During the early part of my career, an era when the wheel was just about starting to gain popularity, I came across a horror story of how ruthlessly companies behaved with their staff. Many a gutter water has flown through Mithi since then and the I have witnessed many more horror stories of various other kinds. But the story always comes back to me on Labour day and this year another example of cruelty to an employee has brought that memory flooding back.
Those were the times when software companies were just about beginning to make their presence felt but were not recruiting in large numbers. Most employment was generated by PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings). Trade Unionism was past the heydays of Dutta Samant in the 80's but still strong enough. To put it in cricketing terms they were like the Sachin Tendulkars/Ricky Pontings/Adam Gilchrists of today, respected but not feared. PSU banks had started to retrench employees by offering VRS (Voluntary Retirement Schemes) packages on the back of increased 'computerisation'. Winter was coming.
I met up with a friend's cousin who worked with a foreign company which was recently taken over by another foreign company. The culture in his new organisation was very different and far more Indian (read mean and stingy) than his original employer. Cost cutting was etched in their DNA not unlike the defeatist attitude prevalent in the Pune Warriors team. The original employer, on the other hand, was a throw back to the Raj (the Brit one and not the MNS one) era, laid back and relaxed.
The cousin was a part of the clerical staff and he was 'offered' a VRS package by the new employer. He was no where close to retirement and also a part of the Union. He refused to accept the package. For the next year or so he was made to suffer. It wasn't overt intimidation but slow 'mental disintegration'. A group of around 50 such 'errant' employees were transferred from their original jobs to admin and called to work at a large industrial space with some wooden benches. They were not given any work but were expected to come and sit in 'office' from 10-17:30 every day with a half hour lunch break. They were not allowed to bring news papers or any other reading material to office. They were not allowed to interact with each other. Just imagine the plight of a person who has to sit on a bench (literally) and do nothing, absolutely nothing for the entire day. It was almost like prison. Most people did take that 'voluntary' retirement after some time. The cousin succumbed as well.
Cut to the present and we have a guy who isn't even unwanted by his employer. Actually he was recruited amongst major fanfare, paid obscene amount of money and was a figure of envy for his peers. But he is going through a similar experience of the cousin. He has precious little to do, just goes to work and then sits on a bench. I can imagine what the poor chap must be undergoing.
I fully sympathise with many foreign players in general and Glenn Maxwell in particular for the mental agony they are suffering. Happy Labour day all.
I have yet to get HD on my cable due to pure lethargy which stems from the perception that it doesn't really matter much in terms of viewing experience. Many readers may disagree with this perception but being a huge fan of Didi, I find their attitude 'petty
' and have stood by my irrational beliefs firmly. Also as I am not going to Delhi any time soon I am not liable to be heckled
by my detractors. But unlike Mamta Di I am beginning to have second thoughts after watching the first few days of IPL 6. I was blissfully ignorant of (rather didn't appreciate) the fact that as of now the HD telecast is completely free of ads.
This is not going to be a rant about how commercial the IPL is and how I hate the fact that commercials are shown in between natural (between overs) and contrived (strategic) breaks and how it breaks momentum of a match. Its not about the ads but its about the composition of the ads that are shown during overs and strategic breaks. There are in all some 10-12 ads featuring Katrina, SRK, Amir Khan, Imran Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and the Zoo Zoos that are continually recycled with a viciousness that would make Al Gore's eyes swell with proud tears. Some may point out that I have missed out on the Big B but to those I will say that I am like Narendra Modi who sees half a glass filled with water as full because the other half is filled with air. The Big B is the air. He is everywhere.
Not being an ad man my views may be met with scorn by the more knowledgeable ones. I will still try. How does a cross dressing Amir Khan
make Godrej Eon a more desirable air conditioner? Am I supposed to believe that touching a wall painted with Berger paints
is akin to feeling Katrina's silky smooth skin? If yes I don't like Katrina Kaif any more. Ranbir Kapoor who did commercials for Pepsi during the Football World Cup (or was it at the Euro) poking fun at Cricket fans is back to wooing, you guessed it right, Cricket fans! The Zoo Zoo ads are a fantastic cure for insomnia but within 15 seconds Saif's wailing voice wakes me up from my slumber. Imagine every one's plight as watching the same people over and over and over again doing some really unimaginative and irritating commercials. I can.
So it's not about the fact that commercials are shown during IPL 6 but the lament is more about which commercials are shown during IPL 6. Some may argue that Extraa Innings is even nastier than the commercials but there I have a choice of turning it off. What I would like to see is more realistic ads that would also position the IPL as a socially responsible. Of course the models for the commercials would not feature any film/ cricket stars. They will not be some good looking models either but people we know.
