Posts Tagged ‘Rahul Dravid’

A private zoo owner climbs up Forbes celeb pole

14 December 2013

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Celebrities live in a strange and nearly unbelievable age of make-believe, where often times bad news is good news.

For all their cinematic talent and box-office success (and, on top of it, demonstrated decency in public life) neither Dr Raj Kumar nor Vishnuvardhan ever figured like or towered over their peers and compatriots in the national consciousness.

But Darshan Tugudeep (in picture, left) is a different kettle of fish.

The “challenging star” of dozens of execrable films which strangely seem to have a magnetic hold on moviegoers; the “challenged star” who beat up his wife, stubbed a burning cigarette, tore her dress, bit her ear, threatened their son, and pulled out his revolver sparking homas and processions from his equally challenged followers, has made it to Forbes India magazine’s list of the top 100 celebrities in the country.

In fact, the Mysore-born star debuts healthily at No. 65, three places lower than Sudeep at No. 62.

The accompanying text for Darshan reads:

65. Darshan

Earnings: Rs 24 crore

Fame rank: 98

“The Kannadiga actor [who has a private zoo] is among the highest paid stars from the South Indian film industry…. Darshan won the best actor award at the south Filmfare awards for his role in 2012 historical biopic Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna. Like many of his other peers, Darshan too is attempting to build a business that is independent of his acting skills. His family currently owns a a shooting unit…. Apart from a production house, Darshan has started a film distribution business, giving a boost to his earnings.”

In contrast, the text for Sudeep, who earns less and is apparently less famous, is positively bland.

62. Sudeep

Earnings: Rs 13.50 crore

Fame rank: 61

One of the few Kannada actors to have successfully transitioned across language barriers, Kichcha Sudeep had a pretty varied and fulfilling year. He won a slew of awards for his role as the villain in the Telugu-Tamil fantasy movie Eega.

The only other Kannadiga celebs on the list are Deepika Padukone who is at No. 11 with earnings of Rs 39.50 crore, Rahul Dravid who is at No. 30 (Rs 7.66 crore), Aishwarya Rai who is at No. 51 (Rs 13.50 crore), Prabhu Deva who is at No. 90 (Rs 8.50 crore).

Also read: What Darshan‘s brutality says about Sandalwood

Darshan scandal reveals Kannada bias, bigotry’

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Darshan be banned?

When wife-beater Darshan campaigns for Congress

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?

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 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!

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)

***

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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

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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

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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)

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Bishen Bedi with Vishy at the “Sports Club” party

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

Yet another shameless plug for a true Indian great

23 January 2013

Photo Caption

Presumably after buying vegetables for the day, as he said he would following his retirement, former Indian cricket captain and India’s second-most prolific batsman Rahul Dravid (right) makes time to be present at the launch of an advanced trauma centre at a hospital in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Player No. 207 is the modern-day Vijay Hazare

India’s greatest match-winning batsman is…

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?!

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

Will there ever be another like Rahul Dravid?

9 March 2012

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: When will we ever see a cricketer like Rahul Sharad Dravid again?

Facing the fastest of bowlers in spotless flannels not a crease or button out of shape; executing classy cuts and drive on off and leg; crouched at first slip with the same intensity of focus and concentration that made him the most difficult batsman to get out… the wall, if you will.

He is only retiring from the beautiful game, of course, but rare will be the cricket eye that will not wipe a tear of memory.

Dravid brought to his cricket that rare steely determination to rough out any situation out in the middle and rarer grace and conduct that embellished the game even more.

Taking upon himself things which he had never done before for the sake of the team or for sake of his captain was what cricket all about for him.

Be it opening the innings with Virender Sehwag in Pakistan or donning the wicket-keeper’s gloves for one-day internationals so that Sourav Ganguly could get the balance right, it was all part of Dravid’s unsaid commitment for the team. He took upon the new roles himself with nary a complaint.

Never was a word said against anything or anyone in public, for the cricket he had learnt and practiced would always be fair and can never be ungentlemanly.

If Lord’s didn’t bestow the rare honour of scoring a century on debut, when he was out for 96, Dravid came back after 16 years to score that elusive century on a tour in 2011 where he alone played a lone hand in the entire series, though for a losing cause. Dravid’s name went up at Lord’s as a centurian, a fitting honour for India’s best ever one-drop cricketer.

Dravid’s failure with the bat, if we can call the two months out of 17 years of Test cricket in Australia, surprised the cricketing world including his opponents. That is understandable. Time and again he was the wall between abject submission and victory.

Steve Waugh, looking for victory in India in what he called the Final Frontier ran into Laxman and Harbhajan Singh—and Dravid—who turned a certain defeat into victory at Eden Gardens.

Indian cricket will never be the same without Rahul Dravid, but then a generation of fans all over the world  have been lucky to see one of the best cricketers of the game who had combined the craft of excellence in batting with grace, elegance and humility as his hallmark.

Good Bye, Rahul Dravid. And thanks for what you did both on and off the field.

So, when will we see a Rahul Sharad Dravid again?

Not in our life time, I guess.

Photograph: Rahul Dravid, Test cricket’s second most prolific batsman, after announcing his retirement from international cricket in Bangalore on Friday (Karnataka Photo News)

External reading: Suresh Menon in BBC: A special player

Also read: Player no. 207 is the modern-day Vijay Hazare

India’s greatest match-winning batsman is…

Who cries in Bangalore for Rahul Sharad Dravid?

