Category: Cricket Page 2 of 10

Some random cricketing thoughts…

While reading the chapter on SL-Aus infamous series of 94-95 series in “The One Who Will”, my brain hit the F5 key to Ponting’s debut. He entered the scene 5 years after Sachin did and has managed to catch upto 90% of Sachin’s batting performance in tests. He leads him on the catches front by a decent number 65+.

I do hate the guy from the bottom of my heart but looking at the statistics and his batting over the years I can’t but admire his prowess. It’s not often you can compete with a current player who has had a 5 year head-start.

Until Nov 2008, Punter was a mere 2 centuries behind Sachin but since then Sachin has raced  ahead, increasing the difference to 9. I doubt Punter can make up that difference considering his form and the fact that if he loses the Ashes at home this year, he will most probably not make it to the test side again.

Inspite of the above and my hatred, I will continue to remain in a little awe of this man – for managing to almost catch up with GOD on-field.

Sehwag is the player in the current crop who might come close to these two; provided he lasts another 5-6 years and continues to play in the fashion he is playing today. By the very nature of his game, he looks good to make the most in tests than the shorter versions. The less we make a fuss about his careless attitude and not expect him to play the waiting game, the better it will be.

India finally managed to get SL all out this series. My belief that Bhajji has been an overrated bowler stands affirm.

There is nothing more exhilarating than watching Sehwag whack the ball out of the ground without moving his feet:-), there is nothing more  enticing than watching GOD play his trademark drives and flicks and there is nothing more heart-wrenching than watching Dravid get out LBW in 2 consecutive matches on tracks where he should’ve devoured the bowling:-(

The One Who Will

I’ve a dozen books piled up on my bookshelf staring angrily at me. I’ve not done justice to them. I’m halfway through “ The One Who Will” by Jack Egan currently. I have not yet completed Steve’s autobiography “Out of my Comfort Zone” ( I know I’ll get murdered for this confession by my friend PK who gifted this one to me!) but that will be off my to-do list sooner than later.

Jack Egan never got a chance to speak to Waugh when writing this book and the book is a compilation of thoughts from people who knew Waugh as a cricketer, paper clippings, some book references and his tour diaries. The book still makes for interesting reading.

And why am I writing this before completing the book – cause our GOD will break this man’s record of 168 tests tomorrow as he steps onto P Sara Oval – Colombo.

I’m at the half-way stage in the book where Australia has commenced the 95 tour of WI – the tour that turned the tide for the record breaking Aus side. I’ve not yet reached the double hundred that changed the course for all – for Steve and for Australia. I will share interesting tit-bits from the rest of book once I complete it – until then satisfy yourselves with some excerpts on this wonderful sporting hero . However grumpy he might have been – his game always brought a smile to our faces.

On how much he was respected by his then captain Allan Border.1987 WC :

“The rest of us have had legs of jelly but he seems to go ahead and just do it”

He’s the sort of bloke that you know is not going to freeze. If he gets hit , it’s because the bloke’s played a good shot”

A few things on Waugh’s grumpy attitude:

Waugh had over the years gained a reputation among umpires in Australia as “always reluctant to leave the crease” . Mike Coward once wrote in the Sydeny Morning Herald, critical of Waugh’s attitude:

“Just when will Steve Waugh lighten up?He presents an unhappy and unsmiling soul, and this is such a pity; cause in many ways he is a very special cricket person.”

Peter Roebuck described him as the bloke whose lawnmower has broken down” 🙂

The long wait for the much awaited first test hundred – Headingley, Ashes 1989. Ian Healy narrates in his book “Hands and Heals”:

“ The relief and joy was palpable. Stephen put his head down, determined to get as many as he could. That was his way of savouring the moment. When he reached 137, he looked up to the players’ balcony and waved at Tubby Taylor , who had made 136. ‘Gotcha’ he signalled.”

