C for Cricket

DSC_0120The most compelling of all sports, without any trace of doubt if you ask me. Is there any other sport apart from Test Cricket that presents as much of a test of character, resourcefulness, stamina, perseverance and skill all together in one game?! I would like to know if there is another sport like this or better than this with all the diversity this sport offers.

 

Give a few kids a bat and a ball and watch them go, its here, most naturally you will see how captivating and likable the game is. Belting the ball as hard as you can, foxing the guy trying to belt the ball whilst flicking the ball to him or running like made watching skywards trying to grab the ball with open palms, the fun is evident.

 

It is apt that I have to be writing this after yesterday’s test match at Lords, after a rather long season of limited overs cricket it was back to the game’s main version, the main course or the real deal, whatever you want to call it. Just fascinating was the game that just ended. A really dead, low kind of pitch and you might have thought, okay this might just be a drawn match, but, if cricket does not throw a surprise, who will?

 

A 42 year old veteran, who many thought should be retired came out and scored a century, after reaching his century did some 15 push ups, an underdog team that is always found to be unorganised actually managed to trip a far more pedigreed opposition. At all times you thought the comeback was inevitable, however, inspired by Misbah, his team mates won the match in 4 days and symbolically at the end of it indulged in a push up show to prove that they had a lot left in them even after 4 days of pressure cricket.

 

Test cricket has so much drama that it woos me, there are so many plots and subplots and so many characters who are involved at so many different times that it fascinates, a slip catch being bobbed up by one and being grabbed by another, a short leg fielder ducking and getting crouched every time a batsman goes for a powerful shot, the leaping wicket keeper that jumps to collect a ball above his head delivered by an angry fast bowler, a batsman lured out by a spinner and beaten in the air, the thumping straight drive from between a fast bowlers legs, oh there is just so much to love about this sport.

 

Like any good book, Test cricket needs to be entered with a bit of patience if you are not a lover already, read two three chapters of a book and you cant stop, similarly, stay for a couple of sessions, watching, analysing, absorbing and discussing Test cricket and you will be smitten I promise!

 

You might say Test cricket is an ancient form, stretched over 5 days in this fast moving life of the twenty first century, who has the time, but trust me for lovers of this form of sport there is nothing that even comes close. ūüôā

2 days to go…

For the African Safari to start.

Yes, its a short tour, but it won’t be any short on the competition. The Proteas will be out to get us, we will have to play out of our skins to keep our pride intact or come back with bruised ego’s and can’t play on fast pitches adage.

The crowd maybe nasty with the team as well as they have been robbed of a long series and the way they can get back to our cricket administrators is via the players.

Steyn – Dhawan
Morkel – Kohli
Ashwin – De Villiers
Philander – Rohit
Amla – Pujara
Zak – Smith

Boy… this is going to be one heck of a short series and I promise to cover it here! ūüėÄ

Adios’ Sachin!

Sachin,

Thank you is too small a word really. Yesterday tears rolled down my cheeks when I saw you struggle, pause, choke, struggle through your speech to convey your thanks to the people who really mattered in helping you realise a dream. If not for them perhaps you would have been doing a 9-5 office routine balancing most things in life like a large majority of us do living a domestic civil life.

But then you were cut out for something special, by no means was your life just fun and frolic but I absolutely understand the hours of practice you put in, the sweat, your crazy craving for perfection, the insecurities when it came to choices which you made perfectly at all stages that you got to live a dream that was not just your’s but of a lot of others. Not just that you told a lot of us growing up kids that there is hope, that you can play and still make a life. For me you signified hope, you inspired us, you provided joy, lifted us up on numerous occasions and took a brunt of our expectations on your shoulders.

My growing years and your career almost together I have followed most of your career and there are some unbelievable memories.

Your batting in Pakistan against Waqar/Wasim/Imran even after being hit in the nose and bleeding told us that you were not going to be rattled, however, we had quite a few gritty players before you and so whilst we felt that you were not one to throw in the towel we still didn’t know how special you were. But then it was only the beginning and you were just 16. Then came your century in England which perhaps told you that you were to be here for a while and be a part of Indian cricket for a while.

But then better things awaited, for me your defining moment came in our disastrous tour of Australia and even more significantly when you smashed that 100 in Perth, the worlds fastest pitch, the rowdy Aussie fast bowlers and we Indian’s always dreaded the thought of Perth. Perth signified terror for us. To see you score that hundred, defy the bowlers and actually scintillate and dominate was something we Indian’s had never seen an Indian do. Unfortunately this being a team sport we didn’t win much then, but you gave us hope, that we could dominate. Though we lived in the subcontinent and the pitches here didn’t bounce it was not a deterrent for us to go and play around the world, not just play and compete but dominate.

The word ‘Dominate’ was rarely used for Indian cricket, I may be wrong, but I cannot remember too much of the word Dominate being used for any Indian Batsman overseas. Yes, they scored runs, grinded the opposition out and eeked out a ton but watching you Punch of the backfoot through cover, Hook, Pull, Square cut was a completely wonderful feeling. I guess after that tour of Australia you and the whole world knew that you are here to stay for a long long time.

Over that long decade you provided with so many memories that its difficult to list them down, we cried with you in Chennai in that pain staking century which ended in a defeat and we were thrilled when you raised a desert storm in Sharjah. I can for one never forget even more than your performances your dedication to your sport and the hours you put in practice. For me the tale of you preparing for the 1998 tour of Australia, with L Sivaramankrishnan bowling to you around the wicket with the pitch dug up told me volumes of how much you worked at your craft. The innings of 155* that followed where you collared and completely obliterated ‘The Warne Myth’ is what every one remembers and is stuff of legends. However, the hard work you put in for that performance to follow is what defines you for me.

The legendary battle that took centre stage in Chennai... The Myth that the world could not decode was smashed to all parts of the ground. With arguably the Best Bowler in Cricket History acknowledging that he got nightmares of Sachin running down the pitch and smashing him...

The legendary battle that took centre stage in Chennai… The Myth of Shane Warne that the world could not decode was smashed to all parts of the ground. With arguably the Best Bowler in Cricket History acknowledging that he got nightmares of Sachin running down the pitch and smashing him…

I hated it when people called you lucky, you weren’t, you damn worked your ass off for your successes and I salute that effort you put in day in and day out.

Innumerable memories will remain and I for one cannot even imagine what you might do without playing cricket. I guess your love for the game can be second to none, what came out in your entire playing career was your sheer passion, enthusiasm and love for the game. I hope and wish you a very good time ahead and hope you can find something to engage with equally passionately in your life ahead.

For me and an entire generation you were a Superman, a dream, an inspiration and gave us a lot of reasons to smile, feel joyous on a tough day and I would actually like to thank you for that.

Baffling…

The selection policy off late is baffling really…

Why is Vinay Kumar played ahead of Shami Ahmed?? Beyond me…. unless the selectors feel that its better that Vinay is bashed about more in such conditions and want to protect Shami from losing his confidence there is no reason why it happens.

Why Ishant can’t be released from the ODI and Test team and allowed to play Ranji away from the limelight is beyond me. His confidence must be in tatters after the Mohali mauling and it would only make sense to send him away for a while. He is 25 and might still become useful if he can learn to convert potential into performance.

Why Zaheer is not in the Test team against the West Indies is another shocker!! Selectors are also saying that he is in very much in their plans for South Africa and yet they ignore him against the West Indies. Would you not atleast make him play one Test and check it out if he is fully fit rather than directly allowing him in a Test in SA?

It is completely beyond me how the selectors are going about their work as far as the bowling is concerned.

I also seriously hope that MSD does not alter his theory of 5 batsman in Tests. With Jadeja now out though his resolve on this issue will be really tested.

To consider that West Indies will be no match will be foolish, I actually think if West Indies bat well, it could be a close series.

I hope Sachin’s retirement is downplayed by the team atleast and they focus on playing. As much as Sachin has been a joy to India, Sachin’s joy is in India winning and lets hope the team can focus on just that.

darkest before dawn…

Without doubt it was never so glum, 8-0 in tests abroad and 2-1 at home against England. The era I could say I started understanding and following cricket probably starts from as long back as 1992 the world cup in Australia and the emergence of Sachin as a top batter in Australia. I have been madly following Indian cricket since then and it would be fair to say that now that I understand the can see things above being just a crazy fan that our team was rather ordinary during those days. Indian cricket was all about a wristy Azhar Century or a Strokeful master stroke Sachin, at home Sidhu’s would also run rampage but when abroad… it was all about watching a Sachin century whilst all around him fell.

