2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2010. That’s about 10 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 75 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 196 posts. There were 4 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb.

The busiest day of the year was April 19th with 72 views. The most popular post that day was The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, deadlockholiday.blogspot.com, google.co.in, and indiblogger.in.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for misty may, wladimir klitschko vs david haye, camilo villegas, long distance runner, and jelena dokic.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner August 2008


IPL 2011 – 4 Indians / 3 Foreigners to be retained: RCB and KKR May 2010


Notice: Wladimir Klitschko vs David Haye has to happen now. April 2010


Petered Out Talents 1 July 2008


Mati Nandi: The man who gave me sports March 2010


Best Cricket Books – Tender Leaves

This post is about two things in one….

First- I have guest-posted on ol’ Bschool mate Harish (bvhk) ‘s start-up endeavor, Tender Leaves ‘ blog, on the 7 (indeed, 9) favourite cricket books of mine.

Go have a read if you may. And if you do so, do check out Tender Leaves. I think you should really do so if you are in Pune. Also, I have checked out the collection on cricket books, and there are some absolute hidden gems.

Good luck on this, Harish.

A Plebian Argument

This is a rebuttal to a passionate, if somewhat over-the-top criticism of the idea of playing test cricket in a specific few venues in India, and selecting the others for One-Dayers and T20; in the fine blog Bored Cricket Crazy Indians. The disclaimer: I have visited the blog a few times, and have quite liked it, especially the ‘Player Profile’, which is hilarious. This post is aimed at the arguments, not the person behind them.

Dear Sir,

Rebuttal 1: Transformers, Sofia Copolla and Percentage Capacity Utilization:
‘Lost in Translation’ is an excellent movie. ‘Transformers’ is not so much so. Now, let’s hear it from the bean counters.
Here’s the truth. Test cricket is not instant gratification. It is not paisa-vasool in the normal sense of the term. No sporting event that lasts for more than 3 days can be for the entire duration (if you exclude the World Cup Football of course). There are ebbs and flows, moments of great excitement and moments of intense boredom. Indeed, there could be days of intense boredom.
Thus, stadiums will hardly ever be filled to the rafters for entire test matches (while they will be for One-dayers and T20s, you know that if you stick on through the day, you will go home entertained. Or at least have a result, reason enough to celebrate an India win or feel sad for a loss). Test cricket, is a different animal; a form of entertainment that is not based so much on the end result as capturing the moments within the game. Subtle. ‘Lost in Translation’-esque.
Stadiums are hardly ever filled to the rafters in India, nor anywhere else in the world for test matches. But that’s fine, isn’t it? It’s not about the percentage capacity utilization of a stadium that should decide whether the stadium should stage a test match. It’s something a little more subtle than that.
I have nothing against Motera. But Srinath’s 6/21 does not quite have the making of a stadium as much as a standing ovation to Pakistan, the dreaded enemy, after they have vanquished India even after Sachin’s masterpiece. Gavaskar’s 10,000th run does not make a stadium as much as an all-stadium farewell to Asif Iqbal, a minor cricketing figure in the larger scheme of things, but who was taken to heart by a people from another nation. Performances give a stadium its reputation, the fans give a stadium its heritage. Chelsea, for all its wins, will not be Liverpool yet.
Again, it’s a subtle thing. And percentage capacity utilization has nothing to do with it.
(Disclaimer 2: I do not know much about crowd participation in Motera, it might well have been impressive, it certainly has not been highlighted enough to have built a reputation for the stadium. I’ve never seen a game there, you can replace Motera with Mohali or Barabati)

Rebuttal 2: Bharat Bhagya Vidhaata?
There are around 10 major stadiums in India.
Four of them – namely Eden, Chinnaswamy, Chepauk Chidambaram and Wankhede, are in big cities with ideal locations.
The others, as the article suggests, are not. Far away from the heart of the city, with rudimentary transport facilities, they would certainly constitute a bit of a stretch for the casual cricket fan, when he/she knows that there is a good possibility that this would be a rain-curtailed 40-over day with the score progressing by 78 runs for the loss of a wicket. It would not quite be that dreary, why, it wouldn’t be dreary at all for the instant gratification seekers going for a One-dayer, mind you. 40 overs? Great, the One-dayer will be a 20-over thing then! Will they play Yusuf Pathan for Rohit Sharma? Who will open? Will India win? Match on!
But fair enough. Some cities are in a position of advantage in terms of stadium location, over others. What to do with that? Well, dear sir, you can do nothing. We can do nothing.
Know what? It’s not the BCCI who decides where in a city the cricket stadium is built. It is the city’s municipal authority, the political who’s who that take the decision. The BCCI, ahem, does not rule the country yet… but you never know that might change.
And now that a stadium is already made, it is the decision of that municipal authority if they can live with this white elephant and invest tons and tons of money to build another stadium in the heart of the city, such that it can be utilized for five days, every two years, for a test match. The one-dayers and T20s will not be affected, they are fairly paisa-vasool, and the crowds will still flock, be the stadium 20km outside city limits.
Can we do anything about it? Nope.

