July 2011 - Posts
Once there was a boy named Harby Puttar
Who came from the land of kama suttar
he always wanted to be the wizard of Oz
and in earnest he started without a pause
to cut through them Ozs like molten buttar
The Harry Potter saga, if ever is mutated with the Star Wars series, the resultant bastardised version will have uncanny similarities with Harbhajan Singh’s life till now. The cute wizard of spin who started as the antidote to the dark side (most of us regarded Waugh’s invincibles that way), with his ego, abrasive character and temper that was admired for quite some time turned into Darth Vader. At least in the eyes of his fans that is.
One warned you that this was Potter meet Star Wars stuff. The chatter on Twitter and blogs after the loss of the first Lord’s Test made one wonder whether Harbhajan really has become such a hated figure in the pantheon of Indian cricketers. He has actually been a uniquely uniting figure in our country. Regardless of age, religion, gender or caste, every Indian seems to be united in his contempt of Bhajji.
And it’s surely not only about his performances. Some statistics may be thrown around which shows that he has worsened over the last 8 months.. no, 16.5 months or some such. It obviously depends on which time frames one compares. From a macro perspective he has managed to take around 100 wickets each 24-25 tests on a consistent basis.
During that time he has scored some match winning and match saving runs and it’s futile to say that his main job is as a bowler. NZ, SA, Windies - many a Test would have been lost if not for his batting and all that talk of #1 team in the world would not even be on currently. But what is it really that spawns such hatred towards Bhajji?
One would think that the pinnacle of the support he received from his country men obviously was during Sydney gate. He obviously was the most hated (more than Sourav? Dunno) cricketer in Australia and the Indian fans loved him for it.
Till that time his was an upward sloping graph in terms of popularity. There were a few hiccups in between but the love affair that had started from his 1st series hadn’t soured by any stretch of imagination.
Did it start going all wrong because of slap gate? Or was it because of his continuous self defending statements about how the pitches were so dead and how he was bowling so well and yet not getting wickets. Somewhere down the line did it start becoming like the boy who cried wolf? In his case it wasn’t only that the boy cried wolf, he slapped and insulted others while crying so.
Personally one hasn’t been a Bhajji fan as can be witnessed by the various articles written on him; especially the one where Stuart Broad was termed as the Bhajji without a turban. (one is sure that would have hurt even Bhajji) But yet, one has started to feel a bit supportive to him especially after the Lord’s Test. He wasn’t the sole guy to be blamed, either for not picking up wickets or for hitting that silly shot in the second innings. But the track wasn’t helpful to spinners and India was bowling with 3 bowlers only. But everyone seems to be baying for his blood.
Each loss can’t be because of someone’s incompetence or mistake. The opponent has to be given the credit sometimes. Lord’s wasn’t. And do people need to place the responsibility at someone's door? Most people don’t seem to forgive or forget a loss. Wins somehow are more easily forgotten.
And that’s what this piece is just trying to make sense of; the journey from the opening limerick to the one that follows now.
Harby Puttar has done all crimes of a sort
That will justify appealing for a tort
He doesn’t spin his powerful spells
To even get out the wagging tail
All hail! rise to the new Voldemort
One goes to the cricket bloggers’
meet with a keen sense of anticipation mixed with a pinch of trepidation. The
treasure chest of knowledge of the sport and the intense love for the game
exhilarates and intimidates at the same time. Here are committed individuals
who have statistics at the tip of their tongues and well founded opinions that
are original and innovative. If one has a exaggerated sense of self in one’s
cricketing knowledge and wants to keep it that way then one is advised not to
attend such meets. It can be a humbling experience to say the least.
It is a well diversified universe
that they come from. And the kind of sacrifices that they have made to follow
the game is stunning. It isn’t only the cricket discussion that is stimulating.
It is the stories behind their romance with the game that add spice to the
Someone quit a lucrative
engineering course in the US
midway, came back to India
and started working in an advertising agency. From there the move to a cricket
website of the agency was a logical extension. The web site does a lot of
number crunching and comes out with answers that are better than the silly
methods which decide whether South Africa
wins against Australia
especially if Pollock were the captain. The fact that he chose to abandon the
trodden path and do things of one’s own choosing is moving and at the same time
Another person has taken upon
himself to go and watch India’s
cricket matches as much as it’s practically possible. So he is going to Trent Bridge and Edgbaston
and will be watching the India England Test series there. Then he reads books.
Then he reads more books! After that he will witness the Indian challenge in Australia as
well. He has a proper full time job, has passed out of one of the top Business
schools in the country and hopes to get into sports writing full time. Any
person who has Rohit Brijnath as his favourite writer can’t go wrong in writing.
One can bet on it.
Another blogger dwells in the United States
pursuing his doctorate (if he were to choose Cricket as his subject he would be
a PhD already) and writes some really insightful stuff. He and I have had the most run ins that one
could ever think of. One doesn’t agree with most of his views but one still
respects his views. UDRS would be incomplete without him just like Bbuddah hoga
tera Baap w/o Amitabh Bachhan. And just like Amitabh went commercial, one accused
him of the same, without any proof.
Then there is one guy whom one
respects the most. He has been around for a long time and he has by far the
most well net worked connection that one has come across in life. He is the
Moriarty of bloggers. And one is not being negative in talking of him as Prof. Moriarty. He sits in one place and is in touch with
so many of us that he takes the cake for all bloggers. And he eats it too! One
can take all their names but one doesn’t want to.
And then there are all others who
add value by being themselves and who are understated in their love for the
game. They are silent but they are not, nor do they want to be mere spectators.
They know more; they feel more; more than the hardened professionals who are
working for their livelihood.
A lot of professionals like
Reobuck and Ugra have talked about bloggers who are too raw, too young. They
talk about their inexperience, and their amateurishness! They write them off,
have already written them off! To them it’s irrelevant. To me they matter more.
"Those were the great days
when plenty of amateurs could spare time for cricket."
You know what Mr. Woolley, maybe you didn’t
see them, maybe you never came across them but one still does! And one is proud
A few after effects of the 3rd drawn Test Match in Dominica which NC foresees in the near future.
MSD's new ad promoting Mountain Dew with a brand new tag line
Duncan Fletcher receiving the 'Drawnacharya Award' from Pratibha Patil
One wanted to put a picture of a pack of wolves hunting down a helpless prey. But it is unfair on the poor wolves to be compared to the Indian media so dropped the plan.
It was a 1-0 series victory which could easily have been 2-0. Each of us can draw his/her own conclusion about the series scoreline but I am happy that I won't be awake at crazy hours watching Chanderpaul bat. Thank god for small mercies.
One was trying to search for the title of a post on the
recent doping scandal
that has hit Indian athletes and one was confused with
the enormous number one could think of. It has indeed been a shameful week or
so for Indian Athletics and all the positivity (not the dope test variety) post
the CWG success has been wiped away.
Here’s some inside dope given by a few tainted athletes interviewed
by NC who wished to remain anonymous (As if their names are not already out in
- I thought you can run and you can hide.
- Suresh Kalmadi is responsible for this bungling up. He gave us substandard stuff.
- It wasn’t a bitter pill to swallow.
- My mother thought I looked too fat and hence gave me some
Ayurvedic medicine to slim down. (where did we hear this one before?)
- The coach always used to say ‘Be positive’
- UDRS could have helped us here.
- Oops! I misheard Podium finish as Dopium finish.
- But I used to wear a mask every day while taking the pills
so what happened to the efficacy of all those masking agents that the coach
- Why would I use it if I still can't find a place in the top ten in the world?
Somehow one tends to attach some credence to the last mentioned reason. Till date the only nada that tested the Indian populace's patience was Shakti Kapoor's in a few Govinda hits but the outcome of the new NADA
will test the patience of Indian sports lovers for a longer period.
Most of us have read Aesop’s fables during our childhood which always had a moral at the end of the story. But in today’s modern world similar stories may have very different morals. Let’s take an example.
The original tale goes like this -
The Frog and the Ox
"Oh Father," said a little Frog to the big one sitting by the
side of a pool, "I have seen such a terrible monster! It was as
big as a mountain, with horns on its head, and a long tail, and it
had hoofs divided in two."
"Tush, child, tush," said the old Frog, "that was only Farmer
White's Ox. It isn't so big either; he may be a little bit taller
than I, but I could easily make myself quite as broad; just you
see." So he blew himself out, and blew himself out, and blew
"Was he as big as that?" asked he.
"Oh, much bigger than that," said the young Frog.
Again the old one blew himself out, and asked the young one if
the Ox was as big as that.
"Bigger, father, bigger," was the reply.
So the Frog took a deep breath, and blew and blew and blew,
and swelled and swelled and swelled. And then he said: "I'm sure
the Ox is not as big as this.” But at this moment he burst.
Self-conceit may lead to self-destruction.
In the modern story the small frog runs to a big one dreaming of making it big in Hollywood by landing a role in Shrek 13.
“OMG, you won’t believe it but I just saw a largish monster just like that guy in Monster’s Inc. It was big, it was fast and it looked like oozing with talent.”
The Old Frog was worried. He said,"This seems to be really some kind of a terrible monster. Let’s not go near it.”
“Ow come on! I can bet that you may not be as big but with some help from a psychologist, we can overcome your fear. You may not be as fast but you can jump all right. And with all that slime oozing from your body, who needs talent?”
The Old Frog thought about it and the more he thought about it and the more the small frog egged him, the more he became convinced that he was indeed invincible. And he had to do something extraordinary to jump that queue of all those wannabe B-listers to get that role.
But he had read Aesop’s fables too. So he said, “Look, I am not going to inflate myself and blow up.”
The small Frog said, “I have no such intention to make you do that. You just come with me to the monster and let’s have a fight. You beat the monster and we become famous and Rich.”
As soon as they landed at the monster’s place, a huge cobra came out and grabbed the Old Frog and slithered away. The young frog was sitting at a safe distance from the hole. He sighed and said, “Well I have to find someone else to take on that eagle monster tomorrow.”
This story is supposed to remind people of the English media, which is the small frog, the English players, who are the Old Frogs who may have bloated egos or inferiority complexes and the snakes and eagles are dangerous opponents like Rafa Nadal in Tennis, any top 50 team in football, Vettel in F1, Wladimir Klitschko in boxing and so on. And yet they keep on finding new Old Frogs with singular regularity. You were wrong Aesop. In today’s modern world of sport self conceit leads to only temporary set backs. There’s always another match, another opponent for the English media and one day the Old Frog will find a suitable opponent.