Saturday, September 18, 2010

In praise of Vaithy mama

Vaithy mama is a legendary figure if you were a schoolboy playing cricket in a certain district in the south of India in the 70s. No prizes for guessing that this blogger was one of them. Vaithy mama was the lone selector of the district cricket team and had the power of life and death over earnest schoolboys for whom being dropped from the team was the end of the world.

Vaithy mama's selection criteria were very clear. If you were a batsman, did your bat stay close to the pad; was the bat straight, did the front foot point in the direction of the stroke, did the ball travel all along the ground, did the front shoulder point to mid off, etc etc. Readers unfamiliar with this funny game can translate this as the good old way of playing cricket. Not the current day slam bang variety. To Vaithy mama, it didn't matter if the runs did not come. Did you play correctly ? Many a boy had got slapped for attempting a cross batted shot.

Such is cricket. It's more than a game. It represents a way of life - hence the English expression "ïts not cricket" . A world where fair play reigns paramount; where style matters as much as result; where the word gentleman is truly defined.

And then there's T20 cricket. I have had the unfortunate experience of watching the damn thing on telly  over the last one week. Call it the enthusiasm of the cricket connoisseur (?) who's been starved of the sport in the great wilderness of the Net Nanny's domain. And what do I see ?? Agriculturists marauding as cricketers. Attempted shots over the wicketkeeper's head. Ungainly heaves over wherever with both feet in the air, the bat facing point and the front shoulder facing square leg - picture the sight; akin to watching Govinda shake his ample frame purportedly in dance. And what do the bowlers do ? Bowl donkey drops in the name of "slow bouncers". Pray; a bouncer is supposed to scream at the quivering batsman's nose at 100mph . Not donkey drop. The sight of a so called fast bowler running in and delivering "slower ones" at 25mph all six times in an over is enough to make me gag -exactly what happened yesterday again and again. Ugh. Eeeks.

The sight that nauseated me most was that of Sachin Tendulkar trying to do all this. For those who don't know this lofty gentleman, he is the very embodiment of the classic cricketer. And yet here he is, standing in the midst of agriculturists attempting to heave and slog and looking like a ballerina trying to imitate the pelvic thrusts that goes for Bollywood dance. 

From what I saw two days ago, Vaithy mama would have definitely dropped Tendulkar from the team and cuffed him on the ear !