Sunday, October 29, 2006

We'll decide, thanks

I'd predicted in a post made on this blog that the PCB would not take severe action against Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif - in response to their failing dope tests. The groundwork for that turn of events has been laid already as this report on the PCB's doping tribunal notes, "the PCB said it will make its own decision on any punishment since the tests were conducted internally." Ah, well. There goes that.

Given that both players had declined to have their B samples tested, which is as close to an admission of guilt as you will get from these two, we could be looking at the latest act of the PCB to make the unequivocal statement that is their trademark: we find the laws of the game and its governing organizations particularly inconvenient.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bolshy Bindra and coming full circle

Andrew Miller reports on IS Bindra's response to Mike Coward's article slamming the ICC. Miller has a giggle, as all correspondents over at Cricinfo (seeing as the correspondents are such classy old-money folks) usually do at the noveau-riche BCCI at Bindra's adopting the older meaning of "bolshy". Fair enough. But why doesn't Miller link to Bindra's piece? Where is it? He does link to Coward's piece after all.

And then there is Stephen Fleming who apparently needs a geometry lesson as he claims that "my style of captaincy has gone 360 degrees". So, all those 194 one-day internationals behind you, and all you can do is captain exactly the way you did when you started? More charitably, perhaps Fleming means he has explored every single captaincy style there is out there? Whats he trying to get at, exactly? (I have an idea but he isn't being clear)

Monday, October 23, 2006


The ICC, ECB and PCB remain locked in a tussle for moolah. More accurately, the ECB demands the PCB pay up for forfeiting the Oval test, and the PCB assigns full responsibility to Darrell Hair. The ECB and PCB should take this case to court; lawyers would have a field day with the PCB's claim that they bore no responsibility whatsoever (apparently, the Pakistani captain had had his free-will circuitry removed by Darrell Hair), and of course, the PCB will point to the dismissed ball-tampering charge as well as the fact that Hair refused to start the game when everyone else was ready to get going. When two thick-headed, stubborn, ultimately paranoid entities meet, they affect everyone, but themselves, adversely. Pakistani cricket has not suffered as a result of Ovalgate; this affair is a minor one for them. Darrel Hair hasn't suffered; fat book contracts are on the way. The ICC couldn't care less; the BCCI will come up with plenty of money to float the worldwide game. Those eternal suckers, the fans, will just line up and pay through their nose for the next game. Back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The straight dope?

Cricket finds its way into another doping scandal. I'm surprised that no Dick Pound quotes have made the rounds yet. Good 'ol Dick, he would have known what to have said about this. Akhtar, for the record, has been suspected of being a user for a long time (Samiuddin says as much in his several pieces at the link above and casual fans have commented on how Akhtar's physical appearance is very 'roidish'). Still, I'm not going to put it past the PCB to find some way to get out of this jam as well. They are past champions at this (only the PCB could have managed to get out with such minimal damage from match-fixing, spectator assault, ball-tampering, test-match forfeits and too many other cases of player misbehavior to mention here). So, like, wait for the "B" samples, check out the three-man tribunal, or whatever else you want, but don't expect any great "shocks". Akhtar and Asif should be back in greens before long. Inshallah.

Friday, October 13, 2006

baseball and cricket

It's eight or so on a Friday night here in New York City, and I'm getting ready to watch the New York Mets take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series (phew, quite a mouthful). Over the years, I've heard many, many, comparisons made between baseball and cricket. Here is a particularly immature one that I wrote back in 1990:

"For me, the funniest thing aboout baseball are the base coaches..they stand there, tugging their noses and cheeks, spitting away, grabbing their crotches and tell a base runner when to run and whatever...gee, I guess the base runners are too stupid to look around and figure out when its a good time to run or not...and do't barrage me with lectures on the supposed complexity of the game..I'm just saying it looks funny. I can just imagine running coaches in cricket..I dont think Asif Iqbal would ever have managed a single in his life if these gentlemen had been around....And thank god, we dont have any of this macho bullshit with batters charging the pitcher after being hit by a pitch..what a bunch of wimps..!"

