Sunday 23 December 2007

Doosra Annual Award

Considering the year that has gone by, or going by, Doosra decided to have its own annual award ceremony. And as usual, Doosra is open to suggestions.

The Hate-Pyjama-Uderwear-Etc. Society Man the Year: VVS Laxman

The Peter Pan Scroll: Sachin Tendulkar

The Albert Pinto Memorial Angry Youngman of the Year: S Sreesanth

The Albert Pinto Memorial Angry Not-So-Youngman of the Year: Dilip Vengsarkar:

The Jimmy Amarnath Comeback Kid Award: Sourav Ganguly

The Say-No-To-Haircut Society Man of the Year: MS Dhoni

The Annual Me-Too Award: Joginder Singh

The BLTN (Better Late Than Never) Medallion & special award from NMFF (Nice-Man-Finishes-First) Circle: Anil Kumble

I-Look-Clown-With-A-Crown Citation: Rahul Dravid

Got-Pyjama-Want-Flannel Shield: Yuvraj Singh

Hail-Brinkmanship Fellowship: Sharad Pawar

Discovery-of-the-Year: Gary Kirsten

English-Molestation Community’s Person of the Year & Funny-Bone-On-Legs medal: Niranjan Shah

Annual Gone-With-The-Wind Award & Sunk-Without-Trace Statuette: Greg Chappell

Mint-in-Suit Award: Lalit Modi

Pariah-of-the-Year: Jagmohan Dalmiya

Emperor-Struck Rolling Trophy: Kapil Dev

The David-Whose-Sling-Is-In Goliath’s-Hands Award: Subhash Chandra

God-of-Small-Things Rolling Trophy: Indian cricket team (shorter the format, better they do).

Saturday 22 December 2007

Indian Cricket, The Musical

As Indian cricket survives yet another year of intrigue, high and low, what better way than to celebrate it with music? Let’s see which song was on whose lip…

Greg Chappell: Teri Duniya Se Ho ke Majboor Chala…

Sourav Ganguly: Kyun Aaj Kal Nind Kam Khwab Zyada Hai…

Rahul Dravid: Yeh Daulat Bhi Le Lo, Yeh Shohrat Bhi Le Lo…

Sachin Tendulkar: Abhi To Mein Jawan Hu…

Anil Kumble: Aapka Khat Mila, Shukriya Shukriya…

Gary Kirsten: Mai Tera Dar Pe Aya Hu, Kuch Karke Jaunga…

MS Dhoni: Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra, Zulfo Ke Rang Sunehra…

Virender Sehwag: Hum Se Ka Bhool Hui Jo Ye Saza Hamka Mili…

And finally BCCI. Well, they stuck to their theme song… “Baap Se Bada Rupaiya…

Monday 17 December 2007

Poor Business, Mr Modi

I think I owe an apology to friends, who were, I guess, sick of listening time and again that Lalit Modi was BCCI’s Man with the Midas Touch. He was a bad investment as far as my hopes are concerned.

I thought this suave, bespectacled, though cocky, Mumbai-based Rajasthan Cricket Association supremo was a mastermind, conceiving one after another marketing ploy to fill in the BCCI coffers.

I thought, he was about to prove himself even better than the man he uprooted in a BCCI coup. It was no mean achievement toppling Jagmohan Dalmiya, who had everyone in the pocket of his safari suit as he ran the Board from his suitcase. Though I was apprehensive if anyone in the new regime could match the wily Kolkata-based Marwari’s business acumen, Modi sort of impressed me.

But my trust proved misplaced. So blind in his effort to take the wind out of Subhas Chandra’s ICL sail, Modi shelled out hell lot of money to rope in the Australians, who would make a fortune even though they would NOT play a single match of the Indian Premier League! Naturally, Ricky Ponting & Co can’t laugh enough.

About 10-12 Aussies would NOT be in a position to play in IPL FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS because of their international commitment and they would still retain 10 per cent of their fee!

In other words, players like Ponting and Clarke would pocket $100,000 each just lending their name to IPL!

Poor investment by Modi and his comrades in the IPL Governing Council. He has looked like a spoilt child of a millionaire (well he actually is!) who’s on an acquiring spree even though he has no clue whether it’s worth it or not. Again, he actually is so, a failure within a family that owns the Modi Entertainment.

