Friday, December 12, 2008

Introspection – Deewar ishtyle!!

Long after he had disappeared last, I managed to sight him yet again. GAWD had last appeared on November the 28th and that was 2007, the last year. He was back yesterday, by himself. This was post my prolonged, fanatic search to get him answer a couple of very important questions had failed. This time he was on a Deewar mode, may be some retro movie festival running somewhere in the world had caught his fancy.

Entering in like the typical angry young (I told you he's a great actor) man himself, he started off…

“Your classmates are all well settled, they have cars, bungalows, jewelry, bank balance and ESOP…. Tere paas kya hai?”

That was enough to wake the Shashi in me up, for I have been party to this man’s partisan politics for more than 30 years now.

The deep and resolute me replied in a firm tone…

Mere paas… VSOP hai

Cheers GAWD!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The shark of a story…

Sammy, the whale shark.

That is the most familiar name across newspapers, radio and internet in the UAE for the last couple of weeks. Sammy has pushed Subprime, Henry Paulson, Barack Obama, John McCain & Sarah Palin to one column by ten centimeter spaces. We see pages dedicated to Sammy, we have seen Save Sammy stickers going on sale and amusingly we have had a leading Pinoy singer strumming for Sammy. We have also heard RJ’s speaking passionately about Sammy and his rights cutting across radio channels, sometimes conveniently forgetting that they love their seafood platter.

Although I am not an active or professing member of PETA or likes, I come from a family that loves animals. Importantly we respect their rights and their habitat. That said I cannot quite understand the euphoria and this, “I give a column or second airtime more than you” attitude of the media here. After all Sammy is safe in an aquarium and I am sure as at least some of the saner souls would agree, didn’t up as a biryani in somebody’s plate.

Pardon me if I sound gross or uncouth, but that is a fact. While millions of tons of habitats of the sea are trawled out as seafood, we must be happy that Sammy didn’t end up that way or being thrown out of a speeding car, as many cats are in town. He’s part of an aquarium that might, of all things serve to educate kids, the next generation who otherwise might never get to see a whale shark other than in a book or when they google it out.

I repeat, I don’t support or oppose Sammy being held captive. As long as Sammy is being taken proper care of, let him be wherever it might be. Those who claim Sammy might lose touch with reality, the independence of his habitat should also think about those thousands of lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos, and giraffes etc. who are part of the various zoos around the world. Think, have we ever printed a sticker of say, Simba the lion? And asked the zoo authorities to release him in his native habitat?

I loathe this frenzy, the senseless hysteria of save Sammy. Can we ask ourselves

  1. How many column centimeters or seconds do we devote for those labourers who toil in the hot sun sans proper food, shelter or remuneration? Forget those occasional sensational stories filed...
  2. Was there any follow-up to see if the school transportation system and safety has improved after sensationalizing the death of a kindergarten toddler in Abu Dhabi for one week? Did we ever care about it?
  3. Have we guys ever worried or cared about those numerous cats that lie dead on our roads?
  4. Have we ever seen stories in the newspapers or cared to talk about people who chain monkeys or other animals to their steering wheels, making them sit on it and drive their cars with an open window just to show the world how macho they are?
  5. And finally a simple question, how many times in your life have you ever used a zebra crossing or a designated facility to cross the road in the last 3 months?

Please, for heavens sake let’s dust our own back before pointing out a peck of dust at our neighbour’s. Let’s be responsible. I agree sensationalism sells in media, but please understand that we don’t need to either sell or buy stories at this obscenely suffocating sensation levels.

I would also ask the Pinoy musician to first strum for those hundreds and thousands of her Kabayan brothers and sisters who live a life of agony and suffering. I would ask her to do something for them before she grabs her next column centimeter at the expense of a Sammy.

Guys have some sense, let’s show at least 10 – 15 % of the concern we show on a Sammy on the fellow human beings we deal with day to day. The poor taxi drivers, the labourer, the guy who serves us at a hotel and thousands of others we encounter in our daily life. If we are able to do this first, I am sure we would end up feeling prouder and satisfied, than cutting a save the Sammy motif from a newspaper, pinning it on our kids and clicking a photo. Hoping we would see it in the next morning’s newspaper.

Let me reiterate, I am not saying don’t care for Sammy. Please do. But before that think, think how many times we ever care for our fellow human beings and their rights. At least now let us resolve, to care for our fellow humans.

