Thursday, November 6, 2014

Old Forward: Cricketer Funny Bios

DISCLAIMER: I am not the writer of the below material. I first came across them in the Bulletin Board of my previous company and folks there too forwarded without attribution.

A google search of some of the text gave only a couple of matches. Perhaps this is where we find that the original author could be one who writes at http://rajkblogs.blogspot.com, but that one is a blog open to invited readers. Here's the best stuff from that page, published below for easy reading and as a fan.

Anil Kumble
Anil Kumble was to bowling what Dravid is to batting. Dravid redefined batting by not playing a shot, Kumble redefined spin bowling by not spinning the ball. Dravid was associated with the straight bat; Kumble with the straight ball.
It is an irony that a man named after a circle preferred to bowl straight. This wasn't because he couldn't spin the ball. One of the cleverest bowlers of all time, Kumble estimated early on in his career that a leg break- googly bowler could beat batsmen only half the time- either when he played a leg break mistaking it for a googly or when he played a googly mistaking it for a legbreak. He discovered that if he bowled straight, a batsman playing either for the googly or the leg break could be foxed.
Consequently, his leg breaks never turned. He had a variation- the deadly flipper which was bowled with the same action as the leg break and didn't turn. In fact, it was identical to the leg break in all respects, except that he called it a flipper.
To understand how this enabled him to get wickets, one should remember again that Kumble was one of the cleverst cricketers to have played the game. Having read in his childhood how Clarie Grimett used to snap his fingers, thus leading to the impression that he had bowled a flipper, and then bowl a leg break, Kumble used to do the same.
The batsmen, having read the Grimett story themselves, would realise that Kumble was bowling the leg break while pretending to bowl the flipper.
Howeve, since they also knew that the two were the same, this paradox would so confuse them that they would be dazed for a while. One second of indecision against Kumble would of course be deadly.
Kumble's moment of glory came when he took 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan. The umpiring decisions were all correct, though one of them, that of Akram being given out leg before wicket when Younis was in fact the batsman facing, is sometimes debated.
On Indian tracks against lefthanders in the second innings, Kumble was deadly, especially if the track had stones planted on it at crucial spots. He used to call them 'his precious stones."
Kumble is particularly noted for his dive. The dive was always like the rotation of the windmill which allows the wind to pass through. Stopping the ball was never the priority. After all, why risk getting injured when the whole team depended on you?
Never one to stand in the way of young talent, Kumble has decided to call it a day when people ask why and not why not. In an announcement that made his sacrifice and quest towards perfection abundantly clear, he said in a recenrt conference that he would retire after taking eleven wickets in an innings.
When a journalist reminded him that it had never happened so far, he said that that was precisely the reason why he wanted to be the first to do it. Since he had taken 10 wickets in an innings once, he hoped to be able to replicate the feat, since everyone knew that No. 11 was the easiest to get out. His logic was as sharp as ever.
A career that started with a paradox has ended in one- people wonder how this gentle giant, this non-spinning spinner can simultaneously be the proud master of world cricket while being a humble servant of Indian cricket. Such are the questions that this cricketer who had all the answers will leave for us.
All said and done, Kumble is undoubtedly the finest spinner to ever play cricket and the second best leg spinner India has ever produced.
Ajit Agarkar
Agarkar is the only cricketer to have his biography started during his playing career. However, the book is yet to be finished because a chapter on three reasons why he's not a total waste as a cricketer is still not completed even after three months of it having been started.
Agarkar is an animal and bird lover with a particular liking for ducks. A team mate challenged him to eat duck for five meals in a row. He lost the bet, but made amends on the cricket field.
Widely panned for being short and wide all the time, he once bowled eighty balls without even one being short and wide. This was particularly impressive when you consider that all of them were either short or wide. He went for 137 runs, but not before he had demonstrated his point.
As a bowler, his variety was bewildeing. His arsenal included bouncers outside off and down leg, full tosses, overpitched deliveries, noballs and wides. He is the only bowler to have achieved the quadruple (the feat of bowling at least one wide each down leg side and outside off stump to both lefties and righties in the same match) 50 times.
He used to practise with a red carpet laid out on the entire pitch. He used to be able to pitch the ball anywhere outside the carpet at will, in keeping with the great traditions of Indian fast bowlers. This used to be called Agarkar's red carpet welcome to batsmen.
Saurav Ganguly
He famously hit an explosive hundred against SL in Taunton with so many sixes that the residents of the town thought they were being bombed.
Towards the end of his career, Ganguly spent 20% of the time convincing the media that he'd never fought with Greg Chappell, 20% convincing them that he didn't have a problem with the short ball, and 60% convincing them that he'd never fought with Greg Chappel about having a problem with the short ball. The remaining time he spent in improving his rapport with the coach and comfort factor against the short ball.
His inclusion/exclusion in the team was used by scientists at the University of Michigan as the starting point for random number generation. It is said that Dravid used to carry a coin around with him and toss it to determine whether Ganguly should play or not.
His career ended when Greg Chappel suggested a new system whereby the coin was substituted by two dice. If the sum of the two scores on rolling them was greater than 14, Ganguly would play.
Ganguly also played soccer. Dravid had a high regard for Ganguly's abilities as a soccer player, once paying him the ultimate compliment- that if he played soccer with God, God would be off side first and then Ganguly. His natural instinct to kick the ball led to a large number of lbw dismissals while playing cricket.
A wonderful defender, he could play on either wing. By an amazing coincidence, like in cricket, Ganguly alternated between being left out and being right back in soccer too.