But what really upsets me is that Modi is NOT the pennywise mastermind, the dapper-dollar-dude, the money-minting-machine that he pretends to be. On the contrary, he proved a poor businessman, who ventured and invested in an area without any vision. In fact since Modi & Co took over, all the BCCI deals ran into problems and BCCI has spent half the time in troubleshooting.

I’m not sure whether the money BCCI earns can be called public money. Else, it could have been a huge scam, I guess.

Image: AFP

Thursday 13 December 2007

Sorry Colonel But You Erred

Why is it so that logic is often the first casualty whenever you see something happening in Indian cricket? Weird are the ways BCCI function, no question about that. But to give devils -- or devils in this case -- its due, Dilip Vengsarkar & Co had done a reasonably well job when it came to team selection!

Then all of a sudden, why did the Colonel lose his sanity, tore apart the list of probables he himself had prepared a few days earlier and brought back a certain Virender Sehwag out of nowhere and for no obvious reasons? Or is it that his stand-off with the Board on writing columns has robbed him off his common sense?

Maybe Sehwag would come good Down Under, maybe he won’t. To be honest, I have my doubts. Sorry Colonel, but I think gremlins have crept into the machine. At a time when domestic trundlers continue to harass him on the most docile of tracks under the Sun, you have to be outrageously optimistic to expect him to come good in Australia.

But, whether he shines or flops, my primary objection is with the way he has been pitchforked out of nowhere. If you want to fill the Australia-bound plane with whoever you deem good enough, why this farce of announcing a long list of probables beforehand?

Eerily, this utter disregard to a system put in place by themselves seems in vogue in BCCI these days. Remember how they sought applications from all and sundry for the coach’s job only to announce later that Graham Ford and John Emburey have been invited for interview?

Again, hours before Gary Kirsten arrived in Delhi for his interview, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah told – he told yours truly in a city hotel– that the Board would zero in only on those names who had applied for the job. No prize for guessing that Kirsten was NOT among the applicants and see he’s set to take over the coaching reins!

My heart bleeds for the like of Aakash Chopra. Runs have been flowing from his blade and many still fondly remember how he thwarted the Oz attack at their den. Compare it to Sehwag’s scores in domestic matches since he was dropped -- 16, 0, 9, 32 and 9.

Did Colonel showed the courtesy to reach out for his cell and make a call to Aakash and tell him sorry? My fear, he did not.


Sunday 9 December 2007

Gary Kirsten's Ten Commandments

So Gary Kirsten takes over Team India’s coaching reins. First of all, he deserves a pat for showing the guts and taking over what is arguably the toughest assignment in the world of sport. Remember how it left Graham Ford shaking in his boots and never returning again?

Well, though Kirsten apparently has not coached any team yet, I’m ready to give him a chance and here are his TEN COMMANDMENTS that would stand him in good stead.

1. Handle Stars With Care: This is going to be Gary’s real test. A team teeming with prima donnas, with fragile ego needs careful handling. Accept the fact that Tendulkar-Ganguly-Dravid-Kumble have an aura about themselves and don’t equate them with, say a Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthick. Make Yuvraj Singh believe that his turn would come soon and he should not feel hurt about losing ODI captaincy to Dhoni. Pamper him, for the team needs him.

2. Blood Young Turks: While pampering the stars, make sure you don’t end up making them feel like second class citizen. Motivate them and convince them that the seniors are in the twilight of their career and they should prepare themselves to step into those shoes.

3. Shun Newspapers and News Channels: Read business daily only, keep a tab on the bullish stock market and if you wish, invest part of your package there. Don’t worry, you won’t lose anything. But reading newspapers or watching news channel is a strictly no-no. Else, sanity would be hit for a six.

4. Columns Only Confuse: Don’t heed to what former players write in their columns. Get it right, they get paid for writing nothing, mostly it’s ghost-written. And all of them have an agenda. It would only increase the confusion. Be polite to them but don’t lend your ear.

5. No Day Dreaming Please, We’re Indians: If the BCCI brief says you are just in charge of a squad, t can’t be more misleading. Gary, you have put yourself at the mercy of a volatile cricket-crazy populace that would garland and guillotine you with the same passion. So sound realistic, avoid making tall promises and don’t encourage day dreaming. We have miles to go before we can dream of catching up with Australia. Aspiring to be the second best sounds pragmatic.

