Monday, March 26, 2007
The grammar in the caption is one of those rarest of rare things that can be described as being 'perfectly bad'. Sublime.
Oh - and Hungama is full of such brilliance. Will try and put up more stuff if possible.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
I've watched countless matches. I've loved the game to death. I've read and written about it. I've spent hours in thought, pondering its nuances, marvelling at its complexity, delighting in its beauty.
I read old magazines and relive memories. I play inadequate videogames and curse them for the injustice done to our majestic sport. I've even punched non-believers in the face ( Shamefully, it's true. Ask Aravind Murali or Vishwanathan Srinivasan.)
But I haven't played.
So maybe I should shut up now. And leave the informed discussion to the pros.
Au revoir. No more cricket. Will stick to comics and stuff. Okay?
I'm a fan of cricket. Not of cricketers. So, for me, the cup goes on. More to look forward to. More to stay awake for.
And India? Well, much sadness. And much hope.
Hope that we will build a young, fresh team who will delight us in the years to come. Hope that we can remember the Tendulkar-Ganguly-Kumble era without rancour, recalling the glory moments and forgiving the shameful ones.
This team is dead. Its champions must fade. In their place will come new ones. The game lives on.
Many fans will give up on Indian cricket. They will turn away from the game they love, hurt by the disappointments. No matter. Others will take their place. My son among them. They will cheer new heroes on new adventures. But the game remains the same.
Team India is dead. Long live team India.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Why do we react so violently when you lose? Why do we plunge so low when you play badly? Why do we always expect you to win?
Because, deep down, we know you can.
Our expectations are built, bit by bit, from the innumerable feats of cricketing might and magic we have had the pleasure of seeing you perform. Every sweet Tendulkar drive. Every moment of Dravid's defiance. Every Ganguly dance-down-the-wicket six. Every Yuvraj pow-gasp-wow shot. Every time the bowlers dig deep and exceed expectations.
And since you've given us so many moments of sweetness, our expectations are really high. It's that simple, really. If you were always losing, then we wouldn't actually expect you to win, would we?
Yes. We know you can.
And we're reminding you.
So bring it on. The incandescent, mighty batting. (Bermuda was a start, but we both know there will be harder tests) The disciplined, strong, spirited bowling. (remember WC 2003?) The huddles, the high-fives, the smiles and whoops of delight. Dance the happy dance. Play the joyful game.
If you do, you'll start winning. And that would be very nice.
Sure, there are a host of other talented, skilled, and well-prepared teams that have come to win the World Cup. Sure, we may lose to some of them.
But make them earn it. By playing your very best cricket.
Sachin. Sourav. Rahul. Anil. This is it. This is the moment. Make it count. A World Cup Win would be nice. But, really, we only want to see you shine your brightest. And if there's a team on earth that's good enough to beat you when that happens, then they'll be bloody deserving winners.
Go on. Play ball. We're behind you.
Sachin Tendulkar is the most hyped cricketer off all time (before you kill me, I'm just stating fact. Notice : hyped. not overhyped. There's a difference.) His face peers out at us from advertisements, merchandise, endless reams of newsprint. We love him, and even tolerate the bad ads.
But this is not cool. That armour is a fashion disaster. And, God save us, a crackling, glowing, flaming cricket bat ? If I wanted extra cheese, I'd order pizza, thanks you very much.
This kind of thing is an insult to comics. And comics fans. And creators. This is a typically stupid, corporate 'let's cash in, quality be damned' idea. This will flop. The series will not complete the first run. If there is a comics God.
Here's a gem from the guys who're doing this :
According to Suresh Seetharaman, President, Virgin Comics and Virgin Animation, “Virgin has always worked with people who are prominent, and most importantly, who have set goals for themselves in life and achieved them too. Sachin Tendulkar is well recognised as an achiever globally, and it works best to have him as the hero for our comic, gaming and animation series.”
If there's any sense tucked away into that mind-numbingly inane statement, somebody please point it out to me. What are these guys thinking? ARE they thinking?
