Cricket in the time of chikungunya: Ishant Sharma ruled out of series opener

Magnitude of the epidemic hit home on Tuesday when India pacer Ishant Sharma was ruled out of the Test series because of chikungunya.

Written by Daksh Panwar | Kanpur | Updated: September 21, 2016 12:54 pm
Ishant Sharma, Ishant Sharma ruled out, Ishant Sharma chikungunya, Ishant chikungunya, India vs New Zealand, Ind vs NZ, Cricket Ishant Sharma will not feature in the first Test between India and New Zealand in Kanpur.

Like many part of the country, Kanpur too is reeling under the chikungunya and dengue epidemic. And it’s easy to see why. Even in the relatively affluent part of Civil Lines area, such as Green Park, poor sanitation in and around the stadium makes it a fertile breeding ground for mosquitos. And the magnitude of the epidemic hit home on Tuesday when India pacer Ishant Sharma was ruled out of the Test series because of chikungunya.

“We will be closely monitoring his progress with the doctors, and then we will take a call about his fitness after this Test,” Anil Kumble said. “As we have 14 members, for this Test match the team management has decided we won’t need a replacement.” In Ishant’s absence, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami had an extended session at the nets. Yadav, in fact, remained busy after his bowling was over as he padded up and had a decently long batting session. Should reverse swing be a factor — and as Mike Hesson and Anil Kumble has have suggested it could be — Yadav many well feature in the XI.

In search of Bob Woolmer

Kanpur is the second largest city in Uttar Pradesh after the capital Lucknow, but “city” is a misnomer. It’s actually an overgrown small town. The traffic is insane, the bazaars are full of chaos, and yet the attitude of people is relaxed. The auto rickshaw driver negotiates the busy Mall road at an unhurried pace as you leave the bustle of the shopping district behind and enter the quieter, colonial part of the town. It’s dotted by numerous red brick structures — which include cemeteries, old mills, cathedrals and hospitals — that give it a faint north England feel. It’s here that you understand why it was called Manchester of India. Early in the 20th century, these textile mills attracted workforce from different parts of India and the world.

Among them was an English manager and cricketer, Clarence Woolmer.

On your way to your destination — the Old Trafford of this town, Green Park — you whiz past The Georgina Macrobert Memorial Hospital. Here, Woolmer’s son Bob was born in 1948. There is a street too named here after Woolmer junior, or so the Google map suggests. But the locals have no idea. One uncertain bystander, trying to help you, tells you to take ‘lept’ from the intersection while repeatedly gesturing towards right with a wave of the hand. You follow the map, but even on said street few have any idea who Bob Woolmer was.

“Maloom nahi bhaiyya, aisi to koi road nahi hai yahan pe,” says a fan-seller conclusively, his product sporting a rather boastful tagline: “Dada khareede, bete ke baad, pota bhi chalaye.” Looks like this fan will have more brand recall than a few names of prominence born here. You give up the quest. Like many old, neglected colonial building here in the Civil Lines, Woolmer’s is a forgotten link.