Friday, July 23, 2010

The milestone

I was keeping my hundredth post on hold in anticipation of something big. That something big happened yesterday - Muttiah Muralitharan reached 800 test wickets with his last ball in test cricket.

My earliest memories of Murali are from 15 years back. This was another series where a bowling milestone was achieved - Kapil Dev went past Sir Richard Hadlee's tally of 431 test wickets (why the hell did 431 seem such a big number at that point of time?). We won all three tests by an innings, but he took 12 of the 26 wickets we lost in the series. Even at that early stage of his career he was a one-man army.

Since then he has always seemed to surprise me. The Jayasuriyas and De Silvas stole the show in the world cup, but what went unnoticed was the fact that Murali had conceded 3.77 runs per over in a sixfest of a tournament. Mind you, at that point of time he only had the big offbreak and the topspin: the doosra was added to his repertoire at a much later stage.

My school days had transformed into college days by then; Hair had called him for throwing, followed by Emerson. I went to university, and he took sixteen wickets at The Oval to rout the English. I joined work, and he rolled his arm on and on, taking fifty wickets against every test opposition, taking 75, 80, even 90 wickets a calendar year, taking five wickets in an innings and ten in a match as a routine, and finally, going past Walsh, being overtaken by Warne, taking the crown back, announcing retirement with eight wickets to secure in a single test to reach that 800-mark and making it, and rebuilding an entire village that was totally demolished by the tsunami. Whether an epic contest with Lara in end-2001 or joining forces with Ajantha Mendis to rout us in 2008, Murali was phenomenal throughout the past decade.

Those eyes...
And it was not always about the numbers: the sheer aura and magic about him was unmissable. He came in, diagonally, with some brisk steps between a jog and a walk, his wrist bent, his eyes almost popping out of their sockets in concentration, the invisible thread that he seemed to hold the ball with after release, the unpredictability of what would happen after pitching, the infinite stamina that he somehow never seemed to run out of even though there was often no support at the other end - they all combined to make the man special.

He was never as flamboyant as a Warne; nor as charismatic as a Wasim; never as verbal as McGrath; neither did he look as imposing as a Donald; the sheer humility amidst the magic made him special. His was the story of the nice guy who came first, the guy next door who actually turned out to be a celebrity.

He has his 800th now. This is my 100th post. Let's celebrate it together, mate.

8 comments:

  1. Congrats Abhi... Looking forward to many many more more fantastic posts..... This one had to be C R I C K E T??? Muttiah Muralitharan is indeed lucky. Lol...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congrats on your first ton of blogs :) Murali took 8 tons of wickets, so long way to go eh? What a legend, what a man! Respect.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congratulations on your first ton..a very wise topic selection too..keep bloggin'

    ReplyDelete
  4. Muralitharan-Probably the most underrated legend of modern cricket.

    Congrats on your century Abhishek da!

    ReplyDelete
  5. congrats - i wonder which cricketers careers you will be guided along when you get closer to 800 posts ...

    ReplyDelete
  6. WOW...that's great!!
    STARS are sparkling all around!!
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. loveeeely post.....
    "his was the story of the nice guy....." true and touchy ;)
    I'll wait to see the major events and topic selections for ur 200th, 300th posts and so on.....

    ReplyDelete

Followers