January 23, 2010

India

Why I had to watch the Chittagong Test

Andrew Hughes


Careful son, you could crick your shoulder hoisting a bat that large © Associated Press
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Be warned, fellow cricket lovers, there are some odd folk about. Some of them may even be living under the same roof as you. Earlier this week, having set my alarm for a refreshingly early hour of Sunday morning, I was met with a quizzical look from Mrs H. I explained that it was necessary to rise at such a time, lest I miss the toss in Chittagong.

“Chitta-what?”

“Chittagong. It’s in Bangladesh.”

“So?”

I patiently outlined to her the nature of the feast of cricket that was about to ensue in that part of Asia, between the No. 1-ranked team in the world and another, slightly lower-ranked, but nonetheless equally determined XI. I cheerfully invited her to guess which was which. She declined the opportunity.

“Who’s going to win?” she asked, wearily.

“India,” I replied, “unless it rains.”

“So why are you going to bother watching it then, if you already know who’s going to win?” I had no answer to such a question. How can you even begin to cross the gulf of understanding implied by a comment of that nature? I wasn’t planning to spend four (or possibly five) mornings rising abruptly in the pitch dark, banging my knee on the bedside table and stumbling bleary-eyed down the stair, merely to find out who would win.

It was cricket. It was cricket and it was on television, and as such I felt that unless I let the Hughes eyes rest on the spectacle for at least an over or two, I’d let the side down, somewhat. Besides there’ll be plenty of time to sleep during the county season. Right now the schedule is packed tighter than Jacques Kallis’ lunch box and I intend to miss none of it, however many espressos it takes.

And having seen a lot of Bangladesh in the pyjama formats, I was keen to see what approach the Tigers brought to Test match cricket. Exactly the same approach, as it turned out. A procession of slightly built young men arrived at the crease and attempted to belt the cover off the ball. That is proper cricket, as Geoffrey Boycott probably wouldn’t say. Surely Mushfiqur Rahim’s life-affirming century with a bat that is a size too big for him is an early contender for innings of the year?

But the real star of the show was India’s stand-in captain. I hope that when he retires, someone takes the time to put together his best microphone performances and releases them on DVD. Virender’s Greatest Interviews. I would buy it. So would you.

He is the "before" character in the "Welcome to Diplomacy" introductory video shown to all new recruits to the Indian Foreign Office. Unfortunately, the brilliance of Sehwag’s interview technique is not always fully appreciated. Certain sections of the Chittagong crowd booed him on Thursday.

“You’re very popular here, aren’t you,” smirked Ravi Shastri.

“Yes I am,” replied Sehwag.

Put your irony away, Ravi, Virender is impervious. Before the game, the Mighty V had stated that he didn’t believe Bangladesh could take 20 Indian wickets. This did not go down well either. I suppose it shows how upside down the world is these days, that when a man gives a straight answer to a straight question, he is regarded either as a villain or an eccentric. Anyhow, as it turned out, in the first Test, Bangladesh took precisely 18 Indian wickets. One-nil to Mr Sehwag, I think.

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Posted by Ethanael on (November 10, 2012, 23:17 GMT)

IMHO you've got the right awsner!

Posted by Rosie on (September 6, 2011, 16:23 GMT)

This atrcile keeps it real, no doubt.

Posted by Maud on (September 5, 2011, 23:27 GMT)

This forum neeedd shaking up and you've just done that. Great post!

Posted by Anonymous on (January 27, 2010, 13:14 GMT)

Bangladeshi fans complaining about Viru's statement: 1) If you feel so bad about V's statement, just do a simple exercise: pretend for a minute that you were an Indian. Your team is top ranked, has arguably the best batting line up in the world, AND it is playing a relatively new bowling line up which is certainly not the best in the world.

With this mindset, just re-run V's conference tape in your mind, and see how everything he said would start make sense all of a sudden. You will only see straight-forward-ness and simplicity of the man instead of anything malicious.

2) If you still think that V was not only malicious but even incorrect in his evalaution; tell me how many of you would have bet your money on whether Bangladesh will take 20 indian wickets.

3) Finally, I am sure your team is great and it will start beating India in 5-10 years to come. There is no doubt you have good upcoming talent, and its just a matter of "evolving", soon your team will no more be ordinary.

Posted by An Indian on (January 27, 2010, 12:59 GMT)

Guys stop quoting the cliche "cricket is a gentlemen's game and blah blah...". TODAY, its a competitive sport and shit happens. It has always happened and will continue to happen as long as it doesn't go out of the way.

Also, ppl stop saying that Sehwag has a straightforward approach. Its just that he "does not know" how to sugar coat his words. He is not "spoiled" in that sense. So he just ends up being straightforward. If he knew how to sugar coat his words/answers, perhaps he would try not hurt people. Its just that he doesn't know how to do it, I would guess.

Also Bangladesh fans, please stop complaining and demeaning Viru on what he said for your team. Just reverse the roles, and imagine that you were and Indian instead of a Bangladeshi. Everything would suddenly look not so bad to you at all. Also, there is full support and love from India and Indian players to Bangladesh's crickets and its team. We love you guys, its just that Viru is the "before" character as Andres said.

Posted by Maverick on (January 25, 2010, 18:17 GMT)

Well It's understandable that the Indian fans can't forget the defeat against Bangladesh in the last World Cup that eliminate them from the 1st round. If Mr. Sehwag is straight forward then he must also tell the truth that their bowling line up is also ordinary. Look, how much did the Bangladeshi tail have scored from the Indian bowlers. They can't even out Rubel hosen, Shahadat nd shafiul cheaply. In the first test, No.1 of the world was lucky that the Bangladeshi top order was not mature enough! We the Bangladeshi fans can only blame our Top order batsman for their in consistent batting and their failure have let the Indian fans talk that much.

Posted by Kailash Mathur on (January 25, 2010, 16:04 GMT)

I am a fan of Sehwag and appreciate his ways but India needs to win over the population of Bangla Desh as friends and cricket could and should help.

But I do not think that any damage has been done and the two countries are going to be friends one day.

Posted by kutush on (January 25, 2010, 12:04 GMT)

Alright....lets finish this needless talk about being Sehwag not being a gentleman.Because being a gentleman also involves telling the truth or as close to a truth as you can.And the truth is that B'desh cannot hope to take 20 wickets in a test match.And they should stop it about wanting support...because their most experienced player still plays like a schoolkid.I do not think just words would support B'desh..they need player transfusion from some other country

Posted by True Indian on (January 25, 2010, 6:50 GMT)

Good to see these many comments and reaction from lot of people. I dont see anything wrong in Sehwag's comments. He told what he felt. For that matter do any one us expect Bangladesh to win this series or atleast a match? No right? Only difference is that he spoke his heart out where as most of us do not....

Posted by A HANSLOD on (January 24, 2010, 6:59 GMT)

I hope sehwag's opinion about the bangla team is for current squad. Who would have thought srilanka would be one of the strongest teams in the world today 20 years ago? And by the way ranking is nothing but temporary,how many of us are confident enough that india can win 4 games of cricket out of 10 against australia of any version? end of the day no one is bigger than a game it self.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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