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Dropping A Few Lines ( OR - The Skier Is The Limit)

by Bhaskar Khaund

It was a Seniors vs. Juniors game back in B-School. These matches were good time pass for the junta and a biggish bunch would sit around watching. Our captain took me into the XI most reluctantly. I proved him right by getting my well set partner run out off the first ball I faced and then getting bowled a couple of dot balls later. Come fielding time and I was goofing off around square leg smoking a cigarette. Skip – an earnest sort - ran down to tell me to cut it out and get serious. I said I was serious and the ciggie made no difference. The very next ball the batsman pulled one directly in my direction. It was like catching practice. Apart perhaps from some elevation , it was a dolly, a sitter, a regulation catch, what P.G.Wodehouse would have called ‘a decidedly possible catch’ (see below)

And…I floored it.
Skip wasn’t amongst the plenty of people that were amused. That cigarette took some major flak from him. But of course fag or no fag, it was just butter fingers plain and simple. There been plenty such instances.

I dread catches and especially the skier. Those few seconds when you squint heavenward and sight the inevitability of a gravity that accelerates faster than your own racing heartbeat: they are an entire lifetime. To those that question the big money international players make I say: tackle a skier in front of millions of watching eyes first! Come to think of it, tackle any catch first! The easier the worse. The experience of dropping a sitter is hard to beat in the misery stakes. I guess everybody knows the feeling

So it was great to stumble across the following poem by the inimitable Sir P.G.Wodehouse:

Missed !
The sun in the heavens was beaming,
The breeze bore an odour of hay,
My flannels were spotless and gleaming,
My heart was unclouded and gay
The ladies all gaily appareled
Sat around looking on at the match
In the tree-tops dicky-birds caroled
All was peace – till I bungled that catch

My attention the magic of summer
Had lured from the game – which was wrong
The bee (that inveterate hummer)
Was droning its favourite song
I was tenderly dreaming of Clara
(On her not a girl is a patch)
When, ah, horror! there soared through the air a
Decidedly possible catch.

I heard in a stupor the bowler
Emit a self-satisfied ‘Ah!’
The small boys who sat on the roller
Set up an expectant ‘Hurrah!’
The batsman with grief from the wicket
Himself had begun to detach –
And I uttered a groan and turned sick. It
Was over. I’d buttered the catch.

Oh, ne’er, if I live to a million
Shall I feel such a terrible pang.
From the seats in the far-off pavilion
A loud yell of ecstasy rang
By the handful my hair (which is auburn)
I tore with a wrench from my thatch
And my heart was seared deep with a raw burn
At the thought that I had foozled that catch.

Ah the bowler’s low, querulous mutter
Points loud, unforgettable scoff!
Oh, give me my driver and putter!
Henceforth my game shall be golf.
If I’m asked to play cricket hereafter,
I am wholly determined to scratch.
Life’s void of all pleasure and laughter;
I bungled the easiest catch.


straight point said...

i liked the role of butt...

the skiers tho look very easy to take but its not so for the longer you think about the catch the more chances you dropping it...i have seen many good fielders heaving a sigh of relish after catching these 'simple' skier...

i was bit smart in a way that i was very clear in my mind from start that i won't be good outfielder so i always encouraged my captain (if i was not i.e.) to have slip (that's me) in place or if that was not the case than at least short catching position... :)

Bhaskar Khaund said...

Ha ha can totally understand that SP - although mind , slip catching has its own set of probs fact the pros say its far tougher than outfield catching which is apparently simple..but then thats why these guys are pros ! :-)

Gaurav Sethi said...

Splendid BK, and PG wasn't too bad either.

Always close in here, or maybe the grounds were that small. Tho as a kid it was deep square leg, among some trees, ball never came, I never dropped. Later on, long off, again among trees.

Pavilionopinions said...

My School Career

I batted at nine in the line-up,
And not because I had a bowl.
Grounding was also a talent.
Oh cricket, you wrench out my soul.