Whistling at Edgbaston…Napping at Wimbledon…Clapping at Lords

Three venues.. Three dreams…Three stories

Whistling at Edgbaston

Whistling at Edbaston1

‘Yes, I got it, I got it’ – I shouted at one of my Scottish colleagues … This was one of those days when I wished I was in India. Oh I would have been the envy of the entire office… I was the proud owner of 4 tickets to India Vs Pakistan ICC Champions trophy match at Edgbaston and my empathetic Scottish friend had no idea why I was over the moon..

This was ‘the dream’.. If there was one place to watch Ind Vs Pak match outside these 2 countries then it was Edgbaston !! Sold out crowd.. (partially) sunny day.. Great atmosphere .. Crowd from both sides trying to get better of each other ..

The day of that match is still fresh in my memory; not because I was living one of dreams but seeing my wife go practically nuts during the match !! She will be the first one to tell you that she hates cricket but that day she must be the one who has most fun in the entire stadium. I don’t know if it was the Edgbaston atmosphere or India playing well but she had the time of her life… I am not sure if I did …

May be I was trying to come to terms with a dream coming true or I was overwhelmed by the situation.. There are times when you just want to forget about your dream or how the occasion is special and just enjoy .. She was doing exactly that… Wish I could have done the same 🙂

Napping at Wimbledon

Center Court

Ok.. I confess.. I fell asleep during a Nadal match in center court at Wimbledon !! There .. I said it..

This was another dream of mine. Throughout my childhood I watched Graph, Seles, Agassi, Sampras grace those greens. I read about the strawberry and cream and the famous hill. I tried my luck 2 years in a row but the closest I got to center court was to see Andy Murray wave goodbye to the crowd at the end of the day. For the record, in my first try I waited in the famous queue for 9 hours and I had practically lost my mind when I finally entered the Wimbledon gates. My wife can testify to that !!

Call it third time lucky or benefit of having friends like Danielle Hrin Quek – my Glasgow BFF. I owe it to her for being finally able to spend a day at Wimbledon center court.. I actually took half a day off from work ( not for the first time to watch sports !!). The line up for the day was great – Nadal, Serena Williams .. I could not have asked for more – apart from staying awake!!..

The Nadal match was going great.. Nadal came back into the match after being a set down with a series of long rallies and I went out of the match exactly during one of those rallies!! I know I know .. How could I ??? but I did..

Watching tennis wasn’t anything that I thought it would be .. No shouting.. No real cheering.. No banter.. Pin drop silence during points … It was just too much for a cricket fan within me.. To add to that the Center Court crowd !!.. I practically had to open my pack of crisps with atmost care and I still got few looks… This was not the dream.. In a sense it was but not how I imagined it. I dare say that I had more fun watching the matches on the outside courts during my earlier visits to Wimbledon

At the end of the day, I reached a conclusion that I almost do not want to do this again except for if it is the semi’s or the finals. Ironic but true.. Afterall, who wants to nap when Nadal is in full flow !!

Clapping at Lords


Consider this – You are a life long cricket fan.. You have got 5th row Grand Stand tickets at Lords on day 4.. Lords is celebrating its 200 years… Indian team plays out of their skin .. A british fan sitting in the next row tells you before leaving – ‘You guys are going to win this one’

Can it get better? Nope.. Specially after the scars that you suffered watching India get hammered by England at Edgbaston 4 years ago and a drunk British fan hugged you saying – ‘Don’t worry, better luck next time’.. Hell the next time was here

Good things happen to you if you have good friends and this happened courtesy another close friend of Mine – Rahul Datar..

Lords was a strange place.. It was almost anti-Edgbaston.. Very few slogans.. Very few people shouting.. Hardly anyone getting drunk and shouting at opposition fans.. Even the Mexican Wave took a while to get going..  There were times when I wished this was Edgbaston and there was at least one guy completely drunk and contiuously shouting – ‘Jitaga Bhai Jitega, India Jitega’ ..

Not to say that there was complete lack of characters.. There were few ‘ Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy , aaja aaja aaja aaja !!’ chants which were really funny but that was about it.. Cricket wise the day was great with Jadeja literally wielding his bat and then Inshat Sharma running through the english batting lineup ( Yes .. I said Ishant Sharma .. Miracles do happen)

Another dream which was little bit underwhelming .. It you give me a choice between Edgbaston and Lords , I might choose Edgbaston next time!! Lords might be the home of cricket but by the spirit sure lives in Edgbaston (specially if India is playing pakistan)



Tendulkar, Modi and ‘weight of a nation’

‘He has been carrying the weight of the nation for so long, now it’s our turn to carry him on our shoulders’ – said Yuvraj singh after that wonderful evening at Wankhede in 2011. I totally agreed then and I still agree now. Till around 10 days back, Tendulkar was the only man to ever carry the weight of the nation on his shoulders but then happened Modi and now it seems that he is the next one to carry the weight (and may be the last one) I was a Tendulkar fan for most of my life and all of Tendulkar’s cricketing life. I am however not necessarily a Modi fan… atleast for now. That said I do not have any issue with Modi. Having been a lifetime Tendulkar’s fan, It is little scary to be a Modi fan!!

