Monthly Archives: October 2010

Baseball In Australia. No, Really.

Talk to enough baseball enthusiasts, and you’ll eventually find one who isn’t completely stupid about cricket. In fact, some will rightly note modern cricket essentially borrowed its fielding techniques from baseball coaches and trainers (the name Mike Young will pop up at this point).

Sure, the game’s not as interesting or complex or, quite frankly, as difficult, as cricket, but it has its charms (and it’s the best of American sports). In that spirit, I wanted to pass around a note for the re-launching of a baseball league in Australia next week (disclosure: I have family invested in the effort):

Next weekend sees that start of a new era in Australian baseball with the first game of a new national league. Some ten years after the collapse of its previous incarnation the Australian Baseball League comprising teams from Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth will run from November through to the end of January.

That link also has details on baseball’s history in Australia. Apparently, Ian Chappell knows what a curveball is. Huh.

Watching Cricket Players Arrive In An Airport

I like it when cricket media outlets devote space to announce the arrival of such-and-such team at an airport. I also like the accompanying photos, showing dapper young athletes dressed in their Sunday best. Reminds me of my high school days, when we had to dress up to go to tournaments with other schools.

But this is just a cricket thing, right? It seems so strange — I almost never hear of such coverage in American sports (the Yankees arrived in Boston tonight?). And why can’t these poor athletes wear something less stuffy than a tie and suit off the plane?

Blind Cricket Commentator

Incredible story from the Associated Press about a blind cricket commentator in Zimbabwe. Apparently, he “sees” the game thanks to his acute hearing and legendary memory:

Du Plessis hears the power and direction of the hit. He listens to the speed and spin of the ball, along with the players’ exertions and their cries of elation or frustration. He senses the excitement — or otherwise — of the play on the cricket field and collates the scores with a computer-like memory.

In the media area at Harare’s Country Club sports field, other journalists see the ball soar skyward after a sharp crack on the bat.

“That’s a big one. It’s gone for six,” said the 33-year-old Du Plessis, his opaque eyes gazing into the distance.

Big Moves For IPL-Style League in Australia

The Daily Telegraph has details on what could be the most important “most crucial 48 hours” in Cricket Australia‘s recent history. Basically, CA is hoping to build an IPL-style league to launch in 2012, but it must decide if it can allow Indian invesments (two states have already lined up millions in support):

Chief executive James Sutherland has described the setting up of the tournament as “the most significant development since World Series Cricket” and is fully aware state bodies have threatened to establish a breakaway competition if the overseas investors are turned away.

“It’s a moment as big, if not bigger, than the Kerry Packer moment when his role resulted in ODI cricket taking off and basically funding the development of Australian and world cricket for 25 or so years,” CA spokesman Peter Young said last night.

Implications are big: competition with the IPL (players go back and forth between two leagues)? Where do ODIs go?

 

Taking The BCCI And India’s Cricket Bodies To Court

A major legal victory for cricket accountability, c/o the Kerala Supreme Court:

In a ruling that could have widespread repercussions for cricket administration in India, the Kerala High Court has said the officials of the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) can be considered public servants, and directed a lower court to continue hearing a complaint alleging misappropriation of funds by the association. The complaint was filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, which applies only to public servants.

I’m not sure on the legal specifics, but I’m obviously concerned when so many publicly elected officials (e.g. Sharad Pawar, Arun Jaitley) extend their tentacles into cricket administration.

The suit was brought by Rahul Mehra, who has waged this legal campaign for a few years now. Read a great profile of him here.

Six Degrees Of Bookie Connections: Suresh Raina Edition

Hanging out with bookies is a definite no-no, I agree. But this sub-head from the Times of India is absolutely hilarious:

ICC is probing why BCCI kept quiet about a report of Suresh Raina being seen in the company of a woman linked to an associate of an illegal bookmaker.

Got that? Raina apparently hung out with someone who was linked to someone who knew an illegal bookie. And the ICC is wondering why the BCCI kept quiet about this. Read the whole story here.

The BCCI Makes Me So Angry

There are two reasons I don’t like the BCCI: one, I don’t like that it’s a quasi-public body, making it vulnerable to political patronage and interference. Two, I just don’t know who runs it, why they were chosen, and why they can be so utterly stupid at times.

Take, for example, Gary Kirsten’s pleas that the BCCI give the Indian cricket team a fighting chance in South Africa. Fans know South Africa’s bouncy pitches have traditionally been difficult for Indian batsmen, and that Indian batsmen — always slow starters — need some time to acclimatise.

What does the BCCI do? It insists on scheduling a ridiculously long series against New Zealand (we’re playing three Tests and five ODIs, more than we just played against Australia) which ends only a week before the South Africa series. So, Kirsten and the BCCI then have to hit upon a novel scheme, whereas before, cricket administrators around the world understood that TOUR GAMES MATTER AND ARE IMPORTANT. This is the compromise:

The BCCI has approved the Indian team management’s request to send a group of Test players early to South Africa to get “acclimatised” to the conditions and make up for the absence of practice games before the three-Test series that begins on December 16. It is not yet clear who the concerned players are and how many will be part of the group which is expected to depart immediately after the third Test against New Zealand on November 24. India and New Zealand play a five-match ODI series that concludes on December 10, six days prior to the first Test in Centurion.

Sigh.

The ICC Test Championship

I don’t know yet how to feel about the proposed ICC Test League. (Basic details here.) On the one hand, it does give every Test “context,” in that it’s a long, long, lead up to a final championship game. But that’s a lengthy process to keep viewers on the hook.

Before I reach any conclusions, I want to know more from Knotted Paths, whose singular blogging on tournament-organizing deserves an ICC review itself. The new plans basically exile the associate countries, which makes short-term financial sense, but is absolutely stupid in the long-term.

My Nerves Are Shot: India/Australia Day 5

I’ve already written about my nervous disposition, and why I’m constantly on edge as an Indian fan. So imagine my mental state now that India have to not only ensure Australia do not score more runs, but also survive perhaps 60-80 overs on a deteriorating pitch.

But let me say this: I’d much rather be an Indian fan than an Australian one. By that, I don’t mean to make a simple nationalistic statement. Even though this Indian team is one of the best I’ve seen, it still infuriates with its inconsistency and quick swings from brilliance to inanity (we saw that yesterday when, in dramatic fashion, India lost five wickets for nine runs after one man scored more than 200).

It’s bad for my blood pressure, but it’s just so much fun. When the Australians were dominant — as they still are, I think, in the ODI form — they won in such a clinical and destructive method, I couldn’t help wondering why Australians bothered to turn the television on. Sure, everyone likes it when their team wins, but I think true cricket fans face a much more difficult task. They must balance their desire for victory with an appreciation for the twists and turns the game offers.

So, last night, while I knew the rational hope was that India would score 600 runs and then squeeze Australia, I secretly held out that just the situation India faces on Day 5 would come to pass. Another chance to show their human frailty and ability, and, yes, another chance to bite my nails.

Francis Bacon Cricket Painting To Fetch A Cool Million

Via The Guardian:

A Francis Bacon painting of a tortured cricketer twisting and writhing is to be sold at auction after hanging in Tate Britain for much of the last decade, Sotheby’s announced today.

Figure in Movement, featuring a typically agonised figure, common in Bacon’s work, this time in cricket pads and against a black and bright orange background with blue cage-like struts, also featured in the major 2008 Bacon retrospective at Tate Britain, which toured New York and Madrid.

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