Sunday, April 21, 2013

The King of Good Times Is Not Merely Lip-Service

I'm not talking about the beer, but the man behind the brand. At least, the bloke that owns it. My debut first-hand experience with the IPL this year has blown my mind as to how spectators can really be given value for money in Indian sporting stadiums. I must admit I come from the school that propagates the "sport must be front and center" line of thought. Anyone who has seen a live sporting event in Australia will understand this acutely. Australia is a place where entertainment is provided by the warriors on the park and everything else is left to the drinking holes behind the stadium or before/after the game.

The first Royal Challengers Bangalore match of IPL6 at the Chinnaswamy stadium was my first experience with American-style sports entertainment, outside of the US. I love my cricket. I mean, the technical, dour aspects of the game. I could watch a test match, alone in a stadium, if I wasn't so afraid of looking like a loner! Yet, the Chinnaswamy's exhibition of criketainment was something from a different planet.

I haven't been to other IPL6 venues this year, but from what I can see on TV, they don't come close to the RCB, Chinnaswamy experience. The Chinnaswamy married glitz, glam and the wonderful game in a heady cocktail of irresistible entertainment.

There wasn't one identifiable element that elevated the event above all others. It wasn't just the DJ. It wasn't just the sea of red. It wasn't just the nightclub like ambience. It wasn't just the traditional dancers showing up the cheerleaders. It was all of these things rounded off with massive Chris Gayle sixes, a dollop of Virat Kohli elegance and a sprinkling of the mastery that only one Sachin Tendulkar can provide at the crease.

Mallya's airline might have crashed. His personal fortunes may be in decline. But, when it comes to selling good times, this bloke certainly can still teach his disciples and naysayers a thing or three.

Continued >> >>

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Cracks Keep on Swallowing

Cracks. Dust. Dodgy pitches. They may as well all be synonyms for an Australian cricketer thinking about Indian conditions. After the progress of Waugh and Gilchrist's teams, it appears that Australian cricket has once again regressed to the depths of the abysmal, as far as subcontinental form is concerned. The series has only reached the halfway mark and the dogs are already out!
In all honesty, however, Phil Hughes really shouldn't feel so dispirited. After all, one of the best batsmen of his generation, good ol' Ricky Ponting, would rather have batted on ice than against Indian spinners on Indian pitches. 

England proved during the previous Ashes and India has proven all over again, that Australian cricket is short of ideas. Not talent. Just ideas. Domestic performance is measured after tests undertaken on domestic featherbeds. Australia's best bowlers are, more often than not, injured during international duty, which leaves international batting hopefuls to play against "next best" attacks. These are not the characteristics of a system that once produced two decades of some of the greatest cricketers seen in the modern game. 

Team India was a great cricket team two years ago. Many a whitewashed series since have well and truly exposed the existence of cracks that every Indian fan dreaded. Today's Team India should not be beating the Aussies in a manner so demoralising. A team must know it's plumbing the depths of despair when the enigmatic Ravindra Jadeja becomes a 'match-winning' Test match bowler! 

This Australian debacle can only be attributed to a poor domestic structure that churns out flat-track bullies and an administration that has lost the ability to stick to the over-arching principles that produced success in such abundance over the previous two decades. 

Fixes for these structural issues are not found overnight. There will be more failures and more reports and more discontent. Team India fans can only but look ahead to Mohali with utmost glee and anticipation.
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