Tuesday, September 27, 2005

And they lived happily ever after.....

Ganguly & Chappell finally decided that they must bury their differences "in the interests of Indian cricket". This is a historic moment for Indian cricket, the chronicles of which should be etched in gold.

Now we have a team which will definitely win the World Cup 2007. We have a captain who is in tremendous batting form, the mere mention of whom strikes terror in the heart of pace bowlers around the world. We have a team packed with consistent performers, with amazing fitness levels. And we have a coach who has an unprecedented success rate in his previous coaching assignments. There are no egos, and every member puts his team before his individual opinions and who will support the coach and captain come what may.

And of course we have a very efficient and supportive board, with no infighting, and which only cares about taking Indian cricket to unprecedented heights.

All hail the champions of the world!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Chappell-Ganguly saga

Lots has been said about the rift between the coach & captain. So it seems one of the two has to pack his bags before we can actually start playing.

Personally I would love to see Ganguly go. I never thought he was a good captain, and of late he was batting pathetically; he didn't even merit a place in a Ranji side. Ganguly sprang into popularity as an extremely talented batsman, an off-side god, and had an amazing one-day and test run. It took some time for other teams to find his weak spots, but once they did they just latched on to them. And Ganguly crumbled....

He was a bad example as a captain. He was by far the worst fielder in the team. Not only was he unfit, he also lacked the commmitment to fielding that a captain should have. I firmly believe the reason India did well under his captaincy was more due to the emergence of a new breed of young talented players (Sehwag, Pathan, Kaif, Khan etc.) than his captaincy skills. I believe with Dravid as captain, we could have reached even greater heights.

If you think the problem lies with Chappell, read this to check out the problems John Wright had lately with the Ganguly camp. Any rationally thinking player would have agreed with Chappell's suggestion that the best XI does not feature a certain India player whose test average in the past year and half (before the Zim tour) is 33.84, one-day average is 29.66 and without a century in either form of the game.

Of course we will have to accept whatever decision the corrupt BCCI takes in this matter....

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Global warming

A storm hit the east coast of India & Bangladesh. Check out the news on BBC and Times of India. Also a fresh storm threatens New Orleans, stalling the ongoing relief efforts. Every other day there is a new storm wreaking havoc somewhere in the world. Tsunamis, Mumbai floods, Katrina.... the list goes on.

It seems that the number & intensity of natural disasters has increased steadily over the past 35 years. Many scientists argue that it is due to global warming caused by an increased greenhouse effect - a byproduct of the human "civilization". Check this article out.

Greenhouse effect is what maintains the temperature of the earth at steady levels. The presence of water vapour and gases like Carbon dioxide, methane & Nitrous oxide in the earth's atmosphere, traps the outgoing heat reflected off the earth's surface. Without the greenhouse gases, the earth would have been another Mars - cold and lifeless. But the recent human pollutants have lead to an increase in the greenhouse gases, leading to global warming and threatening the ecological balance. If it's true, expect the rate of natural disasters to escalate in the coming years making life tougher for us.

Our lives are so intricately dependent on the cause of these pollutants (cars, industries, daily luxuries), that we cannot stop the emissions but for a drastic change in our everyday life. With the world being ruled by major corporations in a cutthroat competition with each other, I don't see much chance. Tough times lie ahead for the future generations, unless the people act quicker.

Agent Smith to Morpheus (The Matrix):
"Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bodyline


I stumbled upon the famous television series back when I was a kid - Bodyline : It's just not cricket. Yup, the serial about the infamous 1932/33 Bodyline series between England and Australia. The story of 3 individuals: The greatest batsman of all time - Don Bradman, the fastest bowler in the world - Harold Larwood and most importantly about the most hated man in cricket, the infamous English captain Douglas Jardine.

Guess who plays Jardine? Hugo Weaving. Yup Agent Smith from the Matrix trilogy (if you ask me, the real show stealer of the movie. He also played Elrond, the elf king in LOTR trilogy).

For the uninitiated, bodyline was a tactic devised by Jardine where the bowler bowled short and on the batsman's body. The fielders were then concentrated close to the batsman on the leg-side. With a really quick bowler like Larwood, it is virtually impossible to hit the ball on the off-side. Many of the batsmen ended up getting injured, being hit on the body. Most of the Aussie batsmen had no answer to this tactic. Even the great Bradman had a much lower batting average compared to his lofty standards (56.57 compared to his overall average of 99.94). Back in those days this aggressive tactic was "just not cricket".

The TV series is not technically sound (The wicketkeeper is shown standing up to Larwood, the pace bowlers bowl slow, flighted deliveries and a lot of similar bloopers) but still makes for a great watch, just to know the way the game was played back then.

More info on bodyline here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Living legends...... (on the losing side, sadly)

So Federer got Agassi in 4. 1 set more than I had predicted. Thanks to an amazing fighting effort by the 35 year old Agassi. Agassi played for his life in the 2nd and 3rd sets, but still fell short of THE GOD.

