Oscar Pistorius: From hero to villain, from fame to notoriety

From hero to villain, from fame to notoriety, Oscar Pistorius has been in the news for the best part of the last decade.

His website, oscarpistorius.com, has the following statement on the home-page:

“14 February 2014

No words can adequately capture my feelings about the devastating accident that has caused such heartache for everyone who truly loved – and continues to love Reeva.

The pain and sadness – especially for Reeva’s parents, family and friends consumes me with sorrow.

The loss of Reeva and the complete trauma of that day, I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

– Oscar

Following the tragic event and the enormous global interest, the family of Oscar Pistorius has taken the decision to devote his official website to the latest news about developments as well as messages of support.

The website will provide the opportunity for the media to make enquiries or requests but for understandable legal reasons it may not always be possible to respond or comment.

The Pistorius family and Oscar’s management company have been inundated with messages of support and condolences for Oscar and for the family of Reeva Steenkamp from all over the world.

Mr Arnold Pistorius, uncle of Oscar, said on behalf of the family: ‘We believe that this is an appropriate way to deal with the expressions of support we have received as well as keeping the media informed about any key developments in the case.

We have every confidence as a family that when the world has heard the full evidence that this will prove to be a terrible and tragic accident which has changed many lives forever. We are praying for everyone touched by this tragedy.’”

The web-site does not deliver what it promises. At least, not right now.

Polski: Oscar Pistorius pozdrawia kibiców po b...

Oscar Pistorius

All the links are broken: a reflection, perhaps, of a broken man.

Oscar Pistorius was born on 22 November, 1986.

His parents were Henke and Sheila Pistorius.

Oscar is a middle child amongst three; he has an elder brother Carl and a younger sister Aimée.

His legs were amputated half-way between his knees and ankles when he was 11 months old after he was diagnosed with fibular hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs.

Pistorius was quite the ‘sport’ while in school participating in rugby, water polo, tennis and wrestling.

When he was 18, he was introduced to running post a serious rugby knee injury.


Pistorius began sprinting in January 2004.

He qualified for the Athens Paralympic Games that year and won bronze in the 100 metres and gold in the 200m.

Pistorius never looked back since.

His sporting motto, “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have,” was a source of inspiration for many.

He reached the pinnacle of his sporting achievements when he was allowed to participate in the 2012 London Olympics representing South Africa in the 400 metres and the 4 X 400 metres relay. He also carried his country’s flag at the closing ceremony.

The sprinter was deemed ineligible to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics when Cologne Sports University’s Professor of Biomechanics Dr. Peter Brüggemann ruled that Pistorius “has considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs who were tested by us. It was more than just a few percentage points. I did not expect it to be so clear.”

Pistorius appealed against the adverse decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. His protest was upheld.

The CAS panel determined Pistorous had no net advantage over able-bodied athletes especially when considering the handicap he suffered in comparison to normal athletes when starting and accelerating.

Pustorius was thus able to participate in the 2012 London Summer Olympics fulfilling his dream of representing his country alongside normal athletes.

Pistorius is the recipient of numerous awards including Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze (OIB) by the President of South Africa for outstanding achievement in sports, BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award in 2007, Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for 2012 and a honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

He also made the Time 100 twice—in 2008 and 2012.

This could very well have been a ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ fairy-tale ending.

Alas, it was not to be.

Pistorius hit the headlines again the following year when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp allegedly mistaking her for a possible intruder.

The disabled athlete—after a six-month trial—was convicted on one charge of culpable homicide, two counts of negligent use of a firearm and one count of possession of illegal ammunition.

Judge Thokosile Masipa did not find Pistorius guilty of murder with direct intent or common murder (dolus eventualis).

The amputee claimed that he believed that he was firing on an intruder who had broken into his house.

The claim is plausible enough given that home robbery or home invasions are a growing problem across all provinces in South Africa.

2012 National Victims of Crime Survey (NVCS) states that  half of households surveyed feared this type of crime.

“‘Home robbery’, unlike ‘house breaking’ (burglary), is regarded as a violent crime because people are at home when it takes place. This puts people at risk of personal injury and emotional trauma in the place where they should feel safest. “

The 2012 Survey also states that home robbery increased nationally by 64.4% over the past eight years.

While the fear of this kind of crime is high, it is a relatively rare occurence. Only 4.5% of households experienced a home robbery between January 2007 and December 2011.

The survey further states:

“75% of home robberies occur at night, with the most vulnerable times being in the late evening between 21:00 and 23:59 and very early morning between 00:00 and 02:59. More than half (55%) of home robberies take place at these times, in all likelihood because people’s guards are down when they are relaxing or asleep. Two-thirds (66%) of home robberies are committed by small groups of two to three robbers. Most robbers were said to be males between 15 and 34 years of age.

Weapons were used in almost all cases (99.9%) by those committing home robberies.”

Pistorius’ case has since gone to appeal to the Supreme Court. The State hopes to overturn the verdict of culpable homicide and either force a retrial or a resentencing. The double amputee could face up to 15 years in prison under the new charges.

The Paralympian was sentenced to five years in prison but is now out on bail after serving ten months in prison.

Reeva Steenkamp’s mother June was forgiving and accepting of the reduced sentence on Pistorius.

She said:

“I’ve got no feelings of revenge. I don’t want to hurt him; he is already a disabled person. I didn’t want him to be thrown in jail and be suffering because I don’t wish suffering on anyone, and that’s not going to bring Reeva back. But in my heart, I don’t want revenge towards him. I’m past that. Once you have told God that you forgive, you have to forgive. And I don’t want him to suffer …. I would certainly not want to hurt another human being. One has to forgive to move on, otherwise you become ill. For God expects you to forgive, and until you’ve done that, you can’t move forward in any way.”

