Category Archives: cricket

Where did we lose our Sporting heroes?


I have always been a fan of sport. I don’t care about nationalities in general. So I would want Sampras to win over  Leander Paes any day. I am not saying I don’t want India to win, just that I don’t mind it being beaten by a better team. After all,the very spirit of sports is just that, isn’t it? to celebrate the spirit of unity, of excellence, of passion and above all a toast to humanity? Sports like entertainment is an escape from reality. So when Sachin bats, a nation holds its breath. Just that we have held it too long, its time we left it all out in a gigantic fart!
Cricket is a game played by a handful of nations and indeed India’s insistence of celebrating it as its biggest offering to the world of sports would forever be an impediment in getting any kind of recognition in the international arena with regards to sports. We are good at it but its time we took a pause and looked around us. Sachin is a great player no doubt, but also take a bow- to Sania Mirza who broke into women’s tennis, to Saina Nehwal’s achievements,to Vishy Anand for inspiring a generation of youngsters after him, to Vijender ,to Mary Kom and to P.T Usha who undoubtedly lays claim to one of the most stupendous achievements by an Asian.Hell, even the Chineese and the Japaneese have not been able to penetrate the track and field glamour events at the Olympics!
The game of cricket is today a tamasha, what with the entire stink of IPL bogging it down. Its played through out the year only because people watch it with feeding on media generated frenzy.Even the most popular sport on this planet is not oversold like this game. That defies logic? only because cricket has not been sold but abused badly. Yet we wonder why India produces so few medals in the Olympics. Funny isn’t it?

jesse-owens-et-luz-long

There are sporting icons that transcend imagination, that plant the seeds of a rebellion and who rewrite history by their deeds rather than their records. Think Cassius Clay who embraced Islam, protested against discrimination and famously threw his medals into the gutter,think Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens defying Hitler,recall Bobby Fischer who broke the Soviet hegemony in the world of Chess,
take a bow to Serena and Venus ,to Seles and then you want to talk of pressure then think of Murray,the man who played on top of a 70-year-old pressure cooker, to Nadal who knew the clock was ticking even before he played his first Grand slam, to Kabaeva and Comaneci and to Messi who fought hormone indefeciency all his life and to Senna who died on the track fighting ironically for higher standards of safety. Know beauty when the Argentinian and Brazilians most out of the slums play their magic brand of football, remember Zidane before his headbutt and hell of Maradona and his struggle ,even Hansie Cronje who came out and said the truth.

Countless times we have debated on Sachin’s contribution to India’s successes and the fact that we are still debating is the answer to that question. Lara is not the greatest because he doesn’t have a 100 hundreds. Point taken.And then the issue of pressure. Who doesn’t face it? We then add to a good measure a billion people as if the athlete from Romania feels less pressurized because their population is lesser! Ask Phelps when he chased those records what pressure is (he didn’t take a year to do it, the poor bloke did it the first time) or ask the Chinese athletes who fear failing to win a gold at the Olympics.They all face it. Or ask Messi when he stands on the spot to take the kick and Casillas when he desperately wishes to save it(By sheer numbers there is more pressure here!).
Great men decide their own retirement I hear. They also come and go as they wish. It’s the freedom that comes with greatness,they can also be a member of parliament even while playing, its alright to forget discipline after all we take pride in spitting on the roads. Sab chalta hai Yahan! So ,its ok to not expect sporting discipline and professionalism. So, Zidane scored in his last match, Sampras lifted a grand slam in his last and every great athlete can still conjure the magic more often than their peers. The point is they leave when they cannot do it everyday at their will.
I am not saying cricket or Sachin is not great.Its not his fault that he has not suffered tribulations like others but only saying that take a look around.Give talent its due.Celebrate sport not biasness and prejudices.Dont aSK a person to shut and leave because they dare point a finger at Sachin, learn to be tolerant. Afterall we as nation are fast forgetting that a bit of common sense and lots of tolerance!Its time we celebrated our heroes.

