From a premature nostalgist, let this column commence with a moan. The comfort of cricket has gone. This is a simple and profound loss I’ve been feeling lately. Here is October’s disorientation. The month began with the Champions Trophy (the fifty50, featuring countries). To be fair it contained some old-school elements such as moderate totals, Australia’s unbeaten run, and Pakistan’s senators accusing their team of match fixing, but on the whole it was a flat affair. It was terminable, unlike some of ICC’s other creations, and thus lauded.

No more than three days after the final in Johannesburg, two significant tournaments opened in India, one to utter obliviousness and the other to middling bafflement.

I used to look forward to the Challenger Trophy. The name Challenger, while hardly original, was accurate. A quick tournament, four matches in four days between India’s best and the rest. The sides were hierarchical and given appropriately hierarchical names—India Seniors, India A, India B. Reputations were made and broken here, a talent gauged often in a face-off against Sachin Tendulkar. At 17, Piyush Chawla bowled the great man with a googly he didn’t pick. Sreesanth being Sreesanth once kept getting in Tendulkar’s face. Tendulkar forehanded him over his head for six and hissed: “Don’t ever come so close to me again."

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