Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seriously, Ricky?

What is it with Australian cricketers these days?

Is this a sudden need for publicity, is this a way to satiate their burning frustration at getting trampled by India, has this been happening all the time before and I just didn't notice, or is it that the Australian cricketers have finally cracked, or what.

'Cos I? Just can't understand the sudden flurry of books and quote-hangers coming from Down Under.

First it was Gilchrist, then it was Roy, then it was Hayden with one of his gems, and now Ricky Ponting with a surely 'insightful' Captain's Diary 2008.

Or maybe it's just a rush to vindicate their stand in the whole Sydney Jan '08 affair.

To show that the Australians were only missing the halos around their heads, and the Indians their pitchforks and horns.

How else can you explain this and this?

Seriously, Ricky?

There's so much vitriol flying around in thin, corroding innocent guises, and it's just sick.

Maybe it's like Harbhajan put it (fantastically, I might add): The Australians were so busy poring over what new sensational secret they could reveal in their 23464th 'book' that they forgot to prepare for the series.


And Ricky? Next time you talk about MS and co. being suited only for Twenty20, check this out:

Twenty20: ICC Twenty20 World Cup
ODI: CB Series 2008
Tests: Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008

My my, that's three on three!

There's so much more I could say, but people both in and out of the blogosphere with better, more delicious methods of expression have said it all.

All I can add is, wow. The Australians? Inscrutable in victory and defeat.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Feet-in-mouth, and last-over thriller thingamajigs

In the case of one Matthew Hayden, one has to wonder.

It'd be easy to say, 'woah, what a case of foot-in-mouth right there', but in Hayden's case, no. It just doesn't seem to be... enough.

Feet with the smelly socks on, maybe? Or is there something caught between his toes he wants to pry out by his teeth? Because, seriously, this:

Often we find ourselves waiting with hands on hips for someone to face up or
someone on the sight board to move away or some of those little frustrations
happening with third world countries.

Wow, geez, Haydos, awesome work there.

It's not so much the reference to India as a 'third world country' that bothers me (thought it initially irked me too), or the not-so-subtle whining about the facilities and the hold-ups and the weather (because, seriously? how many times have we heard that excuse? Plus, let's face it, some of it's true). It's just... Hayden's utter and complete LACK of a sense of diplomacy, propriety, or grace. It just makes it so easy to label him a 'sore loser' here, as several people have already done.

Already, just seven months ago, in a similar moments of socks-in-mouthedness, he had called Harbhajan 'an obnoxious little weed' (which I secretly agreed with) and mocked Ishant Sharma, ridiculed a freakin' nineteen year old, and invited him onto a boxing ring with him among other things, on live public radio.

He came out of that - somehow - his reputation permanently scarred, and himself open to endless lines of ridicule that range from 'weeds' to shadow-boxing by the bowler once he got him out.

And then, he comes up with this, as if that weren't enough. I'm sure you mean well, Haydos, but for a grizzled veteran like you, all of 37 years old, with so much India-experience and knowledge of how sensitive people can be here (most recent reminder being monkeygate, Jan '08), you ought to have had some inkling about how badly your 'third world' comment could be taken over here. Which is: pretty freakin' badly.

So yeah, Matt, I'm gonna call you a sore loser. With yellowed socks in his mouth. Or toenails. Ew.

The whole situation is given a brilliant perspective here:

Great stuff.

Plus, Haydos?Next time you come to India to play the IPL and the Champions League and the kazillion other Twenty20 leagues and earn millions of dollars, don't think you can win us over again with the interviews and the cooking shows and the broad smiles and the "oh, I love India! So exotic" spiel. You play for Chennai Super Kings, and I hate to hate anybody on that team, because I adore it, 'kay? 'Kay.

So I don't hate you. But seriously, talk about biting the hand that feeds you...


While beginning this post, the third match of the ODI series between West Indies and Pakistan was in its final moments. Pakistan had virtually won the series, leading 2-0, but the Windies seemed hell-bent on making it 2-1 for the record books. Which is, great. Yeah.

So WI was 205/6 at the end of the 42nd over when I started typing, chasing 274 to win. Required rate wasn't really that challenging, Chris Gayle still there, just completed yet another one-day ton. He took apart the over-rated (imo) Ifthikar Anjum in the 43rd for 19 runs, including 2 massive sixes, and the Windies could afford to smile a bit.

Great, right?

Well, not really.

Next over, Gul (who is MADE OF AWESOME) comes barelling in and removes Gayle and score's at 232/7.

Uh oh.

Then a couple of overs later, Gul strikes again - and again - and the score's 240/9.

Only one possible result from there, right?

Sohail Tanvir finished the final formalities and Windies? 242 all out, losing by 31 runs.

See? The proverbial match pendulum, witnessed within the space of typing out (half of) a blog post. *grins stupidly*

Third match in a freakin' row that they lost from a winning position. The series is 3-0, yeah, but that could've been so easily in favour of the Windies, but I guess that'll happen only when the team begins to show that it ISN'T made entirely of Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

I mean, the last over in the first ODI? Gayle century, 20 runs required off the last over for Pak, Taylor, their best bowler bowling, freakin' Kamran Akmal on strike, you'd think the Windies have the match sewn-up tight, but no. Akmal hits TWO SIXES and the other runs and Pakistan won. Second ODI? Bowled out Pak for just 232, Chanderpaul hits a century, and what happens? Pakistan won. Third ODI? Chris Gayle scores century, hits the rampage mode at the right time and the target looks well within sight, and what happens? Pakistan won.

