The first week or so of the World Cup was quite eventful. Things settled down in the next few days, and I learnt that fire alarms are a near-everyday affair in this part of the world. Unfortunately, with the weather and other off-field stuff being the predominant events of interest.
Turning TV reporter
MS Dhoni’s gloves gave me an opportunity to make my debut on Indian national Television. It was not ideal that the gloves were the talking point two days before one of the biggest matches of the World Cup - India vs Australia - but it did give me a new experience as I turned reporter for CNN News 18. Providing BREAKING NEWS, going live on prime-time debates from random Tube stations in London, repeating the same thing multiple times… I did them all. Not in the wildest of imaginations would I have imagined that I would be a part of prime-time news debate, but I wish it was for an actual-cricket related topic. At least it made my family and friends happy, although all of us would have been happier had the ‘an’ at the end of my surname not been missed!
The Net bowler injury that was waiting to happen
Watching Jaykishan Phala go down after receiving a blow on his head from a David Warner straight hit was a scary experience. A video I had access to later confirmed how hard the ball was hit. He lay down on the ground for quite a while before being stretchered off to hospital. Plaha has fortunately recovered, but the incident yet again showed how vulnerable and unprotected bowlers are in the modern era of T20 hitting. Net bowlers in particular are at risk of danger due to the vast gap in quality between the bowler and batsman.
My mind took me back to something I’ve been saying for years:
Bowlers need helmets, before an ugly incident forces them…— Karthik Lakshmanan (@lk_karthik) March 2, 2014
More prominent names like R Ashwin and Jaydev Unadkat have called for face masks too. Hopefully the relevant people are listening.
Turning weather reporter
Things were nice and smooth till the end of India’s game against Australia in London. The weather was good, the cricket was fairly good although predictable. And then it all changed rapidly the next morning as I boarded a train to Nottingham. Getting drenched despite having an umbrella in my walk from the Nottingham station to my hotel should have been a warning sign of things to come. There was rain, rain and more rain. And then more rain. The practise sessions, and later the game against New Zealand itself, were all washed out.
Updates on Shikhar Dhawan’s injury kept the traveling journalists busy for a while, but watching the rain pour down all day was very boring. The only good thing about the weather was that it made the samosas I got in an Indian restaurant taste even better. Gradually, I turned a weather reporter. Wake up, look at the sky, click photos, check forecast, write/tweet.
This became my routine, especially in Manchester ahead of the India-Pakistan game. I even checked google analytics for keywords ‘Manchester weather’, which attained a peak from Indian and Pakistan users in the week before the match. All the effort and research bore fruit - I reached a high point in my career:
Hi karthik bro..I’m keenly looking for rain updates from ur handle…Kindly update once in a while… — Jawahar M (@jawahartweets) June 16, 2019
The India-Pakistan experience, and throwback
I don’t buy into the pre-match hype around India-Pakistan cricket matches. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the atmosphere on the game day. The roads outside the stadium on the morning of the game were an incredible sight, with fans from both countries having incredible fun. The Indians were more in number, but Pakistan fans were the more innovative group. Who comes to a cricket match on a horse?!
The best part of it all was the maturity and even friendship that was on display - there was no bad blood, no animosity. It extended into the stands once the game began.
The entire experience took me back to an I-was-there moment from 20 years ago.
Pakistan defeated India in a thrilling match. In Chennai. Pakistan team taking a Victory Lap and Crowd giving them Standing Ovation. This is how Maturity looks like pic.twitter.com/SGxLWt1XPL— Joy (@Joydas) June 16, 2019
India press conferences, and language banter
After a rather rough start - boycotted press conferences and all that - India’s media interactions have been rather smooth, and even insightful and fun. R Sridhar spoke in detail about fielding after India’s washout against New Zealand. Rohit Sharma had some light-hearted banter after his match-winning ton against Pakistan.
There was some banter amid the journalists too, with questions in Hindi becoming a routine, and the odd question in Marathi cropping up too. There are a fair bit of journalists from down south too, and we got our opportunity when Vijay Shankar appeared for the ‘mixed zone’ interaction after the Pakistan game. A two-minute interaction - that’s all we get in ‘mixed zones’ - in Tamil followed. All in good spirit, though!
David Warner, is that you?
Found an interesting name in the cricket writers’ club at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. Surely not the Australian opener.
Also found in the stadium a rather small dedication for one of legends of the game.