From the free comic downloads available from Virgin's web site, I find that all their titles are conceptually interesting and visually appealing, but are bogged down by immature (and sometimes plain bad) writing and editing, and a derivative, wannabe Marvel / DC feel. This one seems doomed at the concept level itself.
A cursory glance at comics history will show you that moronic get-rich-quick comics based on celebrities are always abominable products that are rarely recalled fondly, and usually don't sell well. Even the legendary Stan Lee made a mess of his ill-fated Backstreet Boys project. Remember Amitabh as Supremo ? Remember Gavaskar as Sunny ? Titles that are remembered today only for being putrid and grotesque. A similar fate surely awaits 'Master Blaster'. (Any chances that I could be wrong, and this could actually be good? Nah. Three words - flaming. cricket. bat. They're already too far down crap road.)
This is a crass cheapening of one of our few real-life heroes. I hope that true fans of Sachin Tendulkar will see it for what it is.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Except, we've always been butchers of bad bowling. Except, Bermuda's batting is so inept, England and Sri Lanka had them for under a hundred, and even Zimbabwe knocked them over for less than what they got against us.
Sure, we did what we needed to. But our batting IS mighty, it really is. Against an attack like Bermuda, a huge total was always on the cards. And we should have blown them away for far less. The bowling looked patchy and unprofessional.
For me, only Yuvraj Singh and Sourav Ganguly seemed to promise a good show against the Lankans. Sehwag and Tendulkar need to find something more special than bullying the likes of Dwayne Leverock and his merrie men. They're great batsmen, and well may.
And the bowling needs to be far better if we're to take on Sri Lanka on Friday, and, hopefully, the other big boys in the Super 8 stage.
But for now, it's been a good comeback to stay alive. Make it count, boys.
The players will speak only in Urdu, said former player Pervez Mir, the team's press liaison officer.
The decision was also taken "because 2007 is our national tourist year and we are promoting Pakistan as well," said Mir in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
"This is the perfect platform to promote and expose our language."
I'm laughing so hard, I'm having trouble typing this.
Imagine - thousands of people, after listening to Inzamam-ul-Haq or Mohammed Yousuf or Shoaib Malik address the press, rushing off to call their travel agents to arrange immediate vacations in Lahore. So that they may listen to more people address them in a language they don't understand.
The Rameez Raja Lookalike Contest - Asad Rauf.
The Waqar Younis Lookalike Contest - Aleem Dar.
The Marcus Trescothick Lookalike Contest - Simon Hughes.
The Evander Holyfield Lookalike Contest - Dwayne Leverock, Anderson Cummins (tie).
The Alec Stewart Lookalike Contest - Paul Nixon.
The Vladimir Putin Lookalike Contest - Nasser Hussain.
The Darth Maul Lookalike Contest - Charu Sharma.
Monday, March 19, 2007
“What a stupid world.” Readers of The HINDU may have seen today's 'Calvin and Hobbes' end with those very words.
What a stupid world.
A man respected and loved for enriching our beloved game in so many ways will do so no more. We are poorer for it.
Bob Woolmer gave us Hansie Cronje's South African side of the 90s. They thrilled us with their near-impossible fielding skills, their fearsome efficiency (yes, it's a virtue that must be admired, let no one tell you differently), their ability to make winning seem matter of fact. They were so good, we quickly grew to hate them as much as we hate the Australians. Now that's something.
Bob brought science and method to the forefront of the game – and showed cricket teams how they could win on bad days. How they could excel even if slightly short on God given cricketing gifts. There is no team in the world today that has not been touched by his wisdom in some way. In numerous interviews and articles over the years, he impressed us with his thoughts and views on the game and how it should be played. Always thoughtful. Always interesting.
Make no mistake – Bob raised the bar. Just watch videos of matches from the years before his arrival, and you'll see that this is true. This alone guarantees him a place in the pantheon of cricket's most influential men ever.
Now he's gone. Just like that. In his worst cricketing hour. It's as if he decided that he'd had enough, and simply left. Without a thought for what we'd do without him.
There will be reams written about his contributions, his successes and failures, his methods and theories. I'd rather dwell on something else.