Rebuttal 3: A working class hero is something to be…
Do you remember, sir, whose comment led to this sudden outpouring of ‘save test cricket via the Eden, Chinnaswamy, Chidambaram and Wankhede’ wailing from the media? Dhoni’s, and he is the antithesis of elitism. He is more small-town than I am (I hail from a smaller town than he does, however). And ask me if I would take your idea against that of this admirable, straight-speaking, working class hero, who is the captain of our Cricket team. Oh sir, you never had a chance, did you?

Un-rebuttal 4: One day is better than five.
Cannot agree more with your stand against 5-day passes. I could only go for the third day of the match. I do not think that there would ever be a moment in my cricket-watching life that will come near the experience. And this is verbatim from a facebook comment.

Perfection, is a rare thing, guys. That day, Sachin was flawless.


While you were not looking…

Yesterday might just have been one of the most important in the annals of Indian sport. And you might have completely missed it.

For all fans of Indian football, for all of us, this might just have been the big day. Sunil Chhetri, the Indian striker is set to join USA’s MLS club Kansas City Wizards, reported TOI **. Here’s an excerpt:

India international and Dempo’s striker Sunil Chhetri is set to join USA’s Major League Soccer (MLS) club Kansas City Wizards.
The Delhi lad attended trials at the club earlier this month and now Dempo sources have revealed that Chhetri will be joining the Wizards, who start their MLS campaign next month.

If you were reading this blog (and all my Indian Football based sloganeering), you would know that I have been saying for a while now that it is not ideal for an Indian player to start plying his trade at the English league, a la Baichung Bhutia at Bury FC. The Premiership is still far too good for any Indian player (hope that changes soon, however), and the lower English leagues are brutal, fearsome places… Watch a few Coca-Cola Championship matches and you will know that the emphasis is not on skill (where the Indian players might be able to match up) but on the twin virtues of strength and speed. The matches are frenetic, long-ball duels and the defenders relish kicking lumps off the opposing strikers. The Championship is faster than the Premiership, and while the lower leagues are slower, they are definitely even more brutal… and I doubt if anyone in Indian football has the speed and strength to last the English lower leagues. Baichung, the most talented of his generation, could not crack it. The Segunda Division of La Liga, and Spain itself, would be too large a cultural gap to bridge. Plus, do the Indian players match up, skill-wise? I had always been a proponent of the Dutch Eredivisie or the Japanese J-League as the best places for the Indian players to try their luck at. They are fairly large, fairly important, and the best of Indian talents could have coped (Baichung certainly could have, I wager). I completely missed mentioning the MLS. It’s exciting, new and like most things American, well-structured; from what I have read about it. There is a small, but passionate fan following, and the standards are high.

Also, if you have read a post that I had written about the class barriers in Indian football, and if you check Chhetri’s profile in wiki, you would see that he is a curious case of an apparently middle-class big-city kid who has happened to make it big in Indian football. There will be very little language barrier. English, and a level of cultural adaptability are major factors in a player settling down at a foreign location (definitely in the US), but Chhetri is fluent and should be able to settle well. In fact, lack of cultural adaptability was the major reason proffered by a football-crazy neighbor in Kolkata, when I suggested that Subrata Paul (who is in my opinion the best Indian player of the current generation) should try out in bigger leagues outside India.

This is the new dawn, folks. The times, they are a’changing…. Help them take shape. Friends, colleagues and facebook/twitter buddies in the United States, if you are in Kansas, or are staying close to the other MLS stadia, please do visit the Kansas City Wizards matches. The football is good, Kansas seems to be a fairly good team, and an Indian boy will be playing for them. Support Chhetri, and you will be supporting Indian football.

** While the news has come up on TOI, there has been no mention of the news on the official Kansas City Wizards website. I am fairly convinced that the news is true, though. (Edit: he is released by Dempo to play for KCW)

*ps. Blogbharti-ed. Thanks, Sudipta.

The curious incident of the ‘Fake IPL Player’

And of course you have seen the blog, haven’t you**? If the cave you stay in is so far removed from human contact that you have failed to have visited this site yet, well, here it is (click here).

And let me look into my crystal ball, what would be the next wave of goss on that front?

There will be a million bloggers, in their need to be famous, that will proclaim themselves to be the one. They will be the ‘fake fake IPL players’. And there will be many of them, who will be proclaimed by the media as the ‘fake fake fake IPL player’, namely, the ‘real fake IPL player’…

But eventually, the ‘real fake IPL player’ (RFIP) will never be found. Like the abominable snowman, like the chupacabra, like the sasquatch, like Keysar Soze, the RFIP will disappear soon after the IPL v2 ends. Just like that, he will be gone….

And the biggest trick that he will have played, will be to make the world believe that he did exist…

 Now wait a minute. What does my crystal ball tell me, then? Is it that the RFIP never existed?

That indeed is what it seems like, to my limited mind.

Why? Now here’s the reason….

It cannot be a player, for the simple reason that if it were, he would have been found out by now. It is not tough to track down the IP, located the cyber café/ laptop/desktop from where the posts go out, and many must have tried this already….

To no avail.

So it cannot be a regular rant by a disgruntled Ranadeb Bose (As Gulu Ezekiel claims here.. did he have a fallout with Ganguly after the biography?) or a needing-the-fame Anureet Singh. This is planned, and must have been brewing for a while, Whoever is writing the blog must have been planning this for a long while. And while I, willy-nilly, might still be convinced that there is some cricketer somewhere who can pull it off in terms of the writing skills yada yada (no, fat chance that Ranadeb or Anureet or Akash Chopra has that level of writing skill, this blog is genuine mirth… and yes I know that Akash Chopra has written a book, which I have not read yet… but I have indeed read his blog on Cricinfo, and it is honest, prosaic, solid and unexciting, pretty much like the player himself), the technical skills involved to ensure that the person is not caught, must involve some experts.

It cannot be a player in cahoots with a few other buddies of his with the necessary technical skills, because the secret will have definitely been breached… The more the people involved (if this would have just been for fun), the more the chance of the leak…

It cannot be a journo. No journo will commit that kind of professional suicide … the guy/ gal will definitely be ostracized by the media once the news comes out (and trust me it would have by now)… and the fear of libel is a big fear. It’s big, powerful, important people they are trying to take on (in whatever humorous way).

So who is left over?

One of the teams? In a bid for self publicity?

Well, that’s my hunch. One of my hunches, rather.

The IPL v2 has been a success, willy-nilly, I suppose; but has definitely not been the kind of success that the IPL had been the last time…. And what better that to spin some controversy (and fun, might I add) into the whole thing?

KKR itself would have been a possibility, Shahrukh Khan is one of the rare celebrities that has learnt the art of laughing at himself (kudos to him for that)… but would he allow his team to get into this mire of controversy? It’s his money at stake after all….

But then, the money KKR makes is not through winning or losing the tourney (and the team is pretty weak, there are few chances anyway that they will make it to the top), but through ad revenues etc etc….

So it may very well be KKR. Of course Ganguly and Gayle and Agarkar and McCullum and Buchanan and even the rest of the team would have been kept in the loop.

The doubt is that the other teams are not left out of the fun… and they might sue for damages. C’mon, at least Sresanth would definitely sue. And the secret would have to be out sometime for sure, if that many people are in the know.


And the other candidate might be the IPL committee itself…. They do need the publicity, this is a story! A real story! A scoop! Truth or otherwise!

And why would they care about whether a team does well or badly, when all they need is to just ensure the tournament is a success and they make their money, right? And this issue is giving the tournament a lot of publicity.

So is it the IPL committee itself? Will they do something incredulous like this?


And both the parties I have mentioned have the money to gather the technical wherewithal and writing prowess to create this monster…

And well, you and I have all started blogs at some point of time. Isn’t it tough to be popular? How strong, really, is word of mouth? Is it strong enough for a blog to get this incredible level of publicity in just a few days? Without someone in the background playing God? I doubt it very much.

So there, just my two pence into the whole debate.

And don’t come back to this blog and laugh at me tomorrow when some unknown XYZ cricketer (or even Ranadeb or Anureet or even Akash Chopra) owns up to being the RFIP… Or rather, please do. I do not claim to be the lord and master of all analysts, and it is nice to eat humble pie once in a while.


** If you are remotely interested in the IPL.