Monthly Archives: October 2007

Cricket Lag

Everybody in the cricket world, including those supreme slave-masters, the BCCI, admits that there is too much international cricket. Kevin Pietersen begs for rest; bowlers suffer from more injuries; batsmen have little time to figure out which format they’re playing from one day to the next.

The phenomenon reaches especially ludicrous heights in cricket, because countries must embark on tours of other countries for extended amounts of time (India was in Ireland-England for a good two months, possibly more).

Take, for example, the weird space-time continuum that Sri Lanka will find itself in the next three months: it just played a 5-match ODI series against England. Now, rather than have the Test series after that (as is traditionally done), Sri Lanka just left to Australia, where it will play a few Tests against Australia. After that is done, the team will return to Sri Lanka (where, I presume, England will have stayed since October?) to finish off a Test series in December, only to go back to Australia in January to play a triangular ODI series against India and Australia.

So, England goes to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka goes to Australia, Sri Lanka goes to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka goes to Australia, England go home. Got that?

Cricket On The (Australian) Television

Michael Clarke and Nathan Bracken are both featured in ads that attempt wind up the Australian audience for the coming summer’s cricket (which will include games against Sri Lanka and India).

Both ads revolve around the idea of how obsessive professional athletes must be in order to succeed at the international level (and how obsessed a fan must be to enjoy a game like cricket). Clarke even pays homage to Don Bradman, who would also use a stump to hit golf balls as a child. Take a look:

I like these ads, but I can’t imagine the BCCI doing the same thing. It’s just assumed in India that people will come to see cricket matches featuring India, regardless if the stadiums are falling apart or are completely lost in organizational quagmires. But these ads aren’t just meant to promote “stars” or cricket. They also signal the amount of sacrifice and training involved in modern cricket, a factor that many delirious Indian fans (and possibly players) forget when their team loses (or even wins).

Indeed, there’s something tragic about these ads: Bracken must bowl one more; Clarke has to keep practicing — behind every magnificent ball or highlight-studded century, there is a lot of sweat and toil, and fans who truly appreciate cricket should understand that more than the scorecard’s result.

Cricket In The Movies

Critics haven’t responded well to “Darjeeling Limited,” and a friend of mine even insists that it’s nothing more than another white man’s attempt to fetishize India and its supposed “spirituality.” Actually, a lot of people think that.

Still, how can you hate an American film that includes a 2-second mention of cricket? Continue reading

Dhoni Grows Up: It’s All in the Hair

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I had never been a fan of Dhoni’s long hair, but that seemed to be the fashion (what with both Shahrukh and Shoaib Akthar joining in with hair length competitions). Still, it appears the Indian media has raised a frenzy of late because those “long locks” have suddenly gone.

It’s strange, but I just don’t think of cricketers as trend-setting fashion icons. They can be so much else — symbols of national pride; talented athletes, etc. — but models? Continue reading

Take 1, Action!

As most fast bowlers go, R.P. Singh does not intimidate through appearance: for one thing, he’s no Curtly Ambrose in stature and his dubious decision to neatly part his hair to one side makes me think that his mother still dresses him up in the morning.

Still, when Singh runs into bowl, I have this irrational sensation that he will take a wicket, something like what Australians must have felt when Shane Warne started a spell. Singh’s first over against Adam Gilchrist in the Only Twenty20 did not disappoint: playwrights have acts; novelists have chapters; bowlers have overs. Ideally, a bowler is supposed to “set up” a batsman for his wicket — some outswingers before a deadly one that comes back in; a few fuller-pitched deliveries before a bouncer, etc.

In this over, Singh initially has a difficult time, going for three boundaries on the off- and leg-side until he produces an unplayable delivery that Gilchrist failed to read. Indeed, the fact that the last three balls had been carted must have inflated Gilchrist; on no other occasion would he have tried to swat an in-swinging yorker as he does here. [See video.]

P.S. It’s absolutely hilarious how much applause Rohit Sharma receives from his fellow teammates after his brilliant fielding. If an Australian had done the same thing, he would have been duly noted, but surely, handshakes and pats on the backs would not have been indulged.