On the night of his death, there was the usual flurry of telephone calls, messages and e-mails between my own circle of cricket fans. And every single one of us agreed – this didn't feel like something that was happening far away, in the world of newsprint and TV. No, this felt like we had lost a friend, someone we had spent time with for years.
Why did he have to die like this? Why now? Wouldn't it have been easier if we could have read about his passing in a quiet corner of the paper, years after he had faded from public life?
In India and Pakistan, we claim to be passionate about cricket. Is it passion that drives us to believe that we're within our rights to destroy someone's property? Is it passion that motivates us to put so much pressure on somebody that they can die from the stress? Or is it madness and evil? Anger and stupidity? Ignorance and fear?
What a stupid, stupid world.
So, we should be enjoying this right?
Oh, no. We'd much rather burn effigies, rant and rave like diseased baboons and ,quite illegally, seek retribution by destroying private property. Because our team played badly and lost a game. A game.
You know what? I didn't do my job well today. I missed a few deadlines, and made a few spelling mistakes. So go ahead, burn my effigy. Stone my house. Threaten my family. You have the right. No problem.
And when you screw up something, which you doubtless will at some point, I will do the same. I'll break your car's windscreen. I'll burn your family photograph. I'll call you names. I'll call your family names. I'll throw rocks at your house. And I'll be sure to bring Dhoni and Kaif with me. They'll be glad to join in.
This way, we can both win. Or lose. What's the difference?
Thanks for reading this blog. Back in a jiff.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Keeping awake is hard. Especially if you’re like me, and won’t risk the Red Bull type drinks. Some tips for dedicated cricket watchers to fight drowsiness, especially during dull periods of play.
- Eat light. A heavy dinner is a sure-fire way to miss the second session.
- Potter around. Walk around the house every now and then. Adjust a lamp. Wipe a surface. Open the fridge, peer into it and close it again.
- Switch off the mosquito repellant. The little buggers will take care of keeping you awake, I promise.
- Comics work for me. Exciting stuff like Lone Wolf and Cub, not more sedate stuff like American Splendour.
- Do like Inispector does – mute the ads. You’ll be surprised.
Headlines Today did a feature earlier tonight about World Cup blogs - and featured both Papayas are People, Too and Son of Bosey on it. I got to let off a few words and sound smug. Fun. People who saw it will now think I'm more famous than I really am.
The show was pretty kind to me - they featured the blogs pretty prominently, and said some nice things. And, importantly, they called me a 'Young Man'. I am indebted.
Also, the programme featured the online prediction game cricketology, which is great fun. Sign up and play. You'll see.
We have nominee number 2 – the ridiculous Apache ad with the faux wildlife documentary feel. This is a goodie. I can just hear the creative team making the pitch : “Let’s have lots of cars painted like zebras, being pursued by a guy on a bike in the middle of a vaguely African jungle. We can have a self-conscious narrator do a pretentious, lame voiceover so that it will look like a pathetic attempt at creating a wildlife documentary atmosphere. And we can end with a random babe and the biker giving each other hot looks. That’ll KILL ‘em.”
A great representation of all the characteristic features – stupidity, wastefulness, lameness – of classic Indian bike advertising. Well done, agency bizarros. You suck galactic.
Okay. I’m going to watch ALL Bermuda games. Dwayne Leverock. Wow.
He comically dropped a couple of catches (what was he doing fielding at slip and cover, for goodness’ sake?). Bowled some decent deliveries, and even managed a scalp. And broke out into one of the most charming celebrations I’ve seen at the fall of a wicket – a most enjoyable jiggle fest.
His Mum’s pissed that someone in the media poked fun at him by likening him to Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor’. And proceeded to defend her son in classic Indian mum fashion, saying something to the effect of “He’s not fat. Just healthy.”
He’s a jolly guy, and he’s having a whale of a time playing the world cup.
It’s stories like this that warm the cockles.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
First, Ponting needlessly drags the Indian team into it. Now, Gavaskar, rather distastefully, drags a dead man into it. This scrap is ugly and needless. Gavaskar has nothing to lose. Ponting is on a World Cup campaign that is probably the toughest Australia has undertaken in 10 years. What is he thinking? Why the sharp reaction? Has Sunny touched a raw nerve, perhaps? Sometimes, when it hurts, perhaps it's the truth.
Canada and Kenya are duking it out most respectably. I just tuned in (why do we still use that expression ? Nobody TUNES in on TV anymore,), and saw a twenty run over, followed by a splendidly judged boundary line catch. Top stuff. Hope this one's a close game. Who says the minnows serve no purpose, eh?
In fact, it was when going to see a minnow match (Kenya vs. Bangladesh at Chennai) that a bunch of us came up with a great idea for youngsters looking to get drunk on a tight budget. Just add a couple of teaspoons of good ole Glucon-D to your drink, and it's like having two drinks. Sensational buzz. Mildly yucky, but great value.
Of course, they began with a six. And lost a wicket of the next ball. And hit the next one for four. Only Pakistan can entertain like this.
Inzy, naturally, played some shots so sublime that I actually gasped. And then proceeded to mismanage the chase in the company of the excellent Mohammed Yousuf. What were these two great batsmen thinking? Corey Collymore and Dwayne Smith are good, hardworking bowlers, but did they deserve the respect they were shown today?
Pakistan lost this game in the middle overs. I think that this tournament will largely be won and lost by how overs 20-40 go.
On a happy note, if all the wickets are like the one we saw at Sabina, then we're going to have good games. Wheee.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
And, of course, I have found that Simon Hughes is actually Marcus Trescothick. They are one and the same. Look closely.
Oh yes - Pakistan to take this one. If they bat with a semblance of common sense.
This year, I think we must set up an award to honour the most execrable, putrid, and plain crummy ad films that we're going to be subjected to thanks to the efforts of the advertising industry's most idiotic brains.
Our first nominee - The CBZ ad featuring that wannabe James Bond guy spouting immeasurably, excruciatingly bad lines - of course, ably supported by an appropriately annoying 'babe' and 'mission giver' characters. At one point, the guy actually says ' Thinking. Such a waste of time'. Perhaps the creative team behind the ad believes in this philosophy a tad too fervently. At least, I hope that they didn't put too much thought into producing this turd. The idea of an agency that brainstormed for days, went through innumerable options, and then came up with this is too painful to contemplate.
Chris Gayle has left the building. The excitement is mounting. If you're reading this, ask yourself why you aren't somewhere else.
Empty seats? What's going on? This is a world cup opener!Featuring the home team, no less!
I'm beginning to wonder if there's any point to holding the world cup anywhere but in India (maybe Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well). It's all very well about promoting the game, boosting the economy, and all the other stuff they always bleat about, but a world cup opener with empty seats is NOT a good advertisement.
Here's hoping we don't see too much of this.
The pre-match show was a pleasant surprise. Henry Olonga, Dean Jones and Simon Hughes were crisp, interesting and kept it tight. Even Mandira Bedi managed not to grate on the senses. If only they'd get rid of Charu Sharma.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Okay. A World Cup is upon us. No use pretending that I don't care, or that I'm too busy. Time to get into it. And resolve to blog regularly. So I shall – sit by my computer while watching the games, and post-as-I-think.
Before every tournament of this stature, a collection of former greats will contrive to make fools of themselves in a national newspaper or magazine by making inane, stupid, and sometimes plain wrong statements. The year's best so far? Sandeep Patil in last week's SPORTSTAR : “ Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, England and India are the teams with a good chance to win.” Really? Wow. Well, at least he didn't add that Zimbabwe, Kenya, Holland, Bermuda, Scotland, Bangladesh, Ireland and Canada are the teams that will be eliminated.
Spending a lot of time watching the cup, and debating on it endlessly with friends during the day? Might as well profit from your expertise. www.cricketology.com offers an interesting prediction game where you can wager points on match results, scores et al., and redeem your winnings for exciting prizes. It's something no self-respecting armchair (or staircase / corridor / cubicle) pundit should be able to resist. Check it out here.