Archive for the ‘Cricket, Etcetera’ Category

How do you say seun van ‘n teef in Kannada?

15 January 2014

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Dodda Ganesh on the day he retired from cricket, with his wife and children (courtesy The Hindu)

In a commemorative volume brought out by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in his honour, batting legend, member of Parliament and Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar recounts this anecdote involving the former Karnataka cricket Doddanarsaiah Ganesh, who played four Tests for India:

Dodda Ganesh and I were batting and Alan Donald was bowling lightning-fast deliveries.

“When Dodda faced his onslaught fearlessly Alan started mouthing words at Dodda. On three consecutive deliveries Dodda got confused but did not lose his wicket.

“At the end of the over Alan went over to Dodda and let loose a string of verbal abuses. Since Dodda’s face remained impassive, Alan became even more furious.

“I witnessed the interaction from the non-striker’s end.

“When Alan came to fetch his cap from the umpire at the end of his over, I told him, ‘Alan, Dodda only knows a local language called Kannada. I find it difficult to communicate with him as well when we are batting together. So how can he understand your abuses in English? If you want to trouble him, speak to him in Kannada so that at least he will understand.’

“This made Alan even more furious. He almost snatched his cap from the umpire and making wild gestures with his hands.”‘

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: When Kumar Sangakkara gave it to Shaun Pollock

Lip service: The 10 top sledges in cricket?

A ‘teesra’ from a legspinner is still a legbreak

20 November 2013

Photo Caption

Former India and Karnataka cricket captain, Anil Radhakrishna Kumble, delivering the Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi lecture in Bombay:

“In 1990, as a teenager, I took my first steps in international cricket and was eager for encouragement and a kind word in the cricketing world. I came across a comment from an accomplished Indian cricketer and a respected leader of men.

“I quote: ‘This lad, I don’t see him winning Test matches for India, either at home or abroad. He rarely turns the ball. At best he can be restrictive.’

“The assessment came from Mr Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.

“Two decades of international cricket and 619 Test wickets later, it is indeed a great honour and privilege to address this august gathering.

“It was my misfortune that I never had a chance to confront Pataudi on his comment, but I am confident that had I done so, he would have had a good laugh. Unlike many men with a reputation for possessing a sense of humour, he was capable of taking a joke against himself.

“In cricket, as in most things in life, perceiving is believing. I think it was the great English left arm spinner Wilfred Rhodes who said that if the batsman thinks it’s spinning, then it’s spinning. As you might imagine, it is a philosophy I can identify with.

“In recent years such gifted bowlers as Shane Warne and Saqlain Mushtaq have spoken of the ‘zooter’ and the ‘teesra’ respectively to keep the opposition guessing and wasting hours in their back rooms figuring out what these exotic terms meant.

“Perception. It is all a matter of perception. After all, what can a teesra be? A leg break bowled with an off break action that turns out to be an off break after all?”

Read the full lecture: Perception and practice

Photograph: Former India captain Anil Kumble arrives to address the meet-the-press programme organized by Bangalore Reporters Guild, at the Press Club of Bangalore, in Bangalore on Wednesday (K–arnataka Photo News)

Also read: What Sania Mirza needs to learn from Anil Kumble

The secret of Anil Kumble‘s success is his un-Kannadiganess

BCCI, Anil Kumble, Infosys and a silly PR exercise

World’s best batsman ever? No, the 29th best!

16 November 2013

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As the mammon-worshipping mavens of the cricket board turn a team sport into an individual one in Bombay, as a cash-strapped media engages in a cloying overkill of its original cash cow, as the devout get confused about ‘God’, the BBC asks a simple question.

Was Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar—in whose name a Test match is being played, a gymkhana usurped from children has been renamed, a postage has been issued—is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar really the greatest ever batsman?

Or, just a fine batsman of the TV age who handled the “pressure of a billion” with quality and equanimity, who never put a foot wrong, whose humility and modesty despite his accumulated millions, and whose motivation was an object lesson to those of us who give up easily?

In the midst of all the hagiography—no different from the bhajan sandhya, sangeet, mehendi and shaadi of a typical Punjabi wedding that Rupert Murdoch‘s Star TV is famous for, with guests from all over—it’s difficult to find a word of criticism, as Tendulkar stands on a mountain of runs, records and reputation.

Still, it must be asked: was he really that good?

The BBC’s Ben Carter throws up three key sets of numbers:

# The highest rating given by the International Cricket Council ratings to Tendulkar was 29 in 2002, after a series against Zimbabwe—below not just the invincible Don Bradman, but also his contemporaries Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara, Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara, in that order.

# When Patrick Ferriday and Dave Wilson compiled the 100 greatest centuries, again factoring in “intangibles” like conditions, rivals, pitch quality, match impact, series impact, etc, only one of Sachin’s 51 centuries came in, at no. 100. Lara had five.

# When Jaideep Verma compiled the the “impact index”, measuring performances with other performances in the same match, Tendulkar (5) had fewer series-defining shows than Rahul Dravid (8) although he had played more matches. Even Inzamam-ul-Haq fared better.

So, the best, the greatest?

Really?

Read the full article: The 29th best batsman

Also read: Gavaskar vs Vishwanath=Tendulkar vs Dravid?

India’s greatest match-winning batsman is…

Gavaskar vs Vishwanath = Tendulkar vs Dravid?

12 October 2013

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Although they were part of the same Indian team—sharing the dressing room, sharing partnerships, sharing victories, defeats and draws—cricket fans detected a faint undercurrent of competition and conflict between Sunil Gavaskar and G.R. Viswanath.

On one level, this was the old battle between two stellar domestic Ranji Trophy sides, Bombay and Karnataka, playing out subliminally through its two leading lights, one a fearless opener who faced the fast and the furious without a helmet; the other an artist who wielded the willow like a brush.

On another level, it was a deeply ingrained stereotype, that “Sunny”, for all the records against his name, was a selfish, mammon-worshipping run-machine with one eye always on the right-hand column of the scoreboard, as opposed to the selfless “Vishy”, who put the team’s interests before his own.

It would have been easy to blame the media for the Gavaskar vs Vishwanath row, but this was in pre-television, pre-internet India of the 1970s and ’80s.

Gavaskar’s pathetic gesture of batting left-handed, down the batting order, in a Ranji match Bombay were losing against Karnataka only confirmed the worst suspicions of cricket followers, but all was forgiven when Gundappa chose Sunny’s sister Kavitha to be his wife.

Action replay.

Was there a similar vibe between Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid? The former, a run-machine from Bombay who adored Gavaskar, and the latter, a touch artist whose idol was Vishy?

Like their icons, Tendulkar and Dravid were kingpins of batting. Without the other, each would have had less to show; without both, the side would have suffered. They played hundreds of matches, scored thousands of runs together.

Still, was it all hunky-dory between the two?

