Wednesday 31 December 2008

Doosra Annual Award 2008


Time for red carpet, stealth light, stretch limos, bowties, pinstripes and black satin gowns. As another year goes by, welcome to the second Doosra Annual Award Gala Night. A tradition started last year, Doosra doles out the annual gongs and the winners are:

Col Gaddafi Club Membership: MS Dhoni, the only other living person with a retinue of female bodyguards.

Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA) Man of the Year: Andrew ‘gone-fishing’ Symonds (he’ll collect the award after returning from the fishing trip).

Yo-Yo award: Mohd Yousuf, for completing the ICL-IPL-ICL cycle.

Alcoholic Anonymous Citation: Paul Harris for his legendary candour after South Africa won the Melbourne Test. ("I don't think there's enough beer in all of Australia to satisfy us tonight.”)

Overthrow of the Year: Muntazer al-Zaidi. Having two simultaneous attempts at George W Bush and missing both speaks volume of his waywardness.

Best Ducking of the Year: George W Bush. Ducking two beamers at the same time is a feat beyond lesser mortals and this guy evaded two size 10 shoes hurled at him from less than 22 yards with no umpire to call it NO! Cricket’s loss has been politics’ loss as well.

Anti-Gambling Movement Appreciation Medal: Ishant Sharma for his taming of the ‘Punter’.

Lifetime Shit-Midas Trophy: Greg Chappell. Everything he touched became shit. Look at Australia.

Annual Humble Pie Award: Kevin Pietersen, for his pie-chucker comments.

Lapidary Association Medallion: Sachin Tendulkar, for advocating the evolutionary stone-to-milestone theory.

The VIBGYOR Trophy: Adam Gilchrist, for badmouthing Tendulkar in ‘True Colours of My Life’ and then changing colour and crying hosanna of the Little Master.

Poppy Growers’ Appreciation Medal: Mohd Asif.

Gandhi Truth Award: Gautam Gambhir for his blatant truth that elbowing Shane Watson "wasn’t deliberate".

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Mohali Test...Day 5

1052: What do you do when fog delaying start of play becomes a ritual? Tendulkar works on a doosra (No big deal, I too work on a Doosra anyway), Laxman realises he can send down decent medium pace stuff, Botham fools around, Harmison comes off a self-imposed exile to make a rare pubilc appearance and Anderson proves his dexterity and tries left-arm spin.

1157: The imposter out there in Gambhir's garb is trying to inherit the slur from Mudassar Nazar. Mudassar took 557 minutes to score his century against England. Luckily, however, Gambhir won't have as much time at his disposal.

1307: Lunch down their throat, Yuvraj and Gambhir walk out to bat again! Dhoni in no mood to declare. Flintoff can't believe it and asks the batsmen if they are serious. So Mudassar need not lose all hopes.

1522: I'm straining my eyes to see if Dravid is marshalling the field at the fag end of the match. Didn't Dhoni have that sort of farewell for Ganguly? Remember, Dravid too scored a Bradmanesque duck here. To my disappointment, I see Amit Mishra setting field. Nay, Kumble has just left, way too premature for Mishra.

1953: A convert KP sung 'pie-chucker' Yuvraj's praise in the press conference. "One of the cleanest strikers of the ball, his sixes leave me dumbfounded," he gushed. But then pie-chucker? "Come on, little bit of fun and banter doesn't do any harm," he said. Dhoni said he would love to have some more pie-chuckers. MSD also thanked the Poms for returning for the series to prove India is safe post-Mumbai mayhem.

Monday 22 December 2008

Mohali Test...Day 4

0912: Only a superman with his x-ray vision can sight the pitch in such thick fog. Even the track has slipped under a blanket. Wish I could afford such luxury. The frisking just outside the stadium borders on groping and the thought of going through that for five straight days is pretty unnerving. Supersopper mopping the outfield dew, some shadowy figures playing football, could be the Indians. KP and his men could not be traced.

