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New blog

Hi folks. Took a break from cricket to blog for Times of India. Do check at

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mocking-Bird/

cheers

Slogger

With IPL-2 over, are you getting bored? There’s NO time to get bored. It’s just cricket, cricket and more cricket. Considering that a cricket fan, who’s actually vella enough to write a blog on cricket is saying this, I think greedy authorities like BCCI and ICC need to look up the dictionary for phrases like ‘overkill’, ‘burnout’ and ‘gimme a damn break’.

As much as I like watching cricket, I don’t want the cricketers slaughtered for the sake of my entertainment. After years has India found a plethora of fast bowlers and BCCI seems intent on injuring all of them at the same time. 
A glance at India’s playing calendar will show you what I mean. First, there was the New Zealand tour in March-April. Then came the grueling IPL in April-May (this was supposed to be played in 44°C in India). June will see the T20 World Cup in England and July is a tour of the West Indies. In September, it’s the ICC Champion’s trophy and in October the Aussies are coming for a 7-match ODI tour. In the same month we also have Modi’s new brainchild – The Champion’s League. And to finish off the year, Sri Lanka tours India for 3 Tests and 5 ODIs. Phew! If got tired just writing this, what about those playing?
By the way, will anyone tell me why we have a ‘mini world cup’ in the first place? Isn’t the World Cup and the T20 World Cup enough? I see but the ICC don’t see. They only see what we don’t see. And that’s a sea of cash. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it, you see).
Group of death: Conspiracy theory
Have you seen what group India is in for the T20 World Cup? We have Bangladesh and Ireland for company. Group of death man! How are we ever going to advance with such a tough group? Then again, wasn’t it Bangladesh that kicked us out of the 2007 World Cup? Sigh, painful memory. That’ll teach me to make fun of the minnows.
Anyway, I sense a sinister conspiracy in this grouping. Could some people be trying to keep India in the tournament for as long as possible — for the viewership and ad revenue? Who knows. One can only speculate or spread false rumours and gossip 😉 
We don’t need Ireland to get us through now, do we? That’s Dhoni’s job.
Li’l Jinx
First it was Sachin, then Kumble and now South African coach Micky Arthur. Everyone is saying India is the hot favourite to lift the T20 Wolrd Cup. I can understand Arthur saying it, but Sachin and Kumble! Come on guys, don’t jinx it. Didn’t your mom ever teach you any superstitions?
Oh man! The cricketers of today! No faith in magic, lucky charms or ghosts and goblins. Tsk, tsk, tsk. India will lose. We’ll come last. Yuvraj will not hit any six. Keep repeating these, three times a day, after every meal.

As much as I like watching cricket, I don’t want the cricketers slaughtered for the sake of my entertainment. After years has India found a plethora of fast bowlers and BCCI seems intent on injuring all of them at the same time. 

A glance at India’s playing calendar will show you what I mean. First, there was the New Zealand tour in March-April. Then came the grueling IPL in April-May (this was supposed to be played in 44°C in India). June will see the T20 World Cup in England and July is a tour of the West Indies. In September, it’s the ICC Champion’s trophy and in October the Aussies are coming for a 7-match ODI tour. In the same month we also have Modi’s new brainchild – The Champion’s League. And to finish off the year, Sri Lanka tours India for 3 Tests and 5 ODIs. Phew! If got tired just writing this, what about those playing?

By the way, will anyone tell me why we have a ‘mini world cup’ in the first place? Isn’t the World Cup and the T20 World Cup enough? I see but the ICC don’t see. They only see what we don’t see. And that’s a sea of cash. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it, you see).

Group of death: Conspiracy theory

Have you seen what group India is in for the T20 World Cup? We have Bangladesh and Ireland for company. Group of death man! How are we ever going to advance with such a tough group? Then again, wasn’t it Bangladesh that kicked us out of the 2007 World Cup? Sigh, painful memory. That’ll teach me to make fun of the minnows.

Anyway, I sense a sinister conspiracy in this grouping. Could some people be trying to keep India in the tournament for as long as possible — for the viewership and ad revenue? Who knows. One can only speculate or spread false rumours and gossip 😉 

We don’t need Ireland to get us through now, do we? That’s Dhoni’s job.

Li’l Jinx

First it was Sachin, then Kumble and now South African coach Micky Arthur. Everyone is saying India is the hot favourite to lift the T20 Wolrd Cup. I can understand Arthur saying it, but Sachin and Kumble! Come on guys, don’t jinx it. Didn’t your mom ever teach you any superstitions?

Oh man! The cricketers of today! No faith in magic, lucky charms or ghosts and goblins. Tsk, tsk, tsk. India will lose. We’ll come last. Yuvraj will not hit any six. Keep repeating these, three times a day, after every meal.

CHARGED UP CHAMPIONS

CHARGED UP CHAMPIONS

Congrats Deccan. As a Delhiite would say: Bai Goad, kamaal kar diya ji. I did want Bangalore to win because of my bias towards Kumble and Dravid, but there’s no shame in coming second, that too for a group branded as a Test team which came second-last in 2008.

The Aussie Way

Now, two years in a row, two Aussie captains have bagged the IPL trophy. It took two tournaments for an Indian (Manish Pandey) to finally score an IPL ton. Looks like it may take three for an Indian captain to win the trophy (I hope). Dhoni, Sehwag, Kumble, I hope you’re listening. As far as centuries are concerned, Suresh Raina will always be the first in my book. That he was robbed by the faulty scoreboard (or stupid scorer) is another matter.
Another thing I noticed this year was the consistency of the purple and orange cap holders. But while RP did have some competition from the likes of Malinga and Nehra, Hayden was way ahead of the others. The burly Aussie bludgeoned his way to over 500 runs. If this is what retirement does to you, I am applying for VRS TOMORROW.

Enough is enough

Now, the final’s over. What next? There’s the T20 World Cup coming up, then there’s the Champion’s League and Mr Greedy Modi actually wants to Modi-fy IPL into a two times a year thing, one of them in the US. Talk about overkill. And while we’ll lap up the three-hour entertainment interspersed with zoo-zoos and cheerleaders, Tests and maybe even ODIs will die a silent death and the Don would turn over in his grave.

Closing ceremony torturekatrina

If you watched the IPL final, chances are you waited for the post-match presentation ceremony endlesslessly. What happened to the lifting of the trophy, the man of the match, the most valuable player award, etc. I don’t really know if they eventually took place… my snoring drowned out the TV. Lalit Modi and gang ensured that the final day would be a combination of Chinese tourture and a B-grade Bollywood film for the viewer. Awards, who wants them anyway? We’d rather see some singer going on and on about smacking someone, or President Zuma giving Indian politicians a run for their money with the most sleep-inducing speech of all time.

My daughter won’t need any lullabies anymore. A tape of the Zuma speech will be all, thank you. (I may end up raising a zombie).
And did anyone notice that the drowsy Zuma drone was followed by a short, overexcited, screaming dude who bore a striking resemblance to Lalit Modi. We are not deaf buddy. Crazy, yes, deaf, no.

His screaming, salivating act was followed by more gaana bajaana. Thankfully, Katrina Kaif looks better the Modi.

By the way, if anyone gets to know who was the MoM and MVP, do lemme know.

UPDATE: They did get that trophy, as the photo used here shows, but my info request stands.

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –> From Dhakkan to Deccan

Congrats Deccan. As a Delhiite would say: Bai Goad, kamal kar diya ji. I did want Bangalore to win because of my bias towards Kumble and Dravid, but there’s no shame in coming second, that too for a group branded as a Test team which came second last in 2008.

And hats off to Hyderabad. What a tournament they’ve had. Led by the explosive Gilchrist, Deccan have thrown up quite a few stars. With R P Singh leading the wicket brigade, Fidel Edwards bowling at serious pace and Pragyan Ojha dazzling many a top batsman, the bowling was sharp as ever. Rohit Sharma was the surprise package, batting out of skin and sometimes even bowling out of his skin to take Deccan home.

The Aussie Way

Now, two years in a row, two Aussie captains have bagged the IPL trophy. It took two tournaments for an Indian (Manish Pandey) to finally score an IPL ton. Looks like it may take three for an Indian captain to win the trophy (I hope). Dhoni, Sehwag, Kumble, I hope you’re listening. As far as centuries are concerned, Suresh Raina will always be the first in my book. That he was robbed by the faulty scoreboard (or faulty scorer) is another matter.

Another thing I noticed this year was the consistency of the purple and orange cap holders. But while RP did have some competition from the likes of Malinga and Nehra, Hayden was way ahead of the others. The burly Aussie bludgeoned his way to over 500 runs. If this is what retirement does to you, I am applying for VRS TOMORROW.

