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

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

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  • fanedlive 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.

  • fanedlive 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.

  • fanedlive 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.

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

    King Akbar:

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

  • fanedlive 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 .

  • fanedlive 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.

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

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

  • fanedlive 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.

  • fanedlive 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

  • fanedlive 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.

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