1030: The fickle fog keeps coming back. Harper-Rauf duo inspects the pitch for umpteenth time before retreating, perhaps to tell Dhoni and match can start if he opens with Bhajji-Amit. Kirsten is out with a tennis racket, which changes hand and Munaf Patel shows why Federer should consider himself lucky that Munaf stuck to cricket. Meanwhile, logistic manager Russel Radhakrishnan loses quite a bit of his flab trying to collect Munaf's returns.

1114: James Anderson just got a tattoo done by Dhoni. A terrible judge of a single, Anderson was scampering to return base when Dhoni's full-blooded throw grounded him.

1340: When most relished their lunch, I attended a rather desolate press conference where ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat said -- i) ICC would conduct separate recce before allowing match officials to tour Pakistan for the series against Lanka; ii). Oz-NZ have been put on standby but no reason why sub-continent can't host 2011 World Cup; iii) ICC January meeting would decide fate of 2009 Champions Trophy. And Lorgat was grinning ear-to-ear, explaining how SA's win over OZ at Perth opened up a three-horse race for No. 1 spot.

1348: Strauss, Sehwag, Collingwood, Yuvi...Chennai sizzler proved Mohali fizzlers. Can Tendulkar buck the trend?

1354:...the answer seemed NO. But hold on! there was a big inside edge and Asad Rauf got it right. "You know my father is a Match Referee?" Broad asks Rauf after hie LBW appeal is turned down.

1414: So, Tendulkar too falls to the Curse of Chennai. Can't call him a cricketer with conscience. Broad troubled him all along but he gave Anderson his wicket.

1834: One of the best press conferences involving Yuvi. "Pie-chucker is coming, I'm loving the name," he announced as he walked into the room. Inevitably the first question was about his new sobriquet and Yuvi was on song. "I knew this is going to be the first question.

I got up in the morning and read the paper and thought what does that mean? It means useless bowler. It means KP is getting out to me and useless bowler getting a batsman out five times means useless batting, I must say.

Clearly enjoying every moment of it, Yuvi now attacks KP the bowler...
I have got a better action that KP, his action is useless. But if he works hard he can be a good bowler…I can give him some tips and teach how to bowl in the rough.

And still no love is lost between the two. Sample this...
At the end of the day, everything is on the ground. Me and KP are good friends off the field, but on the field never dare to make friends.

He is a phenomenal player and batted like a champions. He has 15 hundreds in 45 Tests. Actually he tried to get under my skin and brought out the best in me and I tried to get under his skin and brought out the best in him. It's okay, but I don't like to wash dirty linen in public.


Sunday 21 December 2008

Mohali Test...Day 3

0900: Fog delays start. Umpire Daryl Harper says he'll inspect the pitch as soon as he sights it! Pietersen, meanwhile, tries to play cricket with a football. To be honest, you can't sight a smaller ball in such fog. Dhoni & Co, meanwhile, get into the Great Indian Huddle where Kirsten checks if Munaf Patel has brushed his teeth.

1010: Has David 'Bumble' Lloyd converted to Islam? He seemed offering namaaz on the pitch. The Groucho Marx of world cricket clarifies he wanted to see if the pitch was dry enough not to soil his troussers!

1527: Sorry for the delay. ICC boss David Morgan held a p.c. and said i) no sanction on BCCI for shunning Pakistan; ii) T20's popularity is good for the game; iii) Cricket (T20) in Olympic not possible before 2020; and iv) India, England oppose Test championship.

2041: Kudos to KP, the tragic hero. Rauf's LBW decision had him rooted and later in the press conference, KP demanded benefit of doubt. On MSD bowling the 3rd over with Yuvi, KP said he was amused to see a 'pie-chucker' replacing Zak "one of the best bowlers I have faced ever." His switch-hit provoked Kirsten to seek change in laws to aid the hapless bowlers. KP says it's not a risky shot but a scoring shot.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Mohali Test...Day 2

0901: Since landing, returning and landing again in India, England has won only hearts and nothing else. See how string of defeats derange English mind. It's so foggy out there -- in fact the Test is yet to see sun -- but Pietersen still has his shades with him! Not covering his eyes of course but doubling up as hair band. Considering how closely cropped his hair is, it's a shade unnecessary.

0947: He does not roll his eyes, chew tobacco, crack whip or inquire about Holi. The entire English team has been a huge let down and I found Amjad Khan is no different either. But then what you expect from a Copenhagen-born Danish bowler with Pakistani roots and a British passport?

0958: Gambhir stright drove Broad for a lovely boundary. TV camera caught a couple of PYTs clapping. "Shot of the day", said a colleague, "by the cameraman, of course." Boys will be boys, of course until they 'go to Denmark'.

1236: The door that seemed ajar has been slammed shut now. So Dravid plays cricket and Badrinath sudoku. Pen replaces bat and Badri is caught on camera engrossed in another game. After all, any engagement is better than just twiddling thumb.

1352: Flintoff just demonstrated why Martti Ahtisaari should consider himself lucky, having pipped Freddie to the Nobel peace award. Butter-finger Alastair Cook-ed Flintoff's goose (read Yuvraj) and still Freddie retained his smile! Now you know that you don't always need a number of them. At times, just one Cook, especially with eyeliner eyes, is enough to spoil the broth.

1617: A relaxed Dravid listens to music, so far he was only facing it. He was not really on song today, but his return to form would still be some sort of music to his fans' ears.

Friday 19 December 2008

Mohali Test...Day 1

0909: Welcome to WNWSACWR (What Neo Won't Show and Cricinfo Won't Report, for the uninitiated). The sky is laden and light is so low that upire Daryl Harper is groping in his pocket for the light metre. Finally it's out but Harper is struggling to read the reading. The press box, however, looks more illuminated, more so with the presence of Mike Brearley, Mike Atherton, Angus Fraser and the massive Derek Pringle.

1005: Sehwag proved third time lucky. After two botched attempts to edge Stuart Broad, he nicks it third time and lays the egg -- his 10th Test duck. Grateful Broad adimts even teammates didn't greet him better on his return.

1012: Brearley offered tips to KP in the flight from Chennai to Mohali. I think he is still contributing. A registered psychoanalyst-cum-psychotherapist, I suspect he is a hypnotist as well. Just before the dismissal, Brearley picked up a binocular and gazed at Sehwag who looked in a trance and nicked it.

1043: If Chennai was a great advertisement for Test cricket, Mohali missed that commercial. Crowd is sparse, you have more hair in Sehwag's bullhead. Organisers blame low turnout to exams in school. Flimsy excuse no doubt. Dravid faces the mother of all exams and even he turned up for the match!

1230: Every time a plane passes over the stadium, English fielders look up, as if ECB was supposed to airdrop their saviour. Derek Pringle was overheard saying one of those had Steve Harmison inside. Planes are flying really low, apparently after BCCI assured the airlines that Sehwag is out and there's not much aerial threat for the flying machines.

1538: Nursing a fractured rib and probably a broken heart, KP tried to do a Denis Compton. Compton had famously ran out Vijay Hazare in an Eden Gardens Test with a deft kick from mid-on. But then Compton had also won 54 caps for Arsenal as a footballer! No wonder, Gambhir is safe home.

Monday 15 December 2008

7 cricketers who deserve Doctorate, à la Dr Sania Mirza

As UN names an Intergovernmental Panel to figure out what really provoked the MGR Educational and Research Institute University, Chennai to accord Doctorate on Sania Mirza, Doosra lists seven Indian contemporary cricketers who thoroughly deserve the prefix.
1. Dr Sachin Tendulkar: For his contribution to medical science. Tennis elbow came into being only after Tendulkar was diagnosed with it. Currently, he is playing the game with his second shoulder, third elbow, fourth knee cap and…Also for staying on course to sharing the dressing room with son Arjun.

2. Dr Yuvraj Singh: For his generous contribution to astronomy. NASA scientists just revealed that the six-star constellation over the southern tip of the African continent is actually the six sixes Yuvraj hit off a Stuart Broad over in the Twenty20 World Cup. Scientists blame Yuvi’s fury to the hapless bowler’s father who insists another Doctorate cricketer from Punjab's fertile land, Dr Harbhajan Singh, is a javelin thrower.

