Alpha dogs and blinking theory!?

Oh my god! I thought these guys were sportsmen. But for Mr Hayden, it clearly is more than that. Here is his answer to “Away from the field, how were the Indians?” question (full intvw here):

They were reasonably pleasant. At the end of the day, two alpha dogs are never going to sit in a cage and not look at each other. It is what it is. The way I see my cricket, if you’re the other alpha dog, you better not blink. I feel I’d be letting down my country if I was to blink. In terms of general human relations, I wouldn’t say there was ill-feeling. India had four months out here. We rarely saw them other than at the ground. It’s play and get back into the cage.

What the hell? What exactly is ‘blinking’, how does it make him let his country down? And whats this “play and get back into the cage” stuff? Moreover, how did he conclude that Indians were ‘reasonably pleasant’ when he rarely ‘saw them other than at the ground’? Continue reading


Ishant and Craig, 2008 and 1986

I don’t know why, but the the win today (Ind vs Aus), reminded me of a very similar ODI that was played in Brisbane, Australia about 22 years ago. India managed only 161, Australia surpassed that thanks to a nice 6th wicket partnership between Steve Waugh and one Mr Greg Mathews. Back then in early 1986, India had some reputation as winners of 83 and 85 ODI World Cups, a series against England at England, and they almost beat Australia in Australia in the preceding test series (rain saved Aus from losing Test #2). As we realized a few years later, Australia was on its way up then and and India was sliding down (just check the ODI and test records of the two teams from 1986 till 1996). That 1985/86 series saw a guy named Craig McDermott emerge as the lead strike bowler for Australia. Its Ishant Sharma right now. Steve Waugh turned out to be a fine captain just a few years down the line, and we might just see M S Dhoni turn out to be similar.

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Cricket – Protest the Gandhian way

How about this. Indian team goes ahead and plays the Perth test, but protests in this Gandhian style. It will work a lot better if Kumble wins the toss and bats first.

First delivery, straight and full from Lee, Jaffer lets it go and hit the off stump. Ditto, does Laxman. 2 for none, in over number one. Aussies are amused, whats happening? They sense foul play, so they stop bowling straight. Never mind, there are other ways of getting out, like hit-wicket, or spooning a catch. India all out for less than 10 – damn those wides and no balls – and could do it in the second inning as well. The end result would be what Australia try so hard for, a victory for them. Isn’t it?

What would ICC do then? Expect an accusation, India didn’t play with the spirit of the game. And then will begin the all-settling debate on what exactly is this spirit of the game.

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Sorry I wont

So much for the ‘anything for the country’ and ‘I play for the team’ talk. First it was Mr Wall, and now it is Mr Ten, they seem to care more for their personal records than anything else.

What makes you think that they wont be saying things like ‘I wont open’ (in tests), and ‘I must open’ (in the one days)? Or ‘I wont take that single’, or ‘I wont field at long leg’ etc as well?

But, to think of it, individual over group is an Indian thing. We all do it in our walks of life, yes, you and me included.

ICL vs IPL, domestic vs international

I may not have written lately on the topic – the untapped market for organized domestic cricket, and a dream – but I have been watching them both, ICL and IPL. Thanks to the monopolistic protection from BCCI and ICC, IPL is going great guns. Aussie cricket stars signed up, Russel Crowe interested in owning an IPL team, and more – hope you have been reading the papers. On the other hand, ICL is struggling to sign big names, and I am sure will struggle to get cricket venues though it has announced it will start the league end of November.

I am no die hard backer of ICL. I mean I don’t really care whether its IPL or ICL, as long as I get my 3-4 month season of quality cricket without patriotic pretensions  and at my  preferred times – late evening every other day and weekend afternoons. I also want to experience the stadium atmosphere once in a while with family, the noise and crowd thrills.

So, will IPL provide us all that? I am still not sure. Here are my apprehensions:

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Mallya and ICL – why not?

So Mr Vijay Mallya picked BCCI over ICL. I am a bit surprised, why? Perhaps because he hopes to be the president of BCCI someday.

When I dreamed of Mumbai Marathas and Bangalore Bombers last year, I had Mr Mallya sitting in a VIP box enjoying the game. What I didn’t write then was this. I seriously thought Mr Mallya would be the one to start ICL. He doesn’t have any presence in media business. And he needs ways to surrogate-sell Kingfisher word in our living rooms.