Seriously. The Windies don't even deserve the 'Chokers' tag. Pathetic.

But still, we get the last-over thriller thingamajigs, a thin layer of temporary balm is spread over the much-hurt and ostracised Pakistani cricket lover, as their national team finally gets some international cricket and the sweet taste of hard-earned victory, so all's okay.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yuvraj the Inexplicable (except, you know, not really)

Eh heh, funny that my last post here, which pimped the Australia-India series so much
(which ha ha, I missed out on blogging upon, cos apparently medical school, cricket and blogs don't mix that well) is titled "Take a bow, Ricky Ponting", because the general sentiment now seems to be "Bow out, Ricky Ponting" (only as captain o'course - before I get waylaid by a pack of wild kangaroos).

I took whatever limited opportunities I could find to fangirl the Indian team however - 2-0 win against the Aussies, and we, well, trounced them. Yeah, roll that round your tongue. A little exotic, yes? But delicious all the same. Along the way, Kumble retired, Ganguly played his last Test, Dhoni took over as full-time captain, Krejza had the Most Unbelievable Debut Ever (dude, that afternoon session on day 4 in Nagpur had me close to hyperventilating for a moment or two, and when he took eight wickets on day 2, all I could do for a few minutes was blink dazedly and repeat slowly, much to the annoyance of my friends, "Eight wickets. Eight."), Gambhir the Rude Midget elbowed Shane Watson the Harassed Angel, Ponting chose to reveal his Boneheaded Self at the only moment when his team looked like they could win anything at all, and Dhoni nearly made my heart explode with love for his captaincy, uber-cool batting and his penchant for Lovely Little Symbolic Gestures - right from carrying Kumble on his shoulders after his retirement in the Kotla Test, to handing one of the stumps to Ganguly at the end of the Mohali Massacre, asking Ganguly to captain the team in the last few minutes of his international career, to requesting Kumble to receive the Border-Gavaskar Trophy along with him at the end of the last Test. So. Much. Love.

... Anyway. That be the backstory now, as we play England in a seven-match ODI series. England, delightfully fresh from theit Antigua Stanford Humiliation proceeded to rub salt in their wound in a way only the English (occasionally the Indians, but then again, not really) can, by capitulating to a second string MCA XI in a most embarassing fashion. KP, for all the Fresh Hope that he brought to the side after leading his team to an unexpected trouncing of the Saffers in his first ever assignment as captain, could only dip his head into his (sexy tattooed) arms and then declare it was a practice match, and that the real evaluation of his side ought to come after they played an international match.

Well, India and England 'clashed' at Rajkot in the first match of the seven-match series today, and KP? The first set of results are out. And they ain't lookin' good.

Yeah, trounced by 158 runs. What's that blue stuff along with the yellow one underneath the Indians' shoes, you ask? Oh, that's England, dontcha know.

A large part of the huge margin owes itself to the Magnificence of Inexplicable Yuvraj. Let me make no bones about the fact that I utterly loathe this man, but boy, when he lets his bat talk like he did today, all you can do is pick your dislocated jaw up from the floor! This guy, for all the irritation his personality causes me, once again proved to the world that he is bursting to the seams with incredible batting talent. Why he is Inexplicable, of course, is the eternal gripe that even after eight freakin' years in the national squad, he's never been able to make a place for himself in Tests, or even ensured a rock-solid consistency in the shorter formats. His form graphs dip to hideous (in Australia and Sri Lanka earlier this year) and then rise to glorious peaks just as suddenly (like TODAY, dammit).

But if there is something consistent about him, though, is the wonderful dynamic he shares with his captain. He and Dhoni put up yet another 100 run partnership today in double-quick time, and he always seems to play his best these days with Dhoni at the other end.

Talking of dynamic partnerships, Viru and Gauti proved themselves to be the most reliable rocket-propellant in international cricket once again, getting us off to a brisk but solid start. Raina and Rohit also look to be in good form, and Dhoni seems to be carrying forward his excellent form from the Tests, so batting-wise, India's smokin'.

England came out to chase 388 (aw come on, that's easy, as the Saffers will tell you - or maybe not), and quickly slipped to 40-0dd for 4. Yeowch.

KP flexed his muscles for a quick half-century, and Bopara and Broad indulged in some heavy-duty slogging toward the end, but England finally folded up for 229 in the 38th over, losing by 158 runs.

Of course, a stellar effort from the Indian bowlers, but one wonders if the England innings ought to have been finished a whole lot faster. Too many overs from the part-timers (indeed, Sehwag and Yusuf proved to be extremely prolifigate) at a time when India really ought to have gone for the kill - like when England were 70-odd for 5, perhaps? Did Dhoni miss a trick there? Or was it because of limited options? Or did he have something else in mind? Same thing happened a couple of times in Sri Lanka, too. Maybe he didn't want to strain Zaks - after all, expensive part-timers or no, they were going to win the match, and win it comfortably. Bhajji proving to be ineffective (relatively) also messed things up a bit.

For England, well, miserable as the results must seem, they'll take the tiniest bit of heart from KP's form, and Broad's and Bopara's clean hitting, and for India's history of complacency following BIG wins, like this one.

So, England, go ahead clutch at the straws, get your act together, and give us a better contest next ODI!

(... and DO NOT make me regret saying that...)

I wish I could've watched today's match (Yuvraj on song is always a treat to watch), but college and the fact that I am several kilometres away from the nearest TV, made me resort solely to Internet commentary. Not too bad, but following cricket on the 'net can make you mad, with all the opinions and the vitriol and the nonsense that is interspersed by good, solid analyses.