I can suggest some ideas for the same.Subroto Roy Sahara
will be a perfect model for an Insurance Pension plan ad. The fact that at this ripe old age he has total assets worth only 3 crores will immediately form a bond with people worried about their post retirement comforts.Ajit Pawar
is an obvious choice for a Pepsi commercial advising villagers in Maharashtra to not fight for a bucket of water on the arrival of a water tanker. They can have a Pepsi. Please note that this idea has already been submitted to the patent office. Dam it (pun intended) they haven't responded yet.
Jayalalitha can don Farah Khan's clothes (guess they will fit her perfectly) and make people dance to
, the IPL tune.
And yes there still will be a couple of Big B ads slipped in. He is air, remember?
I realise that maybe my idea won't appeal to the
powers that be at SetMax and hence going to call my cable guy and get that HD connection. Some times money can buy you peace of mind.
India has seen various forms of justice or injustice, depending on the way one wants to look at it, served in March.
On one hand was the ban imposed on the Lankan players from their IPL team games played in Chennai. The reason given is on the one hand simple and on the other simply ridiculous. It seems the TN folk can't bear to watch the Lankans play in front of them because of the recent history of the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka. Well, I agree with the basic sentiment of being pained to watch players like Sanga and Mahela in the IPL. But that is for a different reason all together. It has some history but not one of the political kind. All those cribs about Indian hotels not being world class, food poisoning and well of course the small matter of the World Cup final toss form an integral part of the history I am referring to. But do I want them to be banned from the IPL? Vehemently NOT. GIven the teams that they represent (Sanga and Mahela) they are not going to win anyways. One hears that Sri Lanka is planning to ban monkeys from their country because they formed most of the army that attacked them with Rama. I guess they have a perfectly valid reason to do so.
The Sanjay Dutt case is more complicated. Here justice has been supposedly served (as per the law of the land) but then a lot of people think otherwise. They say that he has already suffered enough to be punished now. He has done the penance by acting as Munnabhai who sees Gandhi every where. Well that part of the statement is true. The SP (Samajwadi Party) that he represents sees a Gandhi everywhere it chooses to see and they don't like it too much. Katju it seems is now applying for a leniency for Bharat Bhushan for all the films that he didn't act in (as in all the films where he was the hero).
Now we come to the curious case of Ricky Ponting. Sydney 2008 was by far the most volatile cricket encounters faced by India. And Ricky Ponting was captaining that side. If I remember correctly Roebuck had called for his head then. Today Ponting is the captain of the Mumbai Indians, despite the fact that he may not play competitive cricket the next year. So it is not that he is identified as a long term leader for them. And no one, I mean NO ONE is protesting against this. Anil Kumble who famously said after Sydney that only one team was playing cricket is the mentor for the same team. It's not about the Mumbai Indians. It's about the fact that any professional team in India wants Ponting as a captain. England might as well choose Maradona as their football coach for the next world cup.
This is how justice works in India. It is of the media, for the media, by the media. TRPs determine justice.
Just Ice is on the rocks in this country.
The last time the Oz cricket team looked and behaved extremely pathetically was when Kim Hughes cried in front of a lot of journalists. The tactical masterstroke from Michael Clarke eclipses that feat. He has put the gauntlet down to the Indian team by one sweeping decision to make the score line of the series 4-0. If India doesn't win 4-0 against this Australian team then questions will be raised. Even more questions than the 4-0 whipping in England and Australia. This is Clarke's moment of Gandhigiri. If someone slaps you on one cheek the offer your other cheek. Very Cheeky that!!!
One genuine question that I have is that what happens if Australia fail to put up 11 players in their team for the Mohali Test if two of the 12 remaining players get injured. Arthur can't play because he is a South African. Will the Test be forfeited? But then one realised that Michael Di Venuto can be penciled in. He is the batting coach and he can show his proteges on how to bat against the Indian spinners on turning tracks. The proteges are going to enjoy that for sure.
The Great Wall of China is supposedly the only man made thing that is visible from the space. This Line in Sand will become the second man made structure to rival it.
One has to make futile attempts to be humorous while writing an article. But this incident will always remain funny even if a dumb writer like self tries hard to make it unfunny.
This is what Shane Watson could have written. Alas the coach and the captain beat him to it (as per his own statement)
3 points how I/ the team could have done better -
- Bat better
- Bowl better
- Become an MBA to make better presentations
India has managed to do what no other cricket playing nation has achieved. It has managed to Puppify (like Mummify) the body of Australian Cricket in 2 Test matches. MS Dhoni will go down in the annals of Indian Cricket as the first captain to win by default because there were not 11 players in his opposition.
