Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Heroes

Quite a few things change as you make the transition from the comfy existence of a home to the tougher grind of a hostel life. One of the major changes is your relation with the idiot box. While at home, the television is forever at your beck and call. In a hostel, its always a compromise where everyone has to go along with the majority's opinion. So things like 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' and 'Laughter Challenge' always get a precedence over a cricket match. This has basically killed my appetite for the game played between the polished willow and the red cherry. But whenever i get the opportunity, i try and catch up with the game that once used to be my passion. Cricket also means Hero worship. The moment you develop an infatuation for the game, you also develop an infatuation for the gamers. This post dwells upon the kind of cricketing hero worship that i have indulged in
Hero worship is something that i indulged in the moment i started to understand the nuances of the game. My first childhood hero was - who else but Kapil Dev. I wonder if there would be anyone from my generation who hasnt idolised Kapil Dev at one point or the other in his life. All i began with was this little piece of info that Kapil Dev was India's best quickie who also wielded the willow ala Dhoni does today. I grew up on tales of how a young lad from a small town in Haryana had become the biggest sporting sensation ever to have hogged the limelights. My mom, very mommy-like, used this phenomenol success story time and again to drive home the importance of milk in any person's success - the kind of story which can have great impact on the impressionable minds of young children. Stories about how Kapil could drink 5 litres a milk everyday had us siblings more mesmerised than his actual cricketing exploits.But a mom will always be a mom. She was also quick enough to point out that sports was one area where the number of success stories were far outnumbered by those which could somehow never make the cut.
Padhoge likhoge banoge nawaab
Kheloge Koodoge banoge kharaab
.

Regardless of that, kapil continued to 'haunt' my imaginations like no one had done before. So much so that i had a secret plan up my sleeve - study during the day to keep my parents satisfied and work upon my batting when the whole world slept. Yeah, i didn't fancy myself as a 'bowler Dev' but more as a 'batter Dev'. But very soon i knew that shadow batting wont take me anywhere.
So to overcome the disappointment, i went for a hero-change. Replacement came in the form of the indomitable Sir Vivian Richards. Arguably the most destructive batsman to have ever wielded the willow with elan. Though he was nearing retirement, he showed no signs of mellowing down. He was as menacing as he used to be though the effect was not quite the same (so said the old timers). I remember buying old issues of sportstar from the raddiwala at exorbitant prices, even if it carried a single article about King Richards. And i drank in all that like a heady wine. But then the inevitable happened. Sir Viv called it a day. I was heart broken and for the first time in my conscious memory, was left 'idol-less'. Days passed and i became more and more desperate for an idol.
W.V. Raman ( now dontcha ask raman who? ) came in as the compromise choice. This incident took place sometimes in 1995-96. My joy knew no bounds when i realised that he was travelling in the same train as me (ofcourse in the 1st AC) for a ranji match at Jamshedpur. As soon as he alighted from the train, my younger sister and I rushed towards him. He was accompanied by the now infamous Maninder Singh, once-also-clicked Ajay Sharma and Atul Wassan who is now the host of some of the most boring cricket shows on DD National. Yawn! I got his autograph on the back of my tshirt while Mani obliged my sister. That was the last i heard of W V Raman. I briefly experimented with the likes of Ian Healy,Bevan, Azhar, Dominic Cork, gentle giant Walsh,even Aaquib Javed and few others who do not merit a mention. But all these experiments were ephemeral. Because by that time Brian Lara and Wasim Akram had become the big names that were going to rule international cricket for years to come. I agree that i discovered Wasim Bhai a tad late. He had already won the hearts of cricket lovers around the world with his bowling which clearly reflected a hunger for wickets. The kind of killer instinct that gets the adrenaline pumping. His trademark lethal toe crunchers which were almost unplayable. I can still vividly remember a grimacing Kiran More; almost on the verge of tears due to the sheer physical pain; dragging himself back to the pavilion when he was trapped in front of the wicket. And the celebrations thereafter were what folklores are made of :) FYI,More's toe took almost three days to heal thereafter.
But my search for the elusive idol finally ended with one man everybody loves to call Brian Charles Lara. The man the machine. The run scoring machine. One man who singlehandedly saved the Windies from plummeting to the abysmal depths that it ideally should have once the Ambrose-Walsh-Richardson era ended. For a team that had suddenly been bereft of all big names, Lara led from the front. A terminator to the core, who always let his bat do the talking. And the real test of character came down under in the face of possibly the best bowling attack ever in the cricketing history. An attack that boasted names like Warne ( i also flirted with him briefly), McGrath ( how i hate his consistency, Gillespie(why did he perform the vanishing act?), Lee (man!! he sure knows how to celebrate) etc etc. And he dominated them all. So much so that Mcgrath rates him as the toughest batter he has ever bowled to. Now that he has officially called it quits, Brian Lara would still continue to be my idol - FOREVER!!
Amongst the current crop, its a neck to neck between Freddy Flintoff and Huss Hussey. But i guess it would be Hussey in the end because i dont see England breaking the Australian jinx in the near future. And i sincerely hope they dont.


