After sitting in the sidelines for quite some time and watching the drama unfold in the middle, I decided to make my debut. That too, months after opening my blog account. It is not that I had nothing to write before, but damn the laziness my profession as a software engineer inculcated me with! Ever since I started reading Aju’s blogs, I wanted to write some of my own. This debut of mine is a dedication to him, as well as a sport that we used to play together for some years in school. I never thought I would get off the mark with a post on cricket. Well, there might be a reason for it too. I spoke to that burly fellow recently, and that got me onto the track that led me back a number of years.
My first memories of cricket dates back to 1992 when the World Cup was in progress Down Under. For the cricketing freaks out in India, it was a time when they had to wake up very early to watch the matches that were telecast live on Doordarshan. That was when I got introduced to some of the best sportsmen of their times. Thanks to my Dad. He used to pull me up early in the morning to watch the matches on our BPL colour television. I think it was India against Australia that I remember watching. I can still vividly recall Ravi Shastri batting against the likes of Craig McDermott and Bruce Reid. My dad had lots of inputs for me as he had been following cricket for quite some time.
I should admit that fast bowlers were the ones who impressed me the most. And there are some of them who still remain my favourites. Curtly Ambrose is one such player whom I admired. Along with Courtney Walsh, he made one of the most feared fast bowling combinations in the world. Though many bowlers have evolved over the years, I still feel Ambrose and Walsh make one of the best pairs in the history of the game. Something that always captures my mind is their economy rate. Both of them had an economy rate of under 2.5 in Tests and under 3.5 in ODIs. That is amazing!
Another pair that is etched in memory is Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. The swing of Akram with the pace of Younis made them a deadly pair. Hats off to the greatest exponents of reverse swing! Something was always on the cards when these two were bowling. Akram had his moments with the willow also, which made him an all-rounder.
The South African duo of Allan Donald and Petrus Stephanus (“Fanie”) de Villiers have to get a mention here. Donald has the classiest fast bowling action I have ever seen. The elegance and grace in the run-up, the fluid nature of his jump and delivery is forever fresh in memory. ‘White Lightning’ is certainly apt for this man. De Villiers was not a class act, but he was effective in cramping the batsmen for room, and tying up the flow of runs from one end.
Though I have written about some of the most memorable performers of the game, I would take a piece of this write-up for an Indian fast bowler – Javagal Srinath. I think he is the best pace bowler India has fielded in its line-up so far. Predominantly an in-swing bowler, he was the spearhead of the Indian attack for a long time, toiling on the flat tracks of the sub-continent for most of his career. He was also an under-utilized and under-rated batsman, and the Indian lower order might have been better had he shown more application with his bat. The victory made possible by his bat in the company of Anil Kumble against Australia in the Titan Cup of 1996 is a moment I cherish.
It was once a dream for me, and I think it remains a dream still. To send down deliveries that whiz past the nose of the batsmen, some that fly past the blade as the batsman stands clueless, to wreck the stumps with a stunning delivery – well, fast bowlers, this is an ode to your breed!
As I wind up my first stint on the blogosphere, I realize that there is lots more about cricket that I would like to pen down, including the matches we played in school. That and lots more is on the cards. Stay tuned!
P.S -: Aju G John is a friend of mine. We studied together in school for twelve long years. This article of mine is dedicated to him. Follow the below links to his blogs