Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Chappell VS Ganguly; Drama Ends in anticlimax

So once again we saw the worst infight melting down to a meek compromise. The peace-broker, BCCI, must be heaving a sigh of relief as it doused another flaming controversy and now they can concentrate on their own battle, the Elections. But does this truce means peace in Indian Cricket? Here is a post-mortem of the incidents that leads to the final show-down between the henchmen of Indian Cricket and the subsequent truce.

If you haven’t seen the full text of Greg Chappell’s e-mail, here is the copy of it.


These are the main points Greg Chappell raised.

  1. Saurav is not in a right frame of mind to lead Team India
  2. He is faking injuries to avoid facing fast bowlers and new balls.
  3. Spreading rumors to team mates that they are not wanted by the new coach, or in short bad-mouthing him within the team.
  4. He is biased in his approach to team mates and
  5. Manipulating team composition to save his place in team.

All these started with Saurav’s explosive revelations to the media right after his century in the 1st test against Zimbabwe that he has been asked to step down. In his e-mail to the BCCI, Mr. Chappell vehemently deny this accusation and explained that it is Saurav who asked him as to what he thinks about his future in Indian Cricket. Being an Aussie, he made some frank observations, and Saurav went on to make a big issue of it. But that’s all now water under the bridge and let’s focus on this current issue, that WHAT HAD CHANGED now after the meeting to declare a ceasefire and shake hands? What was the role the review committee played to solve the acrimony between the coach and Captain? Who benefited from this fracas?

The immediate winner is, once again and as long as Dalmiya is at the helm of BCCI, Ganguly. He has not only held on to the captaincy but cleared his tarnished image that of scared of real fast bowling and negative influence in team. And got another chance to captain India.

From Chappell’s point of view, he is the winner in terms of long term goals. He knows that from now onwards he has a say in selection matters, Ganguly has to perform with the bat which is highly unlikely, and stamped his authority on the players.

The real winner, in short and long term, is Dalmiya. He has not only saved his protégé from going out unceremoniously, but made sure that he retained his captaincy and supremacy at least for the time being. And he bought more time for himself to fight off the threat of Pawar. Any drastic action should invite more criticism to him.

But the way Chappell and Ganguly accepted the formula put out by BCCI surprised every one. Every one was aware what Ganguly was up to. He just wants to save his place and even before the review committee meeting he was assured about it. But Chappell, a tough taskmaster, the typical Aussie, went down without a fight?

Now Ganguly won the confidence of the BCCI, and Chappell is being told in no uncertain terms that Captain is king on the field, and Coach should interfere only things off the field, has he lost his vision? Is The Commitment to Excellence a watered down version from now onwards? If members of the team defy him, what can he do? Has he found a place for Ganguly in his scheme of things? What about the negative influence?

The truce raised many questions than it answered. As Mahendra put it, from now onwards the selection criteria will be only performance. Does that mean it was not so until now? The answer of this question is public knowledge, yet he has to answer it.

Chappell must be fuming inside and this may reflect in his future approach to the team. A wary coach and un-trusting members is recipe for disaster. The after all the hand-shakes and media exercises just one fact emerges as ever. The loser in this drama is Cricket the game. And the true lovers of the game let down by the keepers. There may be more of this drama to come and more tamasha will be enacted before once again them shake-hands and patch-up. But the Cricket is dying here. A slow, painful death and only some divine intervention can save it from it’s sad destiny.

Monday, September 26, 2005

India and Athleticism; A lost dream

The topic was a hot item for every time India fails to make it in International arena. After every Olympics, Football World Cup qualifiers, International Athletic meets etc the International community and the people of India itself keep asking the same question. Why India can’t make it? There have been few answers so far. Some blame it on the system. Few others pointing their fingers towards the politician’s lack of will. But what is the real reason? What could make our athletes and players achieve it? Is there anything that we can do?

First let’s examine some big names in our country. There is always the ‘flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh. Then there is our sprint Queen P.T. Usha. Recently there is Anju Bobby George, Arjun Atwal, Leander Paese, Lt. Col. RajyaWardhan Singh to name a few. But in individual sport, our showing was never equal to the best in world. Our top ranked sportspersons are way down in international rankings. Just to endorse my view, here are some details of India’s individual medal tally In Olympics.

Year Category Medal Name

1952 Wrestling Bronze K.D. Jadav

1996 Lawn Tennis Bronze Leander Paes

2000 Weightlifting Bronze K. Malleswari

2004 Shooting Silver Maj. Rajyawardhan Singh

Total 4 medals!!.

