Category Archives: indians

England’s wonder

Four men are hired to save a rich rancher’s wife in Mexico. The rancher picks four people with particular skills to form the ultimate team. The film is called the professionals. Andy Flower is probably a fan of this film, and not just because of Woody Strobe and Lee Marvin, but because it fits his ethos.

England got to the top of the world by being more professional than every other team in the world. Their selections were impeccable. Everyone did their job. They made each other better. Choked with the ball, dulled with the bat, take all chances. Preparation was key. They believed they could win. And they won a bunch of series on the way to number one.

Then things fell apart in the UAE. Saeed Ajmal does that to people, but England seemed to play like every Pakistani was Ajmal like, and they lost. In Sri Lanka they had Ajmal flash backs, before ending up 1-1. At home against the West Indies they did what they needed to do and nothing more.

Then South Africa turned up. And they did what England had been doing for a while, made no mistakes.

England made many. Their batsmen who had built foundations on common sense and minimizing risk suddenly played at balls they should have left. Their bowlers lost pace. The fielding fell down. Inside the changing room was a disaster. And their captain was on the way out.

The professional well put together team was missing key components and fighting amongst itself.

Yet they went back to basics. Sri Lanka could have played three Test series and fitted in a series of ODIs against India in the time England used just for warm up matches. Short of moving to Chennai, they couldn’t have spent any longer over there. It was the old England. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

At the height of England’s run, bowlers didn’t play with injuries that often. They believed in their back ups, and wouldn’t risk losing a bowler mid match.

In this Test they went with Broad, now perhaps he was fully fit. Perhaps he wasn’t. But once Broad played, Bresnan had to be more likely (even without his reverse swing in the last warm up), and that meant they were taking in a potentially injured bowler and leaving out a spinner on a wicket that from all accounts looked like it would have taken spin the day before the Test.

Then they fielded. And it was bad. Matt Prior’s keeping looked like the Matt Prior of the bad old days. Jonathan Trott seemed surprised at slip. And Jimmy Anderson seemed to be looking at Pujara’s lofted mistake like he had 2D eyes. They were the chances they missed. But there was also a look of flatness about them. Some balls were shepherded to the boundary. Dives were done to prove they had dived. And the energy was low.

That also lead to the run rate getting out of control. Now, everyone gets Sehwaged once in a while. But it also took them hours to slow down Pujara who as classy as he is, is a man who often slows himself down. The control and patience of the English attack was nowhere. Too many boundaries came at the end of otherwise good overs. India were 61 runs into their innings before Swann came on to slow it down.

Cook captained in the same way that most of his team fielded.

England may still salvage this Test, although it’s pretty doubtful. They might even win the series. But they won’t do either without what got them there in the first place. And perhaps they can’t. Things change. Right at the moment England look more like a middling side with issues than a team about to storm back to number one.

Watching Sehwag and Pujara flay their attack while their fielders looked like little more than CGI extras I remembered a line from Burt Lancaster in the professionals, “Makes you wonder how we ever beat the Indians.”

We can remember how and why they beat India, but 4-0 is a fading memory.

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india get faffed

Before tonight I often thought Faf DuPlessis’ best performance was in ABD’s music video.

Tonight I saw a whole new side to the man.

Faf’s entire career before this had clearly been to lull India into a false sense of security and then pounce when they feared it the least. He was a Pakistani sleeper agent. Which shows how sneaky these Pakistanis are, they left him in a rival team, and then lost to India on purpose just to set all this up.

It’s also entirely possible, although not as likely, that Faf was always this good and on every other occasion I’ve seen him at the highest level he’s just fucked up.

What a time to come good, not good enough to win a match, but good enough to annoy a billion people at once.

I’d love to annoy a billion people at once.

That’s something.

You don’t get a trophy or a cheque, but man, you have pissed off some bastards.

And that aint nothing.

India were really good, really bad, occasionally fucken unreal, occasionally shit on a pointy stick. They gave us everything and nothing at the same time. But by winning they made Lalit Modi happier.

But on a night like this there is really nothing more you can do than sit back and enjoy the sweet sound of cricket.

Result: India not superpower. Yuvi defeats Ravi. And South Africa still lose.

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India vs Pakistan: the blog

So this is what it’s like walking around the ground at an India v Pakistan game in Sri Lanka.

Many men will dance with each other, some will dance because of the cricket, others will not notice the cricket.

People will stop you and ask you to take their picture, you get good at making a clicking sound with your tongue.

Pakistani fans will abuse Kakmal and Malik.

India fans will abuse Rohit.

Suresh Raina will shush the crowd, and that will make them love him.

Various men of various nationalities will say, “Hey England, fuck you”.

The cheerleaders will look completely jaded unless they think a camera is on them.

Police officers will smile at you.

Police officers will scowl at you.

Police officers will tell you not to go somewhere and you’ll nod and act dumb and go there anyway.

More dancing.

Flags will be waved in a way that only dislocate your shoulder.

Both sets of supporters will look happy at the same time in a way that will confuse you.

Pakistani supporters will stare mournfully at the screen for longer when their team does something really stupid.

A wicket is the greatest moment ever. A six is greater than the greatest.

The crowd will chant Sachin’s name even though he is not there.

A slog will get as much cheer as the prettiest drive Kohli can muster.

Men will stroke each other’s mullets in a tender yet probably completely hetero kind of way.

70% of the crowd will have their countries shirt on.

Someone will take a photo of his mate posing with another friend, then they will all confer on whether the photo is any good, and if not they will reshoot it again and again until everyone is happy with the photo.

You’ll be asked if you are on facebook.

People with face paint are more likely to dance.

People with wigs are more likely to scream.

Pakistani fans will leave earlier enough that they don’t have to deal with too many Indian fans on the way out.

Indian fans will stay, dance and cheer the tv interview.

Pakistan fans will wander the streets in packs of two and three, all wearing similar vintage replica shirts, hours after the game has been lost.

Result: Pakistan have a great bowling attack against anyone who isn’t India, Virat Kohli is batman to Watson’s superman.

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Australia is Watson

Forget the many shit slow filthy disgusting deliveries.

Forget Pat Cummins impressive display.

Even forget Dave Warner’s new Steyn moustache

The only thing you need to know about Australia at the moment is that Shane Watson is a freaking robot of death.

There was a time when he was a loud marshmallow of inconvenience.

In T20 cricket you need to bow down to Watson and apologise for all the mean things you ever said to him.

I’ve said more than most.  I think I once compared to him to Paris Hilton, or Lindsay Lohan, or someone like that.

In T20 cricket you can only compare him to Voltan, defender of the universe.

Sure, you and I could have hit some of those shit long hops for six, or at least two.

But would we have got them in the first place?

At the moment Watson is getting shit balls delivered to him simply because his machismo is fucking up the bowlers before they even come in.

Wickets, runs, cheques, he’s getting them all.

Are Australia shit, who the fuck knows, we just know that Watson us UnShit.  Very very UnShit.

Watson cannot continue to to be this good, even robots of death eventually stumble, but while he is let us put behind us all the petty shit we say about him and just enjoy the carnage.

Destruction like this is a joy forever.

Result: Chawla and Sharma are back, and Australia still struggle to score singles off the spinners.

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how shapoor are India?

Hands are made for self love and putting together things you’ve bought at Ikea.

In cricket, they are also used to catch the cricket ball when the striking batsman has lofted it.  In the case of Afghanistan, hands are made for deflecting the ball oddly and then placing on your head to show your anguish.

On the flight on the way over I watched the Road to the World T20 thingy that the ICC made about the minnows trip to the big show.

This video showed about 1539 occasions of Afghani players clean bowling random batsmen with pace or swing.  It didn’t show many catches.  I thought this was because they didn’t need to catch the ball, but now I see it might just have been because they lacked the hand eye coordination and soft cupping technique to pouch them.

Had they taken any of the 73 or so they seemed to drop, India might have had some trouble in this match. Not trouble, trouble, but trouble nonetheless.

As it turned out it was a decent work out for India as the Afghanis were like that bloke at a party you can’t stand, they wouldn’t go away.

So far in their development that Afghanis haven’t mastered batting, but hitting, oh hitting they do.  They all seem obsessed with Dhoni, and that’s no bad thing.  It’s 11 excitable tailenders, like if we cloned Staurt MacGill and Murali and let them bat together over and over again.

India should have shut them down a bit more efficiently, and those nervous about the bowlers will be nervous about the bowlers.

Except for Yuvraj who tricked the Afghanis with his club cricket bowling.  That’s their fatal flaw, not enough club cricket.

India work their way well into tournaments, so maybe that was this.  Or perhaps they were all trying to work out at once how the IPL would be blamed for all of this.

