Thursday, September 22, 2011

R.I.P Tiger

Today when I read a news piece on Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi's lung infection, I thought that I would write a piece after he passed away.
I returned home to see a newsflash of his death.
I've never seen him play. I've only heard tales. Cricket fans know that he batted with one eye, as the other was lost in a car accident. I know that he was then the world's youngest captain (at 21), after Nari Contractor's skull was fractured. I also know that he was the first Indian captain to win a series abroad in New Zealand. I know that he married Sharmila Tagore. I know that he is the father of Saif and Soha Ali Khan. Unfortunately, most people will know him only as Saif and Soha's father.
When I think of how little I know of him as a player, I feel weird. I pride myself for the cricket knowledge that I possess, but when it comes to the Tiger, I know nothing. But then, when I think about it, Pataudi hated the spotlight. He was never caught in a controversy, unless of course you want to talk about his marrying outside the religion. But Sharmila Tagore and he have looked very much in love now like they did then.
While watching his obituary, I saw Kris Srikkanth say that Pataudi was his boyhood hero. Harsha Bhogle choked on television and the cricket world is mourning.
Unfortunately, YouTube has no videos of his batting, so unless I have archived footage of the Indian side in 1969, I'll never know.
Until then, I'll just have to live with the knowledge that I have.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

BCCI blues...

The last time India did so badly in an away series was in 1999 when they went to Australia. They did slightly better over there, as they won one international game against Pakistan. In this series, the only victory was during the practice matches.
What went wrong for India? After all, they are the World Champions. They had not lost a single series ever since MS Dhoni became captain. They had a great ODI record before this series, but somewhere down the line, they lost the plot.
People have blamed the IPL and the fact that too much cricket is being played. Since the beginning of 2011, India has played South Africa, the World Cup, the IPL, the West Indies and England. After this, there is the Champions' League, a home series against the West Indies, a home series against England and then a series against Australia in Australia.
Overworked: Don't be surprised if
Dhoni decides to retire in 2 years
We can all blame the IPL. I've blamed it for the longest time. I hated the concept from the first year itself and the second year sealed the deal for me when Lalit Modi thought that the IPL needed more security than the Union Elections. But I won't blame it entirely.
We have a board that wants money.  The BCCI is the richest board in the world. It believes that because it has the money, it is bigger than the game. It refuses to associate itself with the government of India. It refuses to be questioned under the RTI. Other sports in India are accountable. Why not cricket?
The answer is a simple one, actually. It's always been the sad tale of Indian cricket. You have ministers lobbying for top cricket posts. Ironically, cricketers who are ministers, don't have much to say, but be experts on news panels. Navjot Singh Sidhu is a so-called expert. Nobody knows what Kirti Azad is up to and Mohammad Azharuddin was part of the Badminton Association of India. On the other hand, we have had the late Madhavrao Scindia, Arun Jaitley, Sharad Pawar and now Vilasrao Deshmukh as part of the BCCI think-tank - with Pawar taking a jump up to be the head the ICC.
Where does the player stand a chance? He unfortunately is a puppet in a larger scheme of things. We can make fun of our cricketers and write articles ridiculing their performance. They are to blame as well. Most of them are out of shape, others take their place in the side for granted and sadly, the selection has become a political one. To put it in perspective, people have told me that Suresh Raina, an extremely talented cricketer and a great ODI prospect is in the side because "he is dating Praful Patel's daughter." Similarly, "Yuvraj and Harbhajan are in the side because they are favourites of the captain and someone high up."
Furthermore, India doesn't have a player's association. This isn't good for a player, as his chances of burning out are a lot higher, given the amount of cricket he plays every year. IPL performances are viewed as better performances as compared to Ranji performance, as RP Singh's selection showed us.
Indian cricket has always been in this zone. The fact that we became the number one test side in the world shadowed this truth, but now after the loss against England, there will be a lot of questions asked. Hopefully for the Indian fan, there will be a comeback.
Unfortunately, I feel that the fan will be disappointed.