Blonde with the best

AS well-stringed as the veena part of Raveena was Rahul's Man of the 'Match' recital of 217 spread over nearly 11 hours - 29 fours to show for the 468 balls through which Drav mapped the odyssey as India's Atlas. So much so that Harsha had Chris Martin-Jenkins proclaiming Rahul as better qualifying than even Sachin for the title of Best Batsman in the World. Chris Mart epitomises, in his persona, the Cricket Special legend that was the BBC. Yet how the Wisden school of thought unfailingly ends up only subtly denigrating Sachin! How refreshing by contrast was Mihir Bose talking to Harsha! A Mihir coming across as a thinker solid-looking enough to put all would-be cricket historians in the shade. Dot point - you no more compare Rahul with Sachin than you do Steve with Ten.

It is the Gary-Vivy ability first to dominate and then to destroy an international attack that determines who is Best Batsman in the World. Here Man of the Series Rahul himself would be the first to yield the striking palm to Sachin. In fact, Ten in his 100th Test faced the same quandary as did The Don in the end. When Brad (like Ten) Sheffield-fell for a like 54 vs Yorkshire on June 19, 1948, up came the banner headline: 'The Don Dismissed Cheaply'. Ten's tragedy is that the Brad man-hunt to which he is subject witnessed his 100th Test 54 viewed in a similar tunnel light. There is no small screen-minimising Dravid's 217, of course. Rahul's knock was, in sum, Oval-shaping into a Laxman-matching 281 when Drav was breath-takingly run out --- like he was for 180 in that March 2001 Eden Test vs Australia.

As for the Super Laxman of March 2001, VVS (at 27) no longer looked as eminently 'eligible' as Rahul (at 29) while agonising through 147 balls for 40 (with 3 feeble fours). A measure of how TVVS has come snake-diving down to No 6. Hold the ladder for Rahul to step up and up is all Laxman, in truth, seems to have done from the Eden to The Oval. Leaving every other Ophelia in India despairing of the way the Hamlet of Indian Cricket chooses to stay with his dilemma of: "To beep or not to beep." The shortfall in Laxman is that he is not really one to expand as he watches Rahul 'contract'! A lingering look at the shapely 8 in his 281 --- as 'sex-symbolising' Marilyn Monroe in her Hollywood prime --- is what Laxman needs to take anew in his gaze. For Rahul at The Oval, in a spirit of 'Blonde With The Best', certainly looked teleset to reach out for that sensuous-looking 8 in 281. A fantasy Rahul-ESPN run you least expected to end in a throwaway run out.

Boycs' espnstar team on viewable tour again we now get to see only in December 2002 - as this two-in-one channel takes its appointed stance at the 'Kiwicket' in the run-up to the World Cup in the Veldt. Will espnstar be year-end back with The Boycs' Effect in tact? Geoffrey was certainly audio-visually missed right through The Oval Test. What invests Geoffrey with a unique commentating aura is his standing as a world-class opener fit to hold a candle to Sunny. The candle Boycs burns at both ends! Geoffrey never gives anything less to commentary than to county and country. This makes Geoffrey simply adorable with his 'accent', Yorkshire puddingly, on the Perpendicular Pronoun. Geoffrey in absentia remained in the espnstar stream of consciousness right through the fourth Test. Would Boycs not have given his right arm to be there to vivify Rahul as the exemplar batting in the exact grammatical vein Geoffrey himself did? Geoffrey's recurring passage of arms with Sunny is the stuff of which live television is made. Sunny, for his rapier-thrusty part, would have revelled in ribbing Geoffrey about whether Boycs could possibly counsel Rahul on how to run out the partner rather than the other way round!

'To Chase A Crooked Shadow' boxing over, we are already in the MAX thick of the Mini World Cup. A League of Nations in which the commentary is a babel of tongues we absorb with growing interest. Where Boycs here has scored is in the fact that he sounds more Injun in empathising with viewers than all Indian commentators put together! A Ravi Shastri might need the ICC as a BCCI peg to bounce back into the third eye of the storm. Boycs, on the other hand, seldom needs to go outside the game to have the Indian viewer eating out of his mike-holding hand. Cricket in its seven letters represents the seven letters of Boycott. This is the simple secret of Boycs' sustained success as The Voice for 'Our Eyes And Ears Only'.

In the aftermath of the ICC-BCCI charade, we know not what the Speed of our cricket is going to be in the 'Jaguar' Jaggu race to South Africa. 'It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World Cup'. That is how we are SET to view the mega-mega Feb-March 2003 event in South Africa. Even as the Mini World Cup has us in telly thrall. MAX interest in cricket this captive contest is naturally generating. India can hope to make an ODI match of it, in South Africa, only if our Dalmiyahoo Board and our players of 'Ravintage' learn to play ball. Bank, meanwhile, on the ABN-AMRO spot boys repeatedly to team Rimi Sen with Boman Irani - even as Ronnie Irani ventures to turn the spotlight upon himself, NatWest style.