Nightmare XI

I’m writing this column as I wait in the lobby of Dr Chakraborthy’s clinic. Dr Chakraborthy, apart from being a collector of old moustaches, is also my therapist.

Ours is a weird relationship. I don’t go to him regularly, only when I feel the world is collapsing around me — this normally occurs every other Wednesday between 9 am and 2 pm. Although he doesn’t speak a word of English, Dr Chakraborthy is the
man for any personal crisis.
My present one revolves around an absolute piece of madness on the sports pages last week. A popular website asked cricket lovers to write in their greatest cricketing XI of all time. The result of this experiment was the presentation of conclusive proof that at least 90 per cent of the respondents were insane. Let me make this clear: when I say insane, I mean absolutely mad. Stark raving crazy or, as the French like to call it, “looney” (I prefer this to the Spanish loco, the Indian paagal and the German foreigner). In a jingoistic frenzy the rabid fingers mailed names that included four Indians, but left out some of the real all-time greats and legends.
Imagine a list of all-time masters, not including Gary Sobers, Keith Miller, Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Learie Constantine and Eddie Barlow.
When I informed my four-year-old daughter that none of the above featured in the list, she collapsed in loud spasms of laughter.
Now, the list of batsman. No mention of Victor Trumper, George Headley, Jack Hobbes or Wally Hammond. Hutton & Crompton completely forgotten — Sidney Bornes, Morris Lindsay, Hasset and Neil Harvey don’t get a mention. Barrington Graeme, Pollock, Vivian Richards, Barry Richards and Greg Chappell never seemed to have existed. As for Javed Miandad, Arvinda D’Silva, Bewan Congdon and Martin Crowe, it’s as if they have never walked on a cricket field. I mean I’m not even mentioning a Vijay Merchant, Hanif Mohammad or Peter
May or those great talents who perished early, like Archie Jackson or the enigmatic Lawrence Rowe.
As for the 3Ws — Weekes, Walcott and Worrell — I alone seem to be weeping for them. Keep in mind, Pollock and Headley averaged 60, and Sobers and Barrington very close to that. Keep in mind Richards and Chappel won matches on their own, and Hobbs and Hutton who could close games down. Keep in mind uncovered wickets, no helmets, no bouncer limitation and no front-foot no-ball rule. Keep in mind playing for no money, trying to make ends meet. Keep in mind inferior quality bats, poor conditions, inadequate protection and poor nutrition.
Next, we come to the list of bowlers. Barnes & Bill O’Reilly, in spite of their unparalleled records are not listed. Neither are Ray Lindwall, Wes Hall, Alec Bedser. Nor Lanwood, Voce, Fred Trueman, Lance Gibbs, Bishen Singh Bedi, Malcolm Marshall and, unbelievably, Dennis Lillee.
Was there ever a faster bowler than Thomson, a more cunning one than Roberts, a more unplayable one than Garner? And what of the great South Africans Peter Heine and Neil Adcock down Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock?
Instead of all these greats, a historically-challenged market group has voted for what they know, naming Bradman and cricketers of the past two and present generation only. That such madness, such collective insanity is allowed to go unpunished means that civilisation, as we know it, is on the brink of collapse. We are now in a precarious position of being led by so-called cricket lovers who know little of Merchant and less of Hobbs. They presume the former is a trader and the latter a comic icon.
I see now all of you have noticed the error of your ways, and want to share my therapy. May I recommend Dr Chakraborthy? Available all through the week except Wednesday between 9 am and 2 in the afternoon.

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