24 March 2007

Foreigners' guide to cricket

"You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.

When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game."

- from Mind your language (Mr. Brown aka Trevor Bannister)

No, no, it's not that sort of guide. I wanted to write this to explain some of the movers and shakers in men's cricketing world. For those who want to start following it, play it and all the rules will make sense. Overall the sport is sort of like a frankenstein monster made up of baseball and chess.

Australia - the best, the greatest etc. over the past 15 years. The only other team that can compete with them on an even keel is Australia B. They are hated in the cricketing world for their rude comments and arrogance that's almost always backed up by performance. They only fear fear itself (aka Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman of India). They've had some vulnerabilities be exposed in the past 2 months so the world cup may not be as one sided after all.

South Africa - Have all the skills necessary to be number 1. Almost always lose important matches, once famously by failing to read two numbers on a printout correctly (ok it was a tie but they got knocked out). Known as the chokers of world cricket.

Sri Lanka - Lots of talent with firepower to back it up. Strong title contenders this time. Have 2 magicians in their team - one of them with an Indian wife who was cheering for Sri Lanka during the last India-Sri Lanka match. He was also kept out of the game for a few months by an Australian umpire for no good reason. Conspiracy theorists attribute the reason to be so that an Australian player could have less competition during the time. The same umpire decided to beat up on Pakistan later, which did not go very well and caused his exit from the highest levels of the game.

West Indies - On any given day can lose or win to any other team. Inconsistency is the name of the game. Doesn't matter if it's Australia in front of them or Canada.

England - Filled the side with non-English origin cricketers. Notoriously bad travellers - they always come down with some stomach ailment and each is Shakespeare - always coming up with novel excuses for losing.

New Zealand - They always almost beat Australia, but lose to everyone else. They have a magician in their side called Shane Bond. Whenever he gets somebody out the commentators go, "Bond, Shane Bond." Also the only superfast bowler who does not throw.

Zimbabwe - They had a good side till recently. Mugabe took over the farms of most of the good people in the side and they left. The remaining players consolidated to make a team but the new captain "retired" at age 21 for getting death threats from the cricket baord.

Bangladesh - New entrants to the big leagues - young and fit. Win one match every 10 games or so, known as the "banana peel" for unexpectedly stopping some bigwigs. Endearing as one of them dropped a catch against India because he was distracted by watching such good players at close quarters (this was really early days). There was also the incident of asking the Aussie players for autographs after playing against them. Also the captain is known for attacking a ghost in a haunted hotel in England.

Pakistan - Bunch of geniuses - discovered by former players in neighbourhood games. Developed the art of "reverse-swing" which earned them the reputation of cheating until they taught everyone else how to do it. High-strung and inconsistent, they can also lose to any team on any day. Playing India brings out the best in each of them, no matter how badly they've done till then. 2006-2007 has been the worst year for them ever... it's been so bad that even Indians have started to feel sorry for them.

India - overhyped overpaid underperformers in one-day matches outside the subcontinent. Do well in one day matches at home and 5 day matches everywhere else. Face pressure from 1 billion fans every time they take the field. When they win they are treated like gods, when they lose they are treated like dirt. Media makes thousands of excuses when they lose - from regional tensions in the team to politics involving player selection. The players just say that they did not play well though they tried hard and right now they are part of a "process." Men in blue have proved to be babies in blue this world cup. Their early exit so far has led to 2 deaths by heart attacks and 1 death by suicide among fans.

Associated people (sorry, very India-centric):

Javed Miandad - ex-Pakistani player. much hated by fans of India due to his exploring the realms of the impossible to defeat India (the last-ball 6). Also watched by Indian security agencies for marrying his son to India's most wanted terrorist's daughter.

Imran Khan - ex-Pakistani player, now turned politician. Known for losing his wife to Hugh Grant's charms.

Steve Bucknor - Umpire of West Indian origin. Supposed to be neutral, yet serves as the 12th man on any side playing against India. Infamous for giving bad decisions that stopped India from winning their first test series in Australia against Australia.

Shoaib Akhtar - Pakistani fast bowler. Concentrates on throwing the ball at searing speeds at the expense of accuracy. For this usually serves as the opposing team's 12th man. Note: throwing the ball in cricket is illegal. He keeps injuring himself regularly and is in trouble for wine, women, injuries and performance-enhancing drugs.

Sanjay Manjrekar - ex-Indian cricket player turned commentator. Sounds depressed when India does well and does not have anything good to say about the team. Sounds happy when India does badly.

Sachin Tendulkar - God (recently has accepted human status)

Rahul Dravid - Practices very hard to be God. Unfortunately being God requires exceptional talent and can't be learned. He came close till he got saddled with the captaincy. Also known as the Great Wall of India.

Ravi Shastri - ex-Indian cricket player. Very popular with the ladies. Hosts the halftime 'Shaz and Waz show' featuring attractive women from the fans who turn out to watch cricket game.

Wasim Akram - ex-Pakistani cricket player. Co-host of 'Shaz and Waz show'. Also ladies' man and very popular in India. Spends most of his time in India playing golf when not commentating.

Brett Lee - Aussie fast bowler. Throws his faster balls trying to catch up in speed with Shoaib. Sings in hindi.

Irfan Pathan - Indian player. Started as fast bowler, became an all-rounder, then became a batsman, now doesn't play in team. Time for rise to fall is about 2 years. Known for cleaning up Adam Gilchrist of Australia with a reverse-swinging yorker.

