At such times it is tempting to examine the causes of the collapse. Perhaps it is simply that Australia ran out of great players and luck, a combination that often goes together. Perhaps, too, it is better to remember the numerous glories of the last 15 years and not their limitations. In their stint as the game's flawed exemplar, Australia have played attractive cricket, scoring quickly, encouraging legspin, fielding balanced attacks, scorning stalemates and not sledging quite as much as might be imagined. Australia were ruthless, sometimes unscrupulous, but seldom dull. Taken as a whole, the teams led by Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting have enhanced the game, especially its five-day format.Along the way Australia have taken part in three of the greatest series ever staged, in the Caribbean, India and England. Always it has taken a mighty effort to bring them down, and that remains the case. Australia may not have been liked but they have commanded respected, sometimes amounting to fear. It has been a time of Waugh and Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne and broken moulds. But nothing lasts forever and now it is someone else's turn.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
- Snow is NOT beautiful. It is bitterly cold when it snows and I can't see how everything covered in white is good looking. The only time snow is better or acceptable is when compared to rain. Give me plentiful sunshine any day !
- If the Sun is out in all its glory and it is nice and bright outside doesn't necessarily mean it is hot outside. Heck, it need not even mean it is warm. You could have plentiful sunshine with sub-zero temperatures as well. :-|
- Ice falling from the sky might be an amusing thing (like snow) to see but it makes road conditions miserable and you won't realize just how frigging difficult it is to drive (or even walk !) on ice till you experience it.
- Ice skating (the traditional way) might look fun, but it is no fun if you topple over, twist an ankle or injure yourself in any other way. I don't think the pain is worth it. So, you want to experience skating on ice ? Just try walking on the road after there has been an Ice rain.
- Winter is also a good time for deals. When you see an offer and feel that it really is a deal, just buy it. The longer you sit on it, the more you are going to get confused. 5 different websites will offer 5 different offers for the same product with not much of a difference in terms of cost. Looking through all of them will only waste your time and most likely you will end up buying the first one that you saw. Also, once you buy a product, forget about looking for it anymore unless disappointment is a good friend of yours.
- Once the mercury goes into sub-zero region (and am talking in Celcius scale although it really shouldn't matter), it makes hardly any difference if it's -10 or -20. You're screwed either way.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, January 07, 2008
In Harbhajan Singh, Australia found someone who could challenge them on the field - both in the cricketing skills department as well as in the verbal barrage. In him, they also found a weakness that they could exploit - his hot headedness. Most (I am now suspecting, ALL) of the current crop of Aussie cricketers are not just hot headed, they have hugely bloated heads, thanks to crushing victories over various opponents over different conditions over a long period of time in both ODIs and Tests. They go into matches not just wanting to win, like all teams, but expecting to win and win convincingly at that. They have shown of late that they don't take it well when they are being challenged, especially in the verbal department along with skills on the field.
There is no room for Racism anywhere, let alone sport. But the more pertinent question is, was Harbhajan Racist ? Did he make a comment meant to insult Symmonds based on his Race ? I wouldn't be surprised if Harbhajan did not even know what was Symmo's background or race. So, it is all the more surprising when the Match Referee Mike Procter goes on record saying "I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Harbhajan Singh directed that word at Andrew Symonds and also that he meant it to offend on the basis of Symonds' race or ethnic origin." He also says that this was not a case of taking the word of an Australian over an Indian. Well, Mr. Procter, then what is it ? Common sense (or naivety, depending on how you view) tells me that in the hearing, the Aussies would have charged that the comment (whatever it might have been) was meant to offend based on race. Indians would have naturally denied the allegation about the race. So, how did Procter arrive at his conclusion ? Unfortunately, only he would know, unless he cares to explain. But don't expect that to happen.
As we came to know later on, the Match Referee had instructed both the Captains before the start of the series asking them to report to him immediately, any issues of Racism. I am almost convinced entirely that he sought to mean that with respect to Crowd behavior, given both Australian and Indian crowds have been alleged of racist behavior in the past. Ponting very conveniently took it to mean anything remotely racist on field as well. So, once again, was Harbhajan racist ? Ponting and rest of the Aussie team would like us to believe so, but thankfully, there are still enough sensible people around the world to not buy that truckload of trash. Did Harbhajan mean to offend Symmonds ? Oh hell yes !. Symmonds by his own admission, let Bhajji know what he thought of his antics and it is but natural that Harbhajan let Symmonds know what he thought of him :-D, but did he mean to make a racist remark ? Hell NO!
So, was Harbhajan completely innocent ? Well, far from that as well. There has been a previously acknowledged crowd problem during Australia's tour of India with monkey chants surrounding Symmonds. I am not sure if it was communicated before the tour about between the teams as to what was construed as Racist by each of them. Even if that wasn't done, Harbhajan must have known better with his choice of words. But you don't punish a mistake like that with an allegation of racism and a subsequent ban. Ricky Ponting wanted to make the most of the opportunity, but he was naive and stupid enough not to realize that he was charing an opposing player of racism. Such an allegation is not a joke. Ponting quite simply failed to gauge the gravity of the allegation.
