A man must be getting old if he is losing interest in cricket. It is happening to me.
I was not thrilled beyond words, carried to the seventh heaven, when India won the first one-day international. And I was not in the depths of despair yesterday evening, when India lost Kapil Dev wins one, Kapil Dev loses one, I said to myself, which, in any case, is better than Kapil Dev winning none and losing 21.
Time was when I used to take off from the office when there was cricket somewhere in the country. And it was not even to watch it on TV, but to hear it on the radio. Now also I take an off here and there, but I would not waste it watching cricket.
Time was when Vijay Merchant, Vijay Harzare, Chandu Sarwate and Rusi Mody were my great heroes. Now Gavaskar is a nice guy, wish him the best of luck, and that is all. And Azharuddin-promising young man, very agile, though a little out of touch at the moment. But no more. I would not rave over him as I did over a young Manjrekar, or the old Pataudi and then the young Pataudi.
Come to think of it, the only time I am glued to the TV set is when our Kapil Dev is giving one of his interviews in his Australian accent.
Cricket watching has always been in the family. From the final years of the Pentangular-which Bobby Talyarkha killed with continuous anti-propaganda and which he had no business to-days of Jehangir Khan and K. C. Ibrahim and G. Krishenchand. And the time India went to England in 1946, which to my mind, is the best team India has ever sent abroad give or take a few players, and the West Indies first coming to India under Godard, with Stollmeyer and Rae and Walcott and Weekes and Prior Jones as their fastest bowler then.
I used to attend every Test in Bombay, even those against New Zealand, sitting in the East Stand, through long, sunshine afternoons, a witness to India losing Test after Test after Test in those days, if India managed to play out the last day and draw a Test, the entire stadium and the entire country celebrated.
I used to collect photographs of cricketers (never autographs, though), keep detailed scores in exercise books, had a library of cricket books, from John Arlott to Mushtaq Ali. And the only job I wanted was that of a cricket correspondent.
These days I think being a cricket correspondent would be a bore. Imagine covering cricket in non-cricket arenas like Gwalior and Jaipur and Srinagar, especially Sirnagar, where they cannot distinguish between the home team and the visiting team.
Yes, I must be growing old. Cricket does not mean all that much to me any more. I will watch the rest of the season with a certain detachment-you win some, you lose some. Only, I hope, we don't lose all.