In a team of lottery tickets, one surefire winner

Tch-tching about Adelaide? Think of Anandvan.

19 January 2012

On the eve of the fourth Test match against Australia, Rahul Dravid and Harsha Bhogle show that there is more to life than winning, losing or sweating over a cricket match.

Think of life itself.

As Lance Klusener famously said after South Africa’s loss to Australia in the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup and everybody was pouncing on him: “So what, no one died.”

Also read: Player no. 207 is the modern-day Vijay Hazare

India’s greatest match-winning batsman is…

Do our cricketers have social responsibility?

One question I’m dying to ask M.S. Dhoni

4 January 2012

There is little good news wafting in from Down Under for cricket fanatics switching on TV before brushing their teeth. Sachin Tendulkar seems to have taken a vow not to score his 100th hundred till the Lok Pal bill is passed. The gap between Rahul Dravid‘s bat and pad seems to getting wider than the creases on his forehead. V.V.S. Laxman has a priceless tour average of 1.6 from the three innings in the first two Tests.

Gautam Gambhir still thinks he is on his honeymoon. Virat Kohli can barely believe his luck that he got a look-in ahead of Rohit Sharma once again. If Ravichandran Ashwin bowls so many balls that go the other way, he might be a legspinner before he returns home. Etcetera.

It could all change, of course, cricket being a game of glorious uncertainties and all that. But this was not the way the Agneepath tour was supposed to be and it would seem that the Star Cricket commentary team has more players with  more fire in the belly than the ones on the ground. The World Cup victory is now firmly history as the tennis scoreline of 0-4 in England now looks like being repeated before the Australian Open.

On top of Team India’s travails is Mahendra Singh Dhoni‘s captaincy. The midas touch seems to desert him as soon as he gets a visa stamp on his passport. And as if the waning of the three greats wasn’t enough, the experts are asking questions of his captaincy. Ian Chappell called him conservative recently, and Sourav Ganguly and Ravi Shastri are mocking his bowling changes and field placings.

So, what is the one question you are dying to ask Mahi?

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: Dear God, save us from Sunny & Dada, Shaz and Waz

CHURUMURI POLL: Death of India in Test cricket?

15 August 2011

India’s 0-3 scoreline with a match to go in the four-Test match series against England will only surprise those who have only passing acquaintance with the game, shout Chak de India or Jeetega bhai jeetega as if the other side is only playing to help “us” win, and are only bothered about how much Sachin Tendulkar scores.

The deep cracks in Indian cricket—an ageing batting lineup, an unfit fielding side, injured bowlers, poor bench strength, a preponderance of limited overs cricket, etc—had been papered over by the heady (even if unexpected) World Cup victory and the anything-goes Twenty20 format of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Truth is, India’s strength was always going to be tested in the longer, more testing format of the five-day game against quality opposition, and not surprisingly all these cracks have been exposed most mercilessly by England. That it should come after all the hoo-ha over the centenary Test match is only incidental.

However, defeat is a part of sport. What is more worrisome is what the future portends for the Indian Test team.

As it is, the only top-order batsman with runs in this series has been the 38-year-old Rahul Dravid; the bowling still depends on an always injured and hobbling Zaheer Khan, who is 32. With Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman both on the other side of 35,the simple question to ponder is, is the golden era of India in Test match cricket, which began at the turn of the new millennium, over? Will future Indian teams (at least for a while) only shine in the shorter, more paying versions of the game—and mostly at home? Or will this too pass?

External reading: The worst-ever debacle?

Player No. 207 is the modern-day Vijay Hazare

16 July 2011

Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“In the winter of 1947-48, the Indian cricket team visited Australia to play four Test matches. Australia, led by Don Bradman, were by some distance the finest team in world cricket. India, on the other hand, were greenhorns, having only played 10 Test matches, without winning any of them. To make matters worse, some of the country’s top players were not available for selection. These included three superlatively gifted batsmen: Vijay Merchant, Mushtaq Ali, and R.S. Modi….

“The loss of the three Ms would have hurt the team in any case; here, because of the quality of the opposition, their absence was catastrophic…. Only two Indians emerged with any credit from this unequal encounter. One was Vinoo Mankad. The other was Vijay Hazare…. To play a lone hand was not an uncommon experience for Hazare. He did that always for The Rest, his team in the Bombay Pentangular, then India’s premier domestic tournament….

“In the 1930s and 1940s, Hazare bravely bore the burdens of The Rest; in the 1940s and the 1950s, he oftentimes did the same for India. When India were 0 for four in a Test match in England, it was left to Hazare and his fellow Vijay, Manjrekar, to come together in a retrieving stand that restored some respectability to his side. In the first part of the 1950s, three Commonwealth sides toured India — in the 15 fiercely fought, albeit unofficial, ‘Tests’ that they played, the man that bowlers of the quality of Sonny Ramadhin and Jim Laker found hardest to dismiss was Vijay Hazare….

“No historical analogy can be exact, but still, it may be worth pursuing the question — who is the modern Hazare? One might say it was Sachin Tendulkar, who, for much of his career, has had to bear “this strange burden of popularity and responsibility”, to score hundreds upon hundreds to maintain his fame and keep his team afloat.

