Thursday, September 24, 2009

Men in Blue and the 'blue' recipe for success

Will the Indian cricket team be given a 'A' certificate now ?

Coach Gary Kirsten's sex mantra to boost the team's competitiveness has at least one positive -- the players can make amends for a failure on the field with a solid performance off it.

Ever since the extraordinary document found its way to the media, it has become the subject of much amusement and discussion in the cricket fraternity.

No wonder, many teams now want Kirsten to be their coach.

Kirsten, a former South African opening batsman, has handed out a four-part document which broadly envisages an active sexual life and disciplined food and sporting habits, aimed at helping the Indian players on and off the field.

The document, the contents of which are quite unusual, looks back into India's history, its food habits and its lack of aggression.

"From a psychological (body) perspective having sex increases testosterone levels, which causes an increase in strength, energy, aggression and competitiveness.

"Conversely, not having sex for a few months causes a significant drop in testosterone level in both males and females with the corresponding passiveness and decrease in aggression," the dossier circulated to the players says.

The document, jointly prepared by Kirsten and mental conditioning expert Paddy Upton, advice the cricketers 'to go solo' if they didn't have any partner.

"If you want sex but do not have someone to share it with, one option is to go solo whilst imagining you have a partner or a few partners who are as beautiful as you wish to imagine. No pillow talk and no hugging required ... just roll over and go to sleep," the document advises.

No Indian team in the past had been given such an open license to indulge in sex during tours and it now remains to be seen whether increasing testosterone levels will actually fetch more runs and wickets.

I wonder what would have been the reaction of the players when they saw the dossier.

Well, even if the on-fields results fail to reach dizzying heights, Kirsten will at least be remembered for giving a new connotation to the phrase 'Men in Blue'.

Picture: PTI

Thursday, September 17, 2009

bande mataram

Bande Mataram and a lecture on the hidden meaning of that song
by Sri Aurobindo (1908 & 1909)

Bande Mataram

Song in Bengali of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
translation by Sri Aurobindo (November 20, 1909)

Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving, Mother of might,
Mother free.
Glory of moonlight dreams
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease,
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother, I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands,
When the swords flash out in twice seventy million hands
And seventy millions voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call, Mother and Lord!
Thou who savest, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foemen drave
Back from plain and sea
And shook herself free.
Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou our heart, our soul, our breath,
Thou the love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nerves the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.

Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother, lend thine ear.
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Dark of hue, O candid-fair
In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free.

in SABCL, Volume 8 "Translations, From Sanskrit and Other Languages"
(and in Collected Poems 2, page 227) published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry. diffusion by SABDA

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Austerity, economy class and the common man

There's a mad rush among 'netas' to fly economy class in flights these days. Some have gone a step further and have started taking trains. These are unsual times for our comfort-loving politicans...

The Congress party's austerity drive, or rather the overdrive, is spreading like a wildfire. Every leader worth his salt wants to prove his loyalty by making their 'economy class' travel plans public.

But just spare a thought for the common man. The grand show of austerity has come with a price for them.

I am not a frequent flyer but I shudder to think if I have to board one such flight where a VVIP will be sitting in the economy class. Apart from the additional security hassles, every movement will be watched by the over-zealous security men who will no doubt accompany the VVIP. We may just have to sit like a statue.

It is learnt that some Ministers and Congressmen are not too happy for stretching the austerity drive to such ridiculous levels. But who dares to defy the diktat.

A minister found himself in a spot of bother because of his Twitter message "in cattle class out of solidarity with our holy cows". Needless to say, he was immediately pulled up for the remark.

But have these austerity measures helped in curbing expenses ? Is it really helping in any way ? Ask the common man, and you will get the answer.

I do believe that high-flying politicians need to be austere in their lifestyles, but just by flying economy class will not make much of a difference. There are surely better and more effective ways of doing it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Twenty20 has helped me to finetune skills : Brett Lee

Twenty20 might be considered a bowler's nightmare but for Australian speedster Brett Lee it's a format which has helped him finetune his skills.

