The 200

February 26, 2010 at 12:47 am

I was at office when Sam called me and said, “Do you know what the score is?”. My reply would have impressed my boss, “No”. Sam told me the score and Sachin’s distance from the landmark. A voice rose from inside, “WTF are you doing here? Yeah right, that email is going to get you into the Guiness book of world records for the most number of cumulative ‘regards’ anyone has sent to anyone’. So I packed (yes I scatter myself all over at office!) and left to a cousin’s home at a stone’s throw from office. Went there and asked her to switch on the TV. Sachin was on 190. And that’s where I was when It happened. And that needs to be recorded. Like where I was during that WC’96 quarterfinal with Pakistan at Bangalore. Like where I was when ARR won the Oscars. Like where I was when Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the first individual Gold Silver (Thanks Yesh!) for India. Like where I was when the tsunami, 26/11, 9/11 happened (I don’t mean to be insensitive here, just a reference to the past, that’s all). For me that’s a record! ;)

Federer 1, 2, 3,…,15

July 6, 2009 at 3:28 am

Found this wonderful article summarizing the 15 Federer wins in numbers. I think they should replace the number Fifteen with Fedteen! Awesomeness personified, humility magnified and perfection achieved. The greatest. Period.

He separated the men from the boys

November 3, 2008 at 3:30 am


Since the day I understood cricket and began following the sport, this man was always an integral part of it. Today when they say he has retired I find it strange. How can there be cricket without this man I wonder? Despite fully knowing that he was just one of those to have played the game and that he had to stop somewhere. And maybe as some say it was the ‘right’ time. I still wonder what that means. If a broken jaw could get Lara and a 3 finger palm could get three Australian wickets imagine what he could still do with every part of his body in condition. But according to the man himself, it was his body that gave up on him.


The man was defined by his spirit and not by his body. Whenever anyone from Azharuddin to MS Dhoni wanted a breakthrough there would be only one man they would resort to. He never gave up. Not once. And do you know that he is retiring from the game as India’s ‘highest’ wicket-taker and the third in the all-time highest wicket-takers list? Even if you knew about it chances are extremely high that you don’t understand the magnitude of that achievement. Here’s why: When Richard Hadlee retired, the record stayed on till Kapil sighed, coughed, huffed-puffed and crawled past it. Then came a man called Shane Warne, whose claim to fame was ‘the ball of the century’ and his ability to generate wrist spin apart from a host of other associated not-so-reputation-enhancing stories. Then it was Muttaiah Muralitharan who can spin the ball even on a marble floor but who was in the limelight more for his action than anything else. The problem with Kumble was he was always described as ‘not-such-a-great-spinner-of-the-ball’ and yet managed everything that these guys did without a sound. And since he was more of a not-this and not-that nobody ever saw what he actually was. He went about his business with amazing clinical precision. I quote these lines from a Cricinfo article: Kumble was comfortable with angles and understood that the difference between a good delivery and a bad one is only a matter of inches

And he always concentrated on the finer details. For him, nothing was a result of luck – everything was a result of dedicated hard work and astute planning. The only thing, perhaps, that did not go by plan was the timing of the captain’s hat. Not that he secretly planned but just that India would have done well to have Kumble leading the side longer than he has currently, to dethrone Aussies from being the Test World champions’. Right now the onus has fallen on his heir apparent who is probably more confident than certain about doing it. That Kumble chose a competent predecessor to hand over is yet another hallmark of a true leader.

This tribute will be incomplete without talking about this special aspect of the man. He is underrated, unassuming, humble, modest and to the point as a person. Put a cricket ball in his hands and you would see that he was fiercely competitive, fighting to his teeth, expecting his players to give him 100% every moment on the field as he would and never ever did he get involved in anything ugly on the field. In fact he would be one of those players who accorded dignity to the game in times when shouting expletives at the opposition is considered ‘playing it the hard way’. And show me one person who played it ‘harder’ than Kumble did!

There is some special connection I have with this man apart from him being a foundation to my intellectual edifice of cricket. He makes me feel proud of belonging to the state of Karnataka. He said to Dravid “Covers nalli yaaru beda, mid-off ge hogu” and I heard that over the stump microphone and got those goosebumps! A proud son of the soil. He separated the men from the boys.

