Friday, June 29, 2007

India v South Africa: A Series Pregnant With Young Promise

Match 1 of the series in Ireland showed us what we know already:
  • Sachin Tendulkar can still score runs and the best-before date on his career is yet to arrive.
  • Rahul Dravid is as fine a batsman as any in the modern era.
  • Gautam Gambhir has not furnished any evidence to refute his reputation as a flat-track-bully.
  • Mahendra Singh Dhoni needs to be in the mix for Team India to score heavily in the final overs.
  • Yuvraj Singh needs to find some form, quick fast.
  • Zaheer Khan and Ramesh Powar are the only bowlers that really understand their limitations.
This series is an opportunity to learn more about the newer members of Team India. They should we given every opportunity to prove Dilip Vengsarkar has not a clue of what he speaks.

For all the questions about the validity of the decision to send Piyush Chawla and Rohit Sharma on this tour, the fact remains that it is in Indian cricket's best interests to ensure that they succeed. All the better, if this success is achieved in alien and somewhat difficult conditions like those faced by Team India in Ireland.

There is no point to batting Rohit Sharma at number six where he is on a hiding-to-nothing whether the batsmen before him have scored heavily or whether the team is in real trouble when he comes in to bat. Being an aggressive batsman does not imply that he has the ability to slog at will.

As X opined while watching the match, the time is ripe for Sharma to be promoted up the order to three or four, hence, allowing him the opportunity to build an innings of substance, and more importantly, build his confidence. If that means one of Gautam Gambhir or Sourav Ganguly is dropped and a fifth bowler introduced, so be it. The gains made from the revelation of a confident and successful Sharma will far outweigh any knocks to Gambhir or Ganguly's ego.

It was also heartening to see Rahul Dravid's show of confidence in Piyush Chawla. Admittedly, the South Africans are probably nearer the bottom of the table when it comes to playing spin bowling - regardless of its quality.

Having said that, the success of the Indian attack in the years to come is highly dependent on the grooming of a quality and consistent spin bowling combination. As much as Anil Kumble was admired for passing on his know-how to young spinners, Ramesh Powar can play a similar role with Chawla. Powar has been around for a while now and seems to understand himself and his game. Working in tandem with grounded and diligent (as opposed to freakishly talented) players such as Powar will open Chawla's world to lessons and experiences he would not otherwise be exposed to.

It is a shame that Manoj Tiwary sustained his shoulder injury in Bangladesh and Suresh Raina is out of form. For, had they been available, India would have had the chance to blood four players from the next generation who seem to have the raw talent and temperament that could make them successful on the big stage.

It is up to Dravid and his lieutenants to make the most of this aptly titled "Future" series. Instilling a hard-nosed, win-at-all-costs attitude in the junior ranks will pay rich dividends in future. It is a chance for Dravid to craft his own team and his own legacy, just as Ganguly and John Wright did at the dawn of the century.

We must wait with bated breath to see if Dravid takes up the challenge to turn young promise into future match-winners.

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Continued >> >>

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Indian Cricket: No Shortage Of Planning, Just Talent

Prem Panicker touched on a characteristic that has helped Australia climb to the top of the cricket tree. It is not the only reason for their success, but it sure has helped. The said characteristic of the Aussie setup involves sending fringe players overseas (read India) to develop an extra dimension to their game, ala Matthew Hayden practising the art of swatting spinners prior to the 2000/01 tour.

Mitchell Johnson has played a few games for the national outfit, but still struggles to find a permanent place. A while back, the Australian selectors identified him as having the potential to call himself a member of a successful Australian bowling attack. Let me reiterate that Johnson has only shown signs of being able to cut it with the big boys and has not consistently produced results on the international stage.

Now contrast the assistance provided to Johnson by his Board with that provided to the likes of Laxmipathy Balaji, Suresh Raina, VRV Singh, etc. by the BCCI. Have you heard of any of them receiving any help since they were dropped? Prem compares Johnson's Indian training stint to the BCCI's ironic refusal to grant Rahul Dravid's request for extra practice matches at the start of the Australian tour later this year.