June added that  she still has “nightmares about what happened to her when she was trapped behind that door and how she died”.

She said:

“Sometimes I wake up at 3 in the morning and that’s the first thing that comes in my head and I couldn’t be there to protect her from that.She couldn’t move in that toilet, she couldn’t move a centimetre either way to get out of the way of the firing – she was like a trapped animal in that toilet. We didn’t know he had guns, we didn’t know anything about him actually.”

She finishes:

“Maybe if he wasn’t so famous…I think if he would have just been a normal guy in the street he would have maybe had a stiffer sentence”.

Oscar Pistorius was most recently in the news celebrating his 29th birthday at his uncle’s mansion.

The sprinter is now the same age as his deceased girlfriend.

Matter of policy: BCCI’s bone density test for age deemed admissible by Bombay High Court

Your real age is what your bone density test says you are.

The above is the edict of the Bombay High Court dismissing a petition from young cricketer Sagar Chhabria challenging his declared ineligibility for an Under-16 tournament.

The Tanner-Whitehouse Test (TW3) determined that Sagar was in fact 16-and-a-half and thus overage.

Honourable judges, SC Dharmadhikari and Justice BP Colabawalla,  declared that chronological age such as birth certificates and passport are insufficient—specifically for sporting activities.

Wikipedia states:

“Bone age is the degree of maturation of a child’s bones. As a person grows from fetal life through childhood, puberty, and finishes growth as a young adult, the bones of the skeleton change in size and shape. These changes can be seen by x-ray. The ‘bone age’ of a child is the average age at which children reach this stage of bone maturation. A child’s current height and bone age can be used to predict adult height. For most people, their bone age is the same as their biological age but for some individuals, their bone age is a couple years older or younger. Those with advanced bone ages typically hit a growth spurt early on but stop growing early sooner while those with delayed bone ages hit their growth spurt later than normal. Kids who are below average height do not necessarily have a delayed bone age; in fact their bone age could actually be advanced which if left untreated, will stunt their growth.”

Bone age is determined by comparing hand x-rays against an atlas of bone x-rays.

The Tanner-Whitehouse Test (TW3) has a 96% success rate in males and 98% in females. The classification process was tested with 50 left-hand wrist images. Details can be found in the research paper  Estimation of Skeletal Maturity by Tanner and Whitehouse Method by V.Karthikeyan, V.J.Vijayalakshmi and P.Jeyakumar.

The esteemed judges said:

“Chronological of birth through public documents cannot provide absolute right for selection in a sports activity, when the petitioner completely knew about the medical test laid down by the BCCI in regards to selection process for which he had signed up.”

(FIFA introduced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans for the Under-17 World Cup in 2009. MRI scans are believed to be 99% accurate for 17 years and below.)

Chhabria did not challenge the methods of the test or the experts employed by the BCCI to make the correct deduction.

The cricketer was opposed to an ‘excessive’ policy which also meant that the BCCI enjoyed a monopoly while determining whether Chhabria should be allowed to participate in sports tournaments or not.

The BCCI defended itself claiming that the test was in use across different states and was not particular to the Mumbai Cricket Association. Moreover, the test had an in-built corrective mechanism wherein a third expert could be called in to if the first two experts differed in their opinion.

The judges added that the challenge could only be entertained if there was no prior rule or policy.

“However once participation is dependent on policy, then parties like the petitioner cannot bypass the same or call upon the court to do so.”

Sagar Chhabria is a Bandra resident. The petition was filed through his father.

The BCCI’s advocates said that Chhabria was , however, eligible to take part in Under-19 tournaments.

The BCCI does not employ the TW3 test at the Under-19 level.

According to an article in the Mumbai Mirror, “the so-called ‘fool-proof testing’ has not apparently worked well at the under-19 stage.”

The BCCI had over 2000 litigations from Under-19 players with regards to age testing using the said method.

A BCCI official said:

“The protocol for the under 19 players is valid certification — valid school leaving and birth certificates. The point is testing at under 19 level is a futile exercise and the accuracy of the results are questioned by the players who are resorting to legal recourse, if found overaged.”

The testing was undertaken at both levels following a directive from the ministry of sports.

The official added:

“The ministry of sports has sent us a directive to verify height, weight, dental age, physical and physiological state of the players and do X-rays and MRI scans. It would cost a lot and there is no guarantee over its accuracy, particularly at under 19 level. The board wants U-16 to be the entry point but the point is if someone flunks age-test at the under 16 level, one can always make himself available three years later at under 19 level with fake birth certificates.”

Oscar Pistorius’ Supreme Fight: Murder or culpable homicide?

Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius continues to be in the fight of his life.

The Paralympian and Olympian’s freedom centres around the State’s appeal to the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the previous verdict of culpable homicide.

State advocate Gerrie Nel is arguing that the verdict returned should have been murder instead—in effect, a call for a stiffer sentence for the amputee.

Pistorius was earlier sentenced to a five-year term in prison. He has since been released after serving ten months. He was expected to finish the rest of his sentence at his uncle’s Waterkloof home under strict bail conditions. South African laws permit prisoners to released after serving one-sixth of their sentence if they are deemed not a threat to society.

If Pistorius is convicted of murder, he will face at least 15 years behind bars.

The South African was convicted of killing his then model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

The athlete fired four shots through a toilet door claiming there was an intruder in his luxury Silver Lakes, Pretoria, house.

The bullets killed Steenkamp.

The new judgment hinges on Pistorius’ state of mind when he let loose the volley of shots—whether he believed that they would kill.

English: South African Paralympic runner Oscar...

