In many ways, it is like the morning after. Last night, in complete contrast to the doomsdayers' ominous forewarnings, last minute goatmouthing from FICA and some Anglo-West Indian based disinterests, IPL got off the ground like a blazing rocket to light up the unknown darknesses of the night. Many of course anticipated what lies beyond, in the unknown and ever expanding universe of cricket, but they were pagans...deemed so by those who believed the Earth was flat and the centre of the entire universe. Nothing lay beyond Earth they said, it was the evil designs of the devil to send out a rocket to explore. Perhaps they too anticipated their fears would be realized...that they would be shown up to be completely wrong all the time.
Brendon McCallum, the shwasbuckling Kiwi keeper-batsman, inaugrated the exploration of the unknown in the manner of those fantastic men - like Yuri Gagarin who shot into space not only on rocket fuel but mainly on spirit of adventure and hope. Like Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins, who dispelled myths while moongazers despaired. The unknown was no longer so. The universe of cricket had just discovered new boundaries...far far beyond what one traditionally understood them to be. Those traditional fences look like just that...barbed fences in a wide wide universe.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher were on the other side of such a fence. They were the conquerers from Motera who were undone at Green Park. Yesterday evening, Bangalore fell silent as Kallis and Boucher fell...their last hopes in chasing McCallum.
Just a couple of months ago, India could not be brooked. They were the weed and sum of all ailments. At least that was what those afraid to explore told us and tried to force us to believe. They told us cricket must be played the hard way...only, their definition of the hard way included a mishmash of abuse, mental disintegration tactics, set-ups on field to trap oppositions players in a web of lies later...ways to neutralize felt threats...win at all costs. No, I'm not talking about Ricky Ponting here, the captain of the Australian team, but let's talk about him anyway.
As the rockets lit up the sky, one saw Indian players hugging Ricky and vice versa, in appreciation and encouragement. There was David Hussey applauding Brendon McCallum in the field. There were the Kokata Knight Riders gathering in support of Ricky Ponting after he dropped a sitter urging him to forget all about it and not worry. Ricky was bemused...we saw the real Ricky Ponting, the sportsman, yesterday night. The barbed fences were shown up in the new light to be just that...man-made barbed fences placed across the path of the ordinary cricket watcher and players. They were shown up in the new light of discovery to be foolish platitudes of self-identity which man has been hypnotized into believing and holding on to closer than his chest.
Ricky Ponting was bemused, and humble, and caught up completely in the spirit of just being a sportsman enjoying his game. IPL saw him going over the moon in congratulatory admiration during a conversation he was having with Brendon McCallum on the field. Indeed the hitherto unknown space...the hitherto space consigned to the black void of jingoism was unravelling...these explorers from IPL were dispelling the darkness of recent ages...they were shedding light on the brilliance beyond boundaries.
And in that brilliance emerged new planets, new stars...Ashok Dinda of KKRs, who opened the bowling was one such paceman. There was also the lingering image of teammates on opposite sides.
This brilliance beyond was actually not unknown...mythology had spoken of its existence....clues were found in the fossils of the game...seers who could see with the eyes of their minds told us of such golden eras in fantastic times....camaraderies and sporting spirit could co-exist with a hard game...they were not mutually exclusive as suggested by the neo-philosophers of the recent Dark Ages cricket was languishing in. Players and watchers of sport and cricket are sportsmen and women first...they have their alleigances which are indispensible in sport, but these alleigaances are not all consuming and inflexible and non-accomodative as one was force-fed to believe by vested interests.
So here it was....cricketers revelled knowing that they no longer were wooden horses of their respective boards. They knew they were changing this sport for the generations unborn who could take up this sport. One could continue to blindfold oneself, plug ones ears and allow torrents of vapid words, ideas, and spirit to spew forth...but we know now for sure...the universe is larger than once thought.