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Earlier this week a reader asked me what I thought of Sourav Ganguly’s hair. It is, of course, one of the seven wonders of the IPL, and it’s a joy to see the old boy cavorting about the field like a teenager, albeit a teenager who can’t bend down in a hurry.
I don’t know precisely how hirsuteness is restored but I’ve heard that specially selected hairs are planted one at time and that the whole business is rather painful. It’s no surprise then that cricketers lead the way when it comes to cranial re-thatching since to pass this ordeal, a man must call upon the same reserves of physical courage and rock-like endurance that are required to bowl into the wind all day with a raging hangover or to face up to a Mark Nicholas interview on the fourth evening of a Test match.
And since Sourav is from the top drawer as far as cricketers go, I assume he got the premier treatment hair-wise. A former Indian captain should not be settling for the scrapings from a barber’s shop floor and I expect he insisted on a lock or two from the tomb of Genghis Khan, a clump of Elvis’ quiff and, in the hope of insinuating a touch of speed into the Ganguly DNA, a strand or two plucked from the mane of Frankel.
The end result is magnificent. Watching Gangulylocks flaunt his fringe as he runs up to bowl, tossing his hair this way and that like Shahid Afridi leaving the salon on a windy Tuesday afternoon, gives a lift to the soul. The same indomitable spirit that burned in the breast of the plucky caveman who refused to give up his dream of a wheel without right angles has enabled us as a species to win another small battle against Father Time.
But whilst Ganguly is living out his Dennis Lillee fantasies, his team are struggling somewhat. The defeats have been piling up with unfortunate regularity and on Thursday they hit a new low when they lost to Deccan, the franchise that victory forgot.
They’ve also been suffering from an outbreak of dicky tummies. But we should be wary of concluding that this is a case of naïve foreigners tangling with the wrong kind of curry. No, it is primarily a tailoring issue. The vomiting twosome Luke Wright and Steven Smith may have been feeling a little fragile when they left their hotel, but it was the sight of those bilious team shirts in the dressing room that tipped them over the edge. The Pune vest is the colour of an overcast sky or a mid-Atlantic swell; a shade known to artists as “seasick blue”.
To be honest, I still haven’t quite got used to the IPL’s newest franchise. They have that feeling of a sofa that still has the plastic wrapping on it. They aren’t seasoned yet, not properly worn in. Like Ganguly’s hair the Pune squad has been assembled at great cost but it hasn’t really settled down and could probably use a trim.
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. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73