This category contains 11 posts

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

Ben Stokes is not comforted by nemesis Carlos Brathwaite’s shirty request.

What he said:

“[Carlos] Brathwaite came and asked me for my shirt at the end, which was pretty strange, looking back on it. You’ve just whacked me and now you want a shirt? I didn’t really need to ask him [for his]. Can’t imagine what I’d use it for. A duvet maybe?”

Ben Stokes gives up his shirt as well to Carlos Brathwaite besides four hits out of bounds.

What he really meant:

“What?!!! You’ve clubbed me for four sixes in a row in a World Cup final and you want the shirt of my back too???!!!”

What he definitely didn’t:

“ Was that a not so subliminal message from Carlos to switch to another sport like soccer, perhaps?”

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

Carlos Brathwaite is lost for words but not expletives.

What he said:

“”That was amazing man, I wish I could use some expletives on TV to really express how much of a top knock that was.”

West Indies’ final over hero in the T20 World Cup final, Carlos Brathwaite , is all praise for his senior partner Marlon Samuels who held the innings together with a stellar 85 off 66 balls.

Brathwaite said:

“It’s us against the world and someone needed to take responsibility. And today Marlon Samuels after a slow start took responsibility and played a fantastic knock. That was amazing man, I wish I could use some expletives on TV to really express how much of a top knock that was. He did it in 2010, and I knew if Samuels was there in the end, he’ll bring us home in 2016. It was a matter of when and not if.”

The 27-year-old backed his skipper Darren Sammy’s emotional outburst against the West Indian Cricket Board (WICB) saying:

“Most of the nations have more resources than we do, but we have natural talent. It has been said we don’t have brains, that we don’t harness our talent, that we do things off the field that contribute to poor on-field success. But I just want to say being around these guys, that everything we do on and off the field is for the betterment of West Indies, not just the team but also cricket and the region in general.”

On the final over against England’s Ben Stokes:

“It was a little nerve-wracking to be honest, I just tried to stay focused, use my cue words, watch the ball and take some pressure off Marlon. It would have been too hard to give him a single and expect him to do it all. I just had to bite the bullet and try to get a couple of boundaries, which fortunately I did, give God thanks for bringing it home for the people in West Indies.

After the third six I just backed myself, go hard, if it goes in the air I knew Marlon would finish it but I knew I had to be there as close to the end as possible. We continued to back ourselves, back our strength and our strength is hitting boundaries. Once we knew it was manageable we knew we could do it.

I just want say a special mention to everyone in Sargeant’s Village, my family, my friends and especially to Mr Errol Edey, the master bat-maker from the Caribbean.He made this special beauty for me to use in the World Cup and he told me, ‘Carlos, go out there and smash ’em’. Erroll, I did, and now we are world champions.”

What he really meant:

“I’m rendered speechless by the sense of occasion. Would expletives do instead?”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Hey, Virat, can you teach me a few of those choicest Punjabi and Hindi abuses, my maan?”

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

Marlon Samuels faces off with Shane Warne.

What he said:

“Maybe I have a real face and he doesn’t.”

Marlon Samuels was not a gracious winner despite his match-winning knock in the World T20 final at Kolkata against England.

The volatile West Indian was quick to let loose a volley at his long-time bete-noire Shane Warne dedicating his man-of-the-match award to the Australian spin king turned commentator.

The duo have a history of clashes dating back to the second edition of the Big Bash league.

Samuels said:

“I woke up this morning with one thing on my mind. Shane Warne has been talking continuously and all I want to say is ‘this is for Shane Warne’. I answer with the bat, not the mic. I played a Test series in Australia (in January 2016) and Shane Warne has a problem with me. Don’t know why. I’ve never disrespected him. It seems that he has a lot inside him that needs to come out. I don’t appreciate the way he continues to talk about me and the things that he keeps doing.”

The facial jibe was a reference to Warne having admitted to using Botox in the past.

What he really meant:

It’s my turn to face the mike. Warney, can you stand the music?”

What he definitely didn’t:

“I’d really like a bearded and moustachioed Warne, wouldn’t you?”

Shane Warne. At the WACA gound on 15/10/2006 P...

Shane Warne. At the WACA gound on 15/10/2006 Photo taken by me – user:Moondyne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

England verus West Indies: Let the fireworks flow

England take on the West Indies tonight in Kolkata in the sixth edition of the T20 World Cup.

Neither team is a stranger to the pressures of a final; both have emerged victors in the shortest format of the game.

Joe Root and Chris Gayle will be the cynosure of all eyes.

They are key players for their respective sides.

