Thursday, September 30, 2010

Same Ol' Same Ol'

So much has happened in cricket over the past months that a passive peruser of cricket media would be forgiven for thinking the sky has fallen in. But, stop and think for a second. What do you know now that you didn't know 6 months ago? Have the events of the past few weeks actually changed your opinions about players from certain countries, proficiency (or lack thereof) of cricketing administrators or the unparalleled brilliance and grace of the living legends?

Reams have been wasted on the spot match-fixing controversy, but the revelations of Mazhar Majeed or the desperate and amateurish allegations of Ijaz Butt have taught us other than that the most delinquent team ever to take to a cricket field is still doing what the whole world has suspected, proven and kept suspecting. Clich├ęs abound about fathers and sons, and apples and trees.

Then come reports of a certain Australian captain being advised by an Australian cricketing great to follow the in the footsteps of God one Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. I, for one, would have thought there was a greater chance of Mike Hussey being caught with a hooker than any member of the Australian cricketing establishment advising his current captain to follow the lead of an Indian. For all the shock and horror of such news, Taylor has merely pilfered what real Team India / Sachin fans have been quietly advocating for years. Does that make us experts too, then?

And in the "It Happens Only In India" files, the BCCI has again affirmed its unstated view that it is a nation unto itself. That compromise, humility, national pride or common sense are attributes as foreign to it as cricket is to North Korea. The Indian Commonwealth Games organising committee must be the only body of its type to allow the sport with the largest supporter base in that country to play a marquee series during the Games, without even the slightest attempt at a whimper. Suresh Kalmadi's claims that he wasn't busy augmenting his personal accounts with public funds seem increasingly dubious.

Given nothing has really changed, we can assure ourself that the treacherous trio from Pakistan will soon be off the hook on account of lack of evidence, Harbhajan Singh will be "slapped" with a ban / fine at least once during the next month and Michael Clarke will once again out-bowl Nathan Hauritz in a Test, if not the entire series.

With this in mind, will you be watching India v Australia, or diversifying with a little multi-sport action offered by the other even in town?

If you enjoy watching the great sport of Cricket, why not check out the latest Cricket Betting?

Continued >> >>

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Money Makes Your World Tick, Ricky

You can't blame Ricky Ponting for being stuck in the times of Taylor and Waugh. A man is defined by his experiences and upbringing, and Ponting grew up in an era where brotherly Aussie love within it's cricket team was the be all and end all. However, in these times of freelance cricketers, the IPL and significantly greater personal at stake, such institutions of togetherness are paid lip mere service, at best.

With this background, it is no surprise that Ponting assumed that the words of the captain of Australia would carry the weight they once did. Welcome to the real world, mate.

As the opportunity and burden of personal responsibility and decision making power is transferred to kids of increasingly younger ages, so is their prerogative to pick and choose the people who's advice they heed. With Ponting's admission that nobody heeded his advice with respect to Aussie players' participation in IPL3, it is infinitely clear that the office of Australian cricket captain no longer carries the clout for which it was once renowned. Some might even argue that Ponting's unsuitability for this role has been the catalyst for this erosion of influence.

Ponting's strategic shortcomings are ruthlessly exposed by such admissions of leadership failure, especially in an era where he has been charged with the responsibility of developing and moulding a new generation to recover their nation's reputation as consistent world-beaters. Ineffective and impotent is a leader bereft of powers of persuasion or incapable of showing the requisite discretion to carefully select the fringe issues on which his voice must be heard by his charges.

It doesn't help that Ponting's own conflicted interests in this matter could rightly be deemed by many as highly hypocritical. The result of these heated discussions also put paid to frequent foreign players' utterances that security and safety is paramount in their thinking. Such assertions are pure facetious at best, for the it is abundantly clear that the number of greenback-filled suitcases are the sole consideration.

Ponting's leadership qualities have never been his strong suit. He has failed almost every time a situation has required him to show real leadership, tact or guile, on or off the pitch. His latest admission is yet more affirmation that Cricket Australia needs to act strongly and decisively in charting a succession plan that will deliver a captain that the next generation of Australian cricketers demand and deserve.

Continued >> >>

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Where'd All The Good People Go?

Compare the decks prepared for the SSC Test between Sri Lanka and India to those prepared in the ongoing England v Pakistan series and you have before your eyes ample evidence of a sad and irritating attitude of subcontinental indifference to one of the key ingredients that will ensure the continued success of the most revered format of our great game. Add to this the utterly illogical support for the SSC surface from one of the greatest names in Sri Lankan cricket and the picture, of a total lack of understanding of the issue at all levels, is complete.

While the third Test track for the Lanka v India series was almost the perfect subcontinental track in terms of balance between bat and ball, one gets the distinct feeling that such occurrences are a function of happenstance, rather than the result of strategic planning and / or scientific formulation. The issue is one of supreme importance because there appear to be two distinct schools of thought on the issue of good cricket wickets: those that care and those that do not. Unfortunately, these groups are delimited by geographic and board room voting lines, thereby, making it very difficult to impress upon them the need for change.

It is an irrefutable fact that a healthy bottom line is integral to the continued success of the game. It is, however, a travesty that the Asian boards are now intent on devaluing the product to make it last longer for their TV executive masters. Surely it is not that difficult to create a 'product' that maintains its quality while still lasting the best part of five days? What's the point of Viagra, if there is no climax?

