Posts Tagged ‘Indian Premier League’

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?

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?

Two kinds of people work in the dead of night

4 April 2013

Photo Caption

When the lights come on, two kinds of uniformed men get down to work: one for private profit, the other for public good.  As the Royal Challengers Bangalore get into their red and gold at the Chinnaswamy stadium for the first match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) tonight, a not-so-royal set of challengers, will put on their helmets for the Bangalore metro.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The Namma Metro photo portfolio

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.

To repeat: IPL is a circus, IPL is a circus

12 March 2012

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been called plenty of name by its baiters. Now, as if to live up to the label that it is but a circus—a carnival of cricket, cinema and commerce—the Twenty20 league has come up with a superbly produced TV commercial that underlines the point for those too challenged to discern.

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?

Why 1983 is still vivid, and 2011 is already a blur

4 July 2011

Santosh Desai in The Times of India:

“When it comes to the 1983 cricket World Cup, many Indians would believe that they have a ball-by-ball memory. It seems as if every wicket, every boundary, every gesture and every turn of phrase used by the commentators is etched in our memory. That was 28 years ago, and then when we try and cast our minds back a couple of months to the 2011 World Cup victory, curiously instead of memories what we have is some noisy static and a distant and somewhat wearied sense of pride that we need to dredge up.

“Of course, this has partly to do with the crowded cricket calendar and the fact that the seemingly interminable IPL occurred even before the champagne corks landed on the ground, but that can hardly be a full explanation…. The abundance of memory that surrounds the 1983 win points to the fact that events have a rich afterlife and that the idea of any event is constructed not only at the time it occurs, but is continuously added to and re-interpreted through the lens of moving time.

“In that sense the ‘1983 world cup victory’ did not occur only in that year for we have added layers to that edifice and have consumed it in different ways over the years. It lives on as a visual memory etched into our minds. It is enjoyed not only for the gloriousness of the final outcome, but is bathed in incandescent retrospective light,with every event leading to the eventual victory suffused with an almost sacred energy….

“The greatest pleasure of winning the World Cup in 1983 lay in chewing the memory cud for decades thereafter; now the pleasure lies on the Next Big Thing on television.”

Read the full column: Why 1983  is still vivid, 2011 is a blur

When the boys are imported, why not girls too?

6 April 2011

When the “good doctor from the University of Southern California University” outsourced a cheer leading squad from the Washington Redskins for the first edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the hope was the usual entrepreneurial one. That in the months and years ahead, the pom-pom weilders would be indigenised.

But IPL-4 is around the corner, and it turns out, the desi dhamaakas are still not upto it. Result: supporters of Royal Challengers Bangalore, will have to make do with mischief makers from South Africa, who showed their wares to the pop of the flashbulbs, at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Vijay Mallya‘s RCB: Desi or IMFL?

The girls promise mischief. Are the boys upto it?

Bangalore boys get a thumbs up from global girls

CHURUMURI POLL: Are T20 cheer girls obscene?

CHURUMURI POLL: Should cheer girls be banned?

Does IPL need Bollywood or the vice-versa?

17 January 2011

After submitting himself to the manufactured thrills of Twenty20 cricket in South Africa, Mukul Kesavan writes in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The IPL’s apologists tell us that the Bombay film industry’s participation in the IPL sprinkles stardust on the cricket and makes it more glamorous, more popular. They argue that only po-faced purists can object to cricket using star power to extend its reach. Rhetorically, this is a good argument because it’s obvious that Shahrukh Khan’s and Shilpa Shetty’s association with the IPL brings the tournament more column inches in newspapers, more television time.

“But the Durban match demonstrated that the reverse is actually true. Cricket isn’t using Hindi cinema to extend its brand; Hindi cinema is using cricket to consolidate its grip on popular culture…. The cricketers in general, were, depending on the favoured metaphor, either props for the main show or appetizers for the main course. The match itself was in the nature of an opening act, a preliminary to the real business of the evening.”

Read the full article: Cheerleaders in Durban

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

CHURUMURI POLL: Indians in spot-fixing too?

30 August 2010

The spot-fixing scandal to hit Pakistan cricket only confirms a growing sense of unease about the game. The scams surrounding IPL, the haze of drugs hovering over some players, the scandalous lifestyles of some others, the disappearance of top-flight talent from most teams, the politicking, etc, all suggest that the sport is being sullied and milked dry by players and administrators with dollar $ign$ in their eye$.

Obviously, this is a state of affairs that a sport greatly loved in this country but played only by a few others can afford. If an individual was going through so much strife, a shrink would recommend a break, a rest, a holiday, so that the patient can step back, catch a breath, and allow the mind to catch up with the body. Equally obviously, it is unlikely cricket’s money-mad administrators will even contemplate such a possibility.

Pakistan cricket is clearly in ICCU. But that’s not saying much. Is Indian cricket in any better shape? If India is the hub of bookies who are behind match-fixing, as alleged by former captain Rameez Raja, is it possible that Indian players too could be involved in the Pakistani game? Or, are our players clean and beyond reproach (and approach) after the last match-fixing scandal?

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.

Are Gavaskar & Shastri India’s only cricketers?

27 April 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: As I went around the now-abandoned Chinnaswamy stadium, no thanks to the Bangalore police, I spotted the Ace Sports Specialist (ASS) sitting in the clubhouse restaurant.

I joined him for coffee and thought I could get my doubts cleared on some cricketing aspects.

“How come only a few names come out of the BCCI’s hat whenever the membership or chairmanship of any committee comes up? One or two occupying multiple positions of power in not uncommon. Is it a case of ‘Favored Few’? Or do others not qualify or they are not interested?” I started off.

“You are talking in riddles. Why don’t you be specific?” asked ASS.

Sunil Gavaskar is one of the most articulate and knowledgeable cricketers apart from being one of the all-time greats of the game. Naturally his services are sought by the ICC, the BCCI as well as sports channels like ESPN, Star Cricket, etc.”

“It is but natural,” ASS agreed.

“Sometime back when he was the chairman of the ICC technical committee, he had criticized ICC during a Test match as Star Sports commentator. There was a clear conflict of interest. ICC bluntly gave him an alternative, ‘either be with ICC or quit commentating’.”

“That’s right. He resigned from the ICC and kept the more lucrative commentator’s job.”

“Doesn’t ICC’s rule apply for BCCI too?  He is the chairman of BCCI technical committee and he continues to be the commentator for the cricket channels as well as an expert for the news channels? Isn’t there a conflict of interest? Even the captain or a member of the team is barred from writing when a match is on.”

“You’re right. I never thought of this before. BCCI always operates in an ad hoc manner most times,” blurted ASS.

Ravi Shastri was a ‘Champion of Champions’ once and hit 6 sixes off Tilak Raj in a Ranji trophy match.”

“Not bad kannaiah, Ramu! You have kept track of all the great records.”

I ignored ASS’S backhanded compliment.

“Aren’t Shastri and Gavaskar members of the IPL governing council too?” I asked.

“Yes, they are, along with Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.”

“Don’t we have other cricketers of calibre who could have been given this job, like Mohinder Amarnath, Kapil Dev, Bishen Singh Bedi, Syed Kirmani, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Dilip Doshi et al since Gavaskar is already chairman of technical committee and Shastri is chairman of the NCA in Bangalore? Why doesn’t BCCI even consider other senior cricketers as they too have served the country with distinction?”

“There is something like being in ‘good books’ of BCCI; the names that you mention probably come under ‘bad books’,” ASS explained.

“I see. What about Arun Lal, Brijesh Patel, Shivlal Yadav,  Narendra Hirwani, Raju Mukherji?” I persisted.

“Look. BCCI must have forgotten most of these names. Sharad Pawar and Shashank Manohar may not even know who Hirwani is.”

“Again, how come only Ravi Shastri and Gavaskar were along with S. Venkataraghavan in a committee to select the coach for the Indian team? Shouldn’t senior cricketers like Chandu Borde, Ajit Wadekar and Gundappa Vishwanath be on such committees? Their credentials as players are any day better than that of Shastri.”

“The cricketers you mentioned may perhaps be too old to understand modern cricket, especially one-day cricket and Twenty 20 cricket.”

ASS had brought the newer forms of cricket into play.

“Look,” I said, “both Gavaskar and Shastri didn’t exactly set the Meethi river on fire in the shorter versions. Remember, Gavaskar scored 36 not out in 60 overs in the first World Cup! What about Syed Kirmani, Yashpal Sharma or Kirti Azad, the heroes of the 1983 World Cup final or Sadanand Vishwanth or W.V. Raman?”