But finals have an uncanny knack of producing unlikely heroes.

The biggest stars have to perform to the greatest expectations.

Can they? Will they?

Some simply choke under the weight of expectations. Remember Ronaldo in the World Cup final in France in 1998 and his mysterious illness? It could well have been him and not Zinedine Zidane holding up the trophy. (Ronaldo did make amends in 2002. And it was Zidane who got the boot for his infamously provoked headbutt in 2006.Still not a Suarez.)

That’s not the point of this exercise.

It’s simply that cricket is a team sport and that it takes eleven players to get the side across the line.

The better side is simply the one that can keep it together more consistently and more often than other sides.

Those are the teams that make it through a tournament and emerge victorious.

Will it be Eoin Morgan’s England? Or will it be lovable Darren Sammy’s musketeers?

I really don’t know and I really don’t care.

For once, in this tournament I can be neutral and simply say, “Let the fireworks begin.”

Press reactions to Dhoni’s bantering with Samuel Ferris

The Indian media appears miffed with MS Dhoni’s antics with an Australian journalist who had the ‘insolence’ to ask him the dreaded ‘R’ question.

From the video, it’s obvious the talismanic skipper took the loss to Windies to heart and felt that joking around would take out some of the sting.

The ploy backfired and how.

Suveen Sinha for Hindustan Times wrote:

“When did retirement become about fitness, or even ability? Many cricket players left the game with a triumphant show in their last game. The most recent example is New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum. But for the most telling instance, look no further than Sunil Gavaskar.

Gavaskar’s last Test innings, in which he scored 96 in a losing cause against Pakistan on a snake pit of a pitch, was a true masterclass — a great affair with batting perfection, unlike the brief T20 flings that get talked up these days.

Till the end Gavaskar embodied unthinkable ability, temperament, concentration, technique, and understanding of the pitch, bowling, and match situation. Hell, he even mastered the one-day game at the end of his career, a format he abhorred in the beginning. Yet he kept his date with retirement.”

Vedam Jaishankar for FirstPost  responded thus:

“Dhoni mistakenly believed that journalists had to react like fans to every situation. He probably did not realise that fans are expected to be fanatical and most forgiving of the follies of their heroes. Their love and hero-worship could withstand the most horrendous of mistakes or transgressions. Unfortunately that is not how a professional journalist works. He is expected to be a lot more detached, objective and even critical where required. Now that’s the grey area ‘heroes’ don’t understand.”

Samuel Ferris, the offending reporter, was much more circumspect in his description of the incident.

He said:

“For the record, I never asked if he was going to retire, just how keen he was to play on. I’m not trying to retire one of the greats.

I even prefaced it with ‘You’ve achieved pretty much everything in cricket’ to soften the blow and try to make me not look like some blood-thirsty mosquito looking for a headline (which I most definitely was).

Then he smiles and asks if I can repeat it. Great, I mumbled. I pony up again and ask, and instead of an answer I get an invitation.

An invitation to come join him on stage. At first I politely decline, but he insists.

Who am I to turn down India’s greatest-ever captain?

I’m welcomed with a warm embrace, a sympathetic arm around my shoulder and a crisp white smile, the same smile I’ve seen on a dozen commercials featuring Dhoni on Indian television selling a vast range of products.”

We all know what happened next.

All said, the question won’t go away until Team India starts winning again or Dhoni actually quits.

Excuses be damned, the better side won

India did not lose the T20 World  Cup semi-final last night. West Indies won.

It’s time commentators and fans gave up listing reasons like the quality of the pitch and the number of no-balled chances Lendl Simmons enjoyed.

Yes, Simmons was fortunate and he made the most of it. Just like Virat Kohli did on being let off by a couple of poor throws by the fielding side.

Yuvraj Singh’s value was felt in his absence.

This West Indian side consists of T20 specialists who ply their trade around the world. They are professionals and can match the best in this format.

Simmons overcame jet-lag to single-handedly lead his side home.

What more can you ask or say? The better team on the day triumphed.

Excuses be damned.

Stats and Graphs: Kohli versus Ponting, Tendulkar and Lara

Kohli Graphs1 Kohli Graphs2 Kohli Graphs3

Player\Statistics Runs Average Best 100s 50s Conversion Rate
Virat Kohli 2994 44.02 169 11 12 .48
Ricky Ponting 2481 44.3 197 7 12 .37
Sachin Tendulkar 2911 54.92 179 10 14 .42
Brian Lara 3751 55.16 375 8 20 .29
Player\Statistics Runs Average Strike Rate 100s 50s Conversion Rate
Virat Kohli 7212 51.51 89.97 7 12 .37
Ricky Ponting 6143 42.37 77.56 13 33 .28
Sachin Tendulkar 5828 38.85 82.58 12 36 .25
Brian Lara 6433 42.32 79.12 13 41 .24


Isn’t sports reduced to jingoism when it’s considered patriotic to win?