“But one can also make a case for Rahul Dravid. For one thing, his style is more akin to Hazare’s, sound and orthodox — coming in at 5 for one, which soon becomes 10 for two — he seeks to patiently rebuild the innings, whereas Tendulkar would seek rather to play some flashing shots and immediately take the initiative away from the opposition.

“These past few weeks in the West Indies, Rahul Dravid had indeed been the modern Hazare. As in Australia in 1947, three of India’s finest batsmen — Sehwag, Tendulkar and Gambhir — cried off from the tour. Here, as then, there were only two experienced batsmen left to carry along a bunch of novices. Laxman, like Mankad in 1947, has batted bravely on occasion — but the Hazare of this tour has been Rahul Dravid. That India won the series is owed largely to the magnificent hundred he scored in the second innings of the Test match in Jamaica.

“Like Hazare, Dravid is a man of courage and decency, content to play — and live — in the shadows of his more glamorous team-mates. Like Hazare, his contributions to Indian cricket have been colossal, and probably under-appreciated. It is time that one of the present, and very gifted, generation of Indian writers treated his achievements and his character in a subtle work of fiction. I suspect, however, that its ending will see its hero living not with animals in a farm, but among books in a library.”

Read the full article: The modern Hazare

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

India’s greatest match-winning batsman ever is…

24 June 2011

For long, the Sunil Gavaskar versus Gundappa Viswanath debate has been firmly sealed, signed and delivered in favour of the latter’s style, selflessness, civility and above all, match-winning prowess. With his 32nd century in his 151th Test, has Rahul Dravid followed in the footsteps of his idol, making it 2-0 in the Bombay vs Karnataka battle?

***

Harsha Bhogle in the Indian Express:

“It is already fifteen years since a simple, elegant, studious and very likeable young man walked out to bat for India at Lords. It was an appropriate setting. Rahul Dravid is neatly turned out, plays the game correctly, likes the traditions associated with the game and is respectful of them. It is not difficult to see why the English would like him. In 1996 though he was significantly more humble and courteous than those I seemed to run into at the ground.

“Not much has changed since then. He is still as intense as ever, still unlikely to sport the ponytail he rejected in one of his earliest commercials, still deeply enamoured by the idea of playing for India, still very out of place in the Kingfisher jingle! That intensity is worth studying though for Dravid knows no other way of playing the game”

Suresh Menon in Tehelka:

“Dravid is the least obtrusive of players, he demands little mind space. He wears his passion on one sleeve, his intelligence on the other. It is a rare combination that evokes awe rather than love, admiration more than conviviality. He is the intelligent man’s guide to what a sportsman ought to be—modest, dependable, well educated, with the gift of grace under pressure and a perspective that is adult.

“While carving out a distinct cricketing personality despite performing alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid ensured that the Indian team retained some of the old-fashioned values unique to cricket. For some years after that Kolkata partnership with V.V.S. Laxman, Dravid carried the Indian batting on his shoulders, saving Test matches in Port of Spain, Georgetown and Nottingham and playing the key role in victories in Headingley, Adelaide, Kandy and Rawalpindi. He had four centuries in successive innings, and four double centuries in a span of 15 Tests. He made an incredible 23 percent of the runs made by India in the 21 victories under Sourav Ganguly, at an average of 102.84.

“It is necessary to descend into statistics only to underline the fact that with Dravid it is never beauty without cruelty – he is a stylish batsman who makes it count, a do-gooder who is focussed on the result, a century-maker whose innings are not out of touch with team performance but an integral part of it. No ploughing the lonely furrow here, every part is a piece of the main.

“Tendulkar’s batting is a joy of straight lines and geometric precision; Dravid’s bat makes no angles to the wind but describes beautiful arcs. In this, he is the spiritual successor to Gundappa Vishwanath, whose secret of the ferocious square cut was passed on to him in that mysterious way cricketing genes jump from one generation to another. When he was selected for India, Dravid told a colleague, “I don’t want to be just another player. I want to be bracketed with Sunil Gavaskar and Vishwanath.” The schoolboy Dravid had photographs taken with his two heroes.

“In time he would dine at the high table with them. He played more strokes more consistently than Gavaskar and the more risky ones with greater safety than Vishwanath.”

Infographic: courtesy Hindustan Times

Also read: Who cries in Bangalore for Rahul Sharad Dravid?

Why some of us just love to hate Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar: the most petulant cricketer ever?

From Bhadravati, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket

Gundappa Vishwanath: Once upon a time, idol worship of a chindi kind

CHURUMURI POLL: Does World Cup excite you?

15 February 2011

The newspapers are running columns and pages of it. The news channels are devoting tens of minutes (and millions of rupees) to assemble the stars. The corporates are unleashing their merchandise and deals to time with the opening, to recreate the spirit of 1983. But is anybody really interested in the 2011 World Cup?

Are you interested in the World Cup? Does it excite you one bit?

The Test match batsman Rahul Dravid says that although the tournament begins on February 19, it gets serious only a month or more later when the knockout stage begins. In other words, much of what precedes it is bunk. The veteran cricket writer Suresh Menon writes: “I am not getting a sense of any buzz…. I wonder if there is actually fan fatigue.”

