It’s a relaxed day, in many a way.
No, I didn’t mean that to come out as a rhyme but it’s that kind of a day when even the most disinterested of people could start reciting poetry.
It’s cloudy, there’s a breeze that’s blowing the leaves on to the streets and if you are driving – which I am, on my way to the Sector-16 Stadium in Chandigarh – it’s fluctuating between a gentle kiss and a harder caress. It’s only when the wind decides to get really harsh and pushes dry leaves into the car that I pull up the windows.
Speaking of which, I remember, I am still covering cricket and put my foot on the pedal and get to the ground. I reach my destination.
So here I am at the Sector-16 ground, under cloudy skies, and a mild spitting down but nothing that should disturb even a game of cricket. As it turns out, I am the only guy on the ground apart from a couple of dogs and the security guard who is staring at me with a look that can best be described as a crossover between puzzled and disdainful.
I call up the media managers of one of the teams which was supposed to be there and has miraculously disappeared. God’s kind enough he takes the call quickly enough and informs me they are practicing at the other stadium. The PCA Ground in Mohali, that is.
I groan inwardly. My next call is to the ICC Media Manager and she informs me the time-table was changed a couple of hours ago. I had referred to a slightly older schedule than that before I drove down here.
Another lesson. Time-tables will update. Quite frequently at that. Best to keep updating the shared spread-sheet before leaving the house/hotel.
What I am also informed is the practice is an optional one for all teams, so there might not be too many players on show anyway. Coupled with the fact the two grounds are a good 9 km away, I opt to drive back home instead.
The weather hasn’t changed and I am happy to hum a few lines along with my only companion on my way back. My radio.
The day changes. And it’s match day again but for the second day in running there’s clouds in the sky and rain in the air.
The first warm-up match, between Scotland and Netherlands, starts on time but a few overs into it, gets hit by a steady shower.
Not a season for rain, having stayed in Chandigarh for nearly two years but what’s more surprising is it’s not a passing shower. A persistent, irritating drizzle.
I take this opportunity to interview Michael Rippon, Netherlands’ chinaman bowler and boy, it’s probably the most fascinating interview of my short career.
We speak for a whopping 25 minutes – to give you a context, none of the other interviews last more than eight or 10 minutes. 25 is almost unheard of for me. But it’s not just the amount of time that makes the talk interesting, it’s the content of the conversation as well.
Rippon speaks of his trait, chinaman bowling, and I listen intently like a starry-eyed boy who has just met his hero. No, I was never a spinner as a kid, but to just listen to him explain stuff is enlightening. My whole contribution in the interview is to tell myself to not ask cliched questions but to drill down beyond the cliched answers.
So when Rippon tells me he was impressed by the presence of one of his heroes in his club side because he could talk to him at length, I ask him what exactly was spoken. Like one wanting gossip on the latest Bollywood affair, I quiz him more and what makes it even more interesting is that he’s happy to reveal their discussions.
It’s an eye-opener. Some of the things he reveals, would have never thought of it that way at all. And at 24, Rippon is an excellent communicator too; extremely confident and by the looks of things, knows what his strengths and weaknesses are and what he needs out of himself in the future.
I am almost disappointed when my questions run out and have nothing left to ask.
Request him for a picture with me, and he’s happy to oblige. In fact, he looks at the picture, says he doesn’t like his hair too much, gets his cap on and asks to take another one.
By the time we are done, the first game is abandoned and with the drizzle still continuing to fall away, I decide I have had enough. Drive back home with a fellow scribe, to get back to watch the Asia Cup final.
It’s raining in Dhaka too, which, combined with the rains that Mumbai encountered a few days ago, makes it for an interesting weather in the sub-continent. Lot of us wonder if this is the climate change that Leo was alluding to at the Oscars.
Incidentally, India have no trouble beating Bangladesh with skipper MS Dhoni finishing off the match with a six, much to the merriment of the Indian fans after a Bangladeshi counterpart had posted a photo-shopped picture of the Indian captain’s cut-head in a Bangladeshi bowler’s hand. Twitter went on an overdrive after that picture came out and once India had won, it was a meltdown.
I have little time to rejoice though as I need to pack for Nagpur where the real World T20 action will begin.
I don’t. The missus does it for me. Lucky me.