Watson supposedly has flown back home because of a pre nat birth of his baby. The Australian team stays in India to mourn the pre nat death of its tough sporting pride.
The ICC Women's World Cup starts today in Mumbai at 14:30 local time. A lot of promos are being done on the bradcasting channels and the event is touted as being equally important as the Men's World Cup or atleast the ICC would like us to believe that.
I don't want to go into a deep analysis of various factors like prize money, the way Women's cricket is treated by respective country boards et al. Actually I can't but then that would rob me of my self portrayal of being a cricket pundit.
One thing stands out in the first statement of this piece. The match start time is 14:30. Given the fact that all Men's D/N ODI matches in India start earlier now a days to negate the impact of the dew factor this seems a bit odd. The toss assumes a far higher significance on many grounds in India. The ICC either thinks that the matches anyways won't last the distance or they think that the dew factor (Arun Lal's entire commentating career is based on this single point expertise) is irrelevant to Women's cricket or maybe its just that it doesn't care. The readers can take their pick.
Unconfirmed reports say that the matches are not starting earlier because the players are not dewds but ladies.
Just the last weekend we played this cricket match against a client. And I was the de facto captain because I happen to be the senior most person around. Every one else ran around trying to make the game happen. They battled for the ground, got the nets arranged and practiced hard. But the final XI was chosen by me. It somehow felt that I was the selector/non-playing captain because I was senior to everyone else. It didn't feel right somehow but by gad it felt good. I can sympathise with the way Nine felt where they did call the shots but couldn't choose the Oz team. Its not fair may be. Ask Arjun Tendulkar if life is fair as a budding cricketer.
Unlike Nine I actually sent out our best XI to play the match. I didn't have a rotation policy because I never had a 'B' team. So we sent out our supposedly best team to play the match. But I can understand how it feels to be Channel Nine and not have the same powers like yours truly. If you are calling the shots and still don't get the best team that you want to play then you feel like Rahul Gandhi when you weren't anointed the Congress VP.
The fact that the CA went to Nine and somewhat submissively (like how the Congressmen treat Sonia or Nitin Gadkari treats the RSS) gave them the reasons for not choosing Warner, Clarke and Hussey (the elder one) for the first 2 ODIs against Sri Lanka doesn't rankle as much. What rankles is that there was no news about BCCI doing one better than them. How could the CA overtake the BCCI in licking boots for money? As an Indian I feel extremely snubbed when some other cricket board overtakes my cricket board in terms of being hungry for money.
After all our esteemed journalists love every thing that the Aussies do. We indeed rave about Clarke's brave comments about how his team wasn't up to the mark when they got all out under 50 to the Lankans. They have done that a few times now in the last 15 months and he still keeps on chiding his batters. Isn't that brave? We indeed love them when Pricky retires after playing for some 2 years as well as one of my team's best batters (who just about goes at an average of 18) and then deciding to 'retire' and call it a brave decision. We actually even drink Fosters because they call themselves an Australian beer. How low can we go?
The one other difference between self and Channel Nine is that I believe that we don't have an employee's Union like the PCA which will come out vociferously and defend George Bailey. I also don't have any ex employees like some other cricketers like Ian Chappell, Mark Taylor, Ian Healey who will defend Bailey vociferously against some very innocent comments made by some really junior ex employee. They will rise to the occasion and show the world that they are not some paid poodles like Tony Blair. I am very confident about Australia's future as a cricketing powerhouse.
P.S. All this wouldn't have happened if the BCCI had agreed to the UDRS
Today I decided to take a look at the dictionary meaning of the word 'cheat' on a dictionary website. Do believe me that it was not because my normally dormant conscience suddenly woke up to spur me into action to figure out if I am a 'cheater' or not. That kind of thing supposedly happened to Lance Armstrong a few years back in a fit of 'immoral' turpitude. I am one of the rare breed that hasn't read any of Armstrong's books, am quite unaware of his life story and the only significance of Tour de France for me was a scene where I went visiting the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. That was before Ten Sports started showing it LIVE on TV. The LIVE coverage changed my attitude to the Tour as much as the reading of the meaning of 'cheat' changed Armstrong's view on doping.
All I am trying to say is that I have absolutely no views on Lance Armstrong but I decided to look up on the definition of the word 'cheat' to figure out if what he read in his dictionary is the same across all dictionaries and whether all of us can use that dictionary when accused of cheating. And bang on the 2nd line came this
to deceive; influence by fraud: He cheated us into believing him a hero.
