It was hard being a supporter of the English cricket team while growing up...the entire '90s were basically the ultimate torture chamber devised to crack even the hardest fanboys.
But one learned to endure, to persevere and look ahead despite the gloom and doom.
We did have our moments of glory though.
A Sharjah triumph here, a Texaco trophy triumph there, a tied series against the mighty Proteas, a closely contested Carlton&United ODI series, ofcourse the great coup that never was of '92 and well, I'm running short of examples I suppose.
Sure, the test championship mace is ours now.We're T20 World Champions.Our old nemeses are our new whipping boys. A lot of old scars have been healed...yet one tends to reminisce now and then about a bygone era that was punctuated by a series of recurring nightmares...of losses snatched from the jaws of victory...of comic tragedies...of dramatic collapses...of fallen heroes and unkept promises.
Yet we endured...past the taunting philistines who rooted for India or Australia.
Our Gods were different...The Original Wall-Atherton, the consummate pro and supreme gloveman/bat- Stewart, the gritty Thorpe, the conundrum that was Tuffnell, the gentle giant - Fraser, and the best pace duo of that era- Gough and Caddick, that mercurial wonder - Cork and the comeback kings Ramps and Butch, and countless others that come to mind, as our team chopped and changed hoping to set right the rot that had set in.It took a long time coming but it did.Eventually.Thankfully!
But through that tumultuous period, towering over them all was our Lord God.The Great English Hope.And ultimately the Enigma that we in hindsight wished had come on the scene a decade later, or sooner.
Series after series, we watched him show us miniscule glimpses of the glorious destiny that was supposed to be his, but ultimately ended up being yet another example of a career summation of that inglorious decade of 'what-could-have-been'.
But he gave us great joy while he batted.I suppose in hindsight he was like a good son you knew that would never live up to the great promises that were associated with him, but you cheered him on nonetheless hoping against hope.Two or three bright spurts in that career manhattan were enough to forgive various other debacles.Or so you reasoned.
But proud fanboys are well, proud fanboys.
Our team and our heroes cannot be parameterised by mere results or statistics.
So one had to quietly suffer during cricket discussions, but we never flinched from proclaiming our loyalty and defiantly putting down other successful opponents.
It wasnt far ago that much noise was being raised over one puny god's hundredth hundred.
Our man, the original Incredible Hulk, had already smashed a ton of tons way back and was going strong well past his twilight hour. What about one Trinidadian's mammoth feats you say? Pish tosh. Our man has a highest score of 405*.
Toward the end, a new era was being ushered in and our man was fighting age and the uncertainties that a transitional period involved. So one learnt to look forward to new heroes, new Gods... but the first one will always retain pride of place, be it in the form of your first cupboard poster from Sportstar magazine, or the snippets of articles from a forgotten scrapbook.And more importantly in the form of distant memories in the deepest recesses of your mind that you fondly cherish revisiting, and ofcourse nowadays a mere youtube search away.
Today to relive some of those memories via youtube, I rewinded back to that Carlton and United Series in '98 where our man scored three hundreds in Oz and tied with one annoying 'Pigeon' for the man of the series honours. And boy was it fun watching him whack one smug blonde fellow around!
I'd just like to say Happy Birthday, Mr.Hick.
A'90s fan boy.