Sticky Wickets -Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar


I believe I would be widely hated for writing this post and people would not believe that I am also a great fan of Sachin even if I bother to reiterate repeatedly.Hence, I shall not make that point beyond this.
We as a nation are passionate about cricket but when it comes to Sachin we are hysterics. We throw reason,tolerance and sportsmanship out of the window. I am referring to the widespread furore that Akthar’s comments in his book,Controversially Yours, have created. Akthar is not the first one to be rebuked and made into a villain because he has dared suggest that Sachin is not perfect all the time. Before him many others have been victims of this syndrome.Sanjay Manjarekar in 2006, when he alleged that Sachin may have been faking injuries and then again in 2008 when he claimed his non-performance at the top order was hurting India in ODI. People lashed out against Manjarekar and called him sour grapes. Because Sachin is not only great but no can dare to cast aspersion of humane frailties against him, there have been other such incidents too. Mike denness was perhaps the greatest victim of witch hunting when he accused Sachin with tampering the ball.Technically Mike was right.Cleaning the seam as camera footage seemed to suggest can tantamount to ball tampering. We then of course suggested racial discrimination. Perhaps both the above incidents were in bad taste and Tendulkar’s detractors were wrong mostly. But the below three simply astound me.
Tendullkar had applied for a tax exemption for the Ferrari that had been gifted to him . It was bad enough he applied for one and even worse that fans came out in support of him! Geoffrey Boycott recently made that Himalayan blunder of reminding viewers that Sachin has not scored a century at Lord’s. Harsha Bhogale snapped that it was Lord’s loss, at the end of the series we know who was left red-faced.
Perhaps the most ludicrous of these incidents is the recent one against Akthar. He suggested that Sachin was trembling against him in one of the matches. So what? the best of the players do. May be sachin did. Even our Mythological heroes ,Gods and Goddesses can have moments of self doubt but Sachin can’t! we can digest that Lord Ram had to tell Adityahridyam to win over Raavan, we can also believe that Arjun doubted if he could win Karna.You may tell you are an atheist so let me then remind you of seeing Wasim Akram trembling against Sachin when the latter took him out to cleaners against Pakistan in the 2003 world cup. If my memory serves me right didnt the same akthar come out and tell he was afraid to bowl to sachin that day after being hit for a first ball six.It happens to the best of players. But, no.. its impossible to believe that Sachin could have had a bad day for his fans! Akthar is no joke he has troubled enough batsmen to be qualified enough to comment.We as a nation have become increasingly intolerant .Sachin’s greatness will not be reduced if he was found trembling against Akthar or if Akthar falsely claimed so. Ofourse Akthar wants to sell a book and he would mention any claims to victory he had over the prized wicket of Sachin.Perhaps the west has been more tolerant of its super stars who have been a little less than perfect. Mike Tyson. Diego Maradona and George Best are a case in point. But as Indians we risk reducing our greatest sporting heroes to caricatures by simply refusing to tolerate anything against them! Rajiv Shukla’s demand for an apology reminds me of Tiwari’s rant gainst Katrina .Her fault had been to remind the nation that she is not the only half Indian-half European around. She was factually and technically correct. After so much intolerance for such small issues we have the audacity to complain riots happen, funny isn’t it?

VVS is a class act ,yes but please stop comparing!


Every time Laxman scores a test century,the nation celebrates and then goes on to dissect his performance and then quite characteristically begins to compare him with the T-20 brigade,Dravid or even Sachin! oh yes boys Laxman is a class act,one of a kind agreed but why dig the hornest’s nest of his T-20 performance and point fingers at his detractors. Or even why take jibes at guys who party a lot! you see if you were to ask a Mani Ratnam or Adoor Gopalakrishnan(Sorry,I dont think current Bollywood directors even come close!)to direct a saas bahu serial they will in all probability fail miserably. Laxman’s predicament is similar with T-20. And then again we have a Kishore Kumar who fit every mold. So guys learn to enjoy talents as they come.dont compare and yes,revel in the moment. As they say comparisons are odious!

Its time to clean the IPL Mess!