Harbhajan Singh is a brilliant character. The game needs personalities like Bhajji, Monty Panesar on the field. They are the ones who can light up not just the team, but the crowd as well. They are easily excitable and almost always give their 100% for the team's cause. Of course, such personalities have to be pulled up whenever they cross the limit, but not through such means without any forethought about the implications. This was an issue that Ponting needed to discuss with Kumble at the end of the day's play or at the end of the match and the Indian Management must have pulled up Harbhajan for that (it is a different matter if they would have really done that - but that is the best course of action from Ponting if he had any respect for the game and did not want it to go into disrepute).
Was this Punter's idea of a Mind Game, especially since he was woeful in tackling Harbhajan in the skills department ? Probably yes. Ponting has shown himself to be extremely stupid and hot headed at the best of times. He has shown qualities of a brilliant captain at times, but on most other occasions, he has shown himself in extremely poor light and unfortunately now, he has dragged the entire Aussie team along with him. A terrible act of immaturity and arrogance based on the belief that he could get away with anything since he is the captain of the world champions. Unfortunately, not for the first time though, Ponting and the Australians have demonstrated behavior that is unbecoming of true champions of sport.
The reaction in India is along familiar lines. Cricket is the most practised religion in India. The reaction of the majority of the crowd is almost always at an extreme (either end). Now those are during normal circumstances. These are not normal times, but extraordinary times and hence, the reactions are similarly that much more severe. There seems to be almost an unanimous feeling of being cheated and quite rightly so. India did not deserve to lose the Sydney test just as much as Australia did not deserve to win it. India played brilliantly for three days and decently for the last couple. They shouldn't have let Australia score 400 on that pitch in the second innings, but now, that really doesn't matter.
India were cheated, but not by the Aussies as majority seem to be liking to believe, but by the Umpires. It is not the fault of the Australian team that there were so many ridiculous decisions in that test match that went against the Indians. Including the last day, Australia did not do too much different from what other teams, including India have done on the final day of a tight test match. Indians have been equally guilty in home games of excessive and borderline ridiculous appealing with plenty of close in catchers. It doesn't make the job any easier for the Umpires, but unfortunately, in a close game, the excitement is at an exalted level and that is how the game is being played nowadays. India are just aggrieved at being very very harshly done in by some very crucial decisions and hence they are pointing at the behavior of the Aussies as well apart from the Umpiring. To that extent, the reaction by the one of the finest gentleman to have played this game, Anil Kumble is well and truly justified.
But, just as allegation of racism is serious and wrong, alleging the Aussies of cheating is also extreme. I have been a big fan of Australian cricket team for over 15 years now. I have admired them for the way they approach the game. Hard, professional, but mostly fair. Sadly, of late, the fair part is being ignored more often, especially in tight situations. :( I play the game in many ways similar to them. I sledge a lot, not abusive, but friendly banter, trying to get under the nose of the opposing batsmen while fielding. It is a different matter that, I did not play at any major level, but my point is that, some kind of bantering on the field is good and nice fun. :D But if you give, you must also be ready to take it.
Some of the incidents on the last day of the Sydney test makes me quite sad that it has to come from a team that I have been supporting for so long. I have played games, where we have appealed like crazy, mainly to infuriate the batsmen and make him lose concentration and also chance our luck. These rare games are the ones where the temper has been very high due to some incident or the other. BUT, I have never played as a professional and definitely never in the full view of millions of fans worldwide, not to mention the tens of thousands on the ground. Ricky Ponting and the Australians were doing that at the SCG and they behaved at times in a manner that is befitting of where I have mostly played cricket - in the backyard or gully cricket, as it is called in India.
What I saw was NOT professionalism. It was madness. It was a dangerously, mad desire to win. To secure the series, to equal the record. Unfortunately, it was a mad desire to win at any cost. The cost in this case has been professionalism and sportsmanship. I wouldn't say the Aussies cheated, but they definitely did not conduct themselves in a sportive manner. It was full of gamesmanship.
Symmonds has gone on record saying Australia were upset with India's celebration after their semi-final win over Australia during T20 W'Cup. How different were Australia in Sydney ? For Christ's sake, that was the Semi-final of a W'Cup, against arguably the best side in World Cricket by a very young team who had been almost written off before the tournament even started. What did he expect India to do ? To mourn for Australia's exit from the tournament ? Bollocks.
The Aussies might probably argue that Sydney was as excitingly close as a Test Match win can get and also it was a record equaling win. But, everyone has their own reasons to get excited and celebrate. If they really respected the game and its great ambassadors, they would have at least bothered to shake hands with one of the finest and someone who played the most brilliant and gritty innings, befitting a captain, Anil Kumble.