“The names you mention are not from the western region.”

“I can’t understand. First you have to be in the ‘good books’ of the Board and then you have to be also from the western region to be eligible for plum positions! BCCI should encourage past cricketers from all regions and give them the chance to shoulder various responsibilities instead of choosing only its blue-eyed boys in all committees and academies etc. Are we talking of the board of control for cricket in India, the BCCI, after all?”

“Yes, but BCCI, which runs cricket in the country, is mostly BCCIWI,” said the ASS.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Board of control for cricket in India from western India!’ The other regions simply do not matter to them in the least,” replied the ASS is we left the Chinnaswamy stadium.

CHURUMURI POLL: BCCI—clean-up or cover-up?

26 April 2010

A fortnight of feverish “innuendos, half-truths and motivated leaks“—of corruption, collusion, conflict of interest, tax evasion, shady franchise ownership, fixed auctions, patronage, nepotism, sex, sleaze, drugs etc—has ended with the summary suspension of Lalit Modi as the commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) without giving him a chance to answer the charges.

The board of control for cricket in India (BCCI) waited for the last ball to be bowled in the third edition of the IPL before making its move, and did so just before the governing council of the IPL, a league which Modi created for the BCCI to applause all round, was to meet in Bombay.

Modi is the second victim of the storm he whipped up through a tweet, after minister Shashi Tharoor, who paid the price for mentoring the Cochin franchise a little too personally.

The BCCI has appointed a new commissioner, the very men who were singing in Modi’s praise are now slamming him, and there is now talk that Modi will be charged on “five counts“, including his “behavioural pattern“. The cycle of events reeks of deja vu, a similar drama having been played out to get rid of Jagmohan Dalmiya not too long ago.

Questions: Is the BCCI sincere in its clean-up, or this is just a cover-up to evade government action? Is Modi alone to blame for all the ills he has been accused of, or is he a fall guy, a scapegoat meant to sate the bloodthirst of the lynch mob? Are Tharoor and Modi alone guilty of misdeamanour, or are there more?

IPL’s thugs are no better than Maoists and Naxals

25 April 2010

SHAH ALAM KHAN writes from New Delhi: To qualify as an Indian, it is essential that you love cricket, it is important that you gossip, it is vital to fall in love with pelvic-thrusting actors and cajoling actresses on the celluloid screen, and it is quintessential that you make money the quick (and sometimes the wrong) way.

The saga of Indian Premier League (IPL), the beleaguered cricket league of India, is no exception to these general rules of Indianness. The vulgar display of money, power and beauty is there for all to see.

From selfish business tycoons to iconic players, all adorn the masala called IPL. It is surely entertainment at its best.

The kind of recipe which made a friend’s 85-year-old grandma vouch for a team (it’s a different matter that she can’t make out why the two brothers, called “mid off” and “mid on”, play for every team!)’. IPL is fun as long as it confines itself to the cricketing field.

Last week the game spilled over, flooding our fragile democratic institutions and drowning a lot in its wake.

To believe that all what happened in the last couple of weeks is the result of an ego clash between Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor would be rather stupid and naïve. In fact are we being made to believe that a shrewd businessman and a newly crowned politician do have an ego? Doesn’t make sense to me.

In all its three years of existence, IPL was not about cricket. It was about money. About a lot of money!

The unprecedented value of the IPL was too much to be resisted by all—politicians, administrators, business moguls, cine stars. Everyone wanted a piece of this rich pie. But are we really interested in the Tharoors, Pawars, Ambanis and Modis?

Corruption in the IPL does not really worry me.

From the day of its conception the IPL was not a sanctum sanctorum. “Brand IPL” as it is tried to be labelled by those who believe in the politics and power of “brands” was a hot bed of vested interests. It was an outlet for black money. Yes, they also played cricket to keep the likes of us think that the league represented a sport so close to a billion Indian hearts.

The financial aspects of IPL are not only murky but an eye opener for those who thought that India was a poor nation with more than 40 per cent of the population living below the poverty line. The total value of IPL, which even Modi cannot predict with surety, is expected to be around Rs 70,000 crore.

This unaccounted money is available to the richest people of India. No doubt the rich got richer in the IPL.

