Category Archives: Anil Kumble

Another Australian Book, Another Media Storm

I swear, these Australians have way too much time on their hands. I can understand a little newspaper column here and there, but can these guys please stop putting out books every other week? Don’t they make enough money that they don’t need to put out more gossipy drivel for the sake of a quick buck? 

Maybe I should go easier on Ponting’s latest literary effort, Captain’s Diaries. He seems very careful — much more than idiot-of-the-year, Adam Gilchrist (why would you even think about attacking Sachin Tendulkar? Does he not realize how powerful the Indian market is? Does he still want to play in the IPL?). He merely says that an Indian senior player hoped that the process would not get too bogged down after the Symonds-Harbhajan affair. Fair enough.

And there is some good stuff here: Continue reading

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Trial And Testimony: Gambhir, Sachs, And Cricket

I meant to blog about this when it came out — clearly, I can’t keep up with the Internet’s fast pace — but Albie Sachs’s opinion on the Gambhir-Watson merits some reading from cricket fans. I don’t know what kind of reaction “Gambhir-gate” attracted in India, but if I knew any better, I’m sure it echoed the hysteria that the BCCI displayed when the ban was decided. 

Let’s review: Gambhir and Watson get into each other’s faces during the 3rd Test Match. Then, when returning for a second run, Gambhir coyly puts his elbow out and lets Watson — reportedly, a very, very big man — have a little touch. A one-match ban takes effect for one; a fine for the other. 

Now, this is clearly a violation (or two) of those much talked-of but rarely-seen principles of cricket, and Gambhir admitted as much when he pleaded guilty. Chris Broad, however, felt that the physical contact went too far and could not be ignored, and so settled for the penalty he chose (apparently, he originally wanted a two-match ban, because of Gambhir’s run-in with Afridi, but he compromised after the umpires told him just how mean and nasty Watson and Co. were). 

Gambhir appealed, but Albie Sachs deferred. The BCCI gets angry, and cry upon cry is raised about the hypocrisy of the whole system. I think both sides have some merit, and I want to offer that kind of nuance into the debate: Continue reading

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Day 1, Australia V. India

This. Is. So. Exciting. 

Now, normally I like this blog to be a bit more high-brow, not necessarily concerned with the latest scandal or sporting result, but more with the construction of the game.

Whatever. I will be live blogging the first day of the India and Australia Test match, set to begin in about an hour and a half. It should be exciting stuff, and if ever you find yourself feeling bored with the commentary (which is bound to be just about dismal), check back regularly. Continue reading

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Coming To Terms With Ahmedabad

I know India lost — and lost badly — last week, but I didn’t really care much when it happened. As I dutifully refreshed Cricinfo’s live scorecard, I read each Indian wicket’s fall with unexpected stoicism. It’s strange; my family will tell you that whenever India loses, I inevitably suffer a long bout of depression — no food, no smiles. It’s really all quite pathetic. But the 2nd Test did nothing like that for me.

Part of this was due to the dreadful match in Chennai, where the bowlers were just as much spectators as the rest of us were. At last, I thought to myself, here was some action from the other end of the pitch, and so what if India were on the receiving end: this was just more fun. Besides, 20-over innings in Test matches are a rare thing, and even more so in India, where attrition and patience works better than out-and-out aggression.

But more than all that, I think this Test arrived at an awkward time in the calendar, and I’m not talking about the onset of the IPL. Continue reading

Macho, Macho Men: Australians Reveal Their Masculine Side

The sun never set on the British Empire, but the same cannot be said of the cricketing world, its chief colonial legacy (apart from, you know, the rule of law and all that). Already a fairly small coterie of 10 or 11 countries (depending on Zimbabwe’s mood), it doesn’t help that several members suffer from regular terror attacks and general instability, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even mother country, England.

It’s a sad state of affairs — so much for cricket’s civilizing mission — because international cricketers must regularly choose on the one hand between their safety and political ideas (especially with regards to Robert Mugabe) and playing the sport that they’re paid for on the other.

