June 29, 2012

Beer and Viv Richards on Pearl Harbor Day

In high school, playing hooky to play or watch cricket was a common pastime
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In high school, playing hooky to play or watch cricket was a common pastime. In those years too, I discovered the illicit pleasures of cold beer. I was underage as far as alcohol consumption was concerned but the illegality of a pursuit has never discouraged the young. I quickly discovered that beer made many things better, the most prominent being that it turned the formerly intolerable--like boring people at a party--into tolerable. But the one thing that it made almost heavenly was cricket.

Now, it wasn't that one could buy and drink beer at cricket grounds in India but rather, that if the stars aligned i.e., school had been skipped, beer procured, a suitable drinking venue secured (read: a fellow juvenile delinquent's home) and a game was on, a live telecast with a cold beer handy suddenly became the cricketing experience par excellence.

Such a moment occurred on Pearl Harbor Day 1983, the date of India's fourth one-day international against the West Indies at Jamshedpur. The West Indies, determined to make India pay for the World Cup loss inflicted on them earlier that summer, had already wrapped up the series 3-0 but weren't quite done cuffing India around the ears just yet.

On that day, I had decided to cut school, and watch the cricket with a bad-boy friend of mine, who had promised me that he would raid his Dad's beer stash and chill a few for the game. I called in sick; my mother did not track the cricket calendar, and did not realise a one-day international was on. There was nothing fishy, then, about my waking up in the morning with the moans and groans. Shortly after she left for work, I caught a bus and headed over to the venue of my perdition. The game began at 9:30 AM; the first beers hit our gullets at 10 AM. (Some 18 years later, at the Adelaide Oval, while waiting for Australia to take on South Africa in a Test, I would break this record of mine for early-in-the-day beer consumption by downing my first beer of the day at 9:40 AM.)

The beers were refreshing; what made them even better was the Greenidge-Richards show that followed as the two put on 221 runs for the second wicket at approximately eight runs an over. Richards smashed 149 off 99 balls; Greenidge was sedate in comparison, scoring 110 off 134 (though he did hit more sixes). The West Indies ended up at 333 off 45 overs at 7.4 an over, a staggering run rate for that period, and even for this one.

Yes, we were intoxicated; drinking on an empty stomach will do that for you. But an equally contributory factor was the batting: we hooped and hollered, drunkenly cheering on the carnage, oblivious to the fact that Indian bowlers were being put to the sword.

Judgment clouded? Yes, perhaps. Nationality forgotten? Definitely.

PS: I do not remember if my friend's father noticed the missing bottles or if my mother was surprised by my rapid recovery.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • farrodread on February 25, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    What a great reminder of our youth and watching cricket.Those early years of listening to live commentary via transistor radio from the cricket oval in Brisbane, Australia or wherever the matches were been played.It warms my heart just reading your article.Please keep up the good work.

  • masseyuk on February 19, 2013, 2:52 GMT

    King Akbar, everyone you mentioned has brought honour to this great sport.There are many whose names have not been mentioned, but evaluating players have never been an easy task.Fame is not centered on statistics or on record books,it's a combination of a multitude of things which create greatness.There are players whose records have been overwhelming,but their personalities, attitudes and a host of other problems have led to their infamy. Obsession of self is a social curse which ultimately destroys one's image.Celebrities would be nothing without fans,they are born through the admiration of fans.

  • King Akbar on February 17, 2013, 1:55 GMT

    Ayrton,the highest form of cricket is test cricket.The names you mentioned are some of the building blocks that have made this game and formed its identity.It's not only about batting or bowling,but also the quality of those men who inducted high morals into this grand sport that created its true character. Charlie you mentioned some of the older players,I must say each of them is a gem.In the annals of cricket each has an impeccable story.There are more to this list like L Rowe,C LLoyd.And again I will mention Chanderpaul, he is a gem and a gentleman to the game.

  • SEKAB on February 15, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    King Akbar:

    I took an idiot like you to to start a folly of fools.

  • Charlie on February 15, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    @ King akbar ! You mention a lot of older names ; how about Sir Everton ,Sir Conrad ,Sir Frank and Seymour Nurse and company ? These guys played with those same names you mentioned ! I hope you were fortunate enough to see some of them . They invented the strokes for most of those whom you have mentioned ,with the exception of the Great One ; GS Sobers .

  • Ayrtons on January 12, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    King Akbar, I totally agree with you. Classis cricket is about posture and form not brute force and ignorance.

    To that end, it used to be a treat to watch people like Rohan Kanhai, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin, Rahul Dravid, VVS, Alvin Kallicharran, (Roy Fredricks had the best square cut and pull shot in the game even up to today)Just ask Lillie and Thompson about that.

    These are all people who score their runs in the most elegant manner all along the turf not slogging and playing baseball.

  • Walter on January 9, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    Yes, Rowe was classic, but leave Chanders alone...he is a Guyanese Tiger:-)

  • King Akbar on November 12, 2012, 23:22 GMT

    Preacha I agree with you.I mentioned Chanderpaul for his impeccable concentration.Beside, he played over 140 test matches and has an avg: of 50.00.

