Stuart Binny walked out to the middle. He felt insignificant at the massive Melbourne Cricket Ground or the MCG, truly an historic venue. Yet, there he was, an important member of the team, one of the chosen 15 out of a billion to represent India at the ICC cricket world cup 2015. It was an important match and he had finally gotten a chance to show his skills for his country at the biggest stage of them all. The stadium was packed and noisy. Not for one minute could he believe that he was playing in Australia, it actually felt like the Eden Gardens or Chinnaswamy stadium back home!
He strode out to the center and he literally had butterflies in his stomach. He was wearing his Nike Team India jersey which was tailor made for him and also to absorb the sweat and keep the player comfortable at all times. Yet he was sweating. Nervous anticipation is what it was, Ravi Shastri the Team Director had told him in the dressing room. As he walked towards the center he was accompanied not just by the non striker but also with another unexpected companion. A spider! A spider slung on a cable that seemed to keep an eye on him. He took guard and could hear thousands in the stadium cheering for India. He got off the mark of the very 1st ball with a couple. He stole a glance towards the VIP box and saw his father look at him, though he couldn’t make out his expression because of the distance. The wicketkeeper had taken the bails off for no apparent reason at the end of the 2nd run and the stumps lit up like they were on fire. He had arrived at the world cup 2015.
Roger Binny, a former player and now one of selectors for the BCCI ,was a proud man. His heart was pounding as he saw his son stride out to the middle at the fall of the 5th wicket. The VIP box had a telivision set and Roger along with millions back home could see through the birds eye view of the Spider cam that his son was nervous. Today was the day that they became one of the 4 father- son duos to play in the World Cup. The crowd was buzzing.As his son got off the mark his thoughts went back to the world cup of 1983 in England. He was just 28 back then, a year younger to what Stuart was now. They didn’t have the fancy colored clothing. He remembered the traditional white clothing with the standard sweater they wore. Unlike 2015 back then nobody expected India to win the world cup. After all, the previous two tournaments were dominated by the invincible West Indians. He remembered walking in to bat with Yashpal Sharma and putting on an opening partnership of 73 against the West Indies. He had followed that with a great spell of bowling to dismiss Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, and Jeff Dujon. He smiled thinking how much he had planned those dismissals prior to the match. Back then they didn’t have computer analysts to tell them the weak zones of the batsmen, they had to figure out the weakness themselves and execute the dismissals themselves.
He saw his son attempt an audacious reverse sweep and cringed. He still hated the shot, somehow never seemed to like it. He remembered the 1st world cup called the Prudential Cup in 1975 where India were still novices. In fact all the teams were just warming up to the 60 over format. England had hit the Indian bowlers for a mammoth 334/4 in 60 overs. And in reply Sunil Gavaskar had scored 36 in 174 balls! He smiled thinking that most people considered a run a ball hundred slow these days. Big bats, small grounds, 2 new balls, fielding restrictions and flat pitches had made most of the matches bat vs bat. Times had sure changed since then with players batsmen trying sweep, reverse seep, switch hit and scoop and what not in an attempt to score a double 100! He wondered if any of these batsemen would have had the audacity to reverse hit Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshal, Michael Holding with just an helmet for protection. He missed the days when fast bowlers bowled FAST and spinners beat the batsmen with their loop. These days the bowlers have to adapt to the new culture and so the fast bowlers end up bowling more slower balls and spinners bowl more faster balls!He watched Ravi Shastri have an animated discussion with the captain in the dressing room discussing some strategy for sure.
Ravi Shastri the Team Director was keeping an hawk like eye on the proceedings. The team director seemed like the perfect combination of both the old and new world of cricket. He had one eye on the ground and the other on the computer showing the the areas where the bowlers were bowling to Stuart. He recalled the 1992 world cup when colored clothing, day and night matches and white ball was introduced for the 1st time in Australia itself some 21 years ago. The change was a massive one from that of the 1987 world cup which he was a part of too. It meant that viewers could watch the match at home after their hard days work. He knew that from his debut world cup in 1983 where he took 3 for 36 vs West Indies to the World Cup in 1992 where he took 1 for 28 vs England to 2015, cricket had seen a sea of change. There was so much cricket played these days that he had to literally “look after” his players and see that they don’t get injured. He remembered facing the big fast West Indian Bowlers with hardly any protection but now the batsmen were safe now with light weight pads, arm guards, leg guards etc. There was something else. Back when he was a player, all he had to do was worry about playing, his bowling,batting and fielding. But for the present young players there was so much extra to cope with them being constantly scrutinized by the media , not just their cricket but their personal lives too. Having worked with the media Shastri knew that the players needed to be groomed to interact with the media after the match. He had a massive support staff having 16 members, that is more than the number of players! Gone were the days where they travelled with a team doctor and manager. These days you needed bowling coaches, batting consultants, video analysts, masseurs etcs. He watched the match and wondered if Stuart Binny would perform well enough to attend the post match press conference.
Stuart Binny now had ball in hand. He looked over at his field to check if everyone was in place. Virat Kohli with his designer glares and haircut gave him a thumbs up. The hair style suits him thought Stuart wondering why that of all the thoughts had come to him right now. Probably it was just the picture of Kapils Devils of the 1983 World Cup which was in his house where all the players seemed to have forgotten to visit the barber for atleast 2 months prior the tournament that he remembered. Or maybe it was just nerves. He ran in and bowled a beautiful out swinger and beat the bat comprehensively He was confident now. . Next ball was a switch hit out of the stadium for a six……. Keep calm he told himself.
Come on urged Roger in the stands
Show me what you got Stuart said Shastri in the dressing room.
1. The thoughts expressed in this post are purely those of the author and not in anyway those of the players mentioned.
2. This blog is part of Blogger Dream Team.