Point is Prem, the BCCI is absolutely correct in its assertions. Why should the players be given extra time to train? After all the senior players know how to play cricket and spending time in the nets is merely the opportunity to make more money down the drain. As far as the the junior players, our all-knowing Chief Selector does not believe any of them have even a semblance of talent so what is the point of wasting time and, more importantly, money on sending them to Australia, England or South Africa to get exposure to different conditions, know-how and methodologies?

Surely the money spent on training these fringe players will reap better rewards sitting in the BCCI's fixed deposit account, which most small states would be proud to boast of, no?

Prem, it is high time you understood that the state of Indian cricket is not because of anything the BCCI has not done. It is all because of those dastardly players who have no talent and deserve no help to hone whatever little skill they do have.

Continued >> >>

Pawar & Morgan Make Arrangement Of Convenience

The dreaded coin toss will not prevail and order has been restored to the lofty corridors of the International Cricket Council. Or has it?

The "deal" agreed to by Sharad Pawar and David Morgan dictates that the latter will assume the role of President from 2008, and the former will take the reigns from 2010 - both for a period of two years. That is all fine and dandy. Suspicion is aroused, however, when one delves deeper into the significance of the timing.

Who Are They?

David Morgan headed the ECB at a time when the organisation was fully professional and competent, operationally anyway. A few minor changes were the order of the day, as opposed to rocket science, in order to marginally improve performance. When leadership was required of Morgan, on the issue of Zimbabwe, history is witness to his lack of substance.

Contrast this to the BCCI that Sharad Pawar took over. The Board needed wholesale changes to become more accountable and professional. It is a badly kept secret that "reform" does not rate a mention in the to-do list of BCCI officials, ensuring that the BCCI has merely been transformed from Jagmohan Dalmiya's private fiefdom to Sharad Pawar's.

What Can We Expect?

One man has failed miserably the one time he had an opportunity to prove himself. The other has failed miserably, full stop. This context beggars the conclusion that both men bring nothing to the table of ICC President, other than having previously held a similar title. It is quite obvious that they do not have the slightest inclination, probably for want of appropriate talent and/or skill, of how to find effective solutions for difficult problems.

Even the brightest optimist would baulk at the chance of putting a positive spin on the benefits to the ICC of these men becoming its President. The short answer to the question above is that the ICC Presidents until 2012, along with the highly capable Malcolm Speed, will ensure that this most esteemed of sporting authorities remains firmly entrenched as the number one example of how not to operate a sporting organisation.

Why the Suspicion?

Now that it is clear that both gentlemen will likely do absolutely nothing about improving the image of the ICC, lets consider what's in it for both at an individual level.

David Morgan: He has not given us a clue as to how he proposes to improve the functioning of the ICC, nor how he wishes to advance the interests of the game. Therefore, one can only assume that it is simply another title that wants for his Resume to make himself feel important. When his grandchildren ask him what he did for the world, he will be able to tell them that the game of cricket as they know it came about thanks to his "work".

Sharad Pawar: As a politician, his job is to spin sh*t talk for a living, and this man (actually someone from his camp) has actually told us something. Apparently, the organising committee for the 2011 World Cup will ask the ICC for funds to rehabilitate their stadia.

It seems rather convenient that Pawar will become President just as those funds will need to be granted by the ICC.

Join the dots folks and the crystal ball will show that this is not just a tale of two old men agreeing to agree for the betterment of the sport we hold dear to our hearts. Watch this space, I say.

Continued >> >>

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ajay Jadeja Next Coach Of India?

I'm not sure what Sanjay Jha has been smoking, but it has made him believe that Ajay Jadeja would make an ideal coach of Team India. At face value, his reasons for suggesting Jadeja seem almost logical:

"He is young, extremely talented, an astute student of the game, possesses excellent communication skills, has proven leadership capabilities and will be on the same page as the players."

"Almost" being the key word in the previous sentence. Leave alone the fact that Ajay Jadeja should not be allowed near a professional cricket team for his involvement in with Mohammad Azharuddin and co, what qualifications does he have to be a successful coach?

This is where I get frustrated by the amount of dribble that the Indian media manages to constantly masquerade as informed opinion. When the entire nation has witnessed the dismal consequences of appointing a coach who is selected on the basis of merely being a star of yesteryear (read Kapil Dev, Ajit Wadekar, Mohinder Amarnath, et al) why do people like Jha (whose writing style is more readable than most Indian journalists) still get off on suggesting incompetent and unqualified candidates?

