It’s July 22, 2016. Antigua. Test Match. The hosts are fielding, and have been for a while now. India are punishing. Batting on beast mode.
The hot Antiguan sun is burning fielders. Frequent drink intervals don’t help the likes of Gabriel, Bishoo and Holder. The Indian batting is as good as we’ve seen.
Kohli? 200. Dhawan? 84.
566 being the mammoth number.
Two days go by. The West Indies come out to bat. The West Indies crash. All out 243.
Virat Kohli immediately enforces a follow on.
Commentating from a stadium named in his honor, in his home city, one man was attempting to make sense of the carnage
It could be said those four days of Test cricket must have been harsh for Sir Viv.
He was in his own country, seeing his own side fail.
The team Sir Viv lifted to great glories in the past was being thrashed like lambs led to slaughter.
Perhaps having the company of Sir Sunny Gavaskar alongsidecompounded Viv’s woes?
“Come on West Indies. Where’s the fight in you?” Viv must have wondered.
The best a batsman managed was 74 by Kraigg Brathwaitte.
Compare that with the Indians. Lowly Amit Mishra managed 53. Ashwin scored a century.
But for Sir Viv, this humiliation was a forced trip down memory lane.
It was against India that Viv debuted. It was against India that Viv belted the most Test hundreds. Eight of them.
At Antigua, Viv struck three hundreds. He was a lion. Antigua, his den. He once nastily clawed Australia here through a defiant 178.
It wasn’t just India who felt the wrong end of Sir Viv’s blade.
England, Pakistan and South Africa. They were destroyed by a fierce batsman for whom there was no fear.
It could be argued, not since Sir Donald Bradman has cricket seen another batsman dominate more fiercely.
Lords. Melbourne. Jamshedpur. Karachi. Dunedin.
Not merely grounds that witnessed Viv’s savagery. But battlefields where Viv blasted his foes. He was berated. For he bulldozed bowlers with a mere twitch of muscle.
They sulked when Viv came walking unflappably, creating tremors merely with that lordly gait of his. The destruction would follow soon after arriving on to the crease. At all this time, he simply chewed gum.
Could cricket be that easy?
West Indies of 70s and 80s could be likened to Marvel characters. Daring and indefatigable and for his powers, Viv was the The Hulk
There’s a paradox about us humans. As mortals, willing to learn from past heroes, we often fail to move on.
You immediately realise this as truth in context of present day West Indies. If only the present generation had cared to respect the legacy they are representing.
If only, these T20 loving youth had cared to look Sir Viv in the eye that they would immediately see the realise truth about him.
That it wasn’t just for those 35 hundreds, 16000 runs or a Test average of 50 that Viv was hailed. Viv wasn’t stats. Viv essayed an attitude.
It like a DNA that’s extinct. And this only adds to his allure.
His assaulting of the English signalled fans that there was a man who punished them for colonialising the West Indies. The butchery administered to Australia was a hint of exacting revenge for the coloured man being subverted for so long.
In an age blazed by Thomson, Kapil Dev and Lillee, Viv chose not to wear a helmet. It wasn’t overconfidence. It was pure daring. Taking opponents head on.
One hopes the current lot of Windies care to reopen a page of history that boasts of Viv’s heroics. If only, they enjoyed reading.
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