Thursday, January 30, 2020

concussion sub - vaseline lever - Pongal test - Mohinder and more


I remember seeing that Pongal Test at Chepauk in Jan 1977.  Critics booed India for their lacklustre performance.  Those were the days when Test matches had a rest day !  In that Test no. 793, England opened with Dennis Amiss and Bob Woolmer who was born in Kanpur and later died in Jamaica mysteriously during WC 2007, when he was the coach of Pakistan.  Tony Greig was the captain- John Brearly, Roger Tolchard, Derek Randall, Alan Knott, John Lever, Chris Old, Bob Willis and Derek Underwood played and were all out for 262.  Bishan Bedi took 4; Madanlal and Prasanna 2 apiece.  India could muster only 164 – Lever took 5/59.  England were bowled out for 185 [Chandra took 5/50; Prasanna 4/55] and chasing 284, Indians were bundled out for 83 – Willis  3/18 and Underwood 4/28 inflicting the damage.

Could recall that South African Bob Woolmer opened – Bob was to die in mysterious circumstances in 2007 World Cup and after lot of hyped Qs, the investigation led nowhere. JM Brearley who was later touted as a very brainy captain played a very dour innings making 59 off 205 balls – scorecard would read his dismissal as C&B Erapalli Prasanna. There was another dour player Roger Tolchard who made 8 off 85 balls – he would jump to spinners, defend and get back to safety.

                       John Lever who had just debuted in the Delhi Test looked unplayable.  There was Chris Old and big burly Bob Willis – and spinning Underwood too – but John Lever running in and bowling fast left arm raised eye-brows. In fact, he was booed and there was a huge banner screaming ‘Cheater Lever – go back’.  – Capt Tony Greig too was asked to go back.

A sudden jerk to the brain can lead to metabolic and chemical alteration in the brain, as well as stretching and damaging the brain cells. As a result, the brain cells fail to communicate properly, causing changes in the brain’s normal functionality. It is concussion. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur after an impact to one’s head or after a whiplash-type injury that causes one’s  head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. A concussion results in an altered mental state that may include becoming unconscious  - although concussion is not life-threatening, it can lead to deterioration in cognitive and motor functions. Most commonly, a concussion occurs during playing a contact sport, including football, hockey, rugby, soccer, and boxing. Sometimes, a person can have a concussion without showing any apparent symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3.8 million individuals who are engaged in sport and recreational activities get concussions in the US each year; of these, only a small fraction recognizes the condition and undergoes medical treatment.

Zimbabwe opener Kevin Kasuza was taken off the field on a stretcher after being struck flush on the helmet for the second time in two Tests. He was rushed to the hospital for scans and was later diagnosed with a mild concussion. Although he is stable, medical staff will continue monitoring him. Timycen Maruma has been named as his concussion substitute. Kasuza sustained the blow on the third morning of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Harare when Kusal Mendis nailed a powerful back-foot pull, which hit the side of the helmet of forward short-leg fielder Kasuza, who immediately hit the ground even as the ball ricocheted to square leg, where Carl Mumba took the catch to send back Mendis for 22 off 73 balls. Kasuza was in visible pain and was consequently stretchered off the field by the Zimbabwe medical staff.

Incidentally, it was a repeat of what happened in the first Test. Then, too, it was Mendis, who had struck Kasuza on the helmet when he was fielding at the same position on the third day of the match. In that game, Kasuza had not immediately felt the effects of the blow, but suffered a delayed concussion and was eventually substituted out of the match, which was his international debut. As a result, Zimbabwe named a like-for-like replacement in opener Brian Mudzinganyama.

In that Pongal Test, Mike Brearly pulled Prasanna.  The sound could be heard on the stadium.  Mohinder Amarnath standing at forward short leg took evasive action, but the ball struck his head and ricocheted towards the bowler, Prasanna took a simple catch.  It became a Caught & Bowled dismissal – Mohinder on seeing the bowler catch, started laughing.  Was it pure courage ? or ?? – the blow certainly would have been painful and might have caused concussion too – but those were the days, when these were taken lightly – there was no physio running, no medical treatment – all is fine !

In the series opener, in Delhi, John Lever, a fast-medium swing bowler from Essex, had taken 7 for 46 and 3 for 24 (aided by "a rogue ball which swung extravagantly") on his Test debut, as England won by an innings, marking him out as the man to watch. After another comprehensive England win in Calcutta- by ten wickets - the newspapers were turning on India and the players, especially the captain, Bishan Bedi, were feeling the pressure.  Lever was among wickets at Chepauk too, though Underwood dominated here.  John Lever  played 21 Tests took 73 wickets in all but never performed anywhere closer to his debut Test and series.  It swing bowling was an art and he could do it so well in India, why the ball never swung such in his own place in much more favourable circumstances ! – will he or his Captain would ever explain ?

Years later, Tony Greig had to say of that Vaseline incident :  -  In his wisdom, our physiotherapist decided that he should do what marathon runners do, that is put some Vaseline-impregnated gauze into the eyebrows of the bowlers. By doing so, it would channel the sweat down the side of the eye, as opposed to allowing it to go into the eyes. Well, I can tell you that it was a very silly thing to do because under the laws of the game, if you introduce a foreign substance onto the ball it is clearly cheating. What happened was that John Lever had a habit of taking sweat from him brow, which is perfectly legitimate as long as it is only sweat. However, he did mix the Vaseline-impregnated gauze with some of the sweat on his brow, because he had this habit of going straight across his brow.

Statistics reveal that out of his 73 test wickets in 21; 26 came in first 5 in that debut series !!!  ~ was that poetic justice, he played his last Test against India at Leeds in 1986 when India won by massive 279 runs.

PS:  Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly based products owned by Anglo-Dutch company Unilever. The Vaseline name is considered generic in Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries, where the Unilever products are called Vasenol.  In India, the product perhaps did not need any further advertising, and sold well enriching the coffers of its makers !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Jan 2020.

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