Monday, June 8, 2009

Growing up with the Game and the 1992 World Cup

Back in 1992, when i was in class 5 - cricket was still considered a menace for kids. but worse, the school authorities didnt allow to play cricket in school. I mean not allowing cricket to kids who used to get up at 4 in the mornings to watch New Zealand beat Australia in the opening match of 1992 World Cup. Infact, let it be any damn match – since the World Cup was being played in Australia, setting the alarm for 4 in morning was a norm. To top it all - there were the new colourful uniforms, the wonderful white ball, those lazy flamingoes on the Australian grounds and the lush green outfields. My parents discouraged me from getting up at four in the morning. But when you are a kid, nothing comes between you and your interests.

Imagine a father's plight who had to get up at 4 to wake his kid to watch Zimbabwe play Pakistan and then a couple of hours later wake up again to start for the day that included traveling in those sweaty local trains from one corner of the city to the other extreme.

Back to the school - Radios were not allowed in the premises. And most of my classmates would just get up, get ready and come to school by 8 am without knowing what match or what score it is. And by the time they reached home, the match was over and Star Sports was showing a random Rugby match. As a result not many of them could follow the World Cup matches. So, when someone in the morning in our class would want to know the score, they would turn to me and all of my fathers and my efforts to get up at 4 would come to help –

Classmate: “South-Africa Vs. West-Indies ka kya hua?”

Me: “Meryck Pringle took 4/19. All four batsmen including the great Ritchie Richardson, Brian Lara were caught in slips.

Aah, the joy of it! Heads would turn. Faces that looked at me asking for more info on the match.

I know 1992 world cup like no one else does. I can bet. From Jadeja’s historic catch of Allan Border to the flying Johnty Rhodes to run out Inzamam. From Mark Greatbatch’s power stroke play to Ian Botham’s famous gesture.

Javed Miadad scored 40 of 110 balls against India at SCG. John Traicos of Zimbabwe was 44, the oldest cricketer to play for any country then. Ravi Shashtri was the slowest batsmen that we saw then. (25 off 75 balls). Facts, figures, trivia, scores, statistics – all were a part of a great brainwave – called Star Sports – yes the television had come home.

The one memory or that one match of 1992 World Cup that i can never forget is Sanjay Manjrekar scoring that brisk 47 off 42 deliveries against Australia. His knock took India till the doors of victory untill a cool Steve Waugh, a clueless Tom Moody and the substitute wicket keeper David Boon snatched it away on that last ball.

Last ball, 4 runs required and Javagal Srinath is on the crease. As usual, when Tom moody bowled, he took a wild swing. The ball went high, high and was almost on the edge of boundary when a running Steve "red-handkerchief" Waugh appeared - but hey !! he dropped the catch ( Gibbs, you can laugh on him. - even he did this at some point of time)

But hey, we need 4 runs - Indian batsmen or should i say bowlers were running hard. I remember Bill Lawry, the commentator shouting to Javagal Srinath and Raju - RUN, RUN, RUN. My uncle and my father who were watching the match, almost shouted when David Boon took off those bails, leaving India high and dry. I was more tensed than them, but on seeing their reactions and their utter disappointment - I felt we should have won that day. I thought, if only Ravi Shastri, the slowest batsmen in the world could have not wasted 75 balls to score his 25.

These days, when every match ends on a last ball I can hardly remember scores, players and events. It doesnt feel special to witness or be a part of the hysteria. I cant recollect the last entire match that I saw. Gone are the days when i took that scolding from my parents to get up for a random cricket match. But I still love the game.

Its been 3 years now, since i took the Bat in my hand. But legend has it that on the grounds of Agricultural Campus, Anand, there was a left-handed batsmen who almost reached to his century - the first ever to happen on that ground. But alas, short by three runs - 97* not out!

Much like that India-Australia match. But as wise men say there are somethings that are better left unconquered.

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