Sunil Gavaskar - ex-Indian captain. His philosophy was honour above all.

Kapil Dev and Saurav Ganguly - ex-Indian captains. Philosophy was victory above all.

Mohammed Azharuddin - ex-Indian captain. Philosophy was money above all.

23 March 2007

Why India got kicked out of world cup

A list of excuses that the Indian team can use to explain their likely elimination from the world cup in the first round (Image from Cricinfo):

Pakistani players Abdul Razzaq and Saqqi played for Bangladesh instead of Pakistan. That’s why India lost to them and Pakistan lost to Ireland.

9. It’s better for cricket – ICC asked India to give minnows more experience at the highest levels eg group of 8.

8. No point in trying as Pakistan got kicked out. We’re only in the world cup to beat Pakistan.

7. Players were too tense thinking about what would happen to their houses and endorsements if they lost.

6. Players’ wives and girlfriends were missing them and wanted them back early (especially Sehwag’s).

5. Companies that sponsor the team wanted them back early to star in advertisements. All this cricket was taking away from the dates the movie directors were available.

4. Tail enders should perform with bat as well under pressure. In order to give them some pressure under match conditions top order got out cheaply.

3. Team felt very sorry for beating Bangladesh 9/10 matches and Sri Lanka 8/10 matches recently. Did not want to be blamed for death of Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cricket due to more losses. Death of Indian cricket is OK.

2. Wanted to stay on the West Indies beaches, hang out with West Indies fans, and never go home.

1. Wanted to get citizenship of Bangladesh or Sri Lanka for tax evasion purposes.

Well in 4 years when the world comes to India it will be a different story. Captain Yuvi will take us all the way. Oh, btw The post I wanted to write is here. I really feel bad for the players, they tried their best but clearly did not have the fitness levels required for athletes in the world cup. 2 hours of good fielding and they were looking like those Kenyan marathon runners do after 50 km.

Here are a couple of enduring images from the world cup...
Bermuda's gravity and law of physics defying Dwayne Leverock (Image from cricinfo):

Australia being aggressive against Kenya (image received by email - will link to orig. source if somebody lets me know what it is. Actually Sreekumar posted it before I did):

Edit - Rajesh points out in the comments this is Aus vs. Zimbabwe in 99 and not this WC. Thanks, mate.

16 March 2007

Tag of 3 by Isha

3 things that scare me -
4 more years of Dubya
Global warming causing meltdown of blogger servers
Ice Age

3 people who make me laugh -
Douglas Adams
Steven Moffat
Roald Dahl

3 things I love
Coconut trees

3 things I hate

3 things I don't understand
talking the talk but not walking the talk
being told what to believe

3 things on my desk
.357 magnum bullet
baby ginga toy
parker sonnet

3 things i'm doing right now
thinking about world cup
it must be hot there, would probably need some water
india all the way!

3 things I want to do before I die
go to mars
make somebody deliriously happy
get the UN a functional army

3 things I can do
scratch my back
speak random languages

3 things you should listen to
vathapi ganapathim
harp played by the seashore
redemption song by bob marley

3 things you should never listen to
listen to everything - decide what to retain and what to throw away

3 things i'd like to learn
making good music

3 favourite foods
chick peas

3 beverages I drink regularly
did I mention water?

3 childhood TV shows / books
lord of the rings
terry "he doesn't wear his underpants outside his jeans" teo

Amrita, Ramya and Sheetal, you ladies have been tagged.

09 March 2007

Everything tastes like chicken

Yes, even grass...

(from sify)
An enterprising calf decided that since everything, including grass, tastes like chicken, she better just go to the original source.

Now would this cow be classified as a holy cow? Will the dead chickens have a better next life for being sacrificed to a holy cow? Which came first, the chicken or the cow? Maybe the farmer got confused and the baby calf was actually Ginga's lost brother. Maybe he was just trying to get into the Chick-Fil-A ad.

03 March 2007

Le Roi Indien

We were all happy that the French football team was made up of people whose ancestors migrated from other countries in the last couple hundred years. And now, if France decides that they want a King to compete with the English queen, here is the man for them:

(from Taipei Times)

A relative of the Bourbons left France 400 years ago, travelled around the world, and eventually made his fortune in India. The picture shows his descendent, Balthazar-Napoleon Bourbon, who is the oldest of the living Bourbons. Although he doesn't speak French, his children are learning it. (Summarised from here and here).

I think the French government has been secretly planning to break the news that they have decided to re-establish the monarchy. France cannot be seen as backward compared to the hated Roast Beef, the English. Witness the popularity of Pascale de Bollywood, Vikash Dhorasoo's inclusion in the football team for the World Cup, and Amitabh Bachchan's winning of the French Legion d'Honneur. Fran├žois Gautier appears to care more about India than most Indians from his writings, so he definitely has realized the ambitions of the French government.

I can just imagine that in the future, Pascale de Bollywood would be hired to sing at Balthazar-Napoleon's coronation, and Vikash Dhorasoo will be a shoe-in for the national football team. Wait a minute... by royal order football will be scrapped in favour of cricket, some song and dance sequences will be added to movies such as Amelie, and Amitabh Bachchan will become an honorary French citizen, where he can romance 18 year old girls in real life by royal decree as well as in the movies. Fran├žois Gautier will be the royal messenger. The only question that remains is, should France be incorporated as a state into the Union Territory of Pondicherry or be under the Goans?