Did Dravid have his team’s interests when he declared the Indian innings in Pakistan even as Tendulkar was within striking distance of his first double-century? Did Tendulkar conveniently lose his form when Dravid was captain?

Two days after Tendulkar announced his pre-retirement from the game, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes:

“My most revealing journalistic Sachin moment came in an NDTV Walk the Talk.

“‘If you had to take one stroke from each one of your four great batting peers, Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman, what will it be,’ I asked.

“‘It will be Sehwag’s cut, nobody cuts like him,’ he said, ‘Ganguly’s cover drive, Laxman’s flick off-the-hip and Dravid…’ he paused for a moment to think.

“And what will you take from Dravid, I asked, my mischievous journalistic sensors abuzz, thinking of the little issue the two had just had in Pakistan (Multan) when Dravid had declared with Sachin not out at 194.

“‘I will take Dravid’s defence,’ he said, ‘nobody has a defence like his.’

“I called 10 self-proclaimed cricket experts to ask if that comment was bitchy or brilliant. The verdict: 10:0, brilliant.

Now, wasn’t that a stroke of cricketing genius?

Photograph: Sachin Tendulkar takes a nap on the floor of the dressing room in 1989, as New Zealand swing legend Sir Richard Hadlee (right) and left-arm spinner, Saggi Venkatapathy Raju, look on (courtesy H. Natarajan)

Read the full article: Since 1989

Also read: India’s greatest match-winning batsman is…

Why some of us just love to hate Sunil Gavaskar

From Bhadravati, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket

Sunil Gavaskar: India’s most petulant cricketer ever?

POLL: What does Sachin Tendulkar’s future lie?

10 October 2013

Many of us, lesser mortals, cannot keep our feet on the ground and our heads on our shoulders after we “succeed”. A good job, a nice designation, a few accolades and some material acquisitions change our accents and attitudes, and pretty soon the fire of ambition in the belly burns out, as we are consigned to the dustbin of history.

Consider Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar who has known nothing but success all his life of 40 and 169 days: 

A Ranji Trophy century on debut, a Duleep Trophy century on debut, an Irani Trophy century on debut—and a magnificent, near-spotless 24-year career of 198 Test matches and 463 one-day internationals yielding 34,373 runs, 100 centuries, 163 fifties, 156 catches and 199 wickets. And millions of fans.

The cricketing achievements of Sachin are obvious: he brought hope and expectation to a nation short of heroes, he brought pride and prestige to the Indian achievement, strength and solidity to the middle-order. But it is the other side of his personality, his personal life, which is an object lesson for most of us, which is almost all of us, not blessed with his kind of talent.

Tendulkar brought middle-class decency and civility to the crease and beyond it. In his personal life, in dealing with fans and followers, in dealing with his superstardom, in dealing with his seniors, juniors and elders, Tendulkar showed a rare ability to not let his arrogance show and to yet carry on zealously.

Question: Now that Sachin Tendulkar has announced that he will end his international career two Test matches from now, where does his future lie?

Deve Gowda backs Sreesanth, taunts BCCI again

15 September 2013

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Former Rajasthan Royals opening bowler S. Sreesanth has just been banned from cricket for life, for putting his hand-towel out of his pant pocket, as a signal to bookies that he will concede “14 runs”, while bowling in the Indian Premier League.

But such stern action against our Malayali brethren doesn’t seem to deter former Indian prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda from openly and even more conspicuously flaunting his towel on his shoulders, at a cricket match, in Bangalore on Saturday.

BCCI officials, Delhi police and ICC “anti-corruption unit” investigators will, of course, note that this is the second time in as many months that the ex-PM has taunted the “towel rule” that felled Sreesanth for “spot-fixing” in this year’s IPL, and that this time his towel has a green border.

On both occasions, “Mr Deve” has done so in the full presence of mediamen, this time with the president of the Press Club of Bangalore, Ramakrishna Upadhya, bang behind him.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Is Deve Gowda guilty of match-fixing?

Can an all-time Karnataka XI beat Dhoni’s men?

17 August 2013

India Australia 3rd test in New Delhi

Mahendra Singh Dhoni carries Anil Kumble on his shoulders after the latter had played his last Test match, at the Ferozshah Kotla in New Delhi, in November 2008 (courtesy Sportstar)

As the Karnataka state cricket association (KSCA) celebrates its platinum jubilee, the cricket writer Suresh Menon compiles an all-time Karnataka XI, with a telling line “Humility need not be an aspect of greatness, but in Karnataka (cricket) the two have always gone together”:

V.S. Vijay Kumar

R.M.H. Binny

G.R. Vishwanath

Rahul Sharad Dravid

Brijesh Parasuram Patel

S.M.H. Kirmani (wicket-keeper)

Anil Kumble (captain)

Javagal Srinath

B.K. Venkatesh Prasad

E.A.S. Prasanna

B.S. Chandrasekhar

B. Vijayakrishna

The 12-member squad has two quickies, one leggie, one offspinner, one left-arm spinner.

Let us squabble: should Dravid be coming in after Vishy? Was Venkatesh Prasad really better than Doddanarasiah Ganesh or even R. Vinay Kumar? And, wasn’t Sadananad Viswanath a better keeper than Kirmani?

Could the all-time Karnataka XI with 28,579 Test match runs and 1,432 wickets beat Mahendra Singh Dhoni‘s all-conquerors?

Read the full article: A trip down memory lane

***

Also read: When Bishen Bedi bowled from Maharaja College end

India’s greatest Test match winning batsman is… Rahul Dravid

Once upon a time, idol worship of a different kind

From Bhadravati, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket

Say it again. I’m happy seeing my parents happy

Once upon a time, in Marimallappa‘s High School

The secret of Anil Kumble is his un-Kannadiganess

IPL fixing system runs on Mac, Linux or Vindoos?

5 June 2013

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The IPL spotfixing meets betting saga, starring Thiru Shantakumaran Sreesanthan Nair, Gurunath Meiyappan and Narayanaswamy Srinivasan, as seen through the eyes of Sri S.R. Ramakrishna and Sri Satish Acharya of Talk magazine.

Also read: A Spaghetti eastern that makes you say, ‘Basta’

It’s unofficial, our democracy has a bribe future

Rama rajya is gone; Siddarama rajya is here

IPL scorecard: Morality c Avarice b Greed

4 June 2013

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: In the labyrinths of hell, inside its boiling cauldrons, through its unfathomable maze of blood-curdling monstrosities, of the macabre, the cadaverous and the ghoulish,  in the sepulchral dankness of it all, there is perhaps a spot of idyll.

But at the moment, not in Indian cricket for sure.

The shock and shame of an international cricketer in police custody, an absolutely arrogant and defiant cricket board chief who thinks he personally owns Indian cricket, the strange term called spot-fixing, where anything on a cricket field can be orchestrated by men with shades of grey in their hearts and souls, for whom the smell of money and more and more money is more fragrant than all the legendary scents of Arabia.

Men of the same mental conditioning as maniacal terrorists, except that here they deal in cold cash, not cold blood!

Men who don’t think twice before plunging a dagger of deceit into the very hearts of the game’s fans, the millions glued to television sets inside homes and at street side cafes; fans who come to cheer lustily for their favourite teams; fans, most of whom have saved up to their last penny to get hold of a ticket to get into a stadium and revel in the joy of seeing their idols in flesh and blood on the field; to enjoy the headiness of it all and forget for a few euphoric hours the bleakness of their own lives.

Such a travesty of faith that these multitude of fans have been brushed aside, their feelings trampled with the finality of an angry elephant’s foot.

And amidst all this mayhem, the silence of the legends!

The legends of the game occupy a very high pedestal in the hearts of their fans, in the very pantheon of the game. Fantabulous creatures, their lives, as a result of their rare deeds on a cricket field, awash in folklorish superstardom.

But to stand up and speak from the interiors of their existences, to put the hand up and make it to be counted, to utter weighty words of meaning and responsibility, to show from their very being, the all-important sense of anguish and disappointment and outrage.

Seemingly, not on their busy agenda.

To react forcefully to the manner in which their own game, the game they love and live for, is being marauded by scums and scoundrels, all for a few rupees more than the millions already earned and credited to their accounts officially.Those traitors who seemingly have the same proclivity of a serpent that can bite the very hand that holds it.

But then, the serpent is a mere animal.

In the silence of the legends is the silence of conspiracy. Not one of complicity but the complicity of convenience, the collaboration of selective deafness to the painful moans of the game itself and blindness to the ghastly sights of monumental murder, the murder of probity and earnestness in Indian cricket.

That the game has been brought to serious disrepute is not on their minds, that the name and image of Indian cricket has been tarnished and lies in a sad heap of shabby shreds is not their botheration. That young boys who ought to have been taken under their wings and shown the path of morality now find themselves in police custody is not their concern.

But alas, what matters to them are their professional contracts with the cricket board and the resultant lucre that accrues.

Is that all there is to their lives?

To ignore the future of the very game that got them to the station they find themselves in, in life, is the very definition of self-preservation. Men with their ability for heroics and the capacity to handle pressure and adversity and perform scintillatingly in the presence of a million baying spectators almost all through their sporting careers.

Men who came to be known as legends of the game.

Such men to owe a sense of a fatherly responsibility to the game is fundamental to the very basis of their existence. Not for nothing are they deified as great players. Not every cricketer who bowled a cricket ball or wielded the cricket bat has come to be known as legendary after all!

Just to name some immediate names like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, notwithstanding the fact that the last two have made some semblance of a statement regarding the need to clean the rubbish in the bin of Indian cricket, for them to behave as if they all played hockey for India and not cricket is simply amusing.

Their silence makes it look like they don’t belong to the game at all.

Come on gentlemen, bowl that one unplayable ball once again or essay that one marvellous stroke one more time so that the score board of Indian cricket looks respectable.

If we may inform you, right now it reads, morality caught avarice bowled greed! As for the runs, like the money, you can add whatever is feasible to both sides!

Government is corrupt, what about corporates?

25 May 2013

T.N. Ninan, editorial director of Business Standard, in his weekly ruminations, against the backdrop of the IPL and Ranbaxy scandals:

“Pillorying the government of the day for pervasive corruption is the easy thing to do, whereas it might just be an escapist option. It helps those of us who are neither in politics nor in the government to pretend that we are not tainted, and therefore have the right to point fingers at politicians, who we assume are not. The truth, as recent events have brought home forcefully, is that corruption has permeated fields that have nothing to do with politics and government….

“If the canker is widespread, there have to be systemic solutions. An obvious step is to come down hard on anyone who is caught, as a lesson to everyone else. System legitimacy suffers only when businessmen find ways of avoiding being brought to justice. But perhaps the worst outcome would be to treat this as just one more kind of reality TV, for nightly entertainment. All troubling questions can be evaded if we just watch Arnab Goswami shout at, hector and pillory his “guests” for an hour every night, for thereby we’ve earned our absolution!”

The cricketer turned commentator Geoffrey Boycott suggests that it might have to do with our genes:

“We don’t seem to get it in other countries. It seems to be around in Asia. And that’s not me being against Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis. You know me, I love that part of the world. They are very kind and good to me, particularly the Indian and Pakistani people, where I’ve been a lot.

“But I’m telling you the truth, it seems to surface in Asia. And once you’ve got all this money floating around in a huge game with millions and millions involved, you’re going to get problems. It’s going to resurface again.”

The Hindu‘s sports editor Nirmal Shekar laughs at our hypocrisy:

“This is who we are, as Indians. While we need not be ashamed about it, let us not pretend that our own brand of neo-liberalism, which has produced a socio-cultural climate that makes it possible for the aspiring Indian middle classes — I use the plural advisedly — to unabashedly revel in the celebrity cesspool and pretend that we are squeaky clean is, at best, hypocritical, at worst, suicidal.

“For, cricket does not exist in a vacuum; it is not a cosy world safely tucked away from the dark, dirty, often cruel, and real, world in which we live, as Indians.

“A lot of us wishfully think that this might turn out to be India’s century or, in the least, an India-China century. But if you chose to do away with those rose-tinted glasses — a gift from opportunistic politicians and an acquiescent media — and mentally prepared yourself to stare truth in its face, then you will get an idea about where we really are.”

Also read: Question: which is India’s most secular religion?

India’s most secular religion has to be corruption

Corruption, religion, spirituality and the Dalai Lama

CHURUMURI POLL: Will you ever trust IPL again?

17 May 2013

To the surprise of all but those who have just arrived from Mars, the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been marred by the spotfixing scam involving players from the Rajasthan Royals. Three of them, including the former Test bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth, have been arrested, two more are to be questioned.

It was quite obvious from the very beginning that the anything-goes, anything-can-happen format of Twenty20 cricket was  tailormade for bookies and other forces beyond the boundary. The confluence of cricket, commerce and cinema was a deadly combo, especially with the underworld having a vice-like grip on the gambling scene and Bollywood.

While the players are still to be proved guilty and the Delhi Police is known for monumental cockups, the mere revelation that there could have been more than met the eye in some matches so far, is a letdown of spectators at stadiums and audiences in homes. Plus, it is a disservice to the many honest cricketers showing their skills.

Questions: will you ever trust an IPL match henceforth? Will you watch the “maximums”, the no balls, the wides, without wondering if there is something more to it?

Or will this too pass in the circus that the BCCI?

Also read: Are Indians endemically corrupt as a people?

CHURUMURI POLL: A pardon for Azharuddin?

