Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Memorable Moments of Cricket in SSN V

I had last left the story when I had learned to judge deep catches and had taken 3 successfully. Today I continue from the last line of the previous chapter- fickleness of fortunes in the cricket pitch. I have two other instances of catches that came my way that I must mention here.
Though I didn’t catch either of these two, due to totally different reasons, I learned valuable lessons from both.

The first was when I had just been to the pitch to celebrate a wonderful castling by some bowler I can’t remember, and was jogging back to my place. I reached it at a leisurely pace, and turned and saw to my horror the ball flying towards me, and I knew that it was going to fall short of me. And it sure did. But what happened next was what that made the moment more special. The ball fell short and bounced in front of me. In a moment of extremely fast reflexive actions, I threw my hands in an effort to stop its journey, and sure enough it was successful. The ball was heading to the boundary, if not for that effort, and I had saved two runs. The fact that a lot of wickets had fallen already, and that I had tried my best and saved two runs impressed my friends. They understood that the ball had been bowled with me not being ready. Nobody even mentioned my missing of the catch, but I felt guilty. If I had been at my place at the time of delivery, this would have been another catch in my bag, However, I looked at the brighter side of it- if I had been at the place and fluffed it, and then all my good work in the day would have been forgotten. So it was God’s way of saving me from disgrace. So this wasn’t a miss actually- it was not my catch at all.

The last of the catches was a simple one, by my standards then- surprising how high standards can rise in the space of just one day. I was at sweeper cover now (the offside equivalent of square leg), and the wind was blowing from my right to the left. So when the ball was heading to me from a top edged square cut, I did all my known basics right, but forgot that the wind would have its part to play. I had also forgotten to see the ball until the last moment. I judged with an air of presumption that I had assumed after having caught so well till then, and placed my palms at a position where according to me the ball would land. If not for the wind, the ball was heading nowhere else. However, the wind pushed the ball further leftwards and it just grazed my fingertips, as my palms closed and fell to the ground, to my horror. That was one of the many lives Vijay would get, in a match where fortune helped in their victory- extras, especially from an over by Shankar, were the hero here, and good old lady luck for Vijay, whose top edges either dropped short, fell in no man’s land, or (in this case) were dropped. Puli (Senthil Kumar) could not believe I had dropped this. I told him what had happened, and he immediately reprimanded me for forgetting the basics. If I had my eyes on the ball, my palms would have moved towards it in a reflexive action. I felt like having been slapped.
I felt my pride melting away. Indeed- if you don’t follow the basics with hard concentration, you only stand to lose, however good a catcher you are.
That’s about my experiences with deep catching. Next in the series comes my exploits in close-in fielding. Keep tuning.

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