"Twenty20 has developed a range of new skills. The yorker, slower ball and slower ball bouncer have all become more regular," Lee said.

Lee will be in India next month to play for New South Wales in the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 tournament. The high-profile tournament will be held at three venues -- New Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad -- from October 8 to 23.

The pacer said teams without stars are likely to do better than the star-studded ones in the tournament as there won't be any pressure on them.

"I think teams that don't feature the 'stars' will have an advantage in this tournament. There is more pressure on the teams that are expected to win! We have a good balance in the NSW Team," he said.

The 32-year-old speedster, who is battling to save his place in the Australian Test side after a string of ordinary performances and injuries, said he likes to intimidate batsmen to get the psychological edge.

"If most batsmen don't like facing me then this is an obvious advantage. Anything that puts other thoughts into a batsman's head is only going to assist the bowler. Like any bowler, I gain confidence if I know I am attacking a batsman," Lee said.

His love for all things Indian is well known and Lee says it is fun to play in the country where noisy spectators add excitement to the proceedings.

"The Indian spectator is one of the most knowledgeable of all cricket crowds. They are passionate but support good play, a little more for an Indian player though. I love the constant noise when playing in India," he said.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bhajji Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai ?

Harbhajan Singh has done it again.
The feisty spinner, who has now made it a habit to find himself in one controversy after another, has delivered a strong message to his tri-series opponents Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Bhajji has been using his hands to good effect of late and it was the turn of an unsuspecting cameraman in Bangalore to bear the brunt of his foul mood. Fortunately it was only a jab...Lucky man, this cameraman.

I dont know what the Indians practiced at the recent preparatory camp in Bangalore, but the quick jab executed by Bhajji will make an ace pugilist like Vijender Singh proud.

True, Bhajji may have lost his cool after hordes of mediamen virtually mobbed him at the airport and a camera hit him on the head. It was just an accidental collision, but our star player thought it otherwise. Is this not a part and parcel of celebrity status ?

It does not take much for Bhajji to whip himself into a combative mood. His dubious disciplinary record shows that cricket's concept of being a 'gentleman's game' has not appealed to him much.

Well, this incident may help Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men in Sri Lanka. Bhajji's 'jab show' may leave the opposition teams redrawing their strategies and opting for extra protection. Will it be a 'doosra' or a jab ?
Picture: PTI

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oye Sehwag, don't want to be captain ?

India's dashing opener Virender Sehwag has dropped a bombshell. He doesn't want to be the captain of the Indian cricket team.

Like his uncomplicated batting style, a candid Viru came out with a suggestion that a new face should be given the responsibility of vice-captaincy so that he can be groomed to take the reins after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"I don't want to be a captain, I have already told selectors about it. I have said that a new player should be made vice-captain and be groomed to be a captain," Sehwag told a television channel.

But the question is has Viru ever been offered the captaincy ? Why should he talk about not being interested in captaincy when there is no such proposal at all.

True, Sehwag has been the vice-captain for some time now but Indian cricket, like the game itself, is known for its glorious uncertainty. There have been innumerable instance when long-standing vice-captains have been overlooked for the hot seat. Ask Yuvraj Singh, a favourite vice captain for long till he lost that position also.

Every cricketer harbours the dream of leading the country at some stage of his career. Some say it openly while others just keep it to themselves, but there is no doubt that everyone has this desire.

Sehwag does things differently. It is all fine to give up the lure of captaincy to concentrate on batting. But is there something else ?

Viru also lavishly praised Sourav Ganguly as the best ever captain for India but not a word was mentioned about current skipper Dhoni. Will this trigger a fresh round of speculation of a rift between the two ?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Twenty20 Tests matches in the offing ?

Now that Sachin Tendulkar has come out with a new proposal to save the 50-over format, cricket administrators may give it a serious thought.

There is no doubt that the advent of Twenty20 cricket has made the ODI format of the game appear a trifle boring, particularly in the middle overs. The slam-bang nature of T20 ensures that most of the matches head towards a nail-biting finish. The same cannot be said of ODIs.

