IPL 3 ends IPLGate begins

April 26, 2010

So the IPL 3 is finally over and CSK have won. But the cat-fight between Lalith Modi and BCCI has just begun. Throw in a few cabinet ministers and a intelligent, good looking, foreign educated ousted one with an attractive friend and you’ve got something that’ll do more to ad revenue than perhaps even the IPL final.

Honestly I’m quite ambivalent about the whole saga surrounding the IPL. Modi is perhaps getting more than his due for the heavy handedness that he’s personified, the BCCI may escape without getting it’s due of rotten tomatoes and worse.

On the other hand, it is sad that India and Indian cricket’s image is taking a hit; its face is now marred again with the soot of corruption and match fixing. Whether people admit it or not (for fear of BCCI’s financial clout), the skepticism surround match-fixing that was almost buried after the Sharjah era is in all fairness back. It is now almost ok to ask if the final was fixed and whether that was part of the reason for sending Pollard in down the order. But it is also baffling. Perhaps that is why I fell asleep half way through Mumbai’s innings maybe it was too lacklustre to be true (but I made up by watching the entire post match ceremony till 2 am).

This time it will take longer to douse the suspicions. But life will go on. With the T20 World Cup only days away, even before the withdrawal syndrome sets in, we’ll be discussing why Dale Steyn isn’t overrated.


Cricket Ramblings: On the Gambhir ban and Gilly’s True Colors

November 1, 2008

Alright, am I the only one bored by the Delhi Test? The other stuff seems to be interesting.

The Gambhir ban has been an interesting issue. Fellow blogger ABisht sees it as a half-full-half-empty thing. As always, the subcontinent guy gets hauled up. Perhaps this is the only way the toothless ICC servants can get back at the “new-power-rich” BCCI. While the part of me that wants to be fair, might want to say, maybe this is a good lesson for the folk who indulge in unnecessary drama on the cricket field, the partisan in me is angry that it is the Indian that gets the harsh treatment. Why was Watson, the provoker, let off with a fine, that too, off a token-like 10%? This issue can be beaten to death, but it’s a dead horse. The more striking issue is the arrogance of the Indian youth. As I look at my own generation, there is a sense of disrespect for and cynicism towards almost everything. Granted this might be a generational thing, but the brashness now is too obvious to ignore. This crudeness has crept into cricket as well. Uthappa’s dig on the seniors’ fielding comes to mind. No, it’s not about the whole “respect the senior cricketers” dying horse either. It’s the needless attitude and ego that’s bothersome. Back to Gambhir. Why the “elbowing”, Gambhir? Why the street-side-boy attitude? Perhaps it is this garishness that has reduced the sympathy that Gambhir is getting on this. Perhaps he is also suffering the aftermath of the Bhajji “banned-but-not-but-then-banned-in-IPL”. To be honest, I’m ambivalent on this, but in titling in favor of the fact that the ban might be a bit too hard, but only in small measure.

Adam Gilchrist, who certainly had a lot of Indian fans, may be left with a lot lesser fans now. I didn’t feel the need to write about his comments on Tendulkar, for it seemed like the cheap old publicity trick. But now, he’s roping in Ganguly and Harbhajan. I’m not cutting any slack for Ganguly on the Nagpur 2004 Test Houdini act – a chapter in Indian cricket that will remain shrouded with several questions until someone comes out with the truth – but doesn’t Gilchrist have anything better to talk about. Apparently he wants to befriend his former teammates who don’t return phones calls and emails to the “bloke who used to walk when he was out”. Gilchrist has utterly lost my respect, for whatever that is worth. And he will NOT get my money for his book, which I have decided not to buy, despite whatever else he may have said in it. Now, we know the True Colors, don’t we?


An Open Letter to Dilip Vengsarkar

October 15, 2008

Mr. Vengsarkar,

Why are you vomiting? Perhaps this is why you decided to step-down as chief selector at the end of your term – because you couldn’t contain that verbal diarhorea that you had to contain on the insistence of the BCCI.

I have many questions for you. Let me start with by asking you – do you have any sense? I was going to ask if you had any grace, but then I realized you might be a little less on the sense quotient and often grace comes only after sense.

Didn’t you have enough with your barbs at Dravid last year. First it was criticism for not enforcing the follow-on in that Oval Test. As defensive as that might have been, given that we’d gone one up, was that victory – one that eventually came after a 35-year drought – worth gambling in hope of another? You effectively “suffocated” captain Dravid enough for him to step down. Though we know it is you, we may never know for sure.

