Month: April 2010

The Cricket Podcasts Continue…

The fourth overall in the series, my third one! Do listen and don’t forget to let us know on the site.

The IPL This Week-4

Do comment – your views will help us make the podcasts better.

The previous ones here in case you missed those.

The IPL This week – 3

The IPL This Week – 2

When I met the “Other GOD”

Life is made up of our dreams – big and small. The big ones keep you going in pursuit of bigger things. It is the small ones that matter cause they bring a smile on your face at unexpected times but when you need it the most. In the pursuit of accomplishing the big one we often forget the little ones that have come true and weigh much more than that one huge one.

I’ve had many such ones – but the one that came true on Tuesday 20th April probably took the cake.

I’ve dealt all my life with people wondering how can a girl be a cricket geek and to add to it how the only person I’ve idolized in life is no Greek God from Bollywood or Hollywood or one of those oh-so-cute cricketers that all girls seem to love. An idol for me is someone you would love to emulate , someone you would see yourself be one day.
Well that was me – the incorrigible geek. I still am.

I’ve followed his writings and commentary ever since I started watching cricket but never got a chance to meet him. It was my terrible luck that he could not make it as a judge to the “Harsha ki Khoj” auditions that were held in Mumbai. I remember being thrilled to have made it to the city rounds and disappointed at not meeting him at the same time.

Managed to interact with him on mail and he was generous enough to spare his time, read some of early articles and give his honest feedback. So I never pursued sports writing as a hobby and stuck to my cruel corporate world.
However this blog gave me a new avenue where I continue penning down my thoughts to a few loyal readers and the bliss I experience cannot be expressed.
So imagine how thrilled I was to able to meet him after following him for 18 years! Here is my little story – of a small dream come true.
This opportunity was thanks to a friend AR we were introduced to by my MBA batch mate just a couple of months back. And she was kind enough to take all the efforts to arrange passes for us.

We headed to the Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium – a world class facility. We were taken to the Royal Box where it was the meet and greet program. The box carried clippings of some famous cricketing events – the famous Aus-SA 1999 WC semi-final. The entrance was adorned by the two greatest bowlers Murali and Warne and the two greatest batsmen – Sachin and Lara to have played this game. The walls carried bats signed by the Aus and Pak teams that played the inaugural T20 game here in 2009. The score sheets of the game were also placed beside them.


As I was taking the snaps, a lady tapped me from behind and asked are you Minal. I said yes and she said I’m EH, I guessed it had to be you cause only one lady hounded us for passes and there is no lady I know who is this crazy for cricket.
As we were having our drinks – another organizer came in and walked up to me saying – Come let me introduce you to Harsha cause I told him that you have to meet your female fan – the only one who was ready to buy passes for this event.
I could not believe myself when I was introduced to Harsha Bhogle – a man and writer I’ve admired for decades. He recollected the mails I had written and we had a small chat. What an amazing guy , down to earth and humble. I finally got his autograph on his book I own “ Out of the Box”. He then moved on to meet other guests and I could not even scream! Damn I wonder why we grow up at times!


We then preceded to the cricket ground – it was the first time I had stepped into a stadium ground and gone anywhere close to the pitch! BLISS!

All of us took our places and Joy Bhattacharya came on as the host for the evening. After a few minutes Harsha took over and we do not know where the next 2 hours flew by.

Harsha started off narrating experiences from his cricketing career and sharing clippings with us. I’ll write about a few in short.

On why he envies Ravi Shastri:
“Ravi is always there when records or history is being made – Remember Yuvraj’s 6 sixes of Broad in 2007 WC and also when Misbah mistimed that shot deceived by Joginder Singh’s non-existent pace to give a catch to Sreesanth and the World Cup to India as well.”
On why India would’ve been happy if Sania had married Misbah instead of Shoaib:
“All of India loves Misbah – he is their favourite ( after all he handed the WC 2007 victory to India)
On how Anil Kumble changed his approach to T20:
When T20 first came in Jumbo said,”What is this T20, I can bowl 20 overs on a trot.” During season 2 he said,”What matters is not the 4 overs but that one ball. You play one ball at a time, a dot ball is a win – that is the key to winning this game.”
On what he learnt from Steve Waugh:
Steve said, “I look at the body language of a player. I could always make out when Ganguly was in a defiant mood and when he was nervous. The more he blinked the more nervous he was.”
More on attitude from Geoff Boycott:
When I used to bat I would run onto the field as soon as the opposition entered the ground, my partners often asked me why are you in a hurry. I’d reply, “ I don’t want them to feel they are ready for me, I want them to know that I’m ready for them”
On his first experience with Siddhu as a co-commentator:
Siddhu’s suitcases were full of 2-3 huge registers with loads of handwritten stuff. When they took to the mic in the box , he ticked of 5 odd phrases from one register saying that he would be using them in the next half hour. So Harsha asked,”What if the situation does not warrant their usage?” To which Siddhu replied,”Well that is tough luck for the situation,not my problem.”

One of the Siddhuisms he quoted,“Shivsunder Das needs to get up on his toes just as the little kid does when he is has to pee in the urinal.”
On Inzamamam Ul-Haq
The slowest batsmen with the fastest eye. Watching Inzy is like watching a movie in slow-motion.
Inzy once jumped in the air to avoid a ball aimed at stumps, the ball hit the stumps and he was given out as his feet were in the air. Next match he saw the ball coming and hit it with the bat to direct it elsewhere. He was again given out. At the press conference he says,”I don’t understand these rules – I avoid the ball I’m out, I hit the ball I’m still out!”
Wasim Akram narrated another one – Inzy and he decided to take a single irrespective where the ball went. Wasim hit and rushed to the non-striker end. Inzy at the non-striker end kept looking for the ball, and then turned around to find Wasim near him and said, “Arre Wasim Bhai, aap yahan kaise? (Wasim Brother, How come you are here)”
But he remains one of the most quiet, polite batsmen to have walked to the field – so if he ran into the crowd to hit the guy with his bat, you can imagine the provocation involved there.
On the GOD:
Sachin is a restless bloke when he is not playing cricket. In the first IPL season he sat out 7-8 matches. While a match was on, he picked a bat – held the handle close to his ear and tapped it. Then took another one and repeated the same. Then he gave the second bat to Bravo and told him use it when his turn would come.
Bravo asked him,”But master what do you see?” SRT said,”Just listen to me’. Bravo insisted,”Master tell me what you see.” SRT removed the grip of both the bats and showed the markings of No1 and No2. He had given the No1 bat to Bravo. He said,”That is my match bat and the other is my practice bat.”
You see “Bats talk to me”

Harsha is right when he says that forget you and me, the one man who will be most unhappy when SRT calls it quits; will be SRT himself, cause he does not know what to do without his cricket.

On why Sachin never bats with a runner:
“The runner will always be behind me while taking a single. When I take strike I know what the bowler will bowl, I know exactly where the fielders are, I know how hard I’ll hit the ball. My single has started when I take strike – so tell me how does a runner help my case?”
On Hansie and Azhar ( My favourite of all the little tales he told)
Two very similar men – deeply religious, fantastic team players, extraordinary human beings – just one weakness – Money!

Harsha Bhogle entertains with his intelligence and how rare it is to find that quality today where everyone is looking to score at any cost. The dignity and the cultured humour stands apart. There are no insults, there are no condescending talks, there is only humility and love for the game.

He was asked his view on match-fixing in the IPL and he says I will not believe till evidence is produced, but till then lets us remember that 2 men of high integrity will walk on the pitch on 21st and that sight should restore our faith again in this game.

On why I idolize him:
His intelligence and his ability to speak his heart without hurting a soul. His strong belief in his middle class roots, his humility to admit he was lucky(cause not all can be that lucky as per him) in the field he chose. His practical approach, his no nonsense attitude. His simplicity to converse in our mother tongue Marathi when he heard MDH and me converse in Marathi. His patience to spend time with his fans without ever giving the impression he is doing a favour on them. Yes, if you need a lesson in humility you need to meet this man.
Before I take leave, here is something I have to share with you all. At the end of the session, the Q & A was thrown open to the audience and I got the chance to ask the first question. Here is what I asked:
Harsha we have grown up watching the Fab Five – Sachin, Rahul, Saurav, Anil and Laxman. For my generation,  Indian cricket has been defined by them – we simply adore them. But tell me who among them is your personal favourite?
To which he replied: Anil Kumble for the wonderful human being and cricketer he has been. The ideal role model for a generation to come.
My guess was either Dravid or Kumble and I’m glad I was right about that:-)

He liked the question I asked and here is what I won!


An opportunity of a lifetime, a memorable evening – thank you AR and thank you Harsha!

You wrote in my book “Have Fun”, well I always have, always do and I always will – Cricket pretty much takes care of that:-)

A Tribute to the True Gentleman in this Gentleman’s Game

14-5-29-1 Vs WI, Antigua 2002

If you do not understand what these figures mean or signify, you have just insulted India’s most affable cricketer. A lion at heart, a true fighter, the man who can replace the word “Gentleman” in dictionary.

I’ve seen people run away from the field with the slightest of injuries, this man bowled with a broken jaw. Takes guts, takes great courage and takes a truck load of patriotism. His 619 wickets and awesome hundred at the Oval can be kept aside. This one act of his, puts him in World Cricket’s Hall of Fame.

Hit by Merv Dillon in the first innings, it looked unlikely he would bowl. Despite no result in sight, he did not shy away. Stepped out with a bandaged jaw, bowled consecutive 14 overs and scalped Lara – and Jumbo won a million hearts all over again.

He narrates an anecdote:

“The first paper clipping that I have is of an under-17 match and the top headline says ‘Tendulkar and Kumble score centuries’. He scored a century for West Zone and I got a century for South Zone and I didn’t know who Sachin was at that point of time. When we first came into the Indian team, everybody in India said you [Tendulkar] would break all records. You’ve done that. Congratulations to you. To me, when I first came, they said you won’t last two Test matches.
You had the challenge of proving everybody right. I had the challenge of proving everybody wrong.”