There can be a few possibilities why Lance didn't read this because doped he may have been but he still was a pretty smart guy to figure out that he fitted the description perfectly.
- He went to some other dictionary website which isn't obviously as thorough as the one I went to.
- The dictionary website put up this explanation on their site AFTER Lance's interview with Oprah
- He might have misspelled the word 'cheat' like 'chit' or 'sheet'. Readers may say that I just said that Lance was a smart chap and that he would surely know the spelling of the word 'cheat'. But he wouldn't know that he was indeed cheating if he looked at the incorrect spelling of 'cheat' would he?
What Lance said was that he wasn't doing anything that ever made him think that he wasn't competing on a level playing field. In short it meant that everyone was doping and he had to do it as well to compete. This reminded me of the open book exams that happened at my business school. Students were allowed to get whichever book they wanted and answer the question. That meant that those old world 'chits' (and that is the correct spelling) and the high tech tiny earphones were rendered rather useless. One had to be clear conceptually for answering a question. All that Lance is saying that the world of competitive cycling was like an Open Book Quiz. The Book was the Dope. And everyone was allowed to use the book. He went one up on the others. He got the Question Paper itself.
The one problem that the rather small population of the world which has no idea about the inside world of professional cycling was that they thought that it was a normal closed book exam and not a open book one.
I can't pass any judgement on Lance Armstrong as I never invested myself emotionally in his life journey and I frankly don't feel betrayed nor shattered. As a cynical view it's just about where do the sports persons draw the line? Did those Speedo swim suits that gave their wearers a tiny advantage over their rivals constitute cheating? Does anybody who uses any sort of advanced equipment in a sport as compared to what others use cheating? Can one argue that taking pain killers to get fit for a match is unethical as you are artificially repairing your body? The 'level' in a level playing field itself continues to be changed rather raised in most sport. What is unacceptable today is the norm tomorrow.
It is the society's view of 'acceptable' behaviour that keeps on changing. Laws are being passed in the more advanced nations to legalise possession of cannabis if carried in small quantities. Betting is legal in many countries and we hear a lot of Pundits arguing for cricket betting to be legalised in India to eradicate match fixing. There are some absolute limits that can't be crossed which Armstrong did. The moral outrage is also partly because of the manner in which he pretended his innocence and how he let down all who believed in him.
One question to ponder upon is that will those absolute limits stand the test of time in the futuristic world of gene therapies and 'made to order' children?
P.S - This all wouldn't have happened if the BCCI had accepted to use the DRS for all its matches.
The first time I watched him in action was on the new year's day in 1989 playing for Mumbai against Baroda at the Dadoji Konddev Stadium in Thane. It was his first season of first class cricket but he was already famous for his world record partnership with Vinod Kambli. Most of the crowd at the stadium was there to catch a glimpse of the one who was touted to be India's next superstar. And this too in the stone ages of zero TV coverage. It was mostly articles in vernacular newspapers and one quality Marathi sports weekly called 'Ekach Shatkar' (The Only Sixer) that talked about him and his potential. But I still remember this tremendous buzz created in the local cricketing circles. It seemed that the search for the next Mumbai batting successor to Gavaskar and Vengsarkar was over.
He got a raucous reception from the crowd when he walked into bat. One of the first few of the many more he would continue getting throughout his career. But the unmistakable pride and hope of the Mumbai Cricket fan was apparent. And this was for a 17 year old kid who had done nothing much in life till then. The kid managed to generate a sense of excitement just by walking on to the pitch right since that time.
He played a couple of handsome shots and then got caught by the wicket keeper. His innings was over and so was the crowd enthusiasm. The match petered out into a dull draw the next day and the spectators had disappeared much before that as Baroda was supposed to bat in the next innings. But the first connection with this kid was made. The feeling and the pride in the fact that he was one of Us. The Mumbai fans adopted him as their favourite son wholeheartedly since then (or maybe a bit earlier even).
The next time I saw him in person was at the Wankhede during the India-West Indies semi finals of the Nehru Cup. The only other thing I remember about that match is Ajay Sharma's stumps broken into two by a Winston Benjamin yorker. Coming to the more important things, a friend had jugadoed a couple of pavilion passes for the match. Now Pavilion passes at Wankhede are not to be taken lightly. You can get a Vijay Merchant Stand or a Garware Pavilion even. But a Divecha stand pass for us that days was equivalent to a Wimbledon Finals Ticket.