6. Don’t Exceed Brief: A crucial survival mantra. Get it right, you are not the pill that would kill all the ills that plague Indian cricket. You are not here to overhaul the system. Your job is to make the best use of it, and at best, suggest changes that would suit us. Any deviation and you have Greg Chappell waiting in Jaipur to tell you how badly it hits you.

. Don’t Impose Things: The players are essentially Indians, not South African players in Indian bodies. Don’t try to force them into becoming Jonty Rhodes overnight. You have a heterogeneous group at your disposal, be patient and seek co-operation before introducing anything new. Accept that you can’t make much difference to Ganguly’s fitness level. Just make sure his bat keeps talking. Don’t impose things, else…well you know Chappell’s number.

8. Retain the Support Staff: Retain Prasad (bowling coach) and Robin Singh (fielding coach). Don’t ape Chappell and make it an excuse for generating employment for your friends. Already you have recruited Paddy Upton. Having Indian support staff also ensures you get the right translations of the abuses hurled at you by the players.

9. Pick Up Bit of Hindi: Well, nothing pleases us more than distorted Hindi words from foreign tongue. For starter, greet people with a NAMASTHAY. If you don’t believe me, ask...not Chappell but fellow Australian Brett Lee, who has made a fortune by now.

10. Keep A Copy of ‘Indian Summers’: This is a must. Read it carefully and you know what it takes to be a successful coach of the Indian team. Call him meek, timid, browbeaten…Wright loved India and India loves him. Chappell was too cocky to understand that and he promptly vanished into wilderness, well almost so.

All the best Gary.

Image: Getty Images

Friday 7 December 2007

Shoaib Akhtar: From Tantrum Thrower To Team Man

Even George W Bush making an air dash to a hideout in Afghanistan (or is it Pakistan!) to bury the hatchet and embrace Osama Bin Laden – provided the latter has survived the carpet bombing – seemed a possibility.

But place your hand on your heart and say, did you ever expect this? Well, bye bye Pakistan’s prankster-in-chief, champion tantrum-thrower and welcome Shoaib Akhtar, the perfect team man.

I remember Sourav Ganguly – his head did not resemble a sub-continent pitch those pre-Chappell days – revealing in a TV show about his interaction with Inzamam. According to Ganguly, Inzi rued that tackling the unruly Shoaib used to sap half his energy.

Considering that, Inzi surely did a great job as a half-captain, isn’t it?

Well those are things of past. Things have changed and see how. I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief ever since Shoaib arrived for the ongoing tour. He looked a completely different man, almost an imposter in his guise.

The only giveaway was snaps of his nocturnal lifestyle across the Indian metros.

The mean, menacing look has paved way for a refreshing smile. He looked a man completely at peace with himself and it just could not have been better for Pakistan cricket.

While much has been talked about his playing in the Kolkata Test despite not being at the peak of his fitness, the “Rawalpindi Express” revealed it was his call to play in the important tie.

And I am glad I took that decision. It was important for me to send out the message — that I was there for Pakistan.
Coming from Shoaib, you had to read it twice before convincing yourself there is no dropped word or wrong attribution.

But to be honest, Shoaib showed a lion’s heart. Consider you being lying in the hospital bed with chest infection and then going through all the pain just to make yourself available for the team’s cause.

He was seen coughing, puffing at inhalers and going through the pain, just to ensure that he can be there to spearhead a depleted attack against a formidable batting line-up on a hopeless Eden track.

It was a stark contrast to the Shoaib of the past. The narcissist speedster, who was so seduced by the speedgun that he did not hesitate to send team interest for a toss on so many occasions.

Driven by the sole object of establishing himself as the fastest leather-flinger, and just that, he stubbornly refused the then coach Bob Woolmer’s -- may his soul rest in peace – repeated requests to cut down his spectacularly prolonged run-up, which often resulted in slow over-rates.

That Shoaib had started to change, and change for good, was evident in the ODI series during which the pacer was seen bowling with a shortened run-up, on his namesake captain’s request.

Well, whatever may have been the vices, I think Pakistan’s favourite whipping boy finally deserves a pat on the back for the metamorphosis.

I doubt, Shoaib probably realizes that at the fag end of his rollercoaster career, he can’t afford to throw tantrums and play pranks to be sent into wilderness. At 32, a comeback after a forced hiatus is just not possible for a pacer. It’s just too late to risk his career, whatever maybe the provocation.

And Pakistan cricket can consider itself fortunate that its erratic profligate son regained sanity just in time.