Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New ODI Rules.

Clearly ODI cricket is on a new low. Viewers aren't watching, sponsors not willing to invest, same bunch of teams taking turns winning, same bunch of teams taking turns not winning, T20s eating into ODIs like Moths, sweeping away crowds like Dung Beetle, and test cricket stomping on it like a Woolly.

I See, see, that One Day International Cricket needs some serious changes. So I took it upon me to save ODI cricket from its early death. My views have been approved by an imaginary board. It's quite the same as imaginary views being approved by a real cricketing board.

Here is the list of a few minor, major and utterly mandatory changes :-

01. The captain who loses the toss, buys the opponent's playing XI dinner on the night of the game. If he loses, it will be good for him, as the winning captain has to sponsor the opponent's XI's lunch the following day. ICC and boards see this as a way to cut their own expenses. ECB were happy at this.

Note - M.S. Dhoni quoted "Well of course, winning is important, irrespective of the toss" in satisfaction of the law.

02. There will be a two minute mandatory break in each innings after the 25th over. This is a dedicated time for the teams to play dodgeball. Fielding XI forms a circle of 15 yard diameter, and the two batsmen who're playing must play dodge. If they're hit in the 2 minutes, they're out. This dismissal will be termed "Hit Out", and will be credited to the fielder who hit the batsman. For a brochure of complete rule-set, it can be obtained from the patent owner, me, upon request.

Note - HotSpot will be applicable here, its applcation will be decided by 3rd umpire. BCCI are not yet happy about this.

03. Each team will have 2 reviews under UDRS, but their request will be put forth only if they can recite a tongue twister 10 times within 25 seconds to the bowling end umpire. The tongue twister will be of the umpire's choice. This is to reduce the number of referrals made, if not eliminate.

Note - Michael Clarke has filed a request to the ICC to not allow Australian matches to be umpired by BOTH Aleem Dar and Asad Rauf.

04. As a step to move forward with the Spirit of Cricket, the captains of both teams in the last match of the series/tournament, must exchange trousers at of toss. An undisclosed spokesperson for an undisclosed team said "They exchange tee shirts at football matches. We just exchange trousers."

Note - BCB announces double money payback to anyone who is willing to return their merchandises, waist below.

05. An innings is for 3.5 hours. Now on, there won't be any fine for exceeding the time limit. Just, the bowlers must bowl with their wrong hand.

Note - E(&W)CB awards permanent contract till retirement to Samit Patel, assuring him a place in the playing XI.

06. As the game has become very colourul, we have decided to add some more colours to the game. Bowlers will now bowl each over 3 different coloured balls. If x,y and z are the colours, the over will be bowled in xyzxyz order.

Note - Batting team can decide the colour of the ball. For England, pink is mandatory.

07. For the first time in any sport than includes hurling a ball at someone else, there will be the introduction of the concept of "Money Ball". Inspired and adapted from the NBA, this gives you double benefits. Each bowling team gets two Magic Balls each innings, the captain is free to opt for it any time in the innings, but they must be exhausted in the 50 overs. If the bowler picks a wicket, the next batsman on the officially declared batting order is Magicked Out, and cannot bat. Two wickets. One ball. You only dreamt of it. Batsmen will similarly double whatever they score off the Magic Ball.

Note - Lasith Malinga is smiling now.

08. Any commentator who gets a feeling of any kind while on air will be given free treatment at a local hospital far away from the ground for 6 months, and be sanctioned medical-leave for the period. This is to let the world knows that ICC cares for the welfare of their presenters.

Note - We thank the students of KMC (Kilpauk Medical College), Chennai for suggesting this very noble idea.

09. ICC has recruited and contracted Russel Peters to every possible ODIs that are played around the world for conducting the presentation ceremony. An office bearer said "We want the people to stay for the presentation ceremony. The people who conduct it now are so predictable. My dog knows what lines are coming up." Russel Peters is ready for the task. He said in an exclusive interview, "Each player summoned to the dais must start with a 'Your momma is so fat..' joke."

Note - ICC mentioned that it will impose a fine of upto 1 match ban on players who opt for "Well of course, your momma is so fat."

10. As many incidences have come up, and many have mentioned the need for it officially, since it is unofficially happening anyway, we have decided to legalize ball tampering. Ball tampering has been defined as a "one time 30 second long act in making allowable alterations to the surface of the ball, without disfiguring the shape of the ball, with whatever means possible, in front of both field umpires and under the vigilance of a spider camera". It will be allowed only to those bowling teams who employed only fast bowlers in their first 15 overs, with a second slip always present during the period, and no player making a visit to the dressing room until the point of time when the allowance is made by the on-field umpire (only after 38th over). This is to make sure that the fast bowlers are sufficiently utilized at the beginning itself, and also that nobody brings in extra tools for any disfiguration.

Note - "fast bowlers" is a list of literally fast or medium fast bowlers, and does not include Keiron Pollard or Paul Collingwoord. Jade Dernbach has been sent a list of rules to abide by for the first 15 overs to help his team avail this offer.

Let Glory Be Restored To ODIs

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cricket Commentary. Time for radio again.

We have moved on from gluing our ears to radio sets to sitting comfortably on the couch in-front of television sets to watch games. Our eyes saw what was happening in the latter, but our ears were hungry for running information coming in.

The only difference between the two audio commentaries, is that, for TV, you can see what is happening, and the description required can be minimized. Thus, television commentary allowed room for expertise and opinions on air. You could see the shine on one side, and someone would tell what that would do. On a radio, there isn't enough time to describe all of it. Description - necessary, explanation - bonus.

Of-late, cricket commentary on television has been a joke. From needless promotion of sundry tournaments to verbal fights to a complete vomit of mis-information, one is tempted to turn the volume down to mute, or go for new-age audio commentary.

Most commentary teams comprise of ex-cricketers, or famed cricket journalists, with varied experience on the microphone. If not for a few good blokes, telly commentary could've been a non-mandatory option for viewers.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when I say commentary, it ought to mean description of the game going out in the ground. 3 out of 5 times, the commentator is either talking about birds, or praising the local government for hosting the match, or talking about the fellow commentator's age old experience from 20 years ago, or worse, hair on their head. If I wanted all that, I would go to a theatre.

As a kid, I would love to hear Tony Greig go "Sauchin Taendulka" and Gavaskar and Shastri talk... For, I only had eyes. My ear would sense cricketers' names and excite me. Today, when I hear Shastri, I turn the volume down to mute. If a man with only so many lines as a back-stage actor can be paid so much, I fail to see the purpose of being called a "commentator".

The verbal diarrhea that is involved is just too much to handle. And gosh, what levels of pointlessness are poured into the commentary by some examples like Arun Lol, Atul Wasan, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Russel Arnold, Ranjit Fernando, Danny Morrison, Amir Sohail, Brad Hogg and other forgettable names. Ranjit Fernando changes his views every 17 minutes, 17 seconds if we are talking about a close run out. Arun Lol talks about the birds on his tie, while LSK hasn't understood what reverse swing is.

Maybe the country with the best commentary team would be West Indies - Cozier, Bishop, Holding. England has Bumble, Botham, Gower, Hussain (I miss Boycott). Indian subcontinent has no good commentator. Australia has Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell, Slater, Taylor (not great, not bad). Mark Nicholas adds a bit of excitement, cricket-ingly so.

In football, the commentators announce the goal, wait for a few moments, then describe the celebration and a little snippet, and then explain the goal on the replay along with expert comments.

In NBA, there is a play-by-play who describes every pass, every drive and the attempt, while an expert describes the tactics and science. And they are legends, honoured for their careers as commentators. In NBA, last minute plays and highlight plays are not commented for a few seconds until the audience's volume comes down. Half the way across the world, it is a hair-raising experience to listen to Kevin Harlan, Joe & Stu (Lakers, you see), Mike Breen call the play-by-play. Experts are a whole different set of people.

Tennis commentators don't even talk when the ball is in play. They start only after the audience is mid-way into their clapping.

There, that can be applied to cricket. I'm sick and tired of "the ball is up in the aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaair" followed by "taken" or "dropped". I can see that. You can do the "swiveling in the air" and "white back-ground" or "lost in the crowd" part, after the ball has come down. After. But no, they have to squeeze in their lines while the ball is up in the air, because once it lands, it is time to call it a "Karbonn kamaal catch, or "car crash broken bone drop".

And I pity these Hindi commentators, who have NO CLUE what-so-ever about the field placement because, obviously, they aren't there at the ground. They're commentating off their own TV sets.

I may not be any great commentator, but I'm no idiot to accept what they all serve as commentary. They're paid to commentate, we pay to hear them.

Gavaskar will tell you about his amateur commentary days alongside Richie Benaud... Once, while the two were commentating in the box, the batsman had scored his century. Young commentator, Gavaskar, reached for his mic in excitement and let the world hear it, and Richie Benaud put his hand on Gavaskar's arm, silently prompting him to quit it. It was to let the viewers watch the batsman's celebration, engulfed by the appreciation from the crowd via claps, whistles and praises, before the commentators can come into the scene and add their inputs to it.

With all the bizarre commentary on television, internet radio has become one viable option. Groups of individuals have taken it upon themselves to entertain the world of cricket. Test Match Sofa covers up all English games, and Pitch-Invasion covers all Indian games (IPL included). They serve good commentary, which is informative, interactive and enjoyable. Reading your tweets on air, interacting with a group of listeners, freedom to make sarcastic comments, unbound by contracts to hail something...these networks are giving the television commentary a bit of a competition.

With more people turning to such media, one doesn't mind turning off the volume. So one wouldn't care a rat's ass about Ravi Shastri's feelings, or why Gavaskar is unhappy about being finger-pointed about his "DLF Maximum" trumpets, or Danny Morrison's description of the cheerleader on the dais.

We are going back to the radio days.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Arouse Interest in Domestic Cricket, Airtel!

Today, one of Indian domestic cricket's biggest problem is that it isn't attracting enough attention or viewership or interest of the general public. The fandom is limited, and almost all of them would be "die hard" fans, branches of families who have had big interests in their local team, passing on the passion from generation to generation. In India, the best such association of fans to their domestic team can only be seen in Mumbai, and traces in maybe TN, Delhi, Bengal, UP etc. My dad tells tales about the Gopalan Trophy...such was the following of the local team in those days.

Nowadays, people don't know much about their local stars until they make an appearance on television in coloured clothings. The NEO network's two channels have helped televise some domestic games. The Challenger Trophy brings the best few in the country in a round robin league, which is probably the most viewed domestic tournament in India. Yet, Ranji trophy, or even Duleep trophy doesn't attract half as much attention of viewers or followers alike.

There has to be ways to get over this. There is.

Yesterday, while watching the channel 'NEO Cricket', I learnt that Airtel sponsors all domestic cricket leagues and tournaments in India.

Airtel is one of the leading telephone, cellular, broadband and DTH television service provider in India, with nation-wide coverage in all aspects.

I believe that this link between Airtel and the domestic cricket can help bring the cricket closer to people. Airtel can be the mediator to bring the happenings to the people.

Airtel services include packages for cricket, wherein the subscribers would get score updates and news from international games and events. Such services can be extended to the domestic set-up too.

Airtel can allow its customers to subscribe to packages for any Ranji team (extend to Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophies). The subscribers would then be given information at toss (toss, teams) and score updates at lunch, tea and stumps for all days of play. And at stumps on each day, update all subscribers with scores from all the games being played across the country.

All subscribers can be allowed to follow other non-state-specific tournaments without hassles, meaning, without any further subscription procedures. This would involve coverage of Deodar, Duleep and Irani trophy.

The cricket package for international games was priced at Rs 30 for 30 days. Airtel would know best on how to price the packages for the domestic games. Ranji season would see atleast 4 games every month for each team. There will be one-dayers and T20s too.

Marketing this is simple too. As of now, the BCCI is able to promote its domestic leagues only on its channels - NEO Sports and NEO Cricket (both paid channels, require set-top-box or DTH). With Airtel involved, there are no boundaries. Advertisements on all local channels can catch the attention of target audience better. Print media in each region can advertise for subscription of their local team's cricket update service pack.

This has multiple benefits :-
1. More people can now follow their local cricket team in the domestic league. One large step in creating a larger fandom for the domestic teams.
2. Airtel will have more revenue, might also generate more customers if the venture is a success.

A win-win situation? Yes!

I want to see that day when a Yorkshire fan would be jealous of the fandom of Jharkhand.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Autopsy of India's loss to England.

India traveled to England from West Indies with a crop of new cricketers, seasoned travelers, some passengers and a large kit full of bandages, relief sprays, magic sprays etc. The series started with a Panther coming out to play for Somerset, who ended up lifting the trophy after whitewashing the opponents whiter than the kit he was wearing.

This may be one of India's worst defeats in history. But India fought for 17 days of the series, and lost only 4-0. Spare a thought for Natasha Zvereva, who was crushed 6-0 6-0 by Steffi Graf in 1988 French Open. Lasted only 32 minutes, shorter than India's 7 man tail lasted in the last test.

I look at some major reasons why India lost the series to England.

1. That Blimp
Right from the start of the series, the television presenters were hell bent on giving more importance to the floating piece of clueless hot air balloon than what was happening down in the cricket ground. The cricketers had to do something crazy enough to attract the attention of the 7 month old baby which would otherwise have been gazing at the blimp.

It is also believed that Lalit Modi lived in that blimp, preparing to unfurl his IPL-IS-GOD nuisance as soon as India would win a test. The needless and pointless ZanduBalm Pressure became a huge Vicks 500 Headache for the Indian team, and like all humans they suffered from fatigue from the over expectation generated from the man in the MRF Blimp.

That blimp...

2. Snapping Samson's Hair

Never change something that is going well.

Ishant Sharma was the leading wicket taker in the WI series. He had the most wickets for an Indian in a single tour of WI. And within a couple of weeks of landing in England, he becomes a cropper. His hair was cut. Along with the length of his hair, went his powers. Ishant, is Samson.

Ishant's form dipped, injured himself, and is now back home.

3. The Rise of the Barbie

Before the series started, Stuar Broad was a man going nowhere with his form. He was spraying the ball all around for an year. His enforcing abilities had diminished to near nothingness. It took him three and a half ODIs to pick his first wicket of the series against SL, preceding the IND series. Such was his plight, fighting against Bresnan for a spot in the playing XI.

And on 21st July, as England started their campaign at Lord's, a sad thing happened in California, USA later that day. Elliot Handler, the co-inventor of Barbie Dolls, passed away due to heart failure at the age of 95.

The spirit of Barbie seems to have returned to the sole owner of the name - Stuart Broad.

We all saw what happened next - a few match turning innings with the bat, a series of destruction of the batting line up with the ball and with commanding assurance, owned the Man of the Series Award.

(Elliot Handler, RIP. This world got a lot from you. Barbie and HotWheels to name two.)

4. Denying the Battle

When Andrew Strauss opted to play for Somerset on loan to improve his batting (not sure how much he did...), Marcus Trescothik made way for Strauss for the one-off practice game vs India. This meant there was no Trescothik vs Harbhajan face-off. One of the most fun-filled pocket of rivalry was denied bluntly.

I'm pretty sure that Bhajji would've nailed Tresco atleast once. And then he would have that spring in his step. And he would spring on that board for the whole tour.

Well done, Tresco! You've eliminated one bowler off the Indian ranks right off.

5. The Lucky Fellow

And yes, Tim Bresnan played for England. There. How can a team win against England when they field Tim Bresnan in the XI?

And such was the luck and plight of the series, that nothing would put India back on track in the series. India ended up losing 4-0, a whitewash that painted the Indian team whiter than England's whitest white Adidas test kits.

Congratulations to England, the new no.1 in test rankings. Strauss does like the mace. Good luck with it! It seemed like he used it on the Indians to reduce them to rubble.

And as I type, India slip to no.3 in ODIs too, to go along with the no.3 in tests, courtesy SL's victory in the last ODI vs Australia.

Why so serious?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Make Test Cricket a Tradition To Sustain It.

Test cricket, the best form of cricket, needs a serious revival in India, with regards to spectators in a venue.

Test cricket in recent times has seen a big drop in ground attendance across many venues in India. One of the best prepared pitches and outfield in Mohali would be presided over by a crowd which you can count on your fingers. Cricket in VCA/Jamtha in Nagpur was attended by a mere 2000 spectators last year (vs NZ, November), and another 3000 students were filled in just to make the stadium look a bit more filled. Didn't help much. Deccan/Hyderabad saw a poor turn out too.

There are two major reasons for poor turn outs :-

1. People not as interested in attending test cricket than they would attend ODIs.

2. Stadium too far away from the city.

As for reason no.2, one can't help it. And some of those cities having a stadium in the outskirts have a stadium inside the city limits too.

Price of tickets is never a reason. I attended a test match in Nagpur which costs Rs 200 for the whole test match (all 5 days), i.e. Rs 40 a day. That's less than a dollar. I spent more on my headphones.

It all points to one little fact, that there are more purists in some pockets of the country, where people are wanting to attend any day and every day of a game of test cricket. Also, they are willing to pay a higher amount of entry fee to enter into the city (big city economy and all that).

Any cricket board has atleast one eye on the money. And I'm talking about cricket in India, meaning, atleast 2 eyes. One-Dayers and T20s generate huge turn out, even if the stadium is in outskirts of a village in the middle of nowhere. People are willing to shell out money for a one-time shorter format outing.

Take Dharmasala for example, which had a good turn out during the IPL. And I remember Nagpur being house-full for a T20 international game. My friend told me he couldn't buy a ticket for a Hyderabad ODI game at 9pm on the day the ticket sales opened, as all tickets were sold out within 12 hours. ODIs in Cuttack, Rajkot, Gwalior etc are always jam packed. The last time I saw a good crowd at a first class game in India was the Ranji Trophy final between Karnataka and Mumbai at Mysore. People climbed on trees to watch the watch the precious last session on play.

So, we need to keep the interest of the people and generate money out of it. In a balanced manner. The solution is quite clear -

1. Host the test cricket in the prominent "traditional" test venues, thereby getting rid of rotational policies, where attendance is guaranteed.

They would include - Chennai, Mumbai (Wankhede), Bangalore, Kolkata, New Delhi, Kanpur, and maybe Ahmedabad (Motera). I hope and pray there are a couple more to add? Hyderabad hasn't been a sweet spot for test cricket. And Mohali, howsoever good the ground and stadium is, never generated the attendance.