All the excitement of watching a Big match live from a great location was instantly dissipated as Kris Shrikanth was run out even before we entered the stands. There was plenty of time to take in our surroundings as the Indian batting was nothing much to look at. Then I zeroed in this group of youngsters who were obviously first class cricketers as they were sitting there in their whites chatting and joking among themselves. It was the who's who of Mumbai Cricket's future that time. Tendulkar, Kambli, Paranjape were all there. To most other spectators they were just a bunch of youngsters and no one even gave the group a second glance. Or maybe that's how the snobbish(?) crowd in Divecha stand behaved normally. I wasn't going to be a part of that.
I wasn't carrying any Autograph book and nor was I bold enough to go and ask for an autograph. So I caught hold of a kid, told him who those guys were and using understated psychological warfare egged him on to go and get an Autograph from Tendulkar. The problem of paper was solved by those complimentary cardboard caps given at the entrance, which anyways fail miserably in their primary role of protecting one against the Sun. SRT obviously wasn't really used to Autograph hunters then as a look of fleeting surprise crossed his face when the kid went up to him. I am not prepared to swear on oath because an intelligent criminal lawyer can prove me wrong , but I think Tendulkar signed with his right hand.
I wish I could say that I still have got that Autograph but I can't. That cap got lost in the ravages of time. Today I have lost a part of something far more important to the same ravages of time. Time and Tide wait for none, they say. One man defied it for a brief while. That man is deified by billions. He has given up his fight and agreed to write off a part of his kingdom. I, for one, am not shedding any tears. Somehow, somewhere he has touched a lot of Indians' life and therein lies his true legacy. And three cheers to that. Even the crowd in the Divecha stands will join the chorus.
One of the few links that one can find between cricket and chess is that both words start with the letter C. Another one is that coaches use a lot of computer analysis to find the opponents' weaknesses. How much does it help in cricket is as open to debate as much as how much impact do acting abilities play on Katrina Kaif's success in Bollywood. If one really wants to take a long shot, the other link can be that Vishy Anand loves cricket. Beyond these similarities (?) the two sports have been more or less mutually exclusive. To most cricket lovers a stalemate is a sledge that can be attributed to Ricky Ponting, to most chess lovers an edge is a miniscule advantage that one chess player has over another.
On deeper thoughts though chess has a lot more to do with cricket than what has been empirically evident.
As a batsman one is a chess player with a given set of pieces. Some pawns and some pieces form a set of their game. The pawns are the weakest links of their repertoire. So pulling is a pawn in a normal Indian batsman's game whereas playing with soft hands is a pawn to the Englishmen. Some times a batsman can work on his pawns and convert them into stronger pieces by advancing the pawns to the finish line. It is an extremely rare achievement in chess as well as cricket. Imagine Ian Bell motivated by changing nappies turning into a great player of spin bowling on turning tracks. The changing nappies reference was for his just born baby and in no way insinuates about his habit of frequently changing nappies when watching Saeed Ajmal advance to bowl to him. A great batsman is the chess player who is playing his endgame with more pieces and lesser pawns in a stronger positional play than his opponent. To win a chess game the opening moves play a crucial role. To a batsman the first half an hour is as crucial. If he gets his opening moves right, takes care of his pawns and bring his pieces in to play as early as possible he is assured of success. Well almost because Cricket also has an umpire in play.
Cricket is impacted by chess comparisons on a higher level as well. The current Test cricket teams also reminds one of a chess endgame. All teams are playing the endgame with 6 pawns, 3 pieces and a king. Or something to that effect. If one takes almost every Test team today there are some 2.5 batsmen, 2 bowlers and other pawns in the team. Australia today has Clarke, Hussey and Warner (he is the pawn who sometimes turns into a piece) who bat, Siddle, Pattinson who may bowl decently once in a while. India has Pujara, 1/2 of Sehwag and 1/2 of Ashwin as batters and Ojha and 1/2 of Ashwin as bowlers. England has Cook, Prior and 1/2 of Pietersen as batters and Swann as a bowler. South Africa have Amla, Kallis, Smith and ABD to bat and Steyn, Morkel to bowl.
If one puts these players on a chess board its not too tough to realise that all you have to do to take care of a game is by getting rid of the heavy pieces as soon as possible. You can always deal with the pawns later.
Obviously SAF seem to have the better position in the end game at present. For most others it's a matter of one of the pawns coming good at the right time like Monty Panesar in Mumbai. Now imagine Monty playing chess and all the above quoted wisdom about the profound relationship between Chess and Cricket comes falling down like the Indian batting line up.
