The world is in a bad state, owing to the Coronavirus. This pandemic has caused lot of human and economic turmoil. The uncertainty looming around this is the most worrying bit. And on a very personal note, having been used to watching some live Cricket action daily, this period has been pretty hard to digest on that front.
So rather than lament on something that’s not in my control, I decided to catch up with one of my closest buddies Sooraj, who is equally a cricket freak as I am even now. At times, our personal choices may differ, for eg MSD but the great thing is our love for the game and even our sensibilities and thoughts on the game are very similar.
And to add to this, he’s among the very few people in my life who has read lot of cricket books and through him my knowledge and respect for the game has enhanced further. I have got to explore the sport further by reading some timeless books that I somehow didn’t read until he recommended me to do so.
In his own words,” Hey guys! This is Sooraj. To say a bit about me, a cricket head who fell in love with the game when I was 7. Now a couple of decades down the line, I would say nothing much has changed. Watching a well fought session in test cricket gives me bigger high than having two pegs. Firmly believes sport is the healthiest addiction.”.
Since the lockdown has been extended across India and as he’s in Chennai, we decided to get candid and have a chat about Cricket, personal choices, preferences etc and I must say I felt like I was sitting with him and we were having our usual conversation!
Here’s hoping you all enjoy ‘Cricket Talk’ where me and Sooraj express our love for the game in a fun and candid Q&A:
Section 1: Going back in memory lane and romancing the beautiful game..
Q: Your first reaction when you possibly know there won’t be cricket played anytime soon? Has that reality sinked in as yet? For me I am still not able to digest the reality completely…
Well to be frank no. This is the first time that anyone has been deprived of cricket. But thanks to the uploaders on Youtube, I am luckily able to watch the highlights of many past matches.
Q: What were your earliest memories of the sport? Who inspired you and made you a true Cricket lover?
The earliest memory (if my memory serves me right) is the 1999 CWC. I was only about six then, and didn’t really understand the game, but had to sit through those as my grandad and uncles were pretty much interested.
Q: Thanks to you I could revisit Sir Viv Richards and admire his batsmanship. Any other cricketer who has such an influence on you? Probably any Indian player?
So kind of you to say that mate!
Maybe Sourav Ganguly. Don’t really know why I liked, probably because he was the captain and he had the most flamboyant and aggressive stroke play during those days.
Q: When was your first visit to a Cricket stadium? And can you describe that experience.
The very first match which I saw was the India vs Australia test in Chepauk, 2013. It was of course unforgettable. India won the match and almost all of them played a wonderful hand. To hear the whole stadium erupt “Sachiiiin…..Sachiiiin” is unforgettable.
Another incident was during the luncheon interval, when I went nearby the practise pitches. The younger bunch of Aussie cricketers were there, and one amongst them was Steve Smith. But little did I know that I was watching the future legend at an arm’s distance!
Q: You were among the very few Cricket purists I have met and it’s great that we can connect on that front! Can you elaborate a bit for those who may not know who is a true purist?
The feeling is mutual! Well, in my words, a purist is someone who has fortunately/unfortunately fell for the game before the guiles of T20 took over. Those who have grown up watching Test cricket will know that watching Rahul Dravid countering the seam movement in the morning session in Old Trafford is equally exhilarating if not more than Chris Gayle clobbering sixes out of the Chinnaswamy!
Q: The one series or player you will miss watching live in the coming months? You can keep it to 2-3 players at max (as I know the list can be long! )
I look forward to watching Virat, Pujara & Bumrah in Australia at the end of the year. Hoping that happens though.
Q: Cricket is life: As in every aspect of our lives is associated with memories of and from the sport. Why does cricket mean such to you like it does for me?
As I mentioned earlier, this quarantine period has been one of watching the old matches. I have been digging the highlights of the matches during the time I was a kid. That is literally equivalent to reminiscing my past. All the years of my childhood have been connected to the matches I saw then. So I guess that pretty much explains what this game means to me.
Cricket Shots- Answer these questions with the first thing that comes to your mind..
Q: Who is your favourite player and why?
A: Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards. He was more than a player. Cricket was more than a game for the West Indies. It was the time where coloured people struggled for civil rights. Cricket was an opportunity for making a statement. And boy! Did he do that!!
Q: Your first Cricket idol or inspiration was?
A: Not one cricketer, but I think the Australian team as a whole I would say. Pure dominance.
Q: Have you ever tried copying a batsman’s stance while growing up?
A: Haha. Jacques Kallis. I loved his upright stance. Looking back, I’ll forgive that kid who was stupid enough to try those stunts.
Q; Have you modelled your action on a famous player? I tried to copy ‘The Kings’ and failed miserably!
A: Well, I’d rather say that my friends didn’t quite let me bowl so much because of my unique bowling skills, haha.
Q: The most exhilarating moment you witnessed in a Cricket field was?
A: MSD’s six. (You know which).
Q: Do you think Sir Viv Richards could have achieved what Sachin has managed to do (100 International centuries)? Considering how much easier the game is tilted in the favour of batsman in the past few decades
A: If he played today? There wouldn’t be anything which would have stopped him, I guess. The greater number of ODIs being played plus the advent of cement roads for T20 pitches, bigger bats, smaller grounds would have helped.
Q: The flattest pitch you have seen in your life is?
Q: The most boring player you have ever watched? Either live or on TV.
A: SS Das (Former Indian Test match opener)
Section 3: Choices-Choose between the options given
Q: Kumar Sangakkara’s cover drives or Virat Kohli’s?
A: Kohli is class, but I’ll go with the elegance of Sangakkara.
Q: Sanjay Manjrekar or L Sivaramakrishnan- The most irritating commentator?
A: Sanju Manju any day.
Q: IPL without MS Dhoni is like ———————————————————-
A: Whiskey without ice. Drinkable, but will miss the cool factor.
Q: If you had to pick the best exponent of the yorker ever who would it be?
A: Lasith ‘Slinga’ Malinga, although Jasprit Bumrah inside a few years.
Q: One spinner whose ability has left you bemused?
A: Shane the King Warne.
Q: The most overhyped cricketer in your opinion is?
A: Many of the young Pakistan cricketers when they start off are hyped. Won’t even know where they end up after playing for a couple of years.
Q: The least appreciated or talked about cricketer is?
A: Rangana Herath.
And before we end this fun Q&A, few words to those people who actually don’t understand how it feels to be robbed of Cricket or Movies in these times. Well they are smaller things compared to the bigger picture, but what you want to share on this point?
I am reminded of John Keats who said “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
Even if it’s Tendulkar’s straight drive or De Niro’s dialogues, they’re just works of art. And sometimes, a few such things, keep increasing in their beauty, and each time you watch it, it still remains a joy!
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