 

Then came the mid 90’s and probably the core started to emerge… the emergence of Sourav, Rahul, Anil, Srinath gave us hope of better things to come. It all went very very bad though before it started to turn around. A 3-0 blank down under, skipper resigning, South Africa beating us at home and it looked like the Final Frontier for Waugh’s team was also to be conquered. 1 test down and following on in the second even the staunchest of staunch Indian cricket fan would have given up… but cricket they say is a funny game.

 

All Indian cricket fans would know that we saw an India that was different from the norm, from 2001 to probably 2011 we saw a different India, one that did not buckle down under pressure, yes 2004 happened Australia won in India but together such a long stretch as is now has not been seen. Its been a period of denial. A near miss in South Africa to win a series to the World Cup Victory to this… phase its been an unbelievably quick downslide. More worrying was the denial of many obvious things.

 

In many ways it would serve India probably better if they were to lose in the Test starting from tomorrow in Nagpur.

 

However, cricket, as they say is a funny game and now that suddenly former selectors decide to spill beans, former cricketers bay for players being dropped and the fans baying for blood. Don’t be surprised if you find a new India tomorrow in Nagpur.

 

The cricketers I guess will be forced to fight their inner demons which they have been running away from. These are talented people, however, seems have been basking too long in their glory. It seems destined to wake them up from their slumber and probably rumble tomorrow.

 

Beats me though, maybe it is the Indian (read subcontinental) mentality or something else that we cannot ever be always highly motivated and intense by ourselves and need to be pushed in a corner before we start delivering punches… I leave that for you to judge… I will watch closely the guys in Nagpur and hope they can put in a much better effort than the one they have been putting up.

 

Amen…

Ramblings

Nothing really worth enough material to post and yet I feel my blog has been neglected way too much and I again need to start the writing habit of mine. Apparently so much action is happening in life that there is barely time to sit back relax and form a post.

 

Either I am working out investment portfolio’s for clients or sorting out badly sold insurance policies to them if that were not enough the renovation/extension work at home takes up hours and worst is it comes up at any time and the plumber/carpenter/mason are even more important and vip people then my clients. They get first preference, also it seems that the work just doesn’t get over either. Even though the major work seems to be done there is no decrease in the hours it takes of mine. Sporadically I do manage to still venture on FB and give my system the much needed virtual injection. ūüėõ Then there is so much of sporting action happening everywhere, Olympics, India v SL, NZ v WI and Eng v SA. Actually I am complaining of too much on my palate sigh…

 

It was a treat to watch Saina Nehwal play, I must confess I have not watched her earlier but she did play like a champ and I was pretty hopeful she would get a Gold but then not everything we wish for happens. But it was a wonderful feeling watching her play, full of concentration, focus and skill. The shooter’s doubled their medal tally from last year. The hockey team though tried their best I guess the loss in the first two matches in which I thought they fought quite well took its toll and knocked the stuffing out of them. They would probably be feeling very disappointed having lost all 5 matches. But lets not focus on that, lets talk about Mary Kom, honestly I didn’t know much about her before a week. I am kinda amazed at the achievements of the woman a 5 time World Champion, a mother of 5 year old twins and boxing like this !!!!!!!!! Gee… I am gaping and ashamed that I take the elevator to reach a third floor in the building ! :-/

 

In the world of friendly cricket matches, SL managed to almost lose everything but our blokes decided one day to collectively have a brain fail during a batting display in the second ODI giving something to our friendly neighbours.

