Posts Tagged cricket

What Matters More – Runs or Money?

Two big news coming from Cricketing world today – Sachin Tendulkar crossing 14,000 runs in test cricket and BCCI suspending Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab. Two pieces of info, about almost the same set of players but still making a huge difference to fans.

We cricket loving fans live in a different world, we treat cricket as religion and love it more than anything, and when people try to take advantage of that fact it hurts us the most. In last couple of years, money has taken the center stage, most people would not have noticed yet but will notice it now. The kind of corruption is in under either in form of spot fixing, match fixing or accounting irregularities it hurts us the most.

We are the fans, when we wake up at 5 AM to watch Sachin Tendulkar play against Australia, we do not care about what logo is on his shirt – either it be Nike or Sahara it does not matter us. It does not matter to us what advertisements are played, it is Coca Cola or Pepsi. What matters to us is the straight drive, hook and the pull, that battle between bat and ball is so powerful that when Ravi Sashtri says “when Sachin plays well, India sleeps well” is absolutely true.

Cricket is healer for this developing country. We get in all sorts of arguments, fights, reservations, and demolitions and are even hit by internal and external terrorism. But when it comes to Cricket it does not take much, we just need a TV in a show room and outside public becomes happy. People forget they have to go for work, college or meetings, they forget what religion or cast they are from, they forget what language they speak, and there is only one thing which wins – the joy of watching our favorite team play.

And it is not just about our team; we appreciate and cheer good Cricket from everywhere. We cheer for good bowling from Muralidharan, nice hitting by Peterson, fast bowling from Bond, Andy Flower’s reverse sweep or anything nice which is played with proper sprit.
Lately it has been hit by scandals. It all started with Hansie Cronje’s revelations a decade ago. Some players got greedy and we got a setback that caused us a lot of players. Because of that we would never be able to see Azharuddin’s masterful wrist strokes. What caused it all, it was the greed of certain players.

Now in 2010 we uncovered the story of Lalit Modi and how his greed is causing problems again. Not just some teams are being kicked out of tournament, he has taken a format of the game to such high level where it has started to outshine the real cricket. It hurts not only the fans but players as well, as summarized by Coach and Captain of Rajasthan Royals, Shane Warne in his tweet:

3 seasons ago royals won the first ever ipl, underdogs come good what a story, it helped give credibility to the competition !!! Now look. The royals gave young unknown Indian players a chance and I as captain backed them, and our coaching staff supported them we were a team. What now for the youngsters, I hope BCCI come to there senses, fingers crossed!

Who has the answer to these questions? It’s all well and good that new players got chance to play, it gave stage to new stars to shine but was that just a cover for a scandal that was brewing up beneath? The story is not just limited to Cricket, but if we look around all major sports have issues like these – be it match fixing scandal of Serie A and Serie B league of Italy, or Nelson Piquet Jr. slamming his car into barriers in Singapore GP, or NBA referee gambling on the games he was officiating.

Till we have a lot of money in sports we will have these problems. And without money we will also have problems as we see in case of Indian athletes, who do not have proper infrastructure. We need money, but at the same time a system that regulated the kind of money getting into the system. This calls for a wide reform of the system and almost seems impossible, but things can be changed. Same way we could throw out tobacco sponsorship out of sports, we can deal with this issue as well. Government has to step-in, authorities have to be less corrupt and more passionate about the games they are involved in. Lets just keep the sports what it is, lets keep the passion alive for the fans and players and it will last forever. Learn a lesion from Sachin Tendulkar, he has lasted 21 years playing international, which is not just mentally but physically impossible. With his simple lifestyle, passion for the game and not letting success get into his head can last him this long why can’t we adopt same approach to the sport. Lets bring in more administrators who are passionate about game rather than about money or politics and we can be on right track.

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Bow to The Master

Today was the day that will go down in golden world in Cricketing history. The mythical 3109890657_58d06b2217_m[1]200 run mark in ODI was broken and it was by none other than India’s proudest possession, Sachin Tendulkar.  For last 20 years he has given India a consistent performance that is unparallel to any other effort. He has many names – God, Master Blaster, Little Master, Tendya, One man army etc. He has many names and I won’t get into detail which one I like, but what he means to country. He is HOPE, he is the one who can swing the game in India’s favor. Till he is on crease no Indian ever loses hope, opposition fears him more than anything and bowlers have nightmares before and after the game. He has played many great innings – ranging from his ‘Desert Storm’ inning in Sharjah to ‘cut shot’ in 2003 world cup which sent Pakistan back home.