And how well did he do that. Anil Kumble debuted in 1990 Vs England. The tall, lanky, bi-spectacled bloke. The one I learnt was an Engineering Student – he did look the type – studious & serious. He had me wondering what was this guy doing on a cricket pitch? He gave me the answer for almost 2 decades post that series and I never asked that question again. If his body had not given away, he would still be holding fort at one end for the country. There is no one today in this team who inspires the same confidence that he did. I remember Ganguly saying in one of the interviews, “When the opposition was at 250/1 and I was looking around to see who would bowl next, I often had Anil staring back at me wanting the ball.” Never afraid of a challenge, never the one to give up, never the one to walk away.

When he called it a day my eyes were moist and the mind did not want to accept. The images on the news that day will not fade away for a long time. I’ve not seen my husband so upset. I’m was even more surprised at myself, practical and objective always, I had a tear in my eye when I saw him take the field for one last time that November of 2008 at the Kotla.

The warrior, the fighter, the pacifier, the real gentleman of this game, Anil Kumble is sorely missed by one and all; the cricketer, the bowler, the captain, the team-mate and more than anything the wonderful human being.

Calm, peaceful, determined, gritty, he has all the qualities that make us believe that cricket is indeed a gentleman’s game and Anil Kumble is fine representative of that breed which is slowly diminishing away.

But of all the qualities listed above, the one that you identify with most is that of a true fighter and a committed player. Go back to the first paragraph of this post – Antigua 2002, when he claimed Lara’s wicket with a broken jaw. The image is still fresh in the mind and it only talks of undying love and commitment to the game, to the country and more importantly to oneself. Anil Kumble personified each letter of the word commitment that day.

He is a rare, super role model for generations to come, simply for the way he carried himself in the cricketing world for 18 years.

I still remember the ’93 series against England at home which lifted India from a series of defeats and put Kumble in the forefront of India’s bowling attack. There is no difference between that Kumble and the Kumble after 18 years. His thirst for taking wickets had not reduced, he continued to accept challenges, he continued to toil endlessly without showing an ounce of tiredness, and every time he picked up a wicket, he only wanted more.

But unfortunately his body gave away, though his mind and heart had not. Though, I must say that in the end he made a good decision, he called it quits at the right time. The injury to his hand only hastened the decision, which he might have held onto till the Nagpur match, had he not been injured.

Till date he remains India’s best bowler in the history of the game. 619 wickets and only the second bowler in the world to claim 10-wickets in an innings. The only bowler the captain would turn too when in dire straits and Kumble would more often than not respond by running through the side. He has given us ample to cherish. However, my most cherished moments after the 10-wicket haul come from his batting heroics. His 88 in Kolkatta 1996 in his partnership with Azhar against South Africa and his 100 in 2007 at the Oval in England. He waited for a long time to add that to his kitty and what a well deserved one it was!

Anil Kumble did not receive the same fan following or the adulation as his contemporaries got – Sachin, Dravid or Ganguly. He was the quiet fellow, the one who did the groundwork, kept his head down, completed his duty and got back – unnoticed by the fans.

Anil Kumble’s absence is felt more in the Indian dressing room, he was a mentor and friend to one and all. Despite being injured he was at the nets in the 2001 series to guide the young Harbhajan. Bhajji himself admitted after that amazing series that earned him the tag of ‘Turbanator’; as to how much Anil Bhai had contributed to his success. Jumbo was and is a constant source of inspiration and guidance for the young spinners in the country.

Although a fine leader, captaincy came very late in the day to Anil Kumble. He did a fine job in the limited time he had as a captain. He stood calm and tall against all that was thrown at him and his team. His conduct in the controversial 2007 series down under proved this fact.

There is not a single fan of this game, of Indian cricket, who will disregard Jumbo’s valiant efforts in two decades, his courage, his grit and his dedication. Jumbo has left behind a great legacy, one that will remain unparalleled for a long time to come. He has left a path that will be tough to follow and emulate; but he has ensured that he will be there to guide those who try to tread the same. Ask Bhajji , Chawla and Mishra.

Jumbo we miss you, we realize it now; it is tough watching the matches knowing that you are not there to bowl the straight one, the flipper, and to shut the critics up who said you could not spin!

You have left this game with the honour of being India’s best spinner and bowler till date; that has been the best answer to all the critics in the world.

Yes, you proved all of us wrong – all of us who raised doubts about your abilities to last beyond a few test matches. You had the bigger challenge, you knew that and you finally won – lasting two decades and how!

Wide Angle By Anil Kumble

This entry is posted as a part of the Contest by


I cannot believe I won this award!

Wow Poonam and her team put up a fantabulous effort and I mentioned to her no one will be a sore loser seeing the efforts that went into these awards!

I cannot believe I won in the Best Personal Post Category.Simply cannot:-) Big thanks to all who voted for me and took the trouble of reading the post:-)

Means a lot – this is encouraging stuff!

I’m gonna go celebrate now:-)

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