 

The other highlight of the last week was Kevin Pietersen’s batting against Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Whilst England were pummeled into submission in the first test, in the second in Headingly in a tricky situation KP showed why he is badly necessary for cricket. With all due respect to Sachin, Brian, Ricky this has to be one of the most manly attacks on a bowling line up I have seen recently. No he didn’t score a 60 ball 100 but the manner in which he took on Steyn and Morkel and their short pitched stuff and the thumping he gave was superb. No it was not cover drives, there were hooks with 3 players on the leg side boundary. Don’t be-little him, it was Steyn and Morkel, it was Yorkshire not Chennai and yet I saw Dale Steyn shaking his head at the helplessness he felt in front of KP’s assault. Then as usual, KP’s innings was overshadowed by none other than his own stand-off with the ECB. Pity this man can’t just focus and play Test Cricket.

that is Dale Steyn going over the straight boundary

 

Guess he is a bit like me can’t do one thing at a time, must always focus on multiple things in life ! ūüėõ Talking of other multiple things clogging my timeline were planning for a Monsoon trip to Goa and well its my first visit to the Travel Capital of India it seems, rarely have I met anyone who has not been to Goa. Fair in another fortnight’s time I will be able to join all those people. Apparently it seems I can’t really take to the beaches or the water sports there but Monsoon promises its own share of beauty. What with Outlook Traveller featuring Goa in the Monsoons and whetting my appetite. My raincoats are ready and I can’t wait to rent an Activa and drive on the tar roads bordered with the fresh green vegetation. :mrgreen:

 

Well, I think I must stop my ramble here and get ready to shop for curtains or else my wife is going to make me sleep in the balcony by the look of things… ūüėõ But before I shop for the curtains I will leave you with this song that is on my lips at the moment ūüôā

 

so begins the world cup !

Yes…. the world cup has started and I have not yet made a single cricket post !!!!!! Geeez…. !!!! If only I would be able to sit more on the computer.

I even missed the most colourful opening ceremony live… and the pre show for the India Bangladesh match… but I was there before the national anthems started… ! I frantically drove my scooter from office parked it and made a dash to the hall & put the TV on.

Albeit I am not the biggest fan of T-20 and ODI cricket, I am a die hard Test Cricket fan, however my favourite team India must be watched in all forms.

Over the years I have always blindly supported them, I can never hear anything against them. Yes I do take in the criticism about their play, but if someone talks about their intentions being malicious or their integrity or anything other than their cricket, they immediately become my non liked people !!!! I seriously hate such people, infact wonder why they watch or discuss cricket if they think so…

Yes… do take note of that.

I consider myself to be their biggest fan, I never quit watching even when they are losing. I always have my logic that all will leave the team when they are losing but how can I leave my heroes when they are having a bad day. Infact if I were asked if Cricket was my first love or the Indian team… I did really have a tough time replying to it.

My team is my team and I dream of being in the midst of them in the dressing room one day… STILL !!!!

Sigh….. AMEN… !!!

Anyways… for this World Cup I am too scared to make my prediction… I dont want to jinx anything… ! I wont discuss my team and their strengths and their chances…. Let it just wait till the cup ends… !!!! I am praying and hoping for an Indian Victory.

But before I would end the post… following are the 3 new young players that I think are going to be the ones to watch out for in this world cup and the future… !

Virat Kohli – well this post is a day late… he already proved quite a bit… but he is the one to watch out for in the future… A huge future I think lies ahead for this starry eyed boy… !!!! and I mean HUGE !

Darren Bravo – I think this junior of Dwayne is a sensational batsman though I would like to see a bit more of him…there are so many shades of Lara in his style… ! Watch out for him !!!

Steve Smith – I think this Aussie Leg Spinner is very talented, however I think the Australians dont give him enough backing. He has a lot of potential… lets see how the Aussies use him…

and I have lots of predictions… but I will keep them to myself… !!!! I am too Superstitious to share them… !!!!!!

For the moment I guess all of you sit back and just enjoy the Runs… yes there will be wickets too but few and far in between…

God save the bowlers this World Cup !!!!!!

Legendary Rivalries

 

I thought I would list down some of the Legendary Rivalries in the world of sports (sports that I love), I aint looking at team rivalries, but some contests between some highly talented sports personalities, these rivalries have made people flock to stadiums and grounds… they excited people they wowed them for different reasons…¬†

 

Boxing first…

 

There are many but nothing quite matches up to these two… and I wont mention any others… although I wanted to put Mike Tyson somewhere I cannot…

 

1.) Muhammed Ali v/s Joe Frazier

Joe_Frazier_Ali

When I thought of this post this is the first one that came to mind… Muhammed Ali¬†was voted as the “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated¬†& ¬†“Sports Personality of the Century” by BBC in 1999 had only 5 losses in his career 4 by points and only one knock out.

