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Abey Kuruvilla

Kuruvilla and press conferences, old truly is gold

Abey Kuruvilla
Abey Kuruvilla announces his retirement at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai in 2000

Abey Kuruvilla has a great sense of humour. So much so that he does not mind the fact that he is remembered more for his height than his considerable achievements with the ball.

Young readers today may not quite understand what the fuss is all about. After all, India’s fast bowling stocks have never been better. 

Today, India’s quick bowlers are as fast anyone else, as skilled as the best in the business, as fit as the strongest and generally just lethal. What’s more, there are so many of them in harness that it doesn’t seem to matter if one or two are injured at any given point of time. But it was not always so.

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Victor Trumper's grave

Waverly XI: Trumper’s team from beyond the grave

A haunting image has done the rounds today, in these most difficult of times of the COVID-19 crisis. It is of the cruise ship Ruby Princess, off the coast of New South Wales. The ship, which is now thought to be one of the major sources of Corona Virus cases in Australia, is pictured out at sea in the background, while in the foreground is a cemetery, and seeing that, memories of Waverly Cemetery came rushing back.

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Soweto Cricket Oval

Soweto Oval: More than a cricket club

Back in 2013, when India toured South Africa, I had the chance to go back to a club that had so much significance for so many South Africans. This is what I wrote:

In the Gezina neighbourhood of Pretoria, on Sunday, a Catholic priest and his assistant were attacked. When the two were on the ground, as blows rained down on them, the attackers taunted the fallen: Where is your Mandela now? The story prompted the Star newspaper to put that question on their pithy flyers. Everywhere in Soweto, the most famous black township in South Africa, and probably the world, the same question was on the lips as Madiba received his sendoff in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

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Sadiki Bolt

Beast Blake in Bombay and Prince Bolt of Kingston

When Usain Bolt isn't in Kingston it's a pleasure to meet Sadiki Bolt. Oh, and Johan Blake was in Bombay.

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Cricket’s Prince Charles, our Brian

In the early 2000s I got my first mobile phone. Thanks to a well-placed uncle I was given a choice of number. The first two digits were fixed but I could take anything I wanted for the last three. I chose 375. Then the highest Test score, registered by a wiry West Indian left-hand bat.

I have a dictaphone you have a rum!

At the time no batsman was top of the mind and more inspirational than Brian Charles Lara. The young whippersnapper killed fast bowling with rasping cuts and audacious pulls, but he was equally good against spin.

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Duck, Rahul and Mayank

When KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal were just teenagers hitting the ball for fun, long before they became world beaters.

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Wordsworth’s Typhoon

Richie Benaud, who has been to more Test cricket as a player and commentator than any man yet born, called him the fastest bowler he had ever seen. The rest of the world simply referred to him as The Typhoon.

Frank Holmes Tyson, who played only 17 Tests for England, between the years of 1954 and 1959, was a true Ashes hero. Born in Farnworth, Lancashire, on June 6, 1930 to an employee of the Yorkshire Dyeing Company who would not live long enough to see his son sport the Three Lions England crest, Tyson was unorthodox and frighteningly fast.

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“The outfield was like a skating rink”

At 3pm on a day of spitting rain, the India-New Zealand match at Nottingham was called off without a ball being bowled. Neither team was massively affected as they came into the game without having lost a match. And yet there was plenty of frustration all around.

Speaking soon after the game was called off, R Sridhar, the fielding coach, gave India’s perspective. “Yeah, it is frustrating to wait in the dressing room on a rainy day. It’s a challenge for the players and the support staff to switch down but not really switch off, because the match could start at any time, so keep yourself prepared in the back of the mind,” said Sridhar. “At the same time, not think too much about the game and keep yourself a little busy, reading, some music, or chatting with friends. But we deal with it all the time.”

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Dhawan cloud has India worried

India were indoors in Friday, rain ruining their morning practice session at The Oval and Australia were just making their way to the capital after getting past West Indies at Trent Bridge. All was quiet on the western front, but you can be sure both teams were already thinking about each other, given how big their encounter is likely to be.

On a weekend, in London, India v Australia. The Oval will be a sea of blue once more, but unlike in Southampton, where there was negligible support for South Africa in the stands, Australia will not be completely blanked out. 

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Sea of blue advances cricket colonisation

“You’re at the wrong ground mate.”

These were the words welcoming an Englishman who walked to his seat in the stands at the Vauxhall end of the Oval Cricket Ground. A group of raucous Indians were trying to put this outsider in his place. “At least you should be wearing an India shirt, because we’re playing against Australia, your enemy.”

The irony that the forefathers of this very English gent, sporting his team’s colours, established this ground back in 1845, and that the first Test in the country was played here in 1880 was clearly lost on the men wearing India’s blue. 

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