29 November 2008

New guy on the pantheon

The last post was by Avinash. Unlike the (now almost mythical) TM and the (sporadically active) Sajith, Avinash cannot be described by what he does in life. But if one were to list what he does not do...

Welcome Avinash.

On terrorism and cricket

I’m letting all loose… not mincing words, not even trying to be politically correct.

I write this in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks of the twenty sixth and the twenty seventh of November, 2008.

I don’t even want to begin to imagine what the people who have lost their loved ones in these senseless acts of inhumanity feel. It is, in my opinion, not respectable to even try.

That’s not the point.

The point is that in the wake of such crap, the sons of bitches in the ECB have gone ahead and cancelled the next two ODI’s. I suddenly understand how the cricket loving public in Pakistan and Sri-Lanka feel.

Its not that the tour was particularly exciting from a cricketing point of view. England were getting their asses walloped. It wasn’t even competitive cricket. That’s feels like a strange thing to say as an Indian. But it’s the truth. England would have probably spent their time trying to “find their best eleven” and “figuring out their batting order” and “learning from every match” and other such crap. The only entertainment as a spectator came from watching a team that invented a game being so thoroughly outperformed.

But that’s not the point either.

The point is that in the wake of such crap, the sons of bitches in the ECB have gone ahead and cancelled the next two ODI’s!

What is wrong with these people?

Say there had just been a national catastrophe, a hurricane that had demolished Mumbai and that had left but just a few people alive. Would they have cancelled the ODI’s? No they wouldn’t, the last couple of matches would have been some sort of fucking “benefit” for the survivors.

And who is to gain from all this? Who else than the terrorists? And who loses from it? Who else than the cricket fan? The normal guy who goes about his job and spends hours by some television shop’s window, because he can’t afford a TV, to see if “Bharat jitegi ke nahin”

It is pertinent to point out, that terrorists have never actually targeted cricketers. Maybe they are fans, who knows? But the importance of that goes without saying. They have never targeted cricketers.

And what if they tried? A guy, playing a sport for his country for his country, got nailed for it. It is so much more honourable than a soldiers death isn’t it? In my book, it is.

Football players have a whole host of things to worry about. Pigs heads being chucked out onto the field, rioting mobs and whatnot. That doesn’t result in football players being let off. Their controlling bodies don’t say…, “no things are too dangerous, you shouldn’t be playing football in a country like that”.

What can I say? I really can’t say anything.

In a few weeks, most-likely days, Mumbai will be back to normalcy. People will go about their lives like they always do. They will fear like they always will… riding in a local and looking at a bag and thinking, “maybe that’s a bomb”. They have learned to live with it and they will deal with it.

Just like any poor fisherman on any stormy coast.

Just like the mug coming in at number ten who swings and misses when his team needs fifteen off the last over.

It is a testament to their courage.

Nothing that anybody can say or think or devise will take away from it.

The international cricketer from “safe” countries doesn’t seem to need it because he has a paranoid mother for a boss.

And this boss will say…, “no its too dangerous”, “player safety is our primary concern”...

Stupid idiots from Australia who have a hole in the ozone and their fucking melanin deficient skins to worry about…

And who loses out?

The cricket fan, white or black, blue or brown.

Just like always, whether it’s the light or the rain or Ricky Ponting’s befuddled brain.
I guess that’s the way cricket and life pans out…

19 November 2008

A confidence player

The first innings had all his dazzling talent on display and the second was cut short just before he could bring out all his wares. If that nick had not happened, we might just have seen the first ODI double hundred. It is when you're faced by the full blast of his amazing talent that after the first instinct to thank heavens for the presence of divinity, the next is to tear your hair out in frustration. And in this frustration, I'd reckoned that nothing had really changed. I knew two years ago that Yuvraj Singh was one of the top 3 ODI batsmen in the world. I was confident then that by the end of 2008, he'd be averaging 4o plus, having played in 45 Tests. In Jan 2008, I knew that would not happen. Maybe next year.