So where are we? As Mr. Steve Sailer (president of the Human Biodiversity Institute and Adjunct Fellow of the Hudson Institute) put it, India is the biggest loser of Sydney Olympics. For a population of 1 billion, we have nothing to show but Silver. Perhaps we are too obsessed with cricket, that we ignored other sports? It's long been theorized that militaristic nations should be best at sports, since sport is fundamentally training for and recreation from fighting and hunting. This correlation, however, has proved hard to test since practically every nation on Earth has a pugnacious history. Ancient nations that didn't like war tended to be put to the sword.

Where does that leave us? May be we, Indians were repeatedly been passive subjects to invaders, are failed collectively to stand up and contest? In the long history of colonization, we can get enough prove that we accepted defeat before standing up and fight. True, there were some exceptions and it is because those people we enjoy our freedom today. But the colonized mindset of our people still force them to believe that if things are from English speaking country, it should be better than ours. It is this believe that made cricket this popular.

Other thing that should be explored is our physique. The average height of an American is 5’9” and they are tallest along with Dutch and Norwegians. World Health organizations studies shows that the average height is a direct indicator to the well-being of the country, i.e. access to Public health care, nutritional food etc. Research has shown that average height is significantly associated with a country's per capita income. And this is directly linked to the infrastructure and facilities a nation can provide for sports. Of all races, Asians are shortest, but Indians are not the shortest in Asia. Japanese qualify for this, but they were way ahead of us in terms of Olympic medals. So not only height influences the performance but the physique as a total is the key. India, burdened by the ever-growing population, can’t afford to spend big bucks on providing infrastructure and new equipment which are a necessity for winning at the top level. We compete on bad turfs, cheap equipments and when it comes to international level, are up against the best in world.

There is no lack of talent here. But most of these young talents are nipped in the bud. Instead of providing best facilities, the authorities discourage the upcoming talents by not doing anything for them. Except cricket, no other sport in India can be a full time profession. There is no money or incentive in it. So now stop lamenting every time we fail to win a medal. Admit that we are not up to it. We couldn’t do it. Physically, mentally, gene-wise we are ill-prepared or not prepared at all. There may be a time when India leads the medal charts. But not in my or your lifetime.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Circus Called Indian Cricket

won a test series outside the subcontinent after long 19 years! Cheers to our team for their extra ordinary performance. It takes a lot of effort to beat a team like Zimbabwe! The perennial whipping boys of International cricket were actually the winner of the series. They can take heart from their performance, such as Taibu’s Batting & keeping, Heath Streak’s return to form and Andy Blignaut’s all-round display. Just before the Indian team’s visit, The Kiwis just pummeled them into submission. Just look at these statistics.

1st Test : New Zealand won by an Innings and 294 Runs Ended in just two days

New Zealand 452 in 89 Overs at and average of 5.08!!

Zimbabwe were bowled out twice in a day, only the second team to suffer the

Ignominy, for the scores 59 & 99!

2nd Test: New Zealand won by an Innings and 46 runs ended in three Days.

This was a better performance from Zimbabwe, they managed to take 10

Opposition Wickets.

Compare this with Indian team's performance;

1st Test: India Won by an Innings and 90 Runs. Ended in 4 days!

India scored 554 runs at an average of 3.6! Zimbabwe's average: 2.83

2nd Test: India won by 10 wickets!

Average: 3.41

In fact the results doesn't show the pathetic show put up by Indian players. Those who follow international cricket are well aware the depth Zimbabwean cricket plummeted to.

Teams visiting Zimbabwe returned with their bagful of records. Career best figures, fastest hundreds, highest team total, etc. etc. Had it not been for Pathan, India would have suffered the humiliation of drawing the second test. The most amusing thing is that the way Indian Captain Saurav Ganguly scored his century in the first test. 262 balls for his 101. At a lowly average of 2.6 per over!! Right after scoring his labored century, he was seen talking to reporters about how coach Greg Chappell asked him to step down. Now he must be feeling that he has another 10 years of cricket left in him! Nothing else can be expected from a self-oriented player like him. If our selectors had any sense, he must have cooling his heels back home. Or may be it’s time that we introduce a new concept like Davis Cup’s Non-Playing Captain!! Just to accommodate him.

More drama was to unfold. For no apparent reason Mohammed Kaif, one of India's finest batsman, was dropped for the second time. It is said that the reason behind the drop is that a batsman from Punjab can be included in the playing eleven so that in the forth coming BCCI elections, the ruling faction can persuade the Punjab officials to vote for them!

More about the elections later. The way Indian cricket is headed is a heart-ache for the fans who love the game. Ever since the new coach took charge, there's been talk of rift in the team, indiscipline of players coming to the fore etc. Is it a new phenomenon? No. In fact one Poor John Wright will be the right person to vouch that. But he was a thorough gentleman and believed in not ruffling any feather. There were rumors that the Kiwi has subjected to humiliation from a senior player. But Chappell is an Aussie and a tough nut.

