Sunday, August 15, 2010


August 15 again and let us pay tribute to all our sporting heroes on this 63rd Independence day. Those who picked up a bat or kicked a ball to make our lives look so much better. This article by Rohit Brijnath was written in 2008 before India's Test series against Australia, as a swan song to 5 of the best cricketers of our generation. Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly have already bid adieu but SRT, Dravid and Laxman still defy time to entertain us. We are privileged for the fact that we share the same time line with these heroes. I have cried every time I read this article for the pure emotion it contains. Dedicating this to all our sporting heroes..

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


“I was part time at St Johnstone. In a reserve game against Airdrie I broke my eyebrow, cheekbone and nose and was out for months. They put this massive plaster cast on my face.After I came back from the injury I played three reserve games. We lost 8-1, 7-0 and 9-2. I said that’s it - I’m finished. I took out papers to emigrate to Canada.On the Friday (night before the match against Rangers), my brother’s girlfriend phoned up my manager at St Johnstone and told him I had the flu. But when I arrived home from a regular Friday night at the swimming baths with my mates, my mother tore into me and said, ‘I’ve had a telegram from your manager - get down to the telephone booth and call him. The manager said, ‘Report to the Bath Hotel tomorrow, you’re playing against Rangers’. I scored a hat trick and became the first player to do so against Rangers at Ibrox – it changed my life. I became a full time footballer in the summer and never looked back.”

Does this sound like it comes from a person with lot of self doubts? Wrong, he is now considered to be the epitome of determination and single mindedness. He is now 68 and the most celebrated football manager of modern era. He is the one who famously announced that his aim is to “knock Liverpool off their fucking perch”. He is the one who took the “Come back when you have 18” banner as a personal abuse and with a combination of non-paralleled arrogance and ruthlessness collected Manchester United’s 18th League crown in 2009. No prizes for guessing, he is none other than Sir Alex Ferguson.

The 2010 Premier League season looms large and the only thing which is sure in what is promising to be a season in which at least 5 teams claim to have title credentials, is that Sir Alex and his band of red devils will give an almighty fight to get that crown back to Old Trafford. Carlo Ancelotti had a tremendous first season with Chelsea in which he bagged the double but so had Jose Mourinho when he landed in Stamford Bridge. In fact one of Ferguson’s main traits over the last 21 years has been his will and guile to outlast, out-think and out-manage his rivals. From George Graham to Arsene Wenger, from Rafa Benitez to Jose Mourinho, the United head honcho has seen all of them coming and wrestle with him, some miserably some successfully, but has had the last laugh invariably. Add Ancelotti to that list and another mouthwatering season awaits us.

Winning that title number 19 is very much embedded in his genes and all the rumors about him retiring can wait until the goal is achieved. After all he has delivered most of his promises over the last 21 years. We can safely assume that knocking Liverpool of their fucking perch will be on top is his promise list. Bring it on

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

See it. Hit it. Forget it.

“Stand and deliver” Sunil Gavaskar shouted on air in his typically patriotic voice when Virendar Sehwag clobbered one over extra cover during his brutally entertaining 293 against Srilanka. But he forgot to mention another important aspect of his effervescent batting, a bout of amnesia to forget everything which has happened. It should have been “stand, deliver and forget”. The secret of his batting lies in neither in his backlift nor in his batspeed, but it is in his uncluttered mind with a simple thought process: see the ball, hit the ball. Easier said than done, of course, but not for Viru. Who else will try to club (and succeed) Saqlain Mustaq over midwicket for a six to get triple hundred after having failed to do so while on 195 hardly 2 months before. The beauty of Sehwag’s batsmanship is keeping simple things simpler than most other batsmen are able to even imagine.

Critics say he is a flat track bully. My answer: His first six centuries came against six different opponents in 5 different countries. They accuse him to have no footwork and only hand eye co-ordination. My answer: You don’t score triple centuries for fun with only hand eye co-ordination. They try to prove that bowling standards have come down. My answer: He has dismantled every bowler in sight, from Mills to McGrath, from Aktar to Anderson, from Murali to Malinga. They substantiate that he knows only one way to bat. My answer: Get an old DVD of his match saving 154 against Australia in Adelaide 2008. They blabber that he throws his wicket away too often. My answer: Look at the number of Test matches he won singlehandedly.

Sehwag’s influence is not merely winning matches for India. His mere presence in the team affects the way opposition thinks. No score is considered safe, no boundary is deemed too big, no bowler is seemed capable of dismissing him. He even forces his teammates to believe in themselves. After England set a stiff target of 387 on a deteriorating pitch in the 2008 Chennai Test match, no one in either side believed that an Indian victory is possible, except Sehwag. He came out all guns blazing to race to 83 in no time which included 11 fours and 4 sixes. After that carnage what India needed was a cool head on a stable shoulder and Sachin Tendulkar duly obliged with one of his masterpieces which he dedicated for the terror stricken people of Mumbai. But what made it possible was Sehwag’s cameo which made English shoulders to drop and Indian spirits to soar. Barring only Viv Richards, there has never been anyone like Sehwag who thrives on with each challenge however impossible it is. While Viv, with his brand of exuberant batsmanship, tried to emancipate the West Indian minds from colonial slavery, Sehwag tries to give wings to his own free soul.

