I met him the first day of the IIMB interaction. I thought he was one of the nicer guys. I invaded his computer the night after I gave my AuMale interview to leech Scrubs off his FTP and I thought he was a fantastic guy. Then he egged me on to continue in marketing and joined SNDU a year before me. And I thought, he was a super guy. Then he joined my team and it was like a breath of fresh air and I thought he was an awesome guy.
And then, as we were in Colombo, he got me to the Premadasa for a World Cup Semi Final – My first. And he proved that he was a super rock star. Actually I always knew it. Few people have this kind of a passion for anything. The Coke Tag of Eat Cricket, Sleep Cricket comes true with him. Thanks crazy follower of Little Master. The Manoos should be proud of you.
Anyway, while we were sitting at an awesome place watching the match I suddenly noticed that the walk back to the pavilion was really long and in the TV screen we never get to understand what goes on as one walks back after losing his wicket or as they call it – take the long walk back. It’s beautifully tragic in some ways. A lot of people walk the last walk back. They know they will never be on the 22 yards again and that realization suddenly makes you wonder about the transient nature of the world around us.
The atmosphere was electric. I think the greatest gift a sportsperson gets is to stand in front of a full stadium and hear the National Anthem of the country. It does not matter if the crowd is supporting or opposing you. Both have their charms and can give you the goose bumps beyond imagination.
The drums, the beer, the hairdos, the last ball of Murali on home soil and a wicket. You could not have asked for more. As he says there is always a compelling historical fact somewhere. The Sri Lankan Team has never lost a WC semi final in South Asia that my family has watched on the ground :)
The next day was the Mother of All Matches. India Pakistan in a World Cup Semi final. And interestingly I watched it with the super awesome guy mentioned above (SAG), the super excited boss, the Amaze-ing Lady and a friend from Pakistan (FFP). And as much as I would have liked to be a nice person and be neutral about the match, I don’t think I handled it too well.
Cricket and I have been strange companions ever since that Chemistry Class in Class 9 when our teacher caught hold of me on one of those not so rare occasions when I missed an organic chemistry twister and said, “if Sachin scores a century what’s it with you?” Since then I think I have always put cricket on the backseat if there was something more important. So on the day of the Mother Match, I was actually talking to Sri Lankan kids about their food habits, aspirations, choices and I don’t think I missed the game too much while I was at it.
But then I arrived just after God of Cricket lost his wicket and all hell broke loose from there. SAG and I rocked the entire Cinnamon Lakeside with our constant cheering and just could not be the nice neutral people. It was an India Pak Semi final. Poor FFP- he was outnumbered 2 to 1.
And then the three of us returned back to our rooms. Finally, watching a match which had so much more cricket than politics in it; we had fun all the way. The Long Walk Back takes a new meaning altogether.
But now, it’s time for blood, sweat and blue. The final hurdle is yet to be crossed.