South African Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius (born 22 November 1986), taking part in the Landsmót ungmennafélags Íslands in Kópavogur, Iceland, the largest sporting event in Iceland which is held every three years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The judges have to take into account that the defendant is handicapped and would have been unable to escape easily from his home.

Professor Stephen Tucson, who teaches criminal law and procedure at Wits University, believes that the State has a strong case.

He said:

“The consensus of opinion seems to suggest that the SCA has the power to change the verdict. There are two options. If they say there was an error and order a new trial, it will go to any other judge but a re-sentencing… will go back to Judge Masipa.”

(This is part I in a series).

Innovative BCCI may ‘reverse auction’ interim IPL franchises: Not yet sold

Chennai Super Kings

Chennai Super Kings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The BCCI can be creative.

They’re also very intent on playing it safe.

For some reason, they do not intend to let Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) suffer when they return from their suspension in 2018.

The country’s premier cricketing body have decided to float two fresh teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but only for two years.

The new franchises will not find it easy to be profitable within those two years. It is definitely not a sustainable proposition for them.

Hence the BCCI, in all its wisdom, have decided that ‘Reverse Bidding’  is a distinct possibility that could be offered to its new suitors.

Panoramic View of the Stadium during IPL 2008

Panoramic View of the Stadium during IPL 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A senior BCCI office-bearer said:

“If there is lack of interest in conventional bidding because of this two-year span, there is a possibility of reverse bidding that can happen where in an investor, who bids the lowest amount will be owner of a team. For example, if BCCI plans to pump in Rs. 70 crore, it might be the potential investor can buy bidding at Rs. 50 crore, Rs. 40 crore or Rs. 30 crore depending on the lowest.”

Players from the suspended franchises would be made available in the auction pool.

Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The BCCI is keeping its cards close to its chest.

When queried whether there would be a 10-team league from 2018, the official replied:

“Look, our contracts with all the sponsors and the official broadcasters ends after the 2017 edition. Post that, we will start with a clean slate and all players would go back to auction.”

Investopedia defines a ‘Reverse Auction’  thus:

“A type of auction in which sellers bid for the prices at which they are willing to sell their goods and services. In a regular auction, a seller puts up an item and buyers place bids until the close of the auction, at which time the item goes to the highest bidder. In a reverse auction, the buyer puts up a request for a required good or service. Sellers then place bids for the amount they are willing to be paid for the good or service, and at the end of the auction the seller with the lowest amount wins.

Reverse auctions gained popularity with the emergence of Internet-based online auction tools. Today, reverse auctions are used by large corporations to purchase raw materials, supplies and services like accounting and customer service.
It is important to note that reverse auction does not work for every good or service. Goods and services that can be provided by only a few sellers cannot be acquired by reverse auction. In other words, reverse auction works only when there are many sellers who offer similar goods and services.”

The BCCI does not believe that its two year revenue model is sufficiently attractive to any prospective parties.

The reverse auction indicates that the BCCI is willing to subsidise some of the costs that will be incurred by the franchises; the auction is an attempt to minimise the BCCI’s losses.

This is not substantially different from one of the suggestions floated earlier that the BCCI manage the suspended franchises for the said period. The difference here is that two new teams will be floated but they will be allowed to choose any other cities not allocated to the other six sides including Chennai and Jaipur.

This is probably a response to the newly drafted conflict of interest rules to be tabled at the AGM.

The interim solution allows CSK and RR to pick up the core of their current set of players when they return to the IPL fold in 2018.

(N Srinivasan, the BCCI gods still shine bright for you.)

A base price will be set for potential buyers of the interim franchises.

K Shriniwas Rao explains:

“If the BCCI, for example, sets the base price of the franchise at Rs 100, bidders will be allowed to quote an amount lesser than Rs 100. The lowest bidder will be given the franchise. BCCI will pay the winning party the bid amount that will partly cover for the franchise’s operational costs heading into the tournament.

The bidder can also quote a figure running into negative. For instance, if the bidder quotes a figure of Rs -10 or Rs -5, he she will have to pay that (negative) amount to BCCI. The board expects potential bidders to like this idea if they have a specific two-year marketing or branding initiative in mind for which they won’t mind spending from their pockets.

The interim franchises will not receive a share of the central revenue pool unlike the other six existing teams but will be eligible for a substantial amount in terms of prize money (for players) and additional performance-based incentives from the central revenue pool if they make it to the top-four in the tournament.

In turn, these interim franchises can earn from local revenue pools – ­ gate money, sponsorships, merchandising and hospitality management ­ – to further cover their operational costs. The 50-odd players from CSK and RR, who’ll be up for sale at the auction, will first be part of a draft for the new franchises to retain. The number of players that could be allowed for retention through draft hasn’t been finalised yet. After the draft, once all franchises are on a level playing field, an auction will take place for the remaining players.”

As highlighted above, negative bidding is a possibility but unlikely. IPL teams have struggled to be in the black right from the start until now and it’s improbable that any franchise can turn a profit in just under two years.

Reverse auctions have been used in India before notably while awarding Coal India’s captive coal blocks to power producers.

These type of auctions are also preferred by corporate purchasing managers using them to procure paper clips to employee health care plans.

Procurement professionals love them; suppliers hate them.

Max Chafkin writes:

“Despite the fact that bids are generally ranked by price, reverse auctions are not binding for the buyer. Companies will sometimes go with the second- or third-lowest bid based on qualitative factors such as reliability, customer service, and the cost of switching away from an incumbent supplier.”

He adds:

“If, for instance, you know you’re bidding against a low-margin supplier with a history of quality problems, you may chose to aim for second place because the purchaser is apt to shy away from your opponent. If you’re bidding against a supplier that already has the account, assume that you’ll have to beat the supplier substantially on price to offset the cost to the customer of switching vendors.”

