A few years ago, one read the brilliant Pundits from Pakistan and the mind bookmarked Rahul Bhattacharya as an awesome cricket writer. Then one heard of his having moved over to the carribean, to research a book on West Indian cricket apparently. One to look forward to for sure. Alongside, he was writing for Cricinfo. The articles and features were nice but nowhere in the Pundits league. Writing a book is different from writing a feature, one rationalised. Maybe it requires a different skill set. Like VVS in a Test match as opposed to him in a (non Aussie) ODI.
Rahul’s piece for Cricinfo on Lara tho, is a wonderful comeback.
There comes a point in the Lara wind-up when all the game seems frozen. He is bent climatically at the knees, bat, as the cliché’ has it, raised like a guillotine, eyes trained down the pitch and, surely, given his knack for reading of spin and swing, at the bowler’s wrist. Insofar as the life of a cricket stroke goes, this is the fatal moment, the hairline between death, glory and a day at the office.
Meanwhile, his final dismissal carries all the irony that Lara’s genius held in an otherwise characterless West Indian cricket side for the two decades.
WICKET! Lara run out 18 (West Indies 173-3) Oh no. That’s a sickening way to go. Samuels drives Broad to mid-on, sets off and then sends Lara back, and Pietersen hits the stumps with a precise, underarm throw. That’s a farcical way for such a great career to end, and Samuels has ‘pantomime villain’ daubed all over that oversized head of his. Lara looks pretty devastated on his way off, and not a million miles from tears. There is one last wave of the bat, but he looks tired, and weary, like Hank in A Simple Plan. When you carried a series of islands for nearly two decades, your body takes a hell of a strain. It is the right time to go, but – please – not like that. Sickeners come no more definitive.