PS: I would love to see him back in cricket as a commentator.

Don’s average is 99.94

August 26, 2008 at 4:17 am

I am sure you are saying, “Come on Adi. Tell us something new”. Okay then, this is the news: Don Bradman’s average could actually be 100 if we are to believe a particular gentleman by name Charles Davis [a former scientist, is now a sport statistician. He is the author of Best Of The Best, a detailed examination of Bradman's career]. This is how the story goes as quoted by him here.

Some years ago I embarked on a project to examine old Test match scorebooks closely, to uncover previously hidden statistics, such as balls faced. Over the years, it came as a great surprise to find that apparent errors and anomalies arise quite regularly.

In the scorebook of the epic eight-day fifth Test of 1928-29 against England in Melbourne, won by Australia by five wickets, there is a “problem” boundary in the final stages, when Bradman was batting with Jack Ryder. (I found this when rescoring the Test, ball by ball, to re-create the exact sequence of events.)

While he goes on waxing eloquent about the errors in those paper-based scoring matches during those days, there comes a point when he does not really want to challenge History and get down to the depth of the matter despite having done the donkey’s work. Maybe it is not practical, but he won’t know if he doesn’t try after having come this close.

Most of Bradman’s scorebooks have not been checked at this level of detail. It is painstaking work. However, the chances of finding other anomalies, based on experience with many other scores, seem high.

Then he says,

Unfortunately, most of these anomalies are inconclusive. If something in a scorebook does not compute, this does not mean that the accepted score must be wrong.

Finally comes the cat on the wall statement,

It is worth remembering, of course, that errors could easily cut both ways: Bradman could lose runs as easily as gain runs this way. Ultimately, that iconic average of 99.94 will probably stand. Wisden is against the retrospective alteration of scores (“that way madness lies”) and I tend to agree. I do think, however, that problems with scores from the pre-computer age may create uncertainties of a few parts in a thousand.

But what is not doubted, ever, is that the average is 99.94. And that is final.

I eat my words

January 19, 2008 at 6:15 am

Most of the times when you have to eat your words you are embarrassed. But not in this case. I was apprehensive of India being able to handle the bounce of the Perth pitch here. And also suggested that Ishaant Sharma be dropped! Obviously I would make the worst cricket analyst! And if that helps India win then I am ready to take on any such tag.

I also have to admit that at every point during the test match when India dominated thoroughly I was waiting for that familiar session of play where we would gift the game to the opposition on a silver platter. Though I was showing optimisim throughout the match that India would win (despite my predictions to the opposite) I had this thought somewhere at the corner of my mind that we would give it away when it mattered. But the best part of this match was that, the session that ‘mattered’ never came. India dominated the Australians completely.

Winning at Perth is special. It is the Australians’ Eden Gardens. To beat them in their own den while battling the demons of Sydney and playing the pace quartet, India came out tops on all fronts. And it was a complete team performance. Sehwag’s positive approach opened up the match. Dravid and Tendulkar showed the way with their invaluable knocks. Then came RP Singh’s four for that is worth watching a million times and am sure Star Cricket won’t let any opportunity of showing this spell or the test match to us repeatedly. Pathan got both the openers in both the innings. I don’t know how many times that has occured in Test cricket before. VVS Laxman showed us again why he has not got his due yet. Second innings seem to bring out the best in him. Pathan, Sehwag and Dhoni made contributions that were worth noting. But it was RP Singh who again impressed with his big-hitting skills at the end of the order.

Then came the ultimate exhibition of fast bowling in the form of a 19-year old – Ishaant Sharma. His spell against Ricky Ponting is stuff that should be distributed on DVDs to youngsters to learn about fast bowling. The way Ricky Ponting, considered to be a demolisher of pace attacks, struggled against Ishaant Sharma tells us that Indian pace attack is in safe hands. Sehwag’s artwork with offspin made for stuff that is often seen in the greatest of test matches.

Overall, I am convinced that this Indian team is capable of squaring the series now. Again with that faint feeling somewhere that they might again capitulate in the Adelaide test though History suggests otherwise! I am sorry that I feel that way, but years of watching Indian cricket has made that feeling a permanent one. I am ready to eat my words again though! ;)

Decide for yourself

January 13, 2008 at 3:22 am

Read this:

“The Sunday Telegraph” painstakingly collected and collated official ICC data, which shows India having faced more sanctions than any other Test playing nation in the past 10 years.