Rahul Dravid
The great batsmen make fielders redundant by the brilliance of their stroke play. Dravid is the greatest of them all- he makes fielders redundant by refusing to play any shot.
Most batsmen have no shot as their favourite. Dravid's favourite is no shot. While other batsmen would play bread and butter shots, he would offer none and hence got the nickname of "Jammie".
He is a textbook cricketer- a champion at book cricket, which is also the only game where he ever scored more than two runs in one try.
Dravid has always been a tough nut to crack for opposing captains. This is particularly true of one-day cricket where over the first half of his career, opposing captains worried themselves sick about how to get him out.
However, he evolved as a batsman, like all champion cricketers do, and posed tougher questions towards the second half of his career when captains started losing sleep over how to not get him out, since they felt their best chance was to keep him at the crease.
In an ODI final recently, when Dravid was caught at point, he had faced 60 balls and had a strike rate of 5. The captain, who desperately hoped that the fielder would drop the ball, promptly admonished the fielder saying that "You've just caught the World cup, my son."
Dravid is famous for knowing where his offstump is. Once, when Lee had sent his offstump cartwheeling out of the ground, he was able to locate it in the crowd because he still knew where his off stump was.
Dravid's batting is built on sound fundamentals and the simple strategy of boring the bowler to death and putting the fielders to sleep. He then attempts to find the gaps between them.
Dravid is so strong on the leg side that 0-12 fields are frequently employed to stop him. He plays the swivel pull beautifully- eyes on the ball, rocking back, judging the length early. It is a shot of great beauty, especially in the rare instances when he succeeds in making contact with the ball too.
Dravid's batting philosophy in Tests is simple. Give the first 90 overs each day to the bowler, see out even the horrible balls and and then look to dominate. This is not because of a limited repertoire of shots. He had all the shots in the book, but never plays even one in the interest of the team.
Wisden, talking about his debut innings, remarked that "Dravid, a compulsive leaver of the ball, played an innings so breathtaking that it was supposed to be the best innings by him in England till then" and added that "so pretty was the innings that it was even prettier than Ganguly's cherubic face when he was in a deep slumber at the non-striker's end. Fielders stood rooted to the ground, maybe because they figured out they weren't required since no shot was being played. Some say that they were actually in a stupor induced daze. It is even rumoured that a couple were sleepwalking."
He frequently dropped anchor, doing to the team's score what an anchor does to a ship.
But his finest hour was an innings that is still talked off with awe by people fortunate enough to see it. India were in a crisis as usual. In an innings of vintage class, Dravid showcased his superb defensive technique- getting in line with the ball and playing it with a still head and a dead bat. He proceeded to do this ball after ball, six times in a row.
So complete was his mastery that he even defended balls which were wide outside off and down leg, which would have been called wides. It was such an astonishing display under the circumstances that even the fielding team purportedly patted him on the back after the over.
Nothing- not even the docile nature of the track, the utter ineffectiveness of the bowling or the fact that India required 24 runs in 12 balls at the beginning of that over- could shake his resolve. He was a batsman well and truly in the zone.
Sadly, Tendulkar, uninspired by such mastery of defence, chickened out and took the easy way out by hitting the last six balls for four. As ever, in a country that refuses to acknowledge any other batsman, all the plaudits went to him.
Venkatesh Prasad
Prasad had a fascination for the theory of relativity and spent his career examining whether there was a lower limit for speed. The speed at which Prasad bowled has now been accepted as the lowest possible velocity possible.
Prasad had a very good record against many batsmen, especially the ones he had never bowled to. Among batsmen he did bowl to, Gary Kirsten was his bunny.
It all started when Prasad bowled Gary Kirsten in the second innings with a ball he bowled in the South African first innings. Kirsten was so bamboozled by this incident that he used to quake in his boots when facing Prasad later on.
Kirsten said once that facing Prasad was his most educative experience on the Cricket field, since he used to read the autobiographies of famous batsmen when waiting for the ball to arrive. He claimed to have read more books in this fashion than in his entire life outside the stadium.
Frequently, Prasad bowled so slow that all six of his balls in the over were in the air at the same time. This enabled India to take 6 new balls. This was his primary contribution to the team and the reason why his slow ball was considered to be such an asset.
Prasad's batting was less of an asset. In fact, he was such a horrible batsmen that even net bowlers refused to bowl to him, saying they'd rather bowl at the stumps without a batsman.
To improve his batting credentials without taking recourse to any other bowler having to bowl at him, he devised the unique training regimen of bowling in the morning, having lunch and a siesta and returning late afternoon to face the balls that he had bowled in the morning. His batting against himslef improved by leaps and bounds. However, facing himself was hardly the ideal preparation to face any bowler who bowled faster than a lethargic snail and consequently, his batting at the international stage hardly showed any signs of improvement.
He worked on his fielding to make up, and toward the end of his career, so improved his fielding that he was able to reach as close to any ball in the outfield as possible without actually being near enough to stopping it. This gave Indian cricket its second enduring image of the 90s along with the Kumble dive, that of the ball crossing the boundary and Prasad running past it just after the nick of time. The distance between him and the ball has now been accepted by physicists as the shortest distance possible.
After a glorious few years, Prasad lost his place in the side when the selectors found out that the years had taken their toll and that he had lost his lack of pace. He announced his retirement when his bowling slowed down so much that he had diffulty in getting the ball to come out of his hand.

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