Anandabazar: Chandrasekhar, Lara and Boycott; an interview with Dennis Amiss

Fun interview at Anandabazar by Goutam Bhattacharyya with former England player and first serious user of the helmet, Dennis Amiss.

Click here – only if your read Bengali. Excerpt here.

প্র: দুটো ইন্ডিয়ান টিমকে আপনি মাঠে দাঁড়িয়ে কার্যত পালাতে দেখেছেন। আর দুটোতেই আপনার সেঞ্চুরি রয়েছে। একটা লর্ডসে ৪২ অল আউট। আর একটা বিশ্বকাপে গাওস্করের সেই ৬০ ওভারে ৩৬। 
অ্যামিস: ফর্টি টু অল আউট আই ক্যান এক্সপ্লেন। সেকেন্ড ইনিংসে সে বার যখন ইন্ডিয়া ব্যাট করছে, তখন পরিবেশটা অসম্ভব রকম বোলিং সহায়ক ছিল। বল সুইং করছিল খুব বেশি। সিমও। এই পরিবেশে চরম অভ্যস্ত একটা টিমের হতেই পারে। কিন্তু সুনীলের ওয়ার্ল্ড কাপ ব্যাটিংটা আমাদের খুব আশ্চর্য লেগেছিল। এত বড় ব্যাটসম্যান সে স্ট্রোক খেলছে না কেন? পরে মনে হয়েছিল, ও হয়তো ভেবেছে চালিয়ে লাভ কী? ইংল্যান্ড তো এত রান করেছে যে টার্গেট হাতের বাইরে।

 

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Thank you India

Thank you India.

Thank you MS Dhoni for being a man among boys, for your straight-talking, your courage and for being one of us. For the pride you give us middle-class boys from small towns.

Thank you, Gary Kirsten. Thanks a lot!

Thank you Zaheer Khan for the skills, the bag of tricks, and for carrying the weakest bowling attack for any top-four nation on your shoulders.

Thank you Worcestershire for giving us back the Zaheer we didn’t imagine we could have.

Thank you Wankhede stadium, for making the last flickering flame of the erstwhile heartcenter of Indian cricket a forest fire.

Thank you Mumbai.

Thank you Gautam Gambhir for being a far better Larry Gomes than Larry Gomes ever was. Thanks for gritting out what is already, and probably will forever be the greatest forgotten innings in a world cup final.

Thank you Harbhajan Singh for the tears. Our tears.

Thank you R. Ashwin.

Thank you Mahela Jayawardene. It was the greatest one-day innings I have ever seen. And that’s including Sachin’s Sharjah tree-uprootings.

Thank you Kumar Sangakkara, for being the unscrupulous chaalu guy at the start of the match, and the gracious, glorious big man you showed yourself to be at the end.

Thank you Shehan Karunatilaka for writing that amazing book on Sri Lanka.

Thank you Lasith Malinga, you glorious freak!

Thank you Muttiah Muralitharan, for picking up a cricket ball.

Thank you, Sri Lankan cricket team. How can anyone dislike you? You are the pride of our sub-continent.

Thank you Sreesanth. You are the classic a-hole, but you are our a-hole.

Thank you Viru Sehwag.

Thank you, you Bollywood and TV stars, you glory-mongers, you. Thanks for being us for a day.

Thank you Sourav Ganguly for building a cricket team. Today, it’s the best cricket team in the world.

Thank you Sunil Gavaskar.

Thank you Rahul Dravid for being the rock we could lean on for so long.

Thank you Anil Kumble. Grit will find a way. Please become the BCCI chairman someday soon now.

Thank you VVS Laxman equally for the magic and for the dignity. A class act you forever will be.

Thank you Ashish Nehra for coming back from the SA onslaught, you deserve way more credit than you get. Gawky and gangly has its disadvantages.

Thank you team India. It was supposed to be ‘Do It for Sachin’, and not ‘Sachin will do it for us’, and thank you for keeping to it.

Thank you Paddy Upton. We do run chases only one way? No, we can do it the other way, this way too.

Thank you Eric Simons.

Thank you, Doordarshan, for those days of free-on-air cricket broadcasting.

Thank you Dhirubhai Ambani, for the Reliance cup.

Thank you Virat Kohli. Would love to see you lift the damn trophy someday. And thanks once more for ‘Chak De India’.

Thank you Yusuf Pathan. Throughout the world cup, we knew we had Yusuf. And the others knew that too.

Thank you, Hall of Fame sports pub, Road 36, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. My ears are still buzzing from the whistle-shrieks, and I think I still smell of beer.

Thank you Mohammed Azharuddin for teaching me to love this game. That’s what I remember of you, and that’s what I will remember forever.

Thank you Munaf Patel. Oh how much we laughed! But who cares now! You won! We won! We are all laughing now!

Thank you Harsha Bhogle, for speaking for us.

Thank you Navjot Singh Sidhu, you joker! The cornflakes taste best when the milk has just been poured, my friend. Or rather, who cares? We won!

Thank you Piyush Chawla.

Thank you Yuvraj Singh. What started with those potbelly jokes ended with you as the man of the tournament! We ate our words. Have already eaten them, with breakfast, in the morning today. Didn’t taste bad at all. Shabaash, champion!

Thank you Shahid Afridi for your magical bowling all throughout the world cup.

Thank you England for this amazing adventure of a world cup. To make CWC11 the awesomeness it was, your contribution was foremost.

Thank you New Zealand for packing off South Africa, the only team that beat us, in the quarters.