It's Not About Colour

Everyone cribbing about the propensity to hire a foreign coach forgets one important factor in this issue. That being, the only two Indians who have the appropriate qualifications, and some semblance of experience, are already in the set-up.

Modern sport is as scientific as is the process of performing heart surgery, and the gentleman's game is no different. A cricket coach is not merely someone who communicates well, gets along with the players and has seen a laptop a few years ago. He needs to be up-to-date with the latest and greatest in sports science and have the intellectual and conceptual tools to apply that knowledge in the management of his team.

A coach must have the vision and creativity to assist his captain by offering smart tactical opinions. Tactics are not merely based on hunches or previous experience. The best tactics are often the result of smart analysis of the given data - the ability to find that one anomaly when the picture looks quite normal to the untrained eye.

By offering options such as Jadeja, Jha and his ilk are continuing the Indian media's despicable penchant for catering to the lowest common denominator - sensationalism. I would love to see an Indian coach, worth his salt, in the Indian dressing room. Moreover, I would love to see an Indian media organisation that successfully manages to resist the lure of the quick buck.

Until then, I am quite happy with a foreign coach who knows what he is doing.

Continued >> >>

Transfer Rumours: Thierry Henry Throws His Weight Around

Brilliant, talented, classy, even breathtaking. All these adjectives, and more, have been used to describe the footballer that is Arsenal's Thierry Henry. At the culmination of a season that saw Arsenal's main man (some would say, only man) being relegated to off-field action only, news appears that he is rather perturbed by reports indicating that he may be on his way to Barcelona.

Barcelona are naturally looking for a spearhead up front to replace the real genius of Samuel Eto'o. However, it seems strange that clubs like AC Milan and Barcelona would even look at Henry, considering all the global talent that the clubs could pick and choose from.

Henry is notoriously famous for under-performing for any manager that is not Arsene Wenger and for any team that is not Arsenal. The management teams of the two pursuing clubs would be taking a long shot if they believe that they can convert Henry from his one-coach, one-team ways.

On the other hand, one has to wonder at exactly where Arsenal will be headed next season if Henry does decide to gallop off to Europe. The insinuation of the Gunners being a one-man team are not entirely inaccurate, as almost their entire game plan is based around this one man. If Henry does leave, I think it wouldn't be far-fetched to predict that Arsenal could well find themselves mid-table at the end of the next EPL season.

One also has to wonder exactly what the two clubs and Henry's supporters see in the man. Sure he has shown some flashes of talent, but usually only when he has received the delivery he wants at the time he wants it. I think it would be fair to say that he is also notoriously famous for producing lame dives.

You want proof? Take a look at this:

Postscript: All denials emanating from Henry and his management team have proven to be mere lip service and all the speculation has been turned into reality. Aresenal's only greatest asset is on his way to Barcelona.

Now that it has been announced that Arsene Wenger will also not seek a renewal of his contract after next season, it seems apparent that he will be leaving the London club in quite some disarray - unless they are able to snare a big name forward who will have more than just his personal ambitions at heart.

You can get your very own Thierry Henry Barcelona shirt here.

Click here to purchase the Manchester United football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the Barcelona football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the AC Milan football jersey/shirt.

Continued >> >>

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

England v India: Ranadeb Bose Talks The Talk

However, it remains to be seen whether he has it in him to walk the talk. Let me preface everything I say here by reminding everyone of the fact that very few debutante cricketers, no matter how successful they may eventually have become, have gone out of their way to boast about their abilities. In fact, I don't think I have heard of any cricketer make such outrageous statements before he knows if he has been selected in the starting XI.

Aggression is as good a weapon as many fast bowlers have ever had. However, even Glen McGrath didn't start his career by offering sound bites such as:
"Even as a kid I liked the fact that my friends were afraid to face me. They were scared of me. They kind of hero-worshipped me.
"I like to see them tormented as I bowl. As a pace bowler there is nothing wrong in being a little arrogant..."

Whoaa...settle down son.

For a "strapping pacer" who struggles to reach 130 kph when things are going well, I am not sure how he plans to "torment" batsmen. One of the best fast bowlers of all time, that chap McGrath, struggled to be taken seriously when his pace started regularly slipping below 130 kph. Shaun Pollock gets swatted like a fly on the wall by batsmen who have their eye in and are on top of their game. Even the unmatchable accuracy of these two is not enough to make up for their lack of zip at times.