What this implies is that should the BCCI opt for this model, it is not bound to choose the least two costly bids. Other factors such as business plan,revenue model, finances, and reputation in the market would also have to be considered.

The die is set. May the blacker ink win.

Sportstar relaunches itself digitally: What’s the future?

Sportstar magazine launched its new digital version sportstarlive.com on October 25 at the Madras Cricket Club.

The previous site was sportstaronnet.com where editions until October 24 are still available.

Eminent sportspersons present at the inauguration were  Ramanathan Krishnan, S. Venkatraghavan , Pankaj Advani, Sardar Singh and  Joshna Chinappa.

The other notable luminaries present included Ayon Sengupta, Editor,Sportstar and  N. Ram, chairman, Kasturi & Sons Limited.

The Sportstar is one of only two all-sports print magazines in the country.

The other is Sports Illustrated India.

Other Indian sports magazines that have since become defunct include Sportsweek and Sportsworld.

Sportsworld was started in 1983. Its first editor was Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. It downed shutters in the 1990s.

Sportsweek magazine closed shop in 1989. It was founded in 1968.

Clayton Murzello writes of Sportsweek, 25 years on:

“In pre-satellite television days, these magazines helped popularise the game immensely. In the early 1970s, Sportsweek ‘covered’ some of their issues with the latest update on Test matches featuring India. And as any collector will tell you, those issues are priceless. In the mid-1980s, a famous actor-cum-passionate sports fan visited my home to borrow a book, which had a collection of sports articles that included an extract from Jesse Owens’ autobiography My Life as Black Man and White Man. He asked if he could see my modest collection and among the few bound volumes of Sportsweek, he spotted the one that contained issues of India’s 1971 triumph in the West Indies. He asked if he could have that volume. I politely refused.”

He adds:

“Sportsweek’s popularity with sportspersons was constant. Long before cricketers received huge cheques, Sportsweek sponsored the man-of-the-match awards. Big cricket stars endorsed the magazine. And Farokh Engineer used to say in a radio commercial, ‘I am Farokh Engineer. I read Sportsweek. Do you?’ “

Sportstar is a weekly sports magazine and one of the sister publications of the daily The Hindu.  Its operations are based in Chennai.

CNNSI logo used from 1996 to 2001.

CNNSI logo used from 1996 to 2001. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports Illustrated India is a recent entrant to the magazine business in India.

The first edition was published in October 2009.

It is Sportstar’s only significant competition.

Can these magazines survive in the cut-throat environment of print publishing?

Or will they too slowly become defunct or solely online publications?

Isn’t there a story here? A well-researched one?

Methinks, there will always be space for good quality, well-thought out articles on sports.

What about you?

Was Kapil stingy while critiquing Tendulkar, Mumbai’s last khadoos? (Updated)

Kapil Dev has either put his foot in his mouth or has been remarkably perspicacious.

Last week, Wisden’s greatest Indian cricketer of the last century made some outsized comments about India’s all-time greatest cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.

Speaking to Khaleej Times in Dubai, he said:

“He (Sachin) got stuck with Bombay cricket. He didn’t apply himself to ruthless international cricket. I think he should have spent more time with Vivian Richards than some of the Bombay guys who played just neat and straight cricket. He did not know how to make double hundreds, triple hundreds and 400 though he had the ability, and was stuck in the Mumbai school of cricket.”

Coming in the wake of Virender Sehwag’s retirement, India’s only triple centurion, the remarks raked up debates both about Sachin’s comparative contribution to Indian cricket and the continuing North-South divide in the country.

While Tendulkar, ever the gentleman, refused to respond to his former skipper’s barbs, Mumbai cricketers were up in arms.

Ajit Wadekar responded to the apparent dislike for Mumbai cricketers in the all-rounder’s observations thus:

“Yes, in a way, I can sense that dislike. I have been experiencing it since my University cricket days. A lot of Northern players disliked us. They enjoyed staying in Mumbai, but not playing against Mumbai.

In the final analysis, Sachin scored the maximum runs and is a true legend, and where Mumbai cricket is concerned, – we always – everyone including Sachin and Sunil Gavaskar – played for the team and not for ourselves. That’s why we won the Ranji Trophy 40 times. We knew how to win.”

Former Mumbai captain Raju Kulkarni said:

“I find Kapil’s comments absurd. It’s also very unfair to Sachin and Mumbai cricket. He’s talking about centuries of a man who has scored 100 international tons. We were brought up with our seniors telling us that when you get a hundred, go on and get a double and a triple, but don’t give your wicket away.I was at a function recently where Sunil Gavaskar was talking to a group of ex-cricketers. When he saw Chandrakant Pandit (Mumbai coach) leaving the room, Sunil left the conversation and went up to Chandu. I overhead him telling Chandu that Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer should look to get 200 after his 100 and if he can’t get 300, he should not get out. That’s the kind of cricket upbringing we had.”

Dilip Vengsarkar, vice-president of Mumbai Cricket Association, quipped:

“That’s his (Kapil’s) opinion. What can one say?”

Tendulkar has 51 Test hundreds to his credit. His highest score, however, was an unbeaten 248.

The ‘Mumbai cricketer‘, as an archetype, is renowned for his khadoos (cussedly never say die) attitude.

Hemant Kenkre writes:

“The answer lies not just in the many maidans of Mumbai – the breeding grounds for its cricketers – but in the psyche of the city; one that lures millions of people from all over India, whose life is ruled by the time-tables of the railway ‘locals’, traffic snarls, unending queues, crowded tenements, and many more hardships that the city dishes out to the worker ants that flock there in search of gold. After commuting for two hours in a crowded Mumbai train, no cricketer is ever going to give it away on a platter to the next one waiting in the tent. The city breeds the khadoos attitude in its cricketers. Mumbai, like cricket, does not give you a second chance.”