When he faced his first failure, Steve Waugh on being dropped in Jan 1991 from the test team and replaced by his twin Mark Waugh:

It doesn’t really sink in until the plane is ready to leave and you are not on it”

When in 12th, the career advisers asked the Waugh twins what they wanted to do – both said ‘Play cricket in England’

Confidence. Lynette ( Steve’s wife): The first time Steve visited her place for dinner, someone asked what he was going to do for a living – he said ‘Play cricket for Australia’. The whole table went quiet.

His sense of humor:

In his early Sheffield Sheild trips he roomed with Imran Khan. They used to get lot of phone calls , mostly for Imran who was out all the time. Steve would answer the phone and say, “Hello, when would you like to come up?”

Against New Zealand, Australia was 300-1 at Hobart. Taylor was quite stodgy and crowd began getting abusive. When he came back to the dressing room and started complaining about the crowd’s ignorance and slow handclapping, Steve replied, “ Actually it was us mate, we started it”.

And how he became the master of singles – an art he became famous for in his career.

Bob Simpson worked hard on Waugh’s technique. Simpson narrates: “First you got to understand it doesn’t matter how bad you look avoiding the bouncer, it’s better to avoid than try to play it down if you are not capable of playing it down.

And that’s when he appreciated the full significance of the singles. Stephen had always been a four-hitter and so we worked hard on the ball coming in to the body. Move across to the off, all the weight on the right foot and you can roll through it, push it away to leg, get off the strike so that the bloke can’t get at you again. I don’t care who it is , if you get enough short bouncers, you start to worry about them – anyone who says they like fast bowling is an absolute liar.”

And those are just bits and pieces of what I’m reading now. The golden period is yet to begin,loads to come and loads to share. Watch this space for more.

Until then let’s celebrate the bloke’s achievements, one of which will be broken tomorrow by our very own little master. Let’s once again remind ourselves how blessed we have been to have witnessed Tugga play live!

The Impossible

Yeah I’m bored – bored of cricket! It has never happened in my 19 years of following this game that I’ve not followed a match – that too a match involving India and a test match!

I’ve always been glued in – to the radio, to the television, to the news, to the internet at any given time – office-home-school-college did not matter! If there was a match on, I was tuned in; especially if India was playing. But this time around, believe it or not – I’ve forgotten the days the matches begin, no idea what the schedule looks like and not opened the explorer in office to logon to the sites that provide me live score.

I was therefore, beginning to wonder if there was anything wrong with me – people even suggested I see a doctor. I almost did, until I diagnosed the cause – BCCI and Ind-Sri Lanka series.

I’m sick and tired of seeing these two battling against each other. If there is a single soul I know, who can come up with any memorable moments except the 293 by Sehwag at Brabourne last year between these teams, I’ll throw a party.

Like all Bollywood romantic films these series have the same script; well most romantic films have happy endings and here only one team has had happy ending and that is Sri Lanka.

SL bats first on their dead tracks, we play the weakest bowlers, get thrashed around for 550+. Then our batsmen cave in the first innings and put up some fight in the second but lose a game that could’ve been saved. Did anyone complain that Indian pitches are awful, my answer, please rush to Sri Lanka right now, at least our tracks offer some assistance to spinners – there you could replace bowlers with bowling machines and nothing would change the game!

We have played 14 test matches since 2001 of which 8 were in SL. The last 3 series have been played in consecutive years 2008-2010. Of the 8 test matches in SL – we have lost 5, won 2 and 1 is currently underway which we look likely to lose.

The closest margin in these losses was 7 wickets in 2001. The rest we have lost either by an innings or 10 wickets!

The same Indian team has played Australia in consecutive years and every series has been memorable – some fantastic cricket and gritting display. Often it is your opponents that bring out the best in you and SL only does the opposite. I’m not finding excuses for India’s performance; but I think maybe even Sachin and Dravid are so dead bored by now, that they are not finding the will to give their best to what has become a monotonous routine year after year.

