Post the historical Sydney test which will be remembered for many things other than cricket, some new words have been added to the Oxford dictionary:

Bucknor: (n) (adj)
1. Temporary blindness leading to missing out on the obvious.
2. To be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
3. Situations leading to grave judgmental errors.
Usage: I feel bucknored by my boss; Life often throws a bucknor at you.

Benson: (n) (adj)
1. Something that legitimises a severe bucknor.
Usage: First they bucknored me and then they bensoned it! I am toast.
Also see bucknor

Lifted verbatim from an e-mail forward. No claims on originality or verifiability of contents.

Indian tour of Australia

I realize that I am in severe danger of being called a negativist if I go through with this post. After all, this blog hardly put in a word of cheer when the Indian team completely bulldozed over Pakistan and defeated them after many (20 was it?) years in an ODI series and razed them again in a closely fought test. To be fair, I was too busy enjoying and celebrating the victory to write about it. This time, au contraire, I am following the India Australian series more out of compulsion rather than any interest. No, my interest in cricket has not suddenly waned – it is just that Australia has attained the kind of supremacy that in a test series, where real cricketing mettle is tested, when Indian players get down on the field against them – they are really hoping for a draw at the best. You can almost see the defeat in their faces – especially Ganguli’s (I apologize in advance to the whole of Bengal who may want to eat me alive after reading this – but really, I think he needs a regular supply of anti-constipative pills so he can offer the Indian cricket fans a slightly encouraging smile!)
This series, is getting attention for all the wrong reasons – except one right one – that of Tendulkar finally crossing over that 90-something barrier – and in style, finishing unbeaten at 154. It had become disheartening to see him trip over at 95,97 even 99 so many times, and I hope this victory makes him more confident going forward. That India lost even after such a feat is a severe disappointment, and though much of it is being blamed on Umpire-errors, I guess there is no escaping the fact that the team got lost in the blame game and played poorly compared to their opponents.

I suppose everyone will be cursing Bucknor – and he did become the doomsayer for the Indian team. But no one seems to be focusing on the India defeat apart from this ‘tragedy of errors’. The cherry that the media and the Indian fans and players seem to be running after is the story of Monkey God. Of course, it is an interesting story – surely more promising than the defeat at the hands of the ‘far superior’ team as Gavaskar calls them. I am sure our dear lord Hanuman will be deeply offended with this slur on his name and all the controversy surrounding it. All Indians seem to be surprised that this comment has been taken as a racist comment, when so much reverence is associated with monkeys in our culture. What I find more amusing is this precise argument – I am quite certain that there is little reverence Bhajji feels towards the Australian terror, and that he barely intended to use this phrase as one of praise. He of course used it in annoyance – something that he finds hard to check while in the ‘steam of the game’. With all his sixes and good bowling, he often displays lack of maturity, cursing incessantly his own team-mates for missing catches on his bowls, while himself showing less than glorious performance on the field. (Ouch! I began with not the least intention of criticizing him, specially after his stupendous 63 alongside the master)

So here is my note of solidarity and a correction for all the criticism that I may have offered to the men who are good in blue, but need to work harder in white:

There is no denying that the ICC is biased towards the Australian team and its players, may be for the simple virtue of their being an established and proven team. There are many moments when on the screen you can see the Australian lips move to words that we girls rarely hear but form the mainstream of engineering college lingo (No, that is not a sexist comment, any resemblance to the same is purely coincidental). I have hardly seen anyone raise fingers to that. And it makes me angry. I think it rather magnanimous of our team to be unhinged by such remarks and continue their play. A lot less can be said of players who curse more every moment with their eyes and then go complaining to the ICC at the slightest – what’s it called, slur…

The brand new chamions of the brand new cup!

Wham! Booms! That’s all you can hear in the Indian sky today. Everyone is busy celebrating. Yes, they have brought it home. After beatings, brickbats and a write-off by almost everyone. A world cup finally after 24 years! Not the same cup, a new one, but not any less important. The only small thing about the Twenty20 tournament was the number of overs. In everything else, it over did the ODI by a far margin. Great entertainment, great spirit, great shots, great cricket! And those Sixes!
How comfortable to go home in the evening and get glued to your television for three hours. 3 hours – that’s all it takes to wind up two innings. And because of the fewer overs, you do not have to wait till the last few overs to find the excitement. It is there throughout, waiting at the edges! In a single match, the game turns to either side several times.

The final was of course the icing – even an off match between India and Pakistan has the thrill and tension of a world cup final, so a final between the two was bound to be a breathless roller-coaster ride. Both teams played excellent cricket and gave their fans and supporters many reasons to cheer.