As with every malaise in subcontinental cricket, the rot starts at the very top. The charge of apathy towards the what's really good for the game can be laid squarely at the feet of cricket administrators who's wont for power and tendency towards greed far outweighs their sense of responsibility towards the stakeholders who look to them for leadership, guidance and vision.

The ineptitude blighting the administration of the game in both the East and West will do it no good. While not perfect, Cricket Australia actually makes admirable attempt at introspection and continued self-improvement. Its experiments and players may not be the most popular, but name me another cricket board that faces as much pressure from rival sports as Cricket Australia, and still manages to succeed? I guess it really is true that competition really does sort the wheat from the chaff.

Given the rapidity with which preparations for another of the subcontinent's great sporting hopes, the Commonwealth Games, are unravelling I'm moved to join Jack Johnson in asking, "where'd all the good people go?"

Continued >> >>

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dear Diary

In the second instalment of our Dear Diary series we afford ourselves an exclusive sneak peak into the life of a player who has seemingly been in the news for reasons more bad than good in recent times. You do the math:

May 10
Big game tomorrow. Through some miracle we actually still have a chance of making it to the semis. To be honest though, with me out of form, and the Aussies letting the world know that we still can't play bounce, I don't see the point. Had the usual pre-game team meeting. Usual shit was said. Thankfully that clown Jadeja has finally been kicked off the team. What do people see in him? Such a waste of space. Even then, we've got one bloke who can't hit the ball unless it bounces with 1 metre of where he's standing. I'm out of form. Gauti's out of form. Vijay (or is it Murali, I still don't know?) eats too much idli sambar to be any good and there's a shortage of milk in St Lucia, so Dhoni will probably flop. Everyone knows what's going to happen. Let's just enjoy the beach, down some liquids and check out the scenery - and I don't mean of the floral variety. We're all going to cop it when we get back anyway, lets just live a little while we still have the chance.

May 11 (Pre-match)
Doing my usual prep for the game. I got kitted up in my hotel room to do some visualisation, but then I was really uncomfortable. The numpties must've turned the heat up too high in the hotel dryer coz my India shirt didn't fit properly. Way too tight. I know I've put on a few kilos over the past couple of years (after all I am a senior player now), but I'm still no Ramesh Powar. I mean look at Kapil paaji, he hardly had a beach body and he was one of the greatest ever. People really should mind their own business. Either way, I'll still pick up more models than any crap blogger who thinks I'm too fat.

May 11 (Post-match)
Shit hit the fan. 7 of us got called in for private meetings with the coach. Even this idiot thinks I'm too fat. He reckons he's fitter than me. WTF!! Just coz I drink a little, party a little, doesn't mean I lose my natural talent. It's not rugby where we all need to look like Teri Maa Ki. What does the coach expect? Everyone knew I was out of form. They knew picking me was a gamble. Hell, me out of form is still better than that Jadeja in form. I think coach was just frustrated. Mid-life crisis maybe. Whateva. Last night before heading back, gonna make it a big one!

May 12
Last night was a waste. It started off pretty well, we were all giving Nehra crap about how he looks like a horse and Jadeja was about to cry because we made it obvious that he was the only player to have lost his country not 1, but 2 world cups, and then some idiots started having a go at us. They must've been call centre workers, bloody fools were putting on some weird American accent. You're Indian, just talk normally, no? Everything was fine until they were concentrating on Jadeja & Pathan, then one clown called me fat. And I lost it. Obviously I'd had a little to drink so the emotions were flowing. I would've punched that guy's lights out, but some bouncer saved him just in time.

Some Aussie players were sitting in another corner, but they saw what happened. Nothing would have come out, coz no punches were thrown, just some swearing, word is that the same idiot who got Teri Maa Ki kicked out of the team blabbed all about it to the media. We really are gonna cop it now!

May 16
Coming through customs today, some bloody customs officer thought I had something hidden under my shirt. I was like WTF!! I said it was only my frickin stomach. He had the gall to tell me it looked too big to be a stomach. He even lifted my shirt to have a look! What's with these people?!?!?

May 18
Apparently I've received a show cause notice. What notice? From whom? The bloody BCCI tells the media it's going to do something and then actually does it a week later. And what are we going to tell the BCCI anyway? That Nehra needs braces and Jadeja is a waste of space and should be offered to Pakistan as Sania's dowry? Dad says not to worry coz I'm the Sher of Punjab and this is only minor. It's not like they're gonna sack me from the team! Hell Lalit's got them in so much trouble they won't even bother with us. Anyway, Priety's in town with some friends. Gonna be lots of drinking tonight. I love alcohol, its legal, gets you happy and doesn't make you fat.

Continued >> >>

Friday, May 21, 2010

Seriously? No Way!

He is the preordained second-most-powerful-man-in-Australia. At the very least, one could reasonably expect him to be near the forefront of thought leadership of the patch he prowls. At a bare minimum, he should understand the tactics, temperament and tempo demanded by various formats of our great game. I thought all this to be reasonably reasonable, until I stumbled upon this gem. Michael Clarke believes an attacking approach may be required to succeed at T20 cricket. No frickkin way! You can't be serious! Surely not!

