A deathly silence greets you as you cross the unmanned gate. Inside the premises, umpteen tents dot the place and you feel you have strayed into a field of giant mushrooms.
Fortunately, they have plastered the inmate’s name on each of those tents and I decided to follow the protocol and start with the skipper.
The Baz seemed buzzing inside but lo! He was not roaring but actually snoring! Poor guy. Caught napping, always.
Considering how his and the team’s form have given him sleepless nights, only a man with a boulder for a heart would wake him up. But as I’m about to step out, Baz sprung on his bed and moaned “Stop the Lappie, I’ll go for the toss.”
I offer him water but poor Baz dropped the sitter. I offered him again and this time he fumbled and spilled half the content before finally latching on to it. In a state of trance, he drained the glass, tossed it back and then murmured, “I’m still the skipper, John. Let me go for the toss.”
My heart bled for him but I left him to his state and entered Ajantha Mendis’ tent, to see something that gave me goosebumps.
Stripped down to bare minimum, Mendis was lying prone on the cot with one guy shaving his head and another applying some sticky stuff on his skull.
I nudged the third in the tent and whispered “what’s the matter?”
“Poor fish. He had just overcome the trauma of the Lahore attack but Yusuf Pathan’s Super-Over terrorism probably left indelible scars on his psyche. So much so, he wants to quit cricket and wants to open a kiribath stall in Moratua,” he whispered back.
“By the way...”
Before he could finish, I found myself in the tiger’s lair. But instead of Ganguly, a gang of four was inside, engaged in intriguing activities.
Arindam Ghosh and Wriddhiman Saha, having swapped tracks for batik lungi and netted vests, looked agitated over a game of ludo while Ashok Dinda was looking at the mirror, admiring the headband, which, I’m told, can only be surgically removed.
I cleared my throat to draw attention and asked if Dada was around.
“No, he has gone out sulking. You know what? He’s called Sulk Hogan these days,” Ghosh giggled.
“And gora coaches call him albatross,” Saha chipped in.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla was dipping his brush in some solution and was rubbing it ferociously on some metal scraps, which was not quite recognizable from where I stood.
Shukla cast a dismissive eye on me and deadpanned, “I heard everything. You people better come and brush dada’s chains or I’ll tell him what you said.”
I left the commotion behind and ran into Mashrafe Mortaza, who looked lost, sitting outside his tent.
“Mian bhai! Tell me, is anything wrong with me? Do I look like a scheme?”
“Yes, these guys keep saying that I’m actually an Indian scheme to revive Bangladesh’s GNP.”
“well…err…I better be going.”
Buchanan’s tent was empty too. In his absence, Andy Bichel and Matthew Mott had occupied the place and were grimly pondering future, completely oblivious of my presence.
“I heard John would be fired and they would get Jyoti Basu to do the job,” Bichel said.
“They said KKR is a house divided and the Basu lad has presided over a fractious coalition for some donkey’s ears,” Mott explained.
“You think we got a chance?” a worried Bichel asked.
“No mate,” said Mott.
“Only Steve Waugh has some chance. They have changed emigration rules and Tugga is the only Australian allowed in Kolkata.”