“The game of cricket existed long before I was born. It will be played centuries after my demise.During my career,I was privileged to give the public my interpretation of its character in the same way that a pianist might interpret the works of Beethoven.”
—Sir Donald Bradman.
Typical Shastri leads with poetry like a tracer bullet into the microphone:
What he said:
“Past is history, future is a mystery.”
Ravi Shastri takes no prisoners when queried if past Indian captains can be attributed credit for India’s historic 2-1 series win in Australia.
What he really meant:
“I’m the rhyme master and I’m here to rap. Give me a beat. Tap. Tap. Tap.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I was once Champion of Champions. Will they now title me Coach of Coaches?”
Justin Langer boxes in the shadows.
What he said:
“I know Davey Warner is the same [as Steven Smith and Cameron Bancroft]. He would be training like Rocky Balboa at the moment.”
Justin Langer believes that Smith, Bancroft and Warner will all be up for it, fit and raring to go on their return to international cricket once their bans are served.
What he really meant:
“Since the general public won’t comprehend how hard cricketers work in their off time to stay fit, an Hollywood analogy they can identify with is called for. Besides, Rocky is as mean as they can be in the ring.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Australian cricket is headed for Rocky times with Warner’s return.”
“To me aggression is of two types. There is real aggression and then there is pretence. You have to look into someone’s eyes to see if there is any real aggression. When I look into Rahul Dravid’s eyes I know that though he might not be outwardly aggressive, he is inwardly aggressive: he wants to hit the ball, he wants to seek out opportunities. He has got fire in his belly. A lot of the aggression that you see now, like staring and chatting, is all guff. That is just a waste of time.”
“Cricket is an art, not a poor relation , but a full member of the community. It belongs with theatre, ballet , opera and the dance. ”
“If I were asked to name one aspect of tennis that is the biggest weakness of players of all levels, I would probably say concentration. However good your shots, however fast your movement and reflexes, all is lost if the mind is not controlling every move.
Professional sports is not always about speed and power.
It’s also about skill, precision and deception.
Nothing illustrated this better than Vijender Singh’s performance during his WBO Asia title bout against Australian Kerry Hope and Ronaldinho’s in the Premier Futsal game for Goa against Bengaluru.
Hope was the more aggressive of the two seeking to flatten Singh with his left jab and powerful right. But Vijender absorbed it all and retaliated with counterpunching of his own—Hope’s only response was to engage in ‘professional’ clinching of the worst kind.
It was the Haryanvi’s first 10 rounder but he withstood the onslaught of a man who had run a half-marathon in 1:35 just two weeks earlier.
Admittedly, it was not a very entertaining encounter. Perhaps, boxers and students of the sport would appreciate it better.
The result, though, was an unanimous decision in Vijender’s favour.
Unlike his earlier six fights, this did not end in a knockout. The prize, however, was his.
Ronaldinho retired from international football last year.
Futsal is his second coming.
The happiest soccer player on the planet was in his element in the game against Bengaluru on Sunday scoring five out of seven goals for his side.
The Brazilian displayed his entire repertoire in a spirited performance that left the crowd astounded and his fans in delirium.
Two exponents of the art of two different games but a common thread shone through them.
Experience counts for something—after all.
Chris Gayle never learns or so it seems.
The macho West Indian star first made the front pages this year for his infamous ‘Don’t blush, baby’ line to Mel McLaughlin in an on-field interview at the Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia.
Gayle escaped with a warning and a stiff fine of AUSD 10,000.
But the smarts just wouldn’t end.
The Jamaican enjoyed rubbing it in naming his newly-born daughter—with partner Tasha—Blush.
Why draw her in into his mess, Chris? 20 years down the line, would your daughter like to be reminded of the circumstances around which she was named so? Go figure.
Trouble goes around in threes.
And there was surely a ‘threesome’ in store.
Chris Gayle pressed down on the accelerator—ignoring speed bumps— when interviewed by Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes where he talked about sex, female equality and homophobia.
Gayle told Edwardes that he had ‘a very, very big bat, the biggest in the wooooorld’ and whether she thought she “could lift it” and that she’d need both hands.
The Jamaican embarrassed her further by questioning whether she’s had any black men and been part of a threesome.
The interview touched on other aspects as well.
On women’s equality, Gayle said:
‘Women should please their man. When he comes home, food is on the table. Serious. You ask your husband what he likes and then you make it.’”
“Women should have equality and they do have equality. They have more than equality. Women can do what they want. Jamaican women are very vocal. They will let you know what time is it, for sure.’
