Pelting stones at Aussies!
Pelting stones at Aussies!4 mins 251 4 mins 251
I heard the roaring sound coming from Chinna Swamy Stadium in Bangalore as I passed in my car on the road next to it.
It was IPL time. You can’t beat the cricket crazy crowd of Bangalore supporting their team whole heartedly despite being let down for years.
I lowered the car window and soaked in the mesmerizing atmosphere even outside the stadia.
I cursed my boss for entrusting an important work despite showing the ticket which I had bought; I suspected that he would be inside the stadium and sitting amongst the crowd cheering!
Even as I sat there, my mind raced to several decades, when I witnessed the first live cricket match of my life with my father!
Love for cricket runs in our family spearheaded by, none other than, my father!
My father was not just an ardent fan; he was a die hard cricket fan.
In the early 70's, we were the first family in the entire locality, to own a radio!
My father, I suspect, bought it to listen to the running cricket commentary!
I can still recall vividly the nights he would sleep on the bed, completely covering his face with bed sheets, after having turned up the volume on our National Echo – a valve radio – listening to the running commentary being transmitted directly from the West Indies; he never lived long enough to see a live cricket match on the television.
He passed away much before the television invaded our homes!
When the Australian team visited India in 1969-70, they played a customary warm up match with the South Zone team. Those days, cricket was played in Central College ground in Bangalore.
My father, for the first time in my life, took me to that match.
I was, just 12 years old and was walking literally on cloud nine; I was about to witness live match of a visiting foreign team for the first time in my life!
It was a mesmerizing match to say the least.
It was the last day of the 3 day match and Australia needed around 200 runs or so to win in the second innings.
It was the spin wizard Erapalli Prasanna who brought them to their knees taking the lion share of the wickets and Australia crumbled against the mesmerizing web created by the legendary spinner in the second innings.
The Aussies team had all the stalwarts who became legend in their life time but they were clueless against the spin bowling of Prasanna.
They were on the verge of defeat – they were 8 wickets down and Bill Lawry, their captain stone walled the spinners, not with his bat but with his pad, desperately wanting to save the match at all cost!
The public got wild – they desperately wanted their team to win against the Aussies. But Lawry, prevailed - as every ball he faced virtually, he played with his pad hiding the bat behind his padded legs!
For the un initiated, the L B W laws in those days were different. I strongly suspect that the law changed after the Bill Lawry’s antics!
The normally peace loving Bangalore Crowd went wild, pelting stones. The Aussies just could not placate the idea of going down against a Zonal team!
The match ended in draw; but the crowd wouldn't disperse. The unruly crowd of around 1000 or so were un stoppable they threw stones or whatever they could get their hands on at the two batsmen walking slowly towards the pavilion.
My father, not a man of violence by any measure, looked at me when I had a stone in my hand trying to throw it at Lawry who was walking back, and nodded his head in affirmation!
I threw with all my might only to land just a few feet away – like every one else. It was a symbolic gesture of protest as Lawry was miles away from us; but nevertheless, we all pelted stones. We felt happy to just do it!
Cricket was a religion to my father and he could not see it being reduced to a farce by the team who were much stronger but did not want lose against, not just the national team, but a Zonal Team!
Even as we walked home – after relishing a masala dosa at Vidyarthi Bhavan – I held my father’s hand with all the love and affection and admiration!