Monday 31 August 2009

A whiff of IPL in F1

The resemblance is so uncanny and I'm not alluding to the picture above but trying to make a point.

A crap outfit owned by a fat, flamboyant tycoon fond of booze, babe and bling.

So profound is self-doubt that they can't win even when served on a platter. Butt of all dirty jokes around.

The only gain from Season One is the backmarker's tag that hangs like albatross.

Season Two and the innocuous-looking David pulls off shock of the season and slays unsuspecting Goliaths to finish second best!

And the guy who led the turnaround is on the wrong side of 30s.

Is it IPL 2 or Formula 1?

Is it Force India or Royal Challengers Bangalore?

And does Anil Kumble know Giancarlo Fisichella?

In these turbulent times, lay-off maybe of the essence. But Mr Mallya, retain the guy whoever is writing your script.

P.S. What a relief, I don't have to credit the picture! On your right, Force India driver Fisichella. On your left, the driving force behind Doosra. Their paths crossed in 2007 Australian GP.

P.P.S. After the Belgian GP, both Mallya and Fisichella talked to a few of us from Spa-Francorchamps through teleconference. After Fisichella had won the pole position on Saturday, Mallya described it the most memorable day of his F1 career. I inquired if he would issue a correction now.

"Can't really swap it, you know. Pole position was an achievement in itself and would go down in history. Similarly today's podium finish would also go down in history," boomed the husky voice. So eat your heart out because your history book just got fatter.

Friday 28 August 2009

Kebabs, Ashes and KP

And you thought Alastair is the only Cook in English ranks!

Move over Colonel's Kebabz. Here comes KP kebabs!

As an afterthought, I never suspected Dilip Vengsarkar of actually running kebab joints since I was rather under the impression that 'Colonel' had other fishes to fry at Mumbai Cricket Association.

Anyway, ignore the allusion and return to the protagonist of the piece.

You are the alpha bat but rendered hors de combat.

Your teammates do the unthinkable without you. They shot a poisoned arrow into Ricky Ponting's Achilles heel while you are left to nurse your own.

So what do you do? You swap the bat for skewer and make kebabs for Indian fans in a London club!

With no Onions, of the Graham variety, in the vicinity, the salad was bound to be as much a let-down as a Ravi Bopara or a Monty Panesar.

And it's not known either if they served T20 – as dessert is called in Tendulkar parlance -- in dinner.

What is known, to Doosra that is, is finally when the party had dispersed, KP removed the grill, collected the Ashes, filled the urn he had bought and pocketed the stuff with characteristic cockiness.

So now you know who has more Ashes under the belt, both figuratively and factually, among the Three Lions.

For the Strauss & Co and their vainglory, replace the Don Pedros, Benedicks and Claudios with Cook, Bell, Trott and similar monosyllables and you have, by and large, Much Ado About Nothing II.

Pix: Daily Mail

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Cricket loses masculinity!

Somewhere something extraordinary has happened.

And it's graver than allowing George W Bush to formulate English grammar or asking Paris Hilton to head the next NASA project.

Cricket has just become less masculine!

Of course you had the omens in Alastair Cook's mascara, RP Singh's eyeliner and Nathan Bracken's hairband but here comes the definitive confirmation.

A bunch of eunuchs has beaten their male counterparts. And lest there is any confusion, let me make it clear that I'm not talking about Ashes.

After third man and third umpire, the third sex made its debut in cricket somewhere in Sindh, Pakistan.

A BBC report claims the eunuchs chased down a 66-run target from eight overs with such aplomb that some of the ICC Full Members are lucky that they were not there.

Chasing down those cars on the traffic signal was finally of some use, the winning captain later revealed.

Teams that tend to choke in their chase can give it a try, he...err...she...or... whatever said.

While most coaches dismissed it as a madcap idea, John Buchanan is rumoured to have found some logic in it and is looking for a team where he can put it in practice.

Pix: BBC News

Tuesday 18 August 2009

7 reasons why it’s not easy being an Indian cricketer

Virender Sehwag has not had a bumper crop on his barren scalp.

Harbhajan Singh's Hummer has not claimed its first casualty yet.

And Irfan Pathan still bowls at a speed which allows him the luxury of fetching the ball midway and do a re-take if he doesn't like the original.

But enough strange things have happened of late to convince me that it's not easy being an Indian cricket these days and here is why:

1. Film directors dismiss you as pestering wannabe actor;

2. Female fans mistake you for a lip gloss;

3. You never know when you find yourself at the wrong end of Vinod Kambli's name-dropping spree in one of the reality shows;

4. Selectors first shove you into a garb and then dump you for posturing in borrowed plumes;

5. Your cousin, especially from hockey, casts an evil eye on your Hummer;

6. Your own state association calls you nepotic; and

7. WADA guys chase you even in your nightmare with a bottle and an injection in their hand, seeking blood and what not.

Monday 17 August 2009

Shame on you Coventry!

They treat you like leper. They want you to grow, live and die in your ghetto.

They appoint thugs to run the ghetto and feed them booze, money and women.

They declare you outlaw and meet occasionally in swanky hotels to renew the decree.

They are ashamed of you. They want to hush you up as if you are a scam.

You fool take your guard and watch around. Four hoodlums, three sots, two beggars and a pariah dog assemble to watch you.

What you do?

You remain unbeaten on 194 off 156 balls and walk home with a slice of history!

Charles Coventry, we are ashamed of you.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Pomersbach does a Devdas!

Empathising with an Australian cricketer, especially when the subject is admiring his self-dug hole, is a risky proposition. One that is pregnant with enormous ramifications.

A mere click of the tongue followed by a sympathetic shake of the head and you've completed devil's invocation.

Almost as a matter of destiny, your explicitly un-parliamentary text messages land on your boss' cell. Your near ones perceive you as a delinquency on the local garbage-collector's part. Your neighbour's dog relieves itself on your new bike and withdraws with the content look of someone who has just watered a thirsty sapling.

In short, life finds various ways to punish you for your indiscretion.

But have a heart and look at Luke. Luke Pomersbach I meant.

Drunk to the gills, he was convinced of Perth's irrelevance in modern Australia and had nearly pulled it down with his car before the killjoy cops booked him.

His lawyer later told the court that it was actually a tiff with his girlfriend that rekindled Luke's interest in organic chemistry, encouraging him to assess if the popular theory of alcohol's grief-dissolving properties hold any water.

Thanks Luke, for reminding it. Let's face it, we have a little bit of Devdas in all of us.

Pix: Lincoln Baker

Thursday 13 August 2009

Happy Bored Day, BCC!

Dateline August 13, 2008:

A jewellery shop burgled in Alappuzha.

HIV prevalence found on the rise in Belgaum.

A sugar factory in Bidar reported loss.

And Petroleum Minister Murlitharan…it could be Murli Deora as well…ruled out a cut in fuel price.

On the same fateful days, some mad hatters gathered in a dingy room somewhere in Delhi to hatch a dark conspiracy and then unleashed it on the blogosphere with unbridled glee.

The venerable Sachin Tendulkar had once said, turn stones thrown at you into milestones. A sureshot way to make your detractors look pretty silly, no doubt about that.

And after a year-long of tireless chiseling, the stone finally looks like a milestone indeed!

Happy Bored Day, BCC!

Wednesday 12 August 2009

The privilege of being a cricket blogger

At times, you feel privileged to be a cricket blogger.

More so when you are flippant enough to ignore the rocket-science side of the game and laugh at cricket and its myriad characters.

You lambaste Lalit Modi, lash out at Ponting and lampoon ICC with impunity.

You revere Tendulkar, revile Ponting and ridicule Shoaib Akhtar's accent without remorse.

Thank god, I don't run a blog on Burma. Myanmar, the junta will right you.

Else I would bleed to write that Aung San Suu Kyi has been slapped with another 18 months of house arrest.

