Hindi Commentary

I like Hindi commentary. It’s a lot more ….how should I put it…. raw.

The predictable media-trained image (Sourav – iconoclast; Rahul – meticulous and polite; Shastri – boisterous; Gavaskar – older statesman) is mercifully absent. Sidhu can anyway only play one tune – which does not jar as much in hindi (waah waah mitthu mitthu indeed), Kapil is way too knowledgeable, and sourav too is a lot less predictable.


The model professional

Let them not remember you for being the smartest, or the most talented, or the most flamboyant, the most hardworking, the most dedicated, or even the best.
Let them remember you for getting the work done. With as little fuss as possible.
It wasn’t about you, it was about the game. And you understood it.

To Rahul Dravid. Sportsman, professional, icon

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

Inspired by this post (here) from the Daredevilblogger.

As many of you know, Delhi Daredevils is my third team. And I tend to agree with Daredevilblogger’s selection, apart from Gambhir. Gambhir must stay. However, my team, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and my second team Kolkata Knight Riders, are ripe for the picking, as they say :)

Before trying this I would just like to add a caveat. The problem with retaining a long-in-the-tooth big name is not there with Delhi, as during the days of the Fab-5, Delhi did not have a major representation in the national team. Probably the oldest iconic player (as opposed to an icon player) for Delhi is Sehwag, who still has at least 5 to 6 more IPLs in him. However with both RCB and KKR, there is this problem with these iconic players, namely Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. And I will explain.
We all know and understand that Ganguly and Kumble have probably one more IPL outing in them, and Dravid probably two. However, Warne is, in all probability, not coming back. And that means there are three teams, namely Kochi, Pune and Rajasthan, who are in the need of a big name to lead them and provide credibility to their IPL effort, the way Warne did it for RR for such a long while. Even a par performance in the IPL requires a strong captain.
After all, what stops Kochi to bid for Kumble (remember, his ancestral village is in the Karnataka-Kerala border); or for Pune (whose owner is Bong, and friendly to Ganguly), to bid for Ganguly as player-coach? Or even for Dravid, who is, after all, of Maharashtrian origin. Both Ganguly and Dravid have reasonable acceptability in Pune and Maharashtra in general, neither scenario would be a potential disaster like, say, Yuvraj leading Kochi.
It’s an important caveat to remember.

Let me try RCB first:

The advantage with RCB is that the core of this team is excellent. However, as important as getting new players should be giving chances to the new breed, guys like Abhimanyu Mithun, Ganesh Sathish and Amit Verma, all of whom had performed creditably at the Ranji trophy, and can emulate Pandey.

Foreign Slots: The three foreign players retained should be

Jacques Kallis – Did you see Eoin Morgan bat? An absolute delight and a sensation! And young. Morgan can change the way the game is played, and if you have someone like him, you keep him. Yes, even over Jacques Kallis. ………. eh? Isn’t there a mistake here? No, that’s exactly how I wanted it to be. The only reason Morgan should be put on the shop window, is that there will be crazy bidding if Morgan is put on the shop window, but there will be absolute carnage if Kallis is put there. And Dr. M is a businessman, he will know how to save a few bucks.

Ross Taylor – The first honorary Bangalorean amongst the foreign recruits, you should hear the roar at the Chinnaswami when Taylor comes in to bat. And there’s also the minor detail of him being, potentially, the best T20 player in the world.

Dale Steyn – Well, if you have the world’s premier fast bowler to keep or get rid from your team, you know which of those two to choose, correct?

(As for the bidding –
Firstly, as mentioned earlier, Dr. M should show the world the strength of his pelf, and get Morgan back in the team.
RCB should re-bid for Roelof Van Der Merwe and Jesse Ryder; Also re-bid for Cameron White; and ignore KP.
A backup to Steyn, maybe Ryan Sidebottom? Darren Sammy? Ian Butler? Juan Theron?)

Indian Slots: The four Indian players retained should be

Rahul Dravid – Yes. Local boy, sensational cricketer and has two more years left in him, maybe three.

Robin Uthappa and Virat Kohli – are sensational young players, who will serve the BRC team for years and years to come. If the choice is available, you would never put either on the shop window.

Manish Pandey – Here’s my talentwatch. And he is a Bangalore boy. However, choosing between him and Vinay Kumar was difficult. And Dr. M and his bid managers would need to take a call here. Both RVK and Pandey need to be retained… now for whom would the bidding war be more rabid? Take a call, and put the other person on the shop window.

