If anyone wants proof that we Indians take our cricket a bit too seriously, this is it.
This is an excerpt from The States of Indian Cricket by one of India’s better known cricket writers, Ramachandra Guha. And the piece references another epic called The History of Indian Cricket by Mihir Bose (who has recently branched out and written, albeit with a lot less authority, about India’s other staple, Bollywood).
Here goes ..
In his History of Indian Cricket Mihir Bose has argued that if India has produced few good left hand batsmen, the explanation lies in the subcontinental custom of using the left hand to clear the trenches after a bowel movement. This puzzled me, for if this taboo did indeed spill over to the cricket field it would also affect the supply of left-arm bowlers, who use the offending left hand rather more directly. But Baloo and Jamshedji both emerged in violation of this history. So have the fine slow left-arm bowlers who have followed in their wake. Vinoo Mankad, Bapu Nadkarni, Salim Durrani, Ravi Shastri, Dilip Doshi, Maninder Singh and, above all, Bishen Singh Bedi.
When I pointed this out in a review I wrote of Mr Bose’s book, a correspondent insisted that the great Indian tradition of slow left-arm bowling could in fact be an indirect confirmation of the casual connection between a culture’s pottying techniques and its preferences on the playing field. The taboo, he remarked, could plausibly apply only to batting – i.e. one could not hold the bat the other way round. When it came to the act of bowling, Indian cricket coaches would instead wish to encourage wronghandedness – for a projectile hurled with the left hand carried with it the danger and devilry associated with all polluting activities. Let us not forget that the adjective ‘sinister’ (which must surely have come to mind as batsmen prepared to face Baloo or Jamshedji, Bedi or Mankad) is derived from the Greek for ‘left handed’.