Powerful hits and fiery bowling

I was once a great cricket enthusiast. My enthusiasm did not wane even when Pankaj Roy, the opener, was caught by wicket keeper Alexander on the first ball of Wesley Hall time and again, or when Bapu Nadkarni bowling 25 overs (out of which 23 were maidens) giving three runs and taking no wicket was a regular feature of the game. Most of the 5-day test matches ended in a draw. But the game was never boring.
There were local cheerleaders, loud ones at that. Though the match would start at ten we would assemble at the ground by eight in the morning with our lunch boxes filled with paratha/achar and plenty of drinking water in ‘matkas’ and ‘surahis’. Beer was still not the in-thing for students. Of course, the two most attractive things were the Rs 5 season ticket for students and six days official ‘off ‘ from school. Both impossible deals these days! We used to have our favourite cricketers. When they performed well we celebrated, but we did not burn their effigies when they failed.
Now we play instant cricket. There is no second innings, no second chance and the one who succumbs to pressure fails. There is always a next man waiting to grab the position. The pressure on the field is intense. Often the players are guided by passion. In the fiercely competitive world of cricket it is difficult to remain a gentleman. A cricketer is expected to hit the ball. But powerful hits and fiery bowling both demand precision and grace. In our show of assertion, how ‘ungentle’ can we become? Cricket is all about certain restraint and discipline. Cricket is a gentleman’s game.

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