Monday, May 25, 2009

IPL2 Has Proven As Fake As Lalit Modi

After fifty-something days of enthralling cricket, unscripted drama and raw emotion, Lalit Modi and his cronies give us a gloating, self-indulgent and cringe-worthy speech by the chief protagonist, an apallingly mimed performance by "International R&B Superstar" Akon and an impromptu beauty pageant. Where's the trophy? Where are the real stars? Why the stolen thunder?

I care not for Modi's graciousness for his supportive wife and daughters - he is an administrator and looks best when not parading himself in front of the nearest TV camera. I care not for Akon yelling "make some noise India" in the middle of Johannesburg, South Africa. If I was Adam Gilchrist and Anil Kumble, I wouldn't give two cahoots for a pre-packaged Katrina Kaif dancing to Pussycat Dolls' candy floss / made-for-America version of the legendary AR Rahman's Jai Ho.

Whoever organised the sequence of events proceeding the final delivery made the biggest mistake of their life and should pay for it with their career. Harsh maybe, but oh so fair.

In an attempt to replicate the glitz and glamour of the Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies, we have been subjected by countless cricket administrators (unfortunately, mostly of Indian origin) to unadulterated kitsch. Most have abysmally failed to recognise that even Olympics' organisers ensure that each and every medal presentation ceremony is the pinnacle of the event - superseded by nothing, bar nothing.

Lalit Modi has taken the product-isation of cricket that one step too far. With these latest shenanigans, he has proven to be yet another BCCI office-bearer to whom that proverbial line that should not be crossed, is invisible.

Why is that such selfish and self-absorbed egotists succeed so spectacularly in lowering the colours of their entire nation? Why is it that the every appearance of Lalit Modi on our TV screens transforms into just another cringe? Why is it that the presentation of a trophy and associated medallions, two minute interviews of both captains and 15 minutes of natural, uninterrupted live coverage of the winning team soaking in the atmosphere needs to be replaced with two-bit, talent-less individuals with no sense of occasion, nor geography?

Lalit Modi, Mr T thinks you're a fool. And guess what, he ain't the only one.

PS. Congratulations to Adam Gilchrist and the Deccan Chargers for winning a fantastic game of cricket. Nothing more need be said.

Continued >> >>

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bring Back Gilly

It's hard for me to write this, being the unabashed fan of Shane Warne that I am, but if Australia are to have any chance at the upcoming World T20, more than Warney, Andrew Hilditch and his band of not-so-wise men have to get on their bat phone and beg Adam Gilchrist to un-banish himself from his self-imposed exile and don the canary yellow for one final hoorah. If it means that Hilditch has to get on his knees and offer favours of unmentionable descriptions, then so be it - tough times call for otherwise unpalatable measures.

Anyone who was watching the IPL semi-final between the Daredevils and Gilchrist's Chargers will know of what I speak. Sure, it was one of those freakish, once-in-a-lifetime type of innings. Coincidence being that Gilchrist is one bloke who has the uncanny ability to play several such innings in the same tournament.

David Warner and all the other pretenders for the Australian opening slot were given a lesson much beyond what Geoff Boycott with a cane could have ever meted out. I have seen Hayden in his prime, I've seen Lara in his prime and as sacrilegious as it is to make this comparison, I've also seen Tendulkar in his prime, and I can confidently say that Gilchrist's innings last night was on an altogether different stratosphere.

Hilditch and co have made many a cock up over the last few months. Being too proud to grovel to a top bloke like Gilly could be potentially fatal as far as Australia's chances at winning the World T20 are concerned.

For those who were stupid enough to sleep through last night's match, watch the highlights below while Digger dusts off his French maid's outfit:

Continued >> >>

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shoaib Akthar & The Curious Case Of Genital Warts

The poor lad cannot take part in the upcoming World T20 because he needs more time to recover from a case of "genital wounds". Akhtar is notorious for his hard partying ways around the Melbourne clubbing scene and his love of the good life has landed him in trouble many a time with various cricketing authorities. It now seems that this rather carefree attitude may have put him out of action from more than just the cricket pitch.

The Pakistani team is probably thanking its lucky stars that Akhtar has found himself an excuse to skip the tourney. That the excuse is somewhat amusing and likely to make him the butt of all change room jokes for ever and a day is merely an added bonus.

The bigger question here has nothing to do with how or why Shoaib Akhtar forgot to wear a condom, but by how much Pakistani cricket will be better off without the distraction of his meandering presence.

