DEEP within the dimly lit forests of Sundarban, it is said, lives an ascetic who is cognizant of all human knowledge. Gradually he got better of my wonder so I sought out for him. Once getting past an ashram filled with venomous cobras I chanced upon an old Sadhu at the base of ghat who was blabbering an obscure status that I found out to be that of Bedi’s career bowling figures. Was he telepathic? Did he know that I, a cricket enthusiast, will travel all the way from city to confirm his claims of remarkable knowledge?
Well, my troupe, by the way, have already forsaken me and took off with the speedboat. So I devoted the next three years of my life under his auspices learning various kept secrets of the sport. He seemed to be omniscient but I focused on affairs of cricket as he gave a first hand demonstration of quoting any paragraph from any Wisden published till now.
Earnestly I began my lesson. I began to scribe down everything I could hear, see, feel and even taste. I was immersed in cricket. Thus began my forays into the sylvan world of cricket idiosyncrasies.
Every night I would spend meditating in a vigil silently learning the tales he recollected from memories. I learned of 98. A contradictory, a tied , a dead heat, and a turnaround match where a strange chiasmus ruled the innings of the first and third reciprocally to second and fourth of a minor Jundaryan and Brobenah. Another minor match was even tied at 71 all out. The contradictory one was mentioned in Wisden for the imbalances of the reciprocal innings and of course he told me the story of the ’Great Hampshire Turnaround’ on the following night.
At another occasion, he revealed, perhaps nothing was stranger than the cases of the 116. Bilocation men of Billy Murdoch playing in a Test as a sub for his own team mate and taking catches while in most recent years Wisden noting of one Michael Bates wh o played for both sides in the same match.
Sadhu would also carry on with 287. Musician XI comprising of the likes of Bradman and Parr and Fry and Curtly Ambrose and Brett Lee. Speaking of XI, he also related: 8. Tale of the tattooed ones with Mitchell Johnson’s Japanese koi and Virat Kohli’s samurai warrior; of 299. Guard of Honor XI or say, 310. Cricketers and their automobiles. He mentioned about 454. Recollection of the triumvirate, the unlikely trio of Wilfred Rhodes, Syd Gregory, and Vinoo Mankad each from different countries forming the unassuming club of only ones batting in all positions. Or consider the time in 662. Prisoner’s dilemma about how John Derrick was the first ‘wrongfully prisoned’un’ to John Evans the England cricketer who escaped from two prison of war camps during the wars to the modern convicted ones for ball tampering.
For the continuing nights he talked of the ball caught on knife, the lost ball at USA-Canada boundary of a minor Winnipeg match, statistician finding ‘missing runs of Don Bradman’, Stoner XI and even 559. Cricket on moon
The tales must be narrated one at a time, for a therapeutic dosage as needed.
“You surely must’ve then heard of the man with the golden arm or the one who took 10 wickets in an innings unassisted for any other fielders?” Sadhu would announce.
I confessed I haven’t.
“That’s a story for tomorrow night, then!”