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Tuesday, December 18, 2007 

Down Under

Its 4.30am as some noise hits my sleeping ears. It’s probably my dad hustling about in the house. I was sleeping in the main bedroom with mom and dad as I was still too afraid of sleeping alone. My mother is also up due to the constant noise and decides get on with the day already. My dad brings a nice cup of tea for himself. The tube light in the bed is still off as some other light starts to distract me from my sleep. With half open eye lids I wake up to see what the fuss is all about. As my eyes adjust to the light if the television I realise a certain K.Srikkanth and Ravi Shastri are batting and McDermott has the ball in his hands. That chilled morning of 1991 was a start of new phase of my life.

It was probably the first time I woke up at that hour and saw the sunrise, albeit from the window sitting inside my rajai and watching cricket. But a new dimension was added to my knowledge of cricket i.e watching the game on TV. I spend the next three-four months, what we know as the Australian summer, going through the same rituals, only that I was happy getting up now. While tea was forbidden for me at the age of 8, my mother would get me milk and add some tea in it so that I can taste it. As most Dhamdhere’s do, I developed an instant liking for it too. Those days of watching cricket sitting in the warmth of the rajai, sipping hot milk is an experience I’ll remember till the end.

The season also included the cricket world cup, one of the best in terms of format till date. While India’s performance in both the B&H world series and the world cup was poor, I enjoyed every bit of the watching on TV. The sad part though was that on weekdays I had to leave the day matches in the middle to go to school and miss the first innings of day night matches. I remember running like crazy from school to watch the India Pakistan match in the world cup. I missed India’s innings but the Pakistan innings was the real punch of the match.

Matches in Australia have given a different meaning to television viewing. Channel nine is far more superior to any other broadcasters of cricket matches around the world. ESPN-Star come second followed by Doordarshan and Sony. Oh sorry shouldn’t include Sony in this list they know nothing about cricket, I don’t know why they bother to present important tournaments such as the world cup. But watching matches in Australia is an experience in itself. You don’t have to waste day time to watch the match, your mom can’t scold you for getting up early and she won’t ask you to take a bath and do the daily chores. I have mostly liked watching cricket matches alone, or atleast without too much chit chatting going on. And I hate it when there is a ball by ball analysis of the game by people around me. I like to just sit there watch, observe and learn. And the Oz tours are the perfect bet for that because a less interested soul will not take the pains of getting up so early.

Apart from these things and the obvious difference in picture quality, the unmistakable beauty of Australian grounds is visual treat. The stands are not as packed as in India, but they are well populated and genuinely keen on the cricket. Somehow I have felt that the Indian team looks much smarter in Australia, be it there outfits or their general presence. Of course the Indian batsmen don’t look too smart, and the bowlers have a tough time as well. Barring the last tour to Australia, Indian bowlers only get to bowl once in a test match so they don’t have much chance of impressing either. To add to this picture is the excellent commentary. The Bill Lawry’s and the Benaud’s, Greig’s and add to that the Indian masala of Bhogle and Gavaskar. It’s a great component in the entire experience.

There is a lot of talk again as India head to Australia to play a test series followed by the World Series. What will be the result? From a broad level perspective its easy to say that India will lose the test series and have a good chance of pipping out Sri Lanka to enter and lose the finals to Australia. But as a cricket optimist and lover of the Indian team, I hope for much better results. The biggest threat with this series is the potential exit of Rahul Dravid from both forms of the game. I think if he doesn’t do well in the first two or three tests he will bid good bye to both forms of the game in the fourth test. If he does really well, and that’s not asking for too much from a player of his calibre and pulsar (ganda of the year), he might find a way back to the one day team. The rest of the team basically pick themselves both for the tests and one dayers. I know the Yuvi problem exists, but unless Kumble is thinking of playing Sehwag, I think its ok if Yuvi sits out for the big four. Sehwag has got an absolutely unwarranted call back for that one destructive innings he is capable of playing. I can’t understand how much difference one big innings is going to make to India’s cause. I hope Dinesh Karthik gets one final chance to prove that he is worth it. The bowling lacks penetration and it will be too much to expect Kumble to take 5 wickets in an innings too many times.

So as days close in on the all important boxing day, I start my preparations as well. Setting up the bed in front of the TV so that I can enjoy the matches just as I did in 1991-92. India lost the five test series 4-0 then, hope this time is much better.

Nice one!!
My views:
If they take Sehwag to Australia and make him warm the bench it does not make sense at all (an youngster would have gained valuable experience!!). So he might actually play. I agree that he did not deserve his call back, but as an ardent Viru fan I hope he clicks!!
Of course, the most important thing would be the series, and I hope our guys will manage a drawn series like last time!!
Lets see!!

N - I can understand the sentiment, and if eventually sehwag does play even i would like to see him click. I thot Akash Chopra deserved a second look. Somehow performance is becoming second fiddle to credentials needed to get in the team, ever since Ganguly has made a sensational come back.
Hope says we win the series, Laxman gets two centuries, Dravid is the man of the series and Kumble completes 600 in australia. but...

matches in australia being the best to watch and listen .. Bang on dude :)
"As most Dhamdhere's do.."" whoaaa!!!!
Akash chopra.. totally agree...
And finally.. talking about hope.. hope says Dada does a Brisbane in Perth :P

D - dude if ganguly does a brisbane in brisbane it will be huge, if he does it in perth oh my god!
but going by the trend this seems more probable then my hope

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