Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Grandson's Question: A Short Story

14 July 2059, Dublin, Ireland: It's festive atmosphere at Morgan's Cottage in quaint downtown Dublin. Well dressed men and gorgeous women of varying ages walking in with flowers, bouquets and antique gifts. The ambience is calm yet cheerful. Senior Mr. Morgan is receiving people with Mrs. Tara, his long time companion accompanying him.

Suddenly five year old grandson rushes in with his toy-gun and starts shooting his grandpa. Jovial grandpa fakes the act of taking bullets and falls back on the sofa. Grandson comes near Mr. Morgan and asks, "Grandpa, are you dead or alive ?" Grandpa opens his eyes, hugs the grandson and says, "I'm alive my boy, I'm alive, as alive as I was forty years ago !"

Grandson is curious at the festivities and asks, "But Grandpa, is it your birthday today? Why so many people are here congratulating you?" Grandpa replies, "Oh, it isn't my birthday Dear Trent, it is much bigger. Much more bigger than any birthday." The curious little Trent is even more curious now. "Really?" He asks, "Much bigger than birthday? What could be bigger than that Grandpa?"

Mr. Morgan replies proudly, "Oh, exactly forty years ago, we won the Cricket World Cup on this day and you know what? I was the Captain of the winning team !" The grandson is a sharp kid, "Come on Grandpa don't bluff. Ireland has never won the Cricket World Cup !"

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Rule of Rules

OK. So I am not able to understand the furore over the result of the final..Cricket is losing out over other sports (even in England)...So much so that they had to broadcast it free to air today...Today's game is a great example to promote our game in Latin America and countries who don't play cricket, as they would correlate with the tie breaker rule...Yes, I know, it is tough...It's more like a heart breaker 😞 to see Guptil today, crying and broken, was a tough sight... A BIG SALUTE TO THE GUY, WHO CARRIES ON, EVEN WITH JUST TWO TOES IN HIS ONE FOOT! A LEGEND! A MOTIVATION!
But so is Roger Federer, who faced another heart wrenching tie-breaker defeat today😖 why no one saying that he should have been declared joint winner? Same is in football - one clear winner!
The thing is, cricket is a complex sport, with lots of nuances and intricate details...The game is being evolved each day, but also this is game which cannot keep on going on and on...The result has to be decided at some stage, and as today showed, in future also, there will be flaws with those new rules..

I Would have been most happy if trophy was shared today! NZ so deserved to win! Hats off! But luck favoured England, and they played well too... Commiseration to NZ and congratulations to England!

But I feel many people are just not happy coz they personally dislike England, for whatever reason! This has nothing to do with the brand of cricket shown by England in past 4 years, the way they totally revamped their style, culture and strategy! And they were no.1 side in the world before the tournament started.

Hare and Tortoise: Version 2019

It was decided to hold the much discussed Hare and Tortoise race once again. The hare felt it was cheated on earlier occasions. It believed it deserved to win the trophy because racing was invented by Harekind. All the supporters of hare said, "Give the trophy to the hare." Thus the race began.
Old habits die hard. Hare continued to hop and pop in fits and bursts. Tortoise continued with single minded dedication. After an eight and a half hour marathon, Tortoise crossed the finish line. But wait, by hopping and sliding through some lucky slopes, the hare too had crossed the line, exactly at the same time. It was a photo finish.
It was decided to hold a tie breaker. A shorter 10 minutes super race was conducted. Once again, Tortoise went ahead with same calm and composure and hare strutted toward finish line. Once again, the hare and tortoise finished over the line in an exact photo finish. After close to 9 hours of running, there was no difference between the hare and the tortoise. They had run the same distance twice over, finishing exactly in same time in both races.
"Enough is enough," said the International Clowns Council (ICC in short) that conducted the race and formulated the rules, "We've had enough evidence to say the hare is the winner." The agonised supporters of the tortoise asked, "But how ? Both of them ran same distance and covered it in same time twice over. Then how can one be declared a winner ? That is unfair! "

Friday, July 12, 2019

45 Minutes of Bad Play

“45 minutes of bad play and we are out of the tournament. Such is the knockout format of the World
Cup”. As Virat Kohli said this, 1.25 billion fans cried. Dhoni's run-out in the pen-ultimate over was a heart breaking moment. We knew it was all over once he was no longer there to take the team over the finishing line.

Such has been the tournament for the Indian team - the top order clicked in every match and we managed to grab the top spot in the group stage. Rohit, Shikhar, Kohli and even KL Rahul in the end played exceptional cricket to get the team through semis. But, at the back of the mind, there was always this the fear of middle order not being tested. It came back to haunt us. When it mattered the most, they failed. There was one straight-forward strategy which every team planned against India. Get the top 3 out early and you are in the game. No other team could do it but New Zealand played well to enter the finals at Lords.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Imran Tahir: The Runaway (Success) Story

Cricket World Cup Match 48: Australia Vs South Africa, 6 July 2019: Imran Tahir got Aaron Finch caught at short covers and started running. "Don't stop Imran Tahir, let him run !" said a Commentator. That was perhaps the last time he was replicating his most ridiculed, his most famed and most memed run in a ODI match. Imran Tahir's story can easily go down as a modern day Urban Myth. Or it can be called a "Runaway Success Story".

