an "a to z" of thoughts, conversations, remarks, observations,musings about

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cricket - l'affaire Ganguly

* WARNING - Non Cricket Types ( NCT ) please ignore.

Let me add an ongoing discussion to this blog...this was about ganguly...and i append the emails exchanged between me and a couple of old friends with whom I smacked a cricket ball in anger many years back.

It started with my typical "provoke a reaction" email which went like this to my old classmates egroup -

my email -

just expressing gratitude to a merciful god ....that finally the deadweight on the Indian cricket team...Saurav da has been shown his rightful place and is now back in behala where he belongs.

Yippeeeeeeeeee !!!

it did provoke a response...which was from a fastish left arm bowler ( FLAB )who now is settled in america -

And if only they show Ajit Agarkar his right place on a local Mumbai practice ground as well. Surely we have enough resources in either Zaheer or Balaji as a seam bowler.

then we had a back and forth exchange which went like -

True, after all they were both competing for the "allrounder slot" : ). Agarkar got the nod because of his much better fielding ability, and the fact that he doesnt run half his partners out.

FLAB ( the day the team to pakistan was announced)-
So Pawar Power gets Dada back in the team. Also, Agarkar gets a Grade B contract from a non-contract status. And what is Parthiv Patel doing in the team? Oh just in case Dhoni shits in his pants at the sight of Shoaib Akhtar running in to bowl, we have a backup in Parthiv!
Simply amazing ...

me -
yeah...since a week back there were rumours floating of a deal in which ganguly would get a "graceful" farewell....if one can somehow reconcile that with his display against shoaib n sami...still its gonna be nice to see him doing 12th man duties in his last series... :) ...after years of lording it over..

parthiv it seems is there coz he is anyday a better bat against pace than some of the pure batsman in the team. probably his half century as an opener in the last tour to pakistan has been remembered....

too at Perth in 2004. Honestly, I still cant belive he actually came up with that century. i doubt that if he made it in the team, he will be 12th man. i think the team will look like


12th man - whoever between jaffer and agarkar is not in he final eleven. It will be interesting to see if they drop yuvraj for ganguly. my guess is no and yuvraj will bat at no.6 in which case ganguly might have to open with sehwag, leaving out both gambhir and jaffer from the final 11. if dada opens against akhtar and sami with the new ball ...well.... god help him.

on a different note -
2,2,2,39,19,11,2,67,93,9,123,6,2,4,47,19,16,74,18,78,82,11,18,37 - total 673
31,2,19,20,5,26,51,18,4,9,0,22,55,22,0,48,0,90,90,7,24,25,79,39,60. - total 746

the first is the total of the last 25 ODI innings of tendulkar (an indispensible member of the indian team)
the second is that of ganguly. .....thougts????

now the emails were getting longer and the discussion was on...another voice, from a non playing but voluble member ( NPBV ) chimed in -
LOL :)) actually why should we compare ganguly with tendulkar and justify
the latter's inclusion? Each has their own style of play and own utility in
the team

Anyway...... I think both are past their prime and should be told to
leave....much younger ones need precious international exposure otherwise
they will get too old to gain anything from that. We should stop thinking of
them as Gods.... or the GOD ( because Ganguly anyway is the fallen hero now)

I think we should make strict standards for all 30 + guys in the team to
score a minimum level of average runs in say 10 matches and/or take a
minimum number of wickets per match to justify their inclusion. If they can
perform above that level even then, why man, they deserve their place!

The bottom line ... BCCI should frame transparent and MEASURABLE standards
which should be known to all. Then the standard becomes the selector,
leaving little room for subjective judgement by human beings. Then selectors
no more would be abused as a "bunch of jokers" ... who cant justify either
rejections or inclusions with any reasonable argument.

and i replied
i dont think dada will open :) . wild horses couldnt drag him to open thats ruled out, still he has to play.... and graceful farewell.... and u are right..sometimes things do click ..i wonder if we had yuvraj instead of dada in the team since then, would he also have only one inning in perth to point at...

i mean now that he has become a symbol for a region of the country...its no longer cricket thats i guess nothing can surprise anyone now.

the reason for dropping the *^&* ganguly was clearly visible in the performance of the team without him. there was a freshness and cohesiveness visible. Ganguly is a good player when on song....but since his technique is so limited, he needs to be really concentrating and giving it more than 100% for him to get results against good attacks. The selectors seemed to have finally found out a way to get him to be serious :) heh...