BBC online news India correspondent Soutik Biswas says:

“Last week, I travelled through Uttar Pradesh which has sent a number of cricketers to the national team. I found little enthusiasm about the event among the locals and spotted no billboards or fan hoardings of cricket stars.The electronics shop owner in my Delhi suburb says there has been no significant surge in TV sales – typically fans migrate to bigger, wide-screen sets before such a major sporting event – despite a high-definition telecast of the event for the first time.”

So, seriously, has the World Cup lost its charm? Is it logout-shutdown-exit for the 50-over format against its 20-over cousin? Or will “Cup Fever”, the usual cliche of headline writers, catch on when, to use the cliche of commentators, “the first ball is bowled”?

Also read: Is Veena Malik the sexiest cricket correspondent?

CHURUMURI POLL: Mallya’s RCB, desi or IMFL?

9 January 2011

When it took off, the Indian Premier League (IPL) was supposed to be, among other things, about building strong city-based local identities. In other words, what the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers do to residents of those cities, the Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians were supposed to do to Delhi-ites and Bombay-ites.

But has the Royal Challengers Bangalore kissed that “strong city-based local identity” goodbye? There is no Anil Kumble in the squad for IPL-4. Rahul Dravid has been “bought out” by Rajasthan Royals. Robin Utthappa, who had been procured from Bombay, has gone off to Poona.

“Market forces” may be behind the departure of the foreign attractions in the Bangalore team—Jacques Kallis, Kevin Pietersen, Dale Steyn and Ross Taylor—and their Indian counterparts like Praveen Kumar, but the flight of  topnotch “local talent” puts a big question mark on the Bangalore team’s local connect.

Maybe, this is just as it should be in a purely commercial auction; there is no place for emotion and sentiment. Maybe, in the new cosmopolitan Bangalore, it takes players from all over to represent Bangalore.

Still, does a “Bangalore team” which comprises Zaheer Khan, Saurabh Tiwary, Cheteshwar Poojara et al evoke the same “connect” with fans and followers, presuming of course there was such a connect in the first three seasons?

On the other hand, how have teams like Bombay and Madras retained a strong local component while Bangalore has squandered it lock, stock and barrel? Or does it not matter as long as Royal Challengers Bangalore serves as a vehicle to peddle “Dr” Vijay Mallya‘s booze, whether it is local or Indian Made Foreign Liquor?

Also read: What Mallya‘s team says about Mallya‘s mind

Since Kingfisher Airlines is only meant to promote water

One question I’m dying to ask “Dr” Vijay Mallya

Why some of us just love to hate Sunil Gavaskar

1 January 2011

For all his titanic batting feats, Sunil Gavaskar doesn’t quite earn the automatic applause of Kannadigas, partly because, well, he batted left-handed against Karnataka in a Ranji Trophy match that Bombay was about to lose.

But largely because of his brother-in-law Gundappa Ranganath Viswanath. The stats of one cranks up the search engines; the style of the other inspires the poets, artists and aesthetes.

To provide a modern context, it’s that very very special, self-effacing, self-less feeling that Vangiurapu Venkatasai Laxman brings to a table where other giants also sup and dine.

The Delhi-born writer Mukul Kesavan (whose Mysorean-father B.S. Kesavan went on to head the national library) salutes genius of the Vishy and VVS kind that is beyond the usual adjectives of dazzling and brilliant, in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“For many middle-aged men, including me, Sunil Gavaskar defines Indian batsmanship. But we all recognize that the modern era in Indian batting was inaugurated by Viswanath and sustained for a decade as much by his genius as Gavaskar’s.

“Diehards like Ramachandra Guha will go to their graves insisting in the face of all the evidence that Viswanath was, in terms of pure genius and certainly in terms of the pleasure he gave to those who watched, the better batsman.

“I once tried to persuade my father that Gavaskar was plainly the only Indian batsman of the Seventies who had a claim to greatness.

“He looked at me with the awful scorn that only age can summon and said: “I watched Duleep (K.S. Duleepsinhji) bat in 1934. I would catch a train to Eden Gardens to watch Vishy; I wouldn’t cross the street to watch that man-machine of yours.”

Link via Srinivas Bhashyam

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

From Bhadravati, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket

Can Jumbo & Babu usher in change without Hari?

23 November 2010

PRITHVI DATTA CHANDRA SHOBHI writes: It is said that leading the Indian cricket team is the second hardest job after the Indian prime ministership.

We may add a new truism: being an Indian fast bowler is perhaps the third most difficult job.

Now, that Anil Radhakrishna Kumble and Javagal Chandrashekhar Srinath have won the elections to the Karnataka state cricket association (KSCA) and will be at the helm of cricketing affairs in the State for the next three years, they have, quite possibly, an even more difficult job ahead of them.

Their candidacy excited many reporters and commentators, within and outside Karnataka, who turned into veritable court-poets, often abdicating their day-job as journalists.

Their resounding victory has elicited hyperbole. The Indian Express calls this the “beginning of a new era in the Indian cricket administration“, and Cricinfo’s Sharda Ugra, whose analytical pieces are balanced and insightful, calls Srinath and Kumble as “gamechangers“.

Amidst this rapturous welcoming of M/s Kumble & Co, forgive me, if I sound like a sceptic.

True, Kumble and Srinath have been brilliant performers on the field and, having watched them since their junior cricket days, for over two decades, I have been a great admirer of their skills and accomplishments.

More impressive has been their personal conduct during their playing days, and since then.