  • Preacha on November 10, 2012, 2:53 GMT

    Dont agree,Viv was more than a slugger.He was also pleasent to the eyes.True some of those mention was gracious in their stroke play ...but Chanderpaul???? nooo.Ever saw Lawrence Rowe,Greg Chapell,Zaheer Abbas,Carl Hooper..my pick of them all was Rowe.Saw him and Viv batting at the same time against Austrila packer side..Lillee,Thompson,Malone,Pascoe.Both made 50 odd.Rowe was classic

  • Aanish Bhardwaj on November 9, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    Yes, I remember that day... it was a DIWALI in JAMSHEDPUR... as a kid I thought scoring hundred in ODI is next to impossible, at that time only Indian to scored hundred was Kapil Dev. But that was Viv's 7th ODI hundred. Viv was a original MASTER BLASTER, he has tought the world how to play ODI.

  • farrodread on February 25, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    What a great reminder of our youth and watching cricket.Those early years of listening to live commentary via transistor radio from the cricket oval in Brisbane, Australia or wherever the matches were been played.It warms my heart just reading your article.Please keep up the good work.

  • masseyuk on February 19, 2013, 2:52 GMT

    King Akbar, everyone you mentioned has brought honour to this great sport.There are many whose names have not been mentioned, but evaluating players have never been an easy task.Fame is not centered on statistics or on record books,it's a combination of a multitude of things which create greatness.There are players whose records have been overwhelming,but their personalities, attitudes and a host of other problems have led to their infamy. Obsession of self is a social curse which ultimately destroys one's image.Celebrities would be nothing without fans,they are born through the admiration of fans.

  • King Akbar on February 17, 2013, 1:55 GMT

    Ayrton,the highest form of cricket is test cricket.The names you mentioned are some of the building blocks that have made this game and formed its identity.It's not only about batting or bowling,but also the quality of those men who inducted high morals into this grand sport that created its true character. Charlie you mentioned some of the older players,I must say each of them is a gem.In the annals of cricket each has an impeccable story.There are more to this list like L Rowe,C LLoyd.And again I will mention Chanderpaul, he is a gem and a gentleman to the game.

  • SEKAB on February 15, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    King Akbar:

    I took an idiot like you to to start a folly of fools.

  • Charlie on February 15, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    @ King akbar ! You mention a lot of older names ; how about Sir Everton ,Sir Conrad ,Sir Frank and Seymour Nurse and company ? These guys played with those same names you mentioned ! I hope you were fortunate enough to see some of them . They invented the strokes for most of those whom you have mentioned ,with the exception of the Great One ; GS Sobers .

  • Ayrtons on January 12, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    King Akbar, I totally agree with you. Classis cricket is about posture and form not brute force and ignorance.

    To that end, it used to be a treat to watch people like Rohan Kanhai, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin, Rahul Dravid, VVS, Alvin Kallicharran, (Roy Fredricks had the best square cut and pull shot in the game even up to today)Just ask Lillie and Thompson about that.

    These are all people who score their runs in the most elegant manner all along the turf not slogging and playing baseball.

  • Walter on January 9, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    Yes, Rowe was classic, but leave Chanders alone...he is a Guyanese Tiger:-)

  • King Akbar on November 12, 2012, 23:22 GMT

    Preacha I agree with you.I mentioned Chanderpaul for his impeccable concentration.Beside, he played over 140 test matches and has an avg: of 50.00.

  • Preacha on November 10, 2012, 2:53 GMT

    Dont agree,Viv was more than a slugger.He was also pleasent to the eyes.True some of those mention was gracious in their stroke play ...but Chanderpaul???? nooo.Ever saw Lawrence Rowe,Greg Chapell,Zaheer Abbas,Carl Hooper..my pick of them all was Rowe.Saw him and Viv batting at the same time against Austrila packer side..Lillee,Thompson,Malone,Pascoe.Both made 50 odd.Rowe was classic

  • Aanish Bhardwaj on November 9, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    Yes, I remember that day... it was a DIWALI in JAMSHEDPUR... as a kid I thought scoring hundred in ODI is next to impossible, at that time only Indian to scored hundred was Kapil Dev. But that was Viv's 7th ODI hundred. Viv was a original MASTER BLASTER, he has tought the world how to play ODI.

  • masmith on October 26, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    KingAkbar, the point is the score runs, and he(Richards) did that very well, eloquent batsman or not.

  • King Akbar on October 8, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    I have seen him bat on three occassions.He is nothing but a SLUGGER.The admiration of batsmanship is Sachin,Lara Richie Richardson,Kanhai,Sobers,The GREAT GAVASKAR,Gundappa,M Amarmauth.Kallicharran,Azuridin,Miandad with the brave S,Chanderpaul,a bowler's nightmare.There are much more to add,but in my opinion Richards has never been an eloquent player.

  • thomas on September 13, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    Never a big fan of beer....though i occasionally drink one or two off brands...

