Monthly Archives: April 2011

Sreesanth’s Ayurvedic Treatment

This is about two years late, but I wanted to ask: does anyone know how wise Sreesanth’s decision was to opt for ayuverda instead of recommended shoulder surgery? This is what he told Cricinfo in 2008:

“I am feeling good and the ayurvedic treatment I underwent at Coimbatore really helped,” Sreesanth said. “Though all the surgeons I consulted did speak about the need to undergo surgery, I thought I would try ayurveda and believe me, I have recovered well. I would have lost six months if I had undergone surgery but now I have gained some time and I am able to bowl, bat and even throw, which was a bit of a problem earlier on.”

At the time, I joined in with a loud chorus in mocking Sreesanth. But as I’ve learned more about American health care, and the s0-called bio-medical industrial complex, I’ve grown more curious in the validity of “alternative” treatments. This skepticism may be less pronounced in India, but in America, my sense is that anything not recommended by a white coat in a shiny hospital is seen as fringe and hippy-ish.

But, again, recall Robin Utthapa’s testimony:

“Surgery in itself was a difficult one for me. I never had a fracture, I never wore a cast, I never had stitches, never been on general anaesthesia, never had a nerve block, and now I had all of it in one day,” Uthappa told Bangalore Mirror. “I had a cast right up to my forearm, a sling. I never ever experienced such excruciating pain in my life. I was on narcotics for 20 days, sitting and slouching on bed, passing out almost all the time, and then you lose shape.”

So my question is: has Sreesanth injured his shoulder since 2008? Did he go back and opt for surgery after all?

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Imitating Bowlers’ Actions

Did anyone else catch the IPL4 moment when a bowler — I think it was Manpreet Gony — used Lasith Malinga’s ‘slinga’ action instead of his own? As I remember it, the experiment didn’t work so well, with the balls landing wide off the off-stump. But I recall a certain amount of shock: a bowler’s action is his signature, almost his DNA. It’s exceedingly rare to see one bowler’s action look like another (Munaf Patel currently tops my list for Glenn McGrath impersonations).

So, for example, you will notice, as I wrote earlier, that every bowler has a personal habit — Malinga kisses the ball; Sreesanth has to put his hands out and calm himself; M. Morkel has to do a semi-circle before he begins his run-up; H. Singh has to cast his arms back (which Vettori kindly mocked at one point during the Ind-N.Z. series). Bowlers are creatures of habit — they have to do the same thing over and over again, and it helps if they can focus on the tiny things they need to change (a hint of swing, a change in line), rather than what needs to stay constant (their action). It’s always shocking, then, to see bowlers do strange things and abandon routine, as Gony did.

Anyway: I recall imitating a bowler’s action to be one of the chief delights of alley cricket. I remember pompously telling a friend — I was in 5th grade, mind you — that my decision to bowl like Allan Donald had clearly delivered measurable improvements. Imitating Kumble and Srinath was also a particular favorite — Srinath’s action was incredibly complicated but also beautiful in its flow. Which action did you guys pick?

Gaps In Cricket Knowledge

I mentioned L. Balaji in my last post, and I realized I know little to nothing about the man. That’s because Balaji began his career in the Indian team during one of the intermittent periods I stopped following cricket (circa 2003). As any member of the Indian diaspora will tell you, following cricket before the Internet age (and even now) can be tremendously difficult when you live in a country that doesn’t care about, or quite possibly hasn’t heard of, cricket.

As a result of wandering around the globe, my timeline as a cricket fan looks something like this: 1996-1998; 2007-present. I obviously checked in at crucial points (like the 2003 World Cup), but otherwise, through high school and most of college, I checked out. My biggest problem was that, for a very long time, I didn’t like reading about cricket so much as watching it — and if your cable network didn’t have Doordarshan, that meant you were basically cut out of the loop. (This was before illegal Internet cricket streams changed my life.)

That means I missed the 2001 Eden Gardens Test, and Rahul Dravid’s rise, and Ganguly waving his shirt, and L. Balaji and early Irfan Pathan. (I did catch the 2005 Ashes because of a chance vacation in Europe, which explains my now irrational interest in English cricket.) And it also explains why I can’t stop watching and talking and writing about cricket now — making up for lost time.

Anyone else have cricket gaps?

The New Men In Blue: India Tour Of The West Indies

Never too early to start rampant selection speculation, no? The Times of India is a-flutter because all the major players of the Indian team — Dhoni, Khan, H. Singh, Tendulkar, Gambhir, Sehwag — expect to sit out the West Indies tour in June. Their proposed list of replacements makes sense (based purely on 3/4 IPL matches), and could include some second-acts and surprises. Questions:

1. Will the selectors really go for P. Valthaty? This could be a beautiful thing.

2. Don’t know why, but D. Karthik, V. Rao, and A. Rayadu have never inspired confidence. On the other hand, I have irrational cricket crushes on R. Sharma and R. Uthappa. Go figure. (And the Times misses out the greatest cricket crush of all time, M. Kaif — who’s doing little to nothing in the IPL, I suppose?)

3. The bowling department looks a bit better: Praveen Kumar’s back. L. Balaji returns from the cold? Don’t know a thing about I. Abdullah; don’t care for I. Sharma in ODIs, and I’ve liked P. Chawla since those World Cup warm-up matches.

All in all, not bad options. Should be a good series. Will S. Raina captain?

An Old Cricket TV Convention I Miss

Is it just me, or do cricket broadcasts now rarely show a bowler’s run-up? I seem to recall, in bygone days, watching the slow-motion shot of a fast bowler (from front and side) approaching the crease and finishing his follow-through. It was always a lovely thing to see, because bowling is such an unnatural thing to do (and even more unnatural to do well). It was also educational — commentators usually pointed out problems in a run-up, or after a delivery, that needed to be changed. (On that note, has anyone else noticed how Ishant Sharma seems to do a mini-stumble after he bowls? Or is this just me?)

