In the overall constructive years of my adolescence, my cricketing conscience was taking shape. So in 1996, when Michael Atherton played the shot and at ESPN they said that it’s the best cover drive you can ever get to see, true to copy book style, I took it to heart.
It was also the year when I formed one of my earliest opinions of the Indian Cricket team of the pre-John Wright/Ganguly era. I noticed that India always lost its first test match when they toured. And then they trailed. If they were lucky, they’d come back with a 1-1 result but that was a rarity. Generally it was 0-2, 1-2, or worse, 0-3.
Indeed, it was ironical that when this particular opinion was formed, the same very series, two boys debuted in the second game of a series that India was trailing and one of them went on to bring a whole new dawn to Indian Cricket; the one on which I have named an “era” in itself. The second cricketer, of course, will be seen as the one who always lived under the shadows but rose to be called the greatest test cricketer India has ever seen.
So the 1996 India tour of England, has been on my mind this evening. Why, you ask? None of the reasons above, I can tell you that.
Well, the India tour of England, 1996 was India’s first test tour after the 1996 World Cup debacle. It was also the tour when Ganguly and Dravid debuted in the second test match, in Lords and Dravid fell short of a well deserved century by all but 5 runs. But why I remember this tour the most is because of one Chris Lewis. A well-toned, dark body, running at full throttle and single-handedly destroying the Indian batting in the first test match at Birmingham, England.
It was horror. A 15 year old test cricket loving boy’s, and I tell you – you won’t find many, expectations lay shattered.
And it is indeed an irony again, that the same Chris Lewis is in prison. Well, maybe not the same Chris Lewis.
It formed some opinions, that series. It still does.