“Well, all cricket invites attention.”
“Youngsters watching the IPL might give up on idle or dosa for breakfast. Just eat Uthappa, and you might smash them a long way.”
Should we sympathise with Virat Kohli?
I mean, come on, the guy’s been performing like a maniac over the past few months—first for Team India and then surpassing himself and everyone else with his mind-blowing feats in this year’s IPL.
Almost single-handedly taking his team to the knock-out rounds and yet so near and yet so far.
He cut a forlorn figure at the prize-distribution ceremony post the final.
The Indian media and fans have compared Kohli to that all-time great, Sachin Tendulkar.
The comparisons sometimes seem apt, sometimes odious, but it’s been about the statistics, the numbers and their stature in their respective sides.
Longevity will tell—it always does.
But what Virat has recently had a taste of is what Tendulkar and ,to an even greater extent, Brian Lara, experienced throughout their careers—their inability to carry and inspire their sides across that intangible finish line
That kind of frustration, that kind of heartbreak where you have to stand alone among the ruins requires a special kind of resolve.
Virat has it and that is what’ll make the man truly great.
Not the numbers alone, not the glory alone but the losses—the losses that hurt, the losses that build.
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.
“My temper has been an issue for me. It has been very hard for me.”—
What he said:
“We were at airport and I said, ‘Baby, grab my bag’, two women started staring at us.”
Royal Challengers Bangalore opener and wicketkeeper K L Rahul recounts an unusually hilarious anecdote about his left-handed teammate Sachin Baby.
What he really meant:
“Was I looking at you, ma’am, when I said that? Was I, ma’am, was I? Owww!”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Baby, don’t Blush when I call you by name.”
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.”
What he said:
“Well, i am eating the same breakfast as Virat Kohli. I think it is all about being consistent and about keeping my mind fresh.”
David Warner is quite competitive with his text messaged war of words with Virat Kohli mirroring their battle for the Orange Cap in the Vivo IPL.
“It was a vice versa about the orange cap for being the highest run-getter. He texted me the other day, saying he’s coming for the orange cap – and my reply was, i am going to come back and get it off you.”
Warner also elaborated on abstaining from alcohol:
“Look, it’s been almost a year now since i stopped drinking alcohol. I will complete a year on May 20. My wife was pregnant at that time and i thought, why not go the whole nine months without drinking too. It was just to give myself a goal, something to achieve away from cricket. I have been fortunate enough to do that so far.
Once i get to the one-year mark, i will see what to do. I might keep not drinking or i might drink, who knows.
But it’s not about drinking. It is about giving myself the best opportunity to recover and to play cricket.
I have two daughters and a fantastic wife and they provide me all the support i need to achieve goals with. There is a life after cricket as well. Cricket is not the be-all and end-all and it is about setting myself up for after cricket.
Having stability off the field is always fantastic.”
What he really meant:
“A hearty breakfast for a healthy body makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise and a contender for the Orange Cap. I’m certainly not eating text messages for breakfast.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Kellogg’s—Breakfast of Champions.”
Harsha Bhogle is being missed.
That’s what tweeting followers and the man himself would have us believe.
It’s true, I guess.
While Bhogle is always entertaining, always suave, always smooth and always different from former players turned microphone wielders, the IPL is not where he has the best impact.
It’s bizarre but while he’s missed, he’s not. There are just too many things to distract television viewers.
The BCCI, in all its wisdom, dropped Bhogle and the other wise man of Indian cricket, Sunny Gavaskar from its list of approved commentators.
While there’s been an uproar about Bhogle’s sacking , there’s been nothing said about Gavaskar’s exit. Probably because the great man was earning more—much more—than any of the other commentators and it could be explained away as a cost-cutting measure.
Bhogle’s absence, however, has the conspiracy theorists out in full force.
Bhogle got on the wrong side of Amitabh Bachchan whose tweet questioning the nationalistic credentials of Indian commentators was enthusiastically endorsed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
And Bhogle’s comments during India games have ired the Indian dressing room.
It’s strange, really.
These speculations would have been more believable had N Srinivasan still been heading the BCCI. Dhoni was purportedly his blue-eyed boy.
But those days are past or aren’t they?
And why is it that the BCCI still decides who should commentate on India games?
Can their ‘employees’ really provide unbiased views about their paymasters? That’s hardly credible much as Ravi Shastri and his ilk might protest otherwise.
It would be best if broadcasters were to select and pay cricket experts themselves.
Why have cricket boards have any say in the matter?
Viewers, too, shouldn’t have to second-guess the experts.
Sports is entertainment.
Music is entertainment.
And always the twain shall meet.
Right from songs performed at opening and closing ceremonies to stadium songs, music and sports co-exist to create harmony and melody.
Even Sachin Tendulkar was never without his headphones when not on the playing field or in the nets.
And let’s never forget the national anthems.
IPL 2016 has begun. Theme songs for the eight sides occupy prime time on television as a precursor and sideshow to the bawdy spectacle.
The following are the anthems of the eight teams in this year’s edition of the Indian Premier League: