From 1877 Melbourne to 2022 Rawalpindi

The idea for this article came to me about a couple of months ago: what if I embarked on an imaginary journey, circumnavigating the world, across the years, watching cricket matches. An apt description of this journey could be “Around the world in 1000 years” or “70,000 kilometres above the clouds”.

I need two machines for this odyssey. The first is a time machine that will take me back and forward in time. While I admire HG Wells’ imagination, I will opt for a more modern version – TMACE (Time Machine for Ananth’s Cricket Extravaganza), based on the magnificent TARDIS. The second is a medium-sized plane to ferry us across the globe, covering those vast ocean journeys with a single filling of the tanks. The Gulfstream G800 will cover even our longest trip without ditching us in water. Let us say that we have found sponsors who have made these two wonderful machines available to us. Needless to say, we need to move in the time dimension first and then do the distance.

I will do this around-the-globe journey in two legs. In the first, I will start my journey in England, travel through the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, and reach Australia. On the return leg, I will leave head east to New Zealand from Australia, then westward to Africa, the West Indies, and then north-east to England. I will include Tests and ODIs in this travel odyssey.
A few points on their selection.

  • I decided that Australia and England would get five matches each, since the idea of Test cricket started with these two teams and they have also played the highest number of Tests. The other teams share 20 matches between them in an equitable manner.
  • Since the two legs start and end in England and Australia, I split the matches of these teams across the two legs.
  • The sequence of countries visited is more or less geographically determined.
  • The overall results matrix has been carefully calibrated, with all teams getting appropriately similar representation. I have an Excel sheet that serves as a storyboard and this will be made available to the readers in the next article of this series.
  • No particular strategy has been used to determine the travel sequence within a country. In certain cases, geographical proximity has been used. No attempts have been employed to optimise/minimise the time traversed and distance travelled.

Our first match is at The Oval. So no travel is needed. But this is a match from well over a hundred years ago, so we have to crank up the TMACE. Let us go back 121 years, to be precise, to near the end of the 1902 Ashes series, in Victorian England. Australia have won the series and are leading 2-0. Only pride is at stake in the last match. A 0-3 drubbing at home would be too much to bear for England. Let us splurge and take a Rolls Royce to The Oval. Maybe a top hat and an umbrella will come in handy.

Australia win the toss, bat first and score 324. Almost everyone contributes, with Hugh Trumble’s 64 being the highest score. Then Trumble is unplayable with the ball and we see England slide to 183. Ah, a 3-0 scoreline, it looks like. But we see that Bill Lockwood, supported by the other bowlers, dismisses Australia for 121. Even so, few give England a…

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