivery” to sprout out of the commentators’ ever-ecstatic voice. Everyone loves to see huge mammoth size totals being put up on the scorecards, but hey, please spare a thought for the bowler,who at the end of the day, has to take up the blame even if a good length ball goes crashing into the hoardings. In this age of 20 over cricket, heaps and heaps of praises are showered upon many technically-flawed batsmen who seem to know nothing beyond a full-fledged slog of the bat. Well, how many of those experts of the game behind the microphones religiously discuss the bowler’s pain. Not that it’s an obligation, but surely a necessity. In the advent of IPL and almost multiple T20 world cups in a calendar year, I really miss the unmatched excitement of low-total close finishes which have become a rarity.

Now, let’s see, how many of us remember the epic semi-final clash between Australia and South Africa during the 1999 ICC Cricket World Cup. The match that ended as a tied encounter (despite Lance Klusener’s stupendous heroics) and ultimately Australia progressed to the finals on the net run rate system and going on to win the championships. And how many of us remember the highest successful run chase in ODIs by the South Africans against the same opponents in 2006 in Jo’burg. I am sure to find more votes in favour of the second instance. The latter match was, indeed a thriller of a match with over 800 runs being scored in a one day match for the first time ever, but, if that was a thriller, the former was nerve cracking extravaganza for any true cricket lover.

In these times of 3 hours of masala cricket when the wild swing of the wooden log in the hands of the “no better than clubbers” batsmen earn them valuable runs in the most peculiar of ways even oblivious of their personal conception (leave out all the rest), once in a blue moon, you can see the back of the wild swinger, all thanks to the perfect swinging delivery and then you say, rather whisper to the you within you, “Wooowww”.

You feel it now, that’s what I am talking about. It is this version of cricket as a game that many of us miss in today’s date. If wishes came true, I shall have it back.

Of The Loud Edges And Extinct Peaches

india vs england
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