Tendulkar's views have already thrown open a debate on whether the International Cricket Council should tinker with the 50-over format to make it more interesting. Like always, the cricketing fraternity is divided.

Strangely, when T20 was introduced, many felt it would sound the death knell for Test cricket. But it now seems the traditional format is in no danger of extinction.

But even before the champion batsman publicly spoke of the need to split the ODI games into two innings, the move of starting a Twenty20 Test match had already been set into motion by some cricket experts.

Many former Indian players are not averse to the idea though some of them question whether it would suit the needs of spectators, who have lapped up the slam-bang version for its quick results.

The new format has been mooted by cricket experts and  broadly envisages a Twenty20 match in two innings of 20 overs each. In other words, the match will have four innings like in Tests but would be restricted to a total of 80 overs (40 for each team in two innings).

The idea of two innings mainly stems from the fact that it would give an opportunity to top players, who fail in the opening essay to make amends in the second innings.

Moreover, the proposal has innovations like each team would be allowed to make two substitutions in the second innings.

Although the proposal has not been formally submitted to the ICC, many Indian cricketers like former captain Chandu Borde and Syed Kirmani have supported the idea. Others like former captain Ajit Wadekar, Sandeep Patil and Erapalli Prasanna are not sure whether it will work.

"It (proposal) sounds interesting and worth experimenting. Also if one team does not do well in the first innings it has a chance to do well in the second. Not a bad idea, but it would be better if it's tried out at a lower level, at the club or state level, to see how it works, but it definitely looks to be an interesting concept," Borde said.

Sandeep Patil, a former India cricketer and coach, said it was necessary to take the views of the sponsors, teams and players before proposing such a format.

"It's the ICC's take. First of all it has to be seen whether it's logical. A lot of money is involved and it's
important to take the views of the sponsors, teams and  players.

Former India stumper Kirmani wanted his modifications in the format.

"It will become little laborious and spectators will not be able to get the result in quick time. The present T20
format can be played in two innings of four 10-overs-a-side in a match which would mean the team that opts to bat will play the first 10 overs and then the rivals and the same is repeated for the second time," he suggested.

Prasanna, however, was not in favour of introducing such a format.

"It should not be done as the sheen of the format is taken away. The present T-20 format is comparable to Fast Food at McDonalds," he said.

Former India captain Ajit Wadekar is worried that stretching the match to 80 overs could take interest away from the game as the spectators would have to wait longer for the results.

"It will lose its sheen if played in two innings a side. The present slam-bang style is the reason why more spectators watch the matches. If people are to wait longer for a result, the charm of the format is lost," he said.

The ICC, on its part, said that such proposals are referred to the Cricket Committee, which decides whether they can be sent for further deliberations.

"The process is that the proposal is discussed by the Cricket Committee first. After deliberating on the issue and if it wants the proposal to go ahead, it is moved to the Chief Executive's Committee and ultimately to the Executive Board which is the final decision making authority of the ICC," an ICC spokesman said.

Picture: PTI

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ponting, Flintoff approached to be commentators

Australian captain Ricky Ponting and talismanic England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff may be seen in the new role of a commentator in the upcoming ChampionsLeague Twenty20 cricket tournament.

Both the star players have been approached by the Champions League organisers to be expert commentators during the tournament to be held at three different venues in India from October 8-23.

"We have approached Flintoff and Ponting to be commentators during the tournament. As great cricketers themselves, they will certainly add a lot of value," a Champions League source said.

Flintoff, who recently retired from Test cricket and has undergone a keyhole surgery on his knee, has not yet confirmed whether he can take up the assignment.

"We are looking at a mix of new and old commentators. Since the Champions League is a new tournament which is eagerly awaited by the fans, we are looking to bring some newfaces in the commentary team," the source said.

The commentary team for the tournament, to be held in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore, has not yet been finalised.

ESPN STAR Sports are the commercial and broadcast rightholders of the USD six million tournament which will see 12 top Twenty20 teams from various countries taking part.