Akthar has been a constant source of scandal, disruption and ridicule for the team and the PCB. The multifarious incidents with him as chief protagonist have served to lose Pakistan more matches than he would have ever won through his own blood and sweat. Most players would have been permanently banned after slapping the team coach, following it up by using a cricket bat to assault a team mate and then turning to drugs to bowl faster when his throwing action started proving inadequate.

The PCB has displayed an amazing ability to do everything but take the right decision, even when the said option has been staring it in the face. I have no reason to believe that the PCB will take a hint and cast Akhtar into the cricketing wilderness while it has the opportunity before it on a silver platter. However, there's no harming in pointing the thirsty to the well.

As an aside, I'm not the cold, emotionless type I make out to be and I do wish the diseased lad a speedy recovery. We might even see a canny condom manufacturer sign him up for a promotional tour.

Continued >> >>

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Miracle Of IPL2

No, it's not Miss Bollywood IPL South Africa Dune Kossatz (see photo below if you are curious). There is simply no different way to put it, that the Bangalore Royal Challengers have barged there way into a semi-final spot in IPL2 is nothing short of cricket's equivalent of the Hail Mary. While it is my firm belief that their place in the final four is due more to luck than planning, credit has to be given where credit is due - no, not to Vijay Mallya, but to Anil Kumble and Ray Jennings.

I lampooned Vijay Mallya for falling pray to the whims and fancies of his ego and that of his superstar recruit and captain, Kevin Pietersen. I'm not arrogant enough to believe that Dr Mallya read that article or any of the hundreds of others that were written in a similar vein, because I cannot see his hand in the Banagalore's resurgence in the latter of half of the tournament (no, handing out awards at after-match ceremonies is not contribution enough).

It is quite obvious to anybody who understands an iota about the workings of cricketers and cricket teams that Bangalore coach Ray Jennings made the right choice in selecting Anil Kumble as captain in Pietersen's absence. It takes more than flashy haircuts, ostentatious lifestyles and the switch-hit to be successful and inspiration (not necessarily both at the same time either) on a cricket field for over 20 years. Kevin Pietersen could do worse than than try to become half the man Kumble has been.

Mallya's error of titanic proportions in sacking Rahul Dravid after IPL1 and banking on Pietersen's heroics when he was only available for one-third of the tournament was a potentially fatal decision as far as his team's chances in IPL2 were concerned. Kumble and Jennings could not have produced the results without a fair share of luck and that Ross Taylor innings.

The Royal Challengers this year have proven that class players are best, no matter their age, nor the form of the game. The likes of Jaques Kallis, Rahul Dravid and Kumble were unceremoniously written off by all and sundry for being too slow, too old and Test match players. Reports that Mallya himself subscribed to these misconceptions and never took a backward step in reminding the players concerned, were only likely to fan the flames of discontent and its consequence, under-performance.

Matthew Hayden's orange cap is illustration enough of the benefits of playing with a mind uncluttered. Is it any coincidence then, that the senior citizens of the Bangalore side have played a critical part in the side's resurgence after a calm and considered Kumble was anointed captain? Could it just be that, under Kumble, younger players like Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar and to a lesser extent, Ross Taylor felt more at home and less like they were walking on egg shells, contributing to their improved and more consistent performances?

Whatever happens to the Royal Challengers during the business stage of the tournament is water under the bridge. Their chances of success for next season and beyond rely on clear and thoughtful decision making, without the undue and overbearing influence of money, Bollywood-esque performances and bloated egos.

Successful cricket teams of are not built overnight. Creating a winning cricketing unit is poles apart from paying for a faster and more reliable engine for Formula 1 cars. Dr Mallya would be well served by letting the experts he hired do the jobs they are clearly more capable than he of doing well.

Continued >> >>

Monday, May 18, 2009

MS Dhoni To Marry By 2010

Apparently so, straight from the horse's (no pun intended) mouth. Cricketing topics of any significant relevance are very thin on the ground at present, and given that of the about 30% of the 130-odd emails we get every week pertain to the lady loves of Indian cricket stars and the thousands of searches for "dhonis girlfriend", "sexy woman", "pathans girlfriend", etc, (my personal favourite being "sexy womans shirt" - why anyone would search for that phrase on this site beats me), I thought what better topic than this.

Lakshmi Rai seems to believe that MSD has eyes for her, and only her, to the extent that he wants to marry her "within a year or two". Quite obviously, Yuvraj Singh's wild ways have not yet rubbed off on the MSD.

One wonders exactly how much truth there is to this rumour, given that Dhoni is ultra-strict about protecting his privacy and that of his loved ones. Would he really marry a woman who uses his name to gain publicity for her fledgling acting career? I don't know the kid, nor do I mean to be judgemental, but that would seem highly out of character the Team India captain.

