March 2015. So I win an online contest and land in Melbourne to watch the finals of the Cricket World Cup.
The contest was about writing a story as a cricket fan. Idea: tweak an existing blog post of mine about a cricket quiz which I had attended back in 2001 in Calcutta and give it a shot. A month later that ends up being judged as one of the best three entries from across the nation from amongst thousands.
Many have asked me since to share the story which got me inside the Olympic Room in MCG. Here it is.
“The year was 2001, it was Holi- a couple of days to go for the soon to be historic test at Eden. We had just been mauled in the Wankhede test inside 3 days, and Gameplan,the Sports Management co, had pulled off a coup of sorts by roping in Gilchrist and McGrath as guest quiz masters for a cricket quiz to be held at The Park in Kolkata.
There were loads of match tickets being given away as audience prizes-almost all for the 4th and 5th days- everyone, led by Mr. Harsha Bhogle the other guest QM of the day, had a good laugh as none expected the match to last that long.
My father who was in the audience answered one question from Gilchrist and got a 5th day ticket- when Gilly asked him whether he wanted to change it for a 1st day ticket, the old man remarked- I will go to Eden on the 5th day and India will win this test. Gilly chuckled and shook his hand and handed the ticket over to him.
Eventually, I finished 2nd in the quiz and when Gilly was giving the final prize to me, I told him he surely won’t score a hundred at our Eden and will find scoring difficult here. He again chuckled and thanked me for ‘wishing him’.
He eventually scored a pair at Eden- both golden.
How can I not consider my individual contribution of jinxing Gilly to be right up there alongside VVS’ 281, Dravid’s epic 180 or Bhajji’s heroics?”