Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Some the members of the Indian team bound for the world cup in West Indies showed off the new apparel designed by the official sponsor Nike. The new apparel is claimed to be lighter than the previous one. It is supposed to provide better cooling in the warm climes of the Caribbean.

All the news channels and newspapers came up with these facts. One channel went on the air saying that the world cup winning squad of 1983 was dressed in all whites. The reason was no team played cricket wearing coloured clothes at least as far as the world cup was concerned. It was only in Australia that coloured clothing was the norm as far as the one dayers were concerned.

For years my brothers and me have been unable to understand why the colour of the Indian team is rather bland compared to the clothing of other teams like Australia. I am not speaking about the blue colour but the light shade of the colour. The new apparel is dull to say the least. The previous one was more appealing.

Will the change of apparel and the new fabric bring any luck to the team?


New Zealand has done it three times in a row. First the Australians were handed out their first ever 10 wicket loss in limited overs cricket and then scores of over 300 were chased down successfully twice with a day separating the two.

The victory of South Africa while chasing over 400 was stupendous and the victories for New Zealand are simply incredible. In all the cases, the much vaunted bowling and fielding of the Aussie team were left lacking at crucial occasions.

It can be argued that the Aussies were handicapped by the absence of key players.

It can be argued in the lines of Adam Gilchrist that the Aussies needed rest after the Ashes.

It can also be argued that the losses do not make the Aussies any less threatening in the word cup.

For the time being let us enjoy the fact that the Kiwi has managed to fly.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


It always takes a special effort to beat the Aussies, be it in the test matches or in the one-dayers. The loss in the finals of the Commonwealth Bank tri-series and then the two losses in the Chappell-Hadlee trophy to the underdogs is something straight out of the imagination of fiction writers of some repute.

The losses to England were nothing short of an upset, while the Kiwis are always strong on their home turf and have in the past, shown commitment of the highest class when facing their trans-Tasman rivals.

The losses to New Zealand were suffered when some of the key players in the Aussie one-day machine are either rested or injured. However, the record books are never going to show this fact. There is something that is to be realized by other teams around the world. Australia is beatable and the reputation of the team should not be a factor for the opponents. The Indian team has to learn this lesson for the mere thought of facing the Aussies unsettles even the best.

Even the best captain can be made to look like a novice. Ricky Ponting appeared out of his wits when Gibbs, Smith and Boucher overhauled a score of over 400. Hussey too, appeared clueless when the likes of Taylor, Fulton and Macmillan took on the might of the Aussie bowlers.

There is another thing that emerges out of the victories for the Kiwis. The team led by Stephen Fleming could not reach the finals of the tri-series in Australia. Yet, on home grounds, they managed to upstage their more famous rivals. Home advantage always counts and teams should not be ashamed to count on this factor.

The Indian media has managed to raise the visions of an Indian win in the World Cup. The win over Sri Lanka and the losses suffered by the Aussies have given strength to this fallacious theory. The Aussies cannot be taken lightly and the Indians have a long way to go.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


The matter of match fixing has reared its ugly head once again with the Nagpur police making allegations that Marlon Samuels of the West Indies had a number of telephone conversations with a bookie Mukesh Kochchar before the match against India. It is alleged that the player concerned had a lot to talk about the strategy adopted by his team. For the record, India won the match and Samuels lost his wicket to a rash shot when he looked settled.

I don’t quite agree with the contention that the player in question was attracted to big bucks since cricket is not as remunerative in the West Indies as in case of other countries. If that is the case, what would explain the involvement of a player like Azharuddin who made a lot of money from cricket. Corruption is rampant at the highest levels of official machinery where the pay packets are quite big. Teachers of colleges and universities indulge in practices like private tuitions even when they are well paid. It is not a question of how much one is getting, but how much one is likely to receive.

Predictably, the Indian cricket officials have come up with the assertion that Indian players are clean. I am not saying that they are involved, but it would be foolish to deny altogether. Let us not forget that people like Ali Bacher first denied vehemently when the Indian police alleged that Hansie Cronje was involved in match fixing.


The Australian umpire at the heart of the controversy involving Pakistan and England when a test match was called off after the Pakistan team refused to take to the field following ball-tampering allegations, Darrell Hair has dropped a bombshell.

Mr.Hair was dropped from the panel of Elite umpires after the Pakistan team was exonerated of the ball-tampering charges. His partner Billy Doctrove from the West Indies, however, was not found guilty of ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. This is what has prompted Mr.Hair to sue the ICC and the Pakistan Cricket Board on the grounds of ‘racial discrimination’.

If the demand for half a million dollars from Mr.Hair in the event of losing his job was obnoxious, this latest legal action is even more disgusting.

At the heart of the problem is the way the ICC handled the whole issue in the first place. Some action should have been taken against Mr.Doctrove also.

Looks like Darrell Hair has chosen the path taken by Shilpa Shetty on her way to glory.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Even as one talks about the market forces hitting India, the Licence-Permit Raj days are not over in the true sense of the term. Nimbus a private agency got the rights to broadcast cricket in India after being the highest bidder. It outbid even the likes of EspnStar and Zee Sports. The state controlled broadcaster, Prasar Bharati was not even a bidder, if my memory serves me right. Nimbus started a television channel Neo Sports to telecast, among other things, cricket.

But things did not go smoothly as soon as India took on the West Indies. People were angry since not many could watch the first two matches live as if our lives depended on cricket. Make no mistake; I am a big follower of the wonderful game. But this is ludicrous.

Not to be cowed down by the market dynamics, the Information and Broadcasting Minister went on the airwaves threatening action to make Nimbus see reason. Matters went to the judiciary and Doordarshan (the state television) was allowed to telecast the match after a delay of 7 minutes. We watched ‘live’ scores on news channels and the ‘deferred live’ on Doordarshan.

Soon after the series was over, the Union Cabinet met and the wise people came out with an Ordinance. This Ordinance would become a law once the Parliament is in session. With this, it is now imperative for private broadcasters to share the live feeds of ‘important’ sporting events in ‘public interest’.

Luckily, or unluckily, the Minister made no efforts to make Channel 4 telecast the show ‘Big Brother’ for many Indians felt offended (incorrectly) over the so-called ‘racist’ remarks against an Indian actress.

Thankfully, the Minister did not feel the need to put this new piece of Legislation in the 9th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. That would have a whole new meaning to the concept of the ‘welfare state’.

So the lessons have to be learnt and quickly. No private broadcaster should ever bid for the rights to telecast cricket in India. If at all, the rights are secured after payments of millions, free feeds have to be given to Doordarshan.

In the Mahabharata, Dhritarashtra wanted to know the details of the epic war fought out between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The problem was the king was blind. This made his aide Sanjaya narrate the war ‘live’ using Doordarshan. The Information and Broadcasting Minister wants Indians to be glued to the television watching cricket. The reason- we all are blind and oblivious to every other thing that takes place.