Kenkre also formulates a theory  for the decline in Mumbai’s fortunes in the Ranji Trophy and why fewer and fewer local cricketers are donning national colours.

“From the glorious fifties and the sixties, Mumbai’s domination has waned. The team may have won the Ranji Trophy often enough in recent times – and 39 times to date – but the current side, though competent, doesn’t resemble the ones of the past that dominated the tournament. The analysts attribute that to the rapid strides made by other states, but if you ask any former Mumbai cricketer, he will ascribe the decline to the lack of loyalty to clubs, and commercial distractions like the IPL. In the past it was very rare for a player to switch clubs, no matter what incentives were offered. The pride of wearing the club and state/city cap meant a lot more to the ‘amateur’ generation – and so it was when they wore the India blazer as well. It would seem the days when a Mumbai cricketer was fiercely loyal first to his club then to his state/city and the nation are behind us.”

Shamya Dasgupta voices similar thoughts:

“Khadoos cricket, yes, that’s what distinguished Mumbai. A team of players who refused to cede ground; a team that knew not only how to win, but more – how not to lose. That great Mumbai element – it seems to have vanished.”

Lalchand Rajput, in an interview in 2012, said:

“Earlier players never used to go to other associations, so they used to be here and try to retain their place in spite of not getting into the team. So they used to be more determined to get in to the team. But now they have options to play for other associations. That’s why that khadoos nature is a thing of the past. “

Ajit Wadekar, speaking to the Tribune in June this year, said:

“Mumbai cricketers’ ‘khadoos’ approach is missing. I am afraid to say that, but the rich legacy of Mumbai cricket hasn’t been carried forward by the younger lot of cricketers, for whom, the loyalty has shifted from representing the country to first securing an IPL contract with a franchise.

There’s no loyalty factor involved. The players are missing out on that wonderful feeling of playing as a unit, be it representing the Mumbai domestic side or featuring in the Indian team. These days, players don’t necessarily work on their basics. They experiment with their shots quite often. Also, the coaches at the academies tell the trainees that they are the next Sachin Tendulkar. This illegal mushrooming of academies is harmful. It’s a big money-making racket. These coaches promise the trainees of landing them an IPL contract and thus encourage them to play more like a T20 specialist.”

Vengsarkar added:

“What is required in Mumbai is advanced coaching. IPL has started the mushroom growth of coaches. I don’t know whether they give the right kind of inputs to the young cricketers. Mumbai cricket has fallen a great deal over the last 2-4 years. Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy for 16 straight years. I hope those days would come back. We have to revive it.”

Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma are the latest stalwarts from Mumbai representing the country at the highest level.

Sharma has yet to make his mark in Test cricket whereas he has slammed two double hundreds in ODIs and another in T20s. He is only the second Indian cricketer after Suresh Raina to have international hundreds in all forms of the game. While that seems impressive, the records are deceptive. Raina has failed miserably in Tests and is considered an ODI and T20 specialist. It is feared that Sharma might go the way of the hugely talented Yuvraj Singh who mustered just 20+ Test appearances in an otherwise stellar career.

That begs the question: Is Tendulkar Mumbai cricket’s last khadoos? 

Kapil’s comments about Tendulkar cannot be easily brushed aside as northern chauvinism.

It would be interesting to see in how many of the centurion innings by Tendulkar, Sehwag, Richards and Lara, did any of their teammates cross 75?  If few, that would imply that these greats  were performing at a much higher level than their contemporaries during those epochal stays.

Rather than trying to deduce the answer myself, I’ve simply decided to Ask Steven.

If you know the answer, you can comment below.

Thanks to Arnold D’souza, who answered my query on Facebook, I have the answers:

BC Lara (WI) – (17/34) — 50%
SM Gavaskar (India) – (15/34) — 44.12%
SR Tendulkar (India) – (14/51) — 27.45%
V Sehwag (India) – (8/23) — 34.78%

IVA Richards (WI) – (12/24) — 50%
DG Bradman (Aus) – (6/29) — 20.69%

By the above yardstick, the two West Indians are head-and-shoulders above the rest. Lara’s performance does not surprise so much; he was part of a much weakened West Indian side in decline. It’s Richards’ figures that are outstanding. He towers above batsmen of the caliber of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Alvin Kalicharran, Clive Lloyd and Richie Richardson.

Sehwag edges ahead of Tendulkar on the basis of this criteria. Of course, this does not factor in the Little Master’s longevity.

But it’s Gavaskar, the most technically accomplished batsman of his era, who is India’s batter to turn to when you wish someone would bat for your life.

The list would be more complete if I added Rahul Dravid, Allan Border and Steve Waugh to the mix.

Tweeted reactions to Kapil’s comments:

Kapil Dev has since clarified his statements about Sachin terming him an “underachiever”.

He said:

“Gavaskar used to say that I should have scored 5000 runs more than what I did. In hindsight, I agree I should have taken my batting seriously. But importantly, I didn’t take Gavaskar’s remark in the wrong sense. He challenged me and I accepted it.

Needless is the word. Sachin, I’ve always said, was a fabulous cricketer and more talented than Viv (Richards). He had the calibre to be as ruthless, or more, but did not deliver as much as I had expected. He got 100 international 100s but his potential was greater.

How else could I have described him? He was an underachiever and that I maintain was a compliment. He could have done better. Am I wrong?” 