Compare this to a cumulative expenditure of mere Rs. 27.59 crores in the prestigious national rural guarantee scheme of the government of India for the state of Orissa in 2008-09. The Orissa example is even more glaring as this is the state where hunger deaths are reported on a regular basis.

Some may argue, and correctly so, that it is foolhardiness to compare a government scheme with a privately owned sporting event which is meant for entertainment. Sure, but this is the best way to show how India entertains and Bharat survives under one roof.

The contrast of IPL money and the lack of it in governmental schemes shows the divergence of thought and responsibility which goes in making India a nation of such huge contradictions. It is this thought process which gives birth to Maoists, Naxals and other elements of state defiance.

With the muck and shame of IPL written large on the faces of corporate and political class of India, words of our honourable home minister, Shri P. Chidambaram, sound so hollow, “we shall counter the Maoists with force. They are the gravest internal security threat to our country”. How can we even expect to believe a word of what he says?

Maoists, Naxals, Naga Militia. Are any of these a bigger threat to the nation than the financial scamsters of IPL? Shouldn’t the equation be set right now?

May be one Maoist for every thug involved in the IPL?

How about “neutralising” the threat of Lalit Modi and his brigade before “neutralising” the alleged mastermind of the Dantewada massacre, Ramanna Paparao?

IPL even described socialism in its own new way.

According to a report released just before the end of IPL2 (2009) by the equity research firm IIFL, Rajasthan Royals, the team representing Jaipur would have made the highest profit of Rs 35.1 crore in the group matches of the second edition of the tournament even when their performance was below par compared to their champion status of 2008.

Kolkata Knight Riders, which finished at the bottom in the league table in South Africa, nevertheless ended up with the third highest profit of Rs 25.8 crore in IPL 2. King’s XI representing Punjab, which also did not make it to the semis, just beat Kolkata to second spot with a profit of Rs 26.1 crore.

How interesting is that!

Teams doing poorly in terms of cricket will not necessarily fare poor in their financial gains. It looks as if Lalit Modi and his gang of franchises have defined what could be called as “IPL Socialism”.

The IPL also represents a loot of public funds, my and your money, which doesn’t even get noticed.

Each day-and-night match of the IPL played under flood lights, consumes electricity enough to run 500 average Indian homes for a month. The provision of subsidised electricity doesn’t make things any different. It is believed that the average electricity bill for a single day and night cricket match of the IPL is more than $15,000.

For those interested in numbers, this is the government’s expenditure on health for ten adult Indians if they live up to an age of 70 years (at the rate of $21 PPP).

Water, a deficient resource in cities like Mumbai and Delhi is used to keep the fields green during the IPL. This, in a country which is now at the top of the childhood malnutrition charts of the globe with lack of clean water being the primary cause of a large number of infant and childhood morbidity and mortality.

The money and its earthy use in the IPL is a matter of shame for each Indian.

We all love cricket but surely not in a way in which Lalit Modi packed it for us. The very fact that a large part of our society is still deprived of basic daily needs including food should always weigh heavily on our conscience.

Why are we as civil society becoming oblivious to the needs of the common Indian? How can we even accept an agriculture minister presiding over the functions of the IPL when hundreds of farmers are committing suicide day in and day out?

How are we justified in condemning the Maoists when the Indian society gives them an IPL every now and then? If the law of the land does not permit theft, how can it allow this unprecedented day light robbery? The vulgarity of IPL stands defiant.

If Lalit Modi and his band of filchers cannot feel for the poor they should at least respect poverty.

(Dr Shah Alam Khan is an orthopaedic surgeon at the nation’s premier medical college and hospital, the all Indian institute of medical sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. Visit his blog: India and Bharat)

Photograph: The ICC’s next chief, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, with his protege, BCCI president Shashank Manohar. The duo met home minister P. Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday in Delhi after which Pawar pulled the plug on IPL commissioner Lalit Modi (courtesy The Hindu)

Also read‘IPL threatens cricket’s democratisation trends’

TWEET THIS: Shashi Tharoor and Globalisation 2.0

Making capital out of Ambedkar, Maoism, cricket

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

The only tree with more fruits is (perhaps) at IPL

21 April 2010

A stone’s throw away from the M. Chinnaswamy stadium, a worker at the Venkatappa art gallery in the back yard of Cubbon Park, ushers in the jackfruit season by climbing up to take stock of a bountiful harvest.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Anjushathamanam janangal matrame Tharoorine…

18 April 2010

Rajiv Gandhi didn’t have to go for the Bofors scandal.