Long live Sammy, the whale shark!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Subprime Mortgages and Cricket

As I was flipping on my bed trying to catch some sleep after a "full" sake dinner, I could hear my inner voice. The fact that I had one glass too many of sake made me hear my inner voice loud and clear.

It was unhappy, unhappy because I am the one blogger left in this world who hasn’t spoken / written about something called the "Subprime crisis", too bad. I have been hearing people at the golf course, pubs, office coffee machine, lunches, dinners, malls and so on. People who were speaking about Subprime, Lehman Brothers, Merrill lynch etc.

I remember one very economics & finance savvy gentleman talking about how his favorite Mac has gone bankrupt and how it was lucky to be bankrolled by the Fed Authority because they didn’t want the Mac's to be dead!!, little did he know the difference between the Mac as in burgers and the Mac as in mortgages. With all this action happening around, I didn’t want to be left out.

And here is my two bit about subprime.

I think post the real estate & financial markets the phenomenon of subprime is going to hit cricket, precisely the IPL. One might wonder how?!!

It is pretty simple, to understand this one should understand the basics of what subprime crisis means.

It started with giving a loan / mortgage to a person who doesn’t deserve it and then the lending agencies inability to recollect the money. In other words, a mortgage or loan given to a person whose credit rating is not good enough which doesn't repay the lender. Now what connection does this have with cricket?

Recently 13 players from Bangladesh have gone and joined ICL, a huge exodus of talent for a small country like Bangladesh. Big Brother, oops!! BCCI announced that they would take care of this by getting more Bangladeshi players in the next IPL auction.

We all know where Bangladesh's cricket credit rating stood before the exodus, more precisely the T20 rating. Now with talent gone, let us close our eyes for a minute and try and think where and how their cricket credit rating would stand now. And now a Freddie Mac or a Fannie May (the BCCI / ICL) is trying to finance them (by taking more of them in the auction).

I was thinking what might happen.

There are two scenarios,

1. As usual it might just be a BCCI / IPL rhetoric and nothing might happen
2. They might go ahead and take more of the Bangladesh players to the auction

If they indeed take more players from Bangladesh, then there is a potential opportunity for us to see a cricket subprime. If you remember the definition of subprime, undeserving or uninteresting people getting money is what caused the subprime.

With Srilankan cricket allowing ICL cricketers to play domestic cricket there, if a couple of more boards follow suit then there is a good enough probability of talent (read people with good credit rating) drifting the other side. If this happens, then going by the financial precedent, gone would be the IPL & BCCI.

I am not sure if there is any federal setup equivalent in cricket, even if we (mistakenly) consider that ICC is one then I am not sure if they would want to bail the Big Brother out.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A match I would never forget...

It was the US Open...

The men's doubles final...

And it was one of my favorites, Leander Paes pairing with Lukas Dlouhy

Against the Brian twins, Bob and Mike.

It was one of the most memorable, interesting, action packed doubles match I'd ever seen. There was a twist / suspense on every point played. Lee, as in any other match he has ever played till date, had his heart in his sleeve... The man was brilliant as ever. 

Would have been fulfilling (for me his dear fan..) had he won, to add to that mixed doubles crown he won the previous day... But destiny decided that the deserving would win the crown...

And it happened to be the Bryan bro's...

Whatta match... I was blessed watching the finals !!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A new league on the block (or should I say the range??)

I am seriously considering a business proposal... I think I have a brilliant idea, a nice business proposition, unique to the present day Indian sports TV market, which could make pots of money. Yes, I am thinking of starting a league...

Let's call it the Indian Rifle shooting League. I am sure the IRL would give IPL, ICL and any other alphabet between an "I & L" a run for money, given the present climate.

The eternal optimist I am, I think with the terrible loss to Lanka, age drowning our superstars and with more talented opposition, it is time. It is time we announced the beginning, of the end of Indian cricket and superstardom. Let's welcome the arrival of the great Indian Rifle shooting League.

We could actually make our cricket superstars standby for targets and clay pigeons. I don't think they would find this role way different from what they are doing now... Standing the middle for a while and getting shot out or down!!