He added:

“Sachin was clearly ahead of his time but he did not grow as I wanted him to grow. I loved the Sachin of Sharjah 1998 when he clubbed the Australians. His dominance was complete and stroke-play so imperious. He made good bowlers look ordinary, could hit boundaries at will but that Sachin was lost somewhere as his career progressed.

He was worth much more and that is what I meant.”

Does he not call me Paaji? Can an elder brother not say what he feels about his younger brother? I did precisely that.”

On Mumbai cricket:

“I respect Mumbai cricket and cricketers. They laid the base for the growth of Indian cricket but the game has changed and it is time we all realised and accepted it.

We also need to rise above petty regionalism. Mumbai is mine too. We would like to see Mumbai cricket and cricketers to move on. It is not about Mumbai, Haryana or Delhi.. It is about Indian cricket… Also, (Ajit) Wadekar Sir should please understand that I am a true Indian and Mumbai is part of us. I am a Bombaywalah too.”

Why isn’t recusal good enough for Roger Binny’s conflict of interest?

Is Shashank Manohar going too far with his conflict of interest reforms?

South Zone selector Roger Binny is under the hammer.

The proposed 29-point-agenda foresees serving notice to selectors who have financial or business interests with players.

Stuart Binny, Roger’s son, is currently a contender for the ODI and Test sides.

He enjoys the support of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

Binny Sr. has always recused himself from committee deliberations whenever his son’s case came up.

A senior BCCI official, speaking to Times of India, said:

“I believe he should step down from his post. His work as national selector has been impeccable but with Stuart part of the Indian team, the ‘conflict of interest’ issue might come up in different quarters.

The board is planning to implement the points suggested by Manohar into its constitution and if and when it is done, Roger’s position may directly be in conflict.The rest of the selectors still have one more year on their term and may be asked to continue.”

The precedent cited is that of Manohar’s son Adwait stepping down from his positions in the BCCI soon after his dad took over the board to avoid any conflict of interest.

BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary said:

“The points made by the president are only suggestions at the moment, which will come up for discussion at the AGM. If the consensus in the board is on incorporating some of these points into the constitution, it’ll be done.

However, regarding conflict of interest over Roger, we are not part of the selection meetings and don’t know if Roger is present when his son’s name comes up for discussion. So it’s very difficult to prove a conflict in this case.”

The said requirements are way too stringent.

What the BCCI seems to imply is that an ex-cricketer can be a selector as long as his relatives are not competing for a spot in any of the sides the national selectors oversee.

Once his relatives are serious challengers, out goes the selector!

The practice of recusal is well-known and is often used to address a perceived conflict of interest.

To provide an analogy:

A university professor whose son or daughter were students in his or her class would not be stopped from teaching their class.

He or she would however not be allowed to set examination papers or mark results of the entire class.

The above is an example of recusal at its simplest.

It is the principle that ought to be applied to conflict of interest issues with national selectors when the reasons why they are in contravention are filial.

Conflict of interest issues, such as above, could be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The rules follow the principles and not vice-versa.

Shashank Manohar is inclined towards a stricter interpretation of the law. Even a perceived conflict of interest is to be summarily dealt with.

An India player is worth much more on the IPL auction block than a junior or Ranji cricketer.

Follow this thread of thought and you’ll understand the reasoning behind the latest BCCI thrust.

The law can be an ass sometimes and a stricter law a bigger ass.

Are the proposed diktats practical given the current dispensation where administrators and ex-cricketers have their fingers in more than one pie?

Can the BCCI attract enough ex-sportspersons to keep its machinery going?

Its pockets are deep enough.

Melissa Reid: Golf’s comeback queen on the European circuit

Who is Melissa Reid?

If you are a golfer or a golf fan, more specifically, a follower of women’s golf and you are acquainted with the Indian Open held last week at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon, you would know that she’s the fourth ranked player on the Ladies European Tour (LET).

Reid has been a professional golfer for the past seven years.

She was rookie of the year in 2008.

She won her first title in 2010—the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open.

She has four more titles to her name:

Deloitte Ladies Open 2011

Open De España Femenino 2011

Raiffeisenbank Prague Golf Masters 2012

Turkish Airlines Ladies Open 2015.

It was in May 2012 that Melissa lost her mother Joy in a car accident. Joy was travelling to Munich to see her daughter take part in a LET event. Her husband, Brian, survived. Joy succumbed to internal injuries in the head-on collision.

Reid did not stop golfing but her performance deteriorated.

In 2012, Reid was well on her way to being Britain’s No. 1 woman golfer.

Reid says that the attempts at continuing “papered over the cracks”.

Her personal life suffered and her ranking plummeted to 333.


SOUTHPORT, UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 27: Melissa Reid of England walks off the 8th green during pro-am round before 2010 Ricoh Women’s British Open held at Royal Birkdale on July 27, 2010 in Southport, England. (Photo by Wojciech Migda) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking to ESPNW, she said:

“I was a mess.I wasn’t coping, I was rebelling. I was spending time with people who partied. I was hitting the self-destruct button. I was with a lot of people, but I was lonely.”

Things took a turn for the better last November when she met Kevin Craggs.

Craggs is now her mentor and coach.

Craggs says:

“I always say to my players when they first come: I can teach you and to do that I don’t need to know you. But to coach you, that’s very different. Teaching improves the swing, coaching improves your psychological outlook, your lifestyle, your tactical game, everything.”

Melissa adds:

“I was having doubts for two years. I didn’t really have anything else to do, though.

I was lucky, Kev saved my career. I sat with him at breakfast after we started and I just told him everything, stuff I’d never said out loud. It wasn’t easy, but doing it lifted such a weight off my shoulders.”


