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Beyond the Boundary: Nagpur at Notts, but Indians love to duck and cover



Overnight rains and drizzles in the morning of the fifth day of the first Test may have wiped the smiles off the faces of Trent Bridge accountants for a while, but the delightful sight of the retreating clouds within minutes ultimately curved the corners of their mouths vigorously again. With the weather or the pitch playing no spoilsport, they were obviously entitled to their fair share of fame in the sun.

Never mind the rows of empty seats on the final day: the tickets may have already been sold, the coffers may have been full, so why bother if people did not troop in after buying tickets or those who turned up weren't happily gazing at the drama, or lack of it for the better part of the five days, happening between the 22 yards and the immediate surroundings?

Counties that spent millions to bring in futuristic tastes and touches to their premises want to get back the money they invested in the projects, and a neat profit, too, but the ways they resort to cut corners are obnoxious. People part with their hard-earned money not for glimpses of grimaces all around. They want to be entertained. They want to soak in the unbridled excitement  unpredictability, expectation and anxiety could conjure up every time the red missile is mercilessly launched.

M.S. Dhoni says India would like the away-pitches to be "slightly quick" and Alastair Cook wants "some pace in it". The message is loud and clear: no Nagpur, please. When both teams are ready for an interesting test of skills — that's pretty much the reason the five-day affair has still been called Test — why do the bosses reduce it to an abuse of patience of the players and the crowds?

Cricket fans from either side of the rivalry are unlikely to share the revelry of the moneybags, but that doesn't mean they are totally lost on the fleeting moments of sunshine spotted on the hapless blokes out on the field for five days toiling hard to breathe life into the game on a dead and stinking pitch.

Here's one: After banishing the ball to the boundary with the disrespect it deserved on the fourth day, James Anderson doesn't seem to be quite savvy at the art of celebrating the big moment, but a visibly overjoyed Joe Roots rushes into the frame to immortalise Anderson's rather sheepish wave of the bat.

It's perhaps the moment that's going to be re-run when you talk of the Trent Bridge Test of the 2014 series, especially if another 10th wicket partnership gets near or really past the 198 world record mark set by the England pair.

If Trent Bridge, known for at least a hint of green, was hopelessly bad, you could imagine what will be on offer at Lord's. The silver lining is perhaps the dark clouds seen over Trend Bridge.

They drifted away just in time for play to start on the fifth day after raining overnight. Headed for Lord's?

The heavens should open overnight and stop at daybreak leaving enough time for the field to dry but dead grass or whatever to come to a tinge of life so the guys running in hard and hurling it mad could get some fair rewards. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

In that case, the best bet is to keep faith in the Indian batsmen. Have they ever stopped surprising us when they play abroad, especially outside of Asia, with their submission en masse or individual belligerence?

Or even when they land in Nottingham and were handed a stretch of Nagpur?
 
The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman

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