Saturday, January 29, 2011

Eden Gardens: A timeline

1987: Host of world cup final. A crowd of 90,000 or so comes to watch what is an anti-climatic final between Australia and England. The venue comes out with great credit in what is perhaps the best world cup final till date.
1996: Host of world cup opening ceremony and semi final. After digging up the pitch to have Beauty queens emerge from within the earth, by the time the second innings of the semi final was underway, the pitch had become a mine-field. The match ended amidst riots and tears.

2011: Given just one match of some significance. India vs England in the group stages. But the Cricket Association of Bengal is unable to get the stadium ready on time.
The time line is fairly indicative of the decline of a ground. Whether it is indicative of a decline of a city, state, culture and its people or not - I leave it for you to decide.
I have just one word for all this. Disgraceful.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Best of Luck, Sachin

When Sachin Tendulkar made his debut, I was 5 years old. When I saw my first cricket world cup, I was 8. From 1992 to 2007, we've had 5 attempts without winning it. In four of them at least, we did beat Pakistan though. A small consolation, but a good one nevertheless.
1992 was tough, we were not really a great side and we did not do much other than beat Pakistan at Sydney that time. 1996 was different. We were the hosts and Sachin Tendulkar had become the pre-eminent player in world cricket around then. We had a great win over the Pakis in Bangalore in the quarter finals and then we messed it up against the Lankans in the semi-finals. 1999 in England and again a fairly average performance as we failed to go past the new concept of Super 6s. Somwhere in between Sachin lost his father and the country mourned the loss. And then cheered as he came back to play for his country. Beating Pakistan at Old Trafford was fun, but the killer blow proved to be that extremely silly defeat against Zimbabwe earlier. 2003 was brilliant. We had a superb team and we beat everybody we faced. Rather easily. Including Pakistan at Centurian with a Sachin special. Other than Australia, who to be fair, were a much better team than us. And so finishing runners up was actually a fair reflection and while it was terribly disappointing losing in the final, I could take it. 2007 was just a case of bad timing all round, it clashed with my preparations of CA Final Exams, it clashed with us having Greg Chappel as coach etc etc. So basically no memories from that to take away.
2011 is here now. 22 years since Sachin began his debut. OUR 6th World Cup together. And the last chance to win it. Can we win it ? Yes. Will we win it? Don't know.
Not everyone fulfills all of their dreams you know. For instance, not everyone gets into the college they want, gets the job they want, marries the boy/girl they love etc etc. Seeing Sachin win the world cup has been a bit like that. An impossible dream so far. But there is still one last chance. And till we are not out of it, I will continue to hope, and pray.
This recent ad that is on TV showing kids helping prepare Sachin's kit is beautiful. The ad is literally an example for the term 'labour of love'. Kids who were not even born when he started playing helping him get ready for battle. Come to think of it, is there any person out there (other than my parents) that I would do something like that ? No, none other than Sachin. And while I understand that the kids in the ad are all lovely actors, the mixture of love and awe on their faces looking at Sachin is exactly what I see myself having if I was there.

Very few things in life are unconditional. Especially love for someone. Unless your name is Sachin Tendulkar.
Best of Luck, Sachin.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Suggested Answers for "How do cheergirls promote the cause of cricket?"

Last week the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance posed, among other questions, the following question to the BCCI: How do cheergirls promote the cause of cricket?  It is understood from the linked news report that BCCI officials put the onus of introducing the concept on sacked IPL chief Lalit Modi.
Here are some answers that I would have given with a straight face if I had been a BCCI official.
For 3 marks
1) Cheerleaders are meant to cheer the players on the field, leading to improved performances.
2) Cheerleaders help in atracting a larger male audience across age groups of 15 to 90.
3) Cheerleaders help us in promoting the concept of "Cricketainment" where cricket and entertainment are one and the same.
For 5 marks
In addition to above 3 points, I would add points 4 and 5 here:
4) Cheerleaders help promote participation of girls in sporting activities. There are tough selection competitions for getting selected as a cheerleader and girls practice their dancing, gymnastic and athletic skills.
5) Cheerleading is an American concept which is present in almost all their major sports. As Indians, who copy all their TV shows and movie scripts, it is only natural that we do it as well.
If it is a Essay Type question, and if these answers are also not sufficient, then I would add this last line:
6) We enjoy looking at good-looking, scantily clad women. Cheerleading is the best excuse we have to do so at this stage of our lives. And Well of course, Mr Modi approved of this.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It's all so fuckin' hysterical

A conversation from Road to Perdition.

Peter Sullivan: Why are you always smiling?

Connor Rooney: Cause it's all so fuckin' hysterical.

Whenever something about the IPL happens, I cannot stop smiling. You know why ? 'Cause it's all so fuckin' hysterical'. Whether it's the cheerleaders, the "sweat-equity", the after match parties, a national team cricketer slapping another, the auctions, a very long and inspirational speech ;) or a team based on TV Series from the 80s, much amusement is guaranteed.
I don't know if IPL is taking cricket on the Road to Perdition, but it sure is fuckin' hysterical.

So long and thanks for all the wickets

This week Anil Kumble retired from all forms of cricket. The event passed without me getting much time to reflect on it, thanks to a hectic work schedule. But reading this article by Sidvee got me thinking about this colossus of a cricketer and just share an incident with you.
A couple of years ago, Kumble was the Chief Guest at the Excellence Awards Function of my company. With me being in Mangalore those days, I was watching it on a large screen via video conference. And when his turn came to speak, he was asked the usual questions about his career, cricket in general, excellence and so on. And while I don't remember the exact words, he gave a lovely comparison of Sachin's career and his own.
He said that throughout Sachin's career he has had the challenge of proving the pundits right. And throughout his own career, he has had the challenge of proving the critics wrong. And both of them had succeeded in doing that.
I thought it was wonderfully put across. Just think about it. Sachin Tendulkar came to the cricket scene as a child prodigy who was destined to rule the cricket world. He has done it and continues to do so. Kumble however was the man, who was written off even before he started for his unorthodox action, lack of turn etc etc. However he went on to become India's greatest match winner in test cricket.
For a man who apparently could not spin the ball, he got a fair number of wickets. It's hard to pinpoint the moment when he first captured my imagination but I think the Hero Cup Final against the West Indies at Eden Gardens where he got 6/12 probably did the trick and made me a fan. Forever.
Since then it has been a pleasure of following his career. And along with all the cricketing pleasure of seeing him take all those wickets, and even score a test century or be involved in the odd match winning partnership; for the cricket fan in me it has been a character building journey of following a man who epitomised determination, perseverance and patience.
Thank You Anil Kumble.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


In the 'The Dark Knight', Harvey Dent says - "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

I sometimes wonder if Ricky Ponting thinks about that these days ? Probably not but who knows. 
PS: Ponting deserves a longer blog post with a lot more seriousness and I will write about him. Probably after the world cup.
PS 2: Whoever it was that originally came up with the Pontingface idea is a genius. Love all the twitpics and such that have been made :) 

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