It’s on that basis Kumble and Srinath sought the support and trust of KSCA members. These aren’t ordinary cricketers, who demanded that cricketers be put in charge of cricket administration.

Remember Brijesh Patel too had fought an epic battle 12 years ago against the then secretary, C. Nagaraj, against whom Patel had raised a series of corruption charges and promised to clean up cricket administration in Karnataka. In contrast, Kumble and Srinath have staked their character and integrity.

What’s been interesting about the Kumble-Srinath campaign is their message of change.

While they promise to clean up the cricket administration and turn KSCA into a model organization, we haven’t seen any specifics—either on the problems that plague KSCA or on the alternatives they have in mind. In fact, after the elections on Sunday, Kumble promised to study and come up with a blueprint for change.

Given that both Kumble and Srinath, along with their cohorts—B.K. Venkatesh Prasad, Rahul Dravid, Sujith Somasundar, Roger Binny, M.R. Srinivasa Prasad, Vijay Bharadwaj, all of whom have led Karnataka Ranji teams—have been “insiders” in a manner of speaking for decades, holding many official positions within BCCI and KSCA, I find it surprising that they have nothing concrete to say to the press, even after the elections.

What we have seen so far is a ‘campaign for change’ without specifying what that change might look like.

Sadly, our star-struck journalists haven’t asked for specific details.

Here is another interesting thing. Kumble and his team wanted complete control over KSCA. They compelled Brijesh Patel, who controlled KSCA for over a decade, to give up power. They wanted Srikantadatta Wodeyar, the outgoing president, to step aside and accept a new position of patron, which they offered to create for him.

Perhaps it made sense from their perspective to install a new team so that they could do a proper housecleaning.

Yet, troubling questions arise given how they seem to have allowed themselves to become or to be painted as de facto candidates of the Patel camp. We don’t know what promises were made to Patel; any meaningful change in KSCA will actually mean not only changing the policies of the Patel regime but also investigating Patel himself.

Kumble has forcefully asserted that he is his own man but he hasn’t addressed questions of corruption or nepotism that have plagued the Patel regime, too. Moreover, it’s not an entirely new team since there are holdovers from the previous administration like Roger Binny and R. Sudhakar Rao.

For all the paeans to their integrity in the press, I am actually reassured by Kumble & Co’s very competent politicking.

They presented themselves as the agents of change, as cricketers fighting against outsiders. They were brilliant in characterising the Wodeyar team as incumbents, which was entirely inaccurate; in fact, the Kumble team benefited from the support of the incumbents, the Patel faction.

The fact that the Wodeyar team was utterly incompetent in producing a strong response only helped them. I wish A.V. Jayaprakash had said he is no ‘interloping kabaddi player’ seeking the office of KSCA secretary but a former Karnataka captain and a distinguished international umpire.

Moreover, even before the elections, I heard from reliable sources that Srinath had been instructing KSCA staff members, especially on financial matters.

All this is better than being self-righteous because then they are more likely to become saints or martyrs. The virtue and integrity of the righteous aren’t necessarily valuable to run a public institution. Restraint, common sense, humility and a healthy dose of wiliness are.

Kumble and Srinath will need those qualities in abundance if they want to forge partnerships and build KSCA. Otherwise, for all their good intentions, they will accomplish very little.

Are they game changers? Ask me in six months but I suspect not. What ails KSCA, and generally cricket administration in India, is quite complex and is best left for another post.

***

Full disclosure: I must admit a particular bias in writing this article.

My team, the National Cricket Club (NCC), Mysore, which has been part of the Wodeyar group and represented Mysore zone in the managing committee from 2007-10, lost in the KSCA elections.

I have never been an admirer of Wodeyar and I am glad that he lost.

But NCC’s loss saddens me. That’s not just because NCC is my team but its track record in the last three years warrants strong support. I strongly believe Kumble and Srinath should have been proactive in recruiting NCC to be part of their team, especially because they know what NCC has accomplished in the last three years.

NCC’s major accomplishment of course has been organizing six Ranji trophy matches, including a classic finals match in January 2010, and maintaining what has come to be recognized as the best domestic wicket in India. We don’t realize all the work that goes into organizing a Ranji trophy match in a small center.

The members of National Cricket Club and a superb core of volunteers performed wonderfully, from ensuring supply of drinking water to spectators to tea and snacks to KSCA guests and press; erecting stands for the public to arranging internet for the Press, they did it all and in the true spirit of cricket.

All this is well known. Here are some lesser known facts. Nearly 1500 league matches were played. Five new grounds, including in smaller centers like Mandya, Chamarajnagar and Krishnaraja Nagar, were added and league matches are played regularly in all these places. Seventeen new teams were registered in the Mysore zone and al these teams take part in the State league. Distribution of KSCA resources has been equitable and selections to Mysore zone teams were extremely fair, and senior players from all teams were recruited to be part of the selection committees or to accompany the Mysore zone teams as managers. I have followed Mysore zone cricket for over two decades now and I couldn’t have written these two paragraphs about any other administration.

What’s important to recognize is that the core group of NCC are all active, and committed league cricketers: 45-year-old Harikrishna Kumar, who supervised the day to day administration of Mysore zone cricket, was also the leading wicket taker in the 2009-2010 state league.

NCC may have lost this election but Harikrishna Kumar and his friends can be proud of their tenure as KSCA Mysore zone conveners. Congratulations to them on completing a successful three year tenure.