Enough is enough

Now, the final’s over. What next? There’s the T20 World Cup coming up, then there’s the Champion’s League and Mr Greedy Modi actually wants to Modi-fy IPL into a two-times a year thing, one of them in the US. Talk about overkill. And while we’ll lap up the three-hour entertainment interspersed with zoo-zoos and cheerleaders, Tests and maybe even ODIs will die a silent death and the Don would turn over in his grave.

Closing ceremony torture

If you watched the IPL final, chances are you waited for the post-match presentation ceremony endlesslessly. What happened to the lifting of the trophy, the man of the match, the most valuable player award, etc. I don’t really know if they eventually took place… my snoring drowned out the TV. Lalit Modi and gang ensured that the final day would be a combination of Chinese tourture and a B-grade Bollywood film for the viewer. Awards, who wants them anyway? We’d rather see some singer going on and on about smacking someone, or President Zuma giving Indian politicians a run for their money with the most sleep-inducing speech of all time.

My daughter won’t need any lullabies anymore. A tape of the Zuma speech will be all, thank you. (I may end up raising a zombie).

And did anyone notice that the drowsy Zuma drone was followed by a short, overexcited, screaming dude who bore a striking resemblance to Lalit Modi. We are not deaf buddy. Crazy, yes, deaf, no.

His screaming, salivating act was followed by more gaana bajaana. Thankfully, Katrina Kaif looks better the Modi.

By the way, if anyone gets to know who was the MoM and MVP, do lemme know.

UPDATE: They did get that trophy, as the photo used here shows, but my info request stands.

DEMOLITION MAN

DEMOLITION MAN

First Delhi went, and then Chennai. Sigh. I was so sure at least one of these two teams would be part of the semi-final.

Delhi’s couldn’t help itself. It was doing quite OK till Virender Sehwag showed up as captain again. He went on to super-impose his brand of brilliant captaincy by not picking Glenn McGrath. It’s like having a Ferrari Spyder (in Glenn’s case let’s make it a slightly slower, but reliable BMW) in the garage and using a Hyundai Getz on the road (with due respect to Nannes).

It’s true that there was not much Viru could do against a rampaging Gilchrist, but maybe there was something Glenn ‘Pigeon’ McGrath could have done. Now, we’ll never know.

Coming back to Gilly, I don’t know what he’s on these days but the squash ball in his gloves must be on steroids. That innings against Delhi was just breathtaking and inspite of being a Daredevils supporter I enjoyed every explosive shot with which he buried the nail deeper into Delhi’s coffin.

Now, it’s last year’s last two teams in this year’s finals. Delicious irony. Heck, it’s a script for a movie (just don’t get Dev Anand to direct it). Deccan are looking pretty good but I would still back the resurgent Bangalore boozers. Lets see if Anil Kumble and Dravid, two of my favourite players, can deliver the goods. Mallya would be grinning for a few years now. Now call it a Test team.

As for Chennai, what can I say. When you have players like Hayden, Raina and Dhoni, the batting is in safe hands. But what about the bowling? Dhoni aped Viru in one mistake, he also left out a class player like Makhaya Ntini for the entire tournament. What were you thinking MSD? Another feature that disappointed was their fielding. And Dhoni’s been quite vocal about this. When a player like Muralitharan starts dropping catches, you know this team is slipping up.

Billy the kid

Just came across a news item about Billy Bowden. His crooked finger is due to a reason. He contracted viral arthritis when he was 21. billyUntil four years ago, when he became an ambassador for Arthritis New Zealand, he didn’t talk about it publicly.

I’ve always enjoyed watching Bowden on the field. I never thought anyone could make umpiring look even remotely interesting. But he is as colourful as they come. He once, reportedly, danced around an Auckland pub on South African captain Hansie Cronje’s shoulders and gave the craggy Steve Waugh an impromptu hug at the end of his final test (“I think Steve liked it,” he says wryly. “If I saw him now, I’d give him another hug”).

Well Mr Bowden. One thing I’ll promise you, I’ll never again make fun of that crooked finger again.

Mangal Pandey

Man of the Moment

Man of the Moment

Finally, an Indian has hit a century in IPL. About damn time. And it’s not a Sachin, Sehwag, Gautam or Dhoni who’s done it, it’s Manish Pandey. But who the hell is Manish Pandey?  Cricinfo describes him as a “right-hand middle-order batsman who was part of India’s Under-19 squad that won the World Cup in Malaysia in 2008.” An Army officer’s son, Pandey is all of 19 and wields the bats like an AK-47 assault rifle. That straight six off RP Singh was a beauty. (Maybe he was trying to impress Katrina Kaif in the VIP box.) Well done Pandey Ji. Hope you slaughter many more bowling attacks in the near future.

Delhi delight

The semis are here and Delhi have gone from looking semi-solid to solid. For those who were doubting Delhi, I’ve got three words for you: Viru, Viru, Viru. The Jatman’s poor run was was starting to get on my nerves. If I had more hair, I would have torn it off by now. But he’s come to the party with a bang. I love his Jatman philosophy: See it, hit it, forget it. With Gauti also looking in good touch in the match against Mumbai, Daredevils are looking very good indeed. Don’t forget the in-form group comprising of DeVilliers, Dilshan, Nannes, Mahroof and the surprise package Nehra. And yes, McGrath still hasn’t played.

Down and out

Down and out

Would you believe it? Kolkata actually won a few games. I must be in a parallel realm. Anyway, the tournament’s over for them and speculation is rife that Ricky Ponting may be asked to take over next year as skipper and Steve Waugh may be roped in as coach.

But what about our Dada? A few matches back I would have rooted for him as KKR’s next captain, but the Prince of Calcutta insists on avoiding a certain criterion for the job—performance. I’ve always admired Sourav for his sheer grit and never-say-die attitude. He’s the man who has always been the target of the media, various Aussie coaches, and in some cases heartbroken fans, but he has always come through.

In this tournament, we kept waiting for those big sixes. After every blog post by FakeIPL player, after every loss, after every low score, most of us die-hard fans secretly hoped that Ganguly would come out all guns blazing and rescue KKR. We thought he would shut up that fake blogger, get Boka kicked out and slap every cricket critic on the face, like he has always done. Sadly, that was not to be. KKR’s fortunes changed, albeit slightly, but Sourav’s didn’t. Now, forget captaincy, even his place in the playing XI is not guranteed.

This is what happened in his international career, but just as everyone wrote him off, he signed off with a bang. This time, will there be an encore?

Slow pokes

(Hat)trick of the trade

(Hat)trick of the trade

For all the fast bowlers, spearheads and swing bowlers who haven’t done well in IPL 2, here’s some advice: Forget fast bowling and switch to bowling gentle off-spinners. Just lob them at the batsman at excruciatingly slow speeds and a windfall of wickets is guaranteed. Don’t believe me? Just look at Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma, who share three hat-tricks between them. You’ll agree they’re not really the tearways of their team.

I don’t want to deride their efforts. I mean taking wickets is no joke and hat-tricks come as often as …say a six from Dravid. But three hat-tricks, by slow part-time bowlers, against some of the top players in the world, are just unbelievable.

I have a friend (he’s now a famous columnist) who had the most unique bowling technique ever. Frankly, calling it a technique is stretching it a bit. The man is fiercely passionate about cricket and writes better than most cricket writers in the country. Unfortunately, he doesn’t play as well. This phenomenon of hat-tricks by what Geoffrey Boycott calls “dibbly dobbly” bowlers, made me want to describe my famous friend’s infamous bowling action.

The gentleman used to hold the ball and stretch his arm behind him, take a medium pacer’s run-up and then run in to bowl (the hand still behind). As he reached the crease, he would come to almost a dead stop and dragged the arm from behind in the attempt at a bowling action and released the ball while the hand was still behind the ear. In all fairness, it was a legit action. No bending of the arm at all. Unfortunately, the ball thus released used to go higher than a Brontosaurus standing on a stool and take its own time in reaching the batsman. When it did reach him (sometimes it didn’t), the batsman (who had been licking his lips) would swing the bat wildly in an attempt to hit the lolly to his granny in Timbuktu. But 8 times out 10, he would miss and get bowled…full toss into the stumps. I know, I know…missing a ball like that means he shouldn’t deserve to play cricket (perhaps the batsman became drowsy at the time taken by the ball), but the fact is that the lolly treatment was effective. It got wickets.

So dear fast bowlers, junk those searing yorkers and bouncers. The trick is to bowl slow, high and poor.

P.S: That friend’s batting was almost as bizarre as his bowling, but to avoid risking his wrath and for my personal safety, I am choosing to withhold that description for the time-being.