LYTHAM ST ANNES, UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 29: Melissa Reid of England on the 11th green during third practice round before 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open held at Royal Lytham & St Annes on July 29, 2009 in Lytham St Annes, England. (Photo by Wojciech Migda) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matt Cooper writes:

“Reid grew in confidence over the winter: ‘I began to notice that for the first time in ages I wanted golf again. I worked harder, I had more focus and I began to get rewards.’ In May she returned to Turkey, scene of her first professional win in 2010, and claimed her fifth LET title, the first since Prague.”

What’s the difference between the Melissa of then and now?

Craggs puts it succinctly:

“We recently discussed that very subject and you know what I told her? I said: You possess the B word and the B word is balance. Career, technique, thinking and lifestyle, they’re all in balance. When a sportsperson — or a businessman, or anyone for that matter — is at their happiest, they’re in balance.”

Melissa says:

“Having what has happened to me as a professional golfer, in sport, is difficult. I was having to put on a face and it was hard work. I was sad, I was feeling really sad. Now I feel very different.

I don’t want to not talk about it because I don’t want people to forget what sort of woman my mum was. You never ever forget what happened, you never ever forget the pain, but you must use it almost like energy. Giving up is the easy thing to do.”

Melissa is one of the most glamorous faces on the Ladies European Tour.

She claims that prior to her mother’s death she was more of a golfing robot.

She said:

I think I was very much protected. I had a lot of people do a lot of things for me and when something like that happens to you in your life, you have to step up.

It makes you realise a lot about yourself and there were a lot of things I didn’t particularly like about myself. I thought I was pretty much invincible and all I thought about was golf.

So if there is any positive that’s come out of it, and it may sound clichéd, I’ve certainly discovered myself.

I’m certainly not a robot, I’m a human being and I want to be the best person I can be as well as the best golfer I can be.

Before all I thought about was golf.”

This year, Melissa was back to representing Europe at the biennial Solheim Cup.

The Cup is played against the US. Melissa last played in 2011, with Europe claiming the title.

The tournament is played over three days.

Melissa was in India recently for the Indian Open along with Solheim teammate and last year’s winner Gwladys Nocera of France, Thidapa Suwannapura of Thailand, fellow Brit Trish Johnson and  Cheyenne Woods, niece to Tiger Woods.

India’s top golfers Vani Kapoor, Sharmila Nicollet and Vaishavi Sinha also participated.

Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen clinched the title pushing her closest contenders Cheyenne Woods, Becky Morgan and Malene Jorgensen to joint second place.

Melissa made the cut but finished 30th.

She continues to be No.4 on the LET.

Melissa is active on Twitter and tweets at @melreidgolf.

Her Facebook page (Community) has not been updated since 23rd September, 2012.

Her Instagram account buzzes.

Halloween Treats 🎃

A photo posted by Mel Reid (@melreid87) on

Blame game has a fresh target—curator Sudhir Naik

Blame the pitch, blame the curator, blame your bowlers, blame your batsmen, blame your running between wickets, blame your fielders but never ever, ever blame the opposition for out-batting, out-bowling and out-playing your side through the most part of the series.

Ravi Shastri, former Indian cricketer. 4 Test ...

Ravi Shastri, former Indian cricketer. 4 Test series vs Australia at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ravi Shastri allegedly had harsh words for Sudhir Naik, the Wankhede curator.

He expressed his displeasure after the South Africans posted a mammoth total on a benign wicket all but wrapping up the series before the Indians came out to bat.

His behaviour is to be deplored.

Curators are responsible for preparing pitches keeping in mind soil and weather conditions.

Indian skippers and support staff seem to believe that they ought to always be given the extra edge, not by taking scheduling and conditions into account, but based on how they have fared in the series up to that point.

Naik claims that he was told to prepare a turning wicket just two days before the game—an impossibility.

It is time that Indian team management admitted that they are no longer bully boys on sub-continental wickets given that their South African, Australian, English and Kiwi counterparts are now accustomed both to the heat and the batting conditions courtesy the IPL.

They would be better off choosing the best bowlers for all conditions rather than ‘horses for courses’.

The BCCI should also spell out specific guidelines in their newly drafted conflict of interest rules that would prevent such a situation recurring in the future.

Curators’ decisions must be independent of the Indian team’s vagaries and fortunes.

Therein lies the best interests of Indian cricket.

The question then is: Are these the best players in the country at the moment? If not, where are the ones who deserve to be in the side? Why have they been overlooked?

Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary slug it out via the media (Updated)

Gautam Gambhir at Adelaide Oval

Gautam Gambhir at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When two former India players almost come to blows on the cricket field with the choicest words exchanged, it makes for headline news.

When the two in question, Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary, have an acrimonious history, it makes for even greater sensationalism.

Tiwary was dropped by his erstwhile Kolkata Knight Riders colleague and skipper during the 2013 IPL wherein he immediately tweeted that it was the worst day of his life. The offending tweet was later deleted with the current Bengal captain claiming that his account had been hacked.

Tiwary now turns out for Delhi Daredevils.

Manoj Tiwary at Adelaide Oval

Manoj Tiwary at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last Saturday, the two were once more involved in a public fracas during a Ranji trophy game between Delhi and Bengal at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

The incident occurred in the eighth over when Tiwary signaled for his helmet.

The Delhi players were incensed believing it to be a time-wasting tactic.

Manan Sharma, the bowler at the time, had something to say to the Bengal skipper.

Gambhir entered the fray abusing Tiwary who retaliated in kind.

That was when Gambhir calling upon his best Hindi film dialogues said:

“Shaam ko mil tujhe maroonga (Meet me in the evening, I will hit you).”

Tiwary, evidently another Hindi film buff, responded:

“Shaam kya abhi bahar chal (Why wait till evening, let’s go out and settle it now).”

