A batsman walking back to the pavilion. Big deal. Not quite, when it’s Australia’s leading willow wielder walking back to the pavilion during the World Cup semis, though the one with the wicked finger was convinced that he had no reason to leave the crease.
In what is popularly referred to as the Friendly City of South Africa, Adam Gilchrist sure made lots of friends in the cricketing fraternity — but nearly lost some in kangaroo kingdom — with the lightest of touches of his sledgehammer (also known as a cricket bat).
When he under-edged Aravinda de Silva on to his pads, offering a simple catch to Kumara Sangakkara, he hardly even looked at umpire Rudi Koertzen — nodding ‘not out’ — tucked his bat under his arm and walked off St Georges Park. This is what some who saw The Walk had to say:
Aravinda: “It was a good gesture on Gilchrist’s part. It is very rare to see a batsman walking off. But he and Lara do it. It shows there still are some gentlemen left in the game.”
Ponting: “Gilly later said he didn’t know the umpire hadn’t given him out; he just knew he had nicked it, didn’t bother looking around at the umpire, turned around and walked off. Yes, we were all a little surprised in the dressing room....I won’t be telling any of the boys to either walk or not walk. It’s up to them.”
Ex-English bowler-turned-scribe: “Adam wouldn’t have walked if he hadn’t lost the vice-captaincy for the West Indies Test tour.... There’s something odd going on in the Aussie dressing room, mate.”
Aussie cricket writer: “Adam is just a naturally impatient sort, who doesn’t have time to waste. When he knows he’s gone, he just goes.”
Ravi Shastri: “I am from the new, hard-as-nails school. It’s the World Cup semis and the team needs you. Walk, no way.”
Indian wag: “Iski to gaaiii” (Adam has lost it, yaar).”
Durban goes desi
Dismal, drizzle-and-occasional-downpour-swept match-eve day in Durban. The airport arrival zone resembles a mix of Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta.
Hindi seems to have become the Durban dialect of the day, punctuated by an occasional “Ei Mintu, edike aye” or the like. A badly outnumbered Ricky Ponting (an Aussie fan on a ‘high’, in the skipper’s no. 14 yellow jersey) stands in a corner, muttering “Go, Kenya, go”. Darkness in the afternoon in ‘the city for all seasons’ is a real damper for the Indian invasion.
But when it’s cricket, there’s always something — or maybe someone — to lift the gloom. On the slushy streets of Durban leading to Kingsmead, a series of streetside pole-posters does the trick: “Buy your Tendulkar poster today”, it says in black and white.
“Tendulkar’s 300th ODI shirt (authentic) on auction” screams a large ad in Daily News, a leading daily. Reserved at Rand 300,000, funds from the sale will go to an NGO helping the disabled. And if a touch of Tendulkar isn’t enough, Radio Lotus, playing in one of the Sashi Taxis,adds to the spirit of the Indian summer or spring. “Mitwa, re mitwa, humko kya darr hai re...,” (from Lagaan, of course) is playing loud and clear. Wanderers, here we come...
Harsha Bhogle, of ESPN-STAR Sports clarifies: “Having cut my teeth in serious cricket coverage, I would have been uncomfortable in the format presented by Sony.
“That is not to say that I would refuse to sit with Mandira Bedi, or refuse to be part of such programming, as is conveyed in ‘Meat for Sony is poison for ESPN’ (published on Tuesday). This appears rude to Mandira, which it was not meant to be as I am not that kind of person.”