Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year?

2007 is history now. The memories of the first test loss to Australia aren't. In just under 4 days, India were 1 down. If not anything else that gave them an extra day before the start of the next on a crowded tour.

I'm not sure I'm looking forward to the next test. I wonder if anyone on the team is. Happy New Year?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Rawalpindi Express takes a detour. Now to run around trees.

Looks like 'CHUCK DE' might still happen. The Express from Rawalpindi famous for throwing tantrums among other things round and red, has apparently signed up a Bollywood flick. Ho, ho, ho. It's called Mein aur Meri Himmat and will be directed by Sanghamita Chaudhri. Let's give her a big hand, and a bravery award.

You have to read this.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sreesanth. Cold shouldered?

We know that Sreesanth won't be running in Down Under when the first test commences on Boxing Day (Dec 26). But he's all set to bowl for his home state in a Ranji Trophy game which starts a day earlier.

Doesn't look like a shoulder injury does it?

Click here for more on this smelly rat.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sledging and the language barrier

Zaheer Khan. RP Singh. Ishant Sharma. Irfan Pathan. Pankaj Singh. The Indian pace attack does look a little raw but that can be remedied with a positive attitude and due diligence. People win Grand Slams in their teens, so I really don't see age being a reason for an average performance.

That's one aspect of the duel on hand. The other is the war of words. (Andrew Symonds must be licking his lips and getting cream in his mouth.)

How are the men in blue going to win that shoot-out? Let's assume for the moment that they are ready and willing to take the verbal attack to the Aussie camp. How? The Aussies understand English and nothing else. And if you've heard our bowlers at the end of a mike, you will know that their line of attack is baffling to say the least.

So what's the solution now? There isn't enough time to 'Learn English in 30 days'. But we might just be able to squeeze in the 4 letter words before the first test.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Bengal tiger at the dinner table

He's the only reason my mother watches cricket.

He's my dad's only example when he talks about Indian cricketers who have displayed evidence of a backbone.

He is the drift of conversation in our living room when the finest innings by an Indian is discussed - standing on the balcony at Lords, bare top, shirt in the air, Flintoff 1 - Dada 2.

So if there's anyone celebrating Sourav Chandidas Ganguly's return to monarchy in the Indian batting line-up, it's my parents. No, they aren't Chatterjees, Bannerjees or Mukherjees, but they do share a fondness for fish with the tribe. And of course, a very strong affection for Dada.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

What's turned for the kings of spin?

In the final lap of their careers, Murali and Kumble have firmly pushed Shane Warne to second place. Murali's got ahead in wickets. Kumble's scored a century, and now leads India.

Barmaids? Now that's a different story.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Lame game

The ICL may have started, but it hasn't quite taken off. The attempt at cooking up excitement for the TV audience falls flat without a doubt. Shrieking commentators, unknown players, rehearsed celebrations, a 7000 crowd, a Kareena show. It all looks like a carefuly choreographed effort. Even the parts that are supposed to look spontaneous.

It's obvious that the best efforts, deep pockets and noble intentions aren't sufficient. The ICL needs better players. Only that will ensure that the matches turn out as exciting as this TVC.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Runs and running between wickets

As Sourav Ganguly nears 6000 runs in test cricket, I cannot help but wonder how many more he would've had if only he showed a little more enthusiasm in running between wickets.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

India shining

The man under pressure to perform, once the Eden Gardens was named as a venue for a test against Pakistan, was always going to be the curator. What he laid out on the 22 yard strip in the middle was going to decide the longevity of a cricketing career or two, and in turn his own. You see, Dada hadn't scored a ton in 4 years, and has been at best wobbling along on the unsure support of 30s, 40s and the odd 50. And opinions on how Very Very Special a player Yuvraj is have also not been rare.

Now with 2 days of the match on a supremely placid pitch, 1 double hundred, 2 hundreds and a smiling Indian batting line-up behind us, all is hunky dory. The superstars have risen from the ashes. Yuvraj's place on the benches has been cemented. The squad to Australia has picked itself. The curator's got a sore back from the all the pats he's received. It's India shining all over again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


One man survived by marching to the Prince of Kolkatta's tunes.
Left, Wright, Left, Wright, Left, Wright...

Another refused, and marched out a little later.

Aye Gary bhai, zara dekh-ke chalo.
Aage bhi captain hai, peechey bhi...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Walk out with pride intact? Or wait and be dragged out?

It isn't everyday that a senior cricketer exits the stage he graced with his respect intact. In recent times, it's only the name of Marvan Atapattu that comes to mind. He played his last series at 37, held his own at No. 1 facing Lee and Co., made scores to deserve his place (two 50s in 4 innings), said his piece and walked out to the applause of his team mates

Marvan Atapattu's career profile.

An interview.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Block and tackle

Two days into the first test against Pakistan, and my forehead's got more creases than 2 days ago. No it isn't the surrender of our paper tigers that troubles me. I'm willing to live with a poor batting performance, and hope like all die-hard fans that a bad day happens just once in a while.

It's the manner in which the top five bat that bothers me. It's the attitude they bring to the crease. So defensive that even if a batsman spends 3 hours at the crease, he's only done the opposition a favour. This block and tackle manner of batsmanship, which can at best be called an attempt to score, won't hurt us against Pakistan. But trying it against Australia, is like bending over to pick something off the floor in a men's prison.

I hope the Indian team has another strategy to play Lee and Company. Or we might as well just concede the series via email.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chuck de!

Hopefully he will be fit for the Delhi test which starts tomorrow. Hopefully he won't whack somebody with a bat before the start of play. Hopefully he'll be throwing down the gauntlet at the opposition and not at his own. There isn't a better sight in modern day cricket than that of the Rawalpindi Express steaming in, and getting creamed for a boundary. So, I shall keep my fingers crossed.

