Saturday, February 23, 2013

THE LIGHTER SIDE OF AUSSIES

When I talk about the Aussies, what pops out from the top of your head? Sledging, competitive, vibrant, boasting, vintage, dominate, rampage, juggernaut? You could list a dozen more, but I bet there is something more which you have not experienced so far; something that is not photographed nor has been broadcasted live on television. They love to win, but they do love to give it back to cricket lovers around the world as well. At the end of Day 2 of the 1st test at Chennai, Sachin & Kohli headed into the dressing room with huge cheers, but the standing ovation lasted till Clarke & co headed back inside and like their victories they earned every bit of it.

 Chennai’s surmounting heat and humidity was blown away by the decibel level in the first ten minutes of Sachin’s arrival at the crease. The sweat and thirst was slowly fading away. The last session of an intriguing day was waiting for a top spin. Sachin's 50 was not to be denied by Pujara’s middle stump shocking dismissal. Kohli was looking to settle in and Tendulkar was making every bit of his blistering start count. It was about time the Aussies entered in to have a real party afternoon.

We all thought Clarke was making his usual fielding adjustments, until he wagged his leg. The mood was set and the sense of joy begin to merge and spread across the Mexican wave riding along. Clarke tried a bangra, but unaware of what the locals here dance to. Nevertheless, he was not to blame because he was damn entertaining.

The big screen was the crowd puller to make Clarke dance to cricket’s charm. “Clarke, we want Gangnam style”. Pup stayed tight for a while before pulling in Warner to the party. It was captain’s order. Warner obliged with the Gangnam dance. More than during the ball being bowled and played by the batsmen, the interim was eagerly anticipated ball after ball.”Cmon Clarke, do a Michael Jackson”.

The yellow stands began to reflect the sunshine, thanks to Clarke. The opposite lower tier was gearing up with anxiety. They had Watson and Siddle at their backyard. Watson was still smiling, but held his legs tight. Siddle, on the other hand, could not resist. He tried his own style and no one had a clue to what it was, but there was no stopping to this fun.

There was change of ends and Siddle was perfectly fitting as Clarke’s wingman. Up and up his hand went with the crowd roaring. Clarke desperately needed attention for his own version of bangra. The chants of “Clarke, Clarke” was spreading like forest fire. Warner slowed down a bit, but in a split second he dived across and caught the ball. Yes, we were reminded again that there was a cricket match going on. But nothing stopped “Warner, Warner”. That replay of his stunning side dive on big screen had people up on their feet for minutes.

Immediately then, Sachin would hit a boundary. The big screen then flashed “How many will come tomorrow to watch Sachin play? Let’s count the no. of hands.” In a split-second Clarke’s left hand went up to be followed by huge laughter. “Clarke is Chennai’s most loved Aussie.” “Clarke, please join the Super Kings.” Again there would be a shout for lbw, but the show never stopped. Every Sachin run was cheered loud with the anticipation of something to happen again from the Aussies.

“Booooooooo” was echoed not in the sense to blow the visitors away, but for the crowd to hear for themselves how it felt like in chorus. “Hats off to Clarke for showing such great sportsmanship”. Applause came from every corner of the stadium with that shown on the big screen. Watson was still stubborn as he waves a big “no” when asked to shake his leg.

There was so much drama on the field with many Aussie cricketers themselves not having a clue as to what was going on. For a certain period of time, it looked like as if Sachin & Kohli went unnoticed. The test match is still very much in the balance as we head into the 3rd day’s play on Sunday.There is no doubt about how much anticipation rests in the minds of the Chepauk crowd on Sachin’s100, but they will be equally hungry for Clarke & co to wave their magic once again on Sunday.

One thing is for sure that for whatever reasons Aussies are known on a cricketing field so far, they would have surprised you altogether today at Chepauk. Or maybe, it is has been a part of their cricketing culture that other cricketing crowds chose to leave behind. But my final verdict is simple: You don’t have be an Aussie supporter to rejoice such moments nor do you have to be an Aussie hater to play down their entertainment, you just need to have a heart to enjoy cricket in the lighter sense once in a while.

PS: The biggest cheer went to this “Clarke, there is an awesome career waiting for you.” 

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