When Bedi bowled from Maharaja’s College end

22 April 2013

Bishen Singh Bedi and Eknath Solkar being taken around in an open-topped jeep in front of the Mysore Palace, circa 1981

Sandeep Patil, Kirti Azad and Dilip Vengsarkar on Ashoka Road, as the cricket caravan approaches Janata Bazaar

VIKRAM MUTHANNA writes from Mysore: Recently, I was invited to be part of a group that is trying to raise funds for Pratham Mysore, the highly respected NGO that has helped improve the state of education in our country.

Pratham Mysore has popularised the Balawadi pre-school programme where they pick a few volunteers in a community who are educated till class 10 and above and request them to educate the poor pre-schoolers in their areas. They also have many other programmes, the important one being the bridge programme in both rural and poor urban areas where they teach government school children after school hours.

So far in Mysore, Pratham has successfully delivered education programmes to around 15,000 poor pre-school and primary students in Mysore and surrounding districts.

So it turned out that they wanted my inputs and some publicity to raise some funds to create and support 212 new education centres in rural areas of Mysore. They already manage 182 such centres!

After much discussion it was decided that just like how dinners are hosted to raise money for a cause in the west, we would try to have a gala dinner for which people would pay a premium as there would be some celebrities and in a cricket-crazy nation where cricketers are demigods, the chance of having dinner while hearing stories straight from the horses’ mouths—or shall we say demi-gods’ lips—would be a chance no cricket lover could pass up; especially when there are only 200 invites which would make the interaction more intimate.

So, who would grace the gala that would attract some money?

Ashvini Ranjan who heads Pratham Mysore and is also now the Mysore zone chairman of Karnataka state cricket association (KSCA), confirmed that our own City’s son Javagal Srinath (KSCA’s secretary) and son-in-law Anil Kumble (KSCA president) would participate.

It was also thought that may be these two could also bring in Rahul Dravid with them, and a few more.

Just then, Ashvini Ranjan mentioned in passing how in 1981 they managed to convince a few top Indian national cricket team players to come to Mysore for an exhibition match to raise funds for a Lions school and how once the senior players were convinced, they in turn roped in other national players.

This was impressive and I was curious.

How did a group of smalltown men manage to get 16 members from the national team to our little City in 1981 for fund-raising ?! I pressed for more and the story I heard was worthy of a recount which held many lessons in celebrity-driven fund-raising and dedicated social service.

***

Here is the story Ashvini Ranjan told me:

It seems, in 1981 the Lions Club of Mysore West wanted to build a school and had to raise some funds.

The Club had many enthusiastic members and among them was R. Vasu, one of the partners of Cycle Brand Agarbathies who was very interested in cricket and well-networked in those circles. He came up with the idea of an exhibition cricket match between two teams each with a heavy mix of Indian national players!

Yes, indeed, an audacious idea for that time, and even today. Soon he and the other Lions decided they would have two teams each with a mix of national players, State players and two local players.

After many months of phone calls and umpteen visits to Bangalore, Vasu along with the other Lions managed to convince the core Indian players—then it was Dilip Vengsarkar, Sandeep Patil, G.R. Vishwanath, Brijesh Patel, Bishan Singh Bedi and Roger Binny.

They, in turn, managed to convince others to come with them to play a day of cricket for a good cause.

As soon as all the cricketers confirmed, air tickets were booked and it was communicated to them that a 42-seater luxury bus would be waiting for them at the Bangalore airport to bring them to Mysore.

On the faithful day the bus left for Bangalore airport while the Lions Club members waited in front of Mysore Palace to give them a grand welcome. Late afternoon as the bus approached, the Lions members were excited and waited for the demi-gods to alight from the bus… but only Sandeep Patil and his girlfriend were on the bus!

What happened to the rest?

The members were soon informed by Patil that the others decided that they would come in private taxis and leisurely they started arriving one by one. Though the organisers were worried about the taxi expenses they were relieved that the players had arrived.

***

The players were put up at the luxurious Rajendra Vilas Imperial Palace hotel atop the hill.

That night, they were felicitated at Lalitha Mahal Palace hotel with small elephant statues after which they left for their round of beers.

Next day, they were taken on a procession around the City, which attracted huge crowds and generated so much publicity for the exhibition match that the next day all tickets were sold out, even though a ticket cost a princely sum of Rs. 100.

Also, since there was no cricket stadium with cover or seating, the members managed to have covered seating using coconut branches and bamboo for 15,000 people at Maharaja’s ground. No mean feat.

With tickets sold out, passes given out to keep government officials happy, turf pitch ready, all seemed perfect for the match the next day.

And then the unthinkable happened: That night it poured and poured.

The next morning the pitch was soaked leaving the organisers with an unplayable drenched pitch. With the turf gone, match delayed and the 15,000 strong crowd growing restless by the minute, the organisers began their hunt for the only alternative — a cricket mat.

Finally a mat was tracked down, and the person renting it knew the organisers’ predicament and charged them an arm and a leg. He charged them Rs. 3,500, a ransom in 1981.

Soon the match was on and it poured again… this time it poured sixers from Sandeep Patil’s bat. Who won? Well, now no one quite remembers for sure. But they all remember that Sandeep Patil hit such huge sixers that they lost two cricket balls.

As Ashvini Ranjan recalls, “We had so much fun that we never bothered about who won. Guess cricket won that day.” With that Mysoreans had witnessed legends in action.

Mission accomplished… or so the organisers thought.

Later, that night, the players were hosted for dinner at the Mysore Palace by Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, with live music. Players like Eknath Solkar sang and did a solo dance much to the delight of everyone present.

The following day the players were to leave, but a handful of them stayed back. They supposedly said they loved the weather of the City and loved the location of their hotel atop the hill so much that they wanted to stay a few more days. But many organisers now say, the players seemed to have enjoyed their beer much, much more than the weather.

In the end after a week of cricket drama, the Lions Club which had invited national players to raise funds for their ambitious school project had managed to collect Rs. 3.5 lakh by way of ticket sales and sponsorships.

All good? Not really.

It seems by the time the cricketers had left and by the time the organisers had paid for their air ticket, the bus that brought just one couple, taxis, the mat, mementoes, beer, food and stay, the Lions Club was left with… just Rs. 18,000! The dream of a school was back to the pavilion.

To add, the free passes they gave to the government officials had eaten into their fund-raising budget substantially.

It seems the cricketers had left feeling high, while leaving the organisers completely dry.

***

While the Lions members were left lost, the then divisional commissioner and CITB Chairman M.P. Prakash, who heard of the debacle, felt bad and offered the Club one-and-half acres of land in Gokulam for the school and told them that for the time being, they can pay the Rs. 18,000 as down payment and the rest they must pay on time in installments.

