Wednesday, February 28, 2007


What makes a cricket shot so splendid to watch, so exhilarating to ponder and so difficult to forget? Is it the technical brilliance with which it is executed or the sheer power of it? Or rather the context in which it is executed? Or the impact the shot has in the game? Javed Miandad’s last ball six of Chetan Sharma in the Australasia cup final is a part of the cricket folklore because it did win the match and more importantly established a psychological edge over India for years. And so is Mike Gatting’s ill-fated reverse sweep against Australia in the World Cup final of 1987 when England was cruising to victory even though it is cruel to accuse Gatting of England’s failure.

The beauty of a cricket shot is unique. Cricket is the only game in which the most of the actions are sideways. Both bowling and batting are sideways actions, which are quite opposite to the natural orientation of human body. To play a straight drive in an international match you need to play it 1000 times in nets. The co ordination needed between mind and body to play a cricket shot is immense. And most of the time batsmen need to rely on their instincts, which are honed through the hours spent in the nets. Endless hours of playing time and complex rules make cricket a hard game to learn. A Tendulkar straight drive is awe inspiring to watch. You can admire its beauty, drop your jaws and watch it 100 times but you can’t reproduce it from your bat. I didn’t know the meaning of the word perfect before I saw that shot. The body right behind the line of the ball, front foot to the pitch of the ball, head standstill, full face of the bat meeting the ball and the ball speeding past the bemused bowler with 10 times the velocity he delivered. Aaahhhh… Pure pleasure!

Talking about cricket shots, one still boggles in my mind. Rahul Dravid’s pulled four against a Bret Lee bouncer in the Adelaide Test match of 2003. It was the second new ball of India’s first innings and the Australians were looking for a breakthrough. Lee thundered in and fired a lethal bouncer. It is said that it takes around .6 of a second for the ball to reach the batsman when Lee is operating in full tilt. Within this time Dravid’s mind calculated the line of the ball, spotted the length as in the shorter side, rocked on the back foot, bottom hand grip became loose, upper hand looser and pushing the bat handle down as the loose bottom hand acted as a fulcrum, the bat making a curve and its end pointing towards thirdman, as the bat reached a horizontal level his left hand started giving power and right hand direction, eyes on the ball, head right behind the line, body twisted, gap between legs according to the height of the ball, just what MCC coaching manual says. And still he had enough time to play that shot and dispatch that ball to deep square leg fence.

But when you think about the big picture it gives you a better perspective. A young bowler steaming in and firing a bouncer and the batsman willing to take the challenge. That is the essence of Test match and more importantly that is the essence of life, meeting challenges and facing them. And that makes cricket a unique game and cricket shot a beautiful moment.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


1) For me The Lords is more sacred than any of the temples or mosques or churches that you can find in this whole world.

2) My girlfriend says that she will leave me if I don’t stop my obsession with the Australian cricket team. Of course, I am going to miss her.

3) When India plays nothing is going to move me from in front of the TV set, not even an earthquake!

4) I am not living in a particular time zone. For me the wake up time is the Test match time. 10 AM for India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh 2.30 PM for South Africa, 3.30 PM for England, 7.30 PM for West Indies, 3.30 AM for New Zealand and 5.30 AM for Australia. The sight of Brett Lee steaming in with a red cherry in his hand is more stimulating than any hot cup of tea.

5) One-day cricket may provide the edge of the seat kind of thrill but for me this circus won’t come anywhere near the majesty that Test cricket provides. Test cricket is the greatest game Man has ever seen, with its plots, sub plots, twists and dramas.

6) After each match I will sit down with my pen to update my personal charts of records, which includes, of course, the number of games I covered.

7) While walking I may play a cover drive with an exaggerated back lift or a back foot punch with a high elbow, or the loveliest of leg glances or sway away from an imaginary bouncer, which may appear quite comical to others. Sorry I don’t care about others.

8) For some people the match fixing scandal meant end of watching the game. But for me it was the time I wanted to show my gratitude towards the game, which gave me so much pleasure. And I did so with pride.

9) Sir Don Bradman might have played his last test even before my father was born. But still he is the God of batting.

10) Michael Jackson may be the greatest dancer the World has ever seen, but Brian Lara’s deft footwork when dancing down the track and and hoicking a left arm spinner over midwicket is more beautiful.

11) Music has never influenced or inspired me. But the sound of a cricket ball meeting the bat often sends pulses of adrenaline through my nerves.

12) Cricket is not a sport. It is a science.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


I am facing a curious problem this year. I have no motivation or desire to watch this year’s Formula1 season. Last year at this time I was busy going through the schedules and circuits and planning my less important remains. But this year I haven’t even checked the starting date of the season. I keep on saying to myself that Formula1 is not about a single man or a single team but somehow I fail to convince myself. The thought that I will never see a certain M.Schumacher in a red Ferrari speeding past others or performing a breathtaking, life-risking maneuver at a 180-degree corner puts me down.

Was Schumacher greater than all the other drivers we have seen? May be yes, may be not. Ayerton Senna and Alain Prost were better than him on pure driving skills. But they lacked one certain quality that shumi has in abundance. Ruthlessness and it was very much visible even in his last race. With a punctured tyre when he went back to the pits we all thought of the cruel anticlimax sport provides. We were certain of the fact that he is going to finish outside the point range, nearer to 15th rather than 5th. But from that point onwards what the world witnessed was simply vintage. With the increased weight of full tank fuel as well as expectations he restarted his last race from 17th position. Remember, 17th. The way he was overtaking was marvelous to watch. The car twisted, slipped, turned angles, which were non existent and sped past lesser mortals and the man didn’t eve flinch a bit. His overtaking of Fisichella was breathtaking as well as awe inspiring. And after a series of overtaking he finished on 4th. Watching his last race was as satisfying as watching any of his championship winning races.

Was he greater than the game ? No, not at all. No man can ever be greater than the game in which he performs his skills. Analogies can be drawn with Sir Don Bradman in cricket, Jack Nicholaus in Golf, and Pete Samprass in Tennis. But in one way or another Schumi was different from all of them. All those champions were playing games which already had a huge popularity and fan following. In Schumacher’s case he is the one who made F1 famous. He was the reason millions watched the game. All those champions were unanimous world champions and loved by everyone where as Schumacher was the man most of us loved to hate. Still there are people who believe that he is not the greatest eventhough he posses almost all the record that the sport can have. It is partly because of his ruthless image and partly because of his driving maneuvers, which left other, drives in the sidelines with their car crashed. It was a known fact that he will do anything to win a race. But when you are driving a Formula1 car that is the minimum thing expected from you, and for true lovers of Fomula1 he is the ultimate champion.