Spare a thought for Mohd. Kaif.... we owe that man a couple of continuous series...somehow he has been forgotten in all this.

as regards the oneday scores between tendulkar and ganguly.. i seen this a few times before...usually in chain emails that begin with bengals gaurav - saurav... so dont get jingoistic...
heh...comparing tendulkar and ganguly : ) .... gimme a break...u have cut pasted it from such an email i guess..coz it doesnt include sachins stunning comeback innings in the srilanka series where he completely set the tone for the domination to follow.

a more interesting point is that how come bengal which had such great heroes now needs saurav for its identity..... saurav who blinked in the world cup final and who keeps blinking and chewing his nails when the cameras catch him.....funny funny.... maybe the lefts focus on land reforms led them to neglect kolkata and now there is a rot setting in and the once vibrant genius of the city's middle class is now decaying...and so all that is left is saurav. more the pity.

as peter roebuck wrote....its a straightforward decision to include Yuvraj instead of Ganguly, based on pure cricketing form and ability. i quote -

"It's about time the Indian cricket community grew up. Inflammatory remarks, burning effigies, blocking roads and messages of hatred are the sort of conduct expected from hysterical students and not mature adults committed to their country and versed in the ways of life. Seasoned observers understand that the world is a complicated place and decisions hard to take. They do not raise every stone in search of ulterior motives and cunning conspiracies. Juveniles rant and rave.

Obviously the dropping of a beloved son from the Test team has been the hot topic of conversation. At least the fury confirms that cricket still matters in this country. Unfortunately it also confirms that it's at the mercy of the mob. Every demagogue in town has vented his spleen. Every Tom, Dick and Soumitra has voiced an opinion. Worse, recently elected officials have fanned the flames. What price discretion? "

Peter Roebuck - The Hindu

and FLAB replied
No, not to justify's Ganguly's inclusion by any means but also wonder why we have Sachin in the team. Scoring a century against Sri-Lanka (that too the manner of scoring those runs were not impressive by any means) doesnt make him a match winner. This series was won because of Pathan, Kumble, Harbhajan and Yuvraj. When you are in international competitive cricket, its not enough to give senior players a minimum bar of x runs or Y wickets to secure their place in the team. They need to be match winners and have the ability to do whatever it takes for the team or else be shown the door. Didnt that happen with Mark Waugh and even Steve Waugh in the ODI team. Neither of them were told that if you can score so many runs per season you are in the team. In a tough tour like Pakistan, each member of the team has got to be committed to winning and not think I scored a 50 so I did my job. Sachin has been reduced to a gatherer of petty statistics and is dead weight on the team as far as I am concerned. The whole western rule of the BCCI doesnt help either. What good will Parthiv Patel scoring a 50 do, when he misses 2 catces and 3 stumpings the next innings? Is Agarkar going to be our spearead fast bowler alongside Pathan? Neither does he have pace, nor swing. If Parthiv's 50 from the last Pakistan tour can get him in the team, why cant Balaji's bowling performance from the same tour find him a place?

Also, Yuvraj is almost certainly in the final eleven. This means that if Ganguly has to play, he will have to open - the team composition doesnt work any other way. Does that mean Jaffer will have to step down? Or maybe Jaffer is given one shot to open and should he fail, the slot goes to Ganguly who will do no better. Or if Jaffer does well as an opener, Ganguly may go down to no.6 and kick yuvraj out. What does this do to a team's morale? Obviously Sachin, Dravid and Laxman will not be asked to accomodate Ganguly so if he has to play, its either Yuvraj's or Jaffer's head. That's setting them up for failure even before the series has begun.