That I believe Cameron White to be the best man to assume the throne on Ricky Ponting's departure is no secret. Michael Clarke's upbringing in the scarecely-intellectual western suburbs of Sydney has not an iota of influence on my line thinking. Nor does his questionable former choice for life partnership. Hell I'm even willing to forgive and forget that he was allegedly instrumental in shunting into oblivion the single most talented all-round cricketer that Australia had (until then) produced in the last 2 decades. My preference for White over Clarke has everything to do with the fact that Mick just doesn't have it all together upstairs.

Clarke, IMHO, is all emotion and no intellect. He's perfect as a member of the leadership team to raise spirits when the chips are down (and somewhat irrelevant when matchfixing scum from the opposition are at work). He's great at slip, gully, cover and any other location the ball may travel on a cricket field. I'm sure he also has the nous to offer a nugget or two of great intelligence (of the informational, rathen than intellectual variety) to the captain of the day. But, more than anything, this latest gem proves that the bloke is a step or two behind where he ought to be.

However, as a Team India fan, it is with much glee that I realise that the wise men who staked their cricketing reputations on Clarke's leadership abilities will not revoke their decision. They have invested far too much in Mick for an admission of failure to even enter their minds. Here's to imagining what could have been of the Aussies had they been provided the leadership their talents deserve and demand.

RIP the records of the next generation of Australian cricketers unfortunate enough to suffer under the captaincy of Michael Clarke.

Continued >> >>

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Hooking & Pulling Should Be Left To The Experts

The old curse has returned (some may argue that it never actually went away, just that it was shovelled under the carpet for long enough to be "out of sight, out mind"). The rib-tickler may once again help in forcing India out of a global competition on foreign soil. However, the inability to play the short ball is only a symptom. The real malaise, should Team India fail to progress in the 2010 edition of the World T20, will be the batsmen's inability to think their way to success - yet again.

Any batsman who tells you they love facing the short ball at upwards of 145 km/h is lying. Facing Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes in full flight on a remotely helpful deck is not nearly as easy as it looks on TV. Unlike Mitchell Johnson who is fast but predictable, Nannes and Tait possess an X-factor that makes them particularly difficult for a batsman to pick up and play when they're on song.

All this does not mean Australia's pace arsenal cannot be faced, quelled and even conquered. Brendan McCullum showed in the second match of the recent T20 series against the Aussies in Christchurch that the pace and bounce must be turned into the batsmen's advantage, for very few people can pull and hook like Ricky Ponting and Kevin Pietersen and in the middle of a pressure cooker international match is not the time to experiment and learn.

MS Dhoni's "fight fire with fire" attitude has achieved him much success and earned him many plaudits since 2007. However, getting caught with your pants down will only serve to take some of the sheen off his fast-building legacy. I wonder if Team India has seen the footage of McCullum's assault on the Aussies earlier this year? While McCullum's freakish scoops hogged the limelight in all post-match bulletins from that day, Team India must look beyond the glitz and realise that the Kiwis used the pace and the bounce to play plenty of up-and-unders that brought runs untold. If there's one shot that Indians play well, it is the ramp shot on the on-side between the 'keeper and point. You complete the maths.

Team India's re-found predicament calls for real fire fighting equipment: cool heads. If there's anyone with the ability to bring about this cool change, it is Captain Cool, Dhoni. Now, is the best time to start.

Continued >> >>

Friday, April 23, 2010

Early Reports: 27 IPL Players Involved In Match Fixing

News is coming through in drips, but the early reports say that 27 cricketers and 1 administrator have been caught match fixing by the Government of India's income tax department investigators. NDTV is reporting that the allegations of match fixing relate to IPL2, which was held in South Africa. Apparently, the cricketers allegedly involved in match fixing are of both Indian and non-Indian origins. Thankfully, one consolation for Indian fans in this sorry state of affairs is that the "Big Three of Indian cricket - Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid - are clean and above this muck."

The reporter staking out at tax department headquarters has reported that at least one big name Australian cricketer has been implicated in the match fixing allegations by this latest report. This cricketer has apparently fled India early than he was originally scheduled to leave after the conclusion of his IPL3 commitments. This bloke clearly had friends in high places who tipped him off!

While the details are still sketchy and the NDTV journalist on location at tax department headquarters is reporting rumour, past experience tells me that fire is ultimately witnessed when smoke is smelled pertaining to such matters. One small tweet from Lalit Modi has blown a giant lid on the slime that lays beneath the glitz, glamour and brash displays of wealth and power in and around the IPL circus.

If these allegations are eventually proven, the administration of cricket worldwide, but particularly in India, will require a fundamental paradigm shift. It has only been 10 years since the last match fixing scandal claimed international captains and their players. The wounds from that trauma had begun to heal, but the scabs have not yet fallen off. In this context, cricket will need to undertake some serious confidence building measures to regain the trust of diehard fans and cynical critics alike. To do so again, within 10 years of the previous episode, will be infinitely harder.

I beg the question, do cricket administrators have the ability and inclination to rise above their petty politics, egotistical ways and general greed to do all that is necessary to comprehensively rid the game of this despicable evil? On the basis of the evidence they have furnished over the previous few years, you would be forgiven for thinking not.

Allegations will continue to fly for quite some time. As a committed cricket fan and consumer of all things cricketing, I can only hope that this latest disaster will prove to be the line in the sand between a past in shimmering armour, and a future of bright, clean and golden sunrises.

Stay tuned to TMR's Twitter feed and homepage for more updates on this latest instalment of sleaze and greed in the greatest game on this planet.

Continued >> >>

Monday, April 19, 2010

Finger Out, Socks Up

That bombs went off is a deplorable and unpardonable lapse on the part of the security men. That more bombs remained passive can only be attributed to the grace of God. These events are yet another example of how public security and the sanctity of life are nothing more than platitudes for the privileged few, entrusted with maintaining law and order in India. Given all the brouhaha about security prior to the commencement of IPL3 and the international implications of the upcoming Commonwealth Games, such comments from the likes of Lalit Modi will rightfully make visitors think long and hard about travelling to India.

The ever-growing non-issue spat between Shashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi has provided cover for people with important titles to make daft, irresponsible and reprehensible comments on the bungled Bangalore security operation. Such disgusting attitudes showcase the "what's in a couple of deaths here and there" attitude that clearly permeates throughout India's top political and law enforcement ranks. The disturbing aspect of all this is that people like this will also be responsible for Commonwealth Games' security. God save the Queen's Games!

While Modi's decision to shift the semi-finals out of Bangalore deserves commendation, this episode must not be explained away through denial, ignorance and the unprofessionalism of a distracted media. I hope and pray that police chiefs, particularly in Delhi, are cognisant of the ineffectiveness and inefficiency that ails their forces. Only after accepting that one bomb is one too many will security chiefs be able to implement appropriate measures to overcome these failings.

There exists a real fear that some within the establishment will view this IPL example as an instance of great Indian administration, courage and powers of persuasion. I can only imagine that Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar's assurances that all was well convinced the other players, particularly those of the international star variety, that the stadium was safe. Had the match involved teams with international captains (Rajasthan Royals' Shane Warne and Deccan Chargers' Adam Gilchrist, for instance), I doubt whether we would have seen a match - unless of course, Modi took it upon himself to bully and threaten the players to play.

I can assure anyone who subscribes to the above theory that delusions of such administrative 'greatness' will yield nothing but ridicule during the Commonwealth Games. The slightest hint of a bomb within kooee of a sports arena or the athletes' village could be the rightful catalyst for an immediate and massive exodus of foreigners from Delhi. While such actions may result in more Indian Games' medals, they will also ensure that the world's tacit acceptance of India as safe and reliable destination for business, leisure and sporting exchanges will lie in tatters.

In this eventuality, what difference will there remain between us and Pakistan?

There is still time to remedy the twin ills of complacency and ineptitude when it comes to delivering a safe and successful Commonwealth Games. Do the administrators and political leaders have what it takes to make the right calls, not just those that easy and personally beneficial? I have my doubts, but I'll happier than most to be proven very, very wrong.

The time has come, India, to pull up and out the proverbial socks and fingers.

Continued >> >>

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Conflict, With Interest

Given India's obsession with the world of celebrities, particularly celebrity feuds, it comes as no surprise that the country is currently gripped by the public spat between Shashi Tharoor and the 'commissioner', Lalit Modi. The entertainment angle of this media war is engaging, to say the least. The serious angle, perpetuated by many, is utterly baffling. The contention that Tharoor has somehow done wrong by the people of India, owing to a perceived conflict of interest is the most preposterous theory I've heard in a long time!

Details of this latest instalment from the controversy factories that are Shashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi are most accurately perused here, here, here and here. So, is there actually a conflict of interest on the part of Modi and Tharoor?

In an extensive Twitter debate with Arnab Ray (aka Greatbong; follow him here and The Match Referee here), I argued the point that there is no conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise, on Tharoor's part and I stand by this contention.

My premise is simple: a conflict of interest would have existed if Tharoor had used and / or abused public funds or other public resources to secure the Kochi IPL franchise for Rendezvous Sports World or the 5% stake in the franchise for his lady-to-be. To date, no information has been published that remotely indicates that Tharoor placed or was perceived to place the interests of his privileged friends ahead of that of the people of India. Despite his lofty position in society Tharoor is still entitled, just like the rest of us, to the basic human right of applying his skills and influence to the benefit of anyone of his choosing, as long as the public interest is not compromised.

The IPL is a private entity and the grant of new franchises is a private matter for the IPL over which the Government of India has no official control. A conflict of interest would have existed if the government was responsible for granting franchises and if Tharoor had used the power, influence or other resources of his ministerial office to force a decision in favour of his next of kin, friends, girlfriend or himself. This is clearly not the case. So where, then, is the said conflict?

Those peddling the view that Sunanda Pushkar's acceptance of a stake in the Kochi IPL franchise and / or Tharoor's actions somehow resulted in a perception of conflicted interests or that there may be conflicts of interest in the future are simply clutching at straws, or have an axe to grind. To what extent should those associated with ministers and their ilk be prohibited from furthering their personal financial or professional ambitions, especially if their actions present no harm to the interests of the government or the people?

Another contention offered by Arnab, and I suspect one that is pushed by others who subscribe to the school of thought to which he belongs, is that I and others who argue along similar lines have a natural bias towards Tharoor because of his "refinement". This assertion could not be further from the truth and merely serves to highlight the inadequacies of the argument that proposes the conflict of interest.

Many conflicts of interest of members of the broader 'IPL family' may be exposed if Tharoor receives the backing that he ought to receive from his political masters. Modi's conspicuous absence from his favourite online forum gives us an accurate picture of the state-of-mind of a man for whom the penny may just have dropped.

We can all look forward to more stories of underhand dealings, death threats and general crack snorting daftness, which will undoubtedly surface in the coming days for this drama proves, once again, that reality is often a lot stranger than fiction. Bollywood scriptwriters, eat your heart out!

In the meantime, can someone please present me a cogent and logical argument outlining exactly how Tharoor is actually or potentially suffering from a bout of conflicted interests? Anyone?

Continued >> >>

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Who Cares About Pakistan Cricket?

There are two things in cricket that are dead set certainties, Sreesanth will always be Sreesanth and Pakistan cricket and cricketers will always find a way to earn ridicule and disdain. The PCB must've felt overshadowed by the negative press coverage being devoted to Shoaib Malik, because they've unchained a series of events that will ultimately result in more ignominy.

First, it astounds me how an administrative body can fine a player for poor performance. Last I checked, fines were reserved for disciplinary transgressions and poor performance was punished by dropping the player from the team. Pretty simple logic really, but clearly very complex for the likes of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, for it's taken him a whole month to decide he wishes to appeal the imposition of an unjust and nonsensical penalty.

Never to be left behind in making the news for anything but legitimate cricketing reasons. The illustrious Akmal brothers have decided they were wrongly fined for trying to save the older brother's place in the team by playing media wars with team management.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that certain legal technicalities will ensure that the fines and bans will be reduced, rightfully so in Naved-ul-Hasan's case, to nothing more than mere slaps on the wrist. But it may take someone with greater smarts to explain the PCB's lust for unfortunate, unnecessary and embarrassing media coverage.

Why do I care? Because, such daftness goes beyond cricket. Because, it is yet another frustrating subcontinental example of how the privileged few waste their many opportunities to return some semblance of order, normalcy and pride to their community. The bigger travesty is that this practice is so engrained in every aspect of public life that the general public becomes increasingly desensitised with each indiscretion.

That's it. Rant over.

Continued >> >>

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Dear Diary

In light of Cricinfo's Page 2 take on the life and times of one Rahul Dravid in the IPL era, here's a few days in the life of another top bloke:

2 April 2010
2 overs! 2 measly mofo overs! I was easily the best bowler on show and bloody Sanga only gives me 2 overs. I don't think Sanga understands how important these spells are to resurrecting my international career. I mean what captain relies on Irfan to be his death bowler. The only death that's happening right now is to our team - because of Irfan's bowling. The idiot can't work out if he's a bowler or a batsman and the bloody captain trials him in all positions to find out, while I rot at fine leg. Bloody fool.

All those trips to the temple are clearly not working for me. I'll have to do some thinking about what to do to get noticed by Dhoni sir and Kirsten sir. I suppose I'll have to do it all now, coz Sanga clearly won't help. Mofo!

3 April 2010
Had a good night's sleep. Must've taken a few deep breaths in my sleep coz I'm all calm now. Yuvi sir had a friend with him at breakfast. I couldn't stop looking across at her. I'm so happy coz I think she saw me looking at her too. Our eyes met, there was definitely a connection. I would have given her my number but I saw Sanga leave the restaurant and I had to run after him to ask why he only gave me 2 overs last night. I might get her number from Yuvi sir later. He's normally a really nice guy (until he gets angry) and he's always willing to share.

PS. I couldn't catch Sanga coz I ran into Ramesh Powar in the lobby. By the time I got around Powar, Sanga had vanished. Fat slob, really should lose some weight.

4 April 2010
Sanga just told me I'm rested for this game. What rested ya? I haven't played in months and the bloody Lankan wants to rest me? I'm beginning to think this is a conspiracy to ruin my career. Moody and Sanga are doing to me what Chappell did to Irfan. Bloody Lankan thinks he's as smart as a white man. I'll show the bastard. Rest, my ass!

5 April 2010
Sat right in front of the restaurant door at breakfast today so that I could see Moody or Sanga walk in. I wanted to give them a piece of my mind. Missed out again. Bloody fat prick Powar sat right in front of me blocking my view. And people wonder why we have food shortages in India!

6 April 2010
Saw Yuvi sir in the lift today. I was going to ask him what I should do to get back in the team for tomorrow. But before I could ask, he asked me why I was clapping like a lunatic when we were batting during the last game? Then he said Sanga thinks I'm immature and too emotional. Before I could tell Yuvi sir I was trying to be a team man and support Mahela and others in the middle by clapping, the lift stopped and he left. Why do people ask questions if they don't want answers?

Then, I must be cursed, coz guess who walked into the lift, closed the door and made me miss my floor! Bloody fat slob!