I reiterate, aggression is great. I would love to see more channelled aggression from Indian players on the field. It would go a long way to ensuring that the team stays in the game when things aren't going to plan.

Bose's pronouncements, however, are merely setting the kid up for failure - on a humiliating scale. I can imagine the glee with which Kevin Pieterson, Paul Collingwood and Michael Vaughan will be awaiting the grand entrance of one Ranadeb Bose to the bowling crease. The "torment" word would undoubtedly feature in KP's first sledge to the young man, followed by further mental disintegratory tactics that any young bowler could well do without.

For the time being, Bose will do well to save his aggression for on-field action. Quotes such as the above are only good for a laugh, at his expense, until he has results to back them up.

I sincerely hope Bose achieves all the success he possibly can on this tour, if he is selected in the team. I have a queasy feeling, however, that he may just have bitten off more than he can chew.

Purchase the Nike Team India ODI cricket shirt here

Continued >> >>

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pakistan Cricket: Inzamam Scapegoat ul-Haq

The Pakistan Cricket Board and its players must be thanking the heavens for this prolonged lull in their playing calendar. Thanks to scarcity of sound bites emanating from the Pakistani camp, we could all have been forgiven for thinking they had fallen off the face of the Earth.

We should fear not, however. Those ingenious craftsmen infamous for orchestrating the biggest sham in cricketing history have huffed and puffed back into town.

The PCB has announced that a "policy decision" now makes it unlawful to offer central contracts to any Pakistani cricketer who excuses himself from either Test matches or ODIs. Some hoo-ha about moving towards a 'performance-based' model was cited as the cause for this "policy decision".

We all found out this week just how determined the PCB's brothers across the border in the BCCI were about implementing a performance based model. After much headline hogging, the evidence-based seniority system is still firmly entrenched within the Indian cricket system.

I have absolutely no doubt that a similar conclusion will be reached when the chest thumping ends, the bravado runs out and the dust settles on the Pakistani front. This announcement seems merely to be another cheap shot at former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq who has borne the brunt of all blame for the World Cup debacle.

As it only affects one player, this latest announcement makes it crystal clear that Naseem Ashraf's clan is has done its utmost, and succeeded at absolving itself of all blame for Pakistan's performance at the World Cup.

Question being, why does the media tolerate any utterances related to the implementation of a performance-based culture (read: accountability and transparency), when the sorry-excuses-for-men who speak this foul language are the very epitome of all things murky and unaccountable?

Continued >> >>

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nike's Best Joga Bonito Football Videos Pt 2

This is the second part of the two-part series where we present for you four more of the best Joga Bonito videos made by Nike for the 2006 Football World Cup.

5. This one is my all-time favourite football advertisement. Its amazing how they were able to use the old footage and seamlessly merge it with the unsurpassed talent of the modern-day Ronaldinho:

6. Go around the world with this clip. Football is, after all, the world game:

7. Roberto Carlos, Robinho and a topless Ronaldinho playing hacki-sack in the change rooms. It astounds me how they do that 'leg-over-the-ball and bounce' trick with so much control:

8. This one is like a highlights reel. However, the end of the clip contains some footage that I couldn't find on its own. Wayne Rooney shows us that he can play at both ends of the park. Football's version of an all-rounder:

If you've missed it, make sure you check out Part 1 of this series. Any other suggestions for videos you would like to watch - let us know.

Click here to purchase the Arsenal football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the Manchester United football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the Barcelona football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the AC Milan football jersey/shirt.

Continued >> >>

Nike's Best Joga Bonito Football Videos Pt 1

Following on from our a recent post on cricket's hottest ads, this series of two posts brings you those Nike Joga Bonito ads that treated us to the sublime skills of football's greatest stars, during the World Cup.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo vs Zlatan Ibrahimovich, even with my Manchester United hat on I cannot pick a winner in this one. You decide:

2. Unfortunately Nike made one whole ad based around Thierry Henry, but his ball control and balance are reasonably decent - as shown here:

3. This one has the Brazilian team kicking about, supposedly, before a game. I doubt they are all this relaxed pre-match, but check out their slick moves anyway:

4. Small goals, small teams, BIG talent (that man Rooney again :>). England v The Rest, Manchester United intra-club exhibition battle:

Be sure to check out Part 2 with four more classic videos.

