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A Bullshitters guide to the Indian test cricket

Updated: Feb 13

One of my strongest memories of India is walking through their park, The Maiden, central downtown Mumbai, and seeing at least 10 separate games of cricket underway.  India embodied by joyous faces, vicious bowling, laughter, colour and heat.  It was clear even then, that the sport is a unifying national religion.

My previous memory of cricket was a day at the home of English cricket.  Probably 15 years before.  The Test match was England v Bangladesh.  At this stage you are thinking I'm about to embark on a wild eulogy about the merits of the beautiful game.  I'm not. 

Far from it in fact.  The highlight of that day at Lords was the rain.  Play was stopped, the Barmy Army were bereft.   Play started again after lunch and interrupted what otherwise would have been a near perfect day for me with mates in the pub.  I'm not a fan. An already slow game for purists, made slower by the biblical time scales of a test match.

But now sitting on the tarmac at Heathrow waiting to set off for Chennai, I realise my indifference could be a conversational hindrance.  I panic text a few mates.   What is the nugget I need to engage my taxi driver on arrival? 

With minutes to go I recieved two replies and I'm endebted.

All you need to know right now on the cricket front is that it is actually a religion out there and Virat Kohli is deemed a God. They are fanatical about him and the sport.

Virat made himself unavailable for the 1st two tests for reason's unknown which is probably why we won the 1st test match, which finished on Sunday. Next one starts tomorrow.  It's being held in Visakhapatnam.

It's expected to be a "bunsen".

(Editor: "Bunsen" is public school rhyming slang for Bunsen burner.)

 Ed : not incidentally just "burner", which having been eating here in South India now for a couple of days is not rhyming slang, it's just a statement of fact!

No, your public school Bunsen is a "turner" which means the ball will spin sideways. India are renowned for their spinners.

And surprisingly similar from our second correspondent :

Kohli is a god in Indian cricket and a world-class batsmen, but is not playing in the test series for personal reasons. ....India have only lost three test matches at home in the last 50 or so matches, but England beat them in the first test, despite India, having a big lead. Second test, of five I think, starts tomorrow!

So we are all now armed to the teeth with conversational gambit. Thanks to the information army of NHSOTR correspondents.

We've arrived in Chennai and I've already tried it out. Our street food tour guide was Rajesh. He was a nice lad. 29 and proud possessor of an MBA in tourism management. He is walking the markets of Chennai cheerfully teaching foreigners how to get diabetes in a single afternoon.

Me: "So first day of the second test against England today, I hear you're still without Virat Kohli?"

Rajesh: "Really? Don't you think Test match cricket is an already slow game for purists, made slower by the biblical time scales of a test match." Or words to that effect.

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