7 April 2010
I was shocked when Sanga came to me and said I'm playing. I really was fired up. I'd been practising my sledging in the nets. Bopara even nicked a couple of my balls. I must've really intimidated him. Can't wait to play Royals today. Shilpa madam will be in the stands too. She always giggles when she sees me. She must think I'm cute. I hope she doesn't distract me while I'm fielding. Plus, she's married, it won't look good on Appa and Amma if media starts making up stories about me and her.

What a disaster for our team, but I think I had a good game. Who is this Lumb? He got lucky today. I used some lines on him that I'd practised in the nets. I think he understood me too. Such a dumbass though. His only comeback was, "what, what?" Yuvi sir kept telling me to calm down. I don't think he understands my passion. The umpires were definitely intimidated by my sarcastic clapping though - they only no-balled me once after that.

I think I'll sleep well today. Sanga must've learned his lesson not to drop me, if for nothing else then my passion on the field.

Continued >> >>

The Useless And The Injured

The Match Referee on cricket: The Useless & The InjuredA tad harsh maybe, given that they're both far better cricketers than I ever was, but the fact remains that Andrew McDonald and Callum Ferguson can consider themselves extremely lucky to receive Cricket Australia contracts ahead of the likes of Michael Klinger, David Warner and David Hussey.

Andrew McDonald's case is a very interesting one. Akin to India's very own Ajit Agarkar, McDonald continues to feature in the plans of state, IPL and, clearly, national selectors despite his obvious lack of skill or any evidence of sustained and outstanding cricketing achievement. His military medium pace (which makes Sourav Ganguly's gentlemanly offerings look good) allied to a consistently inconsistent batting record is incongruent with the talent and demonstrated high performance levels of former and current Australian cricketers who have dominated all-comers for the best part of two decades. So why is he given a contract?

Even the widely panned IPL3 commentators had enough nous to opine that Warner's resvoirs of talent could be transferred to the longer forms of the game. Would a central contract and facilitated relocation across state borders not have provided the carrot for Warner to leap to the next level and become a major force in all formats? Surely even members of the much vaunted NSP know enough about cricket to deduce that Warner statisfying his full potential could do more for Australian cricket than anything Andrew McDonald could achieve in two cricketing lifetimes!

Callum Ferguson would never have received a better present from the Easter bunny, given that has has undergone a knee reconstruction and will take at least a half (if not entire) season to work himself back into anything approaching a remote semblance of form. There is no denying that Ferguson has talent aplenty, which could see him occupy a spot in the Aussie batting order for quite a few years to come. But, the jury is hung as to whether the NSP's haste to hand Ferguson a contract was a direct consequence of a PCB approach to have him invade the batting slot vacated by their erstwhile captain.

An inside source informs me that Ferguson would never have accepted the PCB offer, owing to a preference for the cathedrals of Adelaide to the religious zealouts human bombs of Islamabad, but his people have clearly managed to spook CA and its NSP. All the while, Australia's third best limited overs player, David Hussey, languishes amoung Stalin's-own on the benevolence of a 40-something megastar who makes a living fooling his fans into thinking he's still in college. Tragedy much?!

Last but never the least on our list is one Michael Klinger. Having upped and gone from magnificent Melbourne to arid Adelaide, Klinger knew he would have to work major miracles to undo the insults he heaped upon his mighty Victorian roots. Yet, despite conjuring said miracles (886 Sheffield Shield runs at 63.2, last season and 502 one-day runs at 55.7) Klinger's adopted state failed to make it to a single final in season 2009/10, which probably sealed his fate as far as a national contract was concerned.

Yet, hope still abounds for Klinger. After all, he is a young 29 and the young 31 year old Michael Hussey proved that age is no bar when it comes to making the grade in Australia's team and in international cricket.

Maybe it's my small mind; maybe it's one of rare phenomena in life that simply cannot be explained, but a logical reason for gifting a lucrative national contract to McDonald ahead of the aforementioned young(-ish) guns escapes me.

I get the feeling that the supposedly omnipotent cloak of professional structures doesn't have the requisite power to overcome human daftness.

PS. Neither this website nor this author bears any enmity towards Andrew McDonald. By all accounts he is a top bloke. We simply don't believe he can play cricket very well.

Continued >> >>

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Kicking? What Kicking?

It warms the heart to hear the lads supporting their own in times of need, for draconian BCCI edicts usually ensure that we hear precious little more than the inane voices of daftness. So to read of Gautam Gambhir asking the paying public to get off Yuvraj Singh's fast expanding waistline back brought a smile to my face. It is, from any angle, a noble gesture. Very noble, indeed.

Noble, but utterly misplaced comments that will be used by some media types to propagate theories of unrest, in the Punjab Kings XI setup, owing to Yuvraj's demotion from the captaincy for IPL3. It's common knowledge that sportsmen will get away with almost anything as long as they are performing, including a bulging waistline. Just ask John Daly, Lance Franklin, Paul Gascoigne or even Ramesh Powar.

Yuvraj's battle with the bulge is not new. Comments about his spare tyre have grown from the odd raised eyebrow to a full blown chorus. His public profile ensures that such will grow proportionately to his poor on-field performance. After all, given the example set by elite sportsmen the world over, is it too much to expect the physical condition of our elite cricketers to be the very antithesis of that of Arjuna Ranatunga?