Anyway, cricket broadcast world, bring this feature back. Maybe even play it during those strategy time-outs? Just a thought.

Fire In Babylon, New York City Screening

Via Peter Della Penna of DreamCricket (and a fellow N.J. resident), comes exciting news about Fire in Babylon, the documentary of West Indies cricket (long anticipated by Samir Chopra):

“Fire in Babylon” premiered at the London Film Festival in October. It also appeared at the Glasgow Film Festival in February and the Adelaide Film Festival in March. The first of four screenings at Tribeca will take place on Saturday April 23 at 8:30 p.m. Riley hopes that sports fans and non-sports fans in New York will view the film with equal satisfaction.

Timings and logistics available here. “It was like slaves whipping the asses of the masters.” Before India, before Pakistan and before Sri Lanka, there was the West Indies. See you all there! Trailer:

Cricket Headline Of The Day

From the Daily Nation in Kenya:

Finally, Baptiste given out after poor innings

Baptiste = Kenya’s coach. The poor innings = 2011 World Cup.

Indian IPL Cheerleaders

From Times of India:

Pune Warriors, during their Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter with Delhi Daredevils on Sunday, unveiled a new concept at the D.Y. Patil Sports Complex by replacing cheergirls with traditional Indian ‘Cheer Queens’ to goad on the team.

The concept is a brainchild of Sahara India Pariwar’s Managing Worker Chairman Subrata Roy. Indian girls dressed in designer ethnic dance costumes to cheered for the Pune Warriors, who are having a great run in their maiden IPL season.

Like Amy S. (forever missed), I generally opposed the presence of cheerleaders on or near the cricket field. The game already suffers from a terrible gender deficit (please! More on-air female commentators, and more female umpires!), and I didn’t feel placing women as eye-candy was the way to fix it. That said, an equally difficult problem was that all the cheerleaders were white, a decision obviously born out of a complex mix of marketing and nationalism. IPL organizers could satisfy the male gaze and local feminists by saying they were protecting Indian women, at the expense of the foreigners’.

Which, of course, is a terrible discourse to perpetuate. Allowing Indian men to cheer on white women isn’t the answer — and I’m not sure I much prefer the traditional Indian alternative described above. But it’s a terribly difficult thicket here: on the one hand, I don’t want to sound like right-wing demagogues, who oppose female cheerleaders because they see any role for women outside the kitchen as inappropriate. On the other hand, it’s galling to see shots of scantily clad white women dancing in front of all those male Indian eyes, like some terrible reversal of colonial edicts. What’s the answer?

The South Africa Sport Boycott

Anyone in New York City this evening? Anthology Film Archives is re-screening Connie Field’s excellent apartheid documentary, Have You Heard From Johannesburg? It’s in eight parts (!), and today, comes this excellent episode:

FAIR PLAY (95 minutes)
An international sports boycott takes shape when African teams refuse to compete in the Olympics with South Africa’s all-white teams. Only SA’s world champion Springboks rugby team remains on the field.

Hope to see everyone there.

UPDATE: So, the episode described above was more about rugby than cricket, but it was still fascinating. What struck me was how much opposition proposed boycotts stirred — in tiny New Zealand, the documentary implies, the question nearly provoked a civil war (on many levels: some Maori groups, who take their rugby seriously, had no problem playing the South Africans; others, obviously, felt this was an ‘Uncle Tom’ stance). It then reverberated around the world. So, N.Z. allowed the Springboks to tour, which led African countries to boycott the Montreal Olympics in protest.

A crucial question is whether or not it was fair to express opposition to apartheid on the rugby players, some of who appear on-screen to say they had no political leanings one way or the other. And, really, looking at what these players faced — mass protests featuring sarcastic chants of ‘Sieg Heil’; unions that refused to fly them around countries, host them in hotels, or drive them to stadiums; game interruptions — well, it’s hard not to feel a tad sorry for them. On the other hand, South African apartheid apologists admit near the end of the episode that the boycott, as well as all the unrest it stirred elsewhere, forced white South Africans to squarely confront the nature of their regime.

Is Money Not Enough To Motivate Cricketers?

Just one more point from the Otis Gibson de-briefing memo (courtesy of WICB Expose). At one point, in a list of the West Indian players’ shortcomings, it includes this sentence: “Player commitment is only financial.”

I understand the general idea motivating this criticism. Cricket is an international sport, and players should own up to the special responsibility of representing their nation. But isn’t this a rather quaint statement of purpose in the age of the IPL and T20-Sanford leagues and what not? And is it right to ask someone like, say M. Amir, a man of extremely humble origins and on a limited salary, not to be motivated for more financial stability?

In fact, given the level of risk a cricketer assumes in pursuing an international career, as well as the demands put on the modern athlete, isn’t the prospect of excellent compensation somewhat justified? It’s one thing if you’re a West Indies player in 1975, when Test cricket was still a gentleman’s sport relatively untouched by Kerry Packer and the broadcast allure. But those times are obviously gone — and indeed, in the IPL, the only motivation a foreign, established player has is money (domestic players, of course, are angling for a spot in the national team).

I don’t care if a player is playing only for money, or only for country, or — most likely the case — a mix of both. As long as the performance is top-class, and no laws/rules are being broken (sorry, Amir), play for whatever reason you want. Of course, the WICB may not have as much money on hand to pay its cricketers as the BCCI does — but this is all the more reason to cut down on Burger King costs and extraneous salaries. Lectures of Gibson’s kind likely go only so far.

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