The story goes back to the year 1932, when for the second time an Indian team travelled to England to play the game of willow and red spherical object. This tour was special as Indian team got its maiden opportunity to play a Test match against England at the Mecca of cricket, Lords cricket ground. The independence was still 15 years away and freedom movement was on in the country with cricket being played on the sidelines.
1932, the same year in which the father of Indian constitution Dr. B.R. Ambedkar started his campaign against the untouchables, same year when the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi sat on hunger strike in his support, same year when Indian hockey team led by hockey wizard Major Dhyanchand won a gold medal at Los Angeles Olympics, same year when Indian air force was established, same year when JRD Tata paved way for civil aviation in India, same year when the legendary actor Amrish Puri was born, same year when director Yash Chopra was born, same year when iconic actress Meenakumari was born, same year when Mehmood was born, the same year when Sam Manekshaw was inducted into Indian Military academy in its first intake, same year when former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh was born. Huh! 1932 is a historic year in itself.
The Britishers were still ruling our country, the story shown in the periodic movie Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker is totally correct and is the real picture how Britishers treated Indians. Indians were considered inferior and cricket used to be a game of rich people. Indian kings though vouched in and played cricket for luxury. KS RanjitSinh Ji was one of them who went to England for further education but was mesmerised by the standards of cricket there, as a result he went on to play for England and never graduated.
At that time, Indians used to participate in the tournament which was played on the basis of caste and religion. At the time of its inception in the year 1892, the tournament was known as The Presidency Match and its name changed to Bombay Triangular to Bombay Pentangular where players were tested and rated. Ranji Trophy came into existence 42 years after the inception of this tournament.
Slowly cricket became popular in India. Colonel CK Nayudu was rising to fame due to his unique style; his well-built body structure attracted many. He used to nurture cricketers and invite them to play cricket. He was the first showman of Indian cricket.
With each passing day, the wheel of Indian cricket was moving forward and was covering some amount of distance.
People used to listen to the radio to keep themselves updated about live scores and updates.
Entry of Bobby Ardeshir Furor Sohrabji “Bobby” Talyarkhan was a cherry on the cake for Indians. He with his polished English, a complete understanding of the game and his nature of being the best storyteller used to give best and timely updates of the game. It is said that Bobby TalyarKhan used to occupy his seat before the start of the match and left only after the match is over. He did not like to share the mic with anyone and used to continue to his own tune, entertaining the fans listening to him.
With the partition of India in 1947, new country Pakistan was created; as a result, few of players who played for India also migrated to Pakistan. Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Amir Elahi, and Gul Mohammad are three players to played for both the countries.
It was after a brief period of 5 years after independence when Indian team won its first Test match against England in Madras (now known as Chennai). Team India led by Vijay Hazare cruised to an innings win over a country that gave birth to this game, the country that ruled us for more than 300 years, and the country which was the main reason behind India being divided into 2 separate nations. The first Test match win was a moment of joy for cricket fraternity. It was also the time when India underwent first general election which started on October 25 and ended on 2nd March 1952. The same year India played Pakistan for the first time defeating them in the Test series by a margin of 2-1.
Vijay Hazare, Polly Umrigar, Vijay Merchant, Vijay Manjrekar became quite popular at that time.
It was in the year 1971 when Indian team won first overseas Test series under the leadership of Ajit Wadekar. Sunil Gavaskar, Dileep Sardesai, the Indian spin quartet of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan and Eknath Solkar were few of the key players in the series. Indian team won the series by a margin of 1-0, missing out on victories on a couple of occasions. India’s next destination was England where they continued the winning form and crushed the home team.
The 1970s was probably the best of the year of Indian cricket. The same year on April 24 Sachin Tendulkar was born, the most celebrated, the most followed cricketer in the history of Indian cricket. He changed the course of cricket; he changed the view of the people how the people looked towards the Indian cricket. Before his retirement, he was the icon of the game. He became the lifeline for people and that of Indian cricket. He outclassed is hero Sunil Gavaskar and did not let anyone miss Gavaskar after his retirement from International cricket. Till now no one has matched his shoes and no one even looks closer to what Sachin was to Indian cricket. Even a pirated copy is not available in the market.
25 June 1983, exactly 51 years after Indian team played its first test match, team India led by Kapil Dev was up against West Indies in the final of the World Cup at Lords ground. Same Lords ground where Indian team started its journey, same ground where Indian team played its first Test match. Team India on this occasion did what was unexpected from them; they cruised to a win over the mighty West Indies winning the 1983 World cup. It was Kapil Dev, a boy from Haryana who led the country to a famous win which could be a called the second biggest event in the history of Indian cricket.
After the end of this generation, it was the time for likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Zaheer khan, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Javgal Srinath to take over the reins. This was probably the best crop that Indian cricket ever had. This was the crop whom I have watched and grown older, older and older, now 21 years old!
Watching them was me the utmost feeling of joy for me, Sachin Tendulkar hitting Shoaib Akhtar for a six standing on his toes is a shot which I still remember, Sehwag’s half century in 2003 World cup final is still fresh in my mind.
That was the time when no live score was available on the internet. When in school, children used to run to home to watch live score, some did not as there are exceptions everywhere. It was the time when we used to switch on News channels early in the morning to watch live score whenever India toured Australia or West Indies. A Rs. 3 message for a live score was something that was available but only a few had guts to really subscribe that. With changing time, the strap of the live score which we earlier used flash on news channels disappeared, credit goes to the internet. Not only live score, even live streaming of the game is also available for the viewers.
Days passed, weeks passed, months passed, slowly each and every diamond of the necklace was getting detached, Sachin was the last one to take retirement. Though Sehwag retired 2 years after him but he announced his retirement off the field. Harbhajan Singh is still an active cricketer but hasn’t been a permanent member of the Indian team after that England tour of 2011, that was a nightmare for Indian team and Indian players.
84 years on, Indian cricket has changed, players have changed but still, it is cricket that still attracts us, whether it is a 10-year-old boy or a 70-year-old man. The Indian team has taken a lot of twists and turns, touch high and lows but the feeling is watching cricket is still giving us utmost joy.
With India set to play its 500th Test match tomorrow, it’s an honour to witness the historic moment. BCCI has organised jamboree before the start of the game. Board has invited former captains and has organised a special dinner for them, they will also be felicitated before the start of the historic game.
We have grown up but the love towards the beautiful game has never gone down. The Indian team will play many more matches, new players will come, and the current generation will also retire as nothing is permanent but one thing is surely permanent. It’s the game of cricket.
The players will, the players will go but cricket is here to stay!
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