The club members gladly agreed and today, Gokulam Lions School sits on a two-acre land with a student strength of 650. What 16 Indian cricketers could not do, an understanding, kind and good bureaucrat did. This shows the power bureaucrats have and the good they can do with it.

Today, the 1981 batch of Lions West members laugh at how they lost all their money to the players’ extravaganza, but they still thank the cricketers for generating great publicity which later helped them raise funds to build the school.

After I heard this story, I couldn’t help but ask if Ashvini Ranjan had any photographs of the event so our older readers could reminisce and younger readers could delight themselves.

As expected, Ashvini Ranjan shared the photos adding “Such memories are to be shared, not copyrighted or put away.”

In fact even the photos of this event has a story. It seems the organisers were so disheartened after the event, that they forgot all about the photographs and six months later it arrived in a box at the then Lions Club President Ashvini Ranjan’s house who kept it safely and after a while started gifting it to people who were in the photographs as memorabilia on their birthday or special occasions.

Yes, Ashwini Ranjan and the supporters of Pratham like myself, will once again try to rope in cricketers to raise money, publicity and good will for a good cause. This time, instead of cricket, it will be over good food. But we are also aware and take comfort in the fact that unlike yesterday’s cricketers who had time, for today’s cricketers time is money and they have no time to sit around enjoying beer and good weather.

So there is no way Srinath, Kumble, Dravid and others will get high and leave us dry.

The event has been scheduled for 7th of July 2013 and there are only 200 gala dinner tickets. The cost of the tickets will be announced in the coming weeks. This is a chance to meet, talk and ask whatever you want with the living cricket legends, or if you just like to donate you can contact Pratham through www.prathammysore.org or call Ph: 0821-2412612 or if you just want to have good food and good company you can sit at the table with yours truly and consume a bit of politics, a little bit of art and culture and a large dose of dirty jokes and a fair amount of happy spirit.

(Vikram Muthanna is the managing editor of Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

***

scan0073

The “super-sopper” deployed at the Maharaja’s College grounds, on the morning of the match

Gundappa Viswanath and Bishen Singh Bedi go out to toss on a rain-marred wicket

22

Srikantadatta Narasimha Wodeyar is introduced to the two teams, as B.S. Chandrashekhar, Sandeep Patil, Ravi Shastri and local legend, “Tiger” Prabhakar of Ideal Jawa (third from right, in a skull cap), look on

15

Sandeep Patil with Wodeyar

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“Tiger” Prabhakar, Vishy, Anshuman Gaekwad, Chandra and Roger Binny spill some beers (above); Vengsarkar, Kirti Azad (below)

11

Bishen Bedi with Vishy at the “Sports Club” party

Eknath Solkar, who batted and fielded with a scooter helmet, shakes a leg

In Coorg, ‘jumping japak’ when there’s a goooal!

16 April 2013

Photo Caption

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: At a time when Hockey India (HI) and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) are at each other’s throats and dragging Indian hockey down the drain by filing cases against each other, in an idyllic part of the world 225 hockey-mad families are participating in the biggest tournament of its kind.

The idyll is Coorg.

In the cradle of Karnataka hockey nay Indian hockey, the 17th edition of the inter-family hockey tournament, which has entered the record book, quietly got underway near Virajpet on Sunday. And, despite IPL being on everybody’s lips, the passion for hockey remains high.

Some of the most popular names of Indian hockey, M.P. Ganesh, B.P. Govinda, M.M. Somaiya, Poonacha and Arjun Halappa have come from the hilly, coffee-country. If hockey has to have resurgence, is it time hockey is moved to Kodagu than be a part of Delhi where they play hooky with hockey and are mostly busy with court cases?

Photograph: Members of a visiting Punjab team in a duel with a local Kodava team at the inter-family hockey tournament at Balugodu Kodava cultural centre, near Virajpet in Kodagu district on Sunday (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: What a martial race does when there’s no war

There’s blood on the ground when sticks rattle

Sirf dekhneka, or IPL will sue the hell out of you!

5 April 2013

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Most people think the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is a body that controls cricket in India. This is only partly true though.

Cricket is after all a game of cause and effect, in a manner of speaking, but BCCI controls all aspect of the game including how you should watch cricket, read about cricket stars or see their pictures. You just can’t ‘Eat cricket, Sleep cricket’ the way you want, unless BCCI has approved it.

In the 1980s, the Dutch introduced ‘Total football’ when the likes of Rudd Gullit and Van Basten moved all over the ground looking for the ball and playing every position.

In a similar manner, BCCI has introduced ‘Total Control of Cricket’.

The Indian Premier League ( IPL), only in its sixth year, has  already seen life in full spectrum. After a great start it was banished to stage its second edition in South Africa on the orders of then home minister, P. Chidambaram, himself an all-rounder having handled various positions in government. Subsequently it banished Lalit Modi himself.

The issue of cheer girls issue went all the way up to Parliament with the House equally divided as in every household.

Each year, IPL has to usher something innovative in the cut-throat TRP game of television.

Now, in its sixth year, IPL6 has introduced some edicts that would put Moses’  Ten Commandments to shame.

I had a chance to talk to the affable IPL director Sundar Raman who was ever ready to dispel any thoughts of control.
We were seated at the Wankhede stadium where, for a change, commoners can come in and the king of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, is banned.

Farah Khan and party were practicing the moves for IPL-6′s theme song ‘Jumping Zapak’‘ whose tagline reads, ‘Sirf dekhneka nahi’.

“Mr Raman, why are you so possessive about photographs of cricketers. You don’t let anybody else take pictures. I can’t even ask you a question that has the word IPL in it.”

“Look. IPL is not an acronym or a sports league anymore. It is now an international brand name on which millions of dollars ride. We can’t let all and sundry use the name, can we?”

“‘I am surprised you don’t let even the media use pictures or quotes without being risking being dragged to court or facing an IPL firing squad. Don’t forget, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla was himself a journalist not too long ago.”

“You are referring to Shuklaji’s status long time ago. I doubt whether even he remembers that!. He is also a minister of parliamentary affairs apart from being close to the vice-president of the Congress party.”

“My apologies, I forgot to add his  recent qualifications. The 8-point edict you have released on IPL reads like the dos and don’ts of a military academy for cadets joining fresh from college! It would do tribute to the best legal companies in the world like Baker and Mckenzie, Latham and Watkins, or Weil, Gotshal & Manges. After seeing your commandments they might be tempted to come to you to draft a clause or two.”

“Thank you, that would be nice. We drafted these ourselves. I drafted quite a few of them myself, when I was in my bathroom.”

“There is a particular clause which I have taken from sans serif;  I hope you don’t have any objection to this,

ii. publish any photograph that relates to the Pepsi IPL or any previous seasons of the IPL that is sponsored by any third party, or contain catchphrases that refer to any third party (e.g, “Entity A’ Moment of the Match”),

“How come this covers even previous seasons of IPL sponsored by any third party?” I asked.

