Published in The Cricket Monthly, February 2015 issue
Dear Cricket Monthly,
Ticketbastard is what we called them. Vermin renowned for pilfering meaty percentages of the price of tickets they sold as “convenience charges”. But their thieving ways were a hazy afterthought as I sprinted up a bustling thoroughfare in downtown Toronto one morning in 1996 to get tickets to the first Sahara Friendship Cup. I had always stuck to a principled stand that Indo-Pakistani “friendship” beamed in from neutral venues was an abomination (possibly it was to do with the trauma inflicted by Javed Miandad in 1986) – principles you couldn’t sniff a trace of as I arrived breathless at the deserted ticket outlet. Convenience charge be damned, I could have kissed the Ticketbastard lady when she handed over a sheaf of tickets for the upcoming five matches. I stood in a daze staring at them. Could she ever comprehend what it meant?
Published in Cricinfo, February 12, 2014
The call always arrived after dinner. Located in the living room, the telephone offered little privacy. Pesky and nosy busybodies (siblings and parents) were always hovering and any spilling of the beans now that half the school day had been kissed goodbye would create mayhem. Poker face and minimalist was the way to go.
The voice never wasted time on pleasantries; straight to the point:
“Did you go?”
“Two flicks. One cover drive. A leg glance. Two back-foot cuts behind point. Later than God. Where were you rotting away?”
“Had a chemistry lab report to finish, dude. That son-of-Hitler professor would have killed me if I didn’t.”
“Sure. Rot in hell, will you?”
Published on ESPN-Cricinfo, March 7, 2012
That would be around the time the opposition shook themselves out of their discombobulated stupor and contemplated the reality of their situation. Or the hopelessness. You blazed up to and past that number nonchalantly oh so often. You were never one for the numbers, were you?
Sixty today. In the theatre of life. Sixty candles to blow out. Hope you remember to lose the gum you’ve been chewing before you do. The gum that accompanied the swagger. The swagger that spooked out teams; that prefaced the gaze you trained on the bowler at the top of his run-up. Looking into his eyes as you patted down random spots on the pitch, having just taken guard. Sending chills down the spines of all who were watching. Starting with that day in Bangalore.
Original draft of article published on ESPN-Cricinfo, November 27, 2011
He himself must resolve them as well as he knows,
Or else take them with him wherever he goes.
– J. A
The sun shone weakly. It was April and the milieu was cold and bleak in Tilbury. Dark smoke billowing out of her funnels, the Orontes drew away in sombre deliberation and sailed out towards the grey waters of the Atlantic. Out on its deck, there was one last wave before the diminutive and huddled up figure stepped back from the deck rails and turned away. His silhouette dissolved into the mist and fog. And then Harold Larwood was gone.
Publised in Cricinfo, August 10, 2011
The kid was about 10 years old. There he sat in his white three-lions shirt, with a look of intense concentration, all his attention on the shiny new Dukes ball in his little hand. The father gently positioned his son’s index and middle fingers across the seam, whispering into his ear. Whispering stories and anecdotes, I imagined, about the magic that the grip could impart to that red, shiny object, larger than life in the child’s imagination.
Publised in Cricinfo, April 2, 2011
It was like someone had pulled the plug on our sanity. The television screen suddenly blacked out and everything went nuts. It was instant pandemonium.
Parents yelling at kids, they in turn screaming back. The father bellowing incoherent instructions and curses:
“Try turning the bloody fridge off.”
“One of you stand there, touching the antenna connector”
“Goddamned government-controlled television! How can they be trusted with this?”
Published in Cricinfo on Feb 20, 2011
Russell Peters is a funny guy. So funny that these days his stand-up shtick sells out 15,000-seat arenas. In one of his classic rants, the Canadian jokester with Indian roots explains his beef against soccer: “I hate it because they have this thing called the World Cup. But the two countries I represent – Canada and India – are never in it.”
Russell, you had better be giddy right now. You are so covered in this one, brother!
Published in Cricinfo Magazine, February 2010
As 2009 drew to a close, an atypical cricket-related comment emanating from unusual quarters startled and delighted us, and provided a much-needed giggle. A phlegmatic observation by Phil Stoyanoff, the curator of the McLean Park cricket ground in Napier, illustrated a quality cricket has lost in recent times. Questioned about his insistence that the pitch he had prepared for the deciding Test against Pakistan would produce a result, he said, “Yes, because both sides have such bad batsmen. That’s my honest opinion – they’re useless.”
Published in Cricinfo Magazine, September 2010
Most childhood myths endure for longer than they should. Some are never forgotten. So it has been with me in the matter of Bishan Singh Bedi, the Sardar of spin and the most prolific of India’s famed quartet of the sixties and seventies. Once mythical status had been bestowed on Bedi by me, mesmerised I was and remain, by the exploits and imagined possibilities of the man blessed with that poetic bowling action. It all started with a conspiratorial revelation by an uncle when I was at an age when wonder and superheroes rule, and logic and reality are alien concepts.
Published in Cricinfo Magazine, July 2009
Distance abetted by obscurity can sometimes be a gift. Residing in Toronto, Canada, I am blessed with cricket coverage that should make viewers worldwide salivate in envy: I watch cricket free of commercials.