A Valentine’s Day XI
Cricket and romance are two words that can’t be separated. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
It is impossible to separate the words cricket and romance from each other. Abhishek Mukherjee creates a list of the most romantic names.
With Valentine’s Day on the cards (no pun intended), what can the world of cricket offer beyond an entire Valentine’s squad? There will, of course, be eleven players, playing in front of a trinity of selectors comprising of Ian Bishop, Mark Priest, and Blessing Mahwire.
The team ground will of course be R Premadasa National Stadium (for the uninitiated, prem translates to ‘love’ in most North Indian languages and das translates to servant). The team will also provide an umpire if required — and who can play the role better than Tim Dearlove?
Of course, there have been impostors like Graeme Swann, Matthew Hart and Blair Hartland, both of whom had tried to make their way in. They were not allowed, and the team committee had put forward an additional clause: for every surname there can be only one representative.
When men like Valentine Faithfull and Russell Cake tried to break in another clause was added: all cricketers must have played at least one international match in any format.
The XI, this formed, is:
1. WG Grace, captain
What is romance without grace? Remember Ralph Waldo Emerson’s immortal line “Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait”? And when we discuss grace, what better person to look forward to other than the Grand Old Man who epitomised the Victorian Age better than any other? He walks into the side, and of course, once he plays, no other person can lead him.
2. Joe Darling
The man to partner Grace will be the South Australian whose career spanned with The Doctor will be an antipodean from Adelaide. Joe Darling had led Australia in 21 Tests with dignity, and will probably be the vice-captain of the side.
3. Phil Mead
What is a romantic date without quality mead? With an average close to fifty Phil Mead had been one of the cornerstones of the England batting line-up of the 1920s: he will bat first-down in what might turn out to be one of the most formidable of line-ups.
4. Andy Flower, wicketkeeper
You cannot think of a Valentine’s Day without flowers, and the Zimbabwe legend will obviously play a major part. There may be a bouquet, there may be decorations at that romantic dinner, and there may be more. But flowers are essential.
5. Martin Love
The most essential component in a romantic relationship: any explanation would be an exaggeration.
6. Brian Rose
Seems redundant after the inclusion of Flower, but a rose is not just any other flower. Prices of the rose go through the roof on the ‘auspicious’ day: the shrewd Somerset captain will probably form the think-tank of the squad along with Grace and Darling.
7. Madan Lal
There is, of course, no cupid, but the Indian counterpart Madan will make it to the team. The surname means red, which makes the name more authentic.
8. Shane Bond
The spearhead of the bowling attack, Shane Bond will definitely play a major role in the relationship. One can only hope that he grows in stature with the romance.
9. Faith Coulthard
As with love, no relationship is complete without faith. The South Australian fast bowler had played a solitary Test for Australian Women back in 1957-58, but that makes her eligible for the team.
10. Lily Rani Biswas
After Flower and Rose a third entry may seem redundant, but the Bangladeshi medium-pacer (who has played four matches in the shortest format of the game) has a remarkably appropriate full name: while rani means queen, the word biswas stands for trust. Isn’t that enough?
11. Alf Valentine
12th man: Peter Young-Husband
Undoubtedly the most famous twelfth man of the season, Young-Husband finds himself in the squad. As a young husband he will, of course, be considered as a future entry of the side, provided Love, Faith, Biswas, and Bond play their parts. Once that happens, Sachin Baby may not be far away either.
(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)