Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Musings from 'official level' cricket field


Click the above picture - it will take you to my webshots album containing a few pictures.

Club cricket is competetive, but 'official cricket' - meaning representing the employer - is more for fun than for serious rivalry. But it can become serious and hard oftentimes - the players know it why! In my case employer means our Institute [CFTRI] and HQ [CSIR]. I try to list a few musings that have happened, briefly.

CSIR Cricket team was to take part in the Silver Jubilee tournament at RRL, Jammu in 1983. Our team manager, Sri. R. Narayanan sent us letters well before the journey asking us to practice so that "success we may attain will be a stepping stone for further laurels…". After he closed his letter with 'yours friendly' there was a unique postscript hinting that it was a knock-out tournament: "Your stay in Jammu very much depends on your stay at the wicket." Neither our batsmen stayed long enough on that Azad Stadium wicket, nor our wicket-keeper held on to easy catches (esp. 3 in 3 balls from my bowling - some record in itself!) and our stay in Jammu really depended on that!

A practice match was part of a 10-day coaching camp for our CSIR cricket team at NCL, Pune in 1987. The opponents did not turn up. Team manager Sri Narayanan held a meeting in the pavilion. The players agreed to play a double wicket tournament among ourselves. Teams were drawn and to even out the odd number, Sri Narayanan was made to play with Lawrence of NCL. None of us had seen Narayanan, a contemporary of S.Venkataraghavan, play. When our teams clashed [I was partnering R.Sreedhar of CSIR Complex, Chennai] in the quarter-final or so, I was surprised to see Narayanan bowl a tight line and length of off-spin right away (without practice!), though I managed a sixer off him! But he could boast of remaining 'not out' with the bat. In the end, Sreedhar and I won the final and the prize of Rs.25/- [I duly got my share of Rs.12.50] which Sri Narayanan had sponsored before start.

During the Nayudamma Memorial tournament at Nagpur in 1988, our CSIR team was short of one player. To make up the eleven, Sri Narayanan suggested that we borrowed the player from the opponent team's surplus - they were two. How to choose was the problem. Sri Narayanan decided to go for a 'toss of coin' after allotting 'heads' to one player and 'tails' to the other. Up went the spinning coin, down it came with a clink, rolled and rolled around only to settle nicely on its edge! They had to be given equal chances!

Disbursing TA/DA was a real pain in the neck esp. to the manager of our CSIR Cricket team as it was to be drawn from the host Institute. In the Inter-Agency tournament for the SSBMT at Lucknow in 1993, the Valedictory function had begun, yet, our payments had not been settled. Sri Narayanan had to fight the 'fight of his life' to make it happen! I had to actually run straight from the Cash Section to the dais (being captain of CSIR) to receive the prize as our team name was called. Handing over the trophy to my teammate I ran into the waiting car that took me to the Railway Station. The train left in two minutes after I boarded it. I was 'runner-up' all the way!

CFTRI was playing the SSBMTournament at Roorkee in 1986. Anti-inflammatory sprays had just been made available in first-aid kits and provided at the ground. It was new to us and everybody. My veteran team-mate K.Srinivasa held a difficult catch at slip from my bowling and his immediate reaction was not the usual joy! He was holding his hand up and calling 'spray, spray'. His finger was injured, but found joy getting it 'sprayed' with the new fizzing medication! We had forgotten for a moment how terrifically good that catch was.

During the II Nayudamma Memorial Tournament at New Delhi in 1987, I hit Ravi Khanna's (CSIR) pad with an in-swinging delivery. A lone, loud and excited "Howzzaat?" (for LBW) was heard, as if from distant heaven. It was from deep third-man! International Umpire Ram Babu Gupta, standing at the bowler's end, was taken aback by the appeal - from that far! He called the appealer [Rajendra Prasad]. He walked all the way up to be asked "Can you see anything from there, young man?" The poor fellow hung his head low but shut his mouth for the rest of the innings!
The picture was taken at Bhopal, March 2007.