Rotund cricketers are not new to Indian cricket. In fact, ever-increasing girth was thought by many stars of yesteryear to be an effective signal to the world that they had now reached "senior player" status within the team. This was merely an extension of an informal protocol that guaranteed seniors with respect and permanency until they, and only they, decided that their creaking bones could take it no more. While Yuvraj may crave such treatment, in today's professional and franchised age he is unlikely to find many sympathisers.

Even Virender Sehwag used his time out of Team India to lose a few inches. He returned a rejuvenated and more formidable cricketer. While KXIP are unlikely to take the drastic step of dropping their icon player, the time has come for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the Indian selectors to take this step. An effective personal trainer coupled with a strict diet and training regime may not change Yuvraj's ego, but it will ensure that he is of more use to Team India upon his return.

It is clear that the cocoon in which Yuvraj envelopes himself is hindering his professional decision making. Ego, anger and a famous name may get you invites to the hottest do's on the Mumbai party circuit. However, such personality traits are unlikely to endear Yuvraj to the millions of fans who have supported him thus and rightly expect him to be a better cricketer than he is currently allowing himself to be.

Continued >> >>

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Frustrations in Supporting Bangladesh!

Following the Bangladeshi cricket side can be one challenging experience...

Being an Australian, I fall into the extreme minority of my fellow people to have a strong interest in the progress of the Bangladesh national cricket team. Ever since they reached test status, I've always seemed to keep my eye on the performance of a team that was new to playing on the biggest stage of all.

Over the past couple of years, I've developed a confidence that the Tigers will prevail in the Test arena against a major team. Sure they beat Zimbabwe and a second string West Indies side, but that win against an India, England or New Zealand still eludes them.

The three sides I just mentioned have been their three most recent opponents, and against each of these sides they have flirted with taking the game apart. But just when you have followed the live scorecard for three hours and seen a Rubel Hossain blitz through a top order or Tamim Iqbal blaze up the arena, the opposing side will put together a 250 run fifth wicket stand or take four quick wickets to move the score from 2/170 to 6/201.

It happens every time. If you go back each game for virtually the past two or three years, this pattern will happen almost without fail at numerous points in a match.

Despite such frustrations, I must say I still have quite a strong level of positivity about the Tigers in their quest to make it on the big stage. Almost every player in the batting line up has scored a hundred in either a test or one-dayer in the recent months. Even when the score is 6/180, they seem to find a way to make another hundred runs. Mushfiqur Rahim has been brilliant and so has Mahmudullah.

Shakib Al Hasan is a very astute leader of such a young side who although haven't found a consistency of winning, have certainly found a consistency of competing with the best sides in the world.

If Bangaldesh can just be a bit more solid with their batting (particularly their middle order) and gain another strike bowler, I am confident they can do what the Sri Lankans did in the 1990s.

At this current point, Bangladesh are 6/292 in 75 overs in their first innings of the second test against England. If they can score over 400, who knows, maybe a major victory could occur sooner than we think.

Continued >> >>

Monday, March 15, 2010

The IPL Will Not Kill Test Cricket

It's a well known fact that the English believe themselves to be the rightful keepers of all things good and moral on this planet. The colonialists know best because, well, they did rule the world for centuries on end, no? Is it then any surprise that the loudest anti-IPL / India voices in cricketing circles originate from the old empire? Once in a while these ol' chaps are supported with gusto by their Antipodean castaways. To these lads I say, take my advice and jump off a bridge!

Mike Marqusee somehow manages to fool himself into believing that the a combination of the IPL-loving public, Lalit Modi and his franchisee mates are colluding to nail shut Test cricket's coffin and incinerate it for good measure, all so that their nest eggs can be zealously protected.

Seriously, who is Marqusee kidding? Modi might be crass, egotistical, nouveau riche, power hungry and [add your choice of derogatory term here], but contrary to his assertions and popular mythology, Lalit Modi is not omnipotent. Poor journalism and over-eager PR spin may result in Modi believing his own hype, but the nefarious workings of Indian cricket politics will ensure that no one man becomes bigger than the system. I'm not naive enough to believe that certain bones in Modi's body don't want a year-long IPL, but I have full faith that the system will never let fulfil his oft-rumoured evil ambitions.

For where I stand the real threats to Test cricket emanate from those in the establishment who publish results from poorly structured and statistically insignificant surveys or those who believe that the very essence of Test cricket must be mutilated to ensure its survival. Any guesses as to which passports these fine, upstanding gentlemen travel on?

Why do Marqusee's types insist on flagrantly bandying about their various inferiority complexes? Is it not high time that Marqusee's and Haigh's of this world "cut the hypocrisy" and accepted that the IPL is here to stay and that cricket is better for it?

Continued >> >>

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Michael Clarke - From Vice Captain To Australia's Second Most Powerful Man

I've done my best to resist the temptation to write about this, but I can hold out no more. With all the hypocritical, holier-than-thou and utterly irrelevant commentary doing the rounds of Australia's tabloids and broadsheets on this issue, everyone is missing the point that Michael Clarke's split with Lara Bingle is his version of Ricky Ponting's final pub brawl black eye moment. Clarke has confirmed his position as Australia's second most powerful man in-waiting after jettisoning the tawdry and dubious ways of Lara Bingle from the empire that is Brand Michael Clarke.