***

Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi is on the faculty of San Francisco State University, specialising  in medieval South India (especially Kannada literature and cinema) and the cultural politics of contemporary South Asia.

***

Photograph: Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath on election night, November 21, after the results came out (Karnataka Photo News)

***

Also read: Anil Kumble‘s secret is his un-Kannadiganess

Javagal Srinath: The world’s most famous Mysorean?

A tale of two cities as narrated by a cricket field

Players, patrons and the crowd in the age of IPL

A real workhorse from the land of ‘benne dose

From the Coffee Board end to Hunsur Road end

Finally, it came down to Abhishek Nayar‘s balls

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most valuable batsman?

6 October 2010

Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman was shy of his magnum opus 281 by a clear 208 runs. Still, his stellar unbeaten 73 was enough to guide India home in Mohali.

His career runs and centuries are fewer than some of his more decorated peers, yet Laxman has delivered each time the chips are down. As indeed has Rahul Dravid. As indeed did ‘JimmyAmarnath.

Which is brings us to the question: who is India’s most valuable Test match batsman ever?

CHURUMURI POLL: Bring back Rahul Dravid?

29 August 2010

India’s batting in the just-concluded one-day tri-series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand will surprise nobody who knows which side of a cricket bat to hold. Up one day, down the next five, “the world’s strongest batting lineup” has crumbled on featherbed tracks against wibbly-wobbly bowlers.

Conclusion: much as the team might boast of roaring tigers and purring cubs, it lacks the elephantine solidity that is essential for consistency. Enter Wasim Akram. The greatest southpaw to have held a cricket ball says Rahul Dravid, condemned to Test match duty, should be brought back into the side because the 36-year-old has plenty to offer in the 50-year format.

“In the sub-continent, the current batsmen can do well, but on overseas tours, India need a solid and experienced batsman like Dravid,” Akram has said.

Agree? Should India go back to an old warhorse? Disagree? Should India persist with the failing youngsters in the hope that they will one day come good?

Also read: Who cries in Bangalore for Rahul Dravid?

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Rahul Dravid retire?

QUIZTIME: the cricketer in the football team?

15 June 2010

Rahul Dravid played county cricket for Kent, Anil Kumble for Northamptonshire, Javagal Srinath for Gloucestershire and Leicestershire. Syed Kirmani went on to play for the Railways, Roger Binny for Goa.

With the World’s Cup filled to the brim, Jayanth Kodkani, co-editor of Bangalore-Bean Town to Boom Town, slips in a twister in the tail in his blogging debut:

“Name the Bangalore cricketer of yesteryear who had also played for the Mohun Bagan cricket team in the Calcutta league decades ago.”

Who could it be?

Read the full blog: Bend it with the seasonal soccer fan

How our TV networks are killing the golden goose

17 May 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: One of the popular scraps doing the rounds on Facebook is:

“Thank God, India failed to scrape through to the semifinals of the Twenty20 World Cup! Otherwise Vishwanathan Anand’s 4th World Cup title victory in chess would have been confined to a one-liner between ‘other news’ and the ‘weather report’, courtesy our national networks!”

Even now, India reaching the finals of the Azlan Shah hockey championship in Malaysia has been consigned to a similar fate as TV time is  hogged by reformed match-fixers and one-Test wonders who are pontificating on how Mahendra Singh Dhoni must put Indian cricket ahead of club cricket.

So far, no expert on chess has come on TV to explain how Anand won the crucial final game, what moves he made, etc. But every move and tweet of Lalit Modi is being scrutinized and Virender Sehwag’s mother’s reaction is being studied in anticipation of Sehwag supposedly becoming India’s captain, courtesy our froth-in-the-mouth networks.

With the BCCI reportedly seeking an explanation on a brawl involving the players in a St Lucia pub after India lost the match against Sri Lanka, we can be sure reporters will soon be interviewing Rohit Sharma’s naani in Bombay to find out if Rohit was always a problem child even in his kg classes!

Not to be outdone, a rival channel will dispatch half its staff to get ‘whatever it takes’ about Yuvraj Singh’s diet due to which he has put on some weight. I won’t be surprised if the network also interviews ‘aloo chacha’ from Yuvraj’s favourite chaat shop, with a few words from Gulfi of  ‘Gulfi’s kulfi’ about Yuvraj’s kulfi eating habits.

What have the so-called national networks reduced themselves to?

Do they know:

# At Wimbledon, only a few from England have won the men’s or women’s, singles or doubles, championships for the last 50 years?

# At the French Open in Paris, only a couple of Frenchmen and women have managed to bag the title in more than 50 years?

# That, despite hosting the first three World Cups, England had never ever won a major tournament, and its Twenty20 win on Sunday was a first?

Winning and losing is a part and parcel of a game.

Whining and crying is not when the team loses.

And non-stop yapping and going over the top is not when the team wins!

Had the Indian team won this edition of the Twenty20 World Cup, even God would not have managed to help viewers and cricketers. Money would have flown like IPL funds, and crores would have been spent on cash prizes, awards and rewards such as cars, prime lands and what-have-you.

Dozens of reporters would have been vying with each other to interview Dhoni’s hair-dresser, Raina’s milkman and Gautam Gambhir’s second chacha! There would have been a nonstop yapping on the TV by former test discards on how “Captain Cool/ Courageous” conjured up this victory.