Sigh, if BCCI does not put an end to this immediately, cricket will land up losing a lot of fans along with India losing it’s No 1 ranking in the tests.

As for me – my sickness was partly cured by the fascinating test between Aus and Pak. 88 all out? How often do we get to see that score against an Aus line-up? And now I’ve some more medicine coming my way through Eng-Pak series, where a species called bowlers (which SL and India have completely buried ) will come alive on pitches that support some good swing bowling. India should not disappoint me in Oct-Nov Vs NZ and Aus, and even if they do, the Ashes will get me back on track.

For someone who is already having a terrible time at work and seeks solace in the one thing she loves; how can BCCI be so cruel and poison me with an overdose of India-Sri Lanka series in SL!

I was on the verge of my first serious break-up with my first love. It would’ve been unfair cause it is not entirely cricket’s fault; but we know many a times relationships break due to 3rd party involvements. Fortunately, the future is still looking relatively positive and cricket is pursuing me to continue the relationship. So I’m giving it another chance, cause if I don’t, I think I’ll hurt the most!

It’s A Simple Equation

On Friday, Australia needed 37 runs of 16 balls. They were 7 down, staring at a probable defeat at the hands of the defending champs. A brilliant all-round show in the league looked likely to come to an end.

Micheal Hussey was on strike along with Micheal Johnson. Hussey who had to wait till he was 30 to bag the baggy green, and who struggled to cope with the T20 format. He who has had an outstanding run batting at no.7 for this Aus team.

6 sixes is what Hussey has to keep thinking – MDH told me; and that is exactly what Hussey thought. The last over saw 3 6s and a 4 being hit to seal it off for Aus. It’s rare to see Aussie emotion on display and I thought I saw Hussey break into a tear and an emotional outburst. And here is what he had to say after the victory – equating the feeling to an Ashes win.

Andy Bull in the Guardian sums up Hussey’s performance for all of us and what it means to Aus and to us fans.

“What Hussey did in that last over left me, and many others, lost for words that weren’t expletives. Some of those stemmed from irritation, others from admiration, but most from disbelief. How the hell did he do that? Hussey rewrote a plot that had already been written.”

A friend on FB gave the answer to the question “ How did Hussey do that” – cause that’s what a player plays like when he plays for his country and not for the money.

The Aussies do not get paid as much as the Indian players do, they don’t get introduced to the international game early. They have to toil hard in the domestic league to breakthrough into the international team. Ask Gilchrist, Martyn, Langer, Hayden, hell ask Warne! No one, however a big star you maybe, is spared from the whip – Waugh brothers, Ponting – all will vouch for it. It’s a system where work ethics and hard work are not substituted by mere talent. Got the talent, not got the hard work – you will not find a place in that team. They work hard and they go even harder to achieve the win. 

For them, the pride of the baggy green supersedes everything. They are taught not to let go until the last wicket is down or the last ball is bowled. It is a simple equation they are brought up with – what counts is your attitude and wearing your heart on your sleeve when you play for your country. Nothing comes above her – nothing!

And it was after reading my friend’s comment that I happened to open my google reader and read this wonderful article from Amit Varma, where he chronicles from experience, the struggle of sportsmen inclined to sports other than cricket in our country.

He had qualified for state-level tournament in Sholapur and he narrates on the facilities given to school kids with dreams to excel in a career at the sport they chose to love.

“There were more than 100 of us. No bedding was provided, part of the floor was wet (leakage from somewhere), and sleep didn’t come easy. The next morning, we found that the toilet facilities intended for us amounted to a small shed outside the building that had three or four cubicles in it. Inevitably, fights broke out in the rush to use it. There were judokas, wrestlers, weightlifters and shot-putters around. As you’d expect, we chess players had to learn to control our bowel movements.”

And he writes further:

“Why I relate these stories, though, is to give a sense of how hard it was to make it in any Indian sport apart from cricket. Most of those sports are run by the government, and I don’t need to elaborate on the inevitable inefficiencies that result, and the hardships and bureaucracy that young sportspeople have to battle. You always feel that you’re fighting against the system, and whatever you achieve is in spite of it. I cannot stress this enough: To just survive the damn system, to keep playing the sport you love through years of this crap, you have to be made of stern stuff.