“We just don’t want to leave anything to chance,” said Mr Raman.

“What if a spectator clicks any player or a ball going for a sixer which Ravi Shastri would call a  Pepsier? Would that constitute a serious offence and come in the area of infringing your draconian laws?”

“Again, it depends. Offhand I can’t answer that without consulting our legal team.  If along the trajectory of ball there is a Samsung Galaxy blimp in the sky and the spectator knowingly or unknowingly catches it I am afraid he will be in a problem. In fact our skysweepers might arrest him.”

‘Great!  What about pictures of cheer girls? They don’t wear too much of clothing anyway.”

“True. To be on the safer side, it’s better you don’t catch even an alphabet of our co-sponsors in any part of the body!” clarified Sundar Raman.

As we finished Farah Khan was making the housewives from Marine Drive dance to Jumping Zapak.

BCCI hands Dhoni cricket trophy without Kashmir!

25 March 2013

The Border-Gavaskar trophy was proudly handed over to Mahendra Singh Dhoni last evening by the “two legends” of Australian and Indian cricket, Alan Border and Sunil Gavaskar, after India’s stunning 4-0 brownwash of Australia in the four Test match series.

But look closely at the trophy which Dhoni received and held up.

You will find a map of India with half of Jammu & Kashmir missing; a map which looks like the maps that foreign publications use, on which the censors then dutifully put their stamp: “The borders of India are neither correct nor accurate”. Or something to that effect.

Is this a trophy created by Indians or Australians?

Did BCCI (which presumably represents the nation) okay the use of such a map? Did BCCI, many of whose high functionaries (from Sharad Pawar to Rajiv Shukla to Arun Jaitley to Laloo Prasad Yadav to Farooq Abdullah) are top politicians, agree to its use?

Is the proud uber-nationalist, Sunil Gavaskar, who refused the membership of the MCC when asked his identity, who walked out of an Australian ground because of a dodgy umpiring decision, OK with it? Couldn’t the commentators and the super-smart cameras which can spot a sweatdrop on a forehead, see this?

Or does it not matter, as long as the wallets—of the board, the cricketers, the ex-cricketers, the channels, the commentators—are overflowing?

Or is it all OK since even Gujarat’s borders or of the peninsula’s, are not what they usually are?

***

Hat tip: Rajeev A. via Abhijeet Harolikar

***

Also read: Narayana Murthy and the anthem row

***

China Daily hands back occupied areas to India

How New York Times stumped Indian censors

The Indian Express stands up for The Economist

Censored but no copies have been confiscated

The Hindu and a scribe who was told to shut up

CHURUMURI POLL: Can Dhoni & Co beat SA?

18 March 2013

The smiles are back on the faces of Indian cricketers, if not cricket fans. After a 0-4 drubbing against England in England and a 0-4 defeat at the hands of Australia in Australia, followed by a series loss to England at home, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his boys have finally sealed a 3-0 series win against Australia at home, with one Test still to come.

Minus Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Virender Sehwag, the young guns (from Murali Vijay to Shikhar Dhawan to Cheteshwar Pujara to Virat Kohli) have scored runs by the bucket. Suddenly Ravichandran Ashwin is taking wickets and Ravindra Jadeja is being spoken of as a match-winner.

No cricket victory is to be scoffed at, although critics will point at the advantage of home conditions, turning tracks, an inexperienced opposition, dissent in the ranks, etc. But there is such a thing as a reality check, too. So, the question is: is this just a chimera or could Dhoni & Co come up trumps against South Africa later this year?

Can the young batsmen stand up to the searing pace of Dale Steyn, Mornie Morkel and Vernon Philander? Will the bowlers run through a batting order that comprises Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, A.B. de Villiers, Faf du Plesis? Or is winning at home enough?

POLL: Should Sachin Tendulkar retire now?

26 November 2012

India’s defeat at the hands of England in the second Test match in Bombay has turned the spotlight not on the spinners who were supposed to take revenge on the Poms for what they did to us when we went to their country, but on India’s greatest ever cricketer, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

With the 39-year-old getting out cheaply twice in a row to the left arm spin of Madhusudhan Singh alias Monty Panesar—his last 10 Test innings have yielded just 153 runs at an average of 15.3—the calls for Sachin’s retirement are ringing aloud once again.

For its part, the BCCI says the maestro will himself decide when it is time to go.

“He will hang up his boots when he thinks it’s time for him to go. He does not need any advice on this. Before making a comment on his performance you have to see his colossal record and his past performance. “He will do well in forthcoming matches,” BCCI official Rajiv Shukla has said.

The irony will not be lost on many, that while Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman—no less contributors to the India Batting story—were given no such choice to decide their fate, the BCCI seems overly reluctant to make up its mind on Sachin’s future although Sachin himself indicated in a recent television interview that he was unlikely to play the next World Cup.

Question: should Sachin take the cue from his recent performances and pack up his bags or should he stay on because, well, a turnaround could still be around the corner?

***

We asked this in 2007 too: Should Sachin retire now?!

India vs England series, and ESPN’s crass TV ads

13 November 2012

KRISHNAKUMAR P. writes from Bombay: Is the Indian cricket fan so cheap?

Do only cheap tricks appeal to the Indian cricket fan?

When ESPNStar won the broadcast rights for India’s home matches for the next six years, Indian fans rejoiced.

First, there was hope of better telecast quality. Second, there was the promise of some erudite commentary. And third, there was the hope that the viewer would now get to watch the first and last balls of each over.

Above all, being a pure sports broadcaster with years of experience covering cricket, ESPNStar was expected to deliver a rich viewing experience as opposed to the kitschy fare delivered by earlier broadcasters.

In short, here was a golden opportunity for ESPNStar to begin the Channel9-isation of Indian cricket broadcast, by injecting some much-needed professionalism at a time when cricket has been packaged and promoted more as entertainment than sport.

But the manner in which the broadcaster has been promoting the India-England series starting on November 15 comes as a sad reminder that not much has changed from the time we were told that ‘it was tough being a West Indian or a Sri Lankan in India.’

The running theme in the ESPN Star TV commercials—‘Angrezon kit toh bajaa di!’ using, in different spots, a pungi, a dafli, a band, and basuri—is as bad, if not worse, as Neo Sports’s racist ads targeting the West Indians or the Sri Lankans.

Understandably, ESPNStar has just come back into the subcontinent and would want to garner as much attention as possible. And admittedly, these ads are just to tell the viewer that the coverage of the series is available with Hindi commentary.

But rather than absolve the broadcaster, this only raises another disturbing question: Does ESPNStar think that the Hindi speaking/listening fan cannot understand the nuances of the game and the only way to connect with those fans is to appeal to their basest instincts?

