Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh My God!

So who's getting on my nerves these days - The Almighty God of Cricket Himself. Now, before you load your double barrel gun and point it to my chest, let me assure you that I have the highest regard for Him and His cricketing skills. But nowadays I find Him an overkill.
Accepting the Rajya Sabha post (from the most corrupt Govt in the history of the country not withstanding) was pulling the last straw for me. His acceptance of the RS Seat meant he is neither serious about his cricketing career nor is he serious about state of the nation. And that he was adopting a lazy approach towards the two.
He's 40 and he's not helping Team India's cause in the transition process.  By picking and choosing tournaments in which he'd like to play he's not providing a steady combination for the national team. Everytime he makes a comback to the team, there's a lot of cutting and chopping of players not to mention a merry-go-round of the batting order. SRT who himself never bats at any other position than No1 and No4 (in ODI and Tests) should know better that nobody likes to give-up their favourite batting slot.

So the unfortunate victim happens to be a certain Gautam who has to come one-down or a Raina relegated to No7. Add to that, fringe players like Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane remain to be fringe players. One fine day they will be asked to step into the shoes of SRT and perform. And we know very well what happens in such an eventuality.
Surely a batsman of Sachin's calibre has earned the right to hang up his boots on his own accord, but doesnt he know that the interest of the team comes first? In how many countless post match interviews has he not said that the interests of the team comes first? Where has all that liberal-thinking gone when its time to put them into pratice? With 3 years to go for the next World Cup where India must defend her crown, we still do not have an established world-beating side. Its no secret that we won the last WC mostly because we played it in our background. Had the same team gone to West Indies or Australia or England we would have come a cropper.
Plus no matter how many times he insists that he doesn't play for the records, we all know theres no bigger lie than that. Otherwise why would the GOD of cricket take one whole year to get to his 100th 100? Moreover it was not like he had hit a bad patch  - which happens to every cricketer. All through the year Sachin was in good form and its the prospoect of reaching that milestone that has veered him off track. Rewind back a few years to that Multan test when stand-in captain RD in the itnerests of the team declared the Indian Innings leaving Sachin stranded at 194. If Sachin really didn't care for records why would he have left the field with a dissapointed and stunned look on his face?

Surely Sachin has a bigger repertoire of shots and truck full of cricketing shots. But he lacks the killer instinct and leadership skills of Sourav Ganguly. He has the firepower and the muscle to bulldoze any opponent. But he doesn't have the mental toughness and steely resolve of Rahul Dravid. He has a child-like enthusiasm that keeps him going but he doesn't have the maturity as displayed by Laxman in hanging up his boots.
It is true that Sachin has won many matches for India and helped build India as a super power in the world of cricket. On numerous occasions he has pulled India through out of dire straits or atleast brought the team agonizingly close to respectability. And no, I don't agree to the notion that whenever Sachin scores, India looses. Thats just a case of sour grapes who can't digest a loss. His records speaks for itself. No passing comment can obliterate the good work he has done for his country.

Sachin has been a great force in Indian and world cricket. He is the reason why there are so many admirers of the great game. He's the reason why so many toddlers have picked up a bat and are currently playing along with or against him. He's the reason why there's a short supply of quality bowlers in the world. He's the reason why bowlers get nightmares and and captains evolve strategies. He's the reason why most batsmen prefer to talk back with their bats rather than with their mouths. He's the reason why stadiums are sold-out. Need I stress any more why every move of Sachin is closely watched, monitored and critiqued? Why everything Sachin does or does not, makes news? He has achieved everything that has to be achieved (except going past Lara's 400). Now its time for him to fade into the sunset of his cricketing career with reputation intact, rather than making special appearances in series' that catches his fancy.
Kohli's comment in retrospect has assumed greater significance now.

PS: And for God's sake wassup with the new hairstyle Sachin?

Picture Courtesy: sachintendulkaropus, Time, mesushantsingh

Friday, August 03, 2012

Rahul Dravid - Lord of Sweat

The biggest misconception of ardent cricket lovers across the globe is that Rahul Dravid always lived in the shadow of the Great Sachin Tendulkar and how he never got his share of recognition. The greatness of jammy lies in the fact that he never wanted the adulation and fanfare of a Rockstar. He craved for neither attention nor shock value. He never wanted to be the talk of the town. He never wanted women to scream his name in their sleep. Every day he would get up from bed, do his bit for the country and quietly retire to his private life - which mostly included bonding with his family. He's also one of those few world cricketers who despite being the No.2 run-getter in Tests (before Ponting overhauled him) had to constantly prove his worth as a reliable one-day batsman. But despite scoring over 10,000 runs with an average of 40 in this format, he fell out of favour with the selectors in place of players whose only contribution to the team were a quick pair of legs. And as if that insult wasn't harsh enough, recalling him after 2 years of forced-ODI-retirement (and thereby automatic non-T20I-consideration) in a tough English series (apart from being forced to make a T20I debut) was outright preposterous. While most cricketers in the twilight of their cricketing careers concentrate on only one aspect of the game (or retire from one format of cricket), RD doubled-up as a wicket-keeper to accommodate an extra batsman in the team. In the best interests of the team, he has batted in positions 1 to 8 without grumbling. Through all this insult and manhandling, RD has maintained his humility and dignity throughout. And that speaks volumes of his character. Never once has he spoken ill of anyone or anything - not even against Greg Chappel who has now become India's sworn cricketing enemy. With RD, I finally understood the meaning of a corporate world saying “if you are indispensable, you cannot be promoted”.

