I am reading the authorised biography of Tamil writer ‘Sujatha’ (S. Rangarajan). Apparently, he did not like this backward-looking nostalgic recollections about some mythical golden past. He always looked ahead. I can believe that. He was such a person. Well, despite having been deeply impacted by his writings and having grown up with his writings through all my formative years and more (for almost three decades), I am going to defy him.
Once upon a time there was ‘Sujatha’ and now, there is no one to fill the gap left behind by him.
In that spirit, I was moved to read this paragraph from Mark Nicholas on the historic innings by Faf du Plessis for South Africa to save the second test against Australia at Adelaide few days ago:
These matches are proof of the sport, they are the reason we live it and love it and must continue to campaign for its pre-eminence. If Test cricket goes, a piece of us goes with it. The piece that is patience, manners and respect; the piece that is without commerce at its core. So pure and old hat was this Test match that one yearned for the pre-hard-hat days, those days without helmets, when the eyes and expressions of the cricketers drove our fancy. Those days before the DRS, when the umpires took our spleen, and technology was a slip-catch cradle that provided hours of fun and hands turned black and blue. There was something of the past in du Plessis’ modesty. His clothes were neat, his kit uncluttered, his hair, when that helmet came off for air, short and side-parted. He played forward defensives as if brought up in Barnsley, and his celebration of a hundred was near apologetic: “Oops, sorry for momentary lapse into self-indulgence,” he seemed to say, “I’ve a job to finish here.”
Niranjan Rajadhyaksha liked Mark’s piece as much as he must have admired du Plessis’ batting. Those were the days when batsmen batted days to save a match or win it. Indians had done it too – Mohinder Amarnath, Dilip Vengsarkar, Viswanath and Gavaskar.
Unfortunately, I did not get to watch the Aus-SA match. But, I followed England’s victory against India at Mumbai. Thoroughly deserved. It had taken a while for many Indians to acknowledge how ill the Indian economy is and they are yet to acknowledge how sick Indian cricket is.
Sujatha’s approval or not, there is something missing in modern life. Well, who knows, he might have acknowledged it himself.