18 May, 2021

A Poetry Long Gone

Time was, you could feel cricket. YouTube killed the radio star.

Getty Images (From Outlook 30 July 2012)
A Poetry Long Gone

This may be an audacious—and perhaps old-fashioned and elitist—opinion to express, but I shall go ahead and do it anyway. When Rahul Dravid retired, something much larger than his brilliant career ended. At least in India, Dravid was the last great flag-bearer of the Grand Tradition of cricket.

More than probably any other sport in the world, cricket has a tradition. This goes far beyond the length of the pitch and the right way to hit a cover drive. The leg-glance did not exist before Ranji, just as the switch-hit did not before Kevin Pietersen. Night cricket, coloured clothes and the white ball were unheard of before Kerry Packer’s mutiny. The cricket bat itself has seen various innovations and design changes. No, The Grand Tradition is the subtext of cricket as a game, an aesthetic and a form of meta-ethics. Those who can sense its defining features, do so instinctively. Those who can’t get it, possibly never will. Let’s just say that it’s an astonishing coincidence that the pioneering...

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