India, professional sports, cricket and TV – that is a marriage made in heaven, a combination yet to be sold in a package here. I bet Mr Mallya is aware of this proposition, and that is why I was half sure of ICL turning into Kingfisher cricket league.

But looks like it isn’t going to happen anytime soon. What big sponsors are left standing as possible backers of ICL then? Unless soda makers hedge between BCCI and ICL, I am thinking a telecom player could be the first big win for ICL. Reliance communications or Hutch – they could do with some brand building over Airtel. Private Banks too are a possibility – Axis cricket league anyone!? How about a software company seeking to attract employers? HCL has been trying hard to appeal to engineers, them?

PS: Mr Mallya has been trying to do his bit for professional sports – enticing Formula 1 to come to Bangalore. Formlua one race at Bangalore, wont that be a classic oxymoron? I can’t remember the last time I did 60 kmph here!!

BCCI and ICL, how about a real fight?

Trust me I am not trying to script a Bambaiyaa movie plot here. But how about BCCI and ICL decide to fight their battle the right way, as in on a cricket ground?

My dream (here, back in Sep 06) is about to come true. We will have plenty of Mumbai Locals vs Bangalore Drivers (pardon the club names there!) sometime in October. 50 matches in all, yes that is what Mr Kapil Dev promises. I am sure readers are current on all related developments (ICL poaching Ranji players and some foreign stars, BCCI raising domestic match fees 10x etc etc).

Now, what would BCCI do while ICL sweeps its bench? I wont go into bitching one over another, BCCI (ignorance of domestic cricket, politics, regionalism) or ICL (money, defiance). Instead, how about they do all they can to spot talent and produce their best teams. At the end of an year, we can have a BCCI vs ICL decider – and may the best team err… organization win!

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Comedy of errors

That second Ind-Eng test was a memorable one, definitely for me. India won a test match abroad, okay, that is one. And they did this despite the fact that their best batsman didn’t play. Yuvraj Singh – the most talented bat in the lot right now (save perhaps for Dravid) and future anchor of the team – can’t be played as some seniors can’t make way.

One of these seniors is a true great nearing the end of his career. Watching him bat provided another set of memorable moments. Wide medium paced delivery – half hearted swing and a miss. The dolly repeated again, our man lets the ball go. Scared to get on to front foot and play shots, struggling against James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom, Mr Tendulkar was reminding me of his often repeated quote – “I bat according to the situation”. Team sitting on a healthy score, test running a bit tight on time as pitch seemed to ease up, he truly played like a lion on his deathbed – determined to make a point via a decent personal score, but batting with mere flashes of his past.

Now, what would be your worst TV commentary troupe ever? Don’t go back to Maninder Singh, Kapil Dev, Saba Karim types, you have it in this series whenever Ian Chappel, Harsha Bhogle and Sunil Gavaskar get together and … and, hang on, it is Tendulkar grinding in the middle.

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I want to play

“Radium”, he said. Sitting inside Chaibasa-Tatanagar passenger, I was curious to know the name of this kid who was lugging a big cricket kit.

“We live in Delhi. He is my son, a very good cricketer”, his dad started the conversation.

Delhi! And they carried a cricket kit all the way to this mining town in Jharkhand. Why? I was even more curious now. So I asked and chatted more and found out that Radium was here to play under-18 cricket so that he could get into Jharkhand state team. Getting into Delhi under-18 team is pretty tight. They know some people at this town, so they came down to play some club cricket to be eligible for selection into the state team.

“He is only 14, but he played so well with 17 year olds that everyone was praising him. See this clip with scorecard and a word of praise”. He showed me cuttings from a local newspaper.

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ICL updates: BCCI’s nod of disapproval

So BCCI’s has picked its direction as far as Mr Chandra’s ICL is concerned. It has asked its players and officials to stay away. No ‘approval’ for ICL either – ha, like they invented the game! A new league may need some of BCCI’s players, but certainly not any of their ‘officials’ :). Puns apart, you know what could be cool here, a US baseball styled multi league domestic cricket setup. They got two leagues, National and American that make up the MLB. NL and AL champions have been playing an annual World(!?) Series since 1903.

Imagine two leagues, one Indian another Ranji, with a Champions Series every December. To go with the professional domestic setup, I also dream of a mechanical selection process for our international team. Top ranked batsmen, bowlers, keepers get picked using agreed-upon statistics from past X domestic games. Can leave one spot to popular vote, but just eliminate the selectors to avoid any inter-league disharmony over the matter!

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