He not only survives the tremendous pressure put by opposition but also the enormous amount of expectations from more than a billion people. When he walks onto the filed every fans wants a century from him and nothing less. To meet those levels of expectations constantly for twenty years is phenomenal.

He has literally almost all the batting records to his name, but the one he created today has eluded him few times. Why is this great (if not greatest) inning? why does it carry more weight than anything when it is just six run ahead of previous record? What makes this the one to remember for life? Here are my reasons:

‘Carry the bat’ is not an easy thing to achieve. It takes immense concentration, stamina, patience and requires perfection of the incomparable level. It takes just one mistake – a slight miscalculation, loss of concentration or something minute and you are sent back to pavilion. To perform such task in changing conditions and distractions all around is huge task. In not only requires patience but also controlling the emotions. One cannot achieve such perfection without hard work, dedication or letting success get into head. Even one survives those five grueling hours on pitch, it takes enormous effort to scores runs consistently at such high rate. One is not just concentrating on batting but also running, keep the score ticking and attacking the opposition mentally. To achieve such a feat at age of 37 in itself is amazing. He not only has stamina to survive, which he has developed over years of rigorous training and immense discipline, but also cunningness to adapt to situation. The way he switched from hitting shots to using bowler’s pace was marvelous. To end this argument, I would say, he does not have the body structure of modern day players who believe in power hitting. Sachin Tendulkar is not six foot tall with broad shoulders to attack all the balls, he is a class act – a mix of brilliance, elegance and ability to innovate shots. All these things make this one of the greatest innings of Cricket.

What now? Sachin Tendulkar has one more dream, to win the World Cup for India. We know he is going to do his best and he will have more than a billion fans to support from him. If he continues this form, I have no qualms in proclaiming that India will not fail to win the World Cup. What could be a better gift than winning the World Cup on home turf. We all LOVE you Sachin! You are Cricket to me and I don’t want to imagine…

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A Tribute to Sourav Ganguly

Today (Nov 09,2008) would be last day of Dada in International Cricket and a very sad day for fans all over the world.  He made debut in ODIs in 1992 in West Indies and it went almost unnoticed, but his Test Debut was the best that any player could have – back to back centuries in first two innings, first at Lords and then at Tent Bridge. Rest is history, he went on to become the most successful Test and ODI captain for India. He is Photo by RB. responsible in transforming the Indian Cricket Team mostly in shatters after match-fixing scandal into ‘Team India’, the team that reached the World Cup Finals in 2003. He is the one who changed the way Indians used to play cricket, he added aggression and innovation to cricket and taught everyone how to fight against odds.  He brought the positive/winning attitude to the team that has been missing for more than 50 years. He proved to everyone that its not just talent but believing in oneself or team that wins the match.

He would always be remembered as the God of off-side, no one in Cricketing world can hit off-side shots with such accuracy and confidence. There was a time when 6  players used to be put in off-side to protect boundaries during field restrictions. Once he developed his leg-side shots he was unstoppable and went on to become second highest run scorer (ODIs). If someone asks me what is the image of Ganguly in my mind, it would have to be Dada coming down the track and hitting a high and long six of Muralitharan, it was such a beauty. The best spinner in world, bowling in conditions very good for spin bowling and still Ganguly can smash him all over the ground.

Another important part of his batting was his chemistry with Sachin Tendulkar. For long time Indian cricket struggled to find perfect combination for ODI openers, but when chance was given to Sachin and Sourav they went on become the most successful openers in the world and have many records on their name. Since both of them are aggressive players it would be hard to complement each other or restrict oneself when other player is taking risks, but he did that perfectly. As a kid when I used to watch cricket, I will never sit down for first 15 overs when Sachin and Sourav were playing, they played some of the best cricket I have seen in my life.

Dada and controversies are synonyms to each other, but most of them are media created than real. When he took of his shirt after winning at Lords in finals of Natwest Trophy 2002, many people criticized him saying it should not be done in gentlemen’s game, but I enjoyed it completely and saw it as a warning to world cricket – Indian cricket team has arrived and we are going to win the 2003 World Cup.

In late 2006 he was dropped from both ODI and test forms considering his bad form and some argument with current coach Greg Chappell. It was a huge disappointment for fans and it seemed he would never return back to International cricket. I still has the hope till I saw the Pepsi ad just before the World Cup 2007, where Dada was sitting in empty stadium and delivering the line “apne dada is baar maanange naa”. It was a big blow for me and I thought it to be end of his career.  But just in few months he did the unthinkable, he was back to cricket and scripted the most amazing come back in Indian cricket – by scoring highest runs in test series against South Africa and man of the series awards against Sri Lanka.

