Thursday, 18 February 2010

A cricketing Eden

When I was a kid, in the days when there was absolutely no cricket coverage in the winter (except occasional highlights programmes during Ashes series), I fed my cricket obsession in the winter by reading every cricket book in the local library.

My favourites were Christopher Martin-Jenkins accounts of various England tours. Two in particular stick in the mind. One was the story of their disastrous 1974-75 Ashes tour, and the other covered England’s 3-1 win in India in 1976-77, when Tony Grieg's young and improving side surprised everyone.

The bit that really sticks in the memory was the Second Test, at Calcutta (as it then was), when India started the last day just minutes away from a second consecutive defeat. Despite that, the Eden Gardens ground was packed almost full, roaring on the local heroes. I remember deciding there and then that one day I had to watch a test match at that venue.

So the Second Test at Eden Gardens that’s just finished, with India beating South Africa with minutes to spare, was another reminder that the death of test cricket may have been exaggerated. The atmosphere throughout was absolutely electric, so although limited overs and 20/20 cricket may reign supreme elsewhere in the subcontinent, Kolkata has evidently retained its appetite for the longer form of the game. And it’s rekindled my desire to go out there – I’m not bothered if it’s for an England test.

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