The Tattooed Terminators XI
During one of those (now infamous) IPL Nights, I remember Mr. Vijay Mallya commenting on how he was “fortunate to have eleven guys on the team who enjoyed a spot of good wine.” I believe his pilots took this statement to heart but that’s a story for another day.
What set me thinking is that given the commercialization of cricket post the advent of T-20, Mr Mallya’s statement could actually pave the way for teams bound by a common thread. For example, a team of players with false birth certificates captained by Shahid Afridi with Umar Gul as vice-captain (Gul in colloquial Bengali means “lie”. Get the joke?) or a team of Rohit Sharma play-alikes (with Rohit Sharma as the 12th man). For now we shall concentrate on a team of eleven men who were banned from Facebook and so had to use their body for communicating their messages to the whole world. Yes, we are talking about tattoos.
This team should be noted for its heavy bias towards the southern hemisphere (six out of eleven) and for the space it gives to pace (again six out of eleven). But then you get more time to admire a tattoo as a lanky fast bowler takes his strides to the bowling crease before your mind diverts to more discerning issues such as how to save the equatorial regions of your body. Regarding the former observation, I guess they must have better tattoo parlours Down Under.
Now let’s start off without further ado. Opening the batting for my Tattoo XI would be the right-left batting combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Brendon McCullum. While the Delhi lad would “seize the day” with his Carpe Diem tattoo and draw some uninhibited inspiration from his tribal one, McCullum would bring the calm, calculated attack of numbers – in bold Roman numerals, his tattoos suggest the number of female friends on Facebook, the number of dalliances and the number of one-night stands he had.
To be precise, these numbers actually suggest his position on the list of Test, ODI and T20 cricketers for the Black Caps respectively but whisper into his ear secretly and he will tell you he wishes it to be the former. Not to mention, the Big Mac would also be our in-house custodian of the stumps.
Bringing up the middle order would be the Holy Trinity of Virat Kohli, Kevin Pietersen and Michael Clarke. While Kohli’s tattoos would bring him the luck of his sun sign Scorpio and the dexterity of the middle finger tactics employed by the Japanese Samurai, KP wears the ECB Lions on his body (the latest version of the Tibbit Test, perhaps?) along with his hierarchy in the long list of players to play for England. And he need not ever feel out of company while facing the pie-chucker Yuvraj for lunch – his wife and son find pride of place on his forearms.
As for Clarke, he is the next best person to seize the day in case Shikhar Dhawan fails to. He also has an Arabic tattoo which says that the pain of discipline is similar to the pain of disappointment. He also has a tattoo of a guardian angel on a cross with his (former) fiancée Lara Bingle’s initials inscribed on it. Erm. We’ll just let his bat do the talking. And, in times of strife and sub-continental pitches he might have to play the role of the Tweaking Twirler along with KP because of the lack of quality spinners (reason explained above).
At No. 6 we bring back the blast from the past – the burly, pedalo-crashing beefeater Andrew Flintoff. He lends the perfect work-life balance to the team at this position with his right arm showcasing the three lions and his England numbers while the left arm carries the name of his entire family. This is pretty much relevant since dear old Freddie has carried the bulk of the England team on his bulwark shoulders through the most of the early noughties.
The bowling attack may be too fast to make it furious but dare to call it one-dimensional. If the dragon and koi (Japanese carp) of Mitchell Johnson do not get you, the large unfriendly antithesis-of-Garfield feline will. Of course, if the batsman is lucky as is the case mostly these days, he would get a fare of cherry blossoms which incidentally are supposed to bring luck to the bearer.
If you get past that, you have to face the Sunny Deol of the Southern Hemisphere. Peter Siddle gave up an IPL contact so that he could play for Australia and if you want proof of that check out the initials of the Australian National Anthem on his back. The joke which goes around in Pommie dressing rooms is that if Aussie players get too jingoistic after a couple of beers, they accompany Siddle to the showers. And if you too have had too much of Foster’s, then the Southern Cross should be easier to comprehend. You have to thank your lucky stars if you manage to get across this one.
And then you have to get that new set of 3D spectacles to figure out from where the ball is coming at you. Yes, Lasith “Slinga” Malinga is coming at you with that slingshot side-arm and a side-view of the Sri Lankan lion. If that is not all, another tattoo warns you – “I believe in myself, I have got speed”. And if you still do not get it, chances are you will get to see the “Destiny says it all” after middle stump has been yorked back to the pavilion.
If you still have any more derring-do left after all this speed, chances are the slower deliveries will get you. Jade Dernbach with his flowers, butterflies and slower deliveries may strike you as innocuous which he isn’t. After all he believes that what counts is not the speed in your deliveries but the deliveries you can get across in minimum speed. This is why his tattoo reads “What counts is not the years in your life but the life in your years”. Now that is very deep – must have hurt like hell to ink. Zindagi lambi nehi, badi honi chahiye babumoshai, anyone?
And even if this does not get you, you need a resounding slap and a plate of appams, Ch***ya. This is what Shanthakumaran Sreesanth will dish out to you with his two tattoo-laden arms. Angel he is not, despite the wings and the rosary and even the devoutly religious would not classify his bat-whirling, knee-twirling chicken dance as a sign of divine intervention despite his Om tattoo. He is getting a Phoenix tattoo done which would sum him up aptly – one bright spot once in a very long while amongst a lot of ashes. And we do not mean the hallowed urn.
I might have missed out a few illustrious names such as the likes of Dale Steyn but then surely you would expect more colour and fizz out of this team than lean and mean professional hitmen. Which I can guarantee you would not be lacking when this motley band takes the field.