Forget Tendulkar, our favourite cricketers exist on celluloid or in the pages of a book!
At MBRB, we love watching sports. We can’t resist the drama of that third set tie-break, or the cunning of that stolen single, or even the muscular beauty of that swerving kick which just misses the goal-post. But our first love remains a good book or a trashy film. So while we are waking up at obscene hours these days to watch the Cricket World Cup, we just can’t resist the impulse to look into our laptop for a funny video, or sneak a peek into that incredibly tense book we are halfway through.
And that is why our Cricket Fantasy Team isn’t as much made up of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson or AB deVilliers, as it is of cricketing gentlemen (and women, and animals) from some of our favourite books and films. This was a lot harder than we thought (there are surprisingly few good books about cricket), but the team we have ended up with – we believe- could very well win this World Cup and many more to come. Here goes:
Kabir Durrani from A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Seth describes Kabir Durrani, heart breaker and college cricketing God thus:
dressed completely in white, shirt unbuttoned at the collar, capless and with ruffled hair, running into bowl- or standing at the crease weiding his bat with what seemed like an easy skill.
What do you know- a batting all-rounder who looks this good and loves poetry? Sold.
Bhuvan from Lagaan
Of course the Aamir Khan character in a film hits the last ball six, but we are not selecting him as the Captain of our team just for his batting. Instead, we are fans of his ability to create a truly integrated team, where each player performs to his best potential in an effort to please their country and captain. It helps that he can dance a mean jig when it comes to celebrating a victory !
Mike from Mike by PG Wodehouse
As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. Except on the cricket field, where he was a natural genius, he was just ordinary. He resembled ninety per cent. of other members of English public schools. He had some virtues and a good many defects… He was good-natured as a general thing.
Michael “Mike” Jackson comes from an excellent cricketing family, saves his Wrykyn team from many a sticky situations, is the consummate team man, and goes on to play with Psmith himself as part of the Sedleigh team. He may play lower down the order in the books, but we wouldn’t complain if he opened the innings for our team.
Veera from Dil Bole Hadippa
Not only does Veer/Veera get to romance Shahid Kapoor, she also discovers that she can bat equally well with both hands when she fractures her arm in the midst of a pivotal match against Pakistan (don’t ask). No MBRB team can be all-male, and Rani Mukherjee as Veera brings in the kind of enthusiasm and sheer love for the sport, that any team would be happy to have.
Lord Peter Wimsey from Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers
Aren’t you Wimsey of Balliol? . . . You have a late cut which is exceedingly characteristic, and I could have taken my oath that the last time I saw you play it was at Lord’s in 1911, when you made 112
In one of Dorothy Sayers’ best satires about the huge gap between the Working Class and the Aristocrats, Wimsey pretends to be a copywriter at Pyms but cannot resist playing his natural game in a local match and is found out. He may be a bit unbearable with all his upper class mannerisms and privilege, but now that we know that he made two successive centuries for Oxford, can we resist adding Wimsey to our team?
Ali from Kai Po Che
They may argue over religion, significant others and the paths chosen by each other, but if there’s one thing the three friends in Kai Po Che agree upon, it is Ali’s once-in-a-lifetime talent. And seeing as he opens against Australia IN Australia with a cracking boundary, he clearly has gumption. Ali for Man of the Match!
Psmith from Mike and Psmith by PG Wodehouse
As for Psmith, an old Etonian bowler slumming at Sedleigh, he is (in our heads) not dissimilar to Ravinder Jadeja – a slow left-arm bowler who is no slouch with the bat. He may be a reasonably good cricketer, but truly, he’s one of those guys who would be good at whatever he does- such is his charm and easy flair. He is in the team as for much for his ability with the bowl as his ability to muster up just the right cynicism for such an enterprise as cricket match.
Pradeep Mathew from Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka
Through most of this hilarious book you aren’t quire sure if Pradeep Mathew even exists or he’s a mere chimera in the head of washed-up journalist W.G. Karunasena. But so lethal and unbelievable is Mathew’s talent that he has to be excised from Sri Lanka’s cricketing history, since results that outstanding must only be the result of betting, right? But what if Mathew exists? And what is he is really that good? Wouldn’t you want him opening your bowling in that case.
Pargat Singh (Gattu) Kahlon from Patiala House
An Indian becomes a world-class fast bowler, and his father refuses to let him play for England because he is racist like that. Stop moping Akshay Kumar, and come play for us here at India. We are always at least one fast bowler short!
Iqbal from Iqbal
Great bowling, awesome spirit, and a boundless desire to belong. Iqbal would make our playing eleven every single time.
Hans van den Broek from Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
I cannot be the first to wonder if what we see, when we see men in white take to a cricket field, is men imagining an environment of justice.
Hans van den Broek is not a great cricketer. Instead he is the kind of journeyman who finds a sense of belonging in the rhythms and hum of this sport in a foreign land. We cannot help select him for the gravitas he brings into the team, and as a reminder that cricket- to so many of us displaced from homes- is more than just a silly game. It is a bridge to a childhood that we’ve left far behind.
And finally, while we know that teams don’t travel with their own Umpires, we cannot but nominate one for our Fantasy XI- the impossibly fair, the ever intrepid, Tuffy the Wonder Dog from Hum Aapke Hain Koun
Who will you add to your team?