(Bidding –
Retaining Kumble is a priority. He is the captain, he has one season left in him, and the team works best with him at the helm. And the only reason that Kumble, and not Dravid should be put on the shop window, is that it is obvious that Kumble has only one year left in him, and other teams might hesitate in getting a player for only one year. Dravid should last longer, and might be the icon for, say, Rajasthan or Pune.
Get another spinner who can be a long term prospect… is KP Appanna good enough? I believe Bangalore should bet the house on Ravindra Jadeja.
Ensure Vinay Kumar is retained. Get a middle order jack-of-all-trades sort like Rajat Bhatia or Laxmi Rattan Shukla.
Either of Amit Mishra and Gautam Gambhir, and either of Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary will be made available. That’s up for grabs)

What would happen:
Kallis. Steyn. Taylor. Uthappa. Kohli. Dravid. RVK/Pandey. the KF man is no fool.

Now to KKR

foreign Players: The three foreign players retained should be

Angelo Mathews – The team can be built around this guy. It would be a straight pick between him and David Hussey, and from the long term perspective, Angelo is a better pick.

Chris Gayle – the bedrock of the team. No questions. It was a straight pick between him and McCullum.

Shane Bond – You have to retain your quick bowler. Although I would understand the rationale if KKR decide to let go of Bond, retain Angelo and McCullum and then try to outbid everyone for someone like Ryan Harris or Kemar Roach or Morne Morkel, for example. However, that is a rare shot. You do not flush out so much money for a player just to see him go after one year. And Bond is a fine, fine player.

Edit: This post was written before Shane Bond’s retirement. Will be sorely missed by all cricket fans. For the context of the piece, however, I’d suggest
Brendan McCullum – Because McCullum can win matches on his own. And is on his day the best T20 player in the world.

(Bidding – The following two player types, should be at the top of the agenda for KKR. I also include the first and second preferences:
A quality spinner – Daniel Vettori / Graeme Swann; because KKR’s biggest problem is the lack of quality spinners. Also, and this might be a little controversial, Vettori would be the best guy to take over from Ganguly in 2012.
A lower order hitter/ finisher – Luke Wright / Roelof Van Der Merwe / Mark Boucher.
Also, try to retain David Hussey and McCullum via bidding. Will be extremely difficult of course…..
A backup quick as foil to Bond might be useful, someone like Ryan Sidebottom (of course only because Stuart Broad seems disinterested in T20) or Juan Theron)

Indian Players: The four Indian players retained

Sourav Ganguly – Because KKR without Ganguly would just not work. Very few outside Bengal understand the concept of Dada and the Bengali psyche. After years of being force-fed by the political powers-that-be of a historical neglect by the center and by the rest of India (I have a lot to say on this, but no further discussion here. I will keep the politics at bay in this blog, email me if you will), Ganguly was the first ray of hope, the first pan-Indian Bengali…. You would not want that guy to go to Pune. And Sahara will bid for him if he is available, mind. And moreover, Shahrukh and his celebrity parade is not really very popular in Kolkata, especially for the undermining of Dada by Buchanan at IPL2. And yes, Kolkata can never not support Dada… what will happen to the Pune vs KKR match at Eden then? Also, KKR is a middling team by IPL standards, and with all teams playing to potential, should be around 6th, giving the semis a shot, but fail eventually. And that’s about the level they reached with Ganguly at the helm in IPL1 and IPL3. IPL2, however…

Manoj Tiwary – A fine player from Bengal. You need a core which understands the pulse of the place, and Tiwary is a fine talent.

Murali Kartik – Kartik is very fine, but KKR always needed more quality spinners. Retaining him is essential, providing him with support even more so.

Jaydev Unadkat – Because Ishant has, after 4 years of International cricket, developed no variations at all, and is a useless T20 bowler at the current state. Unadkat is already better at the T20 format. And maybe moving to Delhi (and playing with Veeru) will give Ishant another shot at improving himself, and that might still be a positive for Indian cricket.

(Bidding –
Kolkata’s problem is that it will not be a heavy bidder like Mumbai, Pune, RCB or Chennai. So the Gambhir / Amit Mishra slot will never be snapped up by them. So it’s about creating a good enough team, picking players from the next level.
Dhawal Kulkarni is a priority. Getting Abhishek Jhunjhunwala back home to Kolkata should be a priority as well. Manpreet Gony if available. Maybe a cheeky bid for Vinay Kumar? I would hate to see that happen, RVK is the quintessential son of the soil. That slot, with one of Saurabh Tiwary / Ambati Rayudu being made available, is attractive. Cheteshwar Pujara is good to keep. He is a real talent, and can do the Ganguly/Kallis job of keeping the innings together very well.)

What will happen:
McCullum. Gayle. Bond. Angelo. Dada. Ishant. Kartik. Agarkar. Alas.

Sourav Ganguly…

Unfair? Yes. Not the sacking, but the way the matter was dealt with. I wonder why they fuck it up every single time!

Will he make it back to the Indian team, if he tries a comeback? Yes he will.