The Pakistani cricket team returned home only to find their fans in no mood to forgive them for their dismal showing in the T20 World Cup.

Chants of  ‘Shame, shame’ rent the air at the Allama Iqbal international airport in Lahore.

Cricketers in the Indian sub-continent are accustomed to such treatment from their volatile followers.

When they do well, they’re worshipped as demi-gods; when they fail, they’re devils incarnate.

Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Matthews was a sorry figure as he pleaded with the media and his countrymen back home to cut his young team a little slack after being knocked out from the tourney.

He said:

“It has been a disappointing few months for all of us. We’ve let down the fans and we’ve let down the whole country. We haven’t played good cricket at all. We’re disappointed. All we can do is try and stick to our combinations and not try and change the team too much. Try to pick about 20 players and re-evaluate them over six months — give them an opportunity to settle down and see what they come out with in terms of performances.

We can take decisions then. Quick decisions won’t solve this matter. We have to try and be patient. If you look at the style we played in, we are not deserving of a semifinal place. The team didn’t play well. That’s why we lost. “

India are the only sub-continental side to make the semis. New Zealand, West Indies and England make up the numbers.

The mercurial Shahid Afridi riled jingoists back home when he claimed that he felt more welcomed by Indian fans than anywhere else including Pakistan.

The identification of patriotism with sports is not restricted to just South-East Asia.

Wanting your fellow countryman to win is fine, but associating that support with patriotism is overdoing it.

On the far edge of the spectrum is Norman Tebbit’s Cricket Test of April 1990.

The parliamentarian infamously declared:

“A large proportion of Britain’s Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It’s an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?”

He revived the controversy post the London bombings when he said:

“I do think had my comments been acted on those attacks would have been less likely.

What I was saying about the so-called “cricket test” is that it was a test of whether a community has integrated.

If a community was looking back at where it had come from instead of looking forward with the people to whom they had come to, then there is going to be a problem sooner or later.”

And in 2014, Tebbit produced an ancestry test.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, he said:

“One test I would use is to ask them on which side their fathers or grandfathers or whatever fought in the second world war. And so you’ll find that the Poles and the Czechs and the Slovaks were all on the right side. And so that’s a pretty good test isn’t it? Perhaps we’ll even manage to teach them to play cricket gradually over the years.”

Rick Ayers in the Huffington Post writes of the Super Bowl on the 4th of July:

“Twenty years ago, I would refuse to stand up for the Star Spangled Banner — making a small protest of the notion of imposing a rightist political ritual on the moment of a sporting event. Back then, one could look around and see plenty of others sitting. If anyone gave me a hard time, I would easily glare back, knowing I had my principles and my rights. Now I either stand up or find a way to be at the concession stands. The atmosphere is more challenging, more aggressively conformist. You could get hurt if you don’t participate in the ritual.

There are so many ways this hypocritical nod to ‘our troops’ is nauseating. The display of militaristic patriotism, the ritual unity of our ‘supporting our boys,’ is actually an act of complicity in sending them over to Iraq and Afghanistan to die. The super-patriots are not the friends of the GI’s; they are loading them in the death transports to the front.”

He adds:

“As I watch the soldiers march out in stiff uniforms, bearing a flag that almost covers the infield, I see the Americans around me adopt an attitude of reverence — our soldiers are our heroes and they deserve our love. Jane Addams, the founder of Hull House in Chicago and an opponent of World War I, mused on the phenomenon of crowds cheering our troops as they marched down Main Street. We are not celebrating that they are going to go out and slay others, not really. We are honoring them because they are about to go out and be slain. Yes, their very suffering and death has sanctified them, has made these youths a holy object, someone from among us who we send out to die, to preserve our community, our way of life.

This does not have a rational basis — for the war may indeed be a disaster, a waste, a cruel joke. Thousands more may die while politicians dither and maneuver. No matter. The important thing is that they are to die and that is something that gives our lives meaning. It is primal, it is sick, how we send them off. How different if we were to see our identity, our sense of community, with other peoples in the world and not just in our narrow and embattled enclave. Our self-imposed nightmare.

