Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Future of Cricket

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It's not too much cricket. Its too much meaningless cricket
The administrators's greed for television dollars has finally achieved the impossible. The stadium going Indian cricket fan is now on the WWF (World Wildlife Federation) list of endangered species. According to current estimates the WWF  puts Indian stadium goers along with the tiger as a species "vulnerable to extintion". Only 3,200 of them remain.

When NEO cricket proudly touts a meaningless ODI series as a "revenge series"; it betrays the sensibilities of average cricket fans. Beating England in a ODI series and celebrating it as revenge for a 0-4 whitewash in a Test Series is like Jai, Veeru and Thakur plucking 5 strands of greying hair from Gabbar Singh's beard and calling it a revenge for wiping out Thakur's family.

When asked to comment on WWF's assessment of the possible extinction, BCCI preseident N Srinivasan said, "We are not aware of any such report. If WWF have a problem they should speak to us. Cricket is produced for TV not for stadium goers".

The BCCI is also set to announce at the next ICC meeting that like the DRS, playing cricket in stadiums should be optional. According to a new proposal, which Gavaskar, Shastri and Harsha Bhogle have called "visionary", cricket matches will be played in "state-of-the-art" television sudios, so that the TV producers, technicians, managers and executives have better control of the game.

"Giving TV producers, the right to dictate only itineraries is not enough. The way business works, leaders need end-to-end control. There is no room for romantic opinion where money is concerned", said Harsha Bhogle speaking at a television debate on the issue of "Conflict of Interest", sponsored by Anil Kumble, the RCB franchise and Tenvic.

Along with the optional stadium issue, the BCCI is also set to table many changes to the format of the game to better suit it to live coverage over Smart Phones, Tablet PC's and Twitter. Some of the suggested changes

  1. Do away with the 15 yard circle. It will now become the boundary line . It was Steve Job's dying wish that iPhones capture the market share for devices for watching cricket. He had said that cricket grounds need to be smaller to fit on iPhone screens. BCCI will now support this change as essential to securing investment from Apple. 
  2. Strategic breaks in T20 cricket should include batsmen making love to pole dancing cheer-leaders. This rule is to allow cricket to be broadcast on porn channels and websites like Playboy, Vivid and TEN. If a batsmen is injured a runner /substitute will not be permitted.
  3. Introduce a new format of cricket called. "Tip and Run". After having signed a multi-billion dollar deal with Twitter, their basic requirement was that there should only be as much action in the game as can be "tweeted" in 140 characters.
  4. To capture the "reality TV market" the BCCI has also suggested that powerplays in ODI cricket be determined by audience participation, where the captain has to either 'poll the internet audience' or 'phone a friend' to determine when to take the powerplay. Additionally the Big Brother franchise has secured the rights to place cameras in player dressing rooms, bathrooms, hotel rooms and lobbies.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Storms in Teacups

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A few years ago, we lamented about the loss of characters from cricket when Flintoff was penalized for pedalo-gate. Until recently, I didn't really understand this desire by journalists and "elites" for squeaky clean sportsmen and now ex-cricketer administrators.

When I was a student in a college in India, many times I would be asked as to how I managed good grades "even though" I enjoyed an occasional drink. Well, maybe not occasional....but you get the point. For the life of me, I never understood the connection between good academic performance and alcohol. In many ways, I (along with a few others) were the outliers.

Many of those that posed that question were squeaky clean A-graders and teetotallers. My misfortunate was that this lot was the majority and they probably now constitute the profile of the majority of opinion-makers.

To bring a long introduction to a point....such a lot (people who have never run cricket or played competitively) is now (Sambit Bal included) questioning Anil Kumble's ethics in running a sports firm and being a sports official. Sports is meant for enjoyment. Sportsmen are entertainers. They need money to feed themselves. So Kumble's firm Tenvic manages a few of the players. Sports is not religion and does not need priests to run it.

In this world, many things are inter-connected. It's incredible that we manage to figure out these connections and try to drive Kumble out of office in Karnataka, just because Vinay Kumar was selected to the India team.

Shame on Sambit Bal and his ilk for such idiotic journalism. Even if Kumble were to have influenced team selection, why should we assume that he had anything but the team's welfare at heart? I wish someone like Kumble were around to manage Vinod Kambli and get him a few breaks. I wish someone like Kumble manages Irfan Pathan. And thank you Sambaran Banerjee for having a conflict of interest and recommending Saurav Ganguly.

In the end, all players are picked based on numbers, recommendation, gut-feel and several other factors. If numbers were the only parameter, then Vikram Rathore would have eclipsed Tendulkar's records by now. Selectors themselves are taking a leap of faith even when they pick proven performers because past performance is no guarantee of future success. Vinay Kumar has done most of the stuff required to merit selection.

We are now hell bent on driving characters like Flintoff, Symonds and Gayle out of cricket and soon we'll drive out administrators with characters like Kumble. Soon Sambit Bal and his ilk will want cricket to be run by tetotaller IIT PhDs only and want cricketers to play slowly so that no one gets hurt.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Rules: Batsmen can now change their sex at the crease

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The ICC have today announced new rules that require the fielding side; in the ICC's own words; "complete, total and upfront" transparency to the batsmen at the crease.

While so far, a polite "Left arm, over the wicket...sir" was enough of an indication for a batsman to deal with a delivery, the bowlers will now have to provide a complete "specification" of the upcoming delivery or deliveries. If the delivered ball does not meet the batsman's acceptance criteria, the ball will be deemed a "No Ball", the bowler will be reprimanded, and 25% of his match fees donated to the charity... of the batsman's choice. If the offense is repeated the bowler will be banned for life.

The specifications a bowler and his captain are now required to share with the umpire and the batsmen include, the direction of the turn, angle and linear deviation, which fingers will be used to release the ball, where the shiny side will be facing, the angle at which the seam will be held, whether the ball will be delivered at normal pace or will a "slower one" be attempted, whether the ball will be a yorker, the height the ball will rise after pitching, what the bowler had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the last 2 weeks, the bowler's blood pressure, kindergarten graduating grade, hobbies outside cricket, sexual orientation, favorite movie, movie actor, favorite sexual position, favorite dish, and allergies.