This is being intolerable in victory.

We don’t find BBC reporters running to the bar frequented by Andrew Flintoff or Kevin Pietersen to know whether their drinking habits were in any way responsible for England not winning anything worthwhile till Sunday.

If Pietersen were to be playing for India, by now the major networks would have camped at the hospital, interviewed, the doctors and nurses who delivered his baby and shown the  baby’s cries live, all because Pieterson helped England to reach the semifinals and the win the finals!

India did not win the super8 matches because they didn’t play short-pitched balls that came up to the chest. Period.

It’s a simple as that. This is not something new; this weakness has existed in Indian cricket over the last 50 years.

Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid are the only two who have mastered the short pitched balls, especially while playing overseas, and their records speak for themselves.

The BCCI should use the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore and train our batsmen how to play short-pitched balls. Unless this is taken care of, Indian cricketers will flounder against bouncers on a lively pitch in any from of cricket. Again and again.

Most of the reporters can’t differentiate between a ‘leg glance’ and a ‘short leg’ but can yap hours at a stretch at ‘extraa yap’ sessions, before and after the match, prying in to lifestyles of cricketers, etc, and splash any teenie-weenie bit of trivia as ‘Breaking News’.

Cricket, hockey or for that matter chess are all games, among others, which deserve ‘equal opportunity’ from the media. By being partial to cricket and sensationalising when India wins or loses, the media is doing singular disservice both to the cricketers as well as to other sportspersons who don’t get any recognition or coverage at all.

The networks should ponder over this and give a more balanced coverage to all sports.

Gavaskar of 2010 is the same Gavaskar of 1981

22 April 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: During the IPL semifinals between the Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore last night, one minor incident proved that the more things change in cricket, the more things remain the same with one of our greatest cricketers.

In Melbourne, in 1981, Sunil Gavaskar, opening batsman and India captain, almost walked out of the MCG along with his partner Chetan Chauhan, peeved at the umpire’s LBW decision off the bowling of Dennis Lillee, much to the astonishment of Australian cricketers, the public and to the embarrassment of the Indian team.

Thankfully, team manager Col. Durrani came running to the boundary and was able to persuade Chauhan to go back and resume the innings that saved great ignominy for Indian cricket.

Imagine walking out of a Test match because you don’t agree with the umpire’s decision?

Yesterday, when Rahul Dravid stood his ground after Sachin Tendulkar had ‘caught’ him in the slips, the self-same Gavaskar remarked:

Dravid is not going! After playing for so many years with Tendulkar and spending time in the dressing room, Dravid should know what sort of a person Tendulkar is. He would never cheat. Dravid should have accepted the catch and walked.

Gavaskar’s fellow commentator, Robin Jackman was more circumspect. He was not sure whether the catch had been taken cleanly and felt that it was rightly referred to the third umpire.

Subsequently it was proved beyond doubt that even as Tendulakr’s hands grabbed the ball, a part of the ball had touched the ground and hence it was not a catch.

Cameras do not take into account the celebrations. The cameras had conclusively proved that it was not a catch and Dravid was right in standing his ground.

It is possible that a fielder may not know if the catch had been taken cleanly or a boundary scored, as it all happens in a micro-second. That is why more than 20 cameras capture the action to be played in slow motion. It helps umpires to give the decision, reverse the decision if need be, after getting the facts clearly.

The yardsticks are same, be it Ricky Ponting or Tendulkar.

However, what  must have been surprising to millions of viewers as well as Robin Jackman, was the unnecessary diatribe by Gavaskar against Dravid whose credentials for fair play is one of the highest order, if not the highest itself.

In fact, the cameras proved Dravid was right and Tendulkar was wrong.

Dravid and Tendulkar have played for India with distinction and are ranked amongst the greats of the game and have shared many a great moment in team’s victory.

Gavaskar is one of the all-time greats of the game; there is not an iota of doubt about that. But as in the Melbourne match when he lost his cool and reason, he seemed to have lost again last night.

A little bit of humility adds lustre to greatness. Always. Both Dravid and Tendulkar are examples of that.

Gavaskar doesn’t have to go far to see that. There is one in his family in G.R. Vishwanth.

Photograph: courtesy World News

Also read: From Bhadravathi, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket

Sunil Gavaskar: India’s most petulant cricketer ever?

Once upon a habba, idol worship of another kind

Say it again: ‘I’m happy seeing my parents happy’

27 March 2010

The inclusion of Ranganath Vinay Kumar in the Indian squad for the Twenty20 World Cup is much deserved, statistically speaking. But it is also nothing short of seismic, sociologically speaking.

The man hails not from traditional urban cricket centres like Bangalore and Mysore, but the humbler cotton cocoon of Davanagere. It wasn’t on the lush green grounds of some international school that Vinay cut his cricketing teeth, but on the hard outfield of the Mothiveerappa high school grounds.

He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, with his mother dropping him off at a coaching class in a fancy car; the servant lugging the kit. Rather, like Vinod Kambli, he was born on the other side of the railway track; his father driving a hired autorickshaw to eke out a living for the family.

And unlike plenty of recent worthies who have been fast-tracked into India’s most coveted club, Vinay has had to strain every sinew in match after match, with bat and ball. There was no “godfather” holding a gun at the heads of the selectors. Despite the bucketful of wickets he had soaked up in the last three seasons, he wasn’t considered good enough for a BCCI contract by the worthies.

