It s a sight to behold to have Sachin Tendulkar & VVS Laxman play domestic cricket in their whites!

A rare delight these days to find Sachin Tendulkar (left) and VVS Laxman turning out in different matches on the same day Getty Images

 

Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman turned out in different corners of the country in their whites, playing four-day games for their respective state sides while Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir opened the innings for Delhi. Purist Arunabha Sengupta is thrilled to see cricket the way it was always meant to be.

It is indeed a rare delight these days to find Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman turning out in different matches on the same day, while dressed in white and brandishing willows that remain largely vertical.

 

One in the final stretches of a phenomenal international career, and the other beyond it, still turning out for their state teams – the hallowed figures playing four-day encounters in two corners of the country.

 

And somewhere closer to the geographical heart of the nation, Virender Sehwag opened the innings for Delhi with Gautam Gambhir.

 

To the connoisseur of the game, this was how God meant cricket to be played. Days spent under the sun, the willow making the sweet contact with leather, the focus on spending time on the wicket rather than hurtling through the action in the accompaniment of blaring music.

 

It is a pleasant departure from the coloured pyjama suits, the ephemeral bat swings, the abbreviated visit to the crease and bowling mark, wagering way more on luck than application those weird facets characterising the Twenty20 game. It had been a charade meant as a variety show on the side, and has assumed dangerous proportions of prime-time; entrapping the virtuosos with golden chains and throwing them into the Colosseum filled to the brim with rabble.

 

No T20 moment can match the charm of Tendulkar and Ajinkya Rahane batting together in the longer version of the game – one a master who has scaled all the peaks of accomplishment, some previously beyond mortal ken. The other an excellent young apprentice, thus far making his arduous way up the foothills, the measure of his tread promising glimpses of the splendour that lie scattered in the heights.

 

Exciting strokes can never be far away when two classy batsmen such as they settle at the wicket. But in the longer format the brilliance is punctuated by periods of pristine correctness, etching the glitter and grandeur in the background of calm flow of time. Just as music is rendered beautiful by the silence between the notes.

 

Tendulkar s six over extra-cover can appear in its full charm only if one has to wait for it the stroke a fruit of patience, of batsman and spectator alike. A surfeit of fireworks makes the sparks mundane and lukewarm, and the aura disappears in smoke.

 

Up in another part of the country Umesh Yadav was running in and skittling the Haryana batsmen out. His bowling was express, but only in the speed of deliveries not duration of spells. Seldom can the full repertoire of a bowler of quality and potential be unravelled in the space of 24 deliveries, with fielders spread far and wide in the hinterland, the focus on containment, wickets a nice to have by-product.

 

It was one of those days that made us feel that God was in the cricketing heaven and everything right with the world of green ovals under the sun. Yes, the sun was seen again, that seldom seen star on the cricketing firmament, whose place has been all but usurped by the flashy floodlights in recent times.

 

For the game to survive, one wishes for more such glorious days. Days when all colour is disbursed fthoughtfully from the large purses of talent of cricketers of national merit, not by the designers and tailors of corporate franchises.

 

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)