And, of course, even those who oppose the disgusting wars America has launched in the Middle East stick to the narrative of the slaughtered GI’s, the victims. We are against the war but we support our troops. Someone needs to deliver the bad news. These are not just heroes. . . . or victims. These are Americans who are killing, slaughtering people in our name. Yes, Iraqi and Afghan families, parents and children, are being burned, blown open, lacerated by American weapons wielded by American youngsters. Get used to it. The trials of Marines for murder in Hamdania and Haditha will be added to the tortures of Abu Ghraib. And more horror stories are yet to surface. The Iraqi victims have no names in our consciousness but their suffering will not leave us in peace. Ultimately, to heal, our soldiers will have to confront not just their victimhood but their complicity in the crimes of this war.”

Avram Noam Chomsky, American philospher and political activist says:

“When I was in high school I asked myself at one point: ‘Why do I care if my high school’s team wins the football game? I don’t know anybody on the team, they have nothing to do with me… why am I here and applaud? It does not make any sense.’ But the point is, it does make sense: It’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority and group cohesion behind leadership elements. In fact it’s training in irrational jingoism. That’s also a feature of competitive sports.”

David Alm on Contrary Blog echoes Chomsky and Ayers when he writes:

“Because if we’re already amped up about sports, then we’re also amped up about being American. And that’s exactly what makes the whole business (because that’s really all it is) so damn unsettling.”

Substitute American for whichever nationality you are, and you’ll find that the above statement resonates with you too if you’re averse to mixing patriotism, politics and sports.

It’s simply another form of jingoism.

And, perhaps, Indians understand it better than anybody else.

The T20 game at Dharamshala was moved to Kolkatta because the Himachal Pradesh state government refused to guarantee the safety of the visitors from across the Wagah border.

In the past, Shiv Sainiks have dug up pitches and threatened agitations whenever cricketing talks or relations resumed. The mileage that can be derived from such shenanigans around an Indo-Pak cricket game—not any other sport—that drives such posturing.

Can sports be above politics? Maybe yes, maybe no.

The isolation of the South African cricketing team was one of the drivers for the lifting of apartheid in that  nation. Yes, cricket fans never got to enjoy the likes of Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock but it was (arguably) a small price to pay.

India, too, have used sports as a weapon to protest apartheid. India refused to play South Africa in 1974 foregoing a chance to win a maiden Davis Cup. India’s Davis Cup tie at home against Israel occurred only after then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s intervention.

The team made the final that year losing to Sweden.

India and Israel were again drawn to play each other the following year in Tel Aviv permission for which was denied by the External Affairs ministry. The encounter never materialised since both teams lost to their first round opponents.

Sporting policy is not entirely black or white. It’s shades of grey—like all questions and decisions surrounding ethics.

When will sports fans realize that?

Will this be Mahi’s last World T20?

India take on Australia in a virtual quarter-final this evening at Mohali.

The other three semi-final places have already been booked.
West Indies, New Zealand and England are through to the business end of the World T20.

India are favourites having thrashed the Kangaroos 3-0 Down Under but not before losing the ODI series 1-4.

No team has won the World T20 more than once.

Every edition has been unpredictable.

India, Pakistan, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka have all been crowned victors in this topsy-turvy format.
With no time for recovery from any mistakes, the team which turns up wins.
A stellar performance with the bat or ball is more than enough to decide a game.
If past trends hold, we ought to have a new champion.
Should Australia win tonight and the trend continue, it could be either New Zealand or Australia lifting the trophy, with the prospect of a mouth-watering repeat of last year’s ODI World Cup final.
Indian fans will be disappointed though.

This is probably MS Dhoni’s last T20 World Cup.
Dhoni does not see himself participating in the 2019 ODI World Cup.
Don’t be surprised if Mahi pulls out yet another rabbit from his hat and calls it a day—win or lose.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni bowlingat Adelaide Oval

Mahendra Singh Dhoni bowlingat Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

Ravichandran Ashwin’s cheeky advice is not tested.

What he said:

“I probably gave him a cheeky idea to try a mankad in the end. We might have taken flak, but why not.”

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin claims that he wasn’t averse to his teammate Hardik Pandya running out his Bangladeshi opponents in the final over of the crucial group encounter played at Bengaluru last evening.

The controversial method of getting batsmen out has been in the news ever since West Indian Keemo Paul mankaded a Zimbabwean player in the recent Under-19 ODI World Cup.

Pandya didn’t have to resort to such an eventuality; his skipper ran out Mustafizur Rahman at his end to clinch the game for India by one run.

What he really meant:

“The Mankad’s not illegal and a win is a win by any legal means.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Hardik Pandya and I  wouldn’t take a running start at the bowler’s end were my team in the same situation.”

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