But, unlike the benne dose (butter dosa) that his hometown is famous for, all who know him and have dealt with him, have only one thing to say: Vinay is the Rahul Dravid of bowling: gutsy, hard working, tough as nails, never say die and streetsmart. The word impossible has been scratched out of his cricketing lexicon.

And, surely, anybody who remembers a dead coach on the biggest day of his life, has his heart in the right place?

Here’s how sections of the media covered the selection of a true son of the soil.

***

Cricinfo/ A break that was long overdue: “Vinay’s friend, Harshan, used to tell him, ‘If you get Sachin Tendulakar”s wicket, you will definitely play for India. Whoever has bowled him—S. Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla— has played for India.” Last year, in the IPL in South Africa, Vinay got Tendulkar with a beauty in Port Elizabeth. So Vinay called Harshan, and asked, ‘Okay maga [mate], I have got his wicket, now tell me, I’ll play for India or what?’ Harshan, like the selectors, had an excuse ready. ‘No, I told you to get him bowled.’

“In the third season of the IPL, at the Brabourne Stadium, Tendulkar was in much better form than he was in Port Elizabeth. He was moving across and playing unbelievable flick shots from in front of the stumps. Vinay, though, got one to nip in a touch extra, and hit the exposed leg stump. Harshan texted immediately, ‘Get ready to play for India.’ Six days later, when he was driving to another friend’s place, on a short break from continuous IPL matches, Vinay got the belated call-up.”

The Times of India/ Auto driver’s son rises: ” Having been let loose for a couple of days by the management of his IPL side, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Vinay chose to go for a long drive in his Santro, mostly in a bid to escape the tension that has always enveloped him and his family whenever the national selectors meet. Had this scene taken place a few years before, he could well have been moving about in an autorickshaw, not the usual hired one but the one driven by his dad Ranganath to keep the family fire burning.”

Hindustan Times/ Happy to see my parents smile: “I had been expecting this for a while and every time I would be disappointed. My parents would ask me why I wasn’t getting selected despite good performances. Sometimes I would tell them that perhaps I wasn’t destined to play for the country…. Now I am happy seeing them happy.

Maybe God wanted me to work harder and longer…. We weren’t financially strong, and me being the eldest, it was my duty to take care of them. But looking at my interest in the game, they encouraged me to continue playing. They never made me feel guilty about the fact that I wasn’t helping them in running the family.””

The Hindu/ Vinay has a legacy to live up to: “Indian cricket’s latest heroes are continuing to emerge from the hinterland. Vinay is a fresh example of an iron-willed small-town lad carving his space under the sun.”

Deccan Herald/ Gutsy Vinay gets T20 cut: “The wait, which appeared eternal, is finally over. His State team coach K. Sanath Kumar’s reaction was laced with a tinge of sadness when Abhimanyu Mithun was picked for the first Test against South Africa in February. While he was all happy for Mithun, he was disappointed that the big-hearted Vinay missed out on the opportunity. However, Sanath is a happy man now, with Vinay getting recognised at last.”

DNA/ Bangalore medium pacer pulls a fast one: “The wait is finally over for Indian cricket’s ‘Nobody’s Child’…. It’s been a long journey for the son of an automobile spare parts dealer in the small town of Davangere. Despite taking the highest number of wickets in first class cricket in 2007-08 and 2009-10, Vinay was not considered for a central contract by the BCCI. But he did not lose hope and believed that his day would come.”

Cricinfo/Maybe God wanted me to work harder and longer: “Few people get the chance early, few have to wait. We weren’t financially strong, and me being the eldest, it was my duty to take care of them. But looking at my interest in the game, they encouraged me to continue playing. They never made me feel guilty about the fact that I wasn’t helping them in running the family.”

CricketNext/ Vinay ready to put his best foot forward: “”I am very happy for my son. I am sure he will perform well for the country,” said Soubhagya, his mother. “Though the call has come later than what we had anticipated, I am happy for him. My son is a very hard worker. I am confident that he will make India proud,” said Vinay’s father Ranganath.

The Telegraph/ Vinay thanks selectors: “I would also like to thank my coach Prakash Pawar, who is no more, and L.M. Prakash for recognising my talent and developing me into what I am today. K. Jeswanth and K. Sanath Kumar were also instrumental in shaping my career. I’m grateful to former Karnataka bowler Y.B. Patel. He would say that I will go on to play big cricket and always encouraged me. Even on his deathbed, he told someone to hand over a kit bag to me. I haven’t used it. I treasure it.”

Vijaya Karnataka/ Dil khush: “Whenever the selection committee sat down to pick the team, I would sit in front of the television to see if my brother would be included. I felt proud when he sent titans like Sachin and Saurav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag back to the pavilion. My brother just loves Rahul Dravid. He has his pictures pasted in every corner of our home,” says his sister Vinutha.

Top photograph: courtesy rediff.com

Bottom: Vinay’s mother Soubhagya (right) helps sister Vinutha (centre) stuff doodha pedhas into the mouth of his coach L.M. Prakash in Davanagere on Friday (courtesy Praja Vani)

Also read: A real workhorse from the land of benne dose

Gundappa Vishwanath: From Bhadravathi, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket

Javagal Srinath: The world’s most famous Mysorean?

Oh my god, can this be India’s all-time best XI?


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