2. Create, or revisit a tradition in scheduling the tests at particular venues. I learnt that the last "Pongal test" in Chennai (Madras) was more than 2 decades ago, and that was the "Hirwani test". Assuming we play cricket from July/August to march/April, there are enough openings for Diwali, New Year, Sankranti/Pongal, Holi etc. Schedule 2 series across 4 or 5 months, starting with a test series, then both ODI series (or tri-series?) and then finishing with the other test series. That can cover the dates above mentioned which are spaced well apart.

I read that some CLT20 games were shifted out of Kolkata, as advised by local police, because of Durga Puja. In that case, I'm sure a test either just before or just after the festivity will be lively. It will be like, "to set the tone" or "to finish the festivities".

3. Schedule ODIs and T20s in other stadia in the country, implement rotational policy, weather compatibility and all that. Crowds guaranteed. Money guaranteed. Allot a fixed amount to the stadium that hosted the LOI games, and put the rest of the income in a common pool. Use the money in the pool to cover excess expenditure at the test venues to improve the ground, pitch, infrastructure (not all stadiums have a good wi-fi connectivity at press-box, for example) etc.

4. Nothing wrong in increasing the price of tickets a bit at the test venues. People will be willing to pay Rs 500 for five days' entry to the stands for sure. It is not a guess, it is what the people have been cheerfully paying for the love of the game, of test cricket.

Such formats are followed in Australia and England. Australia have had this for long enough to use this as a strategy, to weaken the opponents chip by chip.

5. Better scheduling of a test by days of week. A test in India's WI tour started on Monday. That will in no way attract crowd to a game. A test match should ideally start on a Thursday or Friday, woo people to the ground and make them come back for all days. People have enough love for the game in their heart to attend the last day of a game on a Monday or Tuesday. I've seen it.

Indian cricket fans are very sentimental, and it will be a risk to now hold tests in less prominent grounds now, when Indian team has just lost the mantle of no.1 test cricket team in the world. Luckily, India host West Indies in New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Cliché or not, uphold the spirit of test cricket.

(built on inputs from Venkat Ananth, Dileep Premachandran and others)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Swiss Knife of Indian Cricket

"Silently going about, doing his business."

- A gazillion people, on Rahul Dravid.

Fifteen years ago at Lord's, in walked a skinny top order batsman, who was in the team for another batsman missing out on the test... And on his debut, teased the English bowlers with cream and venom alike, and made a respectable 95 runs. Not putting his name on the honour's board didn't hurt as much as not going on forever did.

Introducing Rahul Sharad Dravid. The man who planted the trees on the top order to hold the loose soil tight. The man who took the scoring brunt off the shoulders of Azhar and Sachin, sharing loads with the colleague Sourav and his dearest buddy, VVS...thereby starting a new era of Indian batting order. One that would last for a decade, stripping opposition of pride and fame, creating pride and fame for their own team, and continually raising standards to reach the pinnacle they just did.

Came in as a top order stabilizer, became a top order mobilizer with continuous commendable performances in ODIs. Instantly, he had a fan club (not the easiest thing to do when you have Sachin polarizing the nation, and Sourav rising up too), and had tons of girls drooling over him. Then there was Jam Jam Jammie.

Nothing deterred his concentration. We've seen Waughs and Sachins and Laras. But none of them have the concentration level of Rahul Dravid. With no imposition to go for the high-flying shots that define the younger generation, Dravid trusted his 6th, 7th and 8th sense - concentration. Armed with the defense of highest quality, he ground the bowlers, brought them to his mercy and then punished them with his artillery of stroke-play.

Want an example to prove his concentration?

That, in an age where NZ would have the most hostile pitches for subcontinental batsmen, ball zipping around and all that. That total spoke volumes of his talent.
A dozen years later, he has 5 double tons for India, only bettered by Sachin and the only Indian with triple ton (two of them) - Sehwag. No other contemporary or past batsmen have as many. And his double tons came at the Oval, Pindi, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Adelaide. But for Ahmedabad, every other test had an ordeal to surpass.

The sweetest of them all? Adelaide. That innings was one that laid India on the path to overseas success. An innings that instilled fear in opponents' spine, even if at home. A feel of "nothing is over until it is over" and other cliched lines.

Not to forget that 190 and a 191 at Nagpur vs NZ. If Dravid sets his eye in, he will not let go of the grip.

And no, he is not a test-only batsman. He has been a prolific limited over batsman. More than 10000 runs, having been asked to bat at multiple positions in the batting line up, tossed around like a volleyball. One thing that did not change was the consistency in delivery.

People don't generally associate Dravid with speed. But, one cannot forget his whirlwind fifty against NZ, that till date stands to be the 2nd fastest Indian fifty in ODI, albeit shared by a few others (Sehwag, Yuvraj, Kapil Dev). Dravid was pushed down the order so faster scorers can accelerate. But it was Dravid who actually did the acceleration that night. Cover drives were given a harder push, a little more lift. As simple as that, came the sixes.

We remember Sachin's 186 and Ganguly's 183 as examples of Indian ODI's greatest innings. But at the other end of those innings, was Rahul Dravid. He had 153 and 145, better than run-a-ball, and is the sole cricketer features in two triple century partnerships. Not Sachin, not Ganguly. Dravid.

Greg Chappell came in, tossed the team around like a Chinese tossing vegetables on a pan. Dravid, slotted to play at no.3 or 4 would have to make space for Irfan Pathan or Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the floaters. Chappell displaces Ganguly from the scene and thrusts the captaincy onto Rahul Dravid. Dravid has since managed the team to overseas success, even though he wasn't enjoying captaincy.

When Mongia's jaws were rearranged by Jumbo, fellow Bangalorean, Rahul Dravid stepped up and took the gloves. Saba Karim's offer to fly in as India's cover-up was put on hold, as Dravid was made to take up this additional job for the rest of the tournament, a world cup tournament that.

His 145 vs Sri Lanka at Taunton was then the 2nd highest score by a wicket-keeper batsman, the highest in that category a world cup. Only Gilchrist's 2007 final has bettered that in a world cup.

He was made to continue as the keeper for 70 odd games, to accommodate another batsman in the line up. He had to squat 50 times in the subcontinent, and then come on to balance the top order.

He had to take the brunt of captaincy during a torrid time in Indian cricket.

When the team was without openers, Dravid was pushed to open the innings. It was not his favourite spot, but he took the shot for the team.

Why, you put up posters and placards with his face sitting besides the name he doesn’t like, “The Wall”, but continues to live with it.

In an age where people miss every second game for some injury or the other, Rahul went on to play record number of tests in a row until he missed a test. And that record has only been eclipsed by the flawless health of Gilchrist.

He had to give up his ODI place to "young blood" who would go on to earn money by wearing colourful jerseys in petty leagues doing what could only be best described as "dancing to rap music". His WC 2007 memories not helping, he reserved himself to test cricket, though available for the shorter form too. But for Kohli, India hasn't seen a batsman who can be half as close to Dravid's stature, to be able to manage that spot at the top order with as much calmness as he did. Gambhir and Ganguly are not natural no.3, but they were made to fall back to no.3 at times from their natural opening slot, which by default pushed Dravid back.

And today, when the panic button sounds alarms, the team falls back to the game's biggest servant to save them from further blushes in this English tour. Indian ODI may not be moving forward, but it had to return to the man who has helped the team in the exact same situation time and again in history. Once again, something unforeseen strikes Rahul Dravid.

Has anyone, anyone, ever had a cup of coffee with him and asked “Forget our needs, what would you like to have? What do you want to see? Where do you want to play? Are you comfortable? Do you need rest?” Dravid is the precious Kohinoor we couldn’t live without, which shone the room of Indian cricket with grace and brought delight. A man who took the services from the likes of Jadeja and Siddhu and the likes, looking to hand over the keys to Kohli and Pujara and the likes, Indian cricket hasn’t been half as kind as it could’ve been to Rahul.

He smoothened the middle order, he opened the innings on demand, he cut through arrays of records, he sliced open racks of bowling attacks, he screwed and bolted the Indian batting order, he anchored many an ends in his career, and clipped away needless gossips from the team... With a smile.

India’s Swiss Knife. Rahul Sharad Dravid.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

ICC also dances to ECB's tunes

Englishmen and other classifications of two legged creatures trolled different parts of the world where people were killed for no reason, for no mistakes of their own. And Englishmen made rules for others, none for themselves.

Fast Forward to 21st century cricket, and ICC is being tossed around like a volleyball between BCCI's money basket and ECB's law-makers.

Don't sush me now, had some Yusuf Pathan played the switch hit, he would've been banned for life by ICC... Just because a part blonde Saffer on English soil did so, he was ogled at and handed the benefit of inventing a legal shot.

Fast Forward...

Broad gets away with like gazillions of accusations with not even a trip to the match referee's room. Sure, my teacher wouldn't scold a girl as much as a boy for the same offence, but things had gone too far. Beefy once went on air, pulled the camera to his face and said, what would in lay man's terms would mean, "no matter whose son you may be, you appeal to the umpire and not your nanny sitting behind fine leg. And you are not the umpire, just in case you forgot."

Oh, but uncle Broad...the saviour of British hind-part.