Indian parliament is being held in suspension by an unlikely row – over a sporting league that seems to have become a huge heaven for shady money transfers.While the law would take its course as much as political affliations would permit it to, its time to clean up the sport.
1. Throw the cheer leaders off the field
Sorry, a rude wake up call, we are not the US of A. As a country we are hypocritical and insecure about sex in any form. Having scantily clad cheer leaders grooving out voluptuous moves would just not to do.Implementing an alien cheerleader culture in to the Indian fabric is unnecessary and invites ogling men and distracts us from the game itself.There is moreover increasing evidence that these girls occupy much of our players’ interest and energy in parties.Time to bundle them out.

2. No more parties please!
we are talking of talented sportsmen, they are not call girls in a brothel. You cannot milk them to the maximum extent for money. Why would a sporting body like the BCCI expose its young impressionable players to draining late night parties, alcohol,drugs and women? Potentially this situation is a nightmare for many coaches and managers around the world, yet the IPL has willingly fostered it for money.

3.Save the players
Players below the age of 20 should not in my opinion be allowed to play the IPL simply because he will never completely evolve into a cricketer. As a bowler you will only be put off by exploding batsmen and flat bouncy tracks.nurture them in camps,limit their exposure to T-20 cricket till they are 20-22 . It will stand them in good stead.

4.No more strategic time outs.
Its a 40 over game,time outs to pass information to bookies and sell add slots will just not do.It interrupts the flow of the game if not anything more.


5.No more bollywood please!
There is no necessity for Hrithik Roshan to campaign for Mumbai Indians when Sachin is the captain. The sport is the biggest brand. Restrict the corrupting influence of Bollywood on the game. No necessity for actors to be brand ambassadors.

6. Icon players would just not do
I have never understood the concept of icon players. Remuneration should be in proportion to performance.

7.Rein in the corporate owners.
The owners’ access to media should be restricted. These corporate honchos treat some of the most talented men in the sporting world as their personal mutual fund investments. Strict rules and protecting players from unreasonable pressure should be implemented. Owner’s or their spouse’s presence to be restricted only to VIP enclosures during the course of a match.

8. End the corruption and illegal money involved:This would take a separate post to elaborate. I hance leave it.

Bottomline: IPL should be only about cricket and that would be the biggest brand management.

Images from 1. iplkhabar.com
2.santabanta.com

All things sundry


There has been a lot playing out on national television these days , from Sania Mirza’s over hyped marriage to Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor’s spat.But what underlines both these incidents is that we as a nation are beginning to concern ourselves with things absolutely unnecessary.Why would the drama on Sania’s marriage garner so many TRPs? when was even the last time she passed through to round 3 in a Tier 1 event? scratch your head,I cant find one in recent times. She afterall belongs to an affluent family from one of the most posh localities in the nation. Why then the tag of rising against all odds? I think it would do well for the public to encourage the other silent girl who lets all her achievements do the talking-Saina Nehwal. It was very telling to read Saina’s interview some days back where she said that she hoped that her makeover would inspire more girls to notice badminton as a sport. A champion of world 5 ranking deserves better treatment from the media, sporting authorities,Government and the public.

The IPL has the ability to be a great sport without all the glitz and glamor. when played out as just a cricketing match it has enough in its arsenal to attract large crowds. Lalit Modi has managed to make the whole thing a crass circus. Large crowds throng to watch football in Europe for the sheer brilliance of Lionel Messi and the bravados of Rooney,Not because Britney Spears is smiling at the papparazzi from the stands. Like it or not,T-20 has tremendous entertainment potential merely as a bat and ball game. Why then Shah Rukh Khan ,Preity Zinta ,Shilpa Shetty, scantily clad cheer leaders and bollywood songs and to top it all late night parties? This not only pampers our already pampered cricketers but in general diverts them and reduces their intensity and focus.Modi must be taken to task severely for reducing what was once a gentleman’s game to bollywood’s side kick and mistress.He has turnedto put it grossly-cricket into a call girl and he has become its pimp.Anything for money and a bit of cricket-thats the underlying theme of IPL.