Venture capital firms (and angel investors!!), if you are reading this contact me now. This is a first come first offer and you know how brilliant a proposal this is. Abhinav Bindra, after his 10m air rifle gold in the Beijing Olympics would be the new Indian sports hero, at least for the next couple of months. I am sure the Indian cricket team would continue with their good work in Lanka even in the ODIs, so the sooner we start this league the better for our ROIs. Else the Indian cricket team might start winning again (a couple of matches here and there or an odd series of course!!) and we might have competition.

Let's act quickly and change the trend of cricket and cricketers being demigods and superstars. I am not writing this because I have suddenly started disliking cricket after India's disastrous loss to Lanka. I am writing this out of concern for the other (great) Indian sports, the state of Indian hockey today being a prime example. With an Olympic gold in 10m air rifle category, this might be our opportunity to infuse some blood and revive the other sports in India and start respecting the sportsmen and women who (actually!!) represent India in the international arena and bring us glory.

Let's congratulate the Indian Olympic contingent and especially Abhinav Bindra. You have made us Indians proud.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Interesting piece of sports news...

Rafael Nadal wins Rogers cup. More on this here
Reading this piece of news I had a question for Rafa...
So when are you going to win Roger's ranking??

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rahul, you beauty…

Friends of mine know how big a fan I am of this man, Rahul Dravid. When one of them said Rahul should do some domestic duties before he came back to play test cricket after his dismal tour down under, I fumed. I swore by Dravid and shouted on top of my voice that he is the best batsman Indian cricket has had in the recent past and would continue to be in the near future too. I was sure I would never change my opinion, for I love the way Rahul plays his cricket. His exquisite extra cover drive, the silken ondrive, he is the best. The friend responded with a call for me to get out of my dream world, the world where Rahul Dravid, The Wall is the king.

Slightly shaken, I started doing some math on Rahul's recent performances. The stand out was the recent home series against South Africa, the Chennai test to be precise. This is where Rahul joined the 10,000 club and supposedly scored a scintillating century. A second look at the score card told me that my dear Rahul had played a gem of an inning, for himself. The innings he played was as fast as a millipede's quick march, made sure India drew the test, when victory was at sight. A must have won test was drawn, and India went on to lose the next test on a pacy wicket in Ahmedabad. No doubt, the series was drawn but India could easily have won the series convincingly had Rahul paced his Chennai innings to the needs of the team than that of his selfish motives. And now I started agreeing with my friend who had remarked earlier that Rahul needs to play some Ranji before he gets back to his original best at the international level.

The next match of Rahul I watched was the IPL, Bangalore (Vs.) Mumbai. It was a T20 match and Bangalore were chasing Mumbai's 165 in 20. And Rahul opened the innings with Shiv Chanderpaul. He as usual was at his millipedal best. He had no clue as to what Shaun Pollock was bowling to him. The closest I had seen a bowler being that successful before was when I bowled to my two and a half year old son, when he was two and was learning to hold his bat.

As Sunil Gavaskar in the commentary remarked, he was trying to settle down before he opened up, in a T20 match. It seemed like he didn’t want his team to win. I was thinking someone from the Bangalore camp would send a message to Rahul on field that there was no draw in the T20 format and restore some sanity in the middle. It was either a win or otherwise.

Boucher and Kallis managed to pull off a near impossible victory in the end. There would still be people who would say Rahul set a stage for the victory. If I were the coach of the Bangalore team, I would frankly not want a victory set up like this. Nerve-wracking victories like this would cause fatigue and would tire the minds of the team.

Being a big fan of Rahul, I don't want to see him kicked out of cricket someday. I would hence recommend that he took a quick decision. Analyse where he stands today honestly and do something about it quickly. As Greg Chappell told Sourav some years ago, there is life outside cricket too. I am sure Rahul is sane enough to know this truth. A quick decision by him now might save a buck or two for Mr Mallya and make the cricket Bangalore team plays resemble the T20 brand, at least.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

China would have been very happy listening...

It is about Tibet again.

With all the agitation and the protests happening around Tibet issue, the way the Chinese are handling it and the Olympics, every news channel / paper / magazine is clamouring for their bit of breaking news.

The latest to break this fantastic news is an FM radio in Dubai. The news...

"The Olympic flame would do its round of 20 countries including Tibet before it makes its way to China, the hosts of this years games."

