Monday, June 30, 2008


Sachin is having my dream vacation visiting Europe and catching sporting action in between :-(

SRT At Wimbledon.

SRT At French Grand Prix (F1).

My dream vacation.

On another note, when Sachin is declared fit for the next series, at whose cost will he figure in the XI (Uthappa in the squad - and Rohit Sharma in the XI?).

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Indian women’s 4x400 relay team qualifies

As I lament about the state of Indian Olympics, I have decided to highlight any positives I come across. So here is one. However I am not sure if they are medal prospects as they are 6-8 seconds off the gold medal place in last Olympics.

Search Terms

As I was looking at stats of my IPL blog, I was surprised to see that "csk gossip" was something someone searched for and got to my blog. I had no posts on gossip on the individuals and teams, so I was looking to see which post lead people to my blog and I think it is this post where I ask the media not to speculate so much and make a mountain of a molehill! And please note, I am the wrong site to come for gossip - unlikely to know anything unless it is on the first couple of pages of the google news or on TV and not likely to propagate it.

I found that people searched for "Captain cool Dhoni" and variations of "dhoni coolest captain" (not sure if cool is in the context of his style or his demeanour) but they brought a smile.

So I decided to check out this path further (too much time on my hands?) and I typed dhoni in the text box and google offered me the following suggestions.

dhoni wiki (sounds good)
dhoni euro cup (tsk, tsk..., but will let it go)
dhoni 183 (sounds good - a genuine cricket fan)
dhonixpress (fine - an unofficial fan site)
dhoni's official website (sounds good)
dhoni's house in chennai (non-existent - maybe people are checking real estate prices - or maybe checking which properties they can't afford?)
dhoni cricinfo (sounds good)
dhoni with deepika (stale news - not sure if there was anything there to begin with. If you are searching for gossip related items - please be more current).

But the single most funny was
dhoni milk

If google is suggesting the above, it means that many, many people must have searched for it. If you were searching for "dhoni milk" what are you looking for - the secret of his energy (that should be boost) ? It is indeed worrying that so many people have time to search for dhoni milk and are interested in it.

PS: I checked Yuvraj's and Dravid's as well - Yuvraj's has variations of sixes in the suggestions and the only odd one for Dravid was "Rahul Dravid brother" - no idea if his brother was in the news for anything - so in terms of India cricket Dhoni has the oddest search phrases.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

T20 Champions League Mess

Note the above is not to be confused with the Champions Trophy mess which has to do with security in Pakistan and non Asian teams and players threatening to pull out of the ODI champions trophy (though the Asia cup is held there this week and the same security concerns exist for the Asian teams).

The first Champions League is expected to be held in India in September with teams from South Africa, India, Australia and England/Pakistan. I find the tournament inherently flawed. It forces players to play against another team they represent and probably played an instrumental part in both teams' success.

For example, Albie Morkel will be able to play for either South Africa Titans or the Chennai Super Kings (and he had good performances for both of them). Lets say the IPL forces him to play for CSK, will that be fair to him or the Titans? Then the titans will not be able to put the best possible team and will not be a "champions" league.

Lets take the reverse scenario, CSK losing out on Morkel, Hayden (who prefers to play a tour match :-)) and Hussey who will prefer to play for Australia, Western Australia and CSK in that order. The CSK team will be one of the weakest instead of one of the strongest.

Playing against a team you represented in the same year and will represent in the next year, must rankle a little bit atleast for the players? Financial compensation will not be enough.

I am not going to talk about the ICL-English counties issue (but that is a mess as well).

I think it is time that the "Champions League" concept was reviewed. Any examples of this in any other sport where you play against your own team?

Wimbledon :match fixing?

Just reading about this news makes me so sad. Can there be no sport/no event untouched by doping & match-fixing scandals? Tennis stars who qualify for the Wimbledon, must be decently paid, why should so many sportsmen throw matches?

This post is about the measures that sports authorities are taking. I am all for harsh penalties and life-bans. But most sports authorities practice double standards - Azharuddin has been banned but is invited to an event to "honour" the 1983 World Cup winning team. I used to be a huge Azhar fan, but there are no two ways about this - he was found guilty and therefore does not warrant any further recognition (unless he is proven innocent).

The measure I find most odd is the locker room ban (tennis is also restricting it to players and coaches). I don't think Shah Rukh should be in the dug-out/dressing room not because it gives an opportunity to corrupt players but simply because it should belong to the players. If the match-fixing was happening in the locker room, why can't you have a hidden camera and a sting operation? Are they serious that the first time a player is broached is in the locker room? Can't they very well contact them well before a match and outside the premises? What is the logic behind restricting the locker room access?