Peter Roebuck seems to cop more than his fair share of abuse ever since he wrote this highly accurate and pertinent, but now infamous, piece. Maybe it's because he isn't really Australian. Maybe it's because in his book a spade isn't a multi-purpose gardening implement, but just a simple, humble and honest spade.

Whatever the reason, Roebuck's thoroughly valid contention that an elite operator requires a highly understanding and supportive partner to reach and remain at the heights of their chosen profession, and not an attention seeking prima donna, has been lost amidst all the nitpicking about "restaurateurs" and "fashionistas". After all, did Hillary not take a back seat to President Bill? Did Victoria not look after the kids (admittedly with plenty of hired help) and leave her man to bend it like only he can for hours on end? When was the last time you heard Anjali Tendulkar's name in the press? How many people have heard of Sir Denis Thatcher or Brian Lynch?

It may come as a shock to the liberal and politically correct activists commentators of our day, but to be understanding and behind-the-scenes should not be confused with oppressed and subservient. The sooner we accept that relationships with two simultaneously high profile personalities seldom work personally or professionally, the sooner will we see this event for what it really is: a confirmation that Clarke has well and truly pulverised the proverbial fork in his way and has made a beeline for the throne that the establishment believes is his.

Ricky Ponting righted the course of his ship by admitting to alcoholism. Michael Clarke has followed in Ponting's footsteps by recognising that "beauty and danger have always been a potent combination" and ridding his life of both, at least for the present. In Michael Jackson's words, Clarke has clearly realised that "the girl is so dangerous".

More searching and tougher introspections and personal examinations from those on opposing teams will undoubtedly test his mental fortitude in the coming days and months. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to deduce that Clarke has probably dished out more than his fair share during his international career thus, now it's time to ensure that he does not partake in any ugly scenes unbecoming of his stature in the community and our game.

Whether Clarke is a better option than Cameron White as Ponting's successor is quite another debate, and one that will linger for a lot longer than any questions about the supposed morality or hard partying ways of an over-hyped, over-rated and out of work bikini model.

Can we get back to the cricket now, please?

Continued >> >>

Saturday, March 13, 2010

IPL3 - A Pleasant Surprise

The IPL Governing Council's Lalit Modi's decision to schedule the opening match of IPL3 in Mumbai, a home match for Hyderabad's Deccan Chargers, was potentially a bullet in foot move. Through the grace of god, or most probably a few thousand free tickets, the game was played in a stadium that was more full than empty. The question is, how long will the IPL continue to get away with such daftness?

Hyderabad, by all accounts, is still a peaceful place and far from the hotbed of tumult that 'forced' Modi and co to transfer the Chargers' home games to Mumbai. Would it not have made infinitely more sense to play the opener at the Kolkata Knight Riders' Eden Gardens, guarantee an authentic sell-out crowd and inject genuine passion back into the IPL after the concocted variety we saw in South Africa?

Is it simply an opportunity missed or merely the publicly visible symptom of another typically Modi-esque power play?

Credit must go where it is due (especially given the media barrage that most Indian cricketing crowds cop) for Mumbai (as always) played its part in providing what appeared to be great atmosphere for a great Indian innovation, as Gilly, Warnie and co have been at pains to point out recently. At least, that is how it appeared 10,000 km away on TV!

It didn't hurt that every impartial viewer's sentimental favourite, KKR, managed to pull off a seemingly improbable victory in a game that was as much about tactics, technique and mental strength as it was wham-bam-thank-you-mam. As Dileep Premachandran points out, if curators all over India could prepare tracks that provide a contest between bat and ball, IPL3 may just be able to prove that the IPL may just be a robust and bona fide entertainment vehicle full of genuine thrills and spills.

Finally, how heartening was it to see Sourav Ganguly back where he belongs, commanding the troops, showing the world how it's done and then celebrating like only he knows how? Just as it has been in previous post-retirement seasons with Warne, Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, my heart skipped an extra beat when the realisation struck that Dada's still got it.

KKR management may have been led astray during IPL2, but surely even they have realised that the franchise's immediate commercial success depends more on how effectively they can exploit Ganguly's polarising presence, than it does on how many matches the team actually wins.

Welcome to the new world order!

Continued >> >>

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sachin Tendulkar Hits 200* In ODI v South Africa

The Roebuck's, Bhogle's, Panicker's and Premachandran's will undoubtedly wax lyrical about the strokes, the temperament and every single gene in Sachin Tendulkar's body. Not being as talented, nor that way inclined, I merely wish to publicly profess that Sachin Tendulkar is my God and never will this cease to be true.

To all Sachin-haters: I can't hear you and if I'm honest, I actually miss your feeble sounds, so come back soon.

To Lalit Modi and his BCCI cronies, Sachin belongs to his fans and not your blood sucking, money leeching and idiocy oozing organisation. In this context, I hope you have the forethought to allow clips of this ground-breaking innings on YouTube and any other video sharing website that fellow cricket lovers choose to grace so that we may relive these memories as and when we please.

I have a strong feeling my words are in vain, but then eternal hope breeds progress, right?

Sachin, cricketing fans the world over salute you for yesterday, for today and will do so for a long, long time to come.

Continued >> >>
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