Cricket is no longer a gentleman’s game


Cricket today is on an all time high showing no signs of the depression that is strangling the rest of the world.India,the economic powerhouse of the game is also now finally the super side of the game.But there is an inherent charm the game has lost.Cricket was never the beautiful one, that tag enviably belongs to that sport that drives half the world crazy and causes a nine percent increase in chances of a heart failure while watching it,football.But cricket was always the gentler one,the one without the fuss.Batsmen walked when out,on the pitch brawls were seldom witnessed and umpires were never argued with .these are of course trivial facts.But what rattles me is that the game has changed to one of money,mindless hitting and more money.
I was an avid fan of cricket once. Its perhaps technically,physically and mentally the most demanding of sports.In this game there is seldom a reprieve ,its not a team sport; essentially,its a game played by a team of 11 individuals.What i am trying to drive at is the fact that individual performances stand out clearly.You are out for a duck you are gone,there is no another point to come back like in tennis or another attempt at goal.If you drop a catch its almost always over for your side.Its a pressure cooker situation.
But whats spoiling cricket is the fact that the game is being changed into one that caters to a mass audience as a competitor to football.And therein it loses its charm.The game’s beauty lies in he fact that it can be played for five days without a result,the gentle flick of the wrists,the majestic square drives,the dominant strides of a bowler they all make the game click.its like one big jigsaw puzzle and the picture is fascinating only when it is completed.if at all you can give it an epithet you can call cricket an intelligent game. A bowler takes an over and sometimes a spell to set up a batsmen,the batsmen on the other hand must read the difference between a yorker,a slower one or say an away going one each and every time.Its a complex mind game.
But sadly today the game has been reduced to a uni dimensional affair, one of a batsman’s paradise.It was once breathtaking to see Wasim Akram come thundering down the pitch against Lara,Warney mesmerize you against Gatting,Ganguly pick Muralitharan off for a straight six or Tendulkar match wits against that lethal Aussie,McGrath.The era of Alan Donald,Waqar Younis,Anil Kumble and targets of 200 are over.Once upon a time a target of 230-240 was considered good,infact it was not very long ago.Today is the age of heavy bats and Dhonis,Yuvrajs,Sehwag and Pontings. Its great hitting ,awesome display of power,athleticism talent and even skill but you miss the fact that you look around the game and you do not see one fearsome bowler,no seaming tracks and definitely no awe inspiring contests.Cricket is now a batsman’s game.
Public wants to see huge sixes being hit, grand totals and faster games. Commercial swings have ensured that the bowler is left out cold.Perhaps India is to blame for that.Flat tracks and huge totals was a virus we exported and enforced with the help pf sponsors and a powerful board.Today the game no longer accomodates the wizardry of Laxman in its short version or the resilience of Dravid.But i am perhaps one of the very few lamenting such a cause. Most people want fast and furious T-20 s and find test cricket insipid.Today the game has lost its soul to such an extent that the IPL cant wait for general elections and cricketers are willing to risk life and pride for playing in the IPL.Globalization and commercialization is unavoidable the reason why ESPN will telecast EPL over the much more aesthetic La Liga.But who’s complaining?as far the sixes keep coming…

The Indian Premier League


Yesterday saw the end of season 1 of  the IPL , which occupied prime time news and captured much of the nation’s imagination for over 45 days.Here’s an account of the memorable journey.

The concept of a T-20 League

Lalit Modi did not have a brain wave he was true to the tradition of the loaded BCCI, in being a prudent opportunist. The BCCI had long resisted the advent of T-20. after all, a 40 over match generates much less revenue than a 100 over one.All that changed with India’s fairytale triumph at the T-20 worldcup and the ICL.

It was time to cash in and the surrogate brain child of Modi was born.ICC cried that it was not being listened to, ECB and CA made vague irrelevant noises about patriotism and dirty lure of money, but the irresistible attraction to the big stage and big bucks finally won.

Test cricket vs T-20

I am an old fashioned cricket fan , who even after 45 days of mad cricket frenzy happens to believe that test cricket holds the key to cricketing greatness but T-20 is an electrifying and gripping form of game next only to test crickrt. i feel we must do off with 50 overs. it no longer makes much sense. What works for T-20 is that its a highly fast paced ardenaline packed 3 hours. Every ball brings with it a possibility and inspite of the huge cries of luck factor being touted, we have seen over the last month or so, cricketing teams master  strategies and implement them to perfection, bowlers coming back strongly, a pattern of consistency emerging and proving to all the sceptics what a great show of talent this can be.