Then you unceremoniously dropped the same man with over 10,000 runs in ODI cricket, who had produced a blistering 92 at a strike rate of over 80, not more than 5 matches ago. I won’t even question the selection as much the as unnecessary trash talk: “Dravid is a one-dimensional player[… he] does not add value to the ODI team”. When being asked to make a courtesy call to inform Dravid on being dropped, you apparently asked so arrogantly asked “Why should we call him? Did he bother to inform the selection committee before he resigned as captain?

Fortunately for you, Dravid’s fans are not like Ganguly’s. They will not gather in the streets or burn effigies; some may blog, but largely they may not even boo.

Maybe that is why you did not stop there. You’ve irked the Ganguly fans an embarrassed an Indian hero and great exponent of the game by dropping him from the Irani Trophy squad. I had written earlier asking why Ganguly became the “sacrificial goat”, if you care enough, you can read that here.

The most disgusting thing you’ve done so far is to lash out against Ganguly and vowed to “give back more than what he asked for” without even bothering to verify if he had in fact complained of your selection, on being let down, and made statements on cricketers’s change in hairstyles. Ganguly has denied having given that controversial interview. Now what do you think you look like? No, I won’t say it, as I have some grace left. What I can say, is that, going by the standards of the cricket fans in Kolkata and their adulation for their Dada, you may not be able to walk in the streets of Kolkata.

As if that wasn’t enough, you’ve also shot one at Test Captain Kumble. If an “..unfit Kumble [was indeed] letting the team down..” or you thought he “..should have come clean about his fitness..“, you could have told him, not the media, not in a middle of a toughly fought series likened to the Ashes.

Perhaps the BCCI should not have “gone soft” with your newspaper column writing in which you so unceremoniously trashed our heroes. It is rather bizarre why BCCI was as toothless as it was in the 80s with this prank of yours for long enough for you to have done significant damage.

I’m done with this rant of mine for now but I must add that I mean no evil to you and hold nothing against you other than your trash-talking crassness throught the wrong medium at the wrong time. While I don’t expect you to stop vomiting just yet, I only ask you think if any of this is justifiable, at least in retrospect, even by your own double standards.

PS: Actually that should have read as another open letter, for at least one has already been written by CommonFan here. I’ve been planning for this letter for some time, but CommonFan has inspired me to write my own rather caustic one.


Squad Announcement – Ganguly in, Mishra the surprize

October 3, 2008

Yes, Dada is in; something for Ganguly fan to cheer. Many expected this. Fellow blogger Ottayan, sarcastically or seriously suggested that this might very well be the case.

While I rejoice in Ganguly’s Nth coming, Souberry will surely be thrilled by the inclusion of Amit Mishra. I guess the change in selecion panel did it for him.

My only gripe – yes, we always have something to barb about BCCI’s selections – is Badrinath’s selection. My vote would have been for Aakash Chopra, but I don’t think he’s got the right age. At the moment 19 is a good age. Furthermore, with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s score against Australia in the ongoing tour match, Chopra will be forgotten, unless, logic prevails.

Rest of the squad remains intact, at least for the moment:

Anil Kumble (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, S Badrinath,  Amit Mishra

Go Dada! Rock em!


Some Grace for the Fab Four

September 18, 2008

There aren’t too many Indian cricket journalists who write anything other than jingoistic match reports. Picking among the few that do write well, Pradeep Magazine is one of my favorite. He writes here on how the onus is on the selectors to allow our Fab Four an exit befitting their accomplishments and stature. Indeed, they’ve scripted some very famous victories in India and overseas and have given us some wonderful memories. Thank you, Mr. Magazine! Yes, Ganguly, Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman need to be given some space and a respectful farewell when it comes to it, not unceremoniously shoved through gaps between the door and its sill. Vengsarkar! Are you listening?

And there is no need to hurry this. While the argument of picking players on merit and form is valid, there aren’t enough quality replacements, especially in Tests. In fact the young ODI side is yet to prove itself overseas. Somewhere between ’96 and now, the quality of India recruits seems to have either gone down or gone unnoticed, especially in the batting and spin departments (though spin is a different story altogether and merits a separate post). There hasn’t been another decent batting recruit after that of Ganguly and Dravid in 1995-96. Yes, there was Sehwag, but aren’t we still debating his worth? Yes, that might also be because we try to shove all of them in the opening spot, but we still don’t have a decent opening pair. Thanks to T20 cricket and IPL, the  batting situation may only get worse unless deliberate efforts are put in. The India-A tours are a step in the right directions. In a few years, we should have a good idea about who from the India A is worthy of the India cap for a decent term. That should be way to go.


Why Ganguly?

September 17, 2008

I cannot help but ask. Why? Why Ganguly? Is it because something had to be done? Someone had to go? Some stop gap arrangement needed to be made to smother the screaming for including young talent? Or is it Peter Roebuck? We’ve reacted to Chappell’s remark on Sehwag before the tour of Australia late last year. So is that the new mantra to selection – listening to the Aussies? But now Ponting is questioning Ganguly’s omission. What do we do now?