For me the most memorable Ganguly innings have to be 238 against Pakistan in Bangalore[2008] (where I was at the stadium), 183 vs Sri Lanka at WC99, 144 vs Australia [2000-01], His first innings at Lords, His excellent bowling performance vs Pakistan in Sahara Cup and 124 against Pakistan at Independence up final in Dhaka (where Kanitkar hits a 4 to win the match).

It sad he is retiring today, but we respect his decision and don’t want to create controversy by saying someone might have forced him to retire. Its more than 10 years that we have seen you playing and we will miss that.

(Photo by RB, Bangalore Test, Oct 2008)

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Congratulation Sachin, Highest run-scorer in Test Cricket

Congratulation Sachin for another milestone in your kitty. We have been waiting for you to surpass Brian Lara for highest run scorer in Test Cricket, but due to injuries and being ‘out of form’ we have to wait for long. But this innings at Mohali was superb and whole nation along with cricket lovers from all over the world will remember it for long.

There are stones thrown at you and you turn it in to milestones.

- Sachin

Yes, for last 19 years (since I started watching cricket) you have been doing so and I wish you could do this for next 20 years too. Sadly, we know this is not possible. [ I do not want to think of that day, have not yet recovered from Ganguly's announcement to retire.]

I was not that excited to be honest.

-Sachin in an interview after breaking the record.

This is the main reason for your success besides the talent. Over many years many talented cricketers have come and gone and none have left an impact or could not last long because they could handle the success. He has not only made this country proud but lived to expectations of billion people, that itself is the biggest achievement of life. He is not just a great cricketer but the greatest sportsman this country has every seen. We are proud of you.

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Cricket: Then and Now

Cricket, the game of uncertainty, the game where change in wind/temperature/humidity/cloud cover can have big impact on result, the game we all love. It’s a game of strategy and planning, endurance, ability to handle pressure, ability to stay on crease for as long as possible are cheered by fans all over the world.

When Sunil Gavaskar visited out campus last year, I had one question for him, the question that has been bugging me since the arrival of T20 cricket.

Q: Is 20-twenty cricket ruining test/one day cricket? (Veetrag)

SG: No, actually it helps in improvement. The same things were said when One day cricket came into picture, people used to say that no one with watch test matches. But nothing like this happened, the playing style of crickets changed and it helped Tests. Previously test matches were mostly draws now you don’t see that many draws and most of the draws are result of bad weather. Scoring rates have changed; batsmen have started taking more risks.

Same will happen to ODIs too; now ODIs are too predictable. We know batsmen will come and hit for first 20 overs and then last 10 overs, I hope with 20-twenty we will see a change in style of playing and that would reflect someday in ODIs too.

(Full Q&A Session)

Only concern I had was, will T20 cricket turn the classy game into ‘power game’, where to be batsmen you should have a minimum height of 6ft 2 , have a build like a bull and you should be able to pick up the ball as soon it hits the pitch and slog it into the space. T20 is such a shorter version of game that terms like cracking of pitch and reverse swing are unheard of, where the class of batsmen is measured by the number of meters ball covered in air, where the classy batsmen like Rahul Dravid and VVS Lakshman are considered as boring and senseless hitting by Ravindu Jadeja is considered great action.

Clear evidences of viewers discontent with slow scoring rate were visible during first test match at Chennai between India and SA, where Rahul Dravid’s 111 in 396 balls was considered painfully slow and commentators even went ahead to say that Dravid does not want India to win. But if we take Dravid out of that score board (along with the balls he played) it will not take rocket science to figure out that instead of a draw game we could have lost that test.

I was not much worried as T20 was not catching up, but with IPL the complete scenario is changed. I don’t care about the money that has been pumped in or the impact caused by cheerleaders, I don’t care if Chennai Super Knights win or Kolkata King Riders take the championship, I just want nice cricket action, and that should have no impact on Test/One day cricket. I guess the scene is changing now, T20 cricket has taken over and speculation of new tournaments like EPL and PCL are indication that test cricket will be pushed aside someday. Only hope that I have is, people will get bored of these run feasts and will come back to classy cricket.

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Aggression on the pitch

It’s Kings XI Punjab Vs Mumbai Indians , the match is over and Punjab is celebrating victory and something happens that shocked the complete cricket world, Harbhajan slaps Sreesath instead of shaking hands and wishing luck. I don’t want to discuss why this happened or why Sreesanth cried, I just want to express that I am deeply hurt and ashamed to have witnessed something like this.