Spoiler alert - Don't read if you are planning to watch the movie
One was desperately looking for Sachin Tendulkar's name in the credit list of the latest Bond movie 'Skyfall'. The rationale was simple. The first half of the movie rotates entirely around Tendulkar's life story over the past 5-7 years. It narrates in detail how Bond has grown too old to be in the business, how he is not entirely at his best and may never regain that once dependable level of an ace killer. Everybody mocks him (well almost everyone but M) and has written him off. M though clears him to rejoin active duty in spite of him failing almost all tests. If you replace 'M' with the Indian selectors, voila, you have Tendulkar's last 5 years put neatly in a movie.
This one quote in the movie tells us all.
James Bond: Everyone needs a hobby..
Raoul Silva: So what's yours?
James Bond: Resurrection
What makes Skyfall a complete value for money movie is that over and above being a Tendulkar story it also incorporates a couple of other movies and if anyone has missed those movies, one can assure him/her that they need not watch those movies after watching Skyfall.
The Home Alone franchise had 3 versions. Skyfall can be safely called Home Alone 3.5 (As only half the movie follows this plot) for adults. Bond goes back to his ancestral house with 'M' to lure the what's his name villain into doing some thing silly (that is attack the house with an army and heavily armed helicopters). Bond on the other hand has 2 guns, himself, explosives, himself, M, himself, one old fellow and himself. This unfair advantage to Bond and team should bring out with utmost force the foolhardy nature of what's his name's pursuit. In Home Alone the goons fall from the 2nd floor but don't die because it was a kid's movie and it was a low budget movie. They could afford only 2 goons. Skyfall has no dearth of budget and reflects hard hitting reality. If you fall down from the 2nd floor you die!
Nolan's Batman triology too can be enjoyed along with Home Alone. The orphan status of young
Bruce Wayne James, the house which stands aloof like it's owner, Albert in a Scottish avatar, secret passageways in place of bat caves and the inevitable destruction of the family house by that villainish rat.
If one didn't know better one couldn't be faulted for thinking that Bruce Wayne is actually James Bond during the day and Batman at night. In this world of mergers and acquisitions it doesn't seem to be a totally fantastic idea. Only thing that the new owners of the franchises will do is rename the hero John Wayne.
But it all comes back to Tendulkar at the end. Bond gets M killed, gets a bulldog in return from her and reports to the new 'M' reinstated and raring to have a go at the next villain. Chikka and Amarnath have been moved out as selectors and the new chief of selectors and Tendulkar still stands strong. Hopefully he too continues to smash his way to glory like the Bond franchise which promises to be back soon.
Ok so I was discussing a few crossword puzzles with a couple of equally vela friends and came up with some related to cricket. The crossword clues will be a bit lateral and similar too the cryptic puzzles in newspapers but again concerned with cricketers' names mostly and may also contain a few Indian references. As an example the title itself refers to a well known cricketer. A few of them may not be contemporary cricketers but are still well known (I think).
- Does he have to lie on the bylanes of Churchgate to become so hated in India? - (5)
- He's returning followed by the smart guy becoming brave - (6)
- Lazy Guy!! But he can be a model brother - (6)
- Medical Man extremely enthusiastic to defend his territory - (6)
- Post Graduates coming back to own Babylon once upon a time - (5)
- Three Spanish businesses not starting selling are stupid to visit abroad - (11)
- If it's Rong it's opposite can only be him - (6)
- He is a big swinging butterfly - (9)
- He always was quiet behind a returning principle - (5)
- Sounded like he never read the full Tolstoy novel (5)
- The Hindu Demon King's brother doesn't swing both ways but sounds even worse than him - (6)
Answers - Contd..
B-road, Seh-wag, Lax-Man, Dr- Avid, Sam- My, Tres-co
s-thick, Wright, Philander, Wal-sh, Waugh, Bi-B hishen
Anyone got the title? You can answer on my FB page if the comments here aren't working..
The latest illustration of the truth that a great sportsperson need not necessarily be a great sport came in the form of the unravelling Carl Lewis - Usain Bolt saga. It actually showed that sometimes they can be inversely proportional to each other. The better the sportsperson, the worse a sport he is. Carl Lewis, the greatest Athlete of the 20th Century wants to continue to be the greatest of the 21st Century as well. And since he can't prove it on the track now, he chooses to talk his way through. Sadly Lewis's talk till now hasn't been as graceful as his sprinting. He has not been exactly talking
his the run walk.
Lewis has been hinting darkly at the so called loose Jamaican anti doping policy for a few years now. Now that can be compared by cricket fans to an Ajay Jadeja insinuating that some cricketer is involved in match fixing today. After Bolt's win at the 100 meters in London, Lewis commented that what mattered to him was longevity and a dominance that extends through a decade or so, indirectly hinting at his own superiority. Bolt too hasn't come out of this episode smelling of roses. An ultimate sprinter he may be but he doesn't exactly believe in the adage of 'letting one's actions do all the talking'. He has to supplement his walk with his talk.