things were heating up and the holiday season was I could sit and craft a reply which I thought would settle the issue
look....ganguly shouldnt be in the team...u have to agree to that basic principle...there is no place for him. He cant open...and he cant replace yuvraj. I wonder why people cant accept this basic fact...and now i hope he can gracefullly sit in the dressing room...coz as a reserve batsman he is worth his place in the shows the strength of the teams batting, that we have ganguly in reserve. Theres only once choice...and thats for Yuvraj to open, that will be great coz i have always wanted to see that happen...if one day..just once ...both sehwag and yuvi click will be one hell of an opening stand..... but then that makes a mockery of taking gambhir n jaffer doesnt it.... might as well have taken kaif...

spare a thought for dravid too.....he's gonna have to take this disbalanced team and make it work...and take the tough decisions.

Now for Sachins place, if you are suggesting that Kaif is good enough to challenge for that slot...well ... sure..make that argument...i shall read it with interest :). also remember that sachin came out blasting and set the tone for the sri lanka one day series thumping.

Now we come to parthiv, he is a reserve keeper....not the main keeper. Also he is a talented cricketer and by all accounts his keeping has improved too. he is just 20 years old....he can still improve further. He scored two half centuries..and they were tests in pakistan last he also doubles up as a reserve bat. its not that controversial a decision if you consider that the choice is dinesh kartik, who is not too hot himself.

Now about Agarkar, maybe you didnt watch his recent performances, or you have forgotten his spells in australia in the last tour. He is still the only bowler we have who has natural nip and " work on the ball"....his balls seam and reverse swing and cut and nip.... and he still bowls at 140 - 148 kmph... and we need a good right handed seamer.... nehra, pathan, zaheer are all left arm seam up bowlers...and it makes for a sameness of attack. Balaji has lost a bit of pace and he never was fast. Sreesanth is good but raw. when Agarkar gets an extended run with his captains confidence, he is a better bowler...coz he is a confidence bowler...a rythmn bowler... in this series against sri lanka...he was useful...and he won his place on merit. theres no regional bias in his case... Also watch out for RP Singh...the lads good and he is nippy too.... its gonna be a good series :)

oh...and this series was won by Laxman too.... he was exquisite.....made batting look so easy.....

ok is slow...and im spending more time looking at the tv than at the computer screen.. heh

an old semi fast misplaced sense of timing ( OSFMST )pal poked his head in to say
Amazing. You folks seem to be in essay writing mode. Thora intezar karo bhai, wait till the first test and you will know who is playing and who isn't.

Me -
kya yaar ...adda to maarne do

Totally agreed is about time Ganguly left. Chances are that he will only screw up and further hurt his case in Pakistan. More importantly, he is hurting the team. I dont think Yuvraj will open, all the more in test cricket ...thats not his comfort zone. Yuvraj has sealed the no.6 spot I think. I am pretty certain the openers will be Sehwag and one between Jaffer/Gambhir. Why take these 2 in the team and make Yuvraj open? No. 3, 4 and 5 will go to Dravid, Sachin and Laxman and atleast 2 of these have to fire if India is serious about scoring big. It is not a difficult ask either if our openers can see off the first 20-25 overs without damage. With Yuvraj at 6, followed by Dhoni and Pathan, we have batting depth all the way to no.8. So, batting is not India's problem area - assuming ofcourse that Shoaib and Co dont send both our openers packing within the first 5 overs. That completely changes things.

Dravid has a tough job on his hands but the best way to overcome that is by scoring runs which he does. Indian test cricket hinges so much on him that he has got to play ...captain or no captain. One sensible thing the selectors have done is given him free reign till the England series so he doesnt need to worry about his captaincy and can focus on his game.

About Sachin ...I am not saying that Kaif is better than him. I am saying he is not a match winner for India and his performances are not consistent. His last 'transformational' ODI innings was against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup. We dont expect him to play like that in every innings ( thats asking for too much) but at the same time his role in the team demands that he plays innings like that more often than once in 2-3 years. Somehow, everybody seems to take his place in the team as a given and I dont agree with that. Yes, he is an integral part of the team but no performance metrics seem to have been laid out for him. Whereas, a Pathan or Yuvraj have 2 bad games and they are out for the next 5 games, Sachin scores in single digits or 20s for a dozen games and then one 100 seems to wipe all that off. They say about Sehwag that he throws his wicket off after getting good starts. The manner in which Sachin has gotten out to some real pedestrian bowling in the recent past makes it all the more painful.