And does it think that fans are only interested in seeing the Angrez getting bajao-ed and would not be interested in watching a hard fought, evenly matched series of cricket?

What is even more disappointing is that, unlike the Neo sports campaign, which was in the innocent pre-IPL days, this comes in the age of the shrinking dressing rooms and when player camaraderie that cuts across nations and clubs.

Could ESPNStar not have celebrated this newfound camaraderie to promote a big series in India, the home of the IPL?

It is not like STAR cricket doesn’t know how to promote a marquee series on its cricketing merits with a dash of good natured humour and wit. You just have to wait for another ad break between overs to see the ads promoting another cracker of a series being played a couple of time zones removed.

A South African fan asks his Aussie counterpart, ‘Hey Bru, what do you call a world-class Aussie cricketer?’ and goes on to answer: ‘A retired cricketer’. Another spot has the Aussie fan returning the complement, saying the best chance South African fans have of seeing a Dale Steyn wicket on this tour is when he walks in to bat.

Back then, Neo Sports found itself taken to court for its racist ads.

Considering that this time around it is our former colonial masters that are subjected to some old-fashioned bajao-ing, ESPNStar may well get away with it. But make no mistake — these ads are crass, tasteless and offensive.

You can jump 1.74m but only if you think you can

4 September 2012

At the Paralympics in London, G.H. Nagaraje Gowa aka Girish Hosanagara Nagaraje Gowda opens India’s medals tally with a silver in the men’s high jump finals.

Photograph: courtesy Getty via The Wall Street Journal

Five reasons Laxman was Very Very Special

20 August 2012

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: As the cricket ball swings or spins towards slip and gully after leaving the bowler’s hand, every batsman with a coaching manual in his kit either prepares to shoulder arms and let it go past to the wicketkeeper, or cut and drive it in the direction of cover and cover-point.

Alone among modern batsmen, Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman aka V.V.S. Laxman, had the unique gift to whip it to exactly the opposite direction—between squareleg and midwicket—as spectators and viewers ooh-ed and aah-ed while the bowler and fielders suddenly adjusted their field of vision.

Verily, he was, in a manner of speaking, the world’s greatest leg-break “batsman”, those supper wrists turning anti-clockwise as a matter of course.

If Hyderabad was famous for its biryani, so was it for V.V.S. Laxman’s silken grace while he was at the crease.

He lacked Rahul Dravid’s concentration, Sachin Tendulkar’s power and Virender Sehwag‘s devil-may care approach, but each time when the team was in dire stress he delivered. And how!

Granting every batsman will have to pack up and go one day, what made VVS the special player that he became, a legend in his own way?

#  Laxman had supreme confidence in his ability for he become the ‘Rescue Man’ time and again. He revelled in adverse and completely hopeless situations like the one in Eden Gardens in 2001. The tougher the opponent, the tougher the situation, it was more or less certain Laxman would deliver.

Australians by nature are tough as nails and never give an inch. It is this ability to take them on his terms that they came to admire in Laxman immensely. In him, they saw one of their own. That is why his 281 after being put to follow-on will rank one of the finest ever seen in Test cricket.

#  Laxman had to do the recue act most of the times with lower-order batsmen and more often with tail-enders. He gave them the confidence and it is in his company some astonishing draw or victories that have been achieved.

Ishant Sharma,  Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble all brought famous wins with Laxman at the other end battling the opposition and also battling his perennial back ache.

# Laxman ‘s batting was sheer poetry in motion. You could see Keats and Shelley guiding with him when he was on a song. Even when India was losing a match in Australaia, his 167  littered with boundaries, made the Aussies feel they had lost the match.

# Laxman right from his Ranji Trophy days had the habit of chalking up triple centuries in quick time. He never occupied crease for the sake of it, never doddered around eighties looking for the hundred, never clobbered a cricket ball. Yet runs came in quick time, sheer timing and placements doing the job.

# Laxman after Dravid was the best slip fielder in the side. Most of our fast bowlers had a reason to be thankful as they knew they had safe pair of hands in second slips waiting for the snicks.

Nobody will ever know why such a one-man rescue team, who represented India for 17 years was ignored when it came to the World Cup. Their reasoning was he was far too slow. Those who are singing hosannas of him today themselves saw to him he was dropped from side in favour of  Dinesh Mongia.

He had a poor tour in England and Australia but so did almost the entire team save Dravid in England. The so-called one-day experts hardly measure up to exacting standards of Test cricket and it would have been wiser to have Laxman  around to guide the youngsters at least in the home series.

What made Laxman who was selected to play against New Zealand and who should have played against Australia and England at home suddenly announce his retirement? Did Krishnamachari Srikkanth tell him he was required for only series against New Zealand?

Did any of the cricketer turned commentators question his usefulness to the team anymore?

Why did Laxman decide not to play even in front of his home crowd in Hyderabad and quit in a huff?

We will never know.

Now it looks like it was a farewell match he played in Mysore when he scored 169 just 10 days back while playing in Shafi Darashah Tournament  for Hyderabad against Karnataka.

Good bye, VVS. You brought that rare grace and charm that could have only come from the land of Jaisimha and Azhar. The days of wristy flicks are over in Indian cricket.

Also read: India’s greatest match winning batsman is…

Not bones, he has ball bearings in his wrists

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Venky coach UP?

9 August 2012

Indian cricket is now an arena for astonishing conflict of interest. In the name of “making enough” in their prime years, players and administrators (and others outside the boundary) are involved so many kinds of wheels within wheels, deals within wheels that it no longer boggles the mind.

The chairman of the selection committee K. Srikkanth, for instance,was the man in charge of the IPL team Chennai Super Kings, which incidentally is owned by the BCCI president N. Srinivasan. KSCA chief Anil Kumble is also the “mentor” of Royal Challengers Bangalore, etcetera.

Now, B.K. Venkatesh Prasad, the former medium pacer, who is an assistant coach with RCB, is testing the conflict law to its limit. He has taken up coaching the Uttar Pradesh cricket team, which is run by the BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla, who is also a minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet.

Problem is Venkatesh Prasad is a prominent functionary on the Karnataka state cricket association (KSCA).

Which means, a player who has won an election to manage Karnataka cricket is going to be coaching a rival side, which may face his home-state. Prasad can argue that this gives him a chance to hone his coaching skills, etc, but are our cricketers having their bread buttered on all sides, including the edges? Or is the great game above such parochialism?

5 reasons Gavaskar’s wrong about playing Pak

20 July 2012

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has criticized the Indian cricket board’s decision earlier this week to revive cricketing relations with Pakistan with a three-match ODI series in December this year.

Reason: he feels Pakistan is not cooperating in the probe into the November 2008 siege of Bombay despite the mountain of evidence that has been piled at its door.

“Being a Mumbaikar, I feel, what is the urgency (to resume cricketing ties) when there is no co-operation from the other side?”

