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Sir Donald Bradman: Cricket


“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.

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Ravi Shastri: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


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: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


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.”

Ravi Shastri: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t 


Ravi Shastri traces a bullet. 

What he said:

“There’s a bit of Sachin there, there’s a bit of Viru there, and when he walks, there’s a bit of Lara there!”

Ravi Shastri, the Indian head coach, can’t stop gushing about latest boy sensation, Prithvi Shaw, and his exhilarating debut against the West Indies at home. 

What he really meant:

“Shaw bats like a dream. He’s a kaleidoscope of the bright colours of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Brian Lara. He’s my rainbow.” 

What he definitely didn’t:

Why did I omit Viv Richards in this comparison? Kohli wouldn’t permit me. That’s why. He insists that sobriquet’s exclusive to him.” 

Henry Blofeld: Cricket


“One-day cricket is an exhibition. Test cricket is an examination.”
—Henry Blofeld.

Sanjay Manjrekar: Purity of skill


“When it comes to Test cricket, like the purity of its concept, what is also needed is purity of skill. Hence, a pure batsman or a pure bowler is precious, because he has focused on only one skill all his life, so he is very good at it.” 

—Sanjay Manjrekar. 

Dileep Premachandran: Glass ceilings


“Those that shatter glass ceilings have to put up with multiple indignities along the way, and any softness or weakness will be pounced upon.” 

—Dileep Premachandran. 

CLR James: Cricket, an art


“Cricket is an art, not a poor relation , but a full member of the community. It belongs with theatre, ballet , opera and the dance. ”

—CLR James.

Sunil Subramanian: Newer mistakes


“The challenge is that you should be making newer mistakes. Newer mistakes means you are learning.” 

—Sunil Subramanian, Ravichandran Ashwin’s mentor,  describes his evolution as an off-spinner. 

Why India shouldn’t try to avoid Pakistan in sporting encounters


Should India take on Pakistan in the international sporting arena?

BCCI boss Anurag Thakur doesn’t believe so.

The BJP leader, while ruling out resumption of cricketing ties with the rogue neighbour after the latest attacks from across the border at Uri, said:

“Keeping in mind that the government has adopted a new strategy to isolate Pakistan and in view of the public sentiment in the country, we request ICC not to put India and Pakistan in the same pool of the multi-nation tournaments. If the two countries reach the semi-finals and have to clash at that time, it is another situation which can’t be avoided.”

The statement above reeks of political opportunism while ignoring commercial considerations and the future success of ICC tournaments.

While it’s no one’s case that Pakistan is a sponsor of terrorism, to ask the ICC or any other sporting body to accommodate the Indian government’s  views would be setting a bad precedent—if accepted.

What happens if Bangladesh or Afghanistan make similar demands? Will the ICC oblige?

What about other sporting events such as the Olympics or World Championships? Are Indian sports persons to refuse to take on Pakistani athletes in group encounters but not in knockout rounds?

Can the US decline to play North Korea or Iran in international competitions?

India last toured their north-west neighbours in a full-fledged series in 2004. The last bilateral series occurred in 2012 with the visitors drawing the T20 series and clinching the ODIs.

India are grouped with Pakistan for the 2017 Champions Trophy.

ICC President Dave Richardson said:

“No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event. Its hugely important from an ICC point of view. Its massive around the world and the fans have come to expect it as well. Its fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick.”

It’s unlikely that the ICC will oblige Thakur by moving India out of the group. If the BCCI insists on making a political statement in the cricketing world, Team India might have to forfeit their game against their arch-rivals.

The men’s team are the only ones affected. The women’s side are slated to play Pakistan in a bilateral series. Should the tour be called off, their ODI ratings will be affected that may reduce their chances for automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup.

Thakur’s statement was greeted with disdain across the border.

Mohammad Yousuf said:

“I just don’t understand what he wants to say. For the last eight years India has avoided playing us in a proper bilateral series even when relations were better.”

He added:

“The ICC keeps on saying it will not tolerate politics or government interference in member boards and the BCCI President is making political statements. Either he speak as a BJP leader or BCCI head.”

An unnamed Pakistan Cricket Board official said:

“It is an out and out political statement from the President of the BCCI. We are disappointed as we have been trying hard for a long time now to normalize cricket ties with India and we have always believed in keeping sports and politics apart.”

In another news report, sources within the PCB revealed that they do not take Thakur’s tirades seriously.

“If they really don’t want to play Pakistan at all would they be willing to forfeit the match against us in next year’s Champions Trophy. No changes can be made now so what is the purpose of such statements except to play to the galleries.

…But for public consumption he (Thakur) gives different statements.”

Were the UN to declare Pakistan a sponsor of terror and impose sanctions, then it’s possible that sporting bodies across the world could declare it ‘persona non grata’, much like South Africa was for its heinous policy of apartheid.

But until then, it’s downright foolish to expect to be able to avoid Pakistan in multilateral contests.

At the same time, to simply claim that sports and politics shouldn’t mix is being naïve in this age of realpolitik.

Sports is a metaphor for war without weapons or bloodshed. 

It is also  a vehicle for peace such as when the Pakistani premier visited India for the crucial quarter-final encounter during the 2011 World Cup paving the way for resuming cricketing ties even if it was short-lived.

The issue at hand is complex. Simplistic statements from the BCCI chief muddy the waters especially when he must and should know better.

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