Pink Ball Red Ball White Ball

Updated: Nov 10, 2019, 07:24 IST | Rahul da Cunha | Mumbai

Mancherji took off his Gandhi glasses, revealing a pair of glaucoma eyes that still flashed. "This ghelo concept of Day and Night Test matches, it will bloody kill the Gentleman's Game

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

RahulTo say that Mancherji Caswaji Ghaaswalla was upset, was an understatement.

He banged his glass of cutting chai on the table, sending his brun maska flying. "What the Dickens is happening, cricket with a pink ball? It's preposterous, I say!" he shouted to no one in particular, in the crowded Irani café.

His three mates of 40 years looked at him, askance.

"What is bothering you today, Mancher Bhau?" enquired cricket correspondent, Baburao Bhambavale, 66, biting into a mawa cake.

"Yesterday you were peeved with Farokh's comments about aapro Anushka, today it's pink balls," observed Jignesh Vora, 69.

"No no, Jiggybhai, that has always been Engineer's habit. I have opened the batting with him, for the Parsi Cyclists in the 1960's," Mancherji said.

"Don't give 'raagpati', Manchu, the only thing you opened was the cap of your fountain pen as scorer for the Parsi Cyclists," retorted Jiggybhai. "O Khoddai, no need to get technical, samajyu ke, Mr Groundsman!," Mancher hit back.

"A groundsman is a very important person, Vinoo Mankad would always say," answered Jignesh, stoutly defending himself.

"Anyway, doston, everyone calm down…my question is, Mancherji Ghaaswalla ko gussa kyon aata hai? Let's hear it na," needled the fourth codger in this quartet, AIR radio commentator, Seetharaman 'Yesu' Mahalalingam, 65, the 'baby' of the group.

Mancherji took off his Gandhi glasses, revealing a pair of glaucoma eyes that still flashed. "This ghelo concept of Day and Night Test matches, it will bloody kill the Gentleman's Game."

His three friends stopped dead in their tracks.

"What are you saying, mua Bawaji, test cricket will become extinct if they don't make some necessary amendments?," rationalised Bhambavale.

"Sahibji, crowds will come to watch in the evenings. Trust me, the only constant is change," philosophised Jiggy.

"Bloody bumkum, don't give all these Archie Greeting card quotes, this is change for the sake of change!"

"But, it must match the popularity of T20," reasoned Jiggybhai.

Mancherji Cawasji Ghaaswalla stood up to his full 4 foot 11 inches height, his reflection in the café's accordion-like mirrors, resembling Bruce Lee in the Enter the Dragon climax.

"How can you begin a test match at 2 pm? Mad chhe? What about the traditions of the game? The early morning nip in the air, that's the heart of test cricket. And who plays with a pink ball, what is wrong with red, I say? Soon they will make the players wear colours and look like clowns from Jumbo Circus. Soon they will have multi coloured balls. Soon we will have one -over matches. This is unending compromise. My lads... and you're all watching it quietly… and to make matters worse, you are justifying it!"

"I know Mancher's problem with a 2 pm-10 pm test match, instead of 10 am-6 pm," announced Bhambavale, mischievously.

"Bol, bol, Babu," said the others in unison.

"At 6 pm sharp as the test cricket day ends, his score book closes and his, uhm, rum bottle opens. With a Day-Night test match, his drink timings will change!"

For once, Mancherji Cawasji Ghaswalla was stumped.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahul.dacunha@mid-day.com

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