Monday, June 23, 2008

F1 Pit Stop Mechanics

Yesterday as I watched the French grand-prix, somehow my thought was directed towards the pit stop crew. Most F1 fans' dream would be to drive an F1 car, but having tried a simulation game, I quickly got rid of this dream. In fact, if you ever spot me near a racing car, take cover immediately.

So I thought about how would it be like to a pit stop mechanic. It seems exciting enough and hopefully with enough practice I will eventually be able to do a somewhat decent job (atleast better than racing). But after more thought, I don't think I would even want that job. You have to be so precise and fast, and at the same time trust the F1 driver not to make the slightest mistake. The guy in front of the car, holding the board with instructions for the driver to stop/go - what must he be thinking each time? I hope they are paid very very well? What qualifications are needed? What do they do during the week? Probably some of the other underpaid, under-appreciated jobs with a high daily stress level are nurses and air traffic controllers.

So having eliminated two options for the F1 job (no chance at all as an engineer), I have shifted my dream to a dream vacation across Europe. Starting at the French Open, watching some cricket, catching Euro 2008, traveling along the tour de france route, catching the Wimbeldon, going to an F1 race, maybe a moto GP and visiting all these places in between would be ideal. Maybe I can wait for Olympics to happen in a European city!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

1983 Cricket World Cup

25 years since the historic cricket world cup win for India, Indians still cherish that victory. Sunil Gavaskar and Vijay Mallya's company have organized some celebrations which the BCCI will join. (Mallya redeems himself here a little bit). But why is it still so special? Here are some of my reasons.

It is special because that was the first time India won that tournament.
It is special because in 25 years since, it has not yet been repeated by an Indian team.
It is special because it was a classic "underdog beats the favorites" tournament.
It is special because it was against a great, very strong and confident West Indies team.
It is special because no one expected it.
It is special because it was long before India started to shine in cricket or any other field.
It is special because of the magical innings in the tournament by Kapil Dev - 175. Every time since then, when India's batting has collapsed I hope for a "Kapil like" innings.
It is special because there is no television record of the 175 runs and therefore like reading a good book (ex. it is upto your imagination about how Atticus Finch might have been like).
It is special because it widened the gates for all future Indian cricketers.
It is special because it made the subcontinent stronger in the cricketing world.
It is special because it took cricket from a popular sport in India to feverish heights.
It is special because you will always remember Edmund Hillary regardless of how many people climb the Everest. Similarly Indians will remember this world cup winning team.
Edited To add
It is special because it was a team effort with different players contributing at different times.
It is special because the ramifications of the victory transcended cricket for India's youth.

It is also special for me, because I don't remember much about the actual tournament being too young, but do remember being woken up by my mother to say India has won and remember the feeling of excitement and joy in not just me but others near me as well.

Anything you would like to add?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tour de France

Tour de france starts in about 2 weeks and I am really looking forward to it. I first started watching it after reading about Lance Armstrong's story about 6 or 7 years ago. Most of the cyclists in the last decade have been under some cloud of suspicion for doping. So while I view the sport with skepticism, I still find Lance's story inspirational. To come to that level of fitness to be able to compete in a grueling sport after fighting cancer, is amazing.

Tour de france is a 21 day race of about 3500 kms of cycling (racing about 170 kms a day with only 2 rest days in the entire 21 days). And if you are not amazed by that stat alone, you should see the mountains they climb and the sprints they do after 3-4 hours of cycling. And the scary crashes along the downhill roads, the 30 second tire change for a puncture (to rival any F1 pit stop), how they grab their food bags from feeding stations, the attending to injuries by a doctor in a moving vehicle to a cyclist who is also moving adds tons of drama. Of course, the open air bathroom breaks is something to be avoided.... if you thought this happened only in India - just watch the tour...

As far as the doping goes, the cyclists put the cricketers to shame by the sheer sophistication of techniques. And I am baffled about doping in cycling - it seems like nearly everyone does it, if so does that not create a level playing field. Shouldn't they try to have the same level playing field without the drugs?

Lastly when the race is in a boring stage, you can view the breathtaking French countryside with the "Chateaux" thrown in. These are the places I would love to visit if I ever get the chance.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Overdose on MSD (dhoni)

I am scared about the kind of search terms that the above title is going to lead to (so have carefully added dhoni to the title)! Seeing her post on too much of Dhoni in advertising has me thinking as well. As per his recent ads

We can
apply Brylcreem for hair
wear Peter England formals or Big Bazaar Fashion
sport a Sonata watch
wear Reebok shoes
drink Pepsi and Boost
eat Lays chips and Milk shakti biscuits
use Aircel and Reliance for communication
read Dainik Bhaskar
beat the heat under the Orient fan (older ads - not sure if relevant now)
ride the Tvs motors vehicles or is it Hero Honda...
(older ads - not sure if relevant now)
watch the above ads on Videocon
build your house with India Cements (just because of CSK)

What products is he missing?

