Tag Archives: Cricket

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and Indian Cricket

I haven’t been to India recently, so I’ve had to rely almost exclusively on Western accounts of anger in some Indian sectors about the now-Oscar-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire. Apparently, some were angry about the word ‘dog,’ which they found particularly offensive. Note, again, how culturally specific insults can be: ‘monkey’ is not at all registered in India, whereas ‘dog’ — I know this from personal experience — goes too far (‘bastard’, as well, as Anil Kumble pointed out to Brad Hogg, also goes beyond the pale). 

Others, however, were angry that the film’s central characters and plot came out of Dharavi, the massive slum in Bombay. I’m not sure I understand their logic, because, as ‘slum’ films go, this one was far better a portrayal than City of Joy, a Patrick Swayze movie from the 1990s that relied on the savior-Westerner prototype as its main protagonist, and focused much less on Indian wealth. That film, of course, also attracted protests, but Slumdog is simply different, since it is not meant to be a “realist” portrayal; it is a fantastic romp through a series of bigger-than-life characters (see Anil Kapoor’s role especially). Continue reading

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M.I.A. and Cricket

The New York Times had an article about rapper M.I.A., a Brit with Sri Lankan — and, more pertinently, Tamil — origins. Her generally supportive statements of the Tamil Tigers have ruffled more than a few feathers on the island, especially given her outsized profile in the West (say what you want about Muralitharan, but no American knows him). Continue reading

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The IPL Auction Shockers

Before the IPL auction, some media observers pointed out that England’s dressing room might have an awkward morning-after. Flintoff and Pietersen were both expected to raise $950,000, but what would happen if no one bid for them, and what about their teammates — Collingwood and Shah — who were valued nearly 10 times lower?

I don’t think I completely buy that, though. Boys may be boys, and $1.1 million is certainly more than what Shah or Collingwood eventually received. On the other hand, none of these bids actually reflects cricketing sense. It reminds me of that a card game popular in India in the mid-1990s, when the market suddenly realized how lucrative the game could be. Essentially, you had cards with statistics of a player, and your opponent had his own. You then would pick one statistic — average, or number of innings, whatever — and if yours was higher, you could take your opponent’s card.

It didn’t really make sense then, but, what the hell, we were 10 years old. 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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Sachin Isn’t A Teenager, So Stop Saying He Is

I know Sachin Tendulkar has gotten into a little spat with Adam Gilchrist lately (and I’m on Tendulkar’s side, believe me), but I am getting a bit tired of commentators breathlessly talking about how youthful his outlook still seems, and how much verve and enthusiasm he brings to the game after nearly 20 years in it.

Yes, the man can take a good catch, and yes, he’s happy after he does it — wouldn’t anyone be? Which player in his 30s still goes on the field only to act like they’ve seen it all? If that were the case, wouldn’t he not, in fact, go on the field but just retire? 

So, quit it! Tendulkar likes to play the game. We know. Yes, he’s happy to take a catch — there’s no reason someone in their 30s wouldn’t be — and when he scores a half-century, he’s downright pleased about it (because he just scored a half-century). Millionaires might not jump for joy if they made another few additional $100,000, but they wouldn’t stop trying to make their money.

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The Indian Fan’s Dilemma: Should We Believe?

I know they’re ahead. So ahead. Day 4 starts in about an hour, but India are already 300 runs in front, with Virender Sehwag looking ominous. But they are playing Australia, which no one should discount. Especially now, this Australian side reveals the psychology’s significance in cricket. Good teams, great players, even umpires all fall occassionaly fall prey to the trademark Australian pressure (do you remember that last over from the Sydney Test? Or even the awful batting display in the 1st Test?). Their fielders run in; they constantly chat; they appeal as if they already know the verdict. It’s a beautifully constructed stage the Australians strut on. 

And yet, this Test has also shown, if only tentatively, the gap that is opening between the Australian reputation and the team’s actual abilities. “Australia” — world champions for the last 15 years — is now much, much better than Australia, a team without Warne and McGrath and an unsure Matthew Hayden. But can they pull it off again, though? Can they simply frighten their way to victory once more? When Shane Watson blithely said they could chase anything down — didn’t you feel nervous? 

Oh, I can’t watch!

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Regulating Spirit Fairly

I’ve written before about changing the framework that currently regulates on-field behavior in the gentleman’s game. There are a few problems in the present system: complexity, ambiguity, lack of enforcement. But it’s also very ineffective. If authorities are serious about wanting players to play nice, they can’t be happy with the last few years, as every India-Australia series will attest. The underlying strutucal factors — namely, an exploding television audience — demand more friction and drama, and players will be only too happy to oblige.

What can be done about it? Continue reading

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Against Instant Replay: A Paean To The Umpire

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a moderate traditionalist when it comes to the technology debate in the game. There are a few reasons for that, not least that I couldn’t buy into the collective rage that descended India during the Sydney Test fiasco (a.k.a. “Bucknor-Gate”). 

There are other factors involved too, of course: Continue reading

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Andrew Symonds Discovers His Softer Side?

What on earth is going on in Australian cricket? Perhaps there’s a drawback to holding the champion position so long, when their best cricketers appear to suffer all sorts of mental breakdowns. First it was Shaun Tait, though that was not as big news because, deep down, we all know fast bowlers — especially ridiculously fast ones like Tait — are inherently crazy. 

But now, Symonds? And what’s this about a fishing trip? And him possibly not wanting to come back to cricket? Uncle J Rod, on one of his hi-tech podcasts, spent about 3 minutes repeating the “F” word, and then dwelling in some deep conspiracy theories (he smells an arrest). But it seems that, despite enjoying massive support from the public, Symonds does not have a similar status inside his own dressing room, from where all sorts of bad names have come out in the last week about him.

Not to take too much fun in another man’s misfortune, but this is a bit of fun for me. Continue reading

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Seinfeld Does Cricket

This American Express ad is quite good, especially because it surprisingly features cricket and Jerry Seinfeld. Together. No joke.

Watch the 1990s absurdist comedian get caught behind and then unacceptably display dissent (I see a fine on the way). 

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