The daily also took a jibe at former India captain Sourav Ganguly, dubbing him “the game’s undisputed problem child, being hauled over the coals by cricket’s governing body a record 12 times in his international career.”

“Overall, Indian players have been charged for 43 infringements since 1997, for offences including intimidating umpires, abusing rival players, ball tampering, time wasting and widespread dissent,” it said.

The report pointed out that of the current touring party, five Indians players — Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh — have either been fined or suspended in the past.

And now, this is what the famous umpire of yesteryears, Dickie Bird, had to say about Indian teams: [Link]

“I have always found Indian team going back to Gavaskar, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna, Wadekar, when I umpired them, as gentlemen and I mean in all sense of the term. They all have been credit to the profession and credit to the game of cricket”

Like Navjot Singh Siddhu likes to say, ‘Statistics are like mini skirts. They show a lot but conceal the significant part”. The Australian media is dealing with numbers. Australians seem to be obsessed with statistics and rules. Because of which Ponting and the erstwhile umpire Darrell Hair did what they did. Human touch is absent in their dealings and that could sometimes work against them as it has now. Indian cricket team might not be tame anymore, but they are not certainly ‘worst-behaved’ as they would like us believe. This tour is getting murkier by the day.

Back!

January 8, 2008 at 12:45 am

I have been away from blogging for almost 3 months. Lot of things crept up and I had to deal with each of them individually as well as all at once. Not exactly a crisis, but just a situation that required that I managed my time better to carry out new activities by cutting out the old and dearer ones like blogging. Anyways, am back now. I expect myself to get back to regular blogging gradually.

Watched this movie ‘Taare Zameen Par’ twice already. I think it’s a movie worth watching on the big screen. Don’t watch it for Aamir, don’t watch it for Darsheel (the kid), watch it for the issue that it handles – dyslexia. The way the society looks at it or rather overlooks it in the race to be the best. As Nikhumb (name of Aamir’s character in the movie) says, “Agar race main daudaana hi tha, tho breed race horses damnit, bachche kyon paida karte ho?” (If all you wanted was someone to run in races then breed race horses, why give birth to children?) The movie is a fantastic take on how we as human beings want our children to fall into the framework that the society has derived and push them, knowingly or unknowingly, into it. I am in love with the movie. And recommend that everyone watches it. On my scale it is a * * * * *

Coming to what I am, and the rest of the country apparently is, following now, almost obsessively, the Indian tour of Australia. The Sydney test was a fatal blemish on the so far good resumes of Benson and Bucknor. I think they will meet the same fate as Darrell Hair did. In my personal opinion, the ICC needs to atleast ask for an explanation of their decisions. But what has happened is there for all of us to see. Their explanations can almost be anticipated. “I didn’t hear the nick because of the crowd”, “I didn’t think it was necessary to check with the third umpire because I was sure that Symonds’ foot was inside”, and so and so forth. So, what is the solution to this? Nothing. We must stop venting our anger on these umpires and just carry on as if it was a bad day at office. That will really put us up there as the only team to have played in the ‘spirit of the game’.

And the ‘monkey’ issue. I agree with what Steve Waugh says. It is a culture issue. Here, in India, we just can call anyone a monkey and that wont mean anything offensive on the contrary might be taken as a jovial remark and laughed away. I think what Symonds wants here punished is the ability to talk back to him. He admits to having provoked Bhajji and Steve Waugh says that Australians always thought that he was the easiest to get a response from. So, what we are seeing here is actually a well-laid trap that Bhajji has walked into. I am not getting into whether he said “monkey” or not, all I am saying is that the Aussie players could have very well evened the matter out on the ground itself, as they usually do, rather than crying out to the umpires and the match refree about it. This act of ganging up against a single player of the opposition combined with the royal ignore that Sachin got during the hearing simply points towards the disrespect of the opposition team down under. And I don’t know who the legal counsel was for Mike Procter. He/she must have been sleeping during the hearing. There is something called conclusive evidence that needs to be produced for a decision that extreme to be taken. Obviously, they haven’t heard about it. Neither has anyone. So, what’s the fuss all about? Just carry on.

