Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Radio relaxation

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but does it seem to anyone else that the kinds of things cricketers say on radio stations, they wouldn't say on television. I'm thinking here, obviously, of Matt Hayden's description of Harbhajan as an "obnoxious weed". There is nothing particularly derogatory in that description, its just that somehow, I can't imagine Hayden saying this to say, Channel 9 or Sky commentators. Television interviews have become exceedingly banal, the questions do not rise above the level of cliche, and unsurprisingly, neither do the answers. The air of a mega-production hangs over the proceedings, the commentators are nattily dressed, and it might all seem a bit proper. But a radio interview is different; you can spend a lot of time chatting, and the conversation can become freewheeling in the hands of an interviewer used to drawing out reluctant interviewees. As the American talk-show radio experience shows, some of the most pointed discussions on topics often felt to be too 'hot' for television take place on air. I'm not going to touch on the larger issue of how toxic such discussions can get, but let me just say for the record that the discussions I've heard on local radio stations about the fortunes of New York teams far exceeds anything I've ever seen on network television (and certainly Imus was legendary for the kinds of political discussions he could get going). Its not clear whether Hayden was being interviewed on the studio, or whether he was on the phone, but clearly the interview relaxed him to the point where he felt he could speak more freely (compare this to his television pronouncements, which are always generic in the extreme).

Monday, February 18, 2008

All hail the young 'uns

The U-19 World Cup has started, and a promising young quick from Delhi has already ripped the guts out of the South African top order (this is the same lad. Pradeep Sangwan, who took care of Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy Super League, for which feat I will remain eternally grateful). But I've noticed another lad in honor of whose unique moniker, Napoleon Einstein, I am inaugurating a one-member fan-club. Please write if you'd like to fill out a membership application.

The Tricolor on Boxing Day

Since Atheist over at Are You A Left-Arm Chinaman had blogged on streakers, I thought that in the interests of comprehensiveness, I'd add my photo of the Boxing Day Streaker. Thats all. There is no other content to this post. You will notice, of course, that I was too late in taking the photograph. Story of my life, I'm afraid.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Test cricket, we hardly knew ye

Years from now, when test cricket is finally done and dusted, elbowed off the stage by the pressures of Twenty20 or some other mutant form of cricket, we'll all look back on the creation of the IPL as the moment that things really started to go pear-shaped. Franchises, some of whom are now worth as much as NBA teams, have entered the scene, and it scarcely bears thinking what these corporate heavy-hitters will do with the bunch of jokers that has been running world cricket for some time now. They'll want to protect their players, they'll squeeze out good deals (if need be at the cost of the international scene), and they'll go get the best talent, all of whom will find this much more attractive than the rigors of test cricket. The national boards can only watch now, as their precious international schedules will bite the dust, the first move in which eventuality was made today by Lalit Modi announcing that Australian players could join without no-objection certificates from Cricket Australia. That delinks the IPL from the international schedule, and in the future IPL franchises may be expected to want their players to stay fit for the important games, and not bother with bowling themselves into the ground bowling 20 overs a day in test matches. A generation of youngsters will grow up with this as the most visible face of cricket (check out Malcolm Conn's piece on the telecast of IPL matches in Australia). We asked for interesting times, and we have them.

Monday, February 11, 2008

You, me, and the rain

So, the CB series manages to schedule a match that works with my schedule, and my desperate need for sleep on week-days, and what do the bloody rain gods do? They decide to show up, and push the start back to 930 PM. Whatever. But I shouldn't have been too surprised. Because if there is one thing I associate with India-Sri Lanka cricket, it's rain. Lots of it. And apparently, it doesn't seem to matter where they play. At first, I thought this was some sort of impressionistic, flaky, cranky take on things. But an hour or so ago, as I checked out Cricinfo, I found this little nugget:
10.25am Rajesh, our very own statsguru, has something for us. "If this match is washed out, it'll be the 11th no-result in ODIs between Sri Lanka and India, which is a record for any two teams. The next best (worst?) is Australia v India. Sri Lanka would have been involved in 22 washouts (if today's goes that way), and half of them have been versus India."
Of course, my memories of washed-out games is, I suspect, based on too many days of test cricket washed out. And to extend the discussion a bit, it doesn't seem to me that India and Sri Lanka have played much memorable cricket in their encounters for a very long time. Think about it. When was the last time that an India-Sri Lanka encounter provided for a great match? (say, in the last 10-12 years). There might have been great performances here and there (and honestly, I'm struggling to remember too many other than Aravinda in the WC 96 semi-final, the Ganguly-Dravid detonation at Taunton in 1999, perhaps Ganguly's match-winning 90-odd at Kandy in 2001, or the Jaya triple ton in 2002). But no memorable encounters, really. And somehow, these two teams, both giants of sub-continental cricket, simply haven't managed to build up a real rivalry with an edge or a sparkle (while I do look forward to India-SL games just because SL has such wonderfully talented cricketers, the rivalry itself has no real frisson to it). Theres no substantial reason for it, or at least none that I can immediately figure out at the moment. Perhaps its the rain.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Quicks and tri-colored crowds

A couple of quick observations:

1. Indian fans have noticed for ages, that no matter how quick an Indian bowler bowls, he'll only ever be described as fast-medium (while others in the same speed range get promoted to being genuine pacers very quickly). Granted, its early days, but Sharma has bowled at an average of 143 kmph today with a quickest of 150 kmph. But he's still described as "fast-medium". Ah, well. I suppose it's the wickets that matter.

2. I think this is the biggest Indian contingent I've seen at an overseas cricket ground (some of the Indian contingents in England this past summer came close as did some of the mobs during the World Cup in 1999). It made for an interesting visual moment: the television slow-motion replays of Symond's dismissal (caught-behind off Sharma) showed an entire mass of youngsters by the sight-screen rising as the ball went to Dhoni.

Back in the game

Terribly sorry about the absence from blogging. But now, all is forgiven, and even though I can't stay up too late tonight to watch this game between India and Australia, I'm glad I've managed to catch the bit, if nothing else to see Ishant Sharma bowl (yes, I know I talked a whole lot of smack about him on this blog in the past). The delivery to get Ponting was a peach, and the dismissal of Hayden, coming as it did after a couple of missed screamers through slip, was another. The atmosphere at the MCG is good, a decent fast bowling attack is on display, and I don't expect the Australians to do anything less than hit back hard in all forms. (Yes, I know a pretty piss-poor blogging effort, but I'm just trying to get back into form, playing in the V and all that).