As the cricketing world prepares for a sporting shootout in the form of an India-Pakistan match and recounts tales from the past in order to stoke the flames of passion in the present contest, let me digress and talk of memories of men celebrating the past instead.
These are men well past their prime, a few wearing telltale signs of age, white hair and beards, while most others' are dyed jet-black.
Last week, they gathered at a place aptly called the Purana Villa, and relived a time, three decades ago, when they won the Ranji Trophy, a first for Delhi. This celebration incidentally, was organised by the players themselves, though DDCA president Arun Jaitley was invited to share in the happy nostalgia.
Against the backdrop of the Sehwag rebellion and talk of a total revamp of not just the cricketing committees but also its ethos, the distinguished who's who of Delhi's cricket showed remarkable restraint and maturity in not transgressing any line of decency.
The Master of Ceremonies, Kirti Azad, an important member of the then Delhi team, narrated anecdotes with verve and hilarity, pulling the leg of most players, be it Chetan Chauhan or his own captain, Bishan Singh Bedi.
As drinks flowed, so did the memories of a past when Delhi, guided by the visionary from Amritsar — Bedi Paaji — first challenged the rickety, indifferent administration of the Mehras and then went on to become a force in Indian cricket. One by one, be it the inspiration behind the show - Venkat Sundaram — Madan Lal or Surinder Khanna, who hit centuries in both innings in the final, said that without the courage and support of Bedi, Delhi could have never won the championship. The import of what was being said must have not been lost on Jaitley, as Sehwag's rebellion today is similar in word, if not in complete action so far, to what Bedi did then. In the selfish and self-seeking world of the DDCA, which makes even the best give their worst, reconciliatory words were said in an attempt to bury hostilities and look ahead.
Meanwhile, Tiger Pataudi, never one to miss a quip, referred to the presence of his colleague Surinder Nath by saying “Thank God someone other than me is also alive from my time.”
Madan Lal, known more for his industrious, gritty cricket, than any oratorical skills, brought the house down with this remark: “We should all realise that our mandatory overs have begun and there is no point in nursing past grudges and animosities.”
It was a comment which in many ways summed up the mood of the evening. The dark shadow of the present, despite an evening spent in nostalgia, still hung over the event, making everyone wary of a future full of uncertainty, even intrigue.