Wimbledon, British GP, MCC XI v ROW XI – Now, that was quite a weekend for London. If you were in London and didn’t attend at least two of the three, then you’re leading a sad life.
With the Football World Cup approaching its business end, the first weekend of July had to be a dream come true for any sports enthusiast. Sports often meddle with your sleep and upsets the body clock but when all the action live up to their billing, sleep and early morning appointments take a back seat.
Just like it happened this weekend.
There was so much happening at one particular time that even with six television screens installed on my workstation, I struggled to keep up. There were way too many candies in the jar and I had to choose.
Saturday was devoted to the MCC game while on Sunday, the vocal cords geared up for Roger Federer. And right now, as I pen down this piece, I am glad that I made those choices.
Giving up the Grand Prix was tough but as soon as Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari crashed out, the moral dilemma parted and the focus shifted towards the contest between the King and the Djoker. I am not a huge tennis fan but Wimbledon is different. Normally, I dip in and out of the other Grand Slams but Wimbledon has always had my full attention. May be because it was the tournament that introduced me to the world of lawn tennis.
The grass courts, the traditional green and purple coloured uniforms, the referring to players as “Mr.” and “Miss” and of course, the all white code elevates the Wimbledon to a different level altogether and keeps a tennis noob like me hooked for hours.
The single-handed back hand of Roger Federer adds to the menu but when one tops it off with the passion and vigor of a Novak Djokovic, the entrée reaches a divine level and the contests turn into spectacles.
And what a spectacle it was.
When you hit 30-odd aces and still end up on the losing side, you know your opponent has dished out something special and to beat Roger Federer, in Wimbledon, special isn’t enough. Djokovic brought his ‘A+’ game to the table and displayed his class on and off-field. If his tenacity on the court drew the applause, his – “Thanks Roger for letting me win” – speech earned him a few more stripes off it.
Saturday was a lot easier though. Cricket has always been higher up the preference ladder, so choosing ‘Sachin v Warne’ was quite easy. Although I missed the beautiful Bouchard being butchered by Kvitova, the MCC match was more than just a game – it was a virtual time machine that threw me back into my childhood.
Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Brian Lara, Muralitharan, Rahul Dravid, Brett Lee – cricket’s finest came together at Lords to create its own ‘Expendables’. Just like the movie, the story didn’t matter, the ensemble of cast and the premise did.
“Bas Ek straight drive lag jaye yaar….” – I overheard in the office. Although it turned out to be a solid 50-over contest, none of us were in it for a Saeed Ajmal magic spell or a demolition act from Aaron Finch.
Those happened, great! But it was all about that one last straight drive from Sachin Tendulkar, a crunching Brian Lara cover drive and Adam Gilchrist exclaiming – “Bauwling Shaiiine…” – from behind the stumps after a leg break turns square to beat the bat.
It was about an aging Brett Lee running in at top speed and bespectacled Virender Sehwag punching the ball straight down the ground. It was about reminding you about your favourite Rahul Dravid moment when the 40-year-old snapped up a sharp chance at gully.
It was about the white flannels, the cable-knit jumpers, the county caps and about a thousand memories that flooded into one’s mind every time the camera panned on one of these stalwarts.
“We live in a cynical world…a cynical, cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors…” – and this environment of cynicism and competition has turned us into not-so-likeable people. We fight for selfish needs, bicker about our lives, snarl at other’s success and mock at our heroes on social media.
Although we all reside in our own not-so-happy gray zones, the world has become very colourful. From iPhones to the IPL, everything around us is about flash and colour, and we have handpicked our tinted glasses through which we look at the world.
Then comes along a weekend that suddenly takes those glasses off our eyes, rolls back time and wipes away the entire palate. It strips you naked of all the colour and you’re left with a host of incredible indelible memories and the colour white. You can’t lie in white, you can’t cheat in white because it’s so radiant that even the smallest speck of grime shows. It’s pure and it rinses even a Lou Vincent with innocence.
No, Tendulkar didn’t score a hundred. Warne didn’t bowl a single delivery. Lara didn’t light the world on fire, neither did Federer win the Wimbledon but this weekend, the sporting world was refreshed by the colour white adorning the greens of the Mecca of cricket and the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
It’s simple, yet there’s something incredible about the colour white.