Coming to Parthiv ...I would love to see that his keeping has improved but I am not sure that is entirely accurate. I'll give Parthiv the edge in terms of batting but I still think Dinesh Kartik has safer hands behind the stumps. It doesnt matter as long as Dhoni is not injured but keeping to Kumble / Harbhajan is not exactly Parthiv's area of speciality. Scoring a 50 is fine but thats not his primary purpose in the team. Dropped catches and missed stumpings put pressure on the batsmen to begin with. Also in current Ranji matches, I think Kartik has outscored Parthiv with the bat too. However, this is not a big worry ....I hope Dhoni manages to stay fit and gets to keep in all matches. I will still say that Parthiv;s inclusion seems to indicate some regional bias. Kartik was India's regular keeper (and did ok) till Dhoni hammered the Pakis, now he's not even a reserve.

Agarkar, reverse swing is fine , although I dont see as much of it. Bottom line is look at his strike rate and the runs he gives out. Batsmen feel comfortable stepping out to him and hitting him. He has taken 2 wickets (or is it 3?) in the whole Sri Lanka series, that too tailenders. Pitch him against the Inzamams, Youhanas and they will just kill him. They are good players of fast bowling in those conditions. You either have to be a big swinger of the ball (like Pathan) or be able to bowl with a disciplined line and length (like Balaji did) to get them. Agarkar is sort of neither this nor that. I am impressed with RP Singh though. Zaheer is rightfully back in the team.

Laxman, ofcourse he is a class act.

OSFMST, tuntuna bajaa.

Me -
True..we have a mouth watering batting lineup..which is one reason why i feel maybe they could try a floating opener with Dravid,Laxman, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Pathan all being used in rotation...if so then u could have a batting lineup of , Sehwag - Yuvraj - Laxman - Dravid - Tendulkar - Ganguly - Dhoni -Pathan - Agarkar - Kumble - Bhajji ( bhajji topped the batting average for the lanka test series..did u notice )...which is awesome. They could use Ganguly as a floater too..and only send him in when the ball has lost its shine... or they could play 5 bowlers...and use pathan as an allrounder...lets see

Sachin is recovering from a tennis elbow man.... let him take it easy. He nearly scored a double century ( when dravid declared with sachin at 194, a decision that in my eyes at least, marked him out as genuine captain material ) last time in pakistan in a winning test and he scored a classic gritty double hundred in sydney which if not for bucknor, we would have won. And in the Sri Lanka series, he won the first two onedayers with explosive knocks. Dont worry, he is in form, its just that in the tests, the pitches were very dodgy. On true fast pitches with the ball coming on it will be fun to see him bat. I think Pakistan will go for pacy wickets, since our spin attack is as potent as theirs. In that case you need Sachin ...and Kaif too for that matter alas.

Last pak series, seriously, Kartick was as bad as Parthiv. He also had that uncanny knack of missing the most vital chance of them all. There is regional bias, but there really isnt much to choose between them. Doesnt matter anyhow.

On Agarkar, we have to agree to disagree. I have a liking for his rythmic action, and i always felt he was a lovely bowler who never got a good captain to give him an extended run. He is a professional from Mumbai and atleast wouldnt bowl three no balls / wides in the first over of the world cup final.
Ok he got only 3 wickets in the sri lanka tests, but he conceded 2.5 runs an over which at least tied one end up and in the onedayers he got 12 wickets in 6 matches...not bad for someone making a comeback of sorts. Its just that he is one of the few bowlers in india who on song can bowl a class team out....okay im still remembering that 6/41 spell in adelaide... but somehow i feel he is a potential matchwinner whom we have never quite managed to use properly. Still with Zaheer and RP there too..the fast bowling department looks decently stocked.

its gonna be a good series i hope... what with shoaib n sami n kaneria and inzy and yousuf and afridi and akmal all looking ominous... if like 2003...our top order strikes form at the same time...its gonna be worth all the buildup : )

Bhai sab,

This is astonishing. You guys are churning out doles of material every day. Keep up the good work and the "my-humble-opinion analysis"

Happy New Year to all. Let the spirits flow unabated.

and my semisober opening batting partner ( SOBP )chimed in
looking at another brighter side of this discussions.... we have two very good analysists in our group. i think we should strongly recommend them to join our tv commentators. at least u guys can do a better analysis that that mandira bedi and charu sharma!!! what say OSFMST!!!


a trifle peeved i was a little curt in my reply...

me -
i see that the passing of the years hasnt changed much.... :) you still have the amazing ability to pop up and say nothing of relevance and then subside.... what would we do without your random bubbles of wisdom, i cant imagine. : ) ... thanks for the blessings ..may you also learn the art of writing more than one sentence in an email ...regards

and was reprimanded by NPBV who seems to have lost the plot somewhat-
I am reminded of a story I read long back..

Two bulls were fighting with each other on what tastes better: beef or
mutton. The argument generated so much heat that these were soon physically
assaulting each other. After almost an hour of bloody fight, the owner
arrived and angry at the situation that they had created, he beat up both of
them nicely and tied each of them far away from each other. ...

....Then he gave both of them each a drum full of grass to eat.

and the discussion is continuing...please leave comments...will update...and i will stick my neck out and say this is the team i would go into the opening test with -

Gurgaon - Jaggery Village

Gurgaonhas a lot of potential. And by and large it offers a lot of advantages in comparison with other business hubs. In north india, I think this is the only relatively clean and decongested business hub with easy access to international airports, good hotels and well constructed and maintained office infrastructure. As a thumb rule, 1 square foot of office space added in a city requires 7 sq ft of residential space and in that respect Gurgaon seems to have a good enough plan. The available office and residential space is meeting the current growth rates and there seem to be no bottlenecks. In terms of connectivity and roads, it is good enough by Indian standards, and I dont think we should be comparing it to Singapore yet. The other factor that I found good in Gurgaon as compared to Noida is the work culture. It might be surprising to some, but my experience has been rather positive, the roadside mechanics, the rickshaw pullers, the small eating places and sundry small scale businesses are mostly hardworking and honest and do not attempt to rip you off or overcharge. There also seems to be less criminalisation and goonda'ism, though I admit, UP is not a good benchmark to compare. Also most areas are supplied with good drinking water by HUDA from its water treatment plant and the drains are mostly not stinking and uncovered like in Noida. There are wide open spaces, greenery and less open garbage. Electricity is a problem but nowhere as bad as in Noida, but worse than in Delhi/Mumbai/Bangalore. The streets feel safer too than Noida.

I had occassion to visit the nearby villages and I found them to be relatively prosperous and vibrant. The road and electricity network too was not bad at all. This is where I feel that Gurgaon might actually derive strength and grow. Unlike Bangalore or Hyderabad with starving farmers in the countryside around it, there is development spread out into the countryside too and the living standards are not bad. The people native to this area too are healthy and hardworking with a lot of pride and self respect. I think the only problem that can trip this growth up is either a water crisis ( since local sources of water are rare) or a power grab by vested interests and a breakdown in law and order. Electric supply too seems to have reached a critical point and it is a very crucial time now, as either it will get worse and go the Noida way or improve towards Delhi conditions.

I hope the government realises that most of this growth is from carpet-baggers, the floating capital and working class, which can anytime pack its bags and move on to the next new destination.

Monday, December 26, 2005

politics in the eyes of a geek

read this rather nice story on cringelyslatest --
"Which sadly reminds me of a political fundraising breakfast years ago at the Yale Club in New York City. Bill Bradley was trying to run for President and raising money as fast as he could with events like this. Comedian Bill Cosby was there in the audience. "Bill, you are a comic, tell us a joke," asked Bradley.

"Senator, you are a politician, first tell us a lie," said Cos."

nice one..isnt it...

cringely for the unitiated is a old nerd or geek. He has been hanging around the computing world with fascinated eyes and has seen the industry grow up. His book, the nerds, is a great story about how the computing industry grew up... these days he writes a weekly column on PBS and also has started something called Nerd TV which is basically a series of downloadable video interviews with the gurus of geekdom.


Auroville is a little town on the bay of bengal. I first reached there in july 1997. I was wandering around the south of india during the summer break from college and was putting up in REC Trichy ( thank you again arnab ). The rain in delhi had been driving me crazy and i just got up and left with a vague memory from school geography lessons, that tamil nadu gets the monsoon in winter. Thats the place to go, i thought and after a joyous celebration in trichy, i was wondering where to go next. Then i remembered Shankar, who while teaching us architecture, also dropped little nuggets of information. Shankar had said, that for an architecture student, there are some places that one must visit, auroville, chandigarh, ahmedabad and mumbai. I inquired around, and a few trichy'ites got sober enough for a brief while to tell me how to get there. So with a copy of Amitav Ghosh's Shadowlines, a small canvas bag with a towel n swimming trunks, a pair of sunglasses and few currency notes I took the bus and landed up there. And what I saw opened my eyes. After a long long time, I felt the rush of excitement and stimulation of my mind. It had been so long since i was in a place that broke existing conventions, that I had almost given up my own non-conformist attitude and no longer believed there could be an alternative model to the consumerist colonial capitalist paradigm. Any story of my life has to start with Auroville...coz auroville gave me back hope. It removed the dark edges that were starting to encroach on my personality. I rejoiced as a child in the sunshine and in the friendship of the people there. I basked in the glorious cloudy days and splased around merrily in the warm sea. I rode a bicycle through mud tracks and sang songs around a fire with strangers. I asked a pretty girl out to coffee and fell in love with her on a starry night on the beach. The defensiveness and edginess that a metropolis breeds in you, disappeared to be replaced by the sheer joy of being alive.

To people who ask me, what auroville is...i offer the same reply as do the old aurovillians.... its whatever you want it to be...its a small town that is trying to live peacefully and happily...and you can only understand it if you come down there...and stay there for a few not bring too much not come expecting to drink beer on the not come to ogle naked white flesh not come to see the sights...come if you want time with yourself...and come if you want just to be alive in a nice place....come if you are tired of anonymity....

It sounds idealistic...and my memories probably make it more so. But since then I have gone back countless of times....snatching a few days here and there ...just to immerse myself in the warm celebration of the human spirit that is auroville. I never saw the girl i loved again...the magic sometimes seemed faded....sometimes somethings felt racist, sometimes it felt commercialized into a yogic version of goa...but I kept going back. And wasnt auroville that had was me... it just reflected what was inside me.... Auroville gave me some of the best friends I made. People who trusted me and opened up like we had known each other our whole lives.

I hope someday to go back there and live among the whispering palms once again. I hope there still would be chocolate pancakes there....there still would be pretty girls fired up with a passion in life....there would be rootless children who weep with joy at the love they found in auroville...there would be the old man doing pranayam at sunrise on the beach...there would be the happy tamil guy with his two blonde girlfriends feeding him coconuts...there would be stoned dogs hanging around the bedroom window of a italian honeymooning couple who smoked pot like it was food...and always there would be a hot meal in the solar old guitar lying in a corner of the guest house... and thunderstorms lashing a thatched hut under which we would sleep.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Delhi rocks

you know..they cant trace the origins of delhi....its always been here...and different piles of rocks from different times are scattered all around.... u could be going to meet someone nearby and suddenly one of these monuments is by the road... and u realize u never noticed it before...and if u look closer...stop a while....u see the lacework...the fine carving....the thought that went into it.....and u realize the ground you are standing upon once shook with the sound of horses from mongolia or camels from arabia.... n its a funny feeling...and you go on...

to see what im talkin about try

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

List of Hundred Good Books.

this is a rather nice list of books....check it out...

Friday, December 16, 2005

@kash's blog

@kash's blog

it was a colleagues birthday today so we had a little impromptu party....relieves the monotony of work and good way to bond.

The middle of December

Starting this blog in the middle of December. A lot of it would be fiction and a lot of it would be non fiction. Please bear with the blurring of the boundaries.

BBC Widget