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   Forget the cricket... (February 27, 1996)

Forget the cricket, the Wankhede lights make Marine Drive, viewed from Chowpatty, look like a studio set. They should be kept on permanently, they improve the looks of the city. Or, Wankhede should have more night cricket, so that we can have the lights.

The best view is a little beyond Chowpatty, as you climb up the walkeshwar Road. The lights are bright blue, like moonstones (if they are bright blue), and the lights are connected to one another by a white glow, a sort of a heavenly net or a milky way. That's in the sky, but the lights shine on the water and form two broad tracks across the bay.

Everything about Mumbai is looking nice these days, every prospet pleases. Besides the members of the two teams, which will be playing this afternoon for the championship of the world, there are a large number of former international cricketers in town, in their roles as match referees, TV commentators, ICC representatices, newspaper correspondents.

One of the best things that has happened to cricket is that the game is being increasingly organised by the players. They are on various cricket boards, technical committees, and as far as the selection committeess go, they are exclusively ex-cricketers. Gone are the days when men, who had never held a cricket bat in their hands or stopped a ball, used to select players, pushing in their favourites, preemptorily dropping those who were not in their good books. When this also happens in hockey, we will once again be world champions.

And all the ex-cricketers are here, meeting old friends, exchanging notes, generally living it up in a pleasant, comfortable way that sportmen have.

Cricketers form an international brotherhood that is difficult to match in any other profession. They all play the same game, travel the same circuit, live in the same hotels, tour one another's countries, play for one another's benefits. And it is when they meet for these befefits that you should observe the camaraderie that prevails among them.

Cricket ifself has changed a lot from the days of baggy trousers, sola hats and country caps, 20 runs per hour, games extending over five days, with all the lunch breaks and tea breaks and heavy rollers and light rollers, and interruptions because of rains, and worst, the rest day in the middle of the game, and, finally, no result.

Now nothing interrupts the progress of a game. It is like a football match, you start at one end and you finish at the other. And if the light is poor, switch on the lights.

The lights will be on at the Wankhede Stadium this evening. And thought I cannot tell you who will and who will lose, one thing is certain Ė there will be a result.

 
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