Llong cuts short Tendulkar romance
Deprived. Denied. Dejected. Perhaps all three. The emotional mélange that plunged the Eden Gardens’ stands when umpire Nigel Llong lifted his index finger skywards and sentenced Sachin Tendulkar to the gallows of the dressing room is hard to be put into words.
The expansive stands of the stadiums wore a cloak of mourning, as if deserted, before they stood in unison to applause his long trudge to the pavilion.
Fortunate, though, that the electronic screen didn’t repeatedly flash his dismissal. First, they wouldn’t have wanted to watch that uneasy reel again and again—an unconvincing prod of his now fallible willow and judgment, rendered more human by protesting bones and ailing reflexes.
For someone so deified, his worshippers ought not have excused their deity stooping to follies of mortals. But thou art not what you were, but alas the elixir of youth isn’t mentioned in cricket’s scriptures.
Next, they would have mutinied had they realized that Llong had erred in his own judgement. Replays showed the ball would have gone over the stumps, at least by a foot.
And by the time this rotten news spread like wildfire across the stands, they were too resigned to their fate to protest. Given their inclination to agitate—no better reminder than the 1996 World semifinal and the Asian Test Championship in 1999—that wouldn’t have been an improbability.
Yet, how cruel were they to be robbed of the master’s swansong. The pathos of this script seemed doubly wretched. A section of the crowd booed when Nigel walked back to the pavilion for lunch.
Every time he turned down an appeal, they clapped sarcastically. There was no pardon for his grotesque blunder in Eden’s Book of Testament. Like all umpires who have wrongly given him out, their mistakes will live as long as Tendulkar is remembered.
Llong has earned his piece notoriety like Steve Bucknor, Darly Harper and Darrell Hair. And this will be a cross that he has to bear till the end of his career, or maybe even more.
Then, it’s elemental for humans to err. First erred the Tendulkar himself. He misread Shillingford’s doosra, a delivery that has of late concerned him, and only groped at the ball from the crease. This was surprising in that until then he was assured in his defence and convinced in his short-making.
The brace of boundaries—both off Shillingford--fully illustrated the oriental dexterity of leg-side play, a facet of the game that hasn’t dimmed by time.
On the first instance, his rubbery wrists twirled for no more than a micro second to direct the ball to the mid-wicket.
The next blazed through almost the same zone, only that the ball was dictated on its course.
They would have doubtless craved for more, maybe they might never see him bat again, but those mere 41 minutes will be entrenched forever in their mindscape. And they, like Tendulkar, would have realized that he too shall pass.
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