Those were the days

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.

4 thoughts on “Those were the days

  1. Dear Ananth:

    I agree with everything you have said here, and yet I find myself disagreeing with the core of the article. To every generation, the future seems less “cultured” than the past. To many, the future is more uncertain and therefore somehow less desirable than the past. Particularly for India today, the future is where so much is. Less people are poor, more realize their aspirations, more travel abroad, more have vacations, more people entertain themselves than ever before. And all of this will only increase. As people who care we rightly lament the “opportunity cost” of not doing even more.

    If we have to trample on a few sacred cows like test matches (I love them), so India can get on with it and more and more will be less and less poor then so be it. Sometimes history is best left as history.


  2. Thanks, DV. I did not think that VVS belonged to the ‘those were the days’. He is still part of the not-so-nostalgic present 🙂 But, yes, the incomparable VVS stands tall and at the very top. A good human being too from what one gathers.

  3. hi, Narayan,

    The comment has appeared fine here. Thanks. There are many reasons why people hark back to the past than to look ahead to the future, besides the one that you mention – more uncertainty; past is less uncertain 🙂

    You have given some metrics – through the examples of better standards of living or indicators of better living that you had cited – for us to accept treating history as history and not something that had to be brought back. In fact, bringing it back may not be feasible and it may not be quite the same. Sometimes, once it is lost, it is lost forever. That is why it becomes all the more important to know and be aware of what of the past is one giving up and to ask ourselves what is gained in the process. These trade-offs have to be conscious and cannot be unthinking. I guess I see the trade-offs that have emerged in India differently than you do.

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