Providence bats for Yuvraj

Two days to the first test at the Kotla, and providence has taken a hand in deciding Yuvraj's fortunes. Though there isn't much clarity on Dhoni's ankle and whether he will play, that might just be the leg in that Yuvraj needs.

If Dhoni doesn't play, India won't need a replacement keeper. Karthik is available and most willing. Then all Yuvraj needs to do is to put down a substantial innings which might nudge the selectors towards 'resting' Ganguly or Laxman in the games to follow.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The 5 ball over

Doordarshan's avarice in squeezing every drop of advertising revenue out of the telecasts they squeeze out of private channels is outright shameless.

Just as soon as the last ball of the over makes contact with willow, CUT. Then a buck toothed Shahrukh frets over a new mobile phone offer. An elderly couple prepares to leave for Singapore thanks to a bank's retirement plan. A cockroach wriggles out of a kitchen wall and into a salad, demonstrating the virtues of a sealant. Kajol does a step-two-three-four with Mr. Mach (her pet croc). Salman takes a U-turn and puts on a few layers for a clothing brand. CUT.

We return to the field of action. The score reads 210 for 4 in 37.1 overs. Introducing the 5 ball over. Invented and promoted by Doordarshan. You see, they can't afford spaghetti straps and designer sarees to up ad rates and eyeballs. So they make do with the time they have on hand.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

India's future 12th man

In the best form of his career.

Playing better than any other Indian batsman.

The undisputed star of Stuart Broad's worst nightmares.

Yet most likely to be manning the drinks trolley in the forthcoming Pakistan series.

Akthar and company must be thanking their stars, Saurav Ganguly and the Indian selectors. Not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The playing eleven

The 14 member team for the Pakistan series has been announced. Unfortunately only 11 can play. Let's count.

1. Dinesh Karthik
2. Wasim Jaffer
3. Rahul Dravid
4. Sachin Tendulkar
5. Sourav Ganguly
6. VVS Laxman
7. Mahendra Singh Dhoni
8. Anil Kumble
9. Harbhajan Singh or Murali Kartik
10. Zaheer Khan
11. Sreesanth or RP Singh
12. Yuvraj Singh


India's hottest batsman in recent times will in all likelihood be cooling his heels during the Pakistan series.

Friday, November 9, 2007

What the chuck!

One would think that with multiple television cameras, replays, slo-mos, super slo-mos and the hordes of experts sitting in commentary boxes, chucking on a cricket field would be caught and cuffed without any delay. After all the evidence is on tape. But, no. Suspect actions continue to play matches, pick up wickets, win games and notch up records. Shamefully they're even compared to legends like Hadlee, Lillee, Marshall and Holding whose actions never demanded a second viewing to be upheld as legal.

So what's the scene today?

We have our neighbour's chief muscle popper who wouldn't be allowed a bowl in a tennis ball cricket tournament at Shivaji Park.

Then there are a few Proteas, Kiwis and K'roos whose demise would be the attempted quicker ball.

There's also a West Indian who shares a name with Pakistan's coach but is an embarrassment to his action.

And some tweakers from the sub-continent who bend more than just their backs at the crease.

I don't blame Shas, Was, Gas and other mike handlers for maintaining a deathly silence. A place in the commentary box is worth a lot of money, and hardly worth sacrificing at the altar of righteousness.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Who will lead the Men in Blue?

Tendulkar has refused the position.

Dravid has relinquished it.

Laxman is a non-controversial but unlikely candidate.

Kumble has thrown his hat in.

Dhoni isn't letting his feelings show.

And the dark horse waits.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

The ageing hero's romantic interests are always 18

We love our heroes. So much, that we just refuse to accept that they aren't the 20 year olds they once were. The legs are heavier. The reflexes slower. The eyes, a shade dimmer. And the hair, thinner.

In the last decade or so they've scored tons of runs. They've won some matches for the country. Almost won a lot more. Currently in the twilight of their careers, it's more of the latter.

Yet we forgive. We'd rather see them being embarassed at the crease by sprightly young fast bowlers, than see their places taken by the Badrinaths, Karthiks and Tiwaris.

No, don't blame the selectors. They don't want their effigies burnt on the street on which they live.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Wall crumbling?

There are a number of young lads with their hammers and chisels out. Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa... And by the looks of it, a few old hands as well. Dilip Vengsarkar, Venkatapathy Raju, Ranjib Biswal, Sanjay Jagdale and Bhupinder Singh Snr.

So while Rahul is out of the first 2 one-dayers against Pakistan, he should be on the flight to Australia. The boys certainly aren't yet in a league that can negotiate Brett Lee and company over anything more than 20 overs. In fact, you just might see Dravid ushered back into the team against Pakistan. Akthar (I hear he's back) and the rest of that talented bunch of cherry handlers could very quickly have the selectors ducking for cover behind the Wall.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Archibald Jackson

He played 8 tests. 11 innings. Scored 474 runs. With 1 hundred and 2 fifties. Widely regarded by learned observers of his time to be a better bat than Don Bradman. Who knows what might have been if poor health didn't curtail his career and life at the age of 23.

Click here for more.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Is everything as plain as black and white?

One gets stoned for getting his face into knots. The other is excused with a mild reprimand. Hell, given the strange things that happen in the cricketing world, I won't be surprised if Nel sues Sreesanth for plagiarism.

Shaz, Waz and Gaz?

I have my own theory as to why Sunil Gavaskar didn't make it to what finally became the Shaz and Waz show.