The tournament will feature three Indian teams -- IPL 2009 winner the Deccan Chargers, runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils, which topped the league phase.

Other teams in the fray are Victorian Bushrangers and NewSouth Wales Blues from Australia, Cape Cobras and Diamond Eagles from South Africa, Sussex and Somerset from England, Otago Volts from New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago from West Indies and Wayamba from Sri Lanka.

The inaugural edition of the event was originallyscheduled last year but was called off following the Mumbai terror attacks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The most expensive sporting event Formula One did have a brush with the recession in the West but sponsors are coming back and there is no financial crisis, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said today.

"I don't know about India but most of the world is in recession. Sponsorship was obviously a problem as a lot of big names were reconsidering but it is better now and sponsors are coming back," he said.

"There is no financial crisis now and there is no shortage of sponsors in Formula One," Ecclestone said from London.

At the same time, he expressed eagerness to explore more corporate entities in India, the second fastest growing economy in the world, saying the more the better.

He was responding to a query on whether F1 would be looking beyond Vijay Mallya for sponsoring teams.
"When I come to India in October. I would meet with people and see what is the best way to move forward," he said.

The recession took a toll in this year's F1 with Honda pulling out and BMW announcing that they would not race from next year. Toyota is also uncertain to return to F1 circuit once the season ends.

In view of this, Formula One authorities had initially contemplated a cap on expenditure of all F1 teams, even though frontline teams like Ferrari and McLaren were against the move. But the proposal has temporarily been shelved.

Formula One race in India will be held : Ecclestone

Brushing aside government's stand that Formula One is not a sport, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone today said the foundation stone of the race track in India would be laid in October for the showpiece event in 2011.
Ecclestone said it's been long time that they have signed the contract with the promoters in India and there was no question of the event being shelved despite the Indian government's refusal to give concessions.
Asked specifically whether the F1 race in India would goon, Ecclestone said from London," It's been on for a longtime. There's never been any doubt. The contract has been signed long time back."
Ecclestone, the President and CEO of Formula One Management, said that the foundation stone for the project inGreater Noida would be laid at the end of October.
"We are waiting for the circuit to be constructed. The foundation stone would be laid in late October. I will be in India to lay the foundation stone," he said.
Ecclestone made light of sports minister M S Gill's view that Formula One was not a sport. "Everybody is entitled to their views. That's the good or the bad part of democracy. If the Sports Minister doesn't think it's a sport, I can't do much about it. That's his view.The rest of the world thinks it is a sport," Ecclestone said.
Motorsports administrators in the country have reacted sharply to the Sports Minister's views against Formula One with Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya questioning the basis of Gill's assessment for F1 being "expensive entertainment".
Gill had insisted that it was technology and not any sporting skill that determines the outcome of Formula One races. The 2011 Indian Grand Prix has run into rough weather after the Sports Ministry denied JPSK Sports, promoter of the event in India, approval to the remittance of USD 36.5 million to Formula One Administration in UK.
Adamant Sports Ministry officials maintain Formula One does not have the social relevance of an Olympic sport and have refused to give their nod to the transaction, which comes under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) because it's not desirable.
On how he planned to make F1 popular in India, Ecclestone said he would try to meet people and see how it can be done when he visits the country in October.
"Let's see, when I come there in October. I would meet with people and see what is the best way to move forward,"Ecclestone said.
Ecclestone, a former Formula One driver himself, was impressed with Force India's second-place finish at the Belgian Grand Prix last week.
"Force India should have won actually. They were unlucky.It's good to see Vijay's (Mallya) team doing well. He has done a good job for Force India," he said.
Asked if there were plans to have more night races, the first of which made its debut in Singapore last year, Ecclestone said a few more venues were being considered.
"We are looking at five other countries for night races,"he said, without divulging the names of the countries.
On whether the sports was feeling the effects of global economic downturn, Ecclestone said things were looking up now after a few months of sponsorship problems.
"I don't know about India but most of the world is in recession. Sponsorship was obviously a problem as a lot of big names were reconsidering but it is better now and sponsors are coming back," he said.