Click here to purchase the Arsenal football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the Manchester United football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the Barcelona football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the AC Milan football jersey/shirt.

Continued >> >>

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

BCCI Cops One Tight Slap

Mukul Kesavan opines that the "BCCI comes across as a rich repertory company with a particular talent for farce." I am left with a strange suspicion that this fracas has not ended with Graham Ford's refusal of the Board's offer. Truth is, in this instance I sincerely hope I am not mistaken.

The BCCI has long taken all and sundry for granted. Everyone and everything outside the ruling faction is a replaceable instrument, fit only to be used and abused at the Board's will, and discarded like the most worthless pieces of meat would be from an abattoir. Dav Whatmore's unceremonious dumping from the head of the short-list being the latest incident that springs to mind.

Now that Whatmore has been slighted and that John Emburey was more of a smokescreen than an option, where will the BCCI go? The requisite, lame bumblings have been muttered by the honourary buffoons. These quick thinking, proactive fools gentlemen, in all their collective wisdom, have decided to appoint one Chandu Borde as Team India's "manager" for the tour to England and Ireland.

There's only one problem - the new "manager" has not yet been informed.

There are very few phrases to describe this latest happening that do not include any expletives. 'Typical', will suffice for now.

The only thing I hope for now is that Chandu Borde and/or whoever is appointed the next permanent coach/manager also does a Graham Ford, and rejects the BCCI's offer. If the uproar and disgust of millions of fans is not sufficient in forcing the Board to undertake drastic and long overdue reform, then public humiliation is the last hope.

I am led to believing that the BCCI officials are wearing blinkers as dense as that sorry excuse they have for brains. Are the officials of the BCCI so wrapped up with their greed and lust for power that they are willing to suffer humiliation after gutting humiliation?

Continued >> >>

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Eto'o Waves Goodbye To Spain & Man Utd

Samuel Eto'o only had a fictional presence at Manchester United. His association with this great club was limited to the transfer rumour mills, which were driven by the common belief that Sir Alex Ferguson was on the hunt for a star/quality (we all know that one does not necessarily imply the other) striker to add to his recently acquired arsenal.

Unfortunately, it now appears that Eto'o is on his way to current European champions, AC Milan. The high regard in which Eto'o is held my Milan was quite evident in a statement in which the the club described him as "great" and vowed to launch an assault to capture his signature after the Spanish season comes to an end.

Few students of the game would dispute Milan's classification of Eto'o as a great player. At 26, the Cameroon international's skills in front of goal and scoring prowess would almost certainly have sealed the treble for Manchester United next season. Although, it would be fair to say that the treble is still quite achievable if Fergie can ensure that Ronaldo and the mouth watering combination of Nani and Anderson can fire more often than not.

It will undoubtedly be a sad day for all EA Sports Fifa 07 fans who play with Barcelona, as Eto'o may not be present in the 2008 version of the game. We all know the devastating effect Eto'o has on the opposition when he is utilised appropriately in front of goal. Simply ask X, he has been torn to shreds by Eto'os brilliance time and time again.

Click here to purchase EA Sports FIFA 07 for your PC or gaming console.

Click here to purchase the Manchester United football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the Barcelona football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the AC Milan football jersey/shirt.

Continued >> >>

BCCI: Never Bite The Hand That Feeds You

In the BCCI's case, do not bite the hand even if it does not feed you. Current Chairman of the National Cricket Academy (NCA), Kapil Dev, and former Selector, Kiran More, may soon be appreciating the adage, if this report is to be believed. Their only misdeed was to become non-honourary employees of an organisation that plans to conduct a few masala matches, purporting as games of cricket.

It is blatantly clear that the BCCI believes (maybe even with some justification in this instance) there is nothing honourable about Zee's proposal. However, for all of Sharad Pawar's promises of transparency and professionalism, news such as this further cements the BCCI's reputation as a private fiefdom of the greedy and corrupt.

