Indian Cricket – Then v. Now

Indian Cricket: Then v. Now Cover

I have always wanted to make guest posting available on my website. Finally, I have managed to do so, all thanks to a certain fellow Kolkata lad named Chandrayan Gupta. He was gracious enough to be my first guest blogger. Incidentally, he was also my first ‘B-Connect‘ guest on my ‘B-Connect series‘!

Anyway, back to guest posting. Here’s what Chandrayan has written. Have a read, and do not forget to share your feedback. Thank you! (:

When I was younger, cricket used to be my life. We had a tiny Sharp television set in our house, and I used to eagerly sit in front of it all day, devouring every delivery of five-day test matches. I used to play cricket, too, every chance I got. I remember that as soon as the clock struck four, I quietly undid the front door’s latch and snuck downstairs to play with my
neighbor. My parents were protective, you see, and did not allow me to leave before five. In hindsight, it seems ridiculous that they did not realize that I always smuggled myself out of the house an entire hour early; they probably knew, and allowed it indirectly, under the guise of ignorance. When I got admitted to a local cricket training school, the first thing that the
coach told me was that I should lessen my pace to gain greater control over the line and length of my deliveries. I paid no heed to it, of course – I bowl quick, deal with it.

Anyway, I digress. My passion for the game was unmatched by anything else in my life. When India won the World Cup in 2011, I went into an overjoyed frenzy, as if it were I who had achieved the feat. And then… I stopped watching cricket. I cannot remember what exactly transpired that made me part with my favorite game in the world – perhaps when I hit
teenage, my interests changed. Whatever the reason, I lost touch with cricket.

Cut to six months ago. My father was watching a T20 game between India and another team, I cannot quite remember which one it was – perhaps Sri Lanka – and I impulsively put aside my plans and joined him. Over the next few months, I watched a few more games, but did not feel that ineffable spark that always possessed me as a child. I have been thinking about why
that is, and I believe I now know the answer – I do not recognize the team anymore. The players seem interchangeable.

When I watched cricket, every man on that team had a distinct personality, a distinct charm, something to expect and look forward to. Rahul Dravid was The Wall, a patient, classy, reliable act. Virender Sehwag was fiery and explosive – whenever he was on the crease, I prepared myself to watch balls disappear to the boundary line. Sachin Tendulkar was the undisputed master of the game, a man with an unbeatable technique, skill, and the worst luck ever – always getting out at 99. Ishant Sharma was the tall man whose fast bowling toppled over wickets. Zaheer Khan belonged to the same category. I remember the two brothers – Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan – the former an unbelievable swinger of the ball, the latter an
explosive batsman.

I remember Yuvraj Singh, Sourav Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Mohammad Kaif, Harbhajan Singh. And of course, my personal favorite player of all time – Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He was my hero. Always cool, calm, and collected. A seemingly docile player who could smash balls outside the park whenever the run rate got a little too demanding. A man whose imperviousness to pressure allowed him to finish and win matches that were objectively unwinnable. Even now, when I want to watch some cricket, my YouTube searches invariably end up being – “MS Dhoni batting”, or “MS Dhoni finishing”. Something like that.

The other thing I enjoyed were the partnerships. My favorite ones were Ganguly-Tendulkar, Sehwag-Tendulkar, Gambhir-Tendulkar, Gambhir-Sehwag, Raina-Dhoni, and my personal favorite, Yuvraj-Dhoni. Whenever India lost a lot of wickets, and Dhoni and Yuvraj came up to the crease, I rested assured that all was not lost. But the best thing about the cricket team back then was that each player had something different to offer. I never wanted Gambhir or Tendulkar or Sehwag or Dravid to “get out of the way” so that I could watch Dhoni bat. I loved each and every player on that team.

Now, though, I find that I do not recognize this team. There are no role models, no larger-than-life personalities to relate and look forward to, except perhaps Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah. That man has as unique a style of bowling as a fun-to-pronounce name. Other than these four, I find no compelling players, no one with
anything differentiating about them. Actually, add Dhawan to that list. I like him too.

The crux of the matter is that now, even cricket seems corporate, something with slick visuals and slicker graphics. It has no personality left, none of the old-school charm. It is still loads of fun, mind you, but apart from the five men I mentioned, I find no one worth rooting for.

Or maybe I am simply living in the past. What do you think?

Thank you so much Chandrayan for writing this beautiful blog post. If anyone wants to guest post on my website, you are free to do so. Just email me at ronaldsampson76@gmail.com and I will get in touch with you.

Stay safe, and take care y’all!

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