Picture: AP

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cyber bouncer hits India's top cricketers

They may have trained hard to counter the short-pitched deliveries in their preparatory camp but it's a cyber bouncer that has left India's top cricketers a worried lot.

As the star players gear up for a gruelling season ahead,they are faced with a bizarre problem -- cyber impersonation on micro-blogging site 'Twitter'.

The increasing popularity of the site in India has brought with it a problem which has the potential to create confusion and mislead unsuspecting cricket buffs.

What is worse, the players, who have millions of fans in a cricket-crazy nation, can do little about it.
Most of the celebrated Indian players have accounts on 'Twitter' but almost all of them are fake. They have already drawn a huge list of dedicated followers and it keeps growing every passing day.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has four 'accounts' on the networking site with one of them having attracted 2291 followers till Sunday.

In the profile page, it shows Dhoni with the Indian cap and the bio says "I am the captain of the national cricket team".

Dhoni's agents and family members have made it clear that the Indian captain does not have an account on Twitter, seeking to dissociate themselves from the handiwork of a prankster who operates the page. Dhoni does not have an account on Twitter. Many people have called us and we want to clarify this point" his elder brother Narendra Singh Dhoni said.

Some of the tweets from the impersonated Dhoni account, which ranges from the problems in DDCA to Vinod Kambli's reality show, have already created some controversy.

For example, a tweet on August 26 aid "I wanted to give my regards to Vinod Kambli. Had he played to his potential, he had the chance to be as great as Sachin and Lara".

But apparently, it led to some misunderstanding among his followers. Hence another tweet within hours on the same day said "Please don't misunderstand comments about Sachin and Kambli. Sachin is the greatest batsman to ever play the game of cricket!!"

The cyber impersonation on Twitter is not restricted to Dhoni. Champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar has as many as seven accounts with one of them, which has his photo, having over 4594 followers.

Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir are among the top cricketers who have to deal with this Twitter menace.

With many celebrities worldwide joining the Twitter bandwagon, the social networking site is aware of such problems and has introduced a 'verified account' badge to lend genuineness to the account and prevent identity confusion.

"To prevent identity confusion, Twitter is experimenting (beta testing) with a 'Verified Account' feature. We're working to establish authenticity with people who deal with impersonation or identity confusion on a regular basis," a Twitter communication said.

"With this feature, you can easily see which accounts we know are 'real' and authentic. That means we've been in contact with the person or entity the account is representing and verified that it is approved. (This does not mean we have verified who, exactly, is writing the tweets.)

"This also does not mean that accounts without the 'Verified Account' badge are fake. The vast majority of accounts on the system are not impersonators, and we don't have the ability to check 100 per cent of them. For now, we've only verified a handful of accounts to help with cases of mistaken identity or impersonation" it said.

Twitter has strict guidelines to prevent impersonation but it will find it difficult to keep track of such practices unless specific complaints are made. The site's Impersonation Policy says: "Pretending to be another person or business as entertainment or in order to deceive is impersonation."

"Non-parody impersonation is a violation of the Terms of Service, specifically article 4 which states: You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users."

The standard for defining parody is, "would a reasonable person be aware that it's a joke." An account may be guilty of impersonation if it confuses or misleads others -- accounts with the clear intent to confuse or mislead will be permanently suspended. Parody impersonation accounts are allowed to exist. The profile information on a parody account must make it obvious that the profile is fake, or it is subject to removal from Twitter.

Fortunately, it is still early days for web impersonation in India and therefore the damage has been limited among 'tweeple', a term said to have been coined by Bollywood director Karan Johar to describe people on Twitter.

But many avid Dhoni fans are gradually realising that they have been fooled by a prankster. "All these days I was thinking I was following my hero Dhoni. But now I know its not him. I am disappointed," said Chetna Rai, a Dhoni fan in Ghaziabad.

Picture: PTI