The Tibetian' would certainly have been very happy listening, I am not sure what the Politburo's reaction would have been.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The best way to insult a sportsperson

Kudos to this Indian news channel, they have perfected the art of insulting sportsmen / women by their reporting. The latest is to insult Dhyan Chand, the greatest hockey wizard the world has ever produced. So how did they manage insulting a hockey wizard who played in the 1900s?

I quote from the news channel' website "Jhansi, a city which has produced some of India's greatest hockey players including the Don Bradman of hockey, Dhyan Chand."

What a shame. When you report about hockey in India, you shed crocodile tears about the state of the game and then analogize the best of hockey players the world has produced to someone who played the game that is killing hockey. I am not refuting the fact that Sir Donald Bradman was a great cricket player, what I am pissed is about the analogy.

And this is not the first time this great news channel with Padmashree news reporters is insulting a sportsperson. They have done it for Saina Nehwal, an Indian badminton player who trains under the great Gopi Chand (the only Indian player who never wanted to make that extra advertising buck even after becoming a big sports personality). In one of their bulletins after Sania Nehwal won the Philippines open in 2006, they hailed her as the next best thing from the state of Sania Mirza.

What a joke!! (1) She is actually a Haryanvi who trains with Gopi in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (2) Sania Mirza has never (at least till date) won any major titles (3) Sania Mirza's family doesn't own Andhra Pradesh (that is the history I know!!)

I am sure this news channel would never realize what they are doing, for they are supposedly the leading Indian news channel. And most importantly a channel whose reporters (who are supposed to be neutral entities) accept favours from the Indian political masters in the form of awards.

Long live morality!! Long live their reporting skills!! Long live such stories they report!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Answer - Cricket Trivia

Whoa... What an overwhelming response, thanx a ton for those 91 pageviews and the 61 unique visitors (among which, one was me. And I was responsible for about 12 page views!!). Ironic none complied to the call for action, to reply to the question. Thanx a ton again for all you guys gals who came here to see the question and apologies for posting the answer late...

The question asked was...

Matthew Hayden called Harbajan Singh an obnoxious little weed.

What would he have called had it been Robin Uthappa or Sreesanth?

And the answer is...

Mouth Ki Saudagar

These two guys should be the official Spokespeople of the team. For, they just talk.. Oh, sorry it should be "They just blabber".

Ps: Breaking news today!! Uthappa can't wait to play test cricket.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cricket Trivia

Matthew Hayden called Harbajan Singh an obnoxious little weed.

What would he have called had it been Robin Uthappa or Sreesanth?

Clue: The recent Gujarat assembly elections

Post your answers on comments. I would have my answer posted soon...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

There can't be a bigger hypocrite

I read this story in Cricinfo. This is the probably one of the recent revelations of Andrew Symonds. Here, he goes on to say it is acceptable for him when his friends make racist jibes.

This is like saying nobody else but my mother could call me a bastard. For, she is the one who would really know if I am.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mike Proctor and his Kangaroo court

He was unlucky to have missed this prime cricketing years due to South Africa's international isolation. He is compared to Kapil Dev, Ian Botham & Imran Khan in terms of his allround cricket talent. But that is the past. He would now be remembered for ever as the Mike Proctor, who handed a 3 match ban to Harbajan Singh for his alleged racist comments during the Sydney test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008.

While his intentions of rooting out racism from the cricket field is noble. His decision in putting Harbajan infront of the canon and blasting him with a ban is questionable and dubious. This is considering the simple reason that there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever to confirm Harbajan indeed said those words. No one else in the field or off the field (television channels or viewers) heard or saw Harbajan say the racist comment he is supposed to have.

The most ironic thing is that there were four witnesses supporting Symonds are Ponting – his captain, Clarke, Hayden, Gilchrist. All these witnesses had at somepoint in the match commited something that would make you question their integrity and honesty. They never heard Harbajan hurling racist abuse at Symonds, but still they were witnesses and could say with conviction that Harbajan said those comments.

And why does Proctor find Harbajan guilty? Because the Australians say he is guilty. They argue Harbajan called Symonds a monkey once, during their tour of India recently. And therefore there is every chance he would have said it again, and that amounts to a repeat offence and hence a 3 match ban. Brilliant logic.

And then comes Proctor's interview, where he talks proudly about how he delivered justice to the Australians, especially Symonds. He says "I am South African, and I understand the word racism". So do we Mike, but your understanding a word can't be the basis of calling someone a racist and banning him. Where is the evidence that he said those words?

