My connection with Boxing Day started 21 years ago to this date. Since God didn't deem me fit enough to be a Christmas present to the world, he chose the next best day or should I say the next day, to send me in. But as much as it adds significance to the day from a very personal point of view my looking forward to the 26th of December has been due a whole different reason altogether. And its pretty much the same reason why I get up at 5 every boxing day. Those religiously oriented might assume that it's because of my sense of duty towards God and my eagerness to offer my prayers and thanks to Him. Close, my ritual is intended to pay my obeisance to the demi-gods on the cricket field. As the years have gone by, the Boxing Day tests have become occasions to celebrate the spirit of cricket. The overflowing crowds (and beer cans), their tremendous spirit and many memorable performances have gone a long way in making the occasion even grander.
Apparently the year I was born England trounced Australia by an innings and more. But guess that was just my amateurs luck rubbing on to the English team, for since then as much as millions of Brits would have wanted to see it happen again England have only been at the receiving end of such thrashings. Or as they say in many Tamizh films, "inime adhu nadakannumna oruthan porandu daan varanum". I have done my bit and now look forward to someone else sharing that burden.
The memories of the cold morning of 1999 when India were facing the heat down under while I was praying feverishly at the local temple, more for my sake than the Indian teams I should admit. It was also the debut of Brett Lee who ensured, at that point of time that is, that Rahul Dravid's worst record was in Australia and also as a side job just about end Sadagapon Ramesh's test career with a brutal bouncer. One more heart break was due 4 years later when despite a Sehwag blitzkrieg on Boxing Day India managed to perform to perfection the art of losing test matches away from home despite a brilliant start (Sehwag himself has "starred" in two of these defeats, the other one being on debut against South Africa). The tales of the other teams to tour recently are no different and India can look to take heart from the dismal performances of the others in recent times.
As they often say past is past and a new beginning is what was made today under the guiding light of the "Grand Old Warrior (man is too small a term to be used to describe him)" of Indian cricket, Anil Kumble. To say the least he made my day today. It was sheer delight watching him operate today and his celebration which followed each of wickets was similar to that of a rookie earning his first Test wicket. And looking at his celebrations I just couldn't help wonder whether the number next to the age column was just that, a mere number. It is with these thoughts that I look forward to what the future holds for me rather than look back at the 21 years behind me.