Or no he won’t, if the selectors have their way, but that will be the death-knoll for Rohit Sharma, Badrinath or Tiwary or whoever replaces Ganguly. Ganguly will perform a few heroics in the domestic scene…. and for every time the newbie underperforms, the vultures in the media will be let loose on them. Remember Mohammed Kaif?

What would one give to have the Australian system, where a Mark Waugh is told well in advance that he has one year left to his international career… and that’s all. And what would one give to ensure that Dravid is given that flexibility…

Kumble’s cap…

was a little annoyed seeing Kumble coming out to bat in the first innings. He had a mint-blue navy cap on! Both Bangalore boys, Kumble and Dravid hold the India cap dear, and it’s a familiar, reassuring sight to see the faded, once-upon-a-time-navy but now almost-gray caps donning their heads.

It’s indeed a relief to see the old faded navy-gray thing back again.

Of gods and demi-gods; and angels and demons…

Ah, Indian cricket fans!

Ah, us Indian cricket fans! We don’t watch cricket, we indeed pray at the altar of the gods of cricket… cricket is our raison d’etre; and all this, while we find it impossible to make a rational argument on the game at any point in time.

We aren’t ignorant about the game, mind you. We know the scientific machinations behind bowling the doosra and the reverse swinging yorker, we appreciate the difference between setting the 6-3 versus the 7-2 field, and our analysis of non-Indian players and matches where India is not involved, is well nigh as precise as you can find it out of any general mass of people.

The confusion’s only when we discuss our own. And that is when our logical reasons (reasonably precise and accurate otherwise) go haywire in the face of a full-frontal attack by our cliques and cabals and me-and-my-tribe instincts. We don’t remain base cricket fans anymore, appreciating and analyzing the game like we tend to do so well otherwise. We become men (and women) of religion, be that religion that of Sachin-god, or Very-Very-Special-Laxman-god, or the Namma-Rahul-god or the immaculately named Bangalir-Gourob-Sourav-god.

And we are pulled from different directions, the primary one indeed being from the country-within-country that we belong to. So the Bihar-country boy and the Tamilnadu-country boy will not see eye-to-eye in discussions over who the greater god is among Dhoni-god and Karthik-god, and merits a place in the pantheon that is the team. And of course Sachin-god is the biggest god of them all, but does the Jat-country boy take kindly to Sehwag-god being any lesser?

And then there is continental pride, whereby the East-continent rises up in fury at any indignation, perceived or otherwise, at the great Sourav-god. Or the old very-Very-Special-god being vilified by the north-continent for keeping their devoted Yuvraj-god out of the pantheon, and the vice-versa by the south-continent for a perceived Damocles’ Sword perennially hanging on the Very-Very-Special-god’s head, even though he has played nearly a hundred tests now. (I’m not kidding about the Damocles’-sword quote, I have actually read it in some reputed newspapers and forms of Internet media).

Really, I remember in college, when I was discussing the merits and demerits of including L Balaji in the team, a classmate, visibly in disagreement with me over my perceived slight of his beloved Balaji-god, tried to end the debate by suggesting that ‘Ganguly is a bastard anyway’, knowing that I, indeed, have my base at Bengal-country***.

Oh and then there are those other invisible strings…

  • The genteel gentleman cannot appreciate the modern cut-throat no-quarters-given version of cricket that is perpetrated by the teams under Sourav-god and Rahul-god, and would suggest repeatedly how the gentleman’s game is not what it used to be. (Even the ‘How dare he make the white man wait’ ideas have been bandied about).
  • The old-timer has his own gods, whereby Kumble-god (if I weren’t a cricketing atheist, I would have prayed to him ##) is never given the credit he so deserves, because there are, in his mind and heart, already Prasanna-god and Chandra-god and Venkat-god and Bedi-god. So they call him a glorified medium pacer, completely disregarding whatever logic would have suggested otherwise.
  • The polished gentleman (and lady) cannot appreciate the bucolic allure of a Sehwag-god or the heartland vibrancy of a Dhoni-god, like he/she couldn’t the unpolished charms of one Kapil-god.
  • Why, there can even be, say for example, my evil boss (or say my ex-girlfriend) is an Andhra-country person, so I will berate the Very-Very-Special-god come whatever may (who, of course, is the Not-THAT-Special-god to the rest of the country).

And yes, I did hear your question. And I was indeed trying to dodge it all this while. Who do I support in the Ranji trophy? Sly fella, you, no? Well put. So here’s the answer. Bengal. Karnataka. Delhi. In that order.


*** What could I have answered? Well, having no definite locational root apart from that of language, the affront did not affect me. So I mentioned that I haven’t ever had the good fortune of meeting Ganguly or his parents and discussed this specific case of parenthood. Has he?

## As for Kumble-god, I will agree that (apart from his being so worshippable) my worshipping would have had some basis to my tribal heritage; he indeed is a senior alumnus from my college.