Agassi might probably retire at the end of the year. What a ride it has been for him. After turning pro in 1986 he played in the big league for 20 years. In a sport where an average player's career lasts for 10 odd years, 20 years is just mind-boggling. I remember the first time I heard about Agassi was back in 90 French Open finals. Andre Agassi vs Andres Gomez. Agassi lost that one. Then again one year later to Jim Courier. Then in 92 he defeated Goran Ivanisevic in an epic 5-set Wimbledon final and really burst into the real big league.

One of the reasons why Agassi did not win more Grand Slams (8), is the fact that he was in the same era as the great Pete Sampras. Agassi was good, but Sampras was even better. At the peak of his career he had to encounter the booming game of Pistol Pete. Their rivarly was legendary. I guess Agassi must be the guy with the most number of Grand Slam final appearances.

Hats off to the great Andre Agassi. Hope he retires now, when he is at the top....

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An even bigger legend in terms of impact on the sport is Shane Warne. True, England finally won the Ashes and deserve all the accolades showered upon them. But at age 36, Warne took 40 wickets at an average of 19.92 to extend his lead as the greatest wicket-taker of all times. To put things into perspective, the next highest wicket-taker on either side was Andy Flintoff with 24 wickets. Simply put, Warne is the greatest spinner I have ever seen. He is single-handedly responsible for reviving the lost art of leg-spin bowling and giving faith to spinners all over the world that it is not all about bowling fast.

Now there is news that he might retire. End to another amazing roller-coaster career. The "ball of the century" to dismiss Mike Gatting, his problems with weight, his escapades, his steroid related ban, his amazing comeback and his race with Murali for the world's highest wicket taker, it has all been just one hell of a ride for him. If you ask me he was the number one reason for the Australian dominance in both test and one-day cricket the past few years(McGrath was 2 & Steve Waugh 3)

As Gilli oft says - Bowling Shane...........

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Tennis updates

So it's gonna be Federer vs. Agassi for the US open. Federer won against Hewitt today in 4 sets. That's the 1st time he has lost a set against Hewitt in 5 matches. This makes it 9 successive wins over Hewitt for him dating back as far as Australian open 2003.

Do you know against which other player does Federer have a long winning streak? Andre Agassi. Federer has a 7 game winning streak against Agassi, dating back even further: 2002. Yup, Agassi hasn't beaten Federer since 2002.

Today Agassi metioned during commentry: "One of the strengths of Federer which not many people are aware of, is his return of serve. He just gets a lot of those balls back in". True, not many people are aware of it....

Agassi has played 3 back to back 5-setters and a tough 4-setter before that. This at 35 should really have taken its toll on him. So tomorrow technically it should be a whitewash. But we cannot forget one important factor: crowd support. The Yanks will be totally supporting Andre, especially considering the fact that this may be his last year here.

Anyways, all said and done, I predict Federer wins tomorrow in 3 sets...

Also today, Kim Clijsters won her 1st US open and her 1st grand slam destroying Mary Pierce 6-3. 6-1 in an hour. Sweet victory for Clijsters who had earlier lost in the finals of 4 grand slam tournaments (FR 01, 03, US 03, AUS 05).

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Se(a)ttling

I finally got internet at home after three weeks here. That explains the relative high delay between my blogs (or serves as a nice excuse).

So I am slowly settling down in Seattle. Job is fine, no hard work so far, hardly anything of a commute; the weather is simply beautiful with sporadic but pleasant rain. It is quite a slow, laid-back kind of atmosphere in this place, which suits me just well so far :)

I watched the great Indian hope, Sania Mirza, in action for the first time today. Against the cutest babe to ever play tennis - Maria Sharapova. Sania fought in the first few games of the first set, even managed to break Maria's serve, but then simply caved in. Sania has what you call a "hit-or-miss" game. Very powerful strokes, especially the forehand, but then a very high unforced error rate too. Also a very weak second serve which Maria feasted upon (only 20% second serve pts won). She will have to be much more consistent to break into the big league. But at the same time, it felt nice to see an Indian doing as well as Sania is doing.

Following which I saw THE GOD, Federer, dispose Olivier Rochus in straight sets. Can anyone stop him from winning the US Open? Agassi? In your dreams......

Ashes had another amazing test where England outplayed Australia for most of the test. Australia mounted one of their ever amazing comebacks in the last couple of days, but then they fell just short... again. So its ENG 2-1 and they just need a draw in the final test to regain the Ashes after 20 or something years.

On the topic of Mumbai floods and the recent hurricane Katrina; a point worth raising is - How much of these recent disasters can you attribute to the escalating global warming? The Tsunamis, the Mumbai floods, hurricane Katrina, all could be the result of distorted weather patterns due the increased green house effect resulting from human activity. It is time we put our foot down and take heed. Or is it already too late?