Thank you South Africa, for giving us the kick up our backsides we so desperately needed, in the leagues. With an easier run to the quarters, I have little doubt we would have become complacent.

Thank you Suresh Raina. Against Australia, a Yusuf would not have done. We needed a Bevan. We got our Bevan. Bevan tended to have to do nothing in the finals of world cups. Just like you didn’t have to. Will you be our Bevan, then?

Thank you Kapil Dev for doing it once, so we can bask in the glory of doing it again. Today.

Thank you Kapil’s Devils.

Thank you Sachin Tendulkar. Thank you, Sachin Tendulkar.

Thank you, Men in Blue.

Thank you India.

Sachin v2

This started as a comment on sidvee’s blog, which became a ramble. So, since I generally put up my rambles here, here you go…. Of course cleaned up a bit for the blog

_____________

I’d been a Sachin-baiter for a very long time…

The Sachin v1 of the ’90s was almost repellant in his perfection. He could do everything! And the only way he knew to win was the Sharjah way, as the one-man battering ram. The team around him, it seemed, was not inspired by his greatness, but was just dependant on him to pull off the win singlehandedly. Those wins would come, yes, but is there a doubt that those would be rare? There’s a reason there are 11 players in a cricket team; and in the context of Jordan, we forget Scotty, and Grant and Kukoc. We even forget Rodman. We forget they play 5 in basketball. And we forget Deschamps, and Desailley and Blanc and Youri and Thierry and Paddy Vieira and Petit and Pires and Ronaldo and Raul and Figo and Hierro and McManaman and Makalele and Casillas and — hell what are we talking about here, France ’98/’00 and Real early ’00 were, with or without Zidane, some of the greatest football teams mankind has seen.
Why did I dislike Sachin? That’s because there could be only one Diego.

And then, somewhere in the early ’00s, Dravid grew up, and Dada grew up, and Laxman grew up, Sehwag came to town, and we realized the real worth of a bespectacled quick-ish legbreak googly bowler. I believe that was when the injuries and the pressure – the weight of a decade of a nation expecting him to haul a comatose team across the line — took its toll. We had the Pippen, the Grant and the Kukoc, but Jordan didn’t show up all the time. He still did sometimes! That legendary on-side double in Australia; the Shoaib demolition in 2003, were both Jordan moments.

And then came the injuries.

And then came Sachin v2. Sachin v2, is our Jordan. And who doesn’t like Sachin v2?
He sheet-anchors with a strike rate of more than a hundred; he does not deal in sixes in T20’s, he scores with a strike rate of 30 for the first half of his innings in tests.
And he scores 8 hundreds in a year; scores double-hundreds in one-dayers; finishes off test centuries with two sixes; makes Yuvraj Singh play responsibly in a second innings chase of nearly 400; he even scores the highest in the IPL. That’s not Jordan, that’s Rajinikanth.

Perhaps. Perhaps that’s what we needed.

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.

Regards,
Godof86

IPL should be here soon…

Sachin is such a perfect creation, that it is easy to miss how ad-friendly he has grown, something he was bad at earlier. This is the perfect ad. And Sachin inspires.

Gilly hangs loose. And is just himself in this ad.

Sanga! The most stylish man in cricket currently?

The impish smile and the raised eyebrows ‘Kahan khel rahein hai hum?’ … Gautam Gambhir should be used much more in commercials.

The dignified Mr. Kumble. Doesn’t it fill you with pride that you are from the same country as this great gentleman? I am an unabashed fan.

Wasn’t EVERYONE waiting for the Dada IPL ad? The ‘Dada-ne bhi aap ko miss kiya’ lives up to the image, the man. There’ll never be another.

Oh Warney you rockstar!

Where’s Dhoni? Can we have a word or two in Tamil, please?

Edit: Here’s Dhoni. One word in Tamil. Idli Sambhar, what’s more!

The scoreboard is an idiot?

Click here.

But it was just Bangladesh, you will say, when you reminisce about this innings five years from now. And when Ponting stops (I am guessing, at) 2 centuries less than Sachin at the end of his career, you will ask to take Sachin’s centuries (including this) against Bangadesh out of the equation.***

But.

But this is an innings of the top order. Not the best, but a very, very good knock.

*** Why is that needed, I ask? Ponting will remain a great, albeit someone who was never comfortable against off-spin, and comfortably shy of being a legend. Whatever the record books say, in my book, the three best Australian batsmen I have seen will always be Border, then Steve Waugh, and then Ponting.

India in New Zealand 09 – Observations

Will India ever be the ruthless world champions of cricket like the West Indies were? Or like Australia was? I have my doubts. India’s team will get better, and might even be the dominant team of the world, the ‘first among equals’ if you will, but that one bane, complacency, might prevent this generation from becoming the Baggy Greens of the 2010-2020 time frame.

And do we know anybody who does not like Jesse Ryder? And Ross Taylor?

I do dislike the fact that it took his foibles to be evident to the cricketing world for me to go beyond the respect / admire and actually become a fan of Sachin.

Arun Lal! Arun Lal! I liked him when he was playing for Bengal and making a proper cricket team out of a rather tag-rag bunch.. and I like him as a commentator. Not spectacular, but solid and consistent. Just like the cricketer, the batsman he was. Will have to write a post on Arun Lal the cricketer some day.

Isn’t Iain O’Brien’s blog (click here) exactly the way you always expected a New Zealand cricketer’s blog to be like?

Can I request all Indian cricket fans to not troll the abovementioned blog?

Dhoni is really the heartbeat of the Indian cricket team.