This category contains 837 posts

Sanjay Manjrekar: Cribbing

“The world changes for the better when we all crib—cribbing is good.”

—Sanjay Manjrekar.

Sanjay Manjrekar: Lack of customers

“If Test cricket was a shop, it would have been shut down a long time ago for lack of customers.”

—Sanjay Manjrekar.

Imran Khan: Fairy tales

“We grow up with fairy tales,  but in life there is no happily ever after. And if there were,  I would get bored of life. To me,  life is interesting when one is struggling.” 

—Imran Khan,  cricketer and politician. 

Anil Kumble: Surprise selection as Team India Coach

Edited version of original image depicting pop...

Indian cricketer Anil Kumble. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anil Kumble is the newly appointed  Team India coach.

That must be the most important job in the country after the Prime Minister’s, right?

Wrong, dead wrong.

Sanjay Manjrekar , in his column for The Week, describes the job thus:

“’Tell me, who is this guy with the Indian team, is he a player?’

‘No, he does not step onto the field.’

‘Is he a selector, does he pick the players?’

‘No, he does not, the captain and selectors do that.’

‘Okay, then, does he make the critical game-changing decisions on the field, with regard to bowling changes, field setting, batting order, etc?’

‘Nope, that again is done by the captain.’

There you go, that is the actual reality of an Indian coach and his position within the team. Hence the media excitement, every time, around the appointment of an Indian coach, baffles me.

In contrast, when a far more important and influential position outside the players is filled, it’s only duly noted by the media. That is the chief selector’s position.”

This is not to deride or belittle Anil Kumble’s credentials in any way.

Much has been said and written about his stellar cricketing record, his courage facing the West Indian quicks and his mental strength,

Kumble recognises the above reality and claims that he’ll be more of an ‘elder brother’  to the side.

He said:

“I certainly believe that as a coach of a young team, you need to be hands-on and you need to really get your hands dirty as well – train with them, be a part of their training. And be with them more like an elder brother, in every aspect, not just on the field, but also off it. That’s something I will be focusing on.”

Manjrekar concludes his piece thus:

“In Indian cricket, the captain and a couple of senior players basically chart the destiny of the Indian team. The selectors have an important role to play in this journey. If the captain is able, there is nothing wrong with this kind of culture; many great teams have been built like this.

So what an Indian coach really does is facilitate the needs of the captain and the core group and try and keep them in good spirits.

The coaches that actually make a difference to Indian cricket are those that coached players like Tendulkar, Dravid, and others, when they were kids. The grassroots level coaches.”

Kumble made a three-year-plan presentation to the Cricket Advisory Committee but has been appointed for only a year.

Ravi Shastri’s stint as Team Director and the results under his tutelage paved the way for the selection of an Indian coach.

Can Kumble prove as adept as John Wright or Gary Kirsten in handling this young side?

India play 13 Tests at home and his tenure includes the Champions Trophy.

‘Jumbo’ does not have a long rope and there is speculation that he was not an unanimous choice.

Kumble has no formal coaching experience but then neither had Shastri.

That appears to have made the difference since he was not in the initial shortlist.

The CAC selected Kumble—possibly—because he is a much younger candidate and can keep pace with the youngsters in the side. John Wright and Gary Kirsten were not too long retired when they took over the reins of the Indian side.

A younger person can be more hands-on; Kumble certainly believes he can be.

Is hands-on what the job requires? Depends on how you define it. Kirsten felt that it played an important role while he was coach. He used to spend hours bouncing balls at the senior players. His ability to handle fragile super-egos cannot be underestimated.

Kirsten’s right if we are go by what Manjrekar writes. And he is an expert.

Players like Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli prefer to consult their old coaches on  technical aspects of their skills.

Is it less likely that it’s not the same for the current batch of players? Ajinkya Rahane and Robin Uthappa have retained Pravin Amre as their go-to person for improving their willow skills.

It does appear that what a coach brings to the side is intangible but the results are visible and rewarded or penalised with much more alacrity.

Simply put, the coach is the fall guy should anything go wrong.






Sanjay Manjrekar: Coaches

“The coaches that actually make a difference to Indian cricket are those that coached players like Tendulkar, Dravid and others, when they were kids. The grassroots level coaches.”—Sanjay Manjrekar.

Chris Henry Gayle answers his critics once more but invites more criticism

‘King‘ Chris Henry Gayle has all the answers.

Speaking to Donald McRae of the Guardian, the West Indian blaster defended his recent outrageous behaviour and comments in his inimitable blunt Caribbean cadence.

The Jamaican first reminded the journalist of his proud heritage and that West Indians always felt disrespected by the English. The reference was to Mark Nicholas’ stunning dismissal of their T20 prospects, ““The West Indies are short of brains.”

In a statement with shades reminiscent of the movie, Fire In Babylon,  Gayle said:

“That drove us even harder. How can you disrespect the West Indies when we were so dominant in world cricket for so long? We have to face it ourselves because our own board don’t defend us. So we have to fight our own war in the middle against these allegations about West Indies having no brains. How can you jump to that conclusion? It shows no respect. They smile at you – while trying to destroy you in the media.

We were very disappointed. We should have been one of the favourites but we weren’t even in the top five. As West Indians we have always been disrespected. As soon as we fight back they make it look like we are the bad one in the media. We’ve experienced these things over the years. So it’s no surprise.”

But it’s his autobiography Six Machine that’s hitting all the right (and wrong) notes across the world with excerpts published in most major newspapers.

From describing his triple hundreds, his mammoth 170+ in the IPL and staying at Vijay Mallya’s Goa bungalow, the memoirs cover it all. The voice is authentic and the style is no-holds-barred.

