We live in an age that prizes swiftness and urgency. More of a reason to celebrate a great batsman who urges us to pay attention
What I sometimes miss most is time. Every year, every month, every week, every single day, seems to slip by quicker than before. There is no time for anything ever; no time to read a long article, no time to read a book, no time to watch the latest epic TV show; no time even to listen to music.
I was recently gifted a record player. Typically, in the modern style, its main purpose is to convert your old 12-inchers into new, unseen MP3s. But I never really had a record collection so I shunned the MP3 option and took this as a chance to develop a long-overdue vinyl fetish (which, as fetishes go, is still way up there).
As well as reintroducing me to some essential rock 'n' roll from the 1960s and '70s, and jazz - to the depth of which digital formats just don't seem to do justice - it has helped me make time for music. Lately the music I was hearing, controlled by the shuffle, had begun to whizz by. Nothing speaks louder of our waning modern patience than the shuffle option: an eagerness to move on to the next surprise, having not even satiated the surprise and pleasures of the present properly. I'm gradually beginning to regain the patience to listen to an album in its entirety. I don't want to shuffle out my impatience.
You know where this is going. One of the central purposes of the Cricket Monthly is to start taking ownership of our time again; it is to produce content that is not necessarily time-bound and topical, and also content that takes time to create and content that takes time to digest and to read.
This is why our homage to Shivnarine Chanderpaul feels so appropriate this month: cherishing Chanderpaul feels not unlike cherishing vinyl. He is not a spiky-haired, airbrushed young tyro, an MP3 batsman; he is not, like Mahela Jayawardene, the subject of our main story last month, an old man who has adapted well to changing times. No, Chanderpaul asks us to change. He asks us to be patient, to understand that good things - maybe even the best things - take time. Time is of essence to everything about Chanderpaul, his batting, the time that he is from, one slipping from us now.
Chanderpaul asks us to change. He asks us to be patient, to understand that good things - maybe even the best things - take time
And here - reluctant as all editorials should be to advise readers - is some advice. Take your time in reading through Rahul Bhattacharya's magnificent telling of Chanderpaul's story. Don't rush through it. Make time for it. Read it over a day. Read it over two days. Read it again. Let it wash over you so that once you're in it, you can virtually hear Shiv and the people around him talking, so that you can picture him in that hammock with his daughter, finding time to engage the village drunk (you'll see). Treat it like you might some vinyl (listening to records, after all, is basically long-form listening). It is a world Rahul creates beautifully, one so lo-fi it is impossible to imagine it being inhabited by any modern superstar other than Shiv.
Time is what the Indian team, among others, can do with. That, at least, is what Ravi Shastri feels, particularly about India's younger players and batsmen. "Basically you don't get enough self-time where you introspect, get into your own game, and try and see what is going wrong," he tells Ayaz Memon. It is advice for modern life, not just cricket.
And that is merely one small part of an engaging conversation with the omnipresent Shastri, a kind of bête noire for the modern, thinking cricket audience. That, it is too often forgotten, represents a bit of a turnaround: in his playing days, remember, Shastri was a bête noire for the Indian cricket establishment.
On which note, Brydon Coverdale's encounter with Ian Meckiff is an especially resonant one. I've always been uncomfortable with the haste with which cricket has condemned bowlers with suspect actions, and Meckiff's was one of the first high-profile ousters, back in the 1960s. Brydon tracked him down in Melbourne, where, though he is no recluse, he has been living mostly undisturbed by the media's glare.
There are surprising revelations, and candid ones too and, as it happens, luckily for us, it's a timely revisiting as well.
Osman Samiuddin is a sportswriter at the National
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