Sunday, August 22, 2010

Word of the Day

Shahid Afridi Years (noun; abv. - SAY; etymo - Cricinfo)

It is a system of measurement of unit (like the SI and CGS system) used to quantify age. It can range from 1.14 times 3.142 times the actual age depending on mood, climate, opposition, current chairman of PCB as well as current exchange rate.

Of late the term has entered colloquial usage.

Example :
At a social event:
Host - "Welcome Mrs. Anderson... You look really fabulous. Nobody can tell that you are a mother two"
Wannabe Socialite Aunty - "Ohh.. come one Mr. Clark .. I am just 29"
Disgruntled Trophy Husband - (thinking to himself) "Yeah Right ! Only in Shahid Afridi Years"

Did sun rise in the west ?

The sun did rise from the West. Why on earth would Ashish Nehra even come out to bat at 9 !!

Today was a day when Dharmasena gave 3 horrendous decisions. My mind went back to 2008 when he had given out Sachin LBW thrice (all of which turned out to be wrong !) . Why is he still on the ICC Panel ? More importantly why did he even consider becoming an umpire ?
A look at Dharmasena's record against India gives us the answer to the second ques... He tried all that he could to dismiss Indian batsmen but to no avail. He tried more and still failed. And then one day he tried 'Mentos'. His 'dimaag ki batti jal gayi'. There's a simpler way to get Indian batsmen out. Lets become an umpire !

And what is Ravindra Jadeja still doing in the team ?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Of Cricket and Natural Disasters !

Friends... This is going to be a short post.

A few weeks ago, I came across an article (I can't recollect the source!) on the state of politics in India. It was more in tune with that of a political satire and had little to do with cricket. But a line in the opening paragraph just stayed with me, which I would like to share ....

"...... India is on the cusp of ........ God has been very unfair on India. It has blessed India with poverty, inequality, illiteracy, corruption, natural disasters and Sreesanth........."

courtesy - Apologies for not being able to recollect the source

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pak Recruitment drive

Waqar unveiled the poster.

"Top-order batsmen, we want YOU for the Pakistan cricket team," it read.

"Any takers so far?" asked Salman Butt. "Please say there are."

"We had one bloke in for a look," said Waqar. "He's a student, lives in Birmingham. Opens the batting for Perry Bar Thirds in their Tuesday League. He'd definitely be an improvement on what we've got."

"Nice," said Salman. "Ask him if he's free for the next two Tests?"

"Nothing doing," said Waqar. "He's going on holiday to Butlin's in Minehead with his mum and dad."

"Mum and dad? How old is he?"

"He's 12," said Waqar.

"Shahid Afridi years or real years?" asked Salman.

"Real, unfortunately," said Waqar. "His mum and dad won't let him go all the way down to London on his own."

"Shame," said Salman. "What else?"

"Well, we had this girl in, about seven she was. She wasn't bad. Decent defence, plenty of ticker. Rounders is more her game, really. But it's a no-no: some of the lads seen her catching the tennis ball in practice and got a bit intimidated."

"Too right," said Salman. "We can't have the boys being shown up in fielding practice by a seven-year-old girl."

"Yeah, not again," said Waqar. "And get this: she wasn't even scared of the ball."

"Blimey," said Salman. "Impressive stuff. Can she teach the boys? Get her in as fielding coach?"

Waqar nodded and gestured for a pen to make a note. Salman threw one over at him, but it bounced off the edge of the table, rebounded and hit Umar Amin. Umar began to cry.

Salman sighed.

"Anyone else?" he asked

"Well, we've had two more applications. But they sound like a couple of chancers to me: Test averages of 50, played 150 Tests between them."

"Too risky," said Salman.

"Mo something and somebody Kahn," said Waqar.

"Nah," said Salman. "Shot in the dark, innit. Better to get a youngster in."

"Yeah," said the coach. "Actually, the board have sent one lad over."