To actually come out of this and excel at the international level: that’s a whole different deal. To those guys: R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”

And on Anand he writes:

“In the context of where he came from, it’s like a guy takes a Maruti 800 into a Formula 1 race and wins the championship. That guy, frankly, is more than just the best driver in the world.”

So if we have an Anand in our country to seek inspiration from and are a pampered lot compared to any other sports player in the country – why is it that we fail so often? Why is it that we do not take responsibility for our pitiable display, and continue to  find excuses for our failures and what is it that we are so proud of?

There is a lot of talk back home on how India’s dismal performance was attributed to the IPL, and how we need a change in captain, but to me all that seems inconsequential. What is lacking is the attitude in the youngsters and the governing body.

I cannot fathom Yuvraj’s approach and his consistent failures, Raina, Gambhir and Rohit  Sharma – my men for the future who have not realised that it is equally important to score of a short-pitch delivery as it is to tackle it. Despite the MRF pace academy in place why are we not rich in the bowling department and why are players hiding their injuries?

Is this a result of everything coming too easy and too early for them? Huge pay packets,the glitz-glamour and the backup of IPL careers.

Why is no one blaming the BCCI? What have they done to help better the conditions and make them conducive to nurture and promote talent. The domestic pitches are still flat and despite big talks we see no improvement. There is a serious dearth of bowlers and we continue to lose a Ishaant, Irfan, RP Singh, Balaji time and again.

We have learnt not to learn from our past or our mistakes – a weakness was evident in the 2009 edition we carried it through and did nothing to rectify it.

There are plenty reasons and most cited here by Prem Panicker in his blog post and by Harsha Bhogle where he says we need to accept we are not good enough.

But to me what is most appalling is the attitude of the young team – even more cause they have grown up under the caring wings of Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble and Laxman. 5 men who redefined Indian Cricket in the 2000s – who carried the torch far and wide – who got us back to believing in this team. The 5 who formed the core and the primary reason for India being the No.1 Test side in the world today. Men who have been synonymous with pride and loyalty, men who thought country first, men who never learnt to give up.

I think all that the team needs is to go back and take lessons from history – from the men who wrote that history. My generation grew up watching these 5 in action and I think the current team owes a similar tale to the next generation who is beginning their tryst with this fine game.

We not only have sources of inspiration from within – Anand, Saina Nehwal, Abhinav Bindra and the Fab 5 but we often play against an opposition who never ever gives up – and  is one who should inspire us to bring out our best.

I’ve said a million times before – we fans love a good fight – die fighting hard and we will love that more.

If I love my country and I’m representing her – I need to take pride. She comes first. In the end it all boils down to a simple equation we are taught in life – It’s the attitude that matters – if you believe you have it in you to do it – you will do it, no matter what the situation life presents you.

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

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And God rewrites the record books – 200*

People often wonder why I address this man as GOD. He has given me many reasons to do so – and today was another one of them.

I almost cursed Dhoni for the first time in my life when he did not give Sachin strike in the 49th over and then threw kisses when he did not push Sachin for the 2nd run at 49.2 overs! Thank god for that.

For someone who took 79 matches and 5 years to get his first hundred in ODIs, Sachin has never looked back! 46 centuries in ODIs accompanied by 47 in tests – I expect he will get to another 100; that of his international centuries this year at the rate he is going. He has 5 this year already – 4 in tests and 1 in the ODIs.

He has got tantalisingly close to the coveted mark 186* against NZ in 1999 and then twice in the last year: 163* against NZ when he retired hurt and 175 against Aus.

