World Cup Tour Diary

Diary: After 40 years, it's mother's day at Eden Gardens

Our correspondent-on-vacation takes his mother to the cricket, and comes back with some memories to cherish

Himanshu Agrawal
17-Nov-2023
Eden Gardens looked resplendent in the colours of the sunset  •  ICC via Getty Images

Eden Gardens looked resplendent in the colours of the sunset  •  ICC via Getty Images

World Cup semi-final. Eden Gardens. It was always going to be a special occasion. For my mother, too, it was very special. She was, after all, going to watch a game at Eden Gardens after 40 years!
It wasn't easy to get her there. Forty years, of putting her love for cricket aside and bringing up the family, are a long time. She also whispered to me once that no-one had made so much of an effort to take her to the stadium in all these years. It really wasn't much of an effort - getting tickets was easy, surprisingly so, though I had to keep refreshing the BookMyShow page every 15 minutes before I got hold of them.
It was quite grey and gloomy as we made our way from one corner of Kolkata to another but the fears about the possible cyclone hadn't kept people away. A lot of people might have bought tickets in the hope that India would play their semi-final game at Eden, but they turned up nevertheless.
And there we were. A cricket enthusiast from her childhood days, Mummy talked about how things were while we were on our way, and even more once we reached. When she had last gone to Eden, it was for the India vs West Indies Test of December 1983. Cricket meant Test cricket, there were hardly any ODIs - forget T20s - around. She was surprised by the security apparatus around, cops scanning pockets and bags, all the colour and colourful clothes around… no-one can run on to the field because of the fencing, she remarked. One spectator did, during Australia's chase. As two securitymen hauled the man out, my mother felt bad for him: "How normal this was during our days!"
It was also normal for a very powerful West Indies side to blow opponents away those days, as they did in that Eden Gardens Test. Mummy remarked on it, as she did about India's fast-bowling attack. Having grown up on a heavy dose of spin, it is a fresh feeling for her.
I think she enjoyed the experience, even though she talked about how things were better "back then".
As for me, sure, Australia won and I'll remember that, but I made memories of a different sort. Ones to really cherish. Of a time well before my time, of Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, of a time Mummy misses, and I will never know.

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo