The bouncer as a third eye opener

A Screen Test with a difference was Bridgetown. A Screen Test from which how photogenic did our batsmen emerge? The writing on the ball was there on the jaw of ultimate centurion Rahul at Georgetown itself. If that steep Merv climber did something to Rahul's helmetabolism, Chairman Chandu Borde remained unmoved. The chunky Chandu would here have us envisioning how, bareheaded, he came to merely gloved grips with the fireball that was Roy Gilchrist when not Wesley Hall or Charlie Griffith. But even the stroke-laden Chandu should be admiring the usurious way Rahul - looking the Shylock of Indian Cricket - wears down the fasties where it matters most: on pitches abroad.

Going off at a tangent from that TVicious circle drawn around the rectangle in the middle, a 'bonzer' performer is what The Don styled the Elfin One. How good 'Bonzer Sachin' is against the bouncer when face to face with the 'left' of Lara continues to be the MRF million-dollar question Barry Richards rudely raised. The satin rivalry between Sachin and Brian abides, going by how Georgetown double-tonner Carl hindsighted it - after falling for 22 (off 51 balls: 3 fours) on the Port of Spain D-Day. Fatally following in the Queen's Park Oval pavilion footsteps of Lara (47 off 102 balls: 4 fours), wrote the Sourav-deposed King Carl: "There has been a lot of talk about the series being a showdown between Lara and Tendulkar. After the Indian master's hundred in the first innings (Port of Spain), Brian wanted one for himself."

To a Brian-storming telesession we could have been LG Golden Eye witness since, balancing out the Trinidad deed of Lara in refusing to face the Latin American music. Brian and Sachin so preoccupying our mindset opened a timely little niche for Venkatasai Laxman. The roving eye VVS reveals as a runaway 'driver' is something no ONIDA set could ever monitor. Beyond the monitor sail those VVS shots - herein lies Lax's magnetism. Rahul, as the Best Actor in a Parallel Role from the Indian star-cast, remains (for his ace TV-anchor part) the scene-stealer nonpareil. After the way Sourav (sans Hrithik) pranced around at Port of Spain, Bridgetown should have come as a vivid visual aid in separating the men from the minnows. All the more so seeing how Sunny and Boycs were plonk on the button, telling us how to address the problem bouncer. In an aside, Sunny came up with the candid STAR confession that, before turning veg courtesy Sidhu, he had made a meal of the snake and the crocodile alike. Any tears Sunny sheds for Indian cricket, they remain genuine still. While his commentary could not possibly be more venomous than it gets at times, could it? Sunny divulged that he himself looked out for the first or second ball of the over to be aimed between his rib-cage and head. Merv, by opting to unfurl his second ball as a bouncer - reasoned Sunny - left himself with that much less vim and vitality to make the over's remaining deliveries as lethally deadly as possible. Trust the 'nil' part of Sunil to zero in on where and when to expect the bouncer! Here was a piece of insighting on a par with what Sunny once observed on TV: "You have to be a Tendulkar to run a quick single when the prospect is facing Curt Ambrose at the striker's end!"

TV commentary has to be an experience in shared perceptions. Like Boycs demonstrating with his head and heart how correctly Rahul negotiated that Merv jaw-breaker. Geoffrey swayed either way, on and off the screen, to sketch out how exactly to take French leave in case you have to court the unexpected bouncer. Shades of Vijay Merchant telling me inside the wall-clock box of the Brabourne Stadium: "Raju, there is no ducking to the bouncer, as you commented - that way you only prepare to meet it head on. You either throw back your neck, in the nick of time, or drop your head. Either way the ball is going to pass within six inches of your head!" To my retort, "You have to be a Merchant to be able to do that!", Vijay smiled serenely. Likewise have you to be a Geoffrey Boycott to let the bouncing ball go untampered. Even if fellow STAR caster Tony Greig reverse swings one by writing: "Boycott's ability to be where fast bowlers aren't has long been a talking point among cricketers."

Boycs vs Gavas, which one of the duo faced the fastest of bowlers better? Sir Garfield Sobers, vintaging vividly on the telescreen, handpicked Gavaskar (not Boycott) in 'My Ten Bests'. Teleglimpsing Gary and Rohan, Sunny and Geoffrey, what you really marvel at is how in 'jahannum's' name they looked the wickedest bouncer in the eye. The Bridgetown Test should have come as a third eye opener in this light.

An amazing game it is from the moment the evening show begins at 6.30 as Harsha looks the matinee model. It is a telematch in which the focus is one moment on Sachin as a 'six-object', next on that Caribbean peach as a 'sex-object'. "Yeh kya jageh hai doston yeh kaunsa dayaar hai?" as Navjot would say while wondering where to draw the Laxman-Rekha in VVS shot-play.