I was much younger back then. Back in the good ol' days. Now, I wish cricket journalism could match this wonderful analysis of Albert Pujol's hitting (go to the article and click on the graphic section titled "Double Trouble" half-way down). Now, its possible to admire the skill of baseball pitchers, fielders, batters. I've grown up. Or so I'd like to think. Interestingly, I wrote that little rant above after three years of baseball watching. Gee, I was dumb. I've got more to write on this but the game is about to start. Catch youse later.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Clash of the 'Titans'

Pardon me, but I do find the latest spat between the BCCI and the ICC quite hilarious. Speed does quite a bit of huffing-n-puffing but really, whose house is going to get blown down when push comes to shove? The ICC has very little credibility after the Ovalgate fiasco (the BCCI will have noticed how they capitulated to just about everyone in that mess) and the BCCI has all the money. Gee, tough call. I think one thing the ICC needs to do is stop handing out lectures in the media. I can assure him, no one in the BCCI will listen, and the language used to describe ineffectual marionettes like Speed is not very complimentary at the best of times. Cricket sold out to Mammon a long time ago; lets just enjoy the ride now. We could do without all the false moralizing. Speed was the man behind the World Super Test bonanza/fiasco, wasn't he? And isn't this just about who gets a bigger slice of the pie? And aren't Speed's comments about not conducting battles through the media rather precious after his leaking of the Darrell Hair email?

Incidentally, why does Cricinfo term Modi's comments a "slur"? Those guys need a dictionary - and some new servers for the Champions Trophy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Please Sir, can we have no more?

Someone needs to break the news to Rahul Bhattacharya. He is a good cricket writer but he cannot write the sort of comedic material he keeps trying to produce. In his latest failed effort, RB attempts to go to town on Dean Jones. This is a serious drag. We finally have a good crop of Indian writers (Sambit Bal and Bhattacharya being the best), and now, unfortunately, one of them has decided to generate a portfolio of lame attempts at humor. While the basic premise in the piece is fairly promising it gets strained in the attempt to stretch it into a full piece. Sigh.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

New York blues

I'm a cricket fan, but I'm also a baseball fan. And today isn't such a happy day if you are a baseball fan in New York City (for one kind of baseball fan at least). The Yankees are gone, out of the playoffs. But it allows me to explore something I haven't done in a while; root for the Mets. Unlike most baseball fans in New York, I cheer for teams on the basis of geographical location (its what you get by growing up cheering for teams on a nationalistic basis). So I don't care much for the franchise but for the players and the cities they represent. So, now, I'll cheer for the Mets. I'm a New Yorker, after all. Yes, yes, a true New Yorker would only cheer for one team. But all I said was that I'm a New Yorker. Not a 'true' one. Whatever that means. And isn't part of being a New Yorker that you can redefine the term any way you want?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Engadget on bowling machines

The Engadget blog talks about bowling machines and manages to mention Warne's ball-of-the-century. I'm always intrigued by any mention of cricket by American bloggers, so I had to go check this out. There is the usual incomprehension at cricketing terms (I don't get this; I've never, ever, seen anyone display such incomprehension at baseball terms; its a bit like being proud of your incompetence in math), but still, its nice to see some discussion of the technical aspects of the game. Oh, and yes, check out the comments as well.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

So much anger

Younis Khan resigns as Pakistan captain. I'm guessing he was hurt, angry, and feeling victimized. Just like Inzimam was at the Oval. Phew. Pakistani cricket rolls on. Incidentally, Inzi must be the only cricketer to both have forfeited a test as captain and attacked a spectator. That isn't a great disciplinary record to have. Perhaps Inzi should be a little bit more visibly irate at times. He might be able to work out some of that anger, which periodically erupts. Better than bottling it all up, what?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It all must end someday

Is it just me, or does it seem like Chappell's honeymoon with Indian writers is coming to an end? Witness this piece by Mukul Kesavan (who, by the way, is a very good novelist, having written what I consider to be one of the best pieces of fiction on the Partition). The most damning indictments of Chappell are all in there - the damage done to a quality strike bowler (Pathan) and to a quality batsman (Laxman). Its pretty funny too.