“The hearts will still flutter in inexpressible joy when a team registers a come-from-behind victory, even after losing a series. Yes, it will have its phases of monotony, where the home side will keep prevailing, but when indeed a rare Test win by a visiting side is achieved, Test cricket will rise again”.
“Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be will be,
The future’s not ours to see…
Que sera, sera.”
The future. A mystic sphere. A vast unknown. You are told to patiently wait. Life is all about the arrival of the uncertain and the unknown Godot. Challenges might knock you down and the obstacles might push you even further, but as long as the hope of a new morn remains, hearts flutter by. A hope for a better day; a better phase. For a moment that will test you and bring with it a crazed joy- one that slowly sweeps in after you realise that the toil that was pitched in finally bore fruit. And you revel in that peace and in the realisation that this success was well and truly earned.
Pause. Allow your minds to wander away to a pleasant afternoon at the historic Lord’s stadium in England. The weather is as unpredictable as you think it would be. Sunny and hot. Cloudy and windy. Rainy and pleasant. Chilly and dark. A group of Indian cricketers have stopped by and have accepted the contest between skills in testing conditions. You guffaw. Isn’t the end result known? Isn’t the trend around the cricketing world following a similar pattern? They come here, they lose. You go visit them, you lose. Pitches have been doctored to support the home team. The lack of a worthy fight seems boring. They will be tamed. You will show your supreme strength. You will be tamed. They then. You. Them. You…
Sigh! Where is that intense fight that you talk about? Where is that lip-smacking anticipation of a duel that will set the stage ablaze? It is all so uni-dimensional; so boring. And that is why the supporters choose the limited formats of the game. That is why the mindless smashing of the ball all over the park brings with it that lost joy. Heavier bats. Shorter fields. Flattened tracks. Millions of rupees. A quick result. Minimal sweat. Even lesser time.
But where is that mysticism?
Where is that wandering into the unknown?
Where is the patience?
Unless you wait for that uncertain and unknown Godot, how will you ever know if his existence is pure and not merely a work of fantasy? Where is that hope for a brighter phase when the day isn’t going your way? How can you display the skills that you have learnt all through your childhood in just five overs at the crease? You just have to see the ball and hit the ball. Where are the toiled successes and the ebbs and the flows, which will give you that silent peace after you have finally emerged triumphant?
And this is why Test cricket will never really lose its value. Neither its charm. It might be uninteresting but then, why do spectators wake up as early as 5 am. on a chilly winter day to catch the action between England and Australia? It might not bear the same aura as it possessed when the legends walked out to field, but then why is a cricketer still valued by his Test performances? Why are his T20 records almost never held in consideration for him to be called a great of the game? Why are the quick-fire scores and centuries in the shorter formats applauded and soon forgotten, but years later, the images of a rampaging Ishant Sharma as he has scalped his seventh wicket at Lord’s or Harbhajan Singh’s dance of exhilaration with the tiranga after a memorable win at Perth still held with silent smiles?
If no one cared, then can anyone explain the clamour that greeted Ajinkya Rahane’s omission from the team? Or even Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s? Can anyone describe the squeals of “Yes, I told you so!” when Rahane was gritting it out, tooth and nail after a year of a no-show? Or the frightening moments when Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla were batting on the fourth day of the third Test match of the series, which had already been lost by India?
No, they cannot. Because cricket is more than the results. It is as much about a win as it is about the continued effort. It is about losing a session but having a silent faith that your contributions will change the course of the match. It is about self-belief and confidence. It allows you to vent out your anger and still stay afloat. It allows you to fall and still get back up. It almost is a miniature version of life itself. A long battle, wherein you know you will fail one moment or the other but one which promises the chance of redemption as well. A test in the real sense of the term. Mental. Physical. Emotional.
It sees how durable you are. How determined your focus is. And if ever things go awry, the hope of a new morn remains. A morn with 90 new overs. Forgetting the past and seizing the present. And till individuals continue to applaud the tales of human valour, Test cricket will never really lose its essence.
The hearts will still flutter in inexpressible joy when a team registers a come-from-behind victory, even after losing a series. Yes, it will have its phases of monotony, where the home side will keep prevailing, but when indeed a rare Test win by a visiting side is achieved, Test cricket will rise again. It’s odes sung louder than before. Its presence glorified and its existence praised evermore.