Then I get an SMS.

"Write bitch", it said. "Dont fuckin wait for Sreesanth to bowl an outswinger at some drunk Malayali on Kovalam beach."

And then,

"If you have a conscience.."

And then the former CoS made a comment. And the current CoS had a rejoinder.

Yuvi is a confidence player says the CoS, someone who needs a "couple of good knocks in his belt". Two knocks, one high on fast food entertainment, and another high on "focus" have propelled him to the position of frontrunner to replace Ganguly in the Test lineup. So what about the first hundred? That came on the back of persistent Test failure and a bad run in the Sri Lanka ODIs and some average Ranji knocks. He did not need any under the belt for that, did he? So he is more than just a confidence player. He is also someone who can hit his way out of form. But can he graft his way out of bad form? If not, it means that he is susceptible to the extended run of very low scores, without the 150 ball thirty-nines that can save his spot in the Test team.

But the thing is..

The thing is that England is a good team to mark his Test comeback. They have good pacers who will test him even on placid tracks. Their lone spinner is not too far up the global spinner incompetence order that it won't be a huge challenge for him.

The opportunity to make a point is well within his grasp.

10 November 2008

So long..

Oz-fatigue has kicked in. Like lovers, India and Oz spent the better part of two months titillating, rubbing, scratching, biting, gouging and slapping each other - before getting absolutely tired of each other. They will now wait a few years before meeting again - new perfumes, sexual techniques, new haircuts - all adding to the anticipation, not of winning over the other, but just to meet.

Meanwhile Ganguly, Dhoni, Kumble and Bob Dylan sit around a fire.

When we meet again
Introduced as friends
Please don't let on that you knew me when
I was hungry and it was your world.
Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes, you do
You make love just like a woman, yes, you do
Then you ache just like a woman
But you break just like a little girl.

06 November 2008

The Long Ganguly Goodbye - Part II

Why is everyone so fkin loathe to acknowledge Ganguly the batsman? All right, so he was not a modern batting great, but the admiration from Roebuck and Hopps is so grudging that Giant Alien Lizards who landed from Mars last night might be tempted to believe that he made a cricket career exclusively from politicking and being a fantastic leader of men and a shrewd (not brilliant though) strategist. He is an all-time ODI great - almost up there with Tendulkar. Absolutely ridiculous that nobody acknowledges his ODI record as a fact that speaks for itself, rather than as one part of a highly succesful opening partnership. Perhaps his Test record does not merit that he share Fab-ness with the other three, but he did tame the best bowlers in the business at different times in his career. Perhaps not consistently enough to justify his talent, but he did justify his place in the strongest middle order of the era for a larger part of 113 Test matches. So fk off.

Could someone confirm this..

..because I am just too lazy. Apparently, is Sauravda scores a hundred tomorrow (or in the 2nd innings), he will join Greg Chappel as the only two players to have played (x) number of Tests and scored a hundred in their first and last matches.

Is it true? If it is, how fkin ironic is that?

Crazy kiya re

What Guru Greg did not achieve, Bishen Bedi seems to have stitched up in his pocket. So it would seem from a reading of the scorecard at the end of days play at Nagpur. Jason Krezja has removed Sehwag, Dravid and Laxman, i.e. a chunk of the Indian runmachine. Those that watched him getting tonked by Yuvi and Rohit Sharma will be similarly amazed. I have not seen the highlights yet, but for an offspinner, there is a fine line between a batsman gifting a bowler his wicket and an offie inducing the error. So all I can say is: Krezja has already gone better than Gavin Robertson. Credit also to Ricky Ponting who finally tore up and pissed on the Memorandum on New Age Cricket. An offie needs an imaginative captain.

The power of the net

Thanks to Cricinfo and Cricbuzz for ensuring that a cricket mad Indian, who is unfortunately stuck up in an office with nothing other than an internet connection, can still savour the thrills and the spills of a highly anticipated test match. If it were not for these great websites and the men who run the show, I would have been reduced to a school student, begging the principal to show the cricket match live on the sole television in the school.
Now that is a great idea to be implemented in office.

