Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Capetown Carnage of 4th Jan, 1997

I left my maiden job in December 1995 after barely six months of service. Upon hindsight I must rate it as an impulsive move, but at the time I took it partly to enforce a turn in the career path and partly from dissatisfaction. I returned home, put my feet up, gave myself a few days to unwind and then, rather surprisingly, lost all desire to get myself another job.

The ‘surprising’ aspect there was the reason behind the laze: watching cricket on TV. Till that winter 11 seasons back, I never realised I loved watching cricket THAT much (though I have always loved playing it). Starting Christmas 1995, I gobbled up pretty much every bit of international cricket on offer from the telemedia, live or recorded. I recall having deferred joining my next job as the 1996 World Cup was still not over.

This zombie-like phase continued throughout the whole of 1996, 1997 and right up to April 1998 when a certain personal distraction (that, as I punch in the objectionable phrase unnoticed, is playing with our 4 year old Titli) swept me away from frequent cricket viewing for a few good months. Thereafter I invited a never-ending problem of time-sharing and consequently my cricket viewership hours went down. The problem remains unsolved till date but luckily it is now mitigated to remote-snatching during matches.

No more of jabber; let me come to the point behind the above reminiscences. At the present time, that mid-90’s phase of cricket-gorging roughly splits my years of cricket following in half; I had started off with the Down Under tour of India in 1985-86. In the past one year of blogging I have often written posts celebrating 10 years of some memorable cricketing incidents of 1996 (like
this, this and even this).

However in these two decades and little bit I have not watched another passage of live cricket that comes close to a particular hour of batting that unfolded after lunch on 4th Jan 1997 in a 2nd test of a 3 test series at the foot of the Table mountains. Another 10 year celebration is coming up dears!

But unlike those earlier posts I need not spend many words today explaining that spectacle. I had already touched upon this exhilarating hour in
this post, commented upon it here, and probably referred to it in numerous other posts when the slightest opportunity presented itself. But most of all, I am hardly blessed with the ability to narrate a sight as balladic as that. Suffices to note that the two put up a 222 run stand (from 58/5 after allowing SA to set a 530-odd 1st innings total) in 40 overs. That hour after lunch produced 105 in 14 odd overs against the best fast bowling side at that time.

If I were to live another hundred years and spend each of them watching live cricket, I would still not harbour high hopes of a repeat of the Sachin-Azhar show (although it hardly matters, personally I prefer to designate it the other way round) from that sunny 3rd afternoon at Newlands. Like a devotee I can only pay homage by trying never to miss a re-telecast of that partnership on sports television.

There is always a certain amount of risk associated with making lofty predictions in cricket though. I
learnt the lesson the hard way less than a year ago. Just to prove this statement of mine wrong maybe some young man in early twenties somewhere in India or South Africa may switch on his television set tomorrow and watch a never-before hour of cricket unfold in the 3rd day of the ongoing decider of a 3rd Test.

Same day, same place, same teams, ten years ahead….what’s wrong in

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