A. Raja wasn’t asked to go for the spectrum scam. Kamal Nath stays despite the rice export scam. P. Chidambaram stays after presiding over the biggest mass murder of his own men. Neither the relentless suicides in Vidarbha nor the rise in food prices or a multitude of scandals, said and unsaid, can dislodge Sharad Pawar. His crony Praful Patel stays despite running Air-India into the ground.

Shashi Tharoor?

The New Indian Express goes to 523 Thiruvananthapuramkarans to get a feel of what the people in his constituency think of the IPL hungamam.

The answer? “Verum anjushathamanam janangal matrame Tharoorine ozhivakkanamennu aagrahikkunnulloo.”

Image: courtesy The New Indian Express

Watch the video: Stephen Cobert with Shashi Tharoor

Also read: TWEET THIS: Shashi Tharoor and Globalisation 2.0

CHURUMURI POLL: Is there a scam in the IPL?

‘Business is now just an extension of politics’

‘Business is now just an extension of politics’

16 April 2010

Swapan Dasgupta in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“At one time, politicians saw business as the milch cow of election funding and nurtured crony capitalism to ensure a reliable source of resources. Today, many politicians have begun to see business as an extension of politics and are less inclined to respect the relative autonomy of business. The IPL is in danger of falling prey to this shift in priorities and the hurdles put in the way of the Kochi franchise is indicative of the blurring of lines.”

Seema Chisthi in The Indian Express:

“[Shashi Tharoor‘s IPL saga] chips away at the myth of a solid government which UPA-II seemed intent on creating just under a year ago. The National Advisory Council, the emphasis on the right to education, then the right to food, gave signs of a government keen to appear empathetic and listen to real concerns. Days of endless visuals showing its members linked to the biggest tamasha with mind-boggling team prices and alleged “proxies” would be bad news for even mediocre regimes and most certainly so for governments which wish to set high standards, or at the least talk of being focused on the aam aadmi.”

CHURUMURI POLL: Is there a scam in the IPL?

14 April 2010

The words of war between the IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and the minister of State for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, over the Cochin IPL team and all the stories emerging from the fracas suggest that there are serious questions before the much ballyhooed Indian Premier League.

Details have emerged of massive conflict of interest between the IPL administrators and the franchises; convoluted ownership patterns with links to offshore centres like Mauritius; political and other skulduggery to push handpicked corporate houses and cities; open and underworld threats, and so on and so forth.

As it is, the farcical quality of cricket in IPL, the overriding commercial interest, the cheergirls, the Bollywoodisation, the betting, have already attracted reams. The promotion of “IPL Nights”—after-match parties with players in attendance—have also sparked fears of a sex scandal looming around the corner.

Question: Do you sense a scam in the IPL? Do you believe the astronomical numbers mentioned in the auctions for teams and players? Will IPL survive all this and thrive? Or will it sink itself and Indian cricket into irrelevance?

Also read: ‘IPL threatens cricket’s democratisation trends’

TWEET THIS: Shashi Tharoor & Globalisation 2.0*

13 April 2010

The minister of state for external affairs, “Row Bahadur” Shashi Tharoor, often uses the Princess Diana analogy to explain globalisation to the great unwashed:

An English princess with a Welsh title leaves a French hotel with her Egyptian companion, who has supplanted a Pakistani; she is driven in a German car with a Dutch engine by a Belgian chauffeur full of Scottish whisky; they are chased by Italian paparazzi on Japanese motorcycles into a Swiss-built tunnel and crash; a rescue is attempted by an American doctor using Brazilian medicines, and the story is now being told to you now by an Indian visiting Berlin. There’s globalisation.

On the day the effluent discharge about the Cochin franchise in the IPL reached the upper reaches of stratosphere, here’s how “Tweetiya No. 1” could describe Globalisation 2.0 using Dame Sunanda Pushkar:

“A Kashmiri beautician who migrated to Jammu marries a Delhi man, divorces him and goes to Dubai;  she runs a spa there and marries a Kerala man who dies in a road accident in Delhi, after which she moves to Toronto. Now in advertising, now in construction, now in IT, now also in travel business, now also in automobiles, she divides her time with Mumbai, and makes friends with a electrical appliances company based in Gujarat and a diamond jewellery company with offices in Antwerp.