Image courtesy - sandhira.com

Image courtesy – sandhira.com

Here is why – People like me set Tendulkar up for Failure right from the day we started cheering him. I am sure that Tendulkar never told me that he is going to score 100 100s. He never claimed that he was the best batsman in the wold. He hardly every said or claimed anything. I bet Tendulkar was not even as talented as some of his contemporaries. I am ready to go on record and say that a certain Vinod Kambli was more talented than Tendulkar. I would dare say that VVS was more natural than Tendulkar.. Heck I would say that Dravid has more mental strength than Tendulkar. Tendulkar just had it in him to work harder than any other kid around him to make most of what God gifted him. The whole thing about expectations was created by people like me. Fans like me.. We placed our expectations on his (literally) young shoulders. We wanted him to win for us. We wanted him to achieve what we could not. We wanted him to be superhuman. Thank God that Tendulkar was able to carry weight of those expectations, very few could. Tendulkar did not just carry the weight but excelled while doing so. I am sure it was a big burden and I am sure he felt it every day for past 22 years. If you need a proof then take a look at Tendulkar post his retirement, you can see the relief on his face..

Modi’s story might play out in a similar way. Now I may not have followed Modi’s career but I am sure there are more charismatic leaders around him. I am sure that Advani, Swaraj and others have a bigger stature … I am sure there are others in BJP with more and diverse experience.  While that might be true, I am also sure that Modi worked his socks off to reach where he has.. The problem starts now.. If social media is to be believed, the whole nation thinks that there are going to be miracles. Modi is going to win them every match as Tendulkar did ( or didn’t). Modi is going to be the solution to every problem. Just as there was a whole generation made up of Tendulkar fans, we now have a generation of Modi fans.

As a neutral observer and a Tendulkar Fan, the Modi fan following worries me. Tendulkar’s whole career was a fight against those expectations and for the record a lot of neutrals still view his career as a failure. His only fault was to raise the expectation. He in no ways knowingly contributed to the rise in expectations but it just happened.The ironic thing about Modi is that he has actively raised the expectation and now it is a genie out of the bottle. Neither Modi nor anyone else can put that genie back in.

Just like Tendulkar, Modi will have to carry the weight of a nation on his shoulders.. I am sure all the Modi fans will be more than happy if Modi retires after 22 years with similar successes / failures as Tendulkar…

This is the Indian cricket team I can relate too!!

I have a confession to make. Few months ago I said that this generation would not understand the plight of an Indian cricket fan in the 90s and late 2000s . I am here to wholeheartedly apologize and accept that I was wrong. I am convinced that after seeing the recent NZ tour and the Asia cup, this generation exactly knows how I felt back in the 90s (I can’t wipe the ironical smile off my face while typing this)

India Vs Nz 2014

I guess it was all getting bit boring.. Dhoni taking India safely to victory.. No more heartaches.. no more losing close matches…no more cursing hopeless players. I am not sure about you but I had stopped worrying about the Indian team ( read as stopped being a fan anymore). I was just not able to relate to the Indian team for past few years. But I must admit –  it feels good to experience the pain, agony, frustration all over again. I think I can be an Indian cricket fan again as this is the India cricket team I always knew !!

Lets do a quick test and you tell me if you agree

Did this team raise expectations and then disappointed? 

Yes !! The 2nd test in NZ .. guess I need not say anything more

Does this team have characters which can frustrate any fan (or captain) ?

Yes !! Case in point Ishant Sharma .. enough said

Has this team perfected the art of losing close matches?

Yes !! Asia cup.. If the Sri Lanka loss did not convince you then the Pakistan one will..

Is this team over dependent on 1 single player?

May be .. Virat Kohli seems to be the new Tendulkar (oh sorry I guess it is Dhoni..but whatever)

Does this team lose to lower rank test teams abroad (read as NZ)

Yes .. oh yes !!

Does this team lose close matches to Pakistan (apart from world cup)


Does this team have a lot of overrated players?

Yes.. Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Jadeja… Take your pick !!

As a fan, do you still feel that this team can win something some day ?

Yes .. They almost made me stay awake at night for the NZ 2nd test

May be this is the lull before the storm. May be this is just a phase ( in the 90s it wasn’t) and just may be I would not have to write a post like this again. Till then, I might just become a fan of India cricket again cause this is the team I always knew !!

Surendra Phatak

An Indian cricket fan from the 90s