Mohammed Imran Tahir was born in Lahore, Pakistan on 27 March, 1979. Eldest born in a huge family, Tahir's running began pretty early in life at 16, when he began working for a pittance at Pace Shopping Mall in Pakistan. He wasn't able to make ends meet and thus kept running.

In between, he bowled leg spin and googly and played for Pakistan Under 19 and Pakistan A team. In an era dominated by Mushtaq Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq and other spinners, Imran Tahir just couldn't make it to the next level. He ran away to English County.

At 23, he was so desperate for more chances and a better living, he ran away to South Africa. As starved for a class spinner as India were for a genuine fast bowler in those days, South Africa embraced Imran Tahir with both hands and ever since, he has done most of his running for them.

Imran Tahir and his young wife survived on meagre income in early days in South Africa. He even drove cabs and worked in factories. But the attitude and passion of the man kept him going. Finally he made debut for South Africa on 24 February 2011, almost 32 by that time. He made his test debut in November the same year.

Imran Tahir holds some excellent and some dubious records.

  • He was ranked No. 1 bowler in both ODI Cricket and T20 Cricket in 2017, at the age of 38.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Bits and Pieces About Jadeja and Manjrekar

Scroll.in (who else can ?) has come out in defence of Sanjay Manjrekar and published an article with veiled criticism of Ravindra Jadeja. The article written by one Vinayakk Mohanarangan tries to portray Jadeja's attack on Manjrekar as an outcome of CSK Vs Mumbai Indians rivalry. It says Jadeja's Tweet could be motivated by his franchise.

Without going into merits or demerits of the article, I have a few simple bits and pieces of statistics to point out. 30 year old Jadeja has played 151 ODI matches before the world cup. He has scored over 2000 runs at an average of 29.9 and strike rate of 84. Jadeja also has taken 174 wickets with an average of 35.6 and economy rate of 4.88. Jadeja has 10 half centuries from 101 ODI innings and he is the best fielder in India if not in the world.
These are mind blowing statistics for a bowling Allrounder in limited overs Cricket. This is the player Manjrekar has branded as "Bits and Pieces Player". If that is not gross, Manjrekar goes a step ahead with, "Jadeja is purely a bowler in tests." Jadeja has a century and 10 fifties with over 1400 runs from 60 test innings and averages 32 in tests. Purely a bowler averages 32 in tests and has a 50 plus score every 6 innings, right ?

Manjrekar was wrong when he called Jadeja a "Bits and Pieces Player" and he was wrong when he called Jadeja "Purely a bowler in tests." Any article that tries to justify such utterly ridiculous opinion begins on the wrong foot and the only way it can end up is LBW (Low Brow Writing).

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Some History and Some World Cup Misery

15th January, 1894: It was Western Australia playing against Victoria in an Australian First Class match. There was a tree just inside the boundary. According to rules prevailing in those days, batsmen can run "any number of runs" before the ball crosses the boundary.

A ball hit by one of the batsmen got stuck between two tiny branches on that really huge tree. Since the ball was within the boundary, the batsmen started running. They kept running as the fielding team tried routine methods like throwing stones to retrieve the ball. The ball was not going to budge, like Rahul Gandhi refusing to take back his resignation.

Some tried climbing the tree with futility. It was like defeating Modi in an election, impossible. Finally they called the fire engine ladder to reclaim the ball. Over an hour had lapsed by this time and the batsmen had completed 286 runs. Batsmen too were on the verge of exhaustion, having run close to three and a three quarter miles between those 22 yards. That is the highest runs scored of a single ball in the history of Cricket.

Now, what has this tiny bit of history got to do with the ongoing World Cup ? Well, big brother Pakistan play little brother Bangladesh on "Friday" the 5th July, hoping to qualify for the CWC 2019 Semifinals. They have pretty simple equations before them.

For Pakistan to qualify, they must beat Bangladesh by...
311 runs after scoring 350 Runs
316 runs after scoring 400 Runs
321 runs after scoring 450 Runs

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Tribute To Bumrah: 30 Years Before He Was Born

A confident Saifuddin gestured to Rubel to play out the last 2 balls of Bumrah's last over, the 5th and 6th balls of 48th over of Bangladesh innings. Saif believed he had his chances to get those 29 runs of the remaining 2 overs of Shami and Bhuvan, especially Shami being his target. It was a reasonable hope but Bumrah had other plans and we know what he did to Rubel and Mustafizur of exactly those 2 balls. He left Saif deflated at the non-striker's end and that was the end !
When Bumrah bowls at death, he must be played out. Don't try to hit him. Just stay there because these are balls of fire. These are not my words. These were beautifully expressed in a song from the 1964 Hindi movie "Dooj Ka Chand". Manna Dey made this fervent request to lower order batsmen in lyrics written by Sahir Ludhianvi. Music was composed by Roshan.
Manna Dey repeatedly tells tail end batters "Don't hit, don't hit - Na Maaro Na Maaro". The song goes thus.
Full Gendwa Na Maaro, Na Maaro,
Lagat Karejwa me Chot
It pleads, "Please don't hit the full ball. It will hurt inside the chest." Sahir clearly expresses the desperation of Coaches and well settled batsmen like Saifuddin at the non striker's end. As the ball demolishes the heart of the timber behind the batsman, hit hurts the hearts of the Coach, partner and all the supporters.