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Old Yesterday, 03:59 PM
shovon13 shovon13 is offline
Test Cricketer
Join Date: January 27, 2004
Location: Riverside, CA
Favorite Player: Mustafizur Rahman
Posts: 1,562
Default Cricket Fiction: "Commentary on The First Over of a Future Test Championship from the Perspective of an Opening Batsman"

I've been feeling an urge to write some cricket fiction for some time now. I wanted to share the result with this cricket community. Thanks!


Title: Commentary on The First Over of a Future Test Championship from the Perspective of an Opening Batsman

You look down the wicket, and find a primed Jofra Archer at the top of his run-up. There are some controlled tinglings in your mid-section, maybe not too unlike those that Gavaskar must have felt before settling down on an Antigua pitch in the early-eighties. The fresh cherry’s shine under the morning Sylhet sun, and a weedy scent coming off the strip that Mahmudullah had declared “spicy” during his report just some minutes earlier, all are having intoxicating affairs with your beating heart – conspiring against your coach’s well-laid (and video-assisted) instructions to see off the new ball.

A test championship final. On home soil. While Bangladesh’s performance in the One-day World-Cup two years prior in 2023 had saddened some hearts, they are now among the rising challengers to England’s steady supremacy during this decade – especially in the test arena. A well-financed domestic infrastructure had been the catalyst behind Bangladesh’s emergence into the consistently elite. Players had been coming up through the system with sufficient support to alleviate mental distractions that arise from poverty and her associated chaos.

But this is not the time to dwell on that. You are here, now, to face the first ball against Archer on the first morning of this inaugural test match. You are aware of the strong English batting lineup, and the team’s reliance on Jofra for early-breakthroughs in Asian conditions. Your captain won the toss. He trusted his young opening pair to get him a first foothold into the match (and so the series!), despite the presence of a foggy Sylhet morning and a couple of work-horses in his attack. Your partner is erect - maybe a bit tense – as he grazes his bat inches across the crease. You settle in to your form, and tap your bat.

“Archer loves to pound you onto your back-foot, so show him he is wasting breath” – you remember the low growl of Coach, as he groused across the table during the team meeting two days ago. Right – your thoughts meditate along a 3-d slice of the pitch that centers on your off-stump and travels toward Archer. You tap and wait to pick up the length, as Archer accelerates. His invisible calves rhythm through the meters. A close-in fielder takes a final step inward. A voice further in the crowd calls in anticipation. Some birds fly.

He had pushed it in toward a good length down the middle of that slice, and you had felt the ‘thud’ on your toes. “Springy” – you remark, first in silence and then out loud to your partner. He holds a nod toward the battle. “If the pitch is juicy, double up on defense. It won’t last past the morning.” - again the Coach’s belligerent voice breaks a post-’thud’ lull. You stretch your eyes out and mouth a silent roar. He had seen it too. The bounce. Where is he going now? You look back and count the cordon, then take two more steps forward from your guard. Archer accelerates, again.

Your assumption had been correct. He had gone back a little. Your decision to leave had come after an initial forward movement, so you had ended up looking somewhat ugly. Your partner yells to you something about the live internet streaming. The score-board is updated.

Now, he had pitched it up again, in an outer part of that 3-d slice. You had become conscious of it later than ideal – once again after you had engaged the forward movement. By then your feet and your head had reached suitably close, and you had driven your bat in the air towards cover. Archer grimaces, but he must feel encouraged by the swing. The ball begins a sashay through the off-side toward mid-off.

As a young child growing up, you had always admonished yourself (and more energetically so – toward the gang of Tamim, Imrul, Soumya, Liton) for biting. It was easy joke to refer to a fishing batsman as “one digging for treasure” or “Indiana Jones”. Now, with a fledgling test career for the second ranked nation, is not the time to start biting. You huff a breath out. “Play inside the ****ing line!!” - your coach is yelling to you from the side of the ground.

That means no cover-drive. You are going to have to play as if balls outside of that slice do not exist, and under the assumption of perpetual in-swingers from the bowler. Theoretically, any out-swingers should miss your straight facing bat. “But my career is very practical,” you remark to yourself.

Finally, some runs. Archer had pushed it up again - centered on the slice this time. The back-foot trigger had flowed into a forward press, and had met the ball to bounce it back down past the bowler. The board updates the team score from 0 to 2. You glance at it as you tug at your pants, having completed the second safely. That is the second occasion ball has met bat during this first over – an auspicious beginning. You acknowledge the germination of a familiar yet forever-new sense of comfort between the creases. You sense your roots beginning to dig into the grassy wicket beneath, its aroma growing into an absent form that holds your shape at the wicket, bent at the knees, tapping.

You had seen the bouncer as Archer had gone into his bound. Maybe it had been the extra centimeter that had held his back a little further straight as he had run in, a subtle difference that normally designates increased focus and effort. It had snorted safely over your helmet, past the keeper as well. “This is overdoing the ‘pacy wickets for home tests’ bit” – you think.

As the fellow at first-slip begins an amble toward the boundary, you notice the umpire signal that it was over. You hold your surprise and begin a purposeful walk after observing that the whites on leg have also started a walk toward the new bowling crease, in apparent agreement with his mate regarding the ball count. “Wait, ump,” - interferes the opposing captain, “isn’t there one delivery left in this over?”

You allow the ensuing discussion to pass through you. Your partner has also walked over, in synchrony of discovered deception. You punch gloves. There is more calm now, but some of it can dull the uneasiness that you need to maintain to survive. You know this. “You’ve had a hack at one once already,” you remind yourself. You tell your partner about the sharp bounce. He says he has noticed it. Both of you punch gloves again and walk back. You search for the flutters, quieter now at the bottom of your stomach, lying dormant while you await your turn at the strike end. You need them still, for the first hour. You need them there to get through the morning, so that a day may begin.
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