Statistically speaking, RD is the only batsman to feature in the only two 300+ partnerships in ODI cricket. And for those who say RD doesn’t know how to hit a six, there’s the occasion of him hitting three consecutive sixes in his only T20I match. He is also the second fastest Indian half-centurion.

RD in my opinion is the complete package when it comes to the making a cricketer. If Cricket is a gentleman's game, then yes, RD is a shining example of it. Not only does he have a truck load of cricketing shots, but his intellectual acumen is equally worth mentioning. The Bradman Oration is only one example of his verbosity. The innocent insinuations of projecting to the world that Indian players are not the bullies - on and off the field - indicates his command of Her Majesty’s native tongue. The fact that the Aussies chose RD to be first non-Aussie to speak at this prestigious event shows the kind of respect he commands across the world.

If Saurav commanded the area across the pitch on the off-side opposite to God, then RD was the beginning and end of the No3 position in Tests. If Sachin was/is God of perfect strokeplay, RD was all about being dead-set defensive. If Sehwag oozes flamboyance, then RD was the re-incarnation of patience. If Laxman was all about class, RD was the master of technique. If Yuvraj was all about aggression and arrogance, RD was humility-personified. If Beaven was the finisher then RD was the carrier. If Ponting was… well... Ponting, then RD re-invented himself in every new role and slot. If Jayasurya was the Destructor, then RD was the singles-sneaker. The list goes on…

The only blemish one can think of, in an otherwise flawless and illustrious career was the 2004 ball-tampering episode where he was apparently seen rubbing a candy on the ball. Whether he was actually guilty of the charge and if so, what prompted him to do it, will remain a mystery - unless he plans to reveal it in a tell-all tale that is now in vogue with retired cricketers these days. But knowing Rahul, he will take that mystery to his grave. The other haunting question that will never be revealed is just how and why did he declare that 2004 Indian innings against Pakistan, leaving Sachin stranded and (dumbfounded) at 194.

One word to describe RD - "Sweat"

So while the world mourns the retirement of RD, I will rather celebrate. I will celebrate because RD taught us so many lessons in Dedication, Patience, Resilience, Perseverance, Stubbornness, Adaptability and above all Humility and Dignity. He has served his time for his country and he has retired gracefully without being a burden and also paving the way for fresh talent to fill up those huge boots... metaphorically of course. It is now time for him to lead a relaxed life with his family albeit with some tense moments while watching rookie Test cricketers play with the long handle and an impatient mindset. As for me I’m just proud that I grew up in the era of Rahul Sharad Dravid.

PS: While this blog is a tribute to RD, it should not be automatically construed as a Sachin-bashing blog. That will come in a later posting :)
Picture Courtesy: NewsFirst, CricketNext, CentreRight

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A Tale of Two Grandmas

In a matter of one week my wife and I lost our respective Grandmas. The two of them were so different in their mannerisms and yet in the last few months of their life they were so similar. It only makes me wonder how Death is the most common denominator among us humans.

With my wife’s grandma - who was healthy as a horse - we imagined her to live a 100 years. But she took her final breath at 89 and bid farewell to the world. My own Grandma on the other hand who was frail as a Lilly plant went to live 6 months shy of a century.

My wife’s Granny earned the nickname of “Modern Ammumma” from the kids in the household for her (for lack of a better word) uniqueness. She was extremely “at-home” with gobbling Pizzas, Noodles and Ice creams. She would even have the occasional peg of whiskey with my co-brother! On the other hand my own Granny preferred the local delicacies like “muruku”, “mixture”, “avalose unda”, “banana chips” and other South-Indian Condiments. This despite the fact that she had lost all her tooth ages ago. She would just put them in her mouth for a very long time till it becomes soggy and soft enough to munch with her gums and swallow it.

While one Granny was a cleanliness freak who took bath on her own every day, bathing was optional for the other. While one never cared about her great grand kids, the other’s best friends were her great grand kids. But despite these differences, there were few common traits between the two. Both loved to receive gifts (“set mundu” and/or money) from their respective offsprings. And both of them treasured their “abharna petti”.

Both their lives were cut-short by a devastating fall that rendered them bed-ridden till their last breath. The inability to walk around increased their frustration. This led to them having delusions and certain hallucinations. Senility crept-in. They started to become a little violent and stubborn. Bed sores were a frequent occurrence, for not getting up from the bed. Screaming their lungs out was as common as having a meal. Personal Hygiene was thrown out of the window. Then slowly the food intake reduced. They refused to take any solid food. The last couple of weeks they took only “kanji vallam” or oats or juices. They were both a picture of wrinkled flesh and bones in their final days.

And then the inevitable happened. It was my wife’s granny that departed first. That day she had trouble breathing. She was taking quick breaths. Her daughter who diligently took care of her all these years knew the end was near. She put her in the car and drove to the hospital, but it was all over before they could reach the hospital. And then a week later, my granny, in the dead of the night started having breathing trouble and a few minutes later it was all over.

Two great souls who lived to see 3 generations of offsprings departed to a better world. A place free of the shenanigans of this cruel world. I know I will miss them, but I won’t - and didn’t - shed a tear for them, for I know they are in a happier place and I’m not jealous of their happiness. They have lived their time in this world and now it’s time to meet their maker. It was not an abrupt goodbye but merely the end of a long vacation in a place called Earth.

Picture Courtesy: