Monday, 24 December, 2007

Boxing Day test and a Patiala Peg

During the early days of my initiation to the wonderful game of cricket, I was often intrigued by few terms associated with it. Topping them was, where does ‘Ashes’ derive its name from? What is the significance of a ‘Boxing Day’ test?

It was the second query that lingered for some time. Much longer, in fact. And when I attained enlightenment, the Australians had started on what seemed like a never-ending ascendancy.

Wiki has this to say about the Boxing Day:

The celebration is traditional, dating back to the middle ages, and consisted of the practice of giving of gifts to employees, the poor, or to people in a lower social class. The name has numerous folk etymologies and the Oxford English Dictionary attributes it to the Christmas box the verb box meaning: "To give a Christmas-box (colloq.); whence boxing-day."

As India starts a much-anticipated series on 26th December 2007, it should not expect any such goodies or boxes from Australian team, even though in terms of cricketing prowess, they, along with most other teams, still count from amongst the ‘poor’ or the ‘lower social class’.

With its newly acquired muscle (read money) power, India has succeeded in forcing Australia (probably for the first time in years) to change its cricketing calendar and start the series on a ‘Boxing Day’. It bodes well, especially for the fans in India. Imagine a regular schedule, so, by the time the Aussie juggernaut reaches Melbourne, the series more often than not, is a dead one. Such has been Australian domination over the decade.

From my recollection, I cannot think of any team in last decade, that has gone into a Boxing day test with its slate clean, let alone being in the lead. India did that on their last tour, only to trip at the goal post.

Here’s something that might help them avoid a repeat:

Unlike ‘Boxing Day’, which had no connection whatsoever with the game, but has become a cricketing folklore since, ‘Patiala Peg’ actually owes its origin to cricket.

In its early days, cricket used to enjoy princely patronage in India. Maharajah of Patiala was one of the few royal bloods, who played the game on the field too. It was commonplace for the visiting English teams to play a friendly match against the ‘princely’ states. But the Maharajas simply loathed losing and so the visiting Irish team, supposedly stronger than the local team, was treated to extra large pegs of whisky on the eve of this match. Needless to say, the locals won the tie with ease, and Maharaja’s famous reply, "Yes, in Patiala our pegs are larger" became a part of cricketing history.

Indian team’s support staff has couple of days more to work behind the scenes and ensure the lead Aussie players guzzle a few ‘Patiala pegs’ on the test match eve.

Therein lies India’s best chance.

22 comments:

Soulberry said...

CG, it's refreshing to read your articles again.

How could India do a "Maharajah" unto the Aussies? They are alert and primed and have analyzed everyone in detail...probably even Pankaj Singh's batting, let alone his bowling. (They have GC in Rajasthan Cricket Academy)

The Australians are cautious...no matter what the press says, the players themselves aren't taking any chances.

Difficult to slip a patiala across in this scenario. The batting will have to do it instead.

Indian batting will have to be relentless enough to upset the Australian plans. Then, we could see our swingers slip one behind the pads of the 'roos bats.

Golandaaz said...

In trying to make light of the situation, your article betrays your emotion. Without explicitly saying so, it seems you are convinced India is a team waiting to be taken to the electric chair.

I think we will be a pesky team this summer in Australia and that too without having to resort to the patiala way.

Again I fear this tour does not mark the begining of the end for our batting line up much like the 78-79 tour of Pakistan did for our spin. After the mauling Zaheer, Javed, Imran and co gave our spin trio (I think Venkat did not make the trip) India was never the same side.

david mcmahon said...

G'day from an Indian-born Aussie,

It's called the Boxing Day Test because the MCG Test match traditionally starts on Boxing Day - which as you know derives from the practise of the English gentry giving their employees boxes of gifts the day after Christmas.

Today's honours have certainly gone to India - we have a fascinating series ahead of us.

Cheers

David

Cricket Guru said...

Hi all,

First up, season's greetings to you all.

SB,

Thanks. Your words are always encouraging.

Who knows, they might have already slipped a patiala peg or two into the Aussies glasses! What a stealth operation that must have been. Lol

Golandaaz,

A warm welcome. I think we have discussed in detail, the reasons for my pessimism. These are still early days in the series and I haven't seen anything that warrants a change in my opinion.

As for your refernce to the spin trio, I agree with you. Even if we lose the series, I don't see any of the fab four retiring, atleast in the immediate aftermath. Although I have a gut feeling that in case we emerge victorious, Anil Kumble would opt for 'pipe and slippers'. That is the impression I got after watching the programme - 'Captain Kumble' on CNN-IBN, hosted by Rajdeep Sardesai.

David,

Good evening and a warm welcome to you too. Tomorrow will be a huge day, not only from the series POV, but for Indian cricket as well. Keeping my fingers crossed.

scorpicity said...

Nice... wish someone gave me a peg when I play cricket... I bet no cricketer in the world would complain :)

Cricket Guru said...

Lol Scorpi

Thanks and welcome to CaAT.

Soulberry said...

In trying to make light of the situation, your article betrays your emotion. Without explicitly saying so, it seems you are convinced India is a team waiting to be taken to the electric chair.

Just came back after concluding the last rites...the electric chair was earlier.

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