That after spending 13 years and 293 days of detainment at her lakeside home in Rangoon. Ok, Yangon.

I'd bleed to write that during this period, she could not be on the side of her dying husband and it's more than a decade that she last saw her sons, now in their 30s.

And this new punishment because a mad American, under the impression that she might be assassinated, swam the lake to reach her, something perceived as a breach of house arrest. Primarily on Suu Kyi's part, that is.

To give them their due, the Big Bros have done the lip service. Barrack Obama was so piqued that he reportedly rejected the omelet in breakfast. Gordon Brown turned pink and went to the extent of appearing in a press conference without his regular make-up routine. Unprecedented!

Not to be left behind, UN has issued a harshly-worded warning. If the Myanmar junta doesn't behave itself, UN would be, well, very annoyed.

Her piano is out of tune. She looks pale. The doctor doesn't visit and the garden resembles a jungle, inviting poisonous snakes.

But I have no remorse. Mind you, I'm a cricket blogger. A flippant one at that.


Tuesday 11 August 2009

7 Flintoff tit-bits

1. Here is a scoop! In his Test swansong at Oval, wonky Flintoff is toying with the idea of going Sohail Tanvir, i.e. bowling off the wrong, if that helps his case! England think-tank has already okayed it, saying it's upto Flintoff to put his foot down, whichever he prefers. They said as a team, England doesn't want to put a foot wrong and hence it's imperative that Flintoff puts his best, and fitter, foot forward. Well, the bottomline is -- Australia should be wrong-footed in Oval.

2. Flintoff believes NASA is an overrated dud. At best, it's America's answer to the Sivakasi firework factories. The Game Ready Wrap, which allegedly uses NASA spacesuit technology, proved an outright lemon and could not heal Flintoff's ankle. It was such a junk that even Flintoff's dog rejected it, spitting it out after a thorough chewing failed to excite its gastric juices;

3. Flintoff does not Twitter a la Phillip Hughes, Graeme Swann or James 'a bit of a pussy' Anderson. In all likelihood, he doesn't Facebook or Orkut either. Else, his Headingley axing would have been in the public domain long before;

4. Sifting the CVs, Flintoff didn't go beyond the name before appointing Chubby Chandler his agent;

5. Part-fit Flintoff, Flintoff basically, owes his Edgebaston selection to the met office. Torrential rain was predicted for Edgebaston and England think-tank could not afford to ignore Freddie, the lone England cricketer around with a decent experience of rowing pedalos;

6. England and Wales Cricket Board is so worried about his fragile knee that they believe even a figurative knee-jerk reaction on Flintoff's part may aggravate the injury;

7. On the home front, a cautious ECB has urged Freddie's kids to understand the gravity of the situation and learn the multiplication tables strictly at their mother's knee.

Pix: Getty Images

Thursday 6 August 2009

Sherpa Tendulkar eyes 15K Peak!

Many a bowlers would have gone Protea at their breakfast table.

I mean choked.

At that age, you should consider yourself fortunate if you can sight the caterpillar in your salad and stop in time to drop it.

And Sachin Tendulkar is eyeing Test 15K and 2011 World Cup! No less.

Of course you can point your finger at the ageless Sanath Jayasuriya and curl your lip in a smug smile.

But the modern day Darwins have already taken the Lankan woodcutter out of the homo sapiens column and placed him in the list of transitional fossils.

According to them, Jayasuriya is the missing link between cricket's Grace and graceless eras and to be treated more as aberration than rule.

Asked if he applied his mind to the thought of quitting, Tendulkar took his sweet time before the sing-song voice rung "Tweeting? Sorry. I'm not in Twitter. See how Phillip Hughes landed in trouble there? I just don't understand the craze among today's generation for such weird thing."

And then he turned on the volume of his gramophone which wailed "Abhi to main jawan hu" (I'm still young).

Alas, he won't admit but his eyesight is indubitably failing him. So much so that he can't see himself quitting at all!

Doosra predicts that days are not far when bowlers, raised in an environment of values and morality, would touch Tendulkar's feet, seek his blessing and inquire about his health before reaching their run-up.