ShahRukh Plays for India

I’m not a huge fan of Bollywood (and I absolutely hate it when white friends tell me that they “love” its films), but Shahrukh Khan has won me over of late with his charming cricket adoration (or “fannery,” as I call it). No matter where India is, Shahrukh Khan will be there: in South Africa, at the T20 tournament, or in Mumbai, during the recent match against Australia, or even at the Oval.

So, in his honor — and to ease your night — here’s a clip of my new “I must play this song repeatedly until I die” song of late. Enjoy:

Should We Go For a Walk (And Talk)?

Sorry for the redundant blog titles, but I lead a sad, lonely life. It — my life, that is — does brighten up, however, whenever a deep cricketing ethical dilemma arises, like the one that Murali Kartik provoked when he didn’t walk after nicking a ball off Brett Lee. [See start of video.]

Apart from the aptly named Snicko-meter, we know that Kartik nicked the ball because he admitted as much in the post-match presentation ceremony. Rameez Raja, who seems to have a horse’s mane on his head, asked the question, and with only the briefest of hesitancies (that would have been the conscience saying, “Tell the truth, Murali”) , Karthik replied in the affirmative.

Immediately, the camera shifted to a few Australian bowlers — Brett Lee included, I believe — looking at each other as a fervent atheist might upon finding conclusive evidence that God does not exist. Ponting addressed the issue in his own interview, saying, “Murali’s just admitted he nicked that one but it would’ve been nice if he’d walked.”

There are several layers to this problem, and not just the usual debate over whether batsmen should walk if they know they are out (though that too must be discussed). More than that, we have to ask: should Karthik even have answered Raja’s question, and when doing so, should he have felt bad about his response? Did he?
Continue reading

A Clarification on Symonds

I’ve already written too much on the Symonds issue, but I’m not being as articulate as I would like. Firstly, understand that I am not defending what the Indian crowds are doing. Picking on any one player does not particularly excite me as a cricket fan, and Indian crowds have a long history of embarrassing me for their shoddy behavior. I still recall, to this day, crying as a young child when the India v. Sri Lanka semifinal match in the 1996 World Cup ended with India conceding the match after the Eden Gardens audience turned their bottles into messages (that sounds better if you’ve heard the Police song).

What I am saying, however, is that we cannot deem this behavior racist, or as equivalent with right-wing crazies in Europe throwing banana skins at black footballers in Europe or with what Australian audiences have belted out to brown and black cricket players.

Again, this might seem inconsistent or unfair, but it is not: Continue reading

Monkeying Around: A (Long) Defense of Bombay

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The controversy over crowd behavior in India just got worse: before the recent match against Australia, a public announcer pleaded for tolerance, which the crowd promptly ignored, particularly when Symonds came out to bat. [See video.]

Sharad Pawar and his counterpart at Cricket Australia both issued a statement condemning crowd racism, while Ricky Ponting assured the Indian media that even if it didn’t think the monkey chants were serious, Symonds certainly did and was “hurt.”

Meanwhile, a number of Australians are outraged that Indian officials not only denied the monkey chants, but then, upon receiving photos of crowds showing the practice, argued that it was only a “cultural misunderstanding.”

Peter Lalor, writing in The Australian, believes that even though monkey chants may not have a long derogatory history in India (seeing as how monkeys are actually worshiped in the country), most middle- and upper-class Indian fans know that it is in fact a racist trope, thanks to local broadcasts of European football matches, which apparently regularly feature such behavior.

I’m not sure I agree with Lalor, and I have not changed my mind about whether these crowds should be condemned. Continue reading

A Zidane Moment

Everyone remembers the infamous moment in the recent football World Cup, when Zidane head-butted an uppity Italian player (cricketers are sledging amateurs in comparison to these sportsmen). A French commentator captured the absurdity of the move, asking, again and again, “Why? But Why?” [See video.]

Nick Knight had a similarly philosophical moment the other night, as he watched Kevin Pietersen do a ridiculous shimmy at the crease before being bowled by Chaminda Vaas. England were in dreadful straits, needing more than 100 runs with five wickets already down. With deep anguish in his voice, Knight asks (at around 3:00 in the video), “Kevin Pietersen, did you need, I say, did you need to do it? Why did you do it?”

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