Chris Gayle reveals how his fledgling career was tended to by a woman.

He writes of his Kingston schoolteacher and first coach:

“Miss Hamilton is a wonderful woman. She kickstarted things and gave me that self‑belief. Most of the time, as a kid, you’re nervous. She would try to get in your head and give you confidence. She was also our football coach – so she was very talented and to have a woman lead you at a young age was really good.”

But Chris feels nothing about disrespecting Mel McLaughlin in January this year at the Big Bash.

His latest words on the sorry episode are even more dismissive.

He said:

“If she was upset she would’ve said it. At no stage did she say she felt offended by me. Then they wanted an apology and she came on air and said: ‘He’s apologised – so let it go everybody.’ You could tell she had been forced to say those things. Trust me. She’s of West Indian background. She knows the culture. From what I understand her mom is black. What do they call it? Samosa (Samoan)?

Yeah. So she knows. But people put things in her ears – just to slaughter Chris Gayle.”

Chris Gayle is remarkably insouciant and , perhaps, realistic  when asked what if his baby daughter Blush were to face the same kind of behaviour 25 years on in a journalistic career.

He adds:

“If you put yourself there you have to expect that. You have to deal with it. Not all situations are going to be the best. You have to brace yourself. You have to be professional, yes, but expect the unexpected at all times.It could happen to anybody. Anybody. It could happen again.”

Chris then accuses Charlotte Edwards of setting him up as a villain in her piece for the Times and threatens legal action.

He says:

“The first interview I did by the pool. The recorder was on the table. The interview lasted 2½ hours. Basically discussing the book, it went according to plan. But the outcome was very sad. That’s why I say people can’t be trusted – especially you guys.

I know. Obviously she came with a different mentality. Even that first interview I did with her she was trying to get me to say things about Shane Warne. I said: ‘Listen, this is not about Shane Warne.’ So the interview was good even if she didn’t get what she wanted.

I was having dinner by the bar when the agent texted. She’s leaving in the morning and wants to say thanks for the interview. I said: ‘OK, no problem.’ She came by and that’s how it happened. She started telling me her life story. She tried to ask me if I’d ever smoked weed. I said: ‘Listen, I’m a sportsman, how can I do those things?’ So whatever questions she asked me I asked her back. She went on to say she is a single mum. She had also been to a war [zone] and she was telling me that when all the media people come to drink they sleep together. I asked her: ‘Did you do it?’ And she said: ‘No.’ It’s not an interview – we’re talking at the bar. If she had a tape I wish people could hear it.

In the interview’s first line she says Mel didn’t get the chance to have a drink with Chris Gayle – but she did. That was her agenda. She put these things out to make me look like the bad one. She got the attention but I’m going to speak to my legal team.”

If Gayle’s version of the story is true, then it’s understandable why most sports stars prefer to be tight-lipped to the press rather than drop their guard and make off-the-cuff remarks. Every word could be misconstrued and twisted. And if Gayle’s infamous remarks to Edwards were off-the-record, then she is in serious breach of journalistic integrity. Neither party comes out smelling like roses.

“There can be no trust”, Chris Gayle says in his life story.

He adds:

“There’s no sadness in saying that. It’s the reality. You can’t put trust in people. There’s no loyalty out there. You have to be sceptical – regardless of what that person says.”

Gayle’s account, however, of his relationship with his girlfriend cannot elicit much sympathy.

He writes:

“I am the Six Machine. I am the only man in the history of the world to have scored two triple centuries etc. I am the only cricketer in the history of the world to have his own pole-dancing room in his house. I have a girl. I can’t remember her name. We’ve been together for nine years. Though mostly it probably sounds as if we’ve been apart. She doesn’t like World Boss’s pole-dancing room. But luckily loads of other women do. So it hasn’t been a total waste of money.”

Chris Gayle will make news wherever he goes as long he’s scoring runs—not women.

They’re merely sideshows in his grand design of things—in his “World Baass. Universe Baass. Multiverse Baass.”

That’s the uncomfortable truth and he expects the people in his life and the world at large to live with it.

Is that sad or great? You  tell me.

Chris Gayle: I am honest

“Don’t hate me just because I am not what you want me to be. Don’t hate me because I am not what you are. I am me and I am honest.”
—Chris Gayle.

Why Virat Kohli doesn’t deserve our sympathy

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

English: virat kohli

virat kohli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Irrfan Khan: Heroes

“It pains me when a film actor or a cricketer is a youth icon. I don’t have anything against them. They are great entertainers; they are useful to the society. They contribute to people’s lives. But they are not heroes. We haven’t redefined heroes. Heroes are different people. Heroes are people who sacrifice their own concerns and do something bigger, who change people’s lives. We film stars and cricketers shouldn’t be aspirational in such a big way for the healthy growth of the society. It’s a sign of consumerism at its extreme. That’s why I find it so cool and so hip to see that photograph of the women scientists of ISRO celebrating a launch. That’s heroism. That’s cool, that’s hip! Lekin main agar kahin se udhaar le kar, kuch bana ke, thodi der ke liye aapka time pass kara de raha hoon, just because I am famous, you aspire to become me – that’s not cool, that’s pathetic.”
Irrfan Khan.

English: Irrfan Khan at the launch of NDTV Lum...

Irrfan Khan at the launch of NDTVLumiere’s The Orphanage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Has Chris Gayle overstepped the line again or is it simply publicity for his autobiography?

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 itand 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.’

On homophobia:

“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”.

He said:

“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.

Melbourne Renegades have decided not to continue with the T20 star.

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.

He says:

“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.

Anderson said:

“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“.

He writes:

“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.


%d bloggers like this: