The future of ODIs — a recent preoccupation among commentators — is the theme of Harsha Bhogle’s latest column as well. Only, unlike the bulk of the commentators who have oscillated between writing obituaries and suggesting organ transplants to revive the game, Harsha suggests that maybe the end of the Champions’ Trophy — a tournament that gives one days some weight, some context lacking in either the England-Australia series or the triangular in Sri Lanka playing out now — would be the best time to take the format’s temperature and check other vital signs.
I’d rather wait and see what the Champions’ Trophy, another much maligned format that is going through a makeover, throws up. With just eight teams, well, seven and a nationwide poll to find people who can bat and bowl making up the eighth, it offers much by way of competition. Sambit Bal, the editor of Cricinfo is right. You need to look at things in a certain context and the Champions’ Trophy in this format provides that context. It separates it from the otherwise wild mushrooming of one-day internationals.
Shorn of their context, one-day games are a weaker offering. Put in the right ambience, they could be thrilling. It is a bit like the great violinist being ignored when he plays outside a subway station but being flattered with expensive tickets and applause when he plays in a theatre. Before writing an obituary we need to give the patient a good shot at survival.
Tangential aside for those that may have missed it — the violinist in the subway is a reference to a thought experiment carried out by Gene Wiengarten of the Washington Post two years ago [interestingly, that experiment too was about context providing meaning and a frame].
Weingarten got Grammy-winning classical violinist Joshua Bell to play his equally famous Gibson ex Huberman, a violin made in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari while he was at his peak, in a subway — the object of the exercise being to see if a performance that would have drawn a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall would attract commuters rushing about their daily business. Here’s the story. And the clip:
Context, a frame, is clearly important — but good music can still stop you in your tracks, no matter where you hear it. I remember once, in the heck of a hurry to meet someone, dashing down into the 32nd Street subway and being arrested by the sounds of fabulous drumming.
I stopped to watch, and listen. Anyone would. A train came, but by then I was intrigued by the nagging feeling that there was something familiar about the guy I was watching. At some point during a lull, I asked his name, but the penny obstinately refused to drop until I was finally on the train and heading for my appointment: Larry Wright was none other than the grown up version of the little kid who, in the opening sequence of the Peter Weir-helmed Gerard Depardieu-Andy McDowell starrer Green Card, is seen playing the drums on a NY city street. Clips of the man in action:
And here’s an interview with the man: