Yesterday was a momentous day for cricket lovers, for it was a day in the long, illustrious, 144-year history of Test cricket that a tournament was ultimately going to crown the best Test side of the planet. We have had Clive Llyod’s mavericks, Steve Waugh’s invincibles, Ponting’s ruthless assassins but none of them have had the bragging rights to be called ‘the best Test side’.
Although Southampton, and in particular the Ageas Bowl, venue for the World Test Championship (WTC) final, true to British weather kept everybody on their toes, courtesy of the rain gods who were too adamant to wither away, eventually leading to the Day 1 being washed away — the excitement around the finale was still palpable.
Test cricket is often termed as the dying format of the sport and the nihilists of the game believe that youngsters do not have the patience, nor they have the interest to watch two teams in their white flannels defending and leaving the ball for five days on the trot.
Perhaps, WTC was the antidote for such nihilists. The bilateral Test series apart from the Ashes or Border Gavaskar trophy finally had a context — they finally had a gratification. The teams, throughout the two-year cycle, slogged in every single session to collect the valuable points, necessary to lock a spot in the final.
And if all goes according to plan in the next five days, given ICC have kept a reserve sixth day, WTC could pave way for the reincarnation of Test cricket. Still, in its nascent stage, the future of the tournament hangs in uncertainty, but with the buzz, the finale has generated, the trepidation and the nervous bundle of energy it has turned the fans into, it certainly augurs well for the format and the tournament’s legacy, even if it remains a one-time affair.
As a romantic of the format, gasping and twisting in my seat with every ball, Test cricket brings a joy unparalleled that any other format doesn’t come close to muster. This is no comparison, for comparison is the death of joy, yet it is me singing a bard of praise for Cricket’s most refined and at the same time, prized format.
The crimson red duke ball swinging prodigiously in the overcast conditions of England and a batsman planting his foot forward to play an enchanting forward defence with head and body in a line to mid-off is a thrill ride in itself. Imagine having five days of it with a unique silverware in ‘Mace’ as the trophy and the title of maiden champions of Test cricket — this is pure, unadulterated history in the making.
Hoping that the rain gods stay away, I have prayed, quietly nestled beside my mother in her evening prayers that let this trophy have the name of an Indian squad that pulled a heist at Gabba earlier this year, let this trophy land in the hands of a skipper that has transformed the Indian side to the most remarkable outfit we have seen in generations.
The angst of an Indian cricket lover that has seen his team lost a few knockouts in the last few summers can only be avenged by a WTC trophy. No sharing but the elusive right to hold the trophy.
The emergence of T20 cricket might have taken some sheen away from the most ruthless format of the sport but WTC has brought it back into the conversation. The tournament is here to stay and safe to say, it has inspired the next generation to don the white outfit.