Swann today kicks the stumps, and is "reprimanded", no fine, no serious imposition of any ICC blah blah blah section blah blah blah by-law. A level one offence. I'm told it's his 2nd serious offence, and is bound to head to a fine.

I know ECB is poor, and is looking way to cut cost, but I don't think this is one of the way. That wife of ICC.

And if he did want to play footy, the Forests' stadium is just across the street. Nobody at Trent Bridge cricket stadium needs to watch a cricketer show some footy skills on a piece of wood that is not even round.

If Sreesanth had to pay fine for kicking the boundary ropes, if all batsmen around the world have to pay a fine for staring at the umpire for 2 seconds after being given out, if bowlers can't bowl for taking 3 steps on soil, then my rule book of cricketing sense says Swann's gotta be sued in a much stricter manner.

I wonder how kicking a rope is more dangerous to the spirit of the game than kicking the stump.

And just how beautifully explained that Window-Gate was! ECB does have capable ghost writers.

And Staurt Broad appeals more than Panesar and Akram and Muralitharan and Inzi put together. If that arse doesn't get a fine and ban imposed on him, you don't bloody have the right to call the fine on whopping 6 Indians. Mike Denness banned 6 Indians for atleast 1 test for "excessive appealing" in South Africa, while cheekily making sure the darn Englishmen can have an easy time in their tour of India while half the team (whole top order) sits out, banned. The man whom India feared a lot in those days is now playing only domestic cricket because the retard can't stand international pressure. And Denness wanted to cover for a team made of that? And Freddie's hairy chest he bared at the end of that tour? (duly repaid)

Quoting ex-Indian cricketer and current TN coach, W.V. Raman "Denness should go down in cricket history as a person who achieved the impossible."

Dear Uncle Broad, baby Barbie and useless, penniless, jobless, wusses ECB... get a life. Be a man, if you can be. Else, you are no better than #BleddyBCCI and its shenanigans.

Jelly beans? You sissies need cotton candies.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

10 reasons why you can't be as good as Devendra Bishoo

10 reasons why you aren't and can't be as good as Devendra Bishoo...not even half as good.

1. You are not a leg spinner who developed skills in the land of fast bowlers.

2. You are not a young bowler who replaced the Big Benn. Nobody does that. Bishoo does.

3. Your name isn't half as fun to lend an ear as it is when Tony Cozier says DayWayneDraw Bishwho.

4. You haven't made an epic debut in a World Cup.

5. Your can't possibly give a better interview in-front of a world audience and reduce Nasser Hussain's probing abilities to ashes, like the one in the urn he never earned n his career of 5 Ashes series.

If you haven't lost all the respect for yourself, read on...

6. You can't wear a smile on your face after losing twice in 2 games in the world cup and say that you are actually sad that the team didn't win. Some people break TVs and window panes for just getting out like idiots.

7. You are not a Caribbean. So, you are obviously not as cool as Bishoo.

8. You are not a no.11 batsman with a batting average of 17.20 .

9 & 10. You can't fly. You cannot fly. That seals the deal. Twice.

Look, even your frisbee feels ashamed.

Now, bow down to the legend.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Times Change, Cricket made to change.

DRS, World Cup silver lining for the associate nations and some ODI complications were some of the things that have been finalised upon in the first 2 days of the ICC board meeting in Hong Kong.

ICC has made "modified" UDRS mandatory in all tests and ODIs. Modification? HotSpot and audio tracking are mandatory, while hawk-eye is going to be optional. So, if you see India playing in the series/tournament, don't expect hawk-eye in it.

So, it is clear there won't be hawk-eye in place for the series in England. And that renders any line call vs lbw decisions non-referable. So, if the umpire calls it outside the leg tough it pitched in line, the bowler can only swear at himself and move on, of course that swearing will earn him a trip to the match referee's room for breaching laws and Similar conditions for the batsmen in a different scenario.

So, how is the umpire going to know where it pitched or had the impact with the pad if the ball-tracker is not trust worthy? Remember those days when there was no hawkeye, and the TV telecast production company would just show the replay, and when the ball hits the pad, they would make the batsman's image go translucent so you could see the stumps behind him? Why not just go back to that and get rid of all the complications with ball tracking devices. Refer the close lbw decisions to 3rd umpire and ask him to take that decision. As for the edge, you have approximately 235325 cameras in the cricket ground for every angle, and then you have the hot-spot cameras in all directions. Did I miss anything?

The ICC decides to hold a qualifier for the 10-team 2015 World Cup, to be held just before the tournament I feel. I don't have more details to add to it right now, not sure how many teams will fight for it, how many spots will be made vacant for grabs after deciding upon the number of teams that get automatic qualification into the World Cup. This has made the word "world" buy a little more meaning into it, nevertheless.

Now, to some other changes that have been brought in.

No runners. Batsmen will not be allowed the comfort of using a runner to run for him during the course of the match. Even if one of his leg break into two and his team needs two to win off the last ball of the game. He has to do that on one leg. If the ICC can look at what I'm trying to say, that decision must be changed.

Powerplay overs can only be employed within the 16th and 40th over. Maybe some day they will make it mandatory to be used between overs 20 and 30.

Captains will be suspended if they breach the over-rate twice. Used to be three earlier. With so many confusions and complications, I have no idea how many would want to lead their side in ODIs from now on. There are so many factors that are bound to waste your time.

And here comes the icing on the cake. Or whatever.
There will be two balls used in every innings of an ODI. One from each end. ICC says that will help sustain the swing on the ball for a longer period of time. This has effectively removed spinners out of the equation for ODIs. As it is they are made to bend to the ugly T20. Now, there is never going to be an old ball. There were times when spinners would come in around the 15th to 20th over and carry on to the early 40s. I can't imagine what kind of bowling is to be witnessed now on. More of dart spinners...

Not like pitches made around the world support any swing. The subcontinent is just a dust bowl. Pakistan plays its games in the UAE, dust of dust bowls. Only a few stadiums in England, SA, Australia support swing, very few. NZ tracks have been nothing like they were before the 2003 WC. And WI pitches are dead corpse, given what they used to be.

A ball for each end my foot.
25 overs per end. So, assuming you want one of your opening bowler to finish the innings off (which would need him to bowl from the other end for the last over), you will need atleast two bowlers to bowl from both ends at different points of time. Or one, if you have that many bowling options. Now, the field has to shine two different balls, take care of 4 sides of balls, learn the science of two different balls. I won't be surprised if there are ten more Trescothics and Yardys in the next 5 years.

God save cricket. That fat lady is coughing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life of a Tracer Bullet

She had to wait for 15 minutes outside the bathroom, made to listen to some mumbling noises from inside, and after a few irritated knocks, the man appears, with his toothbrush held in his right hand like a microphone and yapping "I just get the feeling that tooth has got to give."

Mrs Bullet has been having such trouble for ages, and says it has peaked now, because Mr Tracer Bullet is utterly bored after his stints at the world cup and then at the Fancy Dress Cricket League, popularly knows as I-P-L.

He appears at the breakfast table wearing a suit, looking at the 1985 model of video camera placed on the showcase looking over the dining table and say out loud "ARE.YOU.REAAAADYYYY? I just get the feeling sun is out, and it's going to be a cracker of a contest." Mrs Bullet was not sure if Polly wanted a cracker or breakfast.

She recalled, when 2 weeks ago the kid and her friend were having a fight over the breakfast table, he stopped the two, flipped a coin and asked one of them to call heads or tails. And went to the winner of the toss with a spoon as a mic and asked "So, what will you do today? Any changes in the team?"

He kept pestering the maid who was washing utensils until one of his "That's a cracker" finally made her drop a plate and crack it. And he retorted, "nothing can be done, that fell down as straight as an arrow. The umpire has raised his finger."

Once the offended maid was gone, Mrs Bullet made him do the dishes, but she realized her grave mistake as he started throwing the kitchen sink for 3 days in a row.

He always makes sure that he cleans one half of the house, and says emphatically, "See, there is shine on one side and rough on the other. What this does it, it will generate some swing. All you have to do is bowl straight, bowl full and let the ball do the rest." Mrs bullet dejectedly said, "he never did the rest" and pointed out piles of dust on one side of the living room...

He does love to watch movies. Less of tamil, and even less if it is a Vijaykanth movie. He hates Vijaykanth, because he is the one man tracer bullets fear.

Mrs Bullet says he also likes to cook. He adds random ingredients and teaches anyone who would lend their ear "what this does is, it will make the going smooth." And as a good father, he always tells his kid "make no mistake", a local version of "do the right thing" or "be a man".

He has a few cats, and lets them amongst the pigeons every evening. Most of the irritated pigeons have already left his household for different reasons. One of them agreed told us, "we used to have a nice time until the recent times. We had a nest over the Air Conditioner outside his bedroom. But we found that it was not a peaceful place to like, as that man would suddenly get up in the middle of the night and scream at the top of his voice 'DHOOOOOOOONIIIIIIII' and get back to sleep. We are all woken up, and people in the neighbourhood put on their lights and after that it is very difficult to sleep, you know. We are moving to LSK's home. He sings well."

Tracer Bullet's favourite festival is Holi, he says, as he happily recalls that ever since his childhood he would carry the water pistol in his hands and run from door to door firing on all their cooking gas cylinders.