There has been enough written about Flintoff consoling Brett Lee at Edgbaston after Australia lost by 2 runs. 2 Runs Mate, that is still closer than 8 minutes, in my book. Andrew Flintoff wasn't the vanquished then, he was the Victor, but he had the wits (at least then :P) to respect and recognize Lee's contribution. Pitiably, none of the Aussies had the same wits to acknowledge Kumble's part. The Flintoff - Lee moment, I believe was recognized as the moment of 2005. The year has just started, but Aussie celebration might be tough to remove as one of the most Shambolic events of 2008. :(
In an ideal world, sense would soon prevail. Harbhajan should apologize for whatever was that he remarked (I believe he has already done so and if so, that should be that). Aussies should give up on their kiddish complaint and bury this and move on. But, we don't live in an ideal world. This has blown into a huge clash of egos and worse still, of national integrity. It is sad that, yet again, in a cricketing controversy involving professional cricket boards, National Pride is being dragged and brought to disrepute. Ponting being Ponting and Australia being Australia, I don't expect the inflated heads to be reduced by any measure. These are tough times for Cricket and sadly, I only see it getting murkier and tougher.
Comments - Most welcome. Scathing Criticism - Welcome. Baseless Abuse (Anonymous or otherwise) - Thanks, but no, thanks.
P.S: As much as the anger of the Indian Cricket fan is understandable and to a large extent justifiable, if only they realized and acknowledged that, election after election they are actually being cheated by the politicians and reacted even in half as reactionary a manner as this to issues more pertinent to the Country, things could be so much more better.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Popularized by the English and Irish, the game's origins stretch back to the 700s along the Pakistan-India border -- the birthplace of the bat. Italian monks, traveling the East on missions, brought the bat-and-ball game to Europe in the 9th century. Nine hundred years later, English gentry took the game to New York and Boston.
Baseball, as it is played today, grew out of cricket in the 1800s. Kids in urban areas modified cricket to allow for more participants and faster games (a game of cricket can last for days.) The Yankees introduced the new game to their Southern adversaries during the Civil War.
Gaining a Foothold in the States
Ten thousand cricket players in the U.S. sounds like a large contingent. Only about 1,700 men play professional football, and fewer still play pro basketball (465, give or take a Michael Jordan like un-retirement ;-) ). Why don't more people know about cricket?
One major hurdle is exposure. Better pony up the pay-per-view dollars if you want to watch a match. Another hurdle is the language barrier. A majority of the players in the US are foreign-born South East Asians. Imagine a passer-by trying to figure out what's going on when players are shouting strategy in Hindi.
|Cricket in American Baseball terms|
- Cricket fields have two bases (instead of four) signified by three sticks in the ground called wickets. Kids in New York replaced the wickets with bases.
- A batsman in cricket runs between the bases like a hitter in baseball. However, in cricket, there are two batsmen, one at each base. If the hitting batsman runs, they both run, trading places.
- A batsman does not have to run after a hit. He can chose when to run.
- Cricket games have innings. But only two. Each team goes through its entire order (or 10 outs) one time.
- Cricket bats are flat and crooked. Kids in Boston, New York and Philadelphia started using bats (probably broom sticks) because of more immediate availability.
- Every time a batsman successfully makes it to the opposite wickets, he scores a run.
- A cricket bowler is analogous to a baseball pitcher. The bowler throws overhand but keeps his arm completely straight. He also intentionally bounces the ball off the ground in front of the batsman.
- If a bowler strikes a wicket, or a fielder catches the ball before it hits the ground, the batsman is out. Cricket fielders don't wear gloves, and some bowlers can throw even at 100 miles per hour (a few others bowl at the same speed ;-) )!
- A batsman can hit the ball in any direction. No foul territory, no out of bounds. A home-run is worth 6 runs and the batsman continues to play.
- Bowlers alternate after six pitches until they either reach 300 pitches, combined, or 10 outs. Further, each bowler can't have more than 60 legal pitches per match.
Feel free to let your creativity flow in the comments section and add on to this write-up. There is a fair chance, I might credit you and edit the blog. So, please do let me know who you are than being anon.
P.S: I have tried sticking to explaining only the basics of ODI (One Day International, for the uninitiated) for now, because I realize, even many in the Indian sub-continent (assumed to be land of 'experts' when it comes to this game) don't actually understand and/or appreciate the beautiful part of the wonderful game - Test Matches. :-)
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Have you then, over a period of time, ever wondered if so many are against my viewpoint, is it the fault of the majority or my value system ?? :-O :-??
If so, how do you deal with such situations ?
A lot of us spend most of our time laughing at 'stupids', 'idiots' and 'despos' (I quote-unquote these words, because the people concerned are that only in our viewpoint and not by any particular general ruling). Things move on and at times it appears as if, those 'silly' people do achieve/get what they set-out for, stupid/idiotic as the means might be. And what happens to 'us' ? We too move on and find a new set of idiots/despos to laugh at. Are we losing sight of the bigger picture ? Should we abandon our value/viewpoint against stupidity and accept it as being 'normal', so that we too feel part of the majority ? Or should we be pig-headed and stick to it and comfort ourselves saying, "so what if the idiot got what he/she wanted... he/she only got another silly person". :-? /:)
Damn !!! I hate to think of the smirks on the faces of all those people whom I have laughed at. Damn ... they do deserve to have them. They are, after all 'winners' or should I say "Go-Getters", nonsensical as the approach maybe to my value system.