Even after all these years of illogical and haphazard decision-making, you may be surprised to learn that the Board still manages to baffle me, on occasion. One such instance was with the initial appointment of Kapil Dev to his current post. Why, on God's good Earth, would anybody hand the chief position, of an institution that is a vital cog in ensuring a steady supply of new talent, to a man that crashed and burned during his only stint as coach, and still does not deem it necessary to gain any formal coaching qualifications?

For all his great performances of the past, IMHO the retired Kapil Dev is good for two things: business and journalists hunting a few grammatically incorrect 30-second sound bites.

These events follow hard on the heels of news that Dav Whatmore learned of his relegation from "next Indian coach" to "who is Whatmore", through the media.


Continued >> >>

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Manchester United's New Signings

Manchester United's early swoop for two of the game’s brightest talents along with the acquisition of a proven performer in Hargreaves would have really put the rest of Europe’s major football clubs on the back foot.

Ferguson’s ability to spot the future stars of the game has been a decisive factor in the prolonged dominance that United has had over the last decade. It started with the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, continued with Ronaldo and Rooney and has reached a new level with the likes of Nani and Anderson.

Nani and Anderson were on the radar of many of the big clubs in Europe, namely Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea. They are going to be the next super stars of world soccer and in many pundits eyes, including mine, will surpass the likes of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. This is a major statement, but these two at their tender young age have already done enough to suggest that they can do this.

Anderson the 19 year old Brazilian was one of FC Porto’s main players this year. His game against Arsenal in the Champions League was nothing short of superb, his flair on the ball coupled with his crisp passing and deadly shots on goal were simply mouth watering and enough for him to gain praise from Arsene Wenger, one of the hardest managers to please in world football. This form continued through out the season and it was only a matter of time before the big clubs of Europe came knocking on his door. Thankfully for us United fans, we got their first. His flair, skill, talent and Brazilian-ness is sure to add another dimension to the United team and with the guidance of one of the best managers in the world along with superstars like Ronaldo, Scholes and Giggs, he is sure to blossom even further and become on of the greats of the game.

If Anderson has got flair, then there would be no word to describe Nani. His use of the ball is absolutely sublime, his trickery is getting to the Ronaldo standard and he has all the other great attributes that you would expect of a super star midfielder. Coming from Sporting Lisbon, the former club of Ronaldo, the 21 year old Nani is sure to delight United fans just the way Ronaldo has done.

The scary thought for oppositions clubs is that these two are still only young at 19 and 21 and will be given some time to develop under the guidance of the pros that current occupy United’s midfield. People often talk about Barcelona’s forward structure with the likes of Ronaldinho, Messi and Eto'o when he was playing well, but in a few years time it will be Manchester United with a midfield comprising of Ronaldo, Hargreaves, Anderson and Nani, with the likes of Carrick to fill in whenever needed.

Things are good at United at the moment, but mark my word, they are only going to get better.

Click here to purchase the Manchester United jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the Barcelona football jersey/shirt.

Click here to purchase the AC Milan football jersey/shirt.

Continued >> >>

Friday, June 01, 2007

Why Is Everyone So Scared?

Over the past few days I have been reading, with great annoyance, the reactions of non-Asian journalists to the fact that Sharad Pawar is lobbying strong and hard for the post of ICC President. The "white" world should know by now that us non-white people love titles, especially big titles. The bigger the better, and President (of anything, particularly the ICC) is reasonably big in this small world of cricket.

If you want to have all the power and all the big titles to yourself, then do not walk along the path of democracy. By telling non-white people that they have a chance to become something big, you can rest assured that they are going to give it a go. Naturally, it follows, that some will even succeed. Having well and truly gone down this path of majority-rules decision making (democracy) we should all have the balls to stick to it.

I fail to understand the reasons behind the trepidation we are reading about in articles such as this and another one I wrote about earlier. Why exactly are Andrew Miller and Malcolm Conn so threatened by the prospect of Sharad Pawar being elected ICC President through an open and democratic process?

Democracy is all about people power. The candidate who runs the best campaign and says things that strike a chord with voters will win. The ICC President is a democratically elected post. If that so happens to be a bloke by the name of Sharad Pawar, good luck to him.

For the record, I do not believe Pawar has shown any leadership during his time as President of the BCCI and I doubt he will do any better with the ICC. Further, I do not believe he or any current BCCI official should become ICC President because they are a callous and inept lot with nothing but greed on their minds.