Companies listen up - it is way, way too much.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ambidextrous Kevin Pietersen

First of all, hats off to KP for his switch-hitting. I cannot even write legibly with my left hand, so I look at his skill in amazement. Innovations like these are exciting and spikes viewer interest.

I understand that this poses some questions on rules. To even it out for the bowlers why not allow the bowlers to switch hands they bowl? Why not change the wide rule so that if someone switch-hits, the wide is beyond the white line on both sides. Expand the lbw rule, so that the switch hitter can be given out if the ball is likely to hit his stumps regardless of whether it pitches outside leg or off stump?

Rather than making this an illegal shot, I would hope that ICC expands its rules to allow this (so that only the highly skilled and risk taking players will attempt this)... What do you think?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Post IPL

The IPL took its toll on me. Watching almost every single match, and blogging about it, with work deadlines meant that something had to give and it was sleep. I was waking up very early to get caught up on work, so that I could watch the evening matches. Since the IPL's finale, I have been reverting to watching other sports I follow, but there has been a dent for me in viewing pleasure.

First, the French Open on clay court seemed like it was on slow motion. A classic Federer vs Nadal contest could have changed the tide, but it was the tamest final with Federer's spirit being broken, so it was not an appealing match to watch.

Second, F1 - full of controversies - Raikkonen rear-ending Sutil in one and being rear-ended by Hamilton in another. The overall race is up for grabs - however the Canadian GP was on the wrong time zone (unless I wanted to stay up late again...) - so only caught the news for the last one. I think I will continue to follow this and I am hoping for an exciting season...

Thirdly, the Bangladesh tri-series - definitely the worst possible first tournament for Indian cricket since the IPL (in terms of retaining interest in ODIs) - the first 3 matches were dull. There were times when I followed an innings after a gap of couple of hours and it felt like nothing had moved... The final was better, atleast it was contested - but was still not half as entertaining as the Aussie series last year or the IPL.

I am not really looking forward to the Asia Cup except for the India-Sri Lanka-Pakistan matches... and if they are no-contests as well, I will only be catching it on the news.

So I am wondering if this impact is short term? Will it take another Aussie series
to revive my non T-20 cricket interest? Both the test and ODI matches were great to watch in Australia (good pitches and good matches with some weeds on both sides :-)).

I will probably start watching the Euro 2008 from the quarterfinals... Hoping for interesting clashes. Looking forward to the Wimbeldon (for Federer to redeem himself and create history or for Nadal to stamp his authority). Looking forward to the Tour de France (hoping for a doping scandal free event).

If you followed the IPL, how has the transition been?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Indian Olympics

As I move away from watching the IPL and turn to other sports I enjoy, I decided this would be a good time to get caught up on Olympics as a whole and specifically any Olympic medal prospects from India. We can sum up the 2004 Olympics for India as "one billion people - one medal".

I confess that I am mostly ignorant and find the prospects very poor for this year's Olympics as well. I am assuming that the spat/make-up of Paes-Bhupathi, will give India a slender chance of a medal. I am assuming that the only medal winner from last Olympics - Rathore, will be another prospect. I am assuming that there might be some prospects in weightlifting though all I am hoping for is that it remains free of doping scandals. But are there any more out there? Does Anju Bobby George have a chance? Any other talents I should look to catch up on - please tell me there are some?

With P.T. Usha doing well in athletics in the 80s and 90s, I would have expected that by now, more than 20 years hence, we would have many more prospects - but it looks very dim... What can India do to improve its sporting prospects? As a nation we are not very sports inclined at all and it is very skewed towards cricket. At one point I could name most of the Indian hockey team, but I no longer can. Who is to blame for this? Are we just uninterested? What is needed to change the sports infrastructure in India? I am sure there must be a bunch of talented people who are not getting the opportunity.

As many of the cities are now planning to build cricket academies, why don't they make them Sports Academies? Cricket could be the focus 60% of the time, but maybe each of these academies can "adopt" another sport. Instead of the state governments exempting franchises from taxes for IPL, why not collect those taxes and spend it for other sports?

What are your thoughts on improving India's medal prospects at the Olympics?