By Amrut Thobbi
The dipping fortunes of Indian cricket has been troubling me a lot and robbed me of my sleep. A good friend asked me to see a well-known clairvoyant who could foresee what was in store ahead for Indian cricket in the third Test at Birmingham.
So, off I went to see the clairvoyant and see how the third Test would unfold. The clairvoyant gazed into his crystal ball… and what he came up stunned me. Apparently, the spineless display on the fourth day of the second Test, when the entire Indian line-up was shot out under two sessions with six of the top seven batsmen failing to get into double digits, has had a major impact on the sale of tickets. With several legendary cricketers lambasting the Indian team, the situation is deteriorating by the day.
This is what the crystal gazer shockingly saw…
Apparently, the International Cricket Council (ICC) will make an announcement soon that due to the fear of fall in TV viewership, it has decided to cancel the third Test match between India and England and, instead, scheduled a match between Ravi Shastri XI and Nasser Hussain XI.
The ICC felt that unlike Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team, which is mentally and physically fatigued from too much cricket, Shastri and Nasser are very fresh as they haven’t played a Test in a very, very long time.
The ICC also like the patriotic passion both men showed in their verbal duel as television commentators and felt they would be a bigger draw than the cold and listless Indian team.
The ICC finally got something right! It was an unbelievable match. I wouldn’t like to spoil things for you by telling you what unfolded. Take a peek at what happened at the toss to imagine what could follow…
The two captains come out for the toss with the match referee.
Harsha Bhogle (the TV commentator at the toss): Here is the specially-minted coin for this historic match.
Ravi Shastri: Hang on, Harsha! Why are you giving Nasser the coin to toss? Why not me?
HB: Ravi, its time-honoured tradition for the host captain to toss. Please don’t make an issue out of this too!
Nasser Hussain: Ha, ha, ha …. Harsha, Ravi won’t understand words like “tradition”. (Leans and mutters in Harsha’s ears, “Rebel without a pause!”)
The match referee is stunned watching two ex-captains in this mood even before the commencement of the game and is already sweating at the prospect of having to adjudicate a stormy match.
NH: Look, we are playing in England, my country. I have the right to toss the coin. It will be a disgrace if I don’t and a real shame if Ravi tosses instead.
HB: Guys, I have had enough of this on ESPN-Star. Now please don’t start all over again.
RS: Disgrace! How dare you use that word again! Didn’t I censure you the other day for using that word? And how can you say me tossing the coin is shameful? Who gave you the right to say that?
NH: Right. You are talking about rights again! After the pounding I gave you in the ESPN-Star Sports, you still have the guts to say that! Now that you have asked about my right to call people shameless, let me tell you how I earned that right? The other day I told you that I earned this right after playing 96 Test matches. Well, the actual reason is that during my career, I have been ashamed so many times that now I can consider myself as the patent holder of this term.
In 2002, Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh embarrassed me in NatWest final at Lord’s. Then, Steve Waugh’s team embarrassed me in 2002-03 by beating us 1-4 in the Ashes Down Under. There are many more such instances where I have felt disgraced. Today I know everything about disgrace.
HB (irritated): Gentlemen, I think I will toss the coin in the spirit of the game!
Harsha tosses the coin. Nasser calls heads, and wins the toss.
HB: Okay, Nasser. You have won the toss. What have you decided to do?
NH: It looks like a good bowling pitch. Hmmm… we will bat!
HB: Bat!!! On a bowling pitch!! Have you forgotten your cricket?
NH: I can assure you I haven’t forgotten the game, for sure.
HB: Okay, but why bat?
NH: (With a naughty smile) Harsha, I am confident my batting line-up will thrash India’s bowling even on this bowling-friendly pitch.
RS: (stunned by Nasser’s remark, is unsure of how to reply): He is making fun of our bowling because…hmm… he is jealous, the English media is jealous, the whole of England is jealous, the entire universe is jealous of my India.
NH: Jealous of what?!
RS: Jealous of IPL, jealous of BCCI, jealous of BCCI’s money, jealous of IPL cheerleaders, jealous of Bollywood, jealous of Rakhi Sawant, jealous of Vijay Mallya, jealous of Sid Mallya…
HB (interrupts): “Even I am jealous of Sid Mallya now that, he has Deepika.
RS (Drawing inspiration from Amitabh Bachchan’s epic film Deewar, he sustains his charge at his foe): Nasser, aaj humare paas IPL hain, No 1 Test ranking hain , SRK hain, 8% GDP hain, ….tumhare paas kya hain?
NH (who was born in India and has an Indian father): Ha, ha, ha, ha. Hamaare paas Lalit Modi hain!
It was on hearing those words from Nasser that I fell from my bed and realized all what I saw was a nightmare!
(Amrut Thobbi, an engineering graduate now pursuing Masters in journalism, is an ardent cricket fan. His passion for writing inspired him to give up a sales and marketing job, which he does not regret. By writing on cricket, he wants to relive his dream of becoming a cricketer. He has also worked as a freelance writer in education and technology sectors)