Definitely this is the problem with Harbhajan, but he can’t be held completely responsible for it. BCCI and our media are also to be blamed. Looking few months back, we see Harbhajan involved in same kind of aggression and alleged racism charges. But that time the context was different, we took that matter as of ‘National Pride’ and all backed Harbhajan, it was more like war against Australia, even I posted few blogs. Should we have taken it that seriously and supported Harbhajan? Shouldn’t BCCI have punished Bhajji from their side though ICC had cleared him on benefit of doubt. Why only if proven guilty of racism he was supposed to be punished, why don’t use of derogatory language and unwanted aggression be punished.

Why only monetary punishments are given to these players, when everyone knows that 20%-30% or full match fee also does not make any impact to these players? Banning from matches can be the best solution with no appeal. Or I would say make it like football, umpires have right to give yellow/red cards and can give 1/2 match match suspension for unsporting behavior. [Geo adds here that card system is only for ‘contact sports’ but I feel to tackle situations like Sydney Test we have to come up with a solution.]

Boards should also not favor players as in case of Shoaib Akhtar when he hit Mohd Asif with a bat, he was given a ‘calculated set’ of match ban. Boards should be more strict and should convey the message that any player or win is not bigger than the sport.

On a personal note, incidents like not appreciating players (Rahul Dravid against Mumbai Indians @ Mumbai and Sehwag against Deccan Chagers @ Hyderabad) and Bhajji slapping Sreesanth has diminished my interest in IPL. We are the worshippers of Cricket and would love to see some qauality cricket and appreciate it and want nothing more than quality cricket.


Champions :)

We are the T 20 World Champions
We are the U 19 World Champions
When will we be V 18 Champions?

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India Down Under – Online Presentation Ceremony

Man of the tour
Harbhajan Singh
– for his coolness and for proving that action speaks louder than words. He was provoked, wrongly accused, booed and ‘almost’ manhandled but still he ke

‘Cry Baby’ of the tour
Ricky Ponting – For never accepting his failure and pointing fingers to opposition after every game. For being a mastermind in wrongly accusing Harbhajan when Indian started playing well.

Rise of the tour
Ishant Sharma – for the brilliant performance in tests and ODIS and making Ponting his ‘Bunny’

Revenge of the tour
Hatbhajan getting Symonds out in both finals.

Statement of the tour
Only one team was playing with the spirit of the game – Anil Kumble

Commentator of the tour
Sunil Gavaskar – for being a commentator who spoke his heart out and always supported the right. Other commentator tried to be politically correct but he spoke what he felt and reflected the true sentiments of Indians.

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Should Sachin Play in IPL?

The day IPL was announced I am worried about should Sachin play or not? Not from Sachin’s point of view but from BCCI’s. BCCI during selection of T20 WC team did not pick up the geniuses of Sachin, Sourav and Dravid as selection committee preferred ‘josh’ over experience. Now why can’t BCCi give chance to new players to show case talent? Why do they want our senior players to play and exhaust them? Those geniuses if properly preserved can play test cricket for some more time. Sachin has already expressed once that recovery time for senior players is much more than young players. Why don’t BCCI give rest to players who are already burned out because of tight calendar? I suggest that instead of using IPL as money making machine use it for talent hunt (not like reality TV).

IPL is just a 45 day event, but 40 over game, practice and travelling will surely have its toll and we don’t want to lose our Hero for BCCI’s greed.

PS: My PoV -T20 is entertaining but nothing beats test cricket.


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Bogus Green

Six months back, I was in Chennai. We friends decided to play some cricket and went to the beach. Since there was no place to play, we talked to some kids (10th std) and they asked us to join. We decided to have a match with those kids; we won the toss and decided to bat. In first over, after running (on sand) four runs I realized that not playing for last few years have taken the toll, I was panting hard. Other team members were also in same condition; somehow we managed to score 36 runs in 10 overs. Other team batted and scored easily in six overs.

Then came the best part, those kids came to us and shook hands and said ‘well played’. These were just 15 year old kids who knew how to play game with right spirit and enjoy as well. Even while playing with our neighboring countries, which we have been in war with few times, we play a fair game with sportsmanship and honesty. But in down south there is an island, their people call themselves world champions, they wear baggy greens, they boast about their professional behavior and still can’t play the game in right spirit, can’t even shake hands with losing side, bully around and can claim ‘the game was played in right spirit’. I can’t call them professional who cannot even behave and have sportsmanship as kids, it’s not baggy green its bogus green.

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