From Wiki..

Quote :

Ali and Frazier met in the ring on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden. The fight, known as ‘”The Fight of the Century,” was one of the most eagerly anticipated bouts of all time and remains one of the most famous. It featured two skilled, undefeated fighters, both of whom had legitimate claims to the heavyweight crown.

Many boxing fans argued that Ali’s speed and ability would blind Frazier, while others thought Frazier’s superior punching power combined with Ali’s long absence from the ring would give the advantage to Frazier. On the night of the fight, there were riots in many United States cities, including Chicago, where a whole theater was almost torn apart by angry attendees who had just learned they would not be able to watch the fight on closed-circuit TV

Unquote :

This something that arouses such raw passion among fans at times is what amazes me…. Sport is fun.. sports is winning and losing… but above all Sports is unadultared raw emotion !!!!!!

The video’s of the fight (WORTH SEEING) are here : Just watch the two going for each other…¬†¬†

 

Tennis next… a sport I love, I am not listing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in this as they are still going…

1.) Boris Becker vs Stefan Edberg

3322

This was the beginning of my introduction to this sport… I hated Becker but he was a worth while opponent to say the least… the serve and volley of these two and I have seen countless video’s of them even on repeats. When these two would play it would be excitement and nerve hopping.. When they played Wimbledon finals and Doordarshan would telecast them it was like bliss… !!!

 

Not too many heavy aces and not too many big ground strokes unlike today where every one is an athlete and blasts winners like crazy…. but subtle serve and volley… the old fashioned Tennis as they call it now… I loved their contests where it would be topsy turvy.. A truly sensational rivalry without any real bad blood and no raw passion from fans either… !!! Which was a welcome relief in a way..

 

Here is one really interesting video of the two in a tie-breaker at a Wimbledon Finals…

 

2.) Steffi Graf vs Martina Navratilova

Steffi-Graf-Wimbledon-Martina-Navratilova1988_958163

One of the biggest sporting personality for me in¬†the world of¬†female¬†sport was Martina¬†Navratilova¬†she was the epitome of fitness then… she would simply win them, be it singles, doubles or mixed doubles and still be hungry for more… in a way the ladies sport then became boring coz there was almost no match. Chris Evert was a competitor but nothing like you would want for a champion like Martina….and then came this almost shy, sweet smiling but unbelievably tough cookie to set up a rivalry… These two remain the best two tennis players in the history of female tennis for me…

 

In the initial phase of steffi’s career after she beat Martina in the 1987 final in French open to win her first Grand slam but the Champion beat her back to back in the Wimbledon and US open finals… thats when the era of these two started… and we would all sit in anticipation hoping the top two seeds would reach the finals…. I cannot pick who was my favourite among the two…

 

Two true champions again… !! here is another fight of the two on video again in Wimbledon… and if you havent realised… Wimbledon is my favourite tennis tournament… I love the green grass… the whites… and the ladies errrr… the tennis players on it…

 

3.) Pete Sampras vs Andre Agassi :

06slid10

 

On one side was the best serving player the other side the best returner of serve.

On one side was style on one side doggedness.

Flash vs Grace.

The most endearing rivalries… While I believe Pete Sampras was one of the best players ever on fast courts… Andre Agassi was one of the most versatile players… These two when against each other was the biggest treat you could ever imagine… I still remember one match at the US open in the quarter finals of the year 2001 where Sampras defeated Agassi 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6. If ever there was a perfect match this was one. The two players do not make errors… they only either force errors or get points by winners. This is one heck of a roller coaster match and the level of tennis in this match is of really high quality !! just watch it ... here are a few highlights of that match .

 

[p.s. I never thought I would see anything like this match but I must say this years Wimbledon final between Federrer and Roddick came close]

 

Now Cricket… my favourite… is this post getting tooo long ??? get your coffee / tea / drink whatever…… pls… !!

1.) Harold Larwood  vs Don Bradman :

4th_Test_Woodfull

 

I have always wished and still do …. wish I were born in that era to witness cricket being played like this…

MEN ¬†played then… no helmets.. no proper pads or gloves.. no limits on how many bouncers and no limit on how many fielders you can have behind square on the leg side on uncovered pitches…

 

A hard working lad who was working in mines comes to join English Cricket under the leadership of Douglas Jardine to take on the mighty Sir Don Bradman in his own back yard. Harold Larwood seethed fire which over 6 men on the legside, in the first match of the 1932 Bodyline series Bradman didnt play as he was sick. In the second test in the first innings Bradman was out for a duck… there after he over came his fears and played a stellar hand in a 4-1 series lost to England. Bradman and Larwood were most most precious for their captains. This was one series where the two countries almost came to war over cricket.

 

Bradman’s skipper Bill Woodfull said Bradman was worth 3 batsman to Australia in that series. When Harold Larwood died in 1955 his most treasured possession was a small silver ashtray inscribed ‘To Harold, For The Ashes, From A Grateful Skipper’ from Douglas Jardine.¬†

 

Perhaps this one¬†line that¬†he¬†once ¬†told Frank Tyson¬†¬†might help you understand the terror Larwood caused, “When you hear 50,000 Aussies shouting at you, you know you’ve got ’em worried” ¬†

Do watch this video

 

2.) Dennis Lillee vs Vivian Alexander Richards

 

The mad max against the slumbering slogger.

 

Dennis Lillee for me is the epitome of fast bowling. Fast bowling is one of the most physically straining aspect of cricket. Only those who have bowled fast in heat over a period of days can understand what true fast bowling is about… A bit of madness is necessary along with the method… !!

 

Do watch the video which is a classic over of fast bowling to one of the most fearless batsman in the history of the game.

 

BTW for those who didnt know… Vivian Richards acknowledged that when he was waiting to bat against Australia and Lillee and Thomson were bowling he would have to visit the bathroom frequently coz of the nervousness… !!! However when Richards would walk out the swagger and chewing gum would never let the opponents know there was even an iota of fear in his mind… !!!!

 

3.) Sachin vs Warne…

bradman-tendulker-warne

The Master Blaster vs The Wizard.

The stable vs the freak.

The curler vs the blonde.

 

Sachin creamed Warne on his debut in Sydney in 1992. But Warne wasnt the master then… fast forward to 1997-98, Mark Taylor’s Australia landed into India with the billing of the best team in the world. Shane Warne was a master by then… it was him v/s Sachin… In the first Test in Chennai Sachin hit a bearded warne for a boundary through the¬†covers¬†but alas… the very next ball was in the hands of Mark Taylor at slip.¬†The master was gone for 4. In the second innings (sadly cant find video) Sachin came back with a vengenance… India was traliing by 71 runs and at 115/2 walked in Sachin and smashed… !!!

 

Warne was turning the ball atleast 2 feet if not more… !! After being smashed from over the wicket Warne turned to around the wicket to bowl in the rough out side the leg stump, Warne says he goes around the wicket only when his mindset is most aggressive…

 

This is one match where Sachin played some unbelievable shots against Warne who was¬†spinning 2 feet, from around the wicket, bowling¬†in the rough… But BEHOLD … the champ collared him and kept hitting against the spin over midwicket…!!! He reels off a 155* and the match is in India’s favour… !!!!!!

 

This is one contest that is the most close to heart because Warne is the Greatest Bowler in the History of Cricket and our Tendlya has collared him !!!!!!!

 

—————-

There are many other rivalries which are also quite famous and favourite of mine…

1.) Sehwag vs Shoaib Akhtar

2.) Ravi Shashtri vs Abdul Qadir

3.) The 4 fast men of the West Indies and our Sunnybhai

4.) Lara vs Murali

 

Some contests I would have really loved to see more of are

 Sachin vs Akram (they played too little against each other)

 

Hey BTW talking of Legendary Rivalries how can we forget our own blog world legends… None other but the greatest of all

 

The maverick and the loony…

The silly and the sillier…

The artist and the eater…

The hobbes and the hobbes…

 Our very own C n H

ofcourse who else….

cnh

                                                   CRAFTY & HITCHY !!!!!!!

 

Their first first legend rules… !!!!! doesnt it ????

 

Ducks the barrage of chappals… Bhagooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo