Apologies to those uninterested in cricket, I’ve just risen from a long and pleasant afternoon, unable to drag myself from the coverage of the Lord’s Test, with unavoidable and frequent sorties into Carnoustie to watch Padraig ease out Sergio. The match between England and India looks poised; the balance of power is with England, but there could be enough in the Indian middle order to make a fight of it. Tomorrow promises much, especially if the two teams manage to drag the game beyond teatime.
I have this feeling of anticipation that is so rare with Test matches nowadays, and it brought to mind my memories of a Test nearly 30 years ago.
England v India. The Oval, 30 August to 4 September 1979. Test number 854.
It was the one where Gavaskar scored 221 and India scored 429 for 8 against a target of 437. At the time, if I remember right, only two teams had ever scored over 400 runs in the fourth innings to win a match, and they were Bradman and CoÂ going where none had gone before at Headingley in 1948, and India’s 406 for 4 at Port of Spain in 1976. [Since then there has been at least one more, Sarwan and Chanderpaul pulling off the Great Escape and beating the mighty Australians by scoring 418 to win at Antigua.]
I was spending the night with some college friends on a campus just outside Calcutta, it was a time when we had no television in India, when international battery-operate transistor radios were rare, and even rarer on student campuses. [Why battery-operated? Because power cuts (or load-shedding as we called it) were common, and we were in a power cut. It was after 10pm local time, everyone was huddled around the lone radio, and we kept getting interrupted by people coming back for the night and wanting to know the score.
So someone came up with an ingenious plan for the last 20 minutes. Three sets of candles. One set showing the number of runs India had left to get. One showing the number of balls left. One showing the number of wickets left.
At the death we had 9 candles lit for the Runs To Get, 2 for the Wickets Left and none for the Balls To Go. Match drawn.
What wonderful impromptu visualisation.
Other than the Tied Tests, I don’t think I’ve ever seen all three counters come down to single figures. BTW here’s a link to a brief video on the event, concentrating on Gavaskar’s innings, considered to be one of the six best performances by either side in Tests between the two countries. And it’s in my VodPod.