“Introduced in society gatherings by a London-born, Calcutta-schooled, American-educated United Nations executive assistant—with twin sons in Hong Kong and London—who had a column in a Madras newspaper and trusted a godman in Puttaparti before he was elected from Trivandrum, as a “friend from Canada”,  the girl from Sopore magically lands a free 18% stake worth between Rs 70 crore and Rs 100 crore in the Cochin franchise of the Indian Premier League run by a Marwadi hailing from Uttar Pradesh who is deputy chief of the Punjab cricket association. The deal is signed in Bangalore. There’s globalization.”

* Tongue in cheek

Photograph: courtesy The Indian Express

Also read: Shashi Tharoor on globalisation

Shashi Tharoor on saving the saree

CHURUMURI POLL: Will Shashi Tharoor survive?

‘IPL threatens cricket’s democratisation trends’

10 April 2010

Population of Uttar Pradesh: 166 million; No of teams in the Indian Premier League: 0

Population of Maharashtra: 97 million; No of IPL teams: 2

Population of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh: 1/3rd of India’s; No of IPL teams: 0

Population of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala: 1/4th of India’s; No of IPL teams: 4


The cricket writer and historian Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“This maldistribution of IPL franchises undermines its claim to be ‘Indian’, and is in defiance of sporting history and achievement as well. The truth is that citizenship and cricket have been comprehensively trumped by the claims of commerce….

“The Indian Premier League may be more appropriately renamed the League of Privileged Indians. For this tournament both reflects and further intensifies a deep divide between the India of wealth and entitlement and the India—or Bharat—of poverty and disenfranchisement….

“The promoters of the IPL claim to be speaking on behalf of Indian cricket. However, the polarizing instincts of their tournament run counter to—and threaten to defeat—the inclusive and democratizing trends that were inaugurated by the victory of the Indian cricket team in the 1983 World Cup and the boom in satellite television that followed….

“Whether by chance or design, the IPL shall establish a new hierarchy between the centres and cities it favours and those that it doesn’t, a hierarchy that has all to do with economic privilege and nothing to do with sport…. To be sure, the IPL has not created or constructed these inequalities—but it has certainly confirmed and consolidated them.”

Read the full article: The party of privilege

Photograph: courtesy Businessweek

Where there’s a Gill, there’s no way for our sport

4 April 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I spotted the Ace Sports Specialist (ASS) at Gangothri Glades, answering questions from enthusiastic kids about the Davanagere lad, R. Vinay Kumar, who has just made it to the Indian squad for the Twenty20 World Cup.

I thought this was an opportune moment to get ASS’s views on ‘What Ails Other Sports’ in our country.

We sat on a bench at the Kukkarahalli kere not far from where a crocodile made its majestic appearance recently before going back into the lake after laying eggs.

“Why is the Commonwealth boxing champion Vijender Singh so disgusted with the boxing federation that he calls it a “hell”? Other sportsmen too have voiced similar opinion about their federations.”

“Most sane people will agree with that. Sports minister Manohar Singh Gill finds time to only criticise cricket which is not his business anyway. He hardly has time to run his own business, sports, but he has plenty of time to write the last-page diary for Outlook magazine now and then.”

“Vijender says his federation is always crammed with busybodies who have nothing to do with boxing and wonders who these people are and what they have to do with boxing!”

“Come on, Ramu, you know better. Isn’t this quite common with most federations headed by politicians? Their chamchas just hang around to pass time. They are only answerable to their political sugar daddies, not just of the Sharad Pawar kind.”

“Let me be specific. What is our sports minister doing to lift the hockey team from the 8th or 9th position to the second or third position? Is there a plan? Why aren’t we being told what that plan is? Why did coach Ric Charlesworth go back without taking the assignment as hockey coach?” I asked.

“May be the minister doesn’t have the time.”

“Or, for that matter, why doesn’t Gill do something about football in which India is languishing at the 3rd or 4th position—from the bottom,” I persisted.

“Look! He is otherwise busy. First he was busy wondering if he would  be nominated to the Rajya Sabha again. Now he is busy wondering whether Amitabh Bachchan should be the brand ambassador for the Commonwealth Games when namma Udupi boy Suresh Kalmadi has already made it clear he will not, probably because amma is keeping a tab. I understand the Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan is so scared he goes to sachivalaya climbing the water pipes behind his office because of the fear he might bump into the Bachchans.”