Tempers were raised further with Gambhir charging towards the batsman with umpire Krishnaraj Srinath intervening only to be pushed away by the pugnacious left-hander.

The players were later summoned by match referee Valmik Buch.

Tiwary said:

“I have huge respect for Gambhir for whatever he has done for the country. But today, he crossed all limits by making some personal comments. I was really shocked to hear that. I did not start it at all.”

Gambhir, too,  issued a statement:

“At no point did I threaten or push any on-field umpires. Nor did I threaten to beat Manoj up. In fact, I attended match referee’s hearing post the day’s play where he accepted that he doesn’t have any video evidence of me pushing the umpire. On the contrary, the match referee conceded he had video evidence where Manoj is seen pushing Pradeep Sangwan.”

Buch fined Gambhir 70% of his match fee and Tiwary, 40%.

Tiwari added:

“Obviously they were pressurising me but that does not mean he has the right to abuse me. What I said, sledging in a competitive way is good but you don’t have to sledge taking your father or mother’s name. You don’t want to cross line when you play competitive game.

I spoke to him [Ganguly] and told him about the whole incident. He was very upset because, somewhere his name was also raised.”

Tiwary also took to Twitter—obviously— to proclaim his side of the story.

The Bengal skipper has since upped the ante claiming that Gambhir made racist (read parochial) remarks against Sourav Ganguly and Bengalis, in particular.

He said:

“He made racist remarks about Sourav Ganguly and Bengalis. I spoke to Sourav Ganguly and he is very upset that his name has been dragged in the matter. We will never accept anything against Sourav Ganguly.”

He added:

“Gautam Gambhir is not saying the truth. If I had done what Gambhir is saying why have I been fined 40 percent and him 70 percent.”

Gambhir may be facing a ban because he shoved aside the umpire Srinath. Cricket is a non-contact sport and simply touching an umpire physically invites censure.

The Delhi skipper released another statement defending himself from Tiwary’s latest allegations.

He wrote:

“On Sunday, Manoj Tiwary stooped to a new low by claiming that I made racist remarks about Bengali community and my favourite India captain and one of the best cricketers I have played under Mr Sourav Ganguly whom I fondly call Dada. Let me categorically state here that these allegations are baseless and Tiwary’s way of sensationalising things through his figment of imagination.

First of all I am a proud Indian who respects all religions, communities and sexes. Then, ever since I have had the honour of leading Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL I have been humbled by the love and affection showered on my team and me by Bengali community. I have said in numerous interviews that Bengal is my second home and the support of the fans is the biggest X factor for KKR. I can’t thank them enough for helping us win IPL title twice.”

On Ganguly:

“Dada taught Indian cricket to play aggressive brand of cricket and modelled the team to win outside India. His contribution to Indian cricket is unparalleled. Personally, I made my India debut under Dada’s leadership and can never forget the way he eased me into the team dressing room. Besides, I have picked up a lot of things from Dada’s leadership ways and put them in practise for KKR. It is unfortunate that Dada’s name was dragged in by Tiwary perhaps to gain cheap publicity.”

The media is always seeking sound bytes aside from the mandatory tweeted reactions from fans and websites.

Bishan Singh Bedi promptly obliged.

The inimitable Sardar said:

“This is a direct result of the IPL because of the competitive nature that tournament lends itself to for these so-called professionals.

I feel sick. I watched the TV report and this is absolutely shameful. There’s too much of this ‘giving it back’ attitude. All this while it was about giving it back to foreign teams. Now, this syndrome is creeping into the Indian scene. Give back something sane, not insane. And give back something good to the game that has made you professionals.”

He added:

“Look, fines are like loose change for these cricketers. You’ve got to ban them for a few games and hit them where it hurts. The ball is entirely in BCCI’s court.
They need to take to drastic steps to ensure such incidents are not repeated. This is awful for the game of cricket. Erring players must be put on the mat. They call themselves professionals. Does professionalism entail such behaviour? We have been too lenient with our big names. This is not the first time Gambhir is involved in controversy like this.”

There may be a bright side to this whole skirmish.

Just when interest in the domestic game is dying out, the passion exhibited by these senior cricketers simply proves the competitiveness of their nature and the intensity of rivalry at the state level.

There is hope yet and fears of spot or match fixing may be ungrounded in these games. (We hope).

That, of course, is not the point readers and young cricketers wish to take away from the sorry episode.

Shyama Dasgupta, in the Economic Times, writes:

“Firstly, about the attitude of the star players–internationals-towards the other players. A `big’ player will usually play domestic fixtures either because there are no assignments or because he has been dropped. It’s one thing for someone who has played just a game or two for India, but for someone to have played at the highest level with some distinction, the step down is a tough one.

They often expect, and get, star treatment from their state associations and from everyone else. It can get quite feudal, says a former cricketer. Another, also a commentator, uses the word aukaat. Worth. To mean that the stars don’t think of players junior to them as being worthy of being peers. Except, that is exactly what they are: members of the same team, playing at the same level.

Then, about the attitude of star players towards umpires and vice versa. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of stories of bullying and of being bullied.

A senior colleague had once told me about a veteran international umpire who gave tailenders in the domestic circuit out if there was even a whiff of an appeal-what, you are going to score 100 runs or what, he is known to have told an upstart of a No 11 when there was a protest. It’s fair to assume this No 11 wasn’t an international or a former international. Sure, there are umpires who don’t back down in the face of bullying, but there are likely as many who can’t.

These things, the cricketers I spoke to agreed, just haven’t changed. Two of them–former internationals–admitted to having done the same thing in their playing days as well.”

Cricket is termed a gentleman’s game but the only true gentlemen on the field are probably the umpires.


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