10 comments:

JITIN said...

well its really nice to see a post on cricket, thats bcoz after our WC thumping, i had lost all possible contact with the game! so much so that i didn't have a clue who Mr.Ford was, when he was hogging the limelight recently!!!
so this reminded me of cricket & my heroes too. Most of your heroes do overlap with mine too like kapil paaji, richards, akram, Lara etc. But i can't beleive that your heroes list was devoid of all time greats like "Bradman, Sachin & Sobers". Because this 'terrific trio' would top my list of HEROES anytime :-)

Yashika Totlani said...

Insight n info... you deliver both. Very very systematic post and made for a 'professional' read.

Hey arent you the same guy who constantly talks down indian cricketers and curses them to a future full of defeats?? Ironical then that your first cricketing idol was an indian... kapil da. And man, are you prejudiced against sachin! He didnt even get as much as a brief mention!

Anyway, as jitin has already pointed out, most of your idols have haunted the imaginations of millions other cricket fans too. Perfect timings with the post--- sufficient time has passed since the world cup debacle when everyone was suddenly running away from cricket... and right in time when ford, emburey n whatmore are hogging the headlines again and cricket is back in the news. Basically, not too harsh for the senses.

P.S. NOT senti at all, plain reflective :P
P.P.S. People-in-the-hostel, if you are reading this, take a clue and leave the poor guy n his game alone!!

arunabh said...

@jitin
i dint mind the WC debacle because india has never been my favourite. NEVER! And i cannot be branded a traitor for that bcos sports transcends all boundaries ;)
I was talking about the heroes whom i have actually watched live- so quite obviously bradman and sobers miss the bus :P As for sachin i have this theory- if you are a diehard Lara fan, you can never admire sachin. The same should hold for sachin fans also. And i really mean - DIEHARD !

@yashika
thanks :) I wanted to have someone calling the post 'systematic':D
Yeah actually, even i was wondering about that. But then i guess i was too young then to realise that he belonged to such a pathetic team :P
For the sachin angle, just check out my reply to jitin's comment. Honestly, have never admired sachin. Now does that amount to treason?
And well the great indian cricketing drama continues to roll and the script getting 'masaaledaar'. The new coach is believe-it-or-not Chandu Borde =)) =))

Anonymous said...

traitor , traitor, traitor,traitor !!
How can you be such a mean-machine arunabh? No Sachin, no Dravid, no Kumble, and no Dhoni ? Man there is somthing seriosuly seriously wrong here.
But my all time favourite would be Warney :)
Fabulously well written.Jhakaas angrezi :D
Do you actually play cricket sweetie pie? :P

~ruchika

Anonymous said...

hey buddy ....great work ....actually myself amit ..working in editorial board of a newspaper...actually we require a article as u have written....if you are interested then plz give me ur cell no.....you will be paid for the article

arunabh said...

yeah thats perfectly fine with me. But where do i mail you my number?

Anonymous said...

hi... amit here ...u just post ur number in ur blog na ....actually i can't post my id in public

prachi said...

i dun follow cricket too much but simply loved da way u wrote - as someonez rightly pointed it out... kinda 'profezzional' . infactz higly profezzional :)

keep blogging and keep delighting :)

arunabh said...

@ruchika
The answer to your query can be found in my previous counters to the comments (jitin's and yahsika's)
Warney-ofcourse is the ultimate in spin bowling. Why even i flirted with him briefly.
Yeah i did play a lil bit of cricket here and there but mostly is has been shadow batting :(

@amit
i also dont post my cell number in public :)

@prachi
aye aye mam ! thankyou thankyou thankyou :)

Dee Spake Trash Anyway... said...

a very informative and yet sufficiently personal and engaging account... u know in the middle there it started to take me back to the days when i had the leisure to wtch an entire match... that whole feeling of settling in to watch india play... and then some nail biting finishes!! thank u for that, i thot i had become immune to it all after all the hype, teh endorsements and of course all the betting... cheers to ur heroes!!