3. Dr Harbhajan Singh: For his expertise in Escapology. Throughout his career. Dr Singh displayed an amazing ability to dig a hole for himself and eventually clambering out of it, often creating a crisis that threatened to split the cricket globe.

4. Dr Gautam Gambhir: In recognition of his die-hard optimism that he can do any bodily harm to someone like Shane Watson.

5. Dr MS Dhoni: For covering the entire gamut of coifing and unfailingly coming up with thematic, series-specific hairdos.

6. Dr Virat Kohli: A product of the MSD School of Thought, people need to recognize his state of the head. Come hell or high water, or even a catch in his direction, Dr Kohli always ensured his spiked tuft is intact before making a dash. Upset with the existing helmets, he apparently has sought one with a slit in the middle.

7. Dr Munaf Patel: For his deep understanding of the South African culture and ability to laugh at the popular siSwati, Xitsonga, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu jokes cracked by Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

7 reasons why Dhoni has applied for a gun

1. Dhoni realises World Cup is a bagatelle, a mere trinket in comparison to Olympic medal. And by the time cricket returns to Olympics, Dhoni won’t be wielding willow but walking stick. Bindra (not IS, but Abhinav) has shown the way in Beijing and MSD wants to follow in his footsteps.

2. MSD knows how fickle lady love can be. A gun would pre-empt love triangle, quadrangle and similar headaches of different geometric proportions.

3. Let’s admit it, can't really trust Yuvi. Losing captaincy still hurts Yuv'nor and you never know when dormant ambition finds a violent manifestation.

4. To silent Krish Srikkanth. Selection meeting sucks and eardrum hurts. No more allowing Srikkanth to holler into his eardrum. Putting the gun on his mouth should do the trick. (It, however, doesn’t sound foolproof. Knowing Cheeka, he might chew and spit out the gun and then wax eloquent how ‘Habsolutely Tasty’ it was.)

5. To shoot the ‘leaking’ selector: Yashpal Sharma or Raja Venkat?

6. To shoot the messenger i.e. the reporter who got the ‘leak’.

7. To make Munaf Patel bat in the nets.

Saturday 6 December 2008

Return of the prodigal son

Srikkanth to Pujara:
Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:32).

That 6,6,6,6,6,6 over in Kingsmead was surely more glorious than feeding pigs. Nor can one equate leading Kings XI Punjab to the swineherd’s job. Still, Yuvraj’s comeback story is very much cricket’s own Parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son.

Pray, he’s here to stay. Amen.

Five winters back, it took an abscess in Sourav Ganguly’s thigh to facilitate his Test debut. Now Ganguly’s exit should cement his place. Else, Yuvraj can go back and look after the pigs again.

IPL, I meant.

Eight years in the business and still a persona non grata when Test caps are doled out. We still don’t know what to do with him. Yuvraj is a busy man off the field but if he ever cares for the truth, he would notice that the accusing fingers are pointing back at himself.

But this was surely not to be the case. It looked almost a matter of destiny before the precocious prince became the lord of all he surveys. Accordingly, chrism was concocted and hymns were hummed. But the Prince who could be the King tossed aside everything and preferred to remain the perpetual pretender to the throne.

What went wrong?

A flawed technique is only the part answer. Even a technically-retarded Sadagopan Ramesh played 19 Tests from 1999-2001!

The demon lurks in the mind. The guy upstair stuffed so much talent inside that discipline had to be left out. It’s not an issue of ability but application. And the bedazzling success in the shorter formats probably blurred the road ahead.

The brevity of ODI/T20, where end justifies means, glosses over the chinks. Test cricket exposes them. It’s a subtler and crueler proposition which separates the wheat from the chaff and disrobes imposters of all their borrowed plumes.

Stuck somewhere between his potential and achievement, Yuvraj must consider himself lucky to have got another chance to banish the imposter and prove he belongs. If motivation runs dry, qualms should keep him on course. Sitting glumly on top of his run mountain, Cheteshwar Pujara has a genuine grudge after all. Much like the old brother from the Gospel of Luke.

Yuvraj badly needs to clear this Test. Else he can go back and feed the pigs again.