Here is what the Indian team should do now. Play the practice match at Canberra and the Perth and Adelaide tests. I don’t see them winning at Perth going by the tradition of bounce that the pitch has. Adelaide has been a happy hunting ground for India and we have done well there. Maybe we should look at coming back with a 2-2 scoreline but if it was not Perth in the way I would have said we could do it. But still, with these kind of things running at the back of the players’ minds I don’t think we will be able to avoid a 4-0 whitewash either.

News just trickling in suggest Bucknor being pulled out of Perth test. That should increase our chances by 50% ;-) Am just being nasty here. The nature of the pitch is going to be such that we will have a tough time negotiating it rather than thinking about umpires and such. We should include VRV Singh and drop Ishaant Sharma for this test. And maybe try to get Pathan also in at the cost of Jaffer. That would widen our bowling and batting options as well. I feel sorry for Jaffer if this happens, but then we need to have our best bowlers at Perth. We need to get Australia out for less than 300 in any one innings if we want to stand a chance of winning.

And if the board decides to abandon the tour, for whatever reason, then it would be the saddest thing to happen. According to the ICC, Indian board will have to pay USD 2 Million for not abiding by a pre-signed contract. Well, it should be the National honour on which the boards makes a decision and not money. It already has a lot of it! :)

Who let the dogs out?

September 28, 2007 at 12:51 am

Read this. My reaction was “What the &@#$?!!”

I just want to quote the first paragraph to make a point:

The world champion Test and one-day team arrived in India this week in time to see, if you can put yourself in their shoes for a moment, a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears cricketers showered with cars, houses, cash and the unbridled devotion of a billion people because they managed to win a hit-and-giggle Twenty20 contest in South Africa.

The world champion Test and one-day team…:
From when did we start having a World Test champion? Come on Australia. There is a limit to boast.

…if you can put yourself in their shoes:
I didn’t know anyone could fit the shoes of the Aussie cricketers. Nobody can get as arrogant and high-handed as them.

…a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears cricketers:
What are the Aussies? Well, I don’t need to answer the question at all. The same Australian team lost to the same ‘bunch’.

…they managed to win a hit-and-giggle Twenty20 contest in South Africa:
hit-and-giggle? Well, yeah, Australians are only known to sledge and crib. Clearly a case of sour grapes.

Now read this. I couldn’t stop laughing after I read that. The Aussies are simply J. They don’t know how to react to the fact that they lost a tournament. Losers. And above all, look who’s talking?! Andrew Symonds! LOL!

If I can get so fired up after reading all this nonsense, imagine how Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly (“they ll add a li’l bit”) and Dhoni (“stand-in captain”) should feel after reading those words. I just want the Aussies to be tamed in this series just like our city corporations tame street dogs. Come on India! All the best!

Ax ‘for’mula1

August 3, 2007 at 2:26 am

It was India versus England. Natwest trophy finals. Kaif and Yuvaraj were guiding India to a historic victory. My father, brother, mother and even my grandmother were on tenterhooks and totally excited watching the action on TV. Every single was cheered and a boundary would just blast the noise levels of the household. And we could hear similar noises from every house in the neighbourhood.

Sitting in a room right next to the TV Room was my kid-cousin Akshay. He was sitting on the computer browsing the net or doing some complicated stuff. He was totally unruffled by the noise and excitement in the adjoining room. In fact from where he sat he could easily see us jumping. He was the youngest in the family (then) and was having such a composed look on his face while we were behaving like children at a zoo! Cricket didn’t matter to him. Everytime there was a roar from our end he would just shout, “what happened?”, to us. We would reply, “Yuvaraj just smashed Harmisson for a boundary! Only 30 runs to go and 4 overs remaning!”. He would reply, “Oh aste na. sari”.

But his best reaction was when we were all thrilled when India won the match. He casually walked out of his room and said, “Did India win?”. He said that, he didn’t ask because nobody answered!

Whodunnit

March 28, 2007 at 12:38 am

It is sad that there is a murder mystery that looms over this World Cup. If any of the players are implicated in this one, then the game would have really been hurt like never before. Even otherwise the game has been hurt. That Cronje’s death was okayed as natural death,┬ásad that the same cannot be done with this one now.