By Rajesh Ramaswamy
Strange as it may seem, this tennis star of the 80's, was spotted wearing a Sri Lankan jersey and batting in the middle order. In fact he even went on to score a century in a lost cause, but those who saw the innings were transported back to the salad days of the man they called 'Big Cat'.
Ok folks, in case you’re wondering what I smoked on Saturday night, I was referring to Mahela Jayawardene's century - a knock so classy and pristine, it didn't even raise a sweat. As I was watching him caress the ball and coax it to do his bidding, I was reminded of Miloslav Mecir, a man his peers referred to as a “Magician with a Racquet.”
To the uninitiated, Mecir (like Jayawardene) was a touch artist extraordinaire who had magical hands that could ease the ball to impossible angles with minimal effort. His economy of movement was languidly graceful, and there was an unhurried beauty about his ball-sense that seems to have been reborn in another age, another sport, in the person of Mahela Jayawardene.
Both men seem to possess an elevated actualization of their skills that obviates the necessity to grunt or sweat or look like they're in a battle. There was, in Mumbai, a Zen like tranquility about the way Jaywardene conducted his innings - like a master composer easing into a familiar routine in front of a spellbound audience.
This mesmerizing effect is very reminiscent of how Mecir played, and the act followed the script to the end. In Mecir's case, as in Jaywardene's hundred in the final, the opponent, who'd become part of the audience, would suddenly snap out of his trance and reassert his brute presence. And the romantic interlude would end in tragedy. Like it did on Saturday...like it did so many times for Mecir against the plebeian likes of Ivan Lendl.
But the fact remains that long after the contest is over, the soulful notes of these tragic heroes play on in the hearts of all those privileged enough to be there!
(Rajesh is a former fast bowler who believes he could have been the answer to India's long prayer for an 'express' paceman. He regularly clocked speeds hovering in the late 80's and occasionally let fly deliveries that touched the 90's. Unfortunately for him, the selectors were talking 'mph', while he was operating in the metric lane with 'kmph'. But he moved on from that massive disappointment which resulted from what he termed a 'miscommunication', and became a communications professional. After a long innings in advertising as a Creative Director, he co-founded a brand consulting firm called Contrabrand. He lives in Chennai and drives down to work in Bangalore...an arrangement that he finds less time consuming and stressful than getting from one end of Bangalore to the other.)
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