But it's not only Lewis who is stingy in his praise of the champions of the current generation. Pele is another genius who comes to mind. For all his footballing skills Pele has always come across as the most mean spirited human being, still caught up in the past refusing to even acknowledge the current crop of talent. His comments about Messi, his continuos run-ins with Maradona and his general behaviour have sunk him in the same category of human(?) beings like a Bishen Bedi. Bishen Bedi's antics are a matter of a separate article so one will leave it at that.
Why does a great champion have to continue reminding himself and the world about his greatness by pulling down the current champion? Why does he still have to clutch at that title of the 'greatest ever' with all his might by trying to suggest that the new 'greatest ever' is not as good as him? Is it about his ego alone? Or does it come from the fact that the champion may have retired from the game but is unwilling to give up that title which he held during his era and maybe even later till today? Or is it just a normal human tendency that a contestant when asked about other competitors will normally not be fullsome in praise of them?
There have been a lot of ex-champions who have been gracious in hailing the next generations. Rod Laver, Michael Johnson are a couple who spring to mind for their humility. Johnson has been a tremendous admirer of Bolt for some time now. Laver has always been very supportive of Federer. Both these gents actually can still claim to be the greatest ever but they just don't get involved in those discussions.
It may just be that the breed of champions is made up of good and bad human beings just like us mortal commoners. We can't match their feats but we can at least try and work on being sporting. We can actually be better than a few champions in that respect. Food for thought?
Before the start of that all important match the Champion’s fan’s verdict is short, sharp and matter of fact. ‘He is going to lose! He may be the better player, history may be in his favour and on form he should win. But I know he is going to bungle it up, play badly and going to lose.’
The match starts badly for the Champion with a break on his service first up.
‘I knew he would do such a thing. How can he give away the initiative so early in the match? Every time I watch him play an important match, he loses. I shouldn’t have seen this match. He is going to lose.’
Every great shot, every great string of games played by the Champion is appreciated profusely with gasps of disbelief, albeit accompanied with the dreaded thought that it may only be a precursor to some impending silly unforced error, the last flicker of the dying flame eventually leading to the inevitable darkness.
Eventually the Champion begins to assert himself on his opponent. Things start looking up but there is always a lingering doubt. It is almost the same doubt that Gautam Gambhir feels when he asks himself whether he has made it LARGE. Of course Gambhir has made it large otherwise he wouldn’t have been doing that ad. To the fan there are still a lot of things that can go wrong - One break of serve, one game even one point that can change the momentum. Sporting logic says that the match is in the bag but the heart still flutters. The opponent is attributed super human qualities of falling over the brink and yet mysteriously floating back up and getting more than a toehold back in the match.
The Champion is now serving for the match and all the fan can think is that the final nail in the opponent’s coffin may end up pricking the Champion – somehow. All those Narottam Puri vignettes of ‘till the last ball is bowled’ flood the fan’s mind. Each point to the Champion erases the last traces of doubts that the fan felt but even as one of the two Match points is saved the doubts return again for one last time.
'Game Set and Match Federer!' These soothing words eventually put the fan out of his misery and it’s more a sense of relief that is the over powering emotion than pure unadulterated elation.
I have seen so many fans behave like the one described above – self included. And Federer was only a point of reference. A similar feeling of misery, nervousness and pessimism engulfs every sport viewing experience where one is supporting a particular team/player passionately.
What is it that converts a normally logical, sensible, optimistic chap in to a defeatist nervous wreck on certain occasions is a question that has always vexed me. Somehow a lot of people are wired to prepare them selves for the worst case scenario. Should we call it emotional hedging? I have heard this concept in betting terminologies where people bet against a team that they support. If their team wins they lose money but they don’t mind that (obviously they don’t bet large sums) and in case their team loses they get a consolation monetary prize that will reduce the anticipated emotional pain.
Somehow the idea of constantly telling oneself and to anyone who bothers to listen that failure for your idol is lurking round the corner, one is trying to protect oneself from the disappointment that will follow. Is it the fear of failure or is it the fear of failure of a successful sportsman/team? Is it an Indian trait (I know I am sounding like Aakar Patel here) or is it a trait of a particular generation of Indian sports fans or is it just a personal trait?
Ever since I remember following sport played by Indians– whether Cricket or Hockey or Tennis, it was always the same story. One brilliant performance followed by years of inept, unprofessional and sometimes shameful limbo. A brilliant World Cup victory in 1983 was followed by humiliation at home by the Windies. Hockey Gold in 1980 was followed by a drought so severe that even the Sahara desert has received rainfall in the meanwhile. Tennis did see some good Davis Cup performances but there was no Champion who delivered consistently.