But while I don’t want to burden cricket with any more political baggage than it already has, Andrew Symonds has forced my hand. Although many on the Australian team have expressed reluctance to tour Pakistan in its current state, Symonds has been the most outspoken, joking last year about the number of bombs that form a part of daily life in that country. Even if the tour itinerary is shortened; even if security is beefed up; Symonds says he doesn’t want to go. Full Stop.

Obviously, I don’t wish harm on anybody, least of all cricketers, but Symonds — and the Australian team in general — cannot walk out of this corner without at least admitting to hypocrisy and, at the most, cowardice (Yeah! I’m calling ’em yella’, you hear!). Continue reading

An Ode to Ishant

Let’s be clear: there’s no reason anyone should pay nearly a million dollars for this man ($800,000 more than Glenn McGrath), but he’s certainly worth something. India has seen so many talented pace bowlers in recent years — Sreesanth, Balaji, Khan, Singh — but no one has impressed as highly and as quickly as this 19-year old lad.

It’s already old hat, but that period of play in the 3rd Test against Australia against Ricky Ponting will have to go down as the paragon of what Test cricket is about. Cricket enthusiasts make much of the “greatest over” that Freddie Flintoff delivered in 2005 to get rid of Langer and Ponting, but this was the greatest hour. It is said about Ponting that once he’s set — that is, once he reaches 20 or 30 — he is set, and will not be dislodged until he reaches a century (at least). On this occasion, however, he never looked at home, misreading ball after ball.

And, really, the fact that this Sharma is only 19 years old adds so much to the drama. There’s something cruel about sports; the way they allow anyone with talent, no matter how untested, to stand up to the experienced and reputed. But it’s the most thrilling part of it as well: over the last three or four years, no one has figured out Ponting. This boy, however, did. “Ek aur karega?” asked Kumble. And he replied, famously, “Ha, main karoonga.” I will do it. [See below.]

How Durst You? The National Honor Argument

If you didn’t know it before, you know it now: Indians take their cricket really, really seriously. It’s always interesting to me how so many Indian fans like to think that it’s just about the cricket, when, in reality, the actual game matters very little to them. It’s about Indian glory, Indian dominance, Indians shining — all the usual upper-middle class mumbo-jumbo about a rising India we’ve been hearing in India for the last 15 years.

And so, without missing a beat, the Harbhajan Singh scandal has been portrayed as nothing less than a full-scale assault on the Indian identity. More than a few ex-cricketers and Indian statesmen have argued that just the accusation that an Indian could be racist — true or otherwise — is too much; after all, they say, Indians waged a campaign against racism (that is, British imperialism and, later, South African apartheid).

It’s strange, because these people are relying on the same sloppy thinking that, well, racists employ. Continue reading

Crying for Bucknor/The Umpire as Tragic Figure

The Sydney crisis is crawling towards a face-saving resolution, and the first steps were taken today: against the standard rules and procedures, the ICC has replaced Steve Bucknor for the remainder of the series with Billy Bowden (one of the umpires, incidentally, who received a suspension after the World Cup final disaster).

Here’s why I think this is a bad move. Continue reading

A Question Of Credibility

Looking at yet another special talk show — replete with the required dramatic music and graphics — and I think I’ve hit on why Indian fans are reacting so strongly. For years, Australians have garnered a reputation for sledging and saying all sorts of nasty things — “mental disintegration” and all that — and this is what they reap in response.

Why will no Indian accept the word of Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds about Singh’s abuse? Continue reading

The Case of Bhajji v. Symonds

I think he’s guilty. I really do: if you watch the exchange — as I have countless times, thanks to Indian cable television — you’ll notice a key moment. Symonds has clearly said something mean and nasty and, as he’s walking away, Singh lets it rip. At this point, Matthew Hayden is crossing over, and Symonds just notes what Singh said. Singh then turns around to Hayden, looking guilty, as if he thought only he and Symonds could hear each other.

Pretty circumstantial stuff, I know (sort of like giving a batsman out caught behind for looking behind after the ball passes his bat). And India’s point makes enough sense: barring any audio or video evidence, there’s nothing but hearsay and one man’s word against another’s.

But knowing Harbhajan, I just feel like he called the man a monkey. Continue reading