The bigger question is this. Is Sourav not even good enough for the Irani Trophy. Well, the condescending talk from some of the “unnamed” selectors does make it seem that way. But then, I have another question. Why Jaffer? What has Jaffer done between his disastrous run in Australia earlier this year and now, to justify an inclusion to the dress rehearsal for the upcoming Aussie series. Or was he an automatic selection given that we are playing Australia at home or because Jaffer plays for Mumbai?

Turning our attention back to Dada, if you asked me, I could argue both sides: for and against the exclusion of Sourav Ganguly from the Irani Trophy squad. The argument against is jaded, so I’ll pass on that. Why does a Ganguly fan think this exclusion is good for him? Because it will wake up the lion in him – thought I’m not sure how many times he needs to prove his worth. Honestly, if he gets selected for the series against Australia, which he should, it will only have helped to have the lion (or should I say tiger) in Ganguly to be awake and growling. But one wonders, how long will he fight this sort of battle?

On the Kirsten/Kumble’s hand in this, I think the media has again sensationalized the story. I suspect it had more to do with Kirsten than Kumble. But maybe that’s just me, for I’ve never hid my dislike for Kirsten.

So why was it Ganguly? There are times like this when being a team man counts for more than anything else; when just that fact that you’ve tried as hard as you could have counts to your advantage. There is something about Ganguly that makes you think he took a situation casually. Maybe it’s his persona. Perhaps it is way he projects the facts. Maybe it is deju-vu from the old “I-don’t’want-to-play-the-new-ball” tactic. This is when you feel a little sad, that someone so gifted has thrown it away, almost arrogantly, like the straight sixes Sourav hits. This is why, I think, Dravid escaped the axe. If Dravid wasn’t the team man that we know him to be, even Kumble could not have saved him. But all isn’t well for Dravid either, for he scored two, yes, 2, in the Buchi Babu tournament in the match against Tripura. For once, I don’t think that’s very good news and feel a bit more apprehensive about this than I have before. If Dravid makes it past Irani, past Ausralia, he will have a good run for a year or so. If not, well yikes! God save Dravid and India.

Most of all this selection for the Irani Trophy seemed to me like the populist union budged this year. It tries to make everyone happy: the senior fans sans the Ganguly fans and the young aspirants. But the inconsistencies are glaring and it has been so through the years. Dravid was dropped from the ODI squad 3 matches after a brilliant match-winning 92 in Bristol. Yuvraj was persisted with after several failures for over a year, not more than 2 innings over 50. But that is Indian cricket for you!


One Heck of a Domestic Season but Abysmal Coverage

September 6, 2008

A once-in-a-lifetime domestic season is upon us. Tendulkar has announced his availability for the Irani Trophy vs. Ranji champions Delhi; Ganguly, Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Dhoni are also expected to play. Can it get any better? Meanwhile, Dravid is already playing for Karnataka in the Buchi Babu tournament in Chennai. India-A, the future of the Indian Test team, is playing the next generation Aussies in Bangalore. All this is happening and the coverage is almost non existent.

Not even a scorecard of the Buchi Babu tournament. How I wish I was in Chennai, would have rushed to the stadium, weather permitting. Unfortunately, a very busy work week meant I couldn’t make to the India-A vs. Australia-A match right here in Bangalore. On that, all we get is a scorecard. Meanwhile, I join fellow blogger Scopy in my cable-TV rues. No, not Tata Sky, but my local cable operator in Bangalore is a madman. He decides what I should watch. At any point in time, we get only three sport channels: a toss up between ESPN, Ten Sports, Star Sports, NEO Sports and Star Cricket. If there’s a live billiards tournament on Star Sports and other such live matches on other channels, means I can’t watch “India glorious” on Star Cricket or “Dravid Deewar” on NEO Sports.

I say this is a great opportunity to rope in some sponsors and cash in. Where are the BCCI? Are they not hearing the jingling of coins? The sad state of some of the domestic tournaments as described by Pradeep Magazine in his book <i>Not Quite Cricket </i> comes to mind. This is the time to cash in, folks. Lalit Modi! Where are you when you matter the most? There are at least three other very excited bloggers who are wanting to see these matches: unabashed senior supporter Buzz and avid cricket follows Scorpicity and Soulberry, who has a dedicated blog for domestic cricket. Hope I haven’t missed anyone else. But I’m pretty sure there are enough of us crazy folk to at least partially fill a stadium or count toward the TRP ratings. Surely Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid will pull crowds. Having said all that, looks like we crazy folk can only rant this season.