Is it the effect of a string of inconsistent performances where victory couldn’t be taken for granted? Not even when 6 runs were needed off the last ball of an ODI or when 17 runs were needed with 4 wickets in hand at Chennai. Indians as sportsmen (in individual sport) or as a team didn’t ever achieve greatness during that 1980-2000 era, they just had a few great days at office once in a while. But there was always a grand failure round the corner.
I am of the opinion that a lot of people from my generation were conditioned to expect very little from our heroes. Because failure was the norm and success was an exception. Continued bouts of disappointments from our heroes could be handled only for a few years. There had to be some protection mechanism against unreal expectations which for us is the form of emotional hedging described earlier in this piece.
Federer fans over the past couple of years had started to feel the need for emotional hedging as well. The British fans though haven’t yet figured out this protection mechanism. For 76 years they have dared to hope. The same cycle of hope, expectation, more hope, more expectation, failure, disgust, self loathing continues at Wimbledon. Maybe I can help them in this regard. But before that let me tell you about how India has no chance to get even one medal at the London Olympics.
I don't dislike Andy Murray. He may have a face with the same ephemeral quality of Stuart Broad’s, which creates an illogical and irresistible urge in the mind of the viewer to make a violent contact of that face with his (the viewer’s) hand but that’s not a good enough reason to dislike him.
He may behave like an immature kid on the court, pump his fists with a ‘come on!!’ that sounds more a moan than a war cry but I can overlook the fact. His fans may all come from only one nation (I have yet to meet a Non-British citizen who is a Murray fan. Come to think of it, I have yet to meet a British Citizen who is a Murray Fan. Even the British seem to suffer his idiosyncrasies for that treasure at the end of the rainbow called Wimbledon) but so what? Even Harbhajan’s fans, if any, come from only one nation.
Murray has a good forehand, a good backhand and a decent serve. But even his game doesn’t fire the public imagination like the artistry of a Federer or the sheer tenacity of Nadal or the power of Djokovic. He, till tomorrow proves otherwise, has lived my favourite self-coined motto in life – ‘You can achieve great things in life but you won’t’.
There are many things not to like about Andy Murray. But I will be supporting him in this Wimbledon final tomorrow. Once and for all the British media will lay to rest the ghosts of Bunny Austin and Fred Perry. For the last 30 years of my life of watching Tennis, these two gentlemen have hounded me. The ritual of Wimbledon related articles to quote these names has started to take its toll on my sanity.
My only worry about Murray’s potential victory is that I will be reminded of Murray’s deeds in all future Wimbledon write ups for the rest of my life. Can I handle the truth? I am not sure.
Roger Federer on the other hand is a person most people like. I have known a few who hate him but that way I have seen people who hate Tendulkar as well. He has a few faults too. He cries at the drop of a match, he wears gold emblazoned RF T-shirts to announce his genius to the world; he even makes some Ponting like comments about opponents.
For the Federer fans, it has been a bit of a come down over the past 3-4 years. From thinking about, ‘Will Roger play in the 3rd gear today or will he win on neutral?’, to, ‘Will Roger get a match point today and lose it or will lose even more tamely?’, has been a tumultuous journey.
The Emperor had just about his undergarments with him and the public was beginning to notice.
The media has written about Federer regaining the #1 rank if he decides to come out and play like himself and not send his look alike. The moot question the Federer fans ask is what will Murray’s ranking be? Because if Murray still remains 4, it means the US Open semis will pit Roger against either Nadal or Djoker, which in such lean times, is a scary prospect.
This indecision of who to support is killing me. I shall go and read the new episode of Paes v Bhupathi v Bopanna for entertainment and if that doesn’t work I can re-read Sania Mirza’s letter to the AITA. That’s like a David Dhawan movie. Guaranteed entertainment!
Anyway it’s going to be a blockbuster finale tomorrow. May the best man win. The second best will always have the Duke of Kent’s shoulder to cry on.
As a cricket lover one tends to compare other sports with their cricketing equivalents. This Euro 2012 conjured a few images (very badly photo shopped) that one could think in their cricketing equivalent terms.
One understands that this image does a great disservice to Misbah but in the current generation of wham bam players he is the most defensive batsman that comes to mind (in terms of strike rate). England v/s France had a moment though where Misbah hit a Six. That was the England goal. Beyond that it was all quiet.
Kamran Akmal has been alleged to be a football goal keeper but the Cech flounder would have made even Kamran proud.
More pictures coming up soon.
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