12 January, 2008

This ain't cricket may'te

If there was one news that has caused a shock effect among the Indian public and given the television channels enough fodder to chew on for the next fortnight, it would have to be the post-match events of the India – Australia test at Sydney Cricket Ground. The Benazir assassination gave it a close run, esentially because people who've been around for 25 years or more would have strong memories of the dynamic lady. But then, it was afterall an event that had no direct repuscussions back home, and there was no second-act to follow. And when an event such as what happened off the cricket field after this match hits home, everyone want to have their say (I was surprised that Lalu had not commented on this issue. But then today I saw his comment that team India should head home. So, thats one surpsise less, in what promises to be a thrilling next few days).

With a flurry of verbal volleys leading up to the series, everyone knew this was not going to be a quiet series. But that things would take such a turn, none would have predicted – definitely not Ponting and his men. That the umpiring was terrible and the fact that India might have won this game had the correct decisions been given, was for all to see (Michael Clarke would argue that this is hypothetical. But if you consider the fact that India actually had to take 25 wickets and had only 16 of its own batsmen playing, he might do well to rephrase his 'umpiring was consistent' comment).

There was something for everyone to frown over at the end of the match. So, whats my grouse? - The Australian team. And thats mainly because I always felt they were a champion team, and in my mind they were on par with Roger Federer, the Brazilian socceer team, and even the West Indies cricket of the 70's and early 80's. So, you expect them to be good on the field, and gracious off it. And thats where this Aussie team is different. Their success has left them giddy. The Aussies talk about playing in the spirit of the game. They do – when they're winning, but when they face a real threat, the spirit of the game takes on a whole new meaning for them. We'd all like to know Ricky if 'Not walking when out', 'appealing for dropped catches', 'sledging', 'and being hostile to the opposition' comes under your definition of the 'spirit of the game'.

The other issue is of course, the complaint against Harbhajan. Seeing his behaviour on the field, I'd like to guess that Bhajji is probably capable of calling Symonds a 'monkey'. But if there was no evidence, the right thing would've been to let Bhajji off the hook. This is because, in the case that he hadn't made the remark, Bhajji would stand wrongly accused his whole life. And in the case that he did, it would be letting an offender off the hook. But thats still better than punishing an innocent. Now, had this complaint been filed by the Sri Lankan team, or probably even the Pakistan team, I wouldn't be seeing red. But here is a team which has used 'opponent abuse' as its team strategy. So, saying stuff about the mothers and sisters is somehow acceptable, but calling a person a 'monkey' isn't? Maybe this has got more to do with the cultural differences, and maybe the Indian team members wouldn't have minded it so much had the Aussies called 'Sreesanth' a monkey, but he'd definitely be pissed off to hear stuff being told about his mother. The Australian team seemed to have forgotten that and gone ahead and made a big issue out of it.

The reaction from the Australian media, on the other hand has been pleasing. Not because, there were articles in support of India, but because, for once they have stood up for what they believed in, and not come out in support of their team, without rhyme or reason. Well done, and maybe the Indian media should also learn from this, rather than just showing pro-Harbhajan articles (agreed that anything to the contrary would make bad business sense in the present scenario).

So, lets wait and watch as the drama unfolds. But for now, as the Aussies would say “That just ain't cricket may'te”

05 January, 2008

But it rained

I'm not sure, whats so impressive about this phrase. But somehow I've always wanted to write a post with this title. Maybe, it just sounds so much cooler with Parikrama's music in the background. Interestingly, while trying to provide a link for the song, I found an interesting bit of trivia about the song here.

Some days are not planned. They just happen... Yesterday was one such. I stepped into office, expecting minimal work, but my teammates in the US suddenly seemed to remember there was work to be done. And then, when I resigned myself to a sedate start to the weekend at home, a colleague of mine offers me his ticket to a tennis match happening at Nungambakkan (Chennnai Open). So, I decide to wind up my work quickly and leave asap. For my luck, the office busses had left by then. Just as I walk towards the town bus stop for a long journey home, another colleague stops his car and offers me a ride. (surprising considering this had never happened before). So here I am thinking the stars are conspiring to help me watch my first live tennis match. I then manage a quick ride to the stadium on my bike. I enter the stadium, hoping to watch some live action. But it rained.... Ok, so its a 10 minute rain. How bad can it be, I think? Bad enough to delay start of play by more than 2.5 hours I realize.

It was funny watching the organizers drying the court though. There was one machine, which was used to dry the courts, and there were about 15 boys and girls with towels in their hands, literally scrubbing the court dry. But the girls seemed to tire out pretty soon (it did looked like a pretty tiring thing to do, and so maybe the organizers shoul've got some strong people to do this), and the boys probably decided it made more sense giving the girls company rather than bother themselves with the drying bit. With things not happening as fast as expected, the tournament officials decided to get into the act. So, soon we had the tournament director and a host of other officials, trying now to fan the court dry with towels. I'm sure these folks would've had a mouthful to say had the rain Gods decided to re-appear for another 5 mins after all the drying had happened.

Finally, at 2300 hrs the match between Rafael Nadal and Lopez (don't remember the first name) was restarted with the scores at 2-1 in favour of Nadal in the first set. With a sparse crowd at the stadium, I chose what seemed to be a vantage seat. Little did I know, what was in store for me. To my left, sat a teenager who seemed bent upon trying to impress his younger brother, who in turn seemed fixated upon the fact that he got Nadal's autograph during lunch. Just behind, was a middle aged man with his wife in tow. He seemed to have an unwarranted opinion on everything, from the organizers to the state of tennis in India. He also had very smelly feet, which he decided to rest upon the seat beasides me.

As for the match itself, it was a nice experience watching a sport from such close quarters, and Nadal, the powerhouse that he is, showed why he is the No. 2 player in the world. Although I do wish he buys himself a more comfortable pair of shorts and stops pulling the shorts from his backside after every shot. If that wasn't very descriptive, dont try too hard. It isn't a visually pleasing image. Finally, at 00:30 hrs, I head back home with hopefully no more surprises in store.