Powerful hits and fiery bowling

I was once a cricket enthusiast. I am talking about a time that was long long ago.My enthusiasm did not wane even when Pankaj Roy, the opener, was caught by wicket keeper Alexander on the first ball of Wesley Hall, or when Bapu Nadkarni bowled 25 overs (out of which 23 were maidens) giving three runs and took no wicket. This was the 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 aloo paratha/achar and plenty of drinking water in 'matkas' and 'surahis'. Beer was 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 a days we play instant cricket. There is no second innings, no second chance, and the one who succumbs to pressure fails permanently. 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. They say, in the fiercely competitive world of cricket, it is difficult to remain a gentleman.

A cricketer is expected to hit the ball. Powerful hits and fiery bowling, of course, demand precision and grace. Cricket is all about certain restraint and certain discipline. In our show of assertion how 'ungentle' can we become is the question?