Of all three major sides so far, India were the least impressive, or Afghanistan the most impressive of the minnows.  It means India is the only team that had a good run out and went through all their options.  That’s a good thing, unless their options turn out to be rubbish.

It’s also quite clear to me now that there is no way England can beat Afghanistan.  They’ll walk right into that Afghani helicopter.

Result: Shapoor is an impressive slab of man with Shoaib’s Hair and cold dead eyes.  And thanks to Yuvraj we now know that shitty left arm spin is not affected by chemo.

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Indian Cricketers tell people they are about to die

While it was clear that watching a Mark Waugh ad about dandruff could kill you, he never said it outright.

The Indian cricketers have.

And it’s creepy and brilliant.

Based on the performances of Sachin, Yuvraj and especially Viru, I am now writing a horror script for them to star in.

The only one I won’t cast is Virat, because it’s clear he’s not acting and is actually a murderer.

If you’re reading this Virat, only joking. If I turn up with an armed guard when I have to interview you, that’s also part of the joke.

Apparently the players and BCCi want the ad banned. But only because they have just realised that Virat really is a serial killer.

As for Yuvraj and the grave digging scene, that’s in bad taste, isn’t it? I mean, in this day and age Yuvraj would have employed a guy with a truck to do that, wouldn’t he?

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VVS: a cricketer

It’s sort of hard to talk about VVS Laxman without talking about how pretty his batting was.

The man could cover drive from the rough outside legstump better than most people eat soup, and do it prettier than Bryce Dallas Howard.

But, he was more than just a pretty blade.

VVS could have quit cricket before he even started it, he could have become a doctor, or lawyer, or classy hotelier.

It would have been easier than playing for India for 16 years. Or even making it to the top in the first place.

Some players play to win, that sort of Ricky Ponting sickness.

Some players play for the adulation, Sourav Ganguly’s main reason for being.

Some players play because they can’t do anything else that good, Shane Warne wouldn’t be a doctor.

And then some players play just because they love cricket.

VVS had that. Really, he could have left the game a while back. Once he disassembled Australia like they were a Mr Potato head, he was a legend. The rest didn’t even need to happen. No one was going to forget that innings.

Instead he stuck around through form lapses, Greg Chappell and India’s decline.

At any time he could have jumped off the bus and run for the hills.

His average was not untouchable, and in years to come, people will look at it and wonder why we all drool when we talk about him. It wasn’t how many runs he scored, it was when he scored them and how he scored them. He’s not a man who deserves to be put into a spreadsheet.

Considering he was never going to be captain, couldn’t enhance his reputation, India were getting worse and worse, has a back essentially made of ice cream cake and he’s not been a run machine for some time now, he’s had plenty of opportunities to leave cricket over the last few years.

And he hasn’t. From what I can tell, not because of ego, wins or because he had nothing else to do, but just because he likes to play cricket.

Cricket is what makes him happy.

It’s not often you get a professional sportsman who plays just because he loves the game, without trying to prove anything to anyone, but just because of the thrill he gets out of playing a good shot.

Players who make it look as easy as VVS do are often said to not care as much as others.

But VVS spent hours just trying to unpretzel his back before each Test day. He screamed at Ojha to run to win that Test in Mohali. He put his body and mind through everything in Kolkata. And I still remember the look of horror on his face the day he went out to Brad Hogg. Cricket just got inside of him, and even now he plans to continue playing in the Ranji trophy without a spine that wants him to. Cricket and him were made to be together.

When someone like him moves on, even if it was time for him to go, cricket loses something. It loses a star, a poet and a cricketer.

VVS was as pure as any cricketer before him. A cricketer’s cricketer. Perhaps he would have been a great doctor, or lawyer, or anything else he wanted to be, but I’m glad he chose cricket, and consider myself lucky to have seen him play. I’d like to thank Baba Krishna for giving VVS cricket, and giving us VVS.

Cricket will move on without him, but it will miss him. Very very will never quite do him justice, it was always to clumsy a term for someone that special.

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what cricket boards spend their money on

Because of Doag I’ve been allowed into the buildings where the cricket thinking goes on.  This is what I remembered of each.

The ECB offices are like that of a high class paper manufacturer.  They have their awards scattered in a very tine reception area that was built to impress no one.  The reception is actually tiny, and if you are waiting at the desk with more than one person or a bag, it’s actually hard for people to get around you.  Other than the fact the office is in Lord’s, it doesn’t really feel all that crickety.

It could be the headquarters of a company with an owner who likes cricket rather than a cricket headquarters.

Although no could be disappointed seeing their Jack Russell painting.

Cricket Australia’s headquarters are instantly a bit more swish.  They’ve tried to put a touch of wow factor in there.  It’s got a boutique ad agency feel to it.  The reception has enough room for an entire crowd of a shield match to hang out in.  It feels like it’s been designed by the same person who designs the MCG members bar areas.  Smart, casual and just a bit sporty.

The headquarters aren’t in the MCG, but just down the road far enough to lose any magic the ground holds.

It’s all a bit too planned out for me.  A bit too much we like cricket, but we want to look good doing it.  Like someone who gets a tailor made Richie Benaud jacket to wear to games.

The BCCI have a decent sized stumpy the elephant in their reception at Wankhede stadium.  As shit as stumpy was, it’s nice to see him on a reception desk.  The BCCI office is quite nice, it’s like a industrilists office with photons on every wall.

Just that these photos are brilliant.  The Nawab with a sun hat on. Shastri with the world’s angriest eyebrows.  Sachin with a photoshopped afro.

It’s all there.  They even have a completely unnecessary 3d photo of the team winning the world cup, which is impossible to look at without getting a headache.

The conference room we went into was just covered at one end with photos of their captains.  It was much like that room where proud parents put up every school photo of their kids.  They’d run out of walls and just started putting players up in random spots, but no one was left out.

They even had time to put up a painting of Don Bradman and photos of Jardine and Grace.

I never saw the IPL level, where I am sure that they had stripper poles and dance tracks using commentators in a sexually suggestive way.  But I still really liked it.  It was impressive to look at, fairly new, not overly designed, but grand enough you still felt like you were in a place where people did real work.

Any place with that many cricket photos, including one that was quite clearly a tourist snap, is going to win the award for being my favourite cricket board building.

Australia was pretty but sort of lacking heart, England was gritty but utterly forgettable, but India had that cricket feeling combined with an office that looked like important people could meet you in it.

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thanking dravid

There are many stories about Rahul Dravid flying around, most of them about his brilliant batting or down to earth gentleman like personality.  And they are all right, the man is a gentleman superstar.  It was an honour to ever see him bat, and an even more amazing honour to meet him.  But my story is a little different.

Rahul Dravid is the reason my wife and I got married.

Before meeting me, my wife was a cricket-obsessed nerd just like we are, and one day when she was trawling the shit soaked anus of the interweb, she found her way here.

One day I wrote about a torturous innings when Rahul Dravid made 3 ones off a katrillion deliveries at the G while being dropped 48 times.

It was fucking painful to watch someone you admire so much fail in such a prolonged and awkward way.

Anyone who saw that would have thought some billionaire had cloned Dravid’s body and just walked onto the field.

He was essentially a dog that had been run over by a car who was just begging for another car to run him over.

I think Mitchell Johnson was the car that day.

At the end of the day’s play I wrote all about this episode.

“Dravid batted like a man who had just been gelded. It was ugly to watch, and the fact a batsman like that could be given a Bronx cheer for finally getting off the mark is horrible.

If Dravid was my dog, I’d take him out to the country and I’d take a shovel as well.”

I was pissed off he was opening, I was pissed off he was doing it badly, and mostly I was pissed off that I had to see him like this.

I’d always loved Dravid.

Before an Australia India series, Australians would all start talking up Tendulkar, and then VVS Laxman, but Dravid never really did it for them.

They liked a fighter, but he was the other guy to them, the boring one. Even when he was making double hundreds in Adelaide.

So to see him like this just left me cold.

But, it wasn’t the first time Dravid had dragged his carcass around the crease like this.

And at one of the other times in the UK, my future wife had been there, and lived the same sort of horror I had. You know the horror, that it’s funny, but you wish it wasn’t happening to Dravid.

Seeing my words about Dravid meant she wrote a comment, and we bonded over seeing Dravid at his worst.

Later on we’d get married and she’d slip a ring on my left hand, which is very similar to my right hand that years later shook Dravid’s right hand.

Our wedding was at the Oval, the place of Rahul Dravid’s last overseas Test century.

At the reception the tables were named after cricket grounds.  One was the MCG, and we used this photo.

Yes, that’s Rahul Dravid just a couple of days before he would set into motion a series of events that would lead my wife and I to marry.

So, when I say “thanks, Rahul”, I fucken mean it.

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