“The culture I grew up in, gays were negative. But people can do whatever they want. You can’t tell someone how to live their life. It’s a free world.”
The timing of the interview could hardly have been more ‘fortuitous’.
Gayle is on the verge of releasing his autobiography, ‘”Six Machine” excerpts of which have been published (where else?) in the Times.
Reacting to Freddie Flintoff’s description of him as a “bit of a chop” after the McLaughlin incident, Gayle said:
“Freddie Flintstone, a young boy like you taking Viagra? Don’t lecture me. The only chop Freddie (Flintoff) knows is when he used to bowl short to me and I would chop him past backward point for four.”
Describing the McLaughlin fiasco, he added:
“Now T20 is different. It’s not Test cricket. It’s chilled and fun and let’s do things different. So when Mel asks me that question I stay in the T20 mind, and answer informal and fun. I meant it as a joke. I meant it as a little fun. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful and I didn’t mean it to be taken serious.
Channel 10’s commentary team could be heard laughing in the background … but someone above them clearly decided to step in, and a throwaway comment in a fun format escalates and blows up and within hours it has turned into a major international incident. “
The southpaw had even stronger words reserved for Ian Chappell.
“Ian Chappell, calling for me to banned worldwide, a man who was once convicted of unlawful assault in the West Indies for punching a cricket official. Ian Chappell, how can you ban the Universe Boss? You’d have to ban cricket itself.”
Former Australian opener Chris Rogers was one of his most vocal critics claiming that he set a bad example to his younger teammates.
Gayle responded thus calling him a bit of a “Roger Rabbit”.
“Chris Rogers, how can you claim that when it was you and me at the bar most nights? I’m not a snitch, but I’ve heard from your own mouth what you’ve done. Next time you want to open your mouth, maybe chew on a carrot instead.”
Is Chris Gayle in trouble yet again? Has he landed in deeper, hotter waters this time around?
His detractors would like to believe so.
This, however, does not prevent any other BBL side from signing him on.
While Somerset chief executive Guy Lavender admitted that he was disappointed with Gayle’s latest blowout, he added:
“But as I’ve said before, we found him to be fantastic the last time he was here, in terms of activities both on and off the pitch.
It’s a shame, because it detracts from his cricketing ability. The fact is, what he has said is inappropriate. But we haven’t had an opportunity to discuss [it] with him. I’m sure we will. But I don’t see it as grounds not to have him playing for us this summer.”
And in India, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla is taking the matter seriously.
Talking to Times of India, he said:
“The players must behave themselves. We expect the players to adhere to a certain kind of behaviour when the tournament is on. The players should maintain the sanctity of the league. These kind of statements are totally uncalled for in public domain. I will take up this issue with the president and the secretary of the BCCI.”
BCCI’s secretary Ajay Shirke said:
“At this point, we’ll not look into it. We’re focused on completing the IPL, which has reached its final stages. What has happened in this case is between two foreign individuals. It is a personal matter between people who aren’t from India. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that we’ll ignore it. If a complaint is brought to us, we’ll act on it. If it develops into something more, we’ll look into it at an appropriate stage.”
Gayle , in his latest interview, believes that most of the criticism directed his way after the McLaughlin imbroglio was racially motivated.
“Successful black men are struggling because people do things to put them down. I would say this anywhere in the world, in any sporting arena, right now in 2016: racism is still the case for a black man. Trust me. They just want to get a little sniff of the dirt. They find out some shit and they want to sink you. It’s reality. You have to deal with that as a successful black man.”
Racism has always been an issue in sport.
Henry Gayle was born in a Kingston slum and used cricket as his vehicle to become one of the world’s most beloved and entertaining sportsmen.
Writing for the Guardian, Andy Bull says:
“In the last year the Zimbabwean Test cricketer Mark Vermeulen was banned by his board after he referred to black Zimbabweans as ‘apes’ on social media, while Vermeulen’s old team-mate Prosper Utseya accused that same board of racism in their running of the sport. And several Pakistani players have spoken out about racism in English county cricket, in the wake of the offence committed by Craig Overton. These issues are always there, bubbling under. But it’s rare for a star player to address them directly, as Gayle has just done.
Gayle was talking about something more insidious, about attitudes ‘off the field’, especially, he seems to be saying, among the media. And some aspects of our coverage should make us uncomfortable. As Peter Oborne pointed out in his book Wounded Tiger, the Pakistani team is often subjected to the most ludicrous stereotyping, which has stretched as far as the suggestions, widespread at the time, that certain members of their 2007 World Cup team may have had a hand in the death of their coach Bob Woolmer. Innuendos always swirl when they play poorly, quicker to gather around them than their competitors, though cheating, and fixing, are universal problems.”
