Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Day of the Cricket, by the Cricketers and for the Cricket

- A day when the great Cricketing Legends and World Cup Winners, Clive Lloyd, Kapil Dev, Allan Border, Arjuna Ranatunga, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting were under a single roof to share their experiences
- A day when Yuvraj Singh opens his heart out with his fellow team mates on his fight with the deadly cancer
- A day when India-Pakistan cricketing rivalry displays a friendly face off the field
- A day when the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Saurav Ganguly, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Aamer Sohail, Mohd Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja share their journeys to glory

And there it is, a day to salute the game and the legends, Salaaam Cricket!

Yes, I experienced it all up, close and personal and the day was 18th October, 2014. The event was a cricket conclave organized by India Today in New Delhi. It was really a great experience hearing them outside the commentary box and seeing them live off the field.

India Today conceived the idea of this Cricket Conclave interestingly 100 days before the World Cup 2015 and surely to set a stage for the ever-enthusiastic Indian fans to cheer for their Men in Blue. Obviously, a biased Indian fan will think it’s only about Team India but a Cricketer within the fan might well believe that Australia will the favorites and South Africa too have a good chance as well and a feel amongst the legends as well was that New Zealand might turn up as a dark horse in the World Cup, given the fact that the tournament is going to be played at their home soil.

A day before the event, West Indies team had abruptly called off their tour in India after some payment issues and the media was all negative about the West Indians. Clive Lloyd made a Gentleman’s gesture by rendering apology towards this abrupt call from his team during the event. He surely earned a fan in me due to this little gesture.

Session with Yuvraj Singh
The event was divided into several small sessions featuring different legends. One of the sessions with Yuvraj Singh was quite inspirational because not only did he talk about his fight with cancer but more so since he knew of it while he was playing in WC2011. Still, he put his country before himself and continued playing in the World Cup while he was fighting something he had read about in his reports. This truly emerged as a true Salaam Cricket moment.

There was a session on ‘Pressures of the World Cup’ where we managed to see the coolest lot of captains we can ever get together, Ganguly, Ranatunga, Lloyd and Border and then there was a session on ‘Thunders Down Under’ wherein the Australian Trio, Border, Waugh and Ponting, shared their personal views on how the Australians just dominated the cricketing world for over a decade and three consecutive world cup wins. I still remember getting heartbroken when Ponting just thrashed India in WC 2003 final.

Indo-Pak rivalry surely deserved its own exclusive session and the players shared their anecdotes on how they felt more pressures before Indo-Pak match. They shared that a night before the match, everyone they talked to behaved like a cricket expert and would only say, ‘Jo marzi karna, par kal jeet kar hi aana hai.’ All the cricketers sharing the stage agreed that those games were high-pressure games, no matter what the present situation was and they just could not afford to lose. On being asked that who was better poised for the WC, India or Pakistan, Aamer Sohail, on a lighter note, marked the question as not applicable, just because Pakistan’s playing eleven were yet to be frozen and this marked the end of the session.

Perfect Testimony to Indo-Pak Friendship Off the Field
However, I believe Indo-Pak rivalry was just on-the-field and they shared some great bonds off-the-field. I managed to witness this on stage as well.

Vikram Sathaye posing as Saurav Ganguly
In between the sessions, we had a Silly Point refresher, wherein standup Comedian Vikram Sathaye who managed to tickle our funny bones and imitated the players on stage, and Haq has always been famous among the mimics.

However, the Session of the Day was the last one, wherein the Seven Captains were supposed to share the same stage. Imran Khan could not turn up, and we had six World Cup winning captains on stage. Surely, it was a photographic moment but what made it more exciting, interesting and lively was the way they entered the arena. All the captains were made to dance on the beats of dhol while the audience enjoyed the winning moments on the screen. It was an experience of a lifetime watching these legends to the desi dhol beats.
Clive Lloyd Dancing to the Desi Dhol Beats
Getting to meet all these cricketing legends, the heart still craved for more. Sachin's presence in this mega cricketing event was surely missed.  Nonethless, it was a great time for me at the event, not forgetting that I managed to click selfies with few legends.

I cheer for the Men in Blue for the WC2015. What about you?
Lets Cheer for the Defending Champions, Team India


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