However, all articles from "white" journalists have implied a horrific plot where the "white" nations will be inextricably wiped out of the game if Pawar becomes President. At the very least Miller and Conn seem to imply that the "white" nations will be brazenly bullied in a manner that will leave irreparable and lasting scars.

The only reason for this "white" line of thinking could be the fear of retribution during Pawar's tenure for the manner in which the ICC, and the MCC before it, administered the game of cricket prior to the 1990's. Indeed, if the injustices of the early days were so grave that retribution in this age is warranted, I'm all for the said revenge.

IMHO, however, I believe the ICC under Pawar's Presidency (or most other candidates for that matter) will keep rolling on its merry way. It will continue to draw the ire of every stakeholder of the game and stick its head in the sand when tough decisions are the need of the hour. Lets not forget that this very reputation has been carefully cultivated with unflinching attention to the most trivial details by the current Australian CEO, one Malcolm Speed.

It is high time that Conn and Miller, and all of their ilk, grew up. The real threat is not an Indian takeover of the game (even the BCCI realises it needs the other countries to keep its mint working), but the continuation of an incompetent and daft CEO in his current role.

Look at yourselves before you start discrediting others, gentlemen.

Continued >> >>

Cricket's Hottest Ads

If not hot, then definitely classic. All hail YouTube - it's great for a rainy day, its great for a boring day and its the best for finding things you never thought people would keep - of the audiovisual variety.

After I finished watching the video of my colleague's ski trip to Gulmarg, India, I happened across two absolute gems (yes TV advertisements can sometimes be quite watchable).

This is one of Adidas' first advertisements featuring Sachin Tendulkar that used ground-breaking (at the time it was thanks to The Matrix) 360 degree camera swivel technology:

The second is a Nike commercial featuring very short cameos from Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan, from when - I don't know. True to Nike marketing form it perfectly captures just how much India loves cricket (the love is fast dying with much of the impetus emanating from that deluded body known as the BCCI):

Continued >> >>

Cricket Broadcasting: Mixed Signals

I read yesterday, with limitless glee, that the Afro-Asia Cup and the masala matches in Ireland had all been canned due to, get this, the broadcasters not wanting to get within cooee of the events. I never thought that I would live to see a day where the BCCI was told, in no uncertain terms, to shove it. The bruises are a testament to the pinches I inflicted upon myself to ensure that the news was not merely a fantastic dream.

Alas, as with everything the Lalit Modi and the BCCI lay their grubby hands on it turned out to be another series of false promises - from the TV executives this time.

For the ill-informed, the sequence of events goes something like this:
  1. Nimbus withdraws from the nonsensical Afro-Asian Cup citing the absence of the superstars from the Asian line-up. To me this news is akin to a 100% pay rise, if for nothing else, then the reason that someone has finally put the BCCI in its place. .
  2. Zee TV deliberately forgets to pay the advance on the rights it purchased to broadcast the utterly irrelevant Irish triangular series.

Unfortunately, my celebrations have proven premature as I now learn that both series are back on the front-burner. ESPN Star Sports has pounced on the Afro-Asian series and Nimbus has taken Zee's place in Ireland.

For mine, these goings on have a rather obnoxious odour about them. Nobody seriously believes that ethics play a large part during commercial discussions undertaken by the BCCI, however these manoeuvrings reek of underhand deals and discussions.

In a legitimate and logical commercial setting, no rights owner would have placed any faith in Nimbus after the company's withdrawal from the Afro-Asian series. Surely Nimbus had concerns pertaining to the absence of star quality after its experience with the Afro-Asian series. In this context, what assurances did the BCCI provide Nimbus to solicit an assurance that it would not back out of the Ireland series?

Furthermore, did this new agreement include any clauses that required the specific participation of a player, or a group of players, thereby reducing the national selectors to the level of mere pencil-pushers?

I, presumably like you, do not trust a word that is discharged from the mouth of a BCCI official nor do I have a shred of faith in the structure (or lack thereof) that is applied to seal these miraculous deals, when all else seems lost.

All that I can hope for now is a strong and logical player's association that will have the courage to strip the BCCI of its arrogance and ignorance by refusing to allow its members to participate in daft and senseless masala matches.

Continued >> >>
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