Procter has set a very dangerous precedent here. Tomorrow, while touring Pakistan Ponting might face a situation where he is getting out to Shoaib Akthar frequently or he is simply afraid of his bowling and hence he might decide to put him off the game. He would be joined by three more of his mates and they would accuse him of beating an Australian player with a bat without any evidence whatsoever. Now, what happens?

Here again you have four Aussies accusing a player from the subcontinent and here too the accused is someone who has used a bat to hit someone before. Would you want to ban him for 3 matches just because the Aussies accuse him? What is the guarantee that the Aussies wouldn't accuse Harbajan or any other player in the world of a uttering a racist remark again?

Effectively Procter has made the cricket field a kindergarten classroom. Where kids cry and accuse their neighbours of something or the other. The cricket players are neither kids nor is the field a classroom. It is hightime the ICC does something to remove incompetent referees like Proctor and expand their elite panel with competent referees. And most importantly they must also put cry babies like Australia in their place.

PS: The greatest joke in all was for this man to support the Australian team on TV, Michel Slater. Mate, the world still remembers the Pontingesque catch you took of Rahul Dravid and your reaction to both the batsman and the umpire, Venkat.

An open letter to Ricky Ponting - Australia – 2 : Cricket – 0

"Michael Clarke's got the golden touch, hasn't he? We knew if we kept them under pressure. That's an unbelievable win…"

Those were supposedly your words words during the post match interview as quoted in a website.

Yes! Mr Ponting, it was indeed an unbelievable win but surely forgettable. You surely had four things behind you in this match. Luck, and the three umpires. And each one played their part, perfectly and precisely.

When Gilchrist walked during a crunch world cup match, the whole world appreciated. That is including the many Indians like me. You have been harping about the batsman taking the fielders word and walking off. But as ever your team has always preached and never practiced, of course except those odd Gilchrist like moments. Which I have come to a conclusion that are stage managed purely for PR purposes.

Your mates didn't walk when they knew they were out, the whole world but for 3 men didn't. When it came to the second innings we saw how desperate you were to win the match and equal a record. The Dravid and Ganguly dismissals showcased your intentions. Even if we leave Ganguly's dismissal as a mariginal decision (which was not by any means, it was so obvious he was not out), Dravid's was a classical case. He pads a ball and the most moral guy in your team goes up and gets a decision in his favour. Is he not the same guy who said even his kid during a game of backyard cricket wouldn't have acted like how Sreesant did during your recent India tour? Could you check with him if this is the way his kid would react when a ball clearly brushes his leg?

You are also a strong advocate of things said or done in the ground staying within. What happened to that when you decided to take Harbajan's case outside? I agree with you in saying, if anything racial had been said, he ought to be punished in the strictest possible way. But did he really say anything as you claim, is there anything else to back your claims up? Now, for a moment let's decide to forget the "everything stays within the ground" argument. How do you justify a Hayden going public saying you have a strong case? The match was on, the referee had decided to postpone the case till the match ended because it might have put undue pressure on the people involved. Is it fair on you to go public harping about the strong case you have? Is this not a negative tactic, to put pressure on Harbajan and on the Indian team? Is this the way any champion team would want to win?

The catch of Dhoni you had claimed says it all. Before you say it was a fair take again, take a look at those pictures floating around the net or the tapes one of the TV channels have. It is proud thumping your chest in normal circumstances, not now Mr Ponting. You've got a fractured rib cage! Thumping more would not only puncture your heart but also your country's.

Mr Ponting, there is something called walking the talk, if you can't walk at least try and crawl the talk. You can't simply ask for the rule to be bent or your statements be altered when it suits you. That is very unbecoming of a cricketer of your stature, it damages the image of the game that feeds you and most importantly it damages the image you're your country too. We are all in agreement that you won this test, but unfortunately Mr Ponting the game of cricket was the loser.

Again Mr Ponting an odd sprinkling of "We won / lost today, but the game of cricket is a even bigger winner" in your interviews is not enough. You need to walk the talk. I hope being a (sports)man you would realise this sooner than later and start walking the talk.

I wish to congratulate you, the Australian team and the umpires for this (forgettable) win of yours. DON'T KEEP THIS TREND UP please, for the sake of the game.