Cricketertainment

The IPL is a heady cocktail of star power,big money and the big quotient of entertainment. it was packaged not as cricket but a form of the game that would entertain a family crowd from 8 to 11 everyday. Thus were skimpily clad cheerleaders imported and bollywood songs  blasted across grounds .

I hate this trivialisation of the game. All salivating people not withstanding lets do away with the cheerleaders and ridiculous jigs. Cricket is the greatest enetertainer, you dont need any ungainly embellishments. I find it degrading to the spirit of sport and all the great players who put up a wonderful show. The girls dont even know when to jump and shake, its more like a circus routine!

City loyalties

i often hear people sounding surprised at the intense fan following that some of the teams have generated, This surprises me afterall we are known for the regionalism that thrives along with the national unity. India is a country with so many distinct sects that its easy to relate to your team and back them.

I started watching the IPL for Chennai Supr Kings a team I like as much , if not  more than the indian team.

Franchisee owners’ great angst

Mallya has railed and ranted, players have hinted and whimpered about ‘ pressure’.The media had many a field day with Rc,SRK,Preity and other tantrum rumours.The question this throws up is , will commercialisation of cricket harm sportsmanship and spirit? Afterall sportsmen are not investment bankers who do the same trusted routine helped with a degree to boost everysame day.Its infact the staright opposite of how a MNC works in some ways. While mangers tend to  minimise the unknown factors and the risks to be taken in the process of decision making, a sportsman is always acutely aware of such a possibility and banks on it even.

Form doesnot come at the press of a button, luck plays a huge part especially in T-20,a captain has to chaperone 11 people, each of whose contribution is equally significant. This infact means the number of things that can go wrong only increases. Weather, pitch, form of opposition players are all different on different days.Add to this the mess that umpires can create, it becomes a sticky problem at hand.

Thats why as we saw yesterday, fortune favours the brave more so in sport than in anyother walk of life.There is nothing very routine about such games, everyday is to be begun afresh, a concept that nevertheless seems to perplex filmstars and corporates alike.

Mallya has been despicable and childish even. No one likes to lose. He could have atleast maintained a dignified silence in front of the media. This reminds me of the infamousbootkick from a highly irate fergusson that hit beckham leaving a bloody cut , some years back. People like Dravid and Kumble deserve better but a part of the problem lies also with players who are willing to compromise for money.

VVS laxman relinquishing icon status is admirable, Dravid could take a leaf out of  there, when you desire more than you deserve you are answerable to people of much less capability.

Chennai Super Kings

This is the team i came to adore and love with a kind of passion that only Indians are capable of. For me, Dhoni is the best captain out there and chennai the best city, i could not have asked for more. Add muralitharan to it and my incentive to become a true CSK fan is complete. Chennai adored its team, we turned up in huge numbers whether we lost or won.Its a team that revolves around its captain much like its oppopnent in the final.

The following part is for all those people especially guys who have asked me if i do weep, get nervous  or wilt under pressure otherwise. Yesterday(Miss Sopay couldnt thwart me seeing the final as most of the pg wanted to do the same) when Ntini was smashed for a four off the last ball of the penultimate over , i knew then the match was over. Hot tears rolled down my cheeks. It susrprised most people around me, but didnt surprise me. I believe in giving went to emotions but try not to get caught.The last time they came down was when Argentina lost to a much loathed Germany in the quarterfinals of the football world cup, and before that when Sampras lost to Federer in Wimbledon. Strangely, i have never been able to fathom why, but tears for me roll down when i am extremely angry or frustarted .It leaves me a bit more calm and composed after that.

 

The final

It couldnt have been better but for the end result. The best team decidedly won and a ravaged Jaipur so deserves this small consolation.Congrats Warnie.

 * image from:http://bp2.blogger.com/_4lEybjSEwmY/SABfjDWcpWI/AAAAAAAABq4/l5jvV28YnUM/s320/superkings.