"Oh yeah?" said Salman. "Any good?"

"Well, he's never played cricket before as such," said Waqar.

"So much the better," said Salman. "He won't have had a chance to be affiliated with any faction."

"That's my thinking."

"We don't want another bloody row on our hands," said Salman. "Umar Akmal's already threatening to go on strike."

"Oh yeah?" said Waqar. "What now?"

"Says that new keeper dropping all the catches is taking a job that could be filled by a union-recognised Akmal," said Salman. "Says we're doing his brother out of a day's work. Reckons it's a striking matter."

"One out, all out?" said Waqar.

"Yeah," said Salman. "Same old story."

Note: Alan Tyers is a freelance journalist based in London. All the quotes and "facts" in this article are made up (but you knew that already, didn't you?)

Cricket this week - 1

Saturday, August 7th
I understand that Pakistan’s representatives at the ICC are seeking to amend the outdated rules on catching. Specifically, they will ask for the whole of Law 32 to be struck from the Laws of Cricket on health and safety grounds. A spokesperson for the PCB claimed that players risked a nasty bruise if they attempted to catch the ball, and abuse from television pundits if they dropped it, and that this constituted a violation of their right not to be laughed at in the workplace.

Sunday, August 8th
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better for English cricket, it has been revealed that John Buchanan is to help the England players with their Ashes preparations. And big JB is already throwing up some fascinating ideas. For instance, the England management are said to be very keen on his five-captains-per-series proposal and are seriously considering the theories outlined in his bestselling pamphlet, “Setting Your Field the Feng Shui Way”. This innovative approach does away with the traditional method of placing fielders in areas where you expect the ball to go and instead focuses on arranging them at auspicious points on the field, to maximise the flow of cricket energy. Andrew Strauss has already implemented some of these suggestions, refusing to have more than two slips for long periods of the second Test on the grounds that negative energy usually escapes in the direction of third slip. As, from time to time, does the ball.

Monday, August 9th
The fallout from Edgbaston continues. It has emerged that during the tea interval yesterday, England’s prettiest fast bowler approached the ECB’s head nutritionist to ask whether it might be okay if he had some sweeties. Upon being refused on the grounds that f had some sweeties, he wouldn’t want his tea, Sulky Stuart stuck out his bottom lip, stamped his foot and stormed out of the dressing room, insisting that it wasn’t fair, and furthermore that he hated everyone. Broad was later fined half his pocket money and grounded for the rest of the week; punishment that his captain Andrew Strauss feels was over the top. “As everyone knows, it’s the summer holidays and forcing a young lad like Stuey to stay indoors when all his mates are hanging around outside the chip shop is harsh. Adolescent petulance has always been part of his game and if we made him behave like a grown-up, he wouldn’t be able to bowl as fast.”

Tuesday, August 10th
The latest from the Pakistan camp is that coach Waqar is contemplating some radical changes ahead of the third Test. The word is that the top six in the batting order will be dropped and replaced by Mohammad Yousuf. It is believed that top-secret analysis of Pakistan’s performances so far has demonstrated that dropping all these specialist batsmen is likely to have very little effect on the outcome of future games in terms of runs scored or catches taken, whilst it will offer significant savings in hotel and laundry bills and free up much needed bickering space in the dressing room.

Note: Its a part of Andrew Hughes' fan diary

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tendulkar relishes the ache of endurance

Sachin Tendulkar drives

It is a record Sachin Tendulkar was expected to break. Opening his innings at the tail-end of the last millennium, no one could spend two decades in the international game and not go past his other peers in terms of the number of Tests played.

In their time, the cricketers whose names will now follow Tendulkar's on this list of iron men were once indefatigable: Steve Waugh, it seemed, would never melt and Allan Border looked like he would never crumble.

Yet after them Tendulkar arrived. As he steps into the P Sara stadium on Tuesday morning, this blazing comet of a cricketer, who batted at a rhythm different from Border and Waugh, will become the last of their kind - the long-surviving Test titan.