04 November 2008

Uncertainity Thy Name is Yousuf

Are there two Mohammad Yousuf's? One rivalling VVS Laxman and Mark Waugh for grace and elegance on the cricket field, the other acting as the exact opposite in real life - a comical mixture of indecision and rash thinking.

The erstwhile Yousuf Youhana's, on the field, exploits are the primary reason for his place in any cricket fan's heart. His timing has been astounding and for a brief span in 2006, he was the best batsman in the world bar none - at least based on statistics. While there have been criticisms regarding his apparent selfishness with the bat, Yousuf remains by some distance Pakistan's best batsman.

But, there is another side to Yousuf- his life outside the cricket ground. While his conversion from Christianity to Islam may be accepted on the altar of personal life, the latest saga related to the ICL cannot be blindly accepted . Here is the story in short.

In a fit of pique, after the 2007 World Cup, Yousuf joined ICL. On pressure from the PCB, he drops out of the rebel league. Instead, he offers his wares to the IPL. The ICL retaliated with legal action. Yousuf backed off. PCB announced their team with Yousuf in it. ICL announced that Yousuf was a part of the ICL fraternity. The story currently stays here with more to come for sure.

To me, Yousuf resembles Pakistani cricket. Exhilarating and Infuriating in equal measures. Cricket's Jekyll and Hyde - both the country and the man. If Hamlet, were a cricket follower , he would have one thing to say about both - "Uncertainty, thy name is ..."

03 November 2008

The Soldier

It has been months since I wrote on cricket. The interest to watch had never waned, but the desire to write certainly had. I watched with frustration as the Indian batting struggled in SriLanka . The feeling changed to irritation as the latest battle between the Fourth Estate and the Indian veterans reached ludicrous levels. Yet, none of these emotions were so strong as to be represented in words. Ganguly's retirement plans almost forced me to tap the keyboard again. But, there was still a mental block to be overcome. The block was finally overcome by the retirement of India's finest test match winner - Anil Kumble.

It was inevitable that Anil Kumble would retire sometime during the 2008-2009 season. Age was catching up and the shoulder was complaining and the veteran had to bow, as all must, to Father Time. But, as Kumble was given a farewell which rivalled Steve Waugh's, it was tempting to look back on the many triumphs and the few failures which made him such a special cricketer. But, the cliche still holds, facts and figures can never do proper justice to a sportsman.

To me Kumble's greatest achievement is that in all the tests India won during the time he was in the team, he was India's foremost player - not Tendulkar or Dravid. He relentlessly rolled on, bowling over after over and ensuring that the batsmen didn't ever complain that the bowlers hadn't done their job. He was India's finest bowler, her greatest test player.

Congrats Anil for being such a great player and for rekindling a dying flame in me -writing.

01 November 2008

About casting the first stone..

Apparently, I am a klutz. Hardly a week goes by without people commenting on my abilities at breaking expensive glasses and spilling food and drink on fancy carpets. One time, my friend's mother (in Bangalore) went to work somewhere in Africa and I practically moved in. A month and a half later, she returned to a house without cutlery. Not all of it was my handiwork. I did invite a few people home to take care of the remainder. Then there was the time that I finally moved into an apartment/house (people in Delhi will understand how dwelling areas aren't categorised easily, especially around Lajpat Nagar) and very soon, I realised the absolute pointlesness of buying breakable stuff. Carpets you ask? I was smarter than that.

Anyway, the point is this: I can't criticize the Indian fielding today... I have my moments where I have pulled off the spectacular catch, and completed a dream runout; but I can't remember the number of sitters I have spilt. So I will not spank the Indian fielding. Not today, not ever.

But if there is someone reading this who earnestly believes in their abilities as a safe fielder, then the floor is yours. I will stand by you while you spank, roast and waterboard them.