The captain and his loyalists may want to harass him. They must be hoping, fed-up and dispirited, the coach may then quit. Only time will tell that the professionalism of a fine coach or feudalism of an outspoken captain will win. Till then we can expect more dirty linen being washed in the public.

But the way our players celebrate when you win or score a century against minnows like Zimbabwe truly shows how deep we have fallen. Lately Zimbabwe has been at receiving end of cricket. Take a particular Heath Streak and may be a Taibu, the rest is no international material. The world knows it. But our guys celebrated like they have just beat Australia and won the world Cup. Only one good thing emerged from this circus. This time around, Ganguly doesn't have to search for excuses. Since we won a series outside the subcontinent after 19 years, he can hold his head high. But the people know better, Captain. They are watching. May the statistics are on your side. The selectors too. But the real guardians of the game, the people, gave the verdict. Your days are numbered in international Cricket.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Devastates US

New Orleans is reeling under the havoc wrought by Hurricane Katrina. It is the worst natural calamity to hit the US in more than 100 years. Thousands are feared dead and the city, which was famous for it’s below-sea-level altitude, is completely under sea now. The damages are reported to be above $100 Billion. The levees that protected the city gave way to the waves of Katrina and it may be months before the city can return to normalcy. May be years.
There were a lot of comparisons between the recent Mumbai floods and Katrina striking New Orleans. There were reams of newsprint spend on describing how efficient were their rescue operations and how swiftly they reacted. Not denying any of that. True, they have sophisticated tracking instruments, co-coordinated disaster management, and well organized local administration. It’s also true that our own BMC has completely failed to foresee the cloud-burst and take appropriate action. In short it was pathetic show. Kudos for their evacuation & rescue operations. The comparisons of this kind is totally out of place. Compared to their plight ours was just a minor calamity. But despite having all these, they failed to handle the aftermaths of the disaster.
This disaster has brought the worst out of American public. For so long, all the natural calamities, terrorist attacks and famine was just news for them. Now the grim reality of being homeless, being foodless and out in the cold stares them in the face. This has started with the terrorist attack on WTC. From then on, American public lived in constant fear. They were suspicious about everything. Now as the nature hit them savagely, the brutality and opportunism, so far hidden by a thin veil of sophistication, burst out. The looting and atrocities that is taking place in these affected areas are so far a third world stamp all over it. The poor, black-dominant state was in the front page of all news papers for the crimes that occurred in these cities.

What has triggered such an ugly behavior in normally content and easy-going Americans? The fact of the matter is, Americans were living under a false sense of security. That they are the superpower; they have the wherewithal and might to tackle every kind of attacks. The sight of that façade crumbling down in front of their eyes must have taken them to such low levels. There is no more security, no homes to return to, no money and some of the least sophisticated turn to violence. They are not sure they can emerge from this chaos alive. So a minority turned to looting, thinking of exploiting the situation, but it has a devastating effect on the morale of the average US citizen.

Another thing that contributes to this utter chaos is the shortage of rescue team and low and order is in total disarray. There is gunfire and rioting everywhere. Where are the specially trained forces to handle such situations? They are fighting in Iraq. 60 % of this special force is serving in a losing battle when US is reeling under the aftermath of such complete destruction. The rioting and violence prompted the Governor of New Orleans to issue a shoot-to-kill order to the police. He called it a national Disgrace and he wouldn’t tolerate any of these violence.
What about the rioting, rape and muders? The scene in New Orleans is one directly from hell. There are corpses everywhere, tens of thousands people are confined in refugee-shelters, and the total lack of transport and primary facilities must have provoked these poor fellows. They are ready to fly off the handle and at the mildest provocation, the savagery is out. This is the situation where none of your sophistication, your tenderness wouldn’t work. Everybody is in shock and not in the right state of mind. Surrounded by filth and dead bodies, without food or clean water, no connection to the outside, no wonder they are on the verge of snapping.
My heart goes out to the affected, and sincerely hopes to see their plight ends soon. But the Government of United State of America must understand that there are forces that are out of their control and they are not above the normal human being. When your own is suffering you don’t talk about killing others. So stop the futile wars, stop spreading hate and violence. It’s time to think about Love. At your plight, the whole world weeps with you. If you felt the pang of losing dear ones, think about the pain you inflict for millions of people, millions of mothers, millions of families. Awake and realize. Stop spending billions of dollars for killing. There is a lot of families out there homeless and foodless. Let’s all join hands to help them.