Racism is not restricted to the Western hemisphere.
Foreign cheerleaders in the IPL have complained several times about the treatment and slurs they are subjected to by Indian men.
In 2008, British dancers Ellesha Newton and Sherinne Anderson were prevented from performing during a Kings XI Punjab game.
“An organiser pulled us away. He said the people here don’t want to see dark people. The ‘n’ word was used and they said they only wanted beautiful white girls. We were crying. I could understand if it were the crowd but they were very receptive. This kind of thing has never happened to us – not in Europe, not here, nowhere. “
There have not been any black cheerleaders in any edition of the IPL since.
An unnamed cheerleader in a free-wheeling chat on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) had this to say:
“I hate the racism. Why is my team made up of 99% white girls? Why do Indians feel it’s ok to dress white girls up in skimpy outfits but they won’t let their fellow Indian women do it? It’s messed up.
I’ve asked my managers [about why no Indian girls as cheerleaders] and they don’t know. I’ll keep asking around, though, because I’m curious too. They could probably just get good dancers and train them; there’s no shortage of those.”
Chris Gayle adds in his autobiography that some people consider him “lazy“.
“People think that [my] attitude towards the game stink. That’s how it come across: lazy.”
If Gayle’s indolent, his record proves otherwise.
He has played 103 Test matches in 14 years, scored two triple centuries and is arguably the best T20 batsman in the world.
But playing the race card in this seemingly complicated mess only addles the issue.
Racial discrimination is not the only kind that exists. Women everywhere face sexual biases on a daily basis. To claim that one is better or worse than the other sidesteps the issues raised by Gayle’s nonchalance towards the ramifications of his ‘jokey‘ sideshows.
Discrimination of any kind is to be frowned upon.
To clear things up, one would probably hark back to the rustic retorts Indian women (and defenders of their modesty) dish out to eve-teasers and molesters, “Tere maa, behn or beti nahin hai kya? (Don’t you have a mother, sister or daughter?) How would you feel if someone dealt with them in the same way?”
No racism about it—just a question of right behavior in a public space.
That, Chris Gayle, is the crux of the matter. Not anything else, not anything more.
“For me, perfection comes with a lot of hard work and dedication to every aspect of the game in the years, days, and hours leading up to the main event. If you have planned and practised every scenario many times over then you have a chance of performing perfectly on the big stage. As far as personal achievement fitting into a team game, my feelings are if you focus on doing the best things for the team, then your personal achievement will take care of itself. If you care more about your success then your team will suffer and so will your personal achievements.
— Mike Hussey.
What he said:
“When we go out to field and I’m standing at point, they ask me if I’m going to start eating the grass or not. “
Kane Richardson, South Australia and Royal Challengers Bangalore pacer, has turned vegan with a vengeance.
Terming the perception that a fast bowler has to “eat meat and drink alcohol” a stigma, the Aussie said:
“I didn’t want to eat animals. I challenged myself to stick to it, I guess it’s a diet but it’s not really a fad, it’s something you believe in.
I’ve done it for a year and-a-half, two years now but over this pre-season I’ll probably challenge myself to go vegan (a person who does not eat or use animal products) and train hard and see if I can do it and perform in four-day cricket.”
Richardson still enjoys his beer though.
“I’ve watched a lot of documentaries on it, and whether it’s right or wrong, I don’t know if that can be sustained the way people are gorging through food.Especially in Australia, we’re pretty spoilt with what’s available.
It’s just something I thought long and hard about and tried to change and have stuck to it since.
It’s just something I had to change with all the injuries that I had.
I did a lot of research on it. If it’s something that’s going to help me play for longer than I’ll definitely try it.
I’ll be vegetarian the rest of my life, it’s whether I can go full vegan, that’s the question.”
Peter Siddle is the other Australian bowler who embraced vegetarianism.
“I know Sidds (Peter Siddle) is the same, he’s quite big into that.
He’s got a platform in the media and he can try and help the way people treat animals, especially in India, it’s quite tough to see.”
What he really meant:
“My teammates can’t tell wheatgrass from any other kinds of grass—including weed!”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’d chew the cud if I weren’t clever enough to carry veg snacks in my trouser pockets such as raw carrots and fresh mini-tomatoes.”