Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Alfred Shaw & Inzi's painting

"Of all his feats, perhaps the most remarkable was accomplished in a match at Lord's in 1875, between Notts and the M. C. C. In the M. C. C.'s second innings he sent down forty-one overs and two balls for seven runs and seven wickets, bowling out, among other batsmen, W. G. Grace, A. W. Ridley, C. F. Buller, and Lord Harris. "

Alfred Shaw, born on this day of 1842, is regarded as one of the top players of 19th century English cricket, perhaps the best spinner in his land at some point of time. If reincarnations are to be believed in, Anil Kumble is most likely to have been him in an earlier birth. Maybe we are witnessing accuracy and diligence spanning across 3 centuries with a little hiatus thrown in....
"When the ground helped him, he broke back a good deal, but he never set much store on a big break, always arguing that the most dangerous ball was the one that did just enough to beat the bat."

"In his book on cricket Mr. Grace says: The great power of his bowling lay in its good length and unvaried precision. He could break both ways, but got more work on the ball from the off; and he was one of the few bowlers who could very quickly cause a batsman to make a mistake if he was too eager to hit. An impatient batsman might make two spanking hits in succession off him, but he would not make a third. Shaw was sure to take his measure and get him in a difficulty. On a good wicket, when batting against him, I did not find it difficult to play the ball; but I had to watch him carefully, and wait patiently before I could score."

BTW just take a look at those three illustrations on the cricinfo page. The photographs show a well trimmed beard on Shaw but the man's portrait is 'Grace'iously hirsute. It indicates a penchant for variety - on part of either the subject or the painter. It also reminds me that some images of old world celebrities that have got etched deep inside us are but distorted pictures of their real appearances.

To tell you the truth I am envious of all those famous folk lucky to be born in pre-photography era. Here in the 21st century, even if I ever become a celeb in the future there's not a chance for me to ensure, by means of a handsome reward to the painter, that posterity sees me sporting abundant hair in my most famous-to-be portrait as a very successful man in his late 50's.

Come to think of it - had photographic technology not yet been invented Inzamam-ul-Haq could have payed a few extra bucks to his personal illustrator & ensured that cricket lovers in 23rd century imagine him with a Grace-ian yarn adorning his chin. Who knows, those future cricket fans could even be associating a slim frame to him....but then somewhere in Pakistan you would surely find a family still living off the fortune their great great great grandfather made from making custom-made paintings of a great player of two archaic forms of cricket.

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