  • MrB on August 8, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    Since beer companies stop sponsoring WestIndies Cricket they ahave not been winning. Wonder who laid down the law

  • Bengaluru Baay on August 1, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    Took a walk down nostalgia lane...right here sitting at my desk "working". Sent an email to my close mates with this link...dedicating this article to them. Growing up in India, it is so much fun breaking a taboo...quietly...an exhilarating bonding ritual :) Cheers Samir. Good on you!

  • subu on July 23, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    nostalgic..i remember watching india's slow reply on that winter afternoon. the sportstar magazine for that week had a huge picture of richards & greenidge.

  • ankit saxena on July 15, 2012, 14:05 GMT

    waah samir bhai ...kya baat hai. same here lot of times in the recent past ..... loll

  • Gopinath on July 15, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    It was nice to read this. Feels like walking back to those period, gr8 Caribbean days.

  • Roy Singh-Toronto Canada on July 9, 2012, 17:31 GMT

    Hey, I need to connect with Sir Vivian Richards re a 20/20 tournament in Canada,any help will be appreciated.

  • Jaideep on July 2, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    Good one Samir. I was in Jr College at that time. Returned from early morning lectures to watch this match on B/W TV. One distinct memory is that Richards hit many boundaries through mid wicket which was left vacant by Kapil Dev for some reason. The bowler who took maximum punishment was Chetan Sharma, but he could redeem himself a bit by taking some cheap wickets at the end. One of the commentators at the match was Farokh Engineer.

  • Swami on July 1, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    Nice anecdote. My first school bunking session was during the 1991 sharjah final between Ind and Pak where Aquib Javed took a hattrick. Of course I had been following cricket since much earlier than that, but the boldness to bunk school happened in 1991 (my mother happened to be a teacher in the same school, which made it a bit more daring, if I do say so myself!). No beer then for me, so I took the defeat a little badly I guess.

  • lugu on June 30, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    those were the good old days . i wish i was in your shoes.great great story ,keep up the good work and find more gems like these

  • Vinod Iyer on June 30, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    Enjoyed this...brought back a few memories of skipping classes @ school to take in the ODI....and yeah...Beer tastes better when watching cricket, have experienced this in a few place around NZ and Aus...real fun..keep writing-like your style :)

  • Agni on June 29, 2012, 12:30 GMT

    this brought a smile. I remember that match .. when I returned from school the commentators were discussing if SMG should have gone for bowling a bit earlier than he went(if i remember he hit Harper for 3 sixes in a over)... and of course my beer drinking days would'nt start until some 6 years into the future... Next season I started the school cutting to watch the B&H tri-series final....

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  • Agni on June 29, 2012, 12:30 GMT

    this brought a smile. I remember that match .. when I returned from school the commentators were discussing if SMG should have gone for bowling a bit earlier than he went(if i remember he hit Harper for 3 sixes in a over)... and of course my beer drinking days would'nt start until some 6 years into the future... Next season I started the school cutting to watch the B&H tri-series final....

  • Vinod Iyer on June 30, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    Enjoyed this...brought back a few memories of skipping classes @ school to take in the ODI....and yeah...Beer tastes better when watching cricket, have experienced this in a few place around NZ and Aus...real fun..keep writing-like your style :)

  • lugu on June 30, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    those were the good old days . i wish i was in your shoes.great great story ,keep up the good work and find more gems like these

  • Swami on July 1, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    Nice anecdote. My first school bunking session was during the 1991 sharjah final between Ind and Pak where Aquib Javed took a hattrick. Of course I had been following cricket since much earlier than that, but the boldness to bunk school happened in 1991 (my mother happened to be a teacher in the same school, which made it a bit more daring, if I do say so myself!). No beer then for me, so I took the defeat a little badly I guess.

  • Jaideep on July 2, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    Good one Samir. I was in Jr College at that time. Returned from early morning lectures to watch this match on B/W TV. One distinct memory is that Richards hit many boundaries through mid wicket which was left vacant by Kapil Dev for some reason. The bowler who took maximum punishment was Chetan Sharma, but he could redeem himself a bit by taking some cheap wickets at the end. One of the commentators at the match was Farokh Engineer.

  • Roy Singh-Toronto Canada on July 9, 2012, 17:31 GMT

    Hey, I need to connect with Sir Vivian Richards re a 20/20 tournament in Canada,any help will be appreciated.

  • Gopinath on July 15, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    It was nice to read this. Feels like walking back to those period, gr8 Caribbean days.

  • ankit saxena on July 15, 2012, 14:05 GMT

    waah samir bhai ...kya baat hai. same here lot of times in the recent past ..... loll

  • subu on July 23, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    nostalgic..i remember watching india's slow reply on that winter afternoon. the sportstar magazine for that week had a huge picture of richards & greenidge.

  • Bengaluru Baay on August 1, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    Took a walk down nostalgia lane...right here sitting at my desk "working". Sent an email to my close mates with this link...dedicating this article to them. Growing up in India, it is so much fun breaking a taboo...quietly...an exhilarating bonding ritual :) Cheers Samir. Good on you!