India was terrific in the series. They played with the cool-headed aggression that they have always been blamed of lacking. And it paid off. In every match we found them turning the match in the last over, with a stroke of good bowling or a sustained effort at fielding every run. The team pulled it off without the traditional spearheads – Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid. Dhoni lead the team with exceptional tactic, being the clear leader. As Gavaskar put it – you could always see the team looking at him in the field, which is a true sign of a leader.
The best part of course was Yuvraj’s six sixes. Had he done any better in the final match, no one could take away from him the glory of being the Man of the series. But for India, he would remain the ultimate hero for the tournament after turning the significant matches with England as well as Australia in complete style.
RP Singh showed great bowling, unlike Shreesanth who was consistent only in his tactics rather than the bowling. The latter could do better than to annoy the batsman with his drama on the field and adopt a little bit of finesse.
At the end of the day, it was a delight to see India the team win, rather than seeing another one-man showmanship that always architects India’s fate. Well done.

Rare surges of patriotism…

The moments when Men in blue make everyone back home awfully proud and happy – when they bring a match with Pakistan to a tie, and hit wickets with every ball, even as the other team misses with equal consistency.
And then in a single over,Yuvraj hits sixes continuously on each ball, as if he has discovered a magic formula. 6 balls – 36 runs! You cannot help feeling buoyant on such an occasion.
Way to go!

The great axe!

Finally, the axe has fallen – on the already troubled cricketers who had started looking at modelling as an alternative career option after the stressful game.

The BCCI, fed up with the modeling focus, finally decided that the players will have to chose between the two careers. The poor cricketers (and don’t our hearts go out in sympathy!) are now limited to endorse only 3 brands, and no brands can sign deals with more than two players. No exclusive contracts or interviews, and every contract to be watched by the big brother aka BCCI!

The latter has suddenly decided to play the strict father, reprimanding his erroneous kids. And as is common, the sympathy has suddenly tilted towards the players who just a few days ago were being criticized indiscriminately by the public, including this humble blogger. Despite the views expressed in my previous blog on cricket, I do feel that the punishment is a little harsh on the poor kids. After all, to come under strict supervision of the big brother and being stripped of a significant income opportunity is hard and demoralizing, especially after feeling the negative sentiment of fellow countrymen following the debacle. The loss of a coach, of course would add to some vows (though may be not for some like Ganguly, who would feel a little better without the forbearing coach!)

The saddest part of the verdict, was of course the notice to the master. I know he has not been playing well for long, and there are hundreds of people around who proudly present stats on how he has failed in times of need. But notwithstanding any of these arguments, Sachin has been a great player, and has countless number of times given Indians a cause to cheer and light up. It does not fit him to be asked to perform. Many think that he should have retired after the last cup, when he was at the pinnacle, and any voice raised against him was too feeble and drowned out amidst the loud cheer of the supporting crowd. I hope he redeems himself and is allowed that graceful exit that he truly deserves. To retire as the master and be remembered only as the great batsman.

Let’s hope BCCI’s punishments brings the performance of the team back on track. So I can sit with my new tata sky and once again cheer our team.

The Gentleman’s game.

Yeah, that’s what Cricket was referred to as once. Almost like golf – where players come well-attired, shake hands, show a good game, and part with another shake hand.
But is that still true?

The game is a sensitive topic in India, at least right now. Just yesterday millions of disappointed fans saw the Indian cricket team taking a ‘gentlemanly’ exit from the world cup. The trouble being that Indian team took the ‘gentility’ to the literal execution. They played with sophistication, running the least, leaping the least and ofcourse, none of the players sweating too long in the sun. But is it their fault – why did you call it the gentleman’s game if what you wanted was killer instinct? Since when do gentlemen have that?

The arguments not withstanding, the team would be scared of returning home, dashing so many hopes at such an early stage of the tournament. There is already some security provided to a few of the players. And if the previous examples of stoning, wall-painting etc are a cue, it was a well-taken preemption.

But certainly, the high expectation from the teams does create tremenduous pressures. Couple this with the heavy money involved – both in book-business and sponsorships, and with political powerplayes. – What you get is a mixture of semi-prepared players who are more comfortable advertising Reebok than playing on the field. The ones that throw away a large number of extras and keep their foot firmly rooted to the ground even as the ball swings by.

However, neither the political humbug, nor the over-involvement of players with advertisements, nor the consistently inconsistent poor perfomance of a team could be as disturbing as a cold blood murder of a distinguished coach. The murder of Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer raises many questions about the sanctity of the game and the illegal, dishonest nexus that runs beneath it.

But again I wonder, which part belongs to the gentleman’s game? The selection drama, the finger-pointing, the game fixing, the exchange of sneers and curses on the field , the stoning of losing captain’s house or the murders and arrests?