Stretch the imagination 22 years ahead and see if you can pick any fresh Test stripling of today - Umar Akmal, Eoin Morgan, Steven Smith, Adrian Barath - to go past 170 Tests.

Other than Bradman's 99.94, Tendulkar now owns the marks that batsmen dream about: most runs and most centuries. If those were about skill, this one, 169 Tests, is about his hunger. More than anything else, it is what has taken him this far and what has given his career a mind-bender of a second wind after the gloom of 2006.

The day before his 169th Test appearance, he described his sport much like Glenn McGrath did, calling it 'simple'. In an interview he had once talked about its more complex layers. "There is not a single boring day," he said, "when you don't learn anything new."

Those could have been the words of a young man in his tenth Test but that was circa 2003. Tendulkar the cricketer has switched effortlessly between youth and maturity. When he turned 18 and was by then an 11-Test veteran, his city's signature tabloid Mid-Day put him on the cover of their Sunday magazine supplement, posing on Marine Drive, dressed in a shirt of riotous colour at the wheel of his first car, a Maruti 800.

A taciturn teenager, far from the confident sage of the 21st century, he had these words of wisdom to offer on his coming of age. "When you are 18," he said, "you're not young anymore." When he had gone two series without a hundred, it was said that far too many allowances were being made for his age. In his third series and his ninth Test, three months after turning 17, he batted at No. 6 just ahead of Manoj Prabhakar and produced the first of his 48 centuries in Manchester. It was expected and it happened. This was the prodigy who fit into his India cap with ease, without open tantrum, controversy or angst.

With 168 Tests, Tendulkar has grown up in public and so appears timeless but he is a different man from the cherub who couldn't hide under the helmet grille. Until the first crack of his bat made the annoucement of intent that is. The noise of the crowd lifted him but in the first half of his career, even when captain, Tendulkar lived with a peculiar strain of white line fever. The competitor on the field was a man of deep reserve when outside its boundaries.

Even though he grew up in a slightly more mellow age - one in which his telephone number could be found by looking for his father's name in the Mumbai telephone directory - he lived with public expectation and dependence like no other teammate peer or contemporary. Still, whatever his inner debates about a youth lived in the open, his batting remained reliably resplendent. As he would himself say, there wasn't a day he wasn't learning, be it how to season a long innings with strokes that had until then belonged to his one-day repertoire or experimenting with what it meant to be anchor over aggressor.

What defined him most sharply as the youngest of men in Indian cricket still remains as he becomes the game's oldest. Before the icon and the brand and the deification and the 37kg coffee table books comes the batsman.

It is as if his mind has always been deliberate, undistracted and his heart, when stepping on the field, full with youthful optimism.

He will prepare for his 169th Test just like he always has, in calculated, thoughtful steps.

During nets on Monday, he would have inspected the P Sara wicket and calibrated all the information into method and shot selection. He described it once: "I look at the wicket and the opposition and analyse their strengths and weaknesses and then pick my shots. These are the shots that will bring me closer to 100 per cent success. You try and minimise your risks. But in spite of that you make mistakes."

Then when back in his room, on his own, he will spend ten minutes on a visualisation, part of his pre-match preparation since he was a school boy. He will see the bowlers before him, the stationing of the field, the feel of the ground, the heat or the breeze, the noise of the crowd, "so when I actually go there in the middle it's the second time I'm going there, not the first".

He may pick up the bat he has carried back with him to his hotel like he does every time and maybe shadow practice a little. Just before his 169th match, he will do all of this, part-drill, part-prayer, equal respect given to practice and providence.

When he goes out on the field, with India creaking at their joints, Sachin Tendulkar will have with him a record that is a reminder not of champagne and glory but the ache of endurance. But he will walk lightly because, like always, he will be the young man of 16.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at Cricinfo