However, love is blind and it has been known to entrap more distinguished souls. Apart from being the proverbial dagger in the heart for many females the world over, this appears yet another example of Bollywood exploiting cricket's aura to further its own naked ambitions.

Unfortunately for our more voyeuristic readers, me thinks Dhoni is one man who is unlikely to provide us the naked truth any time soon.

Lets just hope and pray that any such alliances do not affect Dhoni, or any other cricketer's (is Yuvraj reading this?) on-field abilities. We still have the world to conquer.

PS. MSD has everything and more going for him. Why would he want to settle for such mediocrity? Surely he can do better, no?

Continued >> >>

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chris Gayle Is So Charitable

Pffftt. Not! In a clear case of a cricketer trying to bite the hand that feeds him, Chris Gayle has voiced his undying desire to relinquish the West Indies' captaincy and give up Test cricket altogether. Well, what's the hold up? What is the use of simply talking about it. As Phil Knight would say, just do it, maan.

Nobody can begrudge Chris Gayle his opinions or his likes and dislikes. There's absolutely no problem if he couldn't care two hoots about Test cricket and if he believes Twenty20 cricket is the best invention since Brazilians (Warning: sorry kids, this link is not for your precious eyes). The fact is Gayle isn't a tennis player where he can choose to be as selfish as he pleases, he is the leader of a team that is desperately relying on him for leadership, reassurance and some runs.

If Gayle really is as burdened by his membership of the West Indies' Test squad as he professes to be, he should immediately follow Fazeer Mohammad's advice and fall on his sword, for he is surplus to requirements in anyone's books.

I used to be a fan of Chris Gayle, if for nothing than his undoubted talent with willow in hand. I was even willing to pardon his rather selfish decision to delay his arrival in England. Now, I consider him no less a twat than the born again (in the IPL context) and equally hypocritical Matthew Hayden.

It is one thing to be honest with the media and thus your fans. It is totally another to exploit your position of influence to shamefully project yourself as an angel and unfairly burdened messiah, while single-handedly destroying the morale and fabric of a team which has been painstakingly constructed over the previous 18 months thanks to the diligence and determination of many-a-maligned-soul behind the scenes.

Chris Gayle and any international cricketing superstar should be unequivocally reminded that their stardom (and their future earning potential) is not the result of a fleeting moment of fortune in a Twenty20 match, but the consequence of being afforded an opportunity to excel in the traditional forms of the game in an international setting. Attempting to bite the hand that has fed them thus isn't the greatest course of action at the best of times.

PS. What's this I hear Fake IPL Player talking about Ricky Ponting (aka Sticky Something) taking over the Knight Riders captaincy next IPL season and recruiting the Messiah (aka Steve Waugh) to head the back room staff?

Continued >> >>

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Can You Describe Cricket In Two Words?

I was honoured and surprised to be invited last night to a gathering of the desi "social elite" in Melbourne. At the rather informal event an impromptu version of Antakshari broke out at which one of the participants quipped, after observing my inability to remember any songs / lyrics, that it was OK to sing a cricketing song, to which I replied that I only know one cricketing song and it starts with "Sachin" followed by "Tendulkar".

In this age where the new and the glitzy attract all the eyeballs and most of the cash, one collossus of the sport stands out like a beacon, body lengths above the best of the rest. Forget Brian Lara. Forget Steve Waugh. Forget Ricky Ponting. These blokes to aren't a shade on Sachin Tendulkar.

Call it coincidence or a sign of a few people in the know, but there have been a number of publications putting out pieces praising Tendulkar's longevity and talent. This class of coincidence has been sparse over the last 3-4 years, when it pertains to Tendulkar. Especially so, given that his Mumbai Indians have been struggling, a tad, in IPL2. However, as an unabashed fan of the bloke, I don't mind a bit of positive press, particularly after the disgrace that was his booing at the Wankhede and the despicable and shameful act that was the publication of Endulkar.

I have always contended that petty personal agendas, a lack of foresight and unlikely and bloated expectations lead symptoms of tall poppy syndrome commonly on display from the Indian media and far too many short-sighted Team India fans. I've said it before and I'll reiterate for our newer readers: there is not a cricketer in India or the world that can fill Sachin Tendulkar's shoes at present and no mother is likely to produce one for quite some time.

Cricket fans should stop wasting their time berating this legend. Enjoy your time with him on your TV screens for as long as he wishes to grace your living room and your closest cricket stadium, for when he's gone I can guarantee your sharp little tongues will be left wagging for more.

Continued >> >>
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