Ravi Shastri missed what appeared to be a clear-cut opportunity to utter
a cliché last week, stunning onlookers and plunging himself into a
state of deep introspection and existential angst.
"Ravi is understandably in a fragile state of mind at the moment," said
Sunil Gavaskar. "We ask that his privacy be respected at this difficult
time as he tries to cope with his loss."
Shastri, who has earned himself a special place in
hearts and minds of cricket fans the world over for his endlessly
repeated banalities, is said to have locked himself in his Sydney hotel
room, and hadn't responded to calls for an interview at the time of
According to witnesses who were present at the time, there had been very
little sign that anything was amiss in the events leading up to the
"He seemed just fine earlier in the day," said Shastri's personal
groomer. "In fact, when I asked him if he needed me to trim his hair
before he left for his dinner appointment, he said, 'If you're going to
flash, flash hard!' which I took to mean a yes. Yeah, he was doing
According to reports, Shastri and Gavaskar then went out to dinner at
one of Sydney's exclusive seafood restaurants with friends and
colleagues to discuss the day's play and how to better embed BCCI
propaganda into their work. Then, tragedy struck.
"Someone at the table noticed a boat racing along the waters outside,"
said Gavaskar in a quiet voice. "The question was put to Shastri as to
how fast he thought the vessel must be travelling. It was an innocent
question at the time, but in hindsight I think we all wish it hadn't
Experts and analysts generally agree that the responses presenting
themselves for articulation in the narrow byways of Shastri's ingenuity
would have most likely been one of the following, in order of
probability: a) "A speed of knots", or b) "Like a tracer bullet". As it
transpired, he said neither.
"'Fast,' Gavaskar said, shaking his head sadly as he turned away. "Ravi said the boat was traveling 'fast'."
Harsha Bhogle, who was also present at the time, spoke of the dawning
horror at the dinner table. "At first, we didn't think anything of it,"
said Bhogle. "But as soon as Ravi offered this unexpected description
of the boat's speed, a terrible pall descended upon us all. Everyone
suddenly stopped talking, Ravi started turning a very bright red, and
soon it was quite obvious that something wrong, something terribly
wrong, had happened."
"You have to understand, Ravi's a very proud person," he continued.
"He's nothing if not the consummate professional, and not many people
may know this, but there's a great deal of care and love that goes into
what he does. He knows that a lot of people out there depend on him for
getting their information in the form of tired, overused phrases. So
for a slip-up of such magnitude to have occurred, he's not going to be
taking it lightly. Knowing Ravi, he's probably in his room drinking and
watching Peter Sellers in The Party, his favorite film. He'll be back with a bang, don't you worry."
The crisis comes at an ironic juncture in Shastri's career, as he is
rumoured to be up for the first ever Dead Horse award, for being the
first commentator of any sport to flog a cliché 100,000 times. He is
currently in first place, with 77,821 cliches uttered, and at the time
of writing was expected to reach the unique milestone before you can say
bob's your uncle.
Both the Indian and Australian teams have announced that they will be donning black armbands to mark the sad event.