Say it ain’t so, Ricky?

by Ashish

Which player do you imitate when you play air-cricket?

Do you bend your knees ever so slightly, and go back and across, like Dravid does? Or do you take a short step forward and across, like Sachin does (particularly when he is in South Africa)?

I’ve alternated between the two for most of my non-career, but every now and then, I would try the Ponting way. Particularly when he used to score a century at Melbourne, which would basically be every year. Ponting’s way would be to take a small step back and then go into a crouch. The crouch would involve compressing his upper body slightly, have the bat go up in an elaborate flourish, and stick his front leg out very decisively indeed.

This had three notable advantages. One, this used to give him the forward momentum required to go for that lovely, full-face-of-the-bat straight drive. Third best straight drive ever seen on TV. Two, he could, from that position, rock back on to the backfoot for that pull shot. Best pull ever seen on TV. Three, as far as initial foot movements go, it was the best of the lot. And therefore, particularly around Boxing Day, it was my initial foot movement too.

But this year, I fear, tradition might go for a toss.

Ricky’s got problems you see, and big ones. He’s broken a finger, and Nasser Hussain is suing him for copyright infringement. He’s doing a horrible job with the captaincy, so horrible, in fact, that Michael Clarke is being spoken of as a successor. When a guy called Pup is threatening to take over your job, you’ve hit a new low. And that’s a fact. He is out of form. And that is an understatement.

All things considered, he may not even play at Melbourne, let alone captain his team. And if push comes to shove, Khwaja may well become Australia’s new No. 3. And that is going to leave a very empty hole in the lives of every Indian fan, for who the hell do we hate now?

Actually, Ricky, we have a bit of a confession to make. That we hate you is painfully obvious. What we haven’t let on until now is the fact that this hate is, in all sincerity, the highest form of respect we can give. The reason we hate you, you see, is because you threatened to come close to God. Just not done, and especially not by an Australian.

But that apart, we think you are a bloody good bat. Witness what happened in Bangalore recently, for example. When you first stepped out to bat, there were hisses and boos all round. That was our way of saying, in no particular order:

“Bloody Aussie”

“Can’t believe you thought you could score as many as Sachin”

“This is for the 23rd of March, 2003”

“Bloody Aussie”

“You sledged Srinath when he hit you with a bouncer back in Melbourne ’99”

“Bloody Aussie”

But then, we remembered what a fine batsman you were, and we applauded. Truly, we did. And we did it because you really were (are!) one of the finest batsmen of our era. Watching you essay a drive, or rock back for the pull or (and we really hate to admit to this) play that one handed pull of Nehra at the Bullring in the World Cup Final – well, all that was just bloody magical.

And now that the realization has sunk in that the Aussie public thinks about the same of you as we used to until two months ago, well, hey – Ricky! Don’t go man – play a couple more years.

Score some more runs, and give us a chance to give you a real farewell. Try and hang around until next year, for example, and retire against us, just like your predecessor did. C’mon!

We’ll probably boo and hiss when you come out to bat then as well.

But we’ll follow it up with very warm applause too. Promise.

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