I always suspected that he has this burning desire to share Team India dressing room with son Arjun and his decision to play on leaves us with a fair chance of watching the high-fiving Tendulkars sharing an 'Ai La'.

Doosra also expects BCCI to press for a Senior Citizen scheme and threaten to float a new body if ICC doesn't exempt players with 575 plus international matches under their belt from bouncers.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Give Shoaib another chance!

Give Shoaib another chance.

Now we don't know what Imran Khan had in mind when he uttered these potentially fatwa-inviting words.

Certainly not the interest of Pakistan cricket.

Positively not the interest of Pakistan.

Decidedly not the interest of cricket itself either.

While Shoaib has been a journalist's delight – and many would confide in their vulnerable moments that they owe most of their promotions to the Rawalpindi Rogue – he has not really been the same for Pakistan cricket.

You are assured of your column inches in the headlines alright. But not that you can show those clippings to your wide-eyed grandchildren at the twilight of your life and boast.

Rather, you want to burn them in the backyard, bury the ash and still fear that they may prove as irrepressible as the man himself and resurface!

Doosra ventured to see how the news was greeted in the Pakistan camp and can reveal that the mere mention of Shoaib's name has caused considerable consternation there.

Well, Younus Khan & Co are not exactly cowering behind piled sandbags but it would be an understatement to say that it has sapped them of all the merriness.

So much so that Kamran Akmal was vehemently arguing with Shahid Afridi that it was just his toothy aspect and he was not necessarily smiling.

Younus was spotted shaking his head in disbelief and murmuring "If not anything else, his mere presence is enough to spoil the accent of the players."

Asif has been the most cheerful of the lot since the Champions Trophy recall resuscitated his moribund career. So much so that he was seen smiling patronizingly at a pariah dog even when his teammates were trying to shoo away the creature which had strayed into the nets.

But he looked a different man as Younus cast his sight on him, pale to the gills.

"He bruised my left thigh in 2007 and I can't risk the right now. I'll be available in the rival dressing room. Just give me a call whenever you need me," Asif withdrew, almost in a trance.

Turning back, Younus saw the glum logistic manager approaching him.

"I don't think I'll continue the job. Before boarding flight, he puts all sorts of needles and pills in my luggage and it's embarrassing when security guys asks you all those questions," he said.

The grief-stricken media manager also wanted Younis' shoulder to cry on.

"I have to write those embarrassing details of things like genital infections and rashes and read it aloud to giggling reporters and chuckling cameramen once again. I can't go through it again," he retired.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Hamilton’s brush with cricket

"Where do I stand? Mid-wicket? Now what’s that?"

Well, this is not generally what the fielding captain often asks his teammates.

"I bat or we all bat?"
An innocent query on the surface but clearly not what you expect the captain of the chasing side to ask the umpire.

"Am I standing in the right place?"
This is not what you expect a batsman to ask the commentator before taking guard.

"No, no, you people go first. I don’t want to let the team down."
Unlikely to go down in history as definitive instance of leading from the front.

"I don't know how to hold the thing. I was holding it like a golf club and I don't know how to play golf."
Candour is fine but this is not how you explain your stance.

Well, unless you are Lewis Hamilton, that is.

No wonder, the anchor quipped "You are better off in Formula One, spare cricket."
"I knew you'd crack this joke. Give me two day's practice and I'll kick you’re a**."

Harsha Bhogle could not help taking a dig either. He got a better treatment, being told about an alternate career option.
"You can be a comedian."
WHO: Lewis Hamilton.
WHAT: Tennis ball cricket with locals in Delhi.
WHERE: A shopping mall in Rohini.
WHEN: Aug 1, 2009.
WHY: He was promoting a mobile network operator.
P.S. Hamilton revealed Kevin Pietersen seeks tips from him on cars. Hamilton has also met Shane Warne and apparently was impressed with the Aussies’ collection of vulgar SMSs meant for plump British nurses.

Pix: PTI