Today he was all the class, elegance and timing we associate with the beauty of batting. He did not thrash the bowlers – he just belted them gently. Such was his powerful timing that he kept playing the cat and mouse game with the fielders. Till the ball hit the ropes the fielder was given hope that he could stop it, he would chase all the way only to be exhausted and find the ball smiling at the boundary ropes. Sunil Gavaskar has always claimed he loves such shots – the ones that tease the fielder. Sachin played them plenty today

Square cut, cheeky third man fours, cover drive, on-drive, shots through mid-wicket and off the square! There was not an area he left uncovered. The bowlers bowled a good line yet he placed the ball where he wanted to. Sachin played like he is 17 today when he is approaching 37.

The energy, the exuberance, the hunger amazes me – I’ve just entered my 30s and I often feel totally phased out! The guy is a perfect role model. And despite all the madness, the money, the crazy fans – the man remains unfazed. He remains his simple self, the Marathi Mulga from Sahitya Sahwas in Bandra. His middle-class Maharashtrian roots still strong. His commitment and dedication unparalleled. The more you speak of him , the less it is.

I feel blessed – to have been born in his era, to have witnessed this phenomenon – to have watched him play since his debut in 1989 till date. So many moments, so many smiles.

Today the commentators kept harping about SA having chased 434 in 2006. I did not need them to remind me of it – I had seen the match live. Often these TV commentators lose sight of important things. I would not have cared if SA would’ve chased down 402 today – all that I cared about was  that no batsmen on their side got to 200. Today, India’s victory was not important – Sachin’s record was. Period. I was being selfish and it was well justified – cause Sach is indeed GOD and Sach is indeed our life!

P.S: My Kodak Moment of the Day was : Virat and Raina taking a bow to the GOD from the dressing room – they will need all his blessings if they wish to emulate half his deeds in the future.

The Love Affair Continues…

Between VVS Laxman and Eden, between VVS Laxman and us fans.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Fab Four – The God, The Wall, The Prince and The Very Very Special Man. And now add the brave openers Gambhir and Sehwag. If the Prince was still around the batting line-up would be perfect – the Scintillating Six! Each one of them with their unique styles has only given us joy and nothing less.

VVS is the quiet performer among them all. He will come to the crease, get to his hundred in no time, boost the team score and quietly fade away in the background. In the time spent at crease, he would’ve mesmerised us with the magical melody he played. His batting is sheer delight, a sight to savour. Hailing from the land of another graceful player, VVS has pretty much lived up to the expectations he has built up. He has one of the best records against the mighty Aussies and today, he gave SA glimpses of the genius he is.

He makes you fall in love again and again with the array of strokes on display. Extra cover, mid-on, mid-off, square, third man , name the area and he had it covered. Improvisation is his biggest asset – remember that shot of Warne’s legside ball hit to extra cover in 2001. Today, he hit Duminy between cover and mid-off, then shots followed on the on-side and in the mid-off and extra cover region – no fielder moved, not a single one.

His record at Eden is fantastic , a 1000 runs, 4 centuries which includes that memorable record-breaking 281 in 2001. It is his arena, his stage, his region of dominance, he has marked his territory with supreme authority. As my dear friend PK told me yesterday, that no matter where he bats in the line-up; if it is Eden, Laxman will get a century!

He is the perfect team man. See what his presence and fantastic catch to send Kallis back, did to the morale of the team. Always the one to put his hand up when the team is in distress. He is now only playing tests but every time he walks onto the field he gives it all.

Sehwag’s batting makes you go WTF, Gambhir and Dravid’s brings in assurance, Sachin’s is a God’s blessing, and Laxman’s brings that smile to your face which any passerby can notice; making him wonder why you are smiling. Laxman has that charm on us.

But my friend PK summed it to perfection today about VVS’s special batting:

“Every shot of Laxman brings to my mind the adjectives – yummy, delectable, sumptuous. If only I could gorge on all of Laxman’s innings , I would be ready to die of high cholestrol”

I’ve not seen anyone come up with a better description of this man’s batting – yeah let’s relish every bit of it, while it lasts.

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