Gavaskar is a great cricketer and a weighty columnist and commentator to boot. His views carry enormous weight in the cricketing fraternity. He can make or mar ties between BCCI and PCB having been part of the BCCI and International Cricket Council (ICC) administration for a long time.

However, “Sunny” is plain wrong in questioning BCCI’s rationale for resuming cricket with Pakistan three years after the dastardly attack on his hometown?

First: BCCI would have dared to approach Pakistan with a tour proposal only after securing the government of India’s clearance. Perhaps it was Pakistan which came up with the proposal first.

Either way, Union home minister P. Chidambaram and external affairs minister S.M. Krishna would have discussed the issue threadbare with the Prime Minister and only after his (and/or the cabinet’s) clearance would the BCCI have made the first move to invite Pakistan for a tour.

It is the Indian Government that will decide whether Pakistan is cooperating in the Bombay terror attacks, not BCCI and definitely not Sunil Gavaskar. At least we haven’t reached that stage in the BCCI.

So far.

Second: While one certainly appreciates his views that as a ‘Mumbaikar’  for the tragedy that struck on 26 /11, he cannot decide whether there is cooperation from the other side. Not even BCCI. That is again strictly the job of the government.

Once the Government gives its clearance after satisfying itself of all the aspects and give its nod, the board and the cricketers should do their assigned jobs, as rightly pointed out by Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a media conference.

Third: I am sure every player would have felt terrible about the attack, irrespective of whether he was a Mumbaikar or not. So is it with every Indian. In fact it was with that spirit that the whole team played a match against Andrew Flintoff’s England and both teams came in for huge praise from all over the world for their fantastic gesture.

However well meaning, parochial sentiments on a national issue like terror are better consigned to the dustbin, particularly from a cricketer of the calibre of Gavaskar.

Fourth: Sunny is on firmer ground when he questions BCCI with regard to squeezing this tour in a year which is already quite packed.  Here again, if he is questioning the tour on cricketing grounds, he should have also questioned the wisdom of selectors’ acceding to Sachin Tendulkar’s ‘pick and choose’ policy, especially in ODIs,  a subject which has been dealt by quite of few cricket experts and commentators at length.

This affects balance in the team, creates uncertainty in minds of younger cricketers about their future as they have to make way whenever he ‘feels’ like playing cricket. One would have expected Sunny to question the selectors or Sachin in his weekly column regarding this but that did not happen.

It is only Sanjay Manjrekar who has rightly dared to question this in the past.

Fifth: Why should cricket and cricket alone be the barometer of ties between India and Pakistan? Despite 26/11, the two countries seem to have started finding ways of doing business. Its politicians meet happily, its bureaucrats do, there are growing trade ties, etc.

So, why should cricket be held hostage to terror? It is, after all, a sport.

Also read: Gavaskar: India’s most petulant cricketer ever?

Save Indian cricket: keep Sunil Gavaskar out

Are Gavaskar and Shastri India’s only cricketers?

Gavaskar of 2010 is the same Gavaskar of 1981

Why some of us just love to hate Gavaskar

‘Paes-Bhupathi war resembles a ‘C’ grade film’

18 June 2012

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Mahesh Bhupathi has openly refused to play ball with Leander Paes in the forthcoming Olympics. Mahesh and his chosen partner Rohan Bopanna have written to all India tennis association (AITA) that they would like to be paired together for the event.

Anil Khanna, AITA general secretary, has not taken kindly to this salvo, and has asked Bhupathi to play doubles with Leander Paes, or else he will be sacked.

The Paes-Bhupathi duo, once famous as ‘Indian Express’ has been reduced to a ‘C’ grade Bollywood movie with vendetta written all over. The seemingly ‘he loves me he loves me-not’ syndrome between them has all but driven the charm out of the famous doubles combination of the game.

It’s surprising they reunited thrice, each time having quarreled for reasons not spelt out.

AITA has not been able to broker a lasting peace between the two nor the past greats like Ramesh Krishnan or Vijay Amrithraj. Their love-hate circus, which they practice amidst,’ love all’ when they start a match is at once amusing, baffling and a trifle sad.

To be sure, most top tennis players concentrate only on singles, except for a rare John McEnroe, and doubles is generally left for lesser-known players. None of the Indian players have been able to break into the top 100 ranking except for a brief while by Somdev. It is in doubles and mixed doubles India has been able to make a mark.

This vendetta will be played again when selectors sit down to select India’s mixed doubles combination. Mahesh and Sania Mirza Malik having just won French Open would obviously like to play but whether AITA will allow this remains to be seen.

Isn’t it better AITA send a young combination of Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri (in place of injured Somdev) to represent India instead of the warring, sparring veterans and send out a lesson too?

Medals are important but not when the players display immense hatred in public. What good will it serve  future of Tennis in India and what lesson it will have on budding youngsters even if they win a medal?

Also read: Revealed: How the Paes-Bhupathi split began

CHURUMURI POLL: Mandira, Archana or Shibani?*

9 May 2012

Yes, it is the silly season.

First we had Mandira Bedi, the wide-eyed Punjabi girl who gingerly learnt the game with experts while she adjusted her noodle-straps. Then came along Mayanti Langer, the Kashmiri lass whose breakneck diction did not distract conspiracy theorists from wondering if she was a surreptitious product placement for Adidas’ Jabulani ball.

Now, in season five of the Indian premier league, we have been served up Archana Vijaya and Shibani Dandekar as eye-candy to beat the summer heat. Sports television’s admirable quest to make cricket coverage sexy and expand the viewership by empowering women anchors continues relentlessly.

Who gets your vote?

* Please feel free not to take part in this poll should it offend your (soccer and/or gender) sensibilities.

Should Sachin Tendulkar accept RS seat offer?

26 April 2012

There is never a dull moment in the circus that is the Indian political league. As if the indecent clamour for a Bharat Ratna to be bestowed upon him wasn’t enough, the word is that the Union home ministry has recommended that Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar be nominated to the upper house of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha.

Coming as it does the very day Sachin and his wife, Anjali Tendulkar, called upon the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, in the company of the other IPL chief, Rajeev Shukla, the move has necessarily led to some tongues wagging.

Like, is a battered government trying to distract attention from the scams and scandals? Like, is the beleagurered Congress trying to shine in the reflected glory of a sterling cricketer? Like is the Mukesh Ambani hold on the Mumai Indian becoming all too clear? Etcetera.

Sachin hasn’t said yes or no, but obviously smoke like this doesn’t emanate without some fire somewhere. Simple question: does Sachin deserve the “offer”? Should he accept it? Will he be useful in the “house of elders” or will he just end up being used by politicians and political parties? And what can the BJP to match this?

Also read: Why Sachin should not get Bharat Ratna now

A true great, but a Mysore University doctorate?


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