It was time to change the topic.

“Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approached his Brazilian counterpart once to help us out in football.”

“I know. Had Gill had followed it up, Brazil’s coach Dunga would have landed here along with Pele to teach ‘bicycle kicks’ to our boys. Instead he is just happy criticising the IPL commissioner Lalit  Modi and predicting that IPL is doomed to fail one day!” ASS wailed.

“Such a pity! What is his routine in the sports ministry?”

“Who knows? Kee farak painda? When DDCA was criticized for ‘under preparing’ the Feroze Shah Kotla cricket pitch Gill pounced on it forgetting the CWG was heading towards its own disaster. Gill, if anything, should be more concerned what’s happening in his own backyard, i.e. the various federations.”

“What exactly can he do?”

“To start with he can shake up a couple of sports federations which have drug addicts as athletes on their rolls and the federations  just sleepwalk when WADA catches our athletes time and again. Next, find out what ails the badminton federation which cannot arrange shuttlecocks for camps before an international event! Or the winter Olympics team which landed up in cold Canada without warm clothing.”

“Ha ha.”

Naga-beda kannaiah, it’s not a joke. These things have happened. And nobody knows why our shooters cannot get bullets and other gear earlier but only while driving to the airport before a competition!”

“Elementary, as Sherlock Homes would say.”

“I hope you know Holmes never said that in any of Arthur Conan Doyle‘s books, but you’re right. We have many Watsons  holding important positions. Dr Gill should do the elementary things first for sports and not bother about how many Bollywood stars should dance, if Amitabh should be there or not. We seem to think cultural shows are the main thing in sports and athletic meets,” ASS interrupted me.

“That’s terrible.”

“Finally he could make sure deserving sportspersons are not left out of national awards. He could tie up with industry to ensure other sports are also encouraged by business houses. There is no use blaming cricket has become commercial; at least the players are looked after very well. When will we realise other sportspersons too need to be properly looked after?”

“So true,” I concurred.

Anda haage, Ramu, don’t be so harsh on Gill. He has a Mysore connection. His younger daughter was born here. In fact, her name is Kaveri,” ASS said as he departed with a wink.

Photograph: courtesy Commonwealth Youth Games

Also read: With sports ministers like Gill, God tussi great ho!

Aal iz naat well; sport needs a jaado ki thappad

Hopefully, the Cochin team will do the needful

31 March 2010

Kanishk Tharoor in The Guardian, London, on the preponderance, rather the monopoly of “white” cheer girls in the Indian Premier League:

“The choice made by IPL organisers in this regard suggests, first, the unsettling marketing conclusion that Indians really just want to see white skin. Second, and perhaps more troubling still, it suggests a quiet acquiescence to the view of the conservative elements of society that Indian women are somehow more sacred and less carnal than their western counterparts.

“Not for them the tight tops and bared thighs of IPL cheerleading. Just like the licentious foreign woman, the idea of the modest Indian woman is closer to fiction than truth. It is the kind of fantasy that animates attacks on girls who had the “audacity” to have a drink at a pub (as happend in Mangalore last year). It is an ideal that masks the sexual violence perpetrated against Indian women on a daily basis.”

Read the full article: Cheerleaders shame Indian cricket

Image: courtesy Satish Vijaykumar, via H. Natarajan

Bangalore boys get a thumbs up from global girls

31 March 2010

In an effort to spread cheer and happiness to far corners of the country in these bleak times, the Hindustan Times corners the cheer girls of the Indian Premier League for their considered opinion on crowds at IPL matches, on strict condition of anonymity, of course.

“The Mohali crowds get very crude and nasty. They look as if they’ll get violent,” said one of the girls from Johannesburg (she cannot be named as cheerleaders are not allowed to speak on such subjects to the media)

“Bangalore was their favourite city. ‘The people are good and the atmosphere is brilliant,’ said one of the girls.

“Their second favourite city is Mumbai (and no, they haven’t been hounded by Sena types). ‘We’ve had no problem there,’ the cheerleader said.”

Finally, how was Delhi? The Capital was dubbed “okay“.

Photograph: Saggere Radhakrishna/ Karnataka Photo News

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Ban IPL cheer girls?

Are Twenty20 cheer girls obscene?

The girls promise mischief. Are the boys upto it?