Our cricketing lore has always been rich with batting greats. Even when the team was failing miserably we used to romanticize the deeds of our great batsmen. Only recently our team started to convert individual contribution to collective success consistently and Sehwag is inarguably one of the important cogs in that wheel of success. Shewag can be definitely bracketed with the elite company of CK Naydu, Lala Amarnath, Vijay Hazare, Gundappa vishwanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, though his relative impact to Indian cricket is open to debate. His position in the pantheon of Indian cricket’s batting greats is firmly in place and sky is the limit for this free-flowing explosive batsman. It takes some efforts to better a batting average of 54 and a strike rate of 81, but Sehwag will definitely be embracing that challenge with all the vigour, which promises exciting times indeed!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Flowers of Manchester

Feb 6th today. A fateful day in the history of Manchester United. Found these wonderful lines and posting it here. May their souls Rest In Peace

The Flowers of Manchester
One cold and bitter Thursday in Munich, Germany,
Eight great football stalwarts conceded victory,
Eight men will never play again who met destruction there,
The flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester

Matt Busby’s boys were flying, returning from Belgrade,
This great United family, all masters of their trade,
The pilot of the aircraft, the skipper Captain Thain,
Three times they tried to take off and twice turned back again.

The third time down the runaway disaster followed close,
There was slush upon that runaway and the aircraft never rose,
It ploughed into the marshy ground, it broke, it overturned.
And eight of the team were killed as the blazing wreckage burned.

Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor who were capped for England’s side.
And Ireland’s Billy Whelan and England’s Geoff Bent died,
Mark Jones and Eddie Colman, and David Pegg also,
They all lost their lives as it ploughed on through the snow.

Big Duncan he went too, with an injury to his brain,
And Ireland’s brave Jack Blanchflower will never play again,
The great Matt Busby lay there, the father of his team
Three long months passed by before he saw his team again.
The trainer, coach and secretary, and a member of the crew,

Also eight sporting journalists who with United flew,
and one of them Big Swifty, who we will ne’er forget,
the finest English ‘keeper that ever graced the net.

Oh, England’s finest football team its record truly great,
its proud successes mocked by a cruel turn of fate.
Eight men will never play again, who met destruction there,
The Flowers of English Football…..
The Flowers of Manchester

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


1) India plays more Test matches. India gloriously achieved the No.1 status in Test cricket last year and BCCI responded with arranging more Test matches for this year. Playing only 2 Test matches for the entire year is ridiculous. Everyone is predicting the death of Test cricket in the coming years but the kind of Tests we had in last year at Sydney, Napier, Centurion and Cardiff suggest otherwise, and it is exciting that India, South Africa and Srilanka tussle it out for supremacy in Test cricket.

2) Manchester United buys someone to replace Cristiano Ronaldo. 80M Pounds in the bank account sounds good only when the team is doing well. There is no doubt that Utd are missing CR7 and his creativity, and the number of draws is the proof for that. They badly need an impact player which CR7 was. Only such a player can win matches against teams which come to OT and park their defensive bus in front of the goal. It is only January and Utd has already lost 5 matches, which is more than what they lost in the entire season last time and they have lost some of their Old Trafford aura.

3) Rafael Nadal gets back to his marauding ways. It was exhilarating to watch him and Federer exchanging punches and counter punches in four consecutive Grandslam finals.

4) England wins the world cup. This is the year of World cup and South Africa – 2010 sounds mouthwatering. With Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard, Defoe, Crouch, Ferdinand and Carraghar, this appears England’s best chance in the last 20 years. It is appalling that England which has the most watched and most efficient Football league in the world has won the Worldcup only once.

5) Power and cable TV connection let me to watch all the races in 2010! The king is back in the track and this year promises to be a cracker for F1. For all those who imagined, argued and contemplated about how Micheal Schumacher could have fared against a fully throttled Lewis Hamilton, 2010 brings the reality and answer. His decision to come back to racing, albeit for a different team than Ferrari was a boon for the sport which was plagued by withdrawals of so many teams and the infamous crashgate.

6) Tiger Woods gets back to what he was doing best, in the greens ofcourse! The way media pounced on him after he revealed his transgressions showed that we still believe in the myth that a good sportsman is a good person too. He still remains the best golfer on the planet and whom he wants to sleep with should be left to himself only.

7) More and more exciting draws in Test cricket. There is nothing like watching a hard fought hard earned draw in Tests. Saving a Test match from a losing position is an art and it is the sign of a good Test team.