No time for proper jottings. Only scribbles. Flooded with messages, phone calls, all pouring in. The family says I look 92! Too much tension at this age. Ah, the good ol’ days when gentlemen captains politely asked how the pitch would behave. Not like today’s upstarts. First e-mail message read, ‘I want rank turner—MSD’, the second one hours later ordered ‘I want rank turner from day 1—MSD’. Then another ‘Get Wankhede pitch to Eden Gardens, MSD’. Look, I am 82, this is all rather confusing. Should I consult the Cricket Association of Bengal? Who the hell was MSD? Then came another series of mails, ‘Prepare rank turner from day 1 as ordered by MSD-BCCI’, ‘Get Wankhede pitch to Eden, MSD is our blue-eyed boy—BCCI’.
What is happening? As a groundsman, I am aware of only two colours, green and brown, and was puzzled by the blue-eyed boy reference. Of course, most Indian curators have almost forgotten to make green pitches but I can still do it. But the message flood continued, ‘Sending Ashish Bhowmick, he will supervise your work so that MSD’s wish is fulfilled—BCCI’. Now that made me see red, a colour with which I am familiar. I know Ashish, the East Zone curator, but he was junior to me and I’d rather quit than take orders from anyone. Ashish arrived and explained—MSD was the Indian captain who wanted first-day rank turners so that the home team could win the Test match against England.
I had heard of this fellow, he was long-haired once and now has 29 motorbikes. If he wanted to win matches only at home on rank turners, he should quit cricket and take to Formula 1 motorbike racing. Imagine bounders like him captaining India, as bad as Mamatadi ruling over Bengal. Ashish further told me that MSD wanted this strategy because England, South Africa and Australia won matches at home preparing pitches which bounced and seamed where his batsmen were helpless. MSD must not be following international cricket. Australia and South Africa played wonderful cricket on the so-called ‘seaming and bouncing’ tracks, batsmen scoring lots of runs, bowlers taking wickets and no one telling curators how to prepare pitches. MSD must be too busy counting currency notes to take note of all this.
I liked captains like Nari Contractor who, incidentally, blasted MSD for his unwanted directions. I agree that home sides should get some advantage but there should be no interference in pitch-making. I will not tolerate such nonsense. My eyes are sharp and only yesterday I ordered Mike Atherton not to walk on the pitch. So what if he’s a former England captain? I have not forgotten how once he was caught with some ‘pitch mud’ in his trouser pockets.
The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 AT gmail.com