He goes out to eat with his friends every Saturday night. Most of them got their PhD from American universities, and a couple of them were medical practitioners. If he is unable to make his mind up on what to order that night, he would just tell the waiter "I'll have just what the doctors ordered", and keep eating till something gets to give. It's mostly the patience of the people at the restaurant.

So, as the lights are put out, no guns are left to blaze, Mr Tracer goes to bed with a phoney mic on one hand and "Best IPL Commentator Award" in the other. And Mrs Bullet whispers, "Oh God I hope they take him away to England in July."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Boom Boom, May You Forever Bloom.

Fifteen years ago, when you came on to the field with a bat in your hand, a handsome teenager for the girls to drool, a well build boy for the guys to expect some style, a confidence waiting to overflow from the tip of youth, I knew I had a new hero to admire.

When you started your career with a clean deposition over the cow corner, there started a new era of hard hitting, that no Ricardo Powell or Kris Shrikanth had seen. You made history that very day, didn't you? October 4th, 1996, Nairobi. A record that is placed well above the reach of any human, on the shelves of greatness.

You stand tall. You stand bold. You stand strong.

Geoff Boycott ridiculed your age, people ridiculed your consistency, haters ridiculed you just because they weren't good enough to be you.

You feared none, all could, but, fear you on the pitch.

I remember you taking a test away from India. I also remember you chasing down a mammoth Motera target. I remember you not for chasing it down, but for the courage you had in the game. Being hit by a short ball from Irfan Pathan, you cared not to feel shoulders, which for any other lesser mortal could've been a serious blow, but to you my dear Pathan, you gave him one snarled look and deposited the next delivery beyond the ropes.

You, are one of my cricketing darlings.

Your batting form dropped, but you were always the team man. Your bowling soon came on to the front and you led the spin attack in the hazy days past the Mushi-Saqi days. Ajmals and Rehmans come and go. Kaneria refrained from the white ball. But you held on to one end, day in night out.

Doe any other bowler have a better celebration than you on taking a wicket? NO. Standing firm, hands aloft, you bring the world to you. You are the magnet in the team, for most of the Pakistani fans. Oh dear o dear, I will miss that.

People expected you to just be a crash test driver, you came out to be a formula racer. You were better than what I wished for.

You brought in Aamer right into a world cup, backed him up like he was your brother. You gave him the love and space the kid needed to make it large under the world's eyes. You made him a match winner. You cautioned his caretakers to keep him safeguarded from evils like Mazhar Majeed when you left test cricket, but they never listened, and there went Aamer.

You led Pakistan in the world cup from the front. With the ball. You took the most wickets on cricket's biggest stage. You marshaled a side of tid-bits, a side of jigsaw clues that were strewn all over the floor. You brought them together, wrapped them into a tight unit and took them as far as you could.

The semi-final defeat was my saddest game in the world cup. But, you will always be a champ in my eyes.

You started your career with Rameez Raja, Waqar Younis, Jayasurya, Muralitharan, Dharmasena and the likes. Raza covered your games on the mic, Waqar became your coach, Sanath was the appreciator in the studios, Muralitharan ended his career before yours. You started your career with a six off Dharmasena, and ended it when Dharmasena became an umpire, even officiated your game(s) in the last world cup. Time may have changed, not you. You remained the same stylish big hitting cricketer with a beautiful leg-spin armory.

I wish you stayed with international cricket for longer. But I also wish you, as a human being, would live in peace. So, I guess you made the best decision and are now a free bird, free from the clumsy foul grips of the PCB.

May you have a good future in whatever you venture into. May God bless you like always.

If you, Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi, happen to read this, please know that I love you from the deepest depth of my cricketing heart.

With a tear in my eye, for the first time in such a case since Dada's retirement, I admit, I will miss you.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

IPL Bites. And chews and spits.

So, the IPL4 saga, drama and etc etc got over yesterday night so that everyone bored of it can tune in to UEFA Champs League, some real international cricket, cup-board cleaning, driving classes, college applications, eating, bathing etc etc... As in my case, I was asleep even before it ended, as the pointless Lankan seamers and nonthreatening Lankan spinners motored their way to the dressing room at the end of the day with only Jimmy-A's wicket to celebrate (for which England were thankful) after which I slept off.

Oops, wrong match to report?

Oh yeah, the men in yellow won the IPL for the 2nd time running. CSK, in my serious opinion have been the only team wanting to play proper cricket, have had a clear vision and have done well ever since they disposed off the actor Vijay as their cheerleader. I mean, ambassador. The cheerleaders' squad they picked up from Spencers Plaza two hours before their matches got some good camera time. So did MSD's Lady.

Ravichandran Ashwin is signing a contract with WWE after the English tour. He has, till now, survived a blow to his head by the costly guy named Saurabh Tiwary, and also wrestled himself alive after being mobbed by his teammates on dismissing Gayle. "He would do well in 3 on 1 matches, tag team matches and Lumberjack Matches" quoted Vince McMahon, owner of WWE.

For the 4th time in four years, Mumbai "Indians" fans are bamboozled that IPL did not come to them, in spite of playing Chachin in all their games. KKR did their best to take MI as far as they got, but a certain left arm spinner (indistinguishable from the 234 other left arm spinners that played in the IPL) got the wicket of Chachin. Investigations reveal that the spinner's name is Syed Mohammed, and an inquiry has been lodged to unearth the celebrations he performed after dismissing Chachin, which were obviously against the law.

Gabriella Pasqualotto has vowed to return to IPL5 as a "Podcast" presenter. She is sure that she knows more about players than newbies like Shibani, who apparently asked Venkatesh Prasad on screen "So, you are the assistant coach, right?". After Donna Symmonds, cricket might want to listen to Gabriella the most.

Priety Zinta and Shilpa Shetty were cleared by "Cricket for Dumbos" tuition center as "People with knowledge of cricket". Both were able to answer who was their respective team's captain. Amongst other questions were "how many arms are raised when the umpire signals a batsman out?", for which Zinta had written a couple of sheets' length of answer. The invigilator refused to supply her additional sheet. Shilpa answered most questions right, and some examiners feel that she received illegal help from Liz Hurley with those questions. Anyway, this season Zinta was able to figure out on her own about whom to hug.

Rohit Sharma was as usual awake as soon as his IPL alarm clock rang the bell. He is the Kumbhakarna of IPL, the bear of IPL, waking after a hibernation. This time, he came closest to performing for India, by performing for Indians. The Mumbaikar variety. Of course, he showed his class, when he thought his super-IPL-man character should be taken one step higher. He wanted to score runs by now depositing the bat beyond the ropes. His attempt didn't succeed, as the bat barely reached the inner circle. Shane Warne, however, was playing the real cricket, and his penultimate ball in cricket (unless book cricket becomes official) turned and stuck its tongue out in front of Rohit Sharma as it beat his flying bat and (In Ravi Shastri's glorious words ->) "the keeper made no mistake".

This IPL will be most remembered for the contribution of Abhishek Nayar to world harmony, as he gave the scorecard a "c. Symonds b. Harbhajan". There, IPL should've been ended right then.

Some players are still confused about which team they play for. Dada went to Pune, and helped KKR reach playoffs (I had to strike off quarters, and semis, before finally remembering that it is "playoffs"). And then Balaji, in KKR, helped CSK reach 2nd spot. Random Fact - Lord Balaji's abode is closer to Chennai than it is to Kolkata.

Gayle gave his folks a preview of Pirates of Caribbean *fill in the blank with the current sequel number* as he vandalized his ex-home. Of course, that match will be more remembered for the look on Virat Kohli's face when, with few runs left to win and Gayle at the brink of his century, Kohli absolutely smacked the living hell of a half tracker lolly pop jujubi giftwrapped Christmas present from Iqbal Abdullah to the mid wicket fence and wore a horror struck face in apology to the huge figure of black-bandana-wearing non-smiling 6 foot 5 inch giant Chris Gayle standing few yards away and say "I didn't mean to do that". Come on, Kohli, we love you. But, for your cricket, "catching" Bollywood is for guys like Siddharth Mallya etc.

Kochi seemed to have had discovered their winning formula - by making Sreesanth their cheerleader. Somehow, even that didn't help them after a few games.

Pune Warriors, like their Marathi counterpart, added "India(n)" to their franchise name. But, even that addition couldn't help them score brownie points in the INDIAN PL.

Deccan had a record breaking season, by breaking the home jinx and securing a win against some team (which I hope one of my readers would remind me ;-) ). The DJ at the stadium was so happy to play the "Go Deccan Chargers, go Deccan Chargers, GO, go go go!" for three consecutive days in the stadium non-stop. He knew it was never coming back, might as well savour the moment "until it lasts".

In other news, Lalit Modi claimed to be Adrian Shankar's father, Jason Gillespie claimed to be his batting coach, Zinta revealed that she was his girl-friend and Siddhu (ex)claimed that he was his English tutor.

Right, so a friend came to me this morning and told me that Valthaty got that Passat. He will be busy getting his driver's license. MSD will be off to the honeymoon, in a place that doesn't recognize him as King Midas. Caribbean cricketers will be given red jerseys. Jacob Oram will be given a Nokia phone to feel connected. And Abhimanyu Mithun will re-trace his path and find out why he made the grave mistake of being a bowler.

Some time soon, Vijay Mallya will recover from his hangover and realize RCB have lost the IPL4 finals.

[Disclaimer : My brain is parked outside the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff, where Alistair Cook is trying to impress his selectors and try to book a berth in England's ODI squad.]

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sports and Society.

I'm a big sports buff, and am constantly faced with questions like "what is there is sports" or "why do you watch sports?" or "is that all you do all day? watch sports?"

People, there is quite a difference between "watching" and "following" sports. If you like a movie star, you just trail him/her and even go to the extent of finding out what they eat for breakfast and whom they broke up with and how. Well, in the world of sports, that doesn't even matter. I just keep my eyes open for what the sportspersons do on and also off the field, most of which have been in good favour to the society at large.

Let me list a few things that sportspersons have done to the society, apart from entertaining you people in their profession!

NBA has a social wing, NBA Cares, that almost everyday lends its hands to the society - in helping kids at school, to funds for treating diseases, helping at the times of disasters etc. Two examples - NBA donated a lot through its fandom to the Tuscaloosa floods, and, 2 years ago, NBA helped raise funds for the Haiti quake, mainly funneled through the works of Haiti's own man, Samuel Dalembert as other players joined hands (donating money per point scored etc). And they are global too.

Roger Federer is a Goodwill Ambassador at UNICEF, and travels around the world to advocate education to the kids, and help extend UN's arms to even remote corners of the world.

In the world of cricket that I'm most familiar with, there are a lot of things to bring to the surface.

Steve Waugh, one of the best cricketers and captain the world has witnessed, is the heart and soul of Udayan in Kolkata, which is an institution for the disabled children and women, where Waugh contributed a lot towards people affected by leprosy. He is addressed as "Steve Da" there, just so you know how close he is to the people there. He is family. Also, he is the founder of The Steve Waugh Foundation .

Glenn McGrath, one of the best bowlers I've seen, founded The McGrath Foundation. Every time there is a test match played at Sydney, huge donations from the game and ticket sales are made to this organization.

There was a massive earthquake in New Zealand in February. Iain O' Brien just ran a fleet of stairs (1,037 steps over 38 floors) of the Gerkin tower in London barely couple of months after a surgery in his legs to raise money for Christchurch.

Adam Parore scaled the heights of Mt. Everest to raise money for the same cause! We are sometimes lazy to walk across the street to buy commodities, but some people do philanthropic things in manners like these. Respect!

When an Indian national level volley-ball player was thrown out of a train and lost her legs, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh came forward and donated money to her and her family, so she can get good treatment and her family can stand on its feet. She has been given a stable job by the railways, one of the two things she wanted to achieve. The other, was to represent the country in the sport. You see, no matter what you are, you don't get much attention once you are down and disposable. It was very kind of the cricketers to help her and try bring her on to her feet, which now will, sadly, just be a metamorphic sentence. And you know what? She is donating the help she receives to the under-privileged, wants to open sports academy for the needy. There is so much good to go around in the world.

Ron Artest, an NBA player now with the Los Angeles Lakers sold his first and only NBA championship ring to donate the money to children suffering from mental illness. He has been associated with charity work so much that he was recognized with the Citizen Award.

There are numerous other examples from the world of sports that I don't follow wit the same degree. But I'm sure they all come to point the same thing.

Having seen all this, tell me, is this "just" sports? It is much more than that. You idolize some for their play on the field, you idolize some for their work off the field. But it is the combination of the two that makes sports what it is - a wonderful world living in harmony with the world around.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


New game. Devised by me, myself and I. Only for Limited over formats.

Rules :-

To be played in a ground of minimum dimensions of 100m.

Both legs of batsmen to be tied together.

Batsmen not allowed to wear pads on their legs.

17 fielders allowed.

Chucking allowed.

There will be 5 stumps at both ends of the wicket, each 3 feet tall.

The crease will be 1 foot thick, and it will belong to the umpire as far as batsman's foot is concerned. It will be a no ball only if the whole of bowler's foot is beyond the crease.

Bat size => 18 inch long, 3 inch wide, and maximum 2 inch thick. handle = extra 8 inch length.

Same rules as cricket for modes of dismissal.

If a batsman misses 3 balls, it is a FREE HIT. The batsman stays away from the pitch and the bowler has a free go at the stumps. if the ball hits the stumps, the batsman is out.

If the batsman inside-edges, the bowler has the option of choosing a golf ball to bowl the next delivery.

If the batsman hits a six, the runs will be counted only if he can repeat the same shot. The runs for the 2nd shot will not be counted, unless the third one is also one...

Mercifully, no such rules for a 4.

Don't worry guys, power-play will be there in the One Day format too.

Power Play rules -

2 bunches of 5 overs each constitute the power-plays, and like in cricket, Greedyket power-plays can be called once each by the fielding and batting captain.

During power-plays, a left handed batsman must bat right-handed, and vice versa.

Let's play.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Sparkling Minnows

When I had finished my schooling, the IITs (leading engineering institutes in India - Indian Institute of Technology) announced that, that year (2006) would be the last chance for all those people who finished schooling one or more years ago to sit the exam. The exam was then made open only to the ones who have completed their schooling successfully in the year of exam or the year before.

It was a similar announcement that the ICC made during the course of this World Cup, when they said that the next CWC will have only 10 teams, as it wanted to shorten the length of the tournament. Indirectly, they said that they don't want the Associate Nations playing in the world cup, because : 1. THAT was what made the tournament longer, 2. reduced their income (note, this is the main reason) and also, 3. caused upsets which even resulted in expulsion of major teams (and hence, all over again). The tournament organisers were frank enough to tell that they had planned the 7-team group stage so as to not eliminate any "big team". Frankly, I call that cheap!

How the hell can you call it a "World Cup" if the world doesn't get a chance to play in it? I don't play cricket amongst my friends here and call it a National tournament... I won't, because I can't.

Jonathan Agnews has shown the way to a much better tournament organization with the same format, so that the tournament is shortened and the interest is maintained. A four-pool of 4 teams is another good way to go, but alas, ICC is much worried about its money churning teams, rather than cricket. Very nice, ICC, I hope you choke on the money you eat.

All said and done, ICC has pushed the button. And, while on the chair, The Minnows did show a lot of heart, courage and cricketing beauties for us to remember for quite some time.

I bring you 6 of them.

6. Ashish Bagai vs New Zealand

Bagai is a diminutive man by size, but a big man by heart. He has quite some experience on and off the field of cricket. Having had some injuries dogging him down throughout his career, which has hampered his running, the wicketkeeper-batsman-captain turned his volume up during the high-scoring encounter vs New Zealand. His team was already 2 down with not more than 4 on the board. And he played one of his most memorable innings (along with Hansra) to take Canada to a position of respect at the end of the day. NZ were unable to bowl them out after Ashish Bagai's 84.

5. Ryan ten Doeschate vs England

The Indian crowd got its first good look at their going-to-be IPL player, Ryan ten Doeschate, when he got the better of England in a complete all-round performance. The wise and experienced Dutchman took the attack to the English camp with the bat as he scored massive against the likes of Broad, Andersen and Swann. He scored 119 (109 balls) to take Nederlands up to 292. RtD returned to take team-best (and most economical) 47/2 off his 10 overs. One man could only do so much. His teammates couldn't help carry on the momentum given by his efforts as Ravi Bopara took England to safety in the end. But, this was surely RtD's game.

4. Collins Obuya vs Australia

Australia had set a massive target against Kenya, and right from the start, it only started to grow bigger. The innings was steadied a bit by the Obuya brothers. After David was run-out in a mis-hap, Collins saw what a big mistake he had made. And then on, he took the responsibility. He settled himself down, and then took the attack to the Australian with some of the best pieces of timing one would see against the Australian pace battery. That he didn't get two more runs will be the only thing that might've saddened him, but that is one innings the Australians will not forget, as Aus failed to bowl Kenya out, managed only 6 wickets actually).

3. Hiral Patel vs Australia

Nineteen year old Canadian, Hiral Patel gave the Australians a nightmare of a jolt when the pace battery of Lee, Tait and Johnson were briefly reduced to ashes (no pun intended). That was an innings of courage, and brute power. I've only seen David Warner hit Shaun Tait in front of the square better than that. It was an innings that showed that Canadians are not here just to party around, but to play some serious cricket.

2. Jimmy Kamande vs Cameron White

One fine day, Cameron White was playing an off spinner named Jimmy Kamande, whom I guess he rarely heard of. 5 minutes later, that line would read "One fine day, Cameron White played an off spinner named Jimmy Kamande, who he will never forget". Captain of the Kenyan team, Jimmy Kamande bowled the ball of the tournament around the best defense of Cameron White, which turned a nautical mile to beat the Great Barrier of White and hit the middle and off. Though the video suggests it might've clipped the inside edge of White's blade, all commentators said there was none, after watching multiple videos. That look on Cameron White's face is going to become a poster and will be hung in Kamande's living room.

For video of that magic ball, please click HERE .

1. Kevin o'Brien vs England

Kevin o'Brien played the mother of all resurgent innings in that one pulsating night against England, when Ireland turned the tables around on ICC and smacked them hard at their decision to do away with the minnows. After throwing away the game against Bangladesh hardly a week before this innings, KoB made sure that he stuck around this time, in his own style. Crucial partnerships with able men, Cusack and Mooney helped him score the fasted century in the World Cup. That century brought Ireland to the fore, and almost got rid of England from qualifying to the knock out round later on.

So, the ICC wants to now have a 10-team world cup, which will have less probability of extincting a top notch team than what it has been all these years. Top teams can play absolute crap, and still manage to qualify, unlike what England, WI or India had to do this time (all 3 were biting fingernails at some point of the time... England had even resorted to toe-nails once finger nails disappeared).

I will miss these teams, and their bullets that dented some teams on or off the chart.

You might also like to read : With Love, Minnows

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Synergy leads to Victory

Two days ago, early in the morning, I was watching my favourite basketball team, Los Angeles Lakers, play against the Dallas Mavericks. And when one of the Mavs shoved a Laker (Steve Blake) to the floor, there were a few Lakers stepping up in Blake (and later, Pau Gasol)'s defense, risking their own ejection. The post match interviews had one phrase common in their speeches - "brotherhood".

It was the same kind of stepping-up and love for each other that was seen yesterday night when India defeated Sri Lanka to win back the ICC Cricket World Cup in their own back-yard, in their most beautified son's home. It was a team, hunting as a unit, telling everyone that it is that brighter light on top of the tree which they want to reach, and they will sacrifice their body for their team to climb on each other and win it.

As soon as the SF was over, for me, the World Cup was over. India playing SL doesn't excite me. But, India winning the title does. To not risk myself getting squished into a 2D body, I left my hostel and its living cannibals to watch the game in a theatre. The atmosphere in the theatre helped me get into the grove for the finals. And it was worth a finals. Duh, 60 foot screen, Air Conditioned, theatrical sound effects, 200 fans, good food, what did you expect? Of course it excites you!

After a gritty innings by Mahela Jayawardene, duly supported by his best man Sangakkara, and others (Samaraweera, Kulasekara and Perera), India was set a BIG total to chase. And when the famous openers of India fell, it was time for the nation to look at what the team was really about - a team.

Gambhir posted one of the most beautiful innings in sheet-anchor role, Kohli gave him the company he needed while he settled down, while Dhoni took the attack to the Lankans.

In the end, it was the captain who smashed the ball out of the park, and the Lankans out of the tournament. And fittingly, along with him out there in the middle was the man of the tournament - Yuvraj Singh.

This thing was meant to happen. You look at Murali's figures - 39-0 after 8 overs. He neither completed his quota, nor got a single wicket. This was the most "in-your-face" send off that a great personality would least prefer having. His eyes were moist, not because he was leaving, but because he couldn't make a damn contribution in Sri Lanka's favour when it was needed the most.

No one feared Malinga. Sure, he troubled India early on, but confidence grew in the batsmen, the glory was within sight. Even if Raavan had 20 more heads, it wouldn't have mattered, if he had to be felled, he would be. Four changes made to a winning side, and surely Sangakkara had to be superman to get his armory right. He had no clue how to use his support bowlers. Kulasekara undid all his batting efforts, Perera was no threat at any stage (that Gambhir wicket was a gift) and Randiv came all the way from Sri Lanka to lose the only game he played.

Right from the start, the Indian fielding was at its toes. And the SL fielding was a bit sloppy. There, a few runs up and down, saved and leaked. And who was doing the fielding? Everybody! Raina-Yuvraj-Virat were electric, yes. but there were also Bhajji, SRT, Zak throwing themselves around. That catch by Sehwag which put an end to Tharanga's innings was a piece of classic. They were hungry, 28 years hungry.

If you looked closely into the eyes of the captain, you would've read what his heart said "There, I've proved myself, I've proved it to the world". Captaincy was born inside him. Fittingly, he saved his best innings for the last one.

Just as the umpire lifted both his hands up to the heavens, Yuvraj put his body down to earth in joy. MSD turned to claim his stump. Virat Kohli ran like a cheetah, grabbed a stump and religiously ran to Sachin Tendulkar and gave it to him. If that doesn't tell you something, then his speech said it all - "Sachin has carried the hopes of the Indian cricket team on his shoulders for 21 years; it was time we carried him on ours".

Sachin's contribution in the finals was little or negligible, but he was the one who laid the road to the finals this year, and all those tournaments day in night out decade after decade.

Everyone wanted to win this for Sachin, it was a gift, an honour. It is what boy-friends jump into the oceans for - to find their girl the best pearl. It is what first-time daddies go shopping for - to bring his wife and new born the sweetest gift. It is what India won the cup for - to dedicate this to the one whom they idolised.

Bhajji's tears and Raina's smiles all meant the same thing. Both meant how much they wanted this. Bhajji has been through more pain and drama. That was experience talking there. Raina is learning how to take major victories in his side (one BIG gazelle step ahead of CSK's twin-wins) with youthful exuberance. That was the Generation-X talking.

When India won the World Cup, it meant India won the Cup as a team. It all started with Piyush Chawla exposing the weakness of foreign teams' inability to play spin in the warm up games, and we saw Yuvraj playing like a champion, Kohli playing with grace, Gambhir bat like it was in his own back-yard, Viru being destructive, Zaheer showing experience, Bhajji-Yuvraj-Yusuf-Pathan-Ravichandran spin attack working as a single minded unit willing to sacrifice things for the greater good, Munaf bending his back bowling on a repaired ankle and a broken hip, and Nehra defying the foul-cry of billions and bowling India over Pakistan with a broken hand. If you've seen better captaincy, correct me.

Coach Gary Kirsten took the team into his hands after India were emotionally and physically (and unethically) beaten 2-1 in Australia. And he has grown the team into a brood of gladiators. It was the best way to repay him back - a crown on his last shift in charge of his pets. And nothing was possible without the able presence of bowling coach Eric Simmons, who not only brought the best out of PK, Sreesanth, Nehra and Ashwin in the past one year, but also managed India's bench strength. That back-room staff is the best India has had since John Wright days. And fittingly, they have been rewarded.

This is the Indian cricket team. Built on the principle of Synergy - the team is greater than sum of individuals. They positives added up, the negatives were complemented by teammates' positives, and that was turned into a plus all over again.

It was the last "World" Cup, and India has won it, to keep it...forever.
An emotional journey has ended for me. And I get a few good weeks off before the cricket resumes.

Hope you all enjoyed the world cup as much as I did. I broke my teeth in some crazy fashion, I had to sit through exams, I was taunted for my support for a few teams and players, I might've even seen a couple of UFOs... But for all I care, I enjoyed the tournament in the past few weeks in the country that won the tournament, by beating all the former champions on the road to the victory.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

THE Game is Over, Human Hosepipe Opens

A match that made me weep... A match to remember.

India faced Pakistan, and I was the most pro-active fellow in the room of 60 for 99 overs, and then my insides went all too emotional. India landed themselves in the finals of the World Cup, but Pakistan left the World Cup.

It was a mixture of emotions, happiness in one eye, tears in the other... Is that cricket? Dear cricket, tell me, is that why you are here? To confuse my insides? My love made me laugh and cry!

It was not an easy ride... Yeah, the game happened. People kept on swearing at Nehra and Munaf all day long. Nehra's head was at the axe right from the beginning... Munaf never got the respect he deserved.

And the default man they choose to cheer played the worst ever game I've seen him play in my life. he made roughly 12 runs for every life he had in the game. And for that reason, Pakistan's fielding was equally worse.

But then, there was one fire in that ocean - Wahab Riaz. Like that debut game against England last summer, Riaz lit up out of no-where and just washed the Indian batting like it were a grass bed in his garden. That ball to Yuvraj - mother of reverse swing. Yuvraj was a bunny! When I saw Riaz bow down to earth and pray on getting his 5th wicket (Zak), I had utmost respect for him, given that he was there only because Shoaib wasn't fit, and that he hadn't been any great in the WC earlier... It was magical!

I felt the total was competitive, 10 more must be safe, though.

As the 2nd innings started, I could only hope for wickets. Zak was bowling blunders in his first spell. Nehra was bowling a great channel. His first ball of the game silenced some critics, I'm sure. I was saying that India needed a miracle, just like the filth ball Southee threw at Tharanga last evening and Ryder caught the undisputed catch of the tournament... And before I could finish the text, Zak threw a wide delivery and Kamran gave Yuvraj his first gift.

Yuvraj and Bhajji were brilliant in getting the wickets at the right time. Hafeez's stump being re-arranged by Yuvi was quite a sight. Bhajji getting rid of Umar Akmal eventually tipped the scale in India's favour.

But, my two true heroes - Munaf and Nehra. Munaf was hostile, Nehra was merciless. Did anyone ever get the better of them? NO! Munaf hit the good length at will. Once, a graphic showed that the strike rate off his good length deliveries was an astounding 10%. McGrath! Nehra kept bowling in that superb channel across the right hander, never really gave the batsmen any room to get under his bowling. If this doesn't shut the bloody people who call themselves fans of the team but are ready to swear at them, I bet nothing can... I dare you all to throw the same taunts you threw at these two, at your mother. let me see if you are alive to live another day...

If you can't respect motherhood, if you can't respect women, please die... you don't deserve to live that cheap, anyway.. what is the point? go enact whatever you swore at the Indians and at the Pakistanis! and then....

If you don't have human values, you are no more than a rabid animal. It really doesn't matter where you come from, what social status you bear or the colour of your skin, or your religion. If your attitude sucks, you suck.

As for the game, India won, and sent me in search of food...
I may have seen a couple of UFOs, but for all I care, I was soothing under one of the most beautiful matches I've witnessed. I will miss Pak team in this world cup.

Shoaib Akhtar, I shall always love you! Boom Boom, ditto.

What does this world cup have to offer me any more? this is all over for the emotional cricket in me. the finals vs SL means nothing to me. of course, it will be nice if India win it, but it really means nothing as compared to this

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Voilà ! It's India vs Pakistan!

India meets Pakistan for the first time in a semi-final of a World Cup. The hard-core neighbouring rivals lock horns once again in a World Cup match, this time, it will be played out at Mohali.

There could only be one better stage for this match-up, in the finals. But, given the situation, we have a semifinals at our hands. And it's between the two teams that more than half the cricketing world is going to be watching with pumped up following. I am pretty sure, the production rate of the two countries is going to reach an all-time low. Holidays would be declared in many cities. Prayers will be more frequent. Every single V channel will carry the scoreline. Every single TV will tune in to the game. People will throng the streets in-front of that barber's shop to watch the game.

It is not just any game, it is a game to buy a berth in the Finals of a world cup. While India hasn't won it in nearly 3 decades, Pakistan hasn't in 2, in-spite of both teams once making it to the finals since, and being humiliated in both those finals, by a common winner- Australia.

Ironically, Australia is out of this world cup, thanks to the two teams I've been talking about. While Australia had no clue to Pakistan's bowling, Australia had no clue about India's batting. The loss to Pakistan meant that Pakistan top the group and Aus slip to 3rd place. After India beat WI at Chennai, India set its date with Australia at Motera. And India beat Australia with some beautiful all-round display.

The verdict - it's INDIA vs PAKISTAN.

The Indian cricket team has had to undergo the wrath of numerous bandwagon "fans" who are ready to drink the blood of the Indian cricketers if they lose a game, and are ready to swear the dirtiest words at them for a loss, howsoever close it may have been. But they call themselves "fans" of the team. Yeah, they become fans the very second India wins a game. Team India, led by the coolest captain India has ever had, has managed to keep the fickle emotions of the public aside and concentrated on the things at hand, and when it was needed the most, he has led the team to sanity, to victory, to a place in the semi-final (thus far).

Pakistani cricket team has had to keep their own faith, manage to keep the faith of the board, and woo the fans to continue to keep their faith in the team. Over the past two years or so, this team has gone through what-nots on and off the field! Every loss has been scrutinized as a potential "match-fixing". There have been incidences like Akmal's show in Sydney, Aamer-Asif-Butt episode, the Afridi's "hunger for the ball" in Australia etc. The PCB has had its own issues with the team. Senior players were in and out of the squad. But what has happened in-between all that, is the slow rise of a thick unit, a close unit which knew what one wanted and what one had in themselves. The captaincy debate was mutually solved, and a love for the game was generated. Fans who have lived with the team's luck know what I'm talking about.

Cometh the world cup, and the Pakistani team has shrugged off the "dark horse" tag and wore the "contenders" tag. Afridi is the leading wicket taker in the tournament, ahead by a country mile over the rest of the pack. Gul has become menacing, Rehman and Ajmal have been wisely used. Kamran's batting has been a cover for his poor keeping. Misbah and Younis are the middle order main-stays. Hafeez finds his touch in the middle order. Umar Akmal - Razzak - Afridi trio is still sounding fear in the opponents.

Indian batting is as big as it sounds like. Sehwag, Sachin, Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj have all had atleast one resounding half-century. Yuvraj's form has been prolific with both the bat and the ball. Raina's entry was excellent in the QF clash, and MSD has been brilliant with the captaincy and some great keeping, though not at best with the bat. Not much has been the need for him to do that either. Zak, Bhajji and Ravi Ashwin have been brilliant with the ball. Munaf has been industrious.

Both teams in prime form, there couldn't have been a better time for a semi-final clash between the two sides. the Prime Ministers from both the nations will be present to witness the game in the best cricket stadium & pitch in India.

I will love to see India win this game. But, I will not be saddened if Pakistan wins the game either. I love both the teams, I will continue to love them.

I just pray that the team which wins this game goes on to win the finals too.

It's pride at stake, but it will be filled with love.

Aman Ki Asha

Sunday, March 20, 2011

As the League Phase Clears, nothing is clear

It's been the fastest month in the past 4 years, and I've loved almost every moment of it! 42 intriguing games, some of which inconsequential, most of which, pulsating, just got over. And, surely, this has been the best world cup I've witnessed.

After the league phase, there is no clear favourite to win the World Cup. Every team has had atleast one of their problem disclosed public. This makes the tournament even more interesting moving into the last 7 games.

A special mention to Ireland for bringing life into the tournament. They won only twice, but they gave their opponents a run for their money, and also created havoc in the points table. Bangladesh were so close, yet so far. But, a team that couldn't score more than 100 twice in the tournament doesn't deserve a spot in the QF, howsoever I would want to emotionally sympathize with them.

Australia, who were looking "clear favourites" during the course of the tournament were made to look ordinary against Pakistan. Australian bowling revolves around the 60 balls released from the palm of Brett Lee. Tait wasn't imposing, and Johnson was good in patches. Batting looks fine, but if Australia can replace Ponting and White with better batsmen things would look better. Oh, Ponting is the captain, sorry.

South Africa have looked the best amongst the teams to have qualified for the semifinals. Their batting has been very good, except for Smith, who managed some good runs vs Bangladesh in their last league match. After one lone trouble vs England, the middle order survived to carry the team past India. Bowling, led by the pace battery of Steyn and Morkel have been pretty hard to do away with. So too, with their new found spin-duo, Imran Tahir and Botha (if at all he spins), SA have a good variety.

India have just about managed to keep their heads up with a sound victory over WI. India's inability to accelerate in the final overs against SA and WI is a clear cause of concern, as is bowling in he slog overs (vs Eng, vs SA). Batting looks good, bowling has started to look better, in isolation.

Sri Lanka have been good against lesser opponents, were over-shadowed by Pakistan and couldn't play a complete game against Aus. Their bowling is revolving around Murali and Malinga, while Perera and Kulasekara have been consistently causing the batsmen a problem of scoring off them. Sri Lanka have had a taste of the Whakede and have come out good. Whatever happens, I am not ready to eat another India- Sri Lanka game. Let the tournament follow any other path possible. IND-SL... damn, the.most.boring.thing.in.cricket.

England have been the clear entertainers in this world cup. Somehow, by losing to Bangladesh and Ireland, and dodging the axe against Nederlands, England managed to tie with India, strangle SA and sneak a pulsating victory to cancel their flight back home and stayed in the competition. They have lacked discipline in bowling, as almost all their good bowlers have gotten injured or lost form...COMPLETELY. Their batting has looked fine at times, and fragile at other times. Inconsistency will be the best way to describe them.

Pakistan have carried a good momentum into the QF stage, after seemingly losing it in the middle of the tournament. They started the campaign on a high after owning Kenya and getting the better of SL, but then were made to do some soul searching in the game vs Canada and were shocked in the last 10 overs by Ross Taylor... Well, credits to some filthy slog bowling by Pakistan and cleverly taken PowerPlay by NZ. Pakistani bowling looks very strong with Umar Gul leading the pace department, and specialist spinners, Afridi-Hafeez-Rehman taking good care of the run flow on turning pitches. Batting is fragile, of course.

West Indies is now a side with a good top order batting, vapourising middle-order and a good bowling line-up. Roach, Benn, Russell have looked good. And now, Bishoo and Rampaul have added themselves to the list. Devon Smith and Devon Thomas, both came in as emergency replacement for Barath and Baugh and have been excellent with the opening and 'keeping respectively. Gayle has looked good with the bat, playing in two gears. Brian Charles Lara-II has looked solid in the middle like a diamond.

New Zealand have suddenly lost their wheels after Vettori got injured and missed their encounter vs SL, where they completely failed with the bat. NZ have depended on their looooooooooooooong batting line up to "click" against opponents. It did vs Pakistan, but failed horribly vs Australia and SL. Atleast they were able to recover vs Australia. Their bowling has been dependent on Vettori, who would want to make his return to the line up soon, and Southee, who has looked exceptionally good in recent times. Oram, Styris, Mills, Bennett have all made good contributions, when they collectively perform well. Other times, they've looked ignorable. Nathan McCullum has been their best player, multi-dimensionally.

Breathtaking one month, a nail-biting Group-B music, and a few good games in group A. This World Cup has been what I expected it to be - full of fun! Almost all days have been very pleasing. Some excellent games coming up in the next week as the knock-out fixtures start!

23rd - PAKvsWI, Mirpur
24th - INDvsAUS, Ahmedabad
25th - SAvsNZ, Mirpur
26th - ENGvsSL, Colombo.

A dream QF for me as WI and Pakistan lock horns in the most beautiful match of the world cup. If things go the way I want, it will be an IND-PAK semi-final. And that will satisfy my quench for the world cup. Anything happening in the semi-finals and the finals is controlled only by the Cricket God.

Let the best team win!

De Ghuma Ke