The Bappi Lahiri syndrome

The IPL trophy’s vital stats: A total of 2,554 round and baguette diamonds weighing 68.77 carats, 4,500 yellow sapphires weighing 218.55 carats, blue sapphires weighing 986 carats and 8 rubies weighing 248.70 carats; a gold weight for the statue [with the batsman’s hands the wrong way, so much for cricket awareness] is 691.15 grams.

I’d always thought — despite the best efforts of the commentary team to convince me otherwise by repeatedly chanting ‘That is the spectacular trophy they are all playing for’, that this confection was somewhere on the outer limits of bad taste.

I think it still is the final word — but the Pittsburg Steelers and their new rings run IPL close. From the Post Gazette:

Aka the Knuckleduster

Aka the Knuckleduster

The latest ring, in keeping with a long-held tradition of championship rings, is gaudy. In keeping with Steelers tradition, it is black and gold — 14-karat gold (and all those diamonds) on a black background.

The face contains six large, brilliant-cut diamonds, one for each Super Bowl victory. There are seven other diamonds that represent the Steelers’ seven conference championships and seven others below to add up to their 14 division titles in a football design.

The face includes a red, blue and yellow stone to resemble their hypocycloid logo. On one side of each ring are six Lombardi Trophies with the 27-23 score of their victory against Arizona in the Super Bowl. On the other is the ring owner’s name, the Steelers helmet logo, the NFL logo and the player’s number.

Clippings

Is the exercise freak the ultimate bore? Or, as Reid Buckely puts it in The American Conservative:

Would it be possible to invent a more stupefying supper companion than the person obsessed with keeping himself in Phidian perfection of pecs, abs, and buttocks, to the exclusion of mind and spirit? I am speaking of people so frenzied by the infantile desire to cheat time that they become infatuated with their bodies, worshiping them as ancient Hebrews in the desert fell before the golden calf. Are there more narcissistic human beings?

Gayle in a tea-cup

What the hell is with this Pavlovian need to play games with the word ‘Gayle’ in headlines? There are just so many ways you can do it and all of it has been explored, a few dozen times, since the man made his debut. It’s just a matter of self-discipline, I keep telling myself — and then there I go again. Oh well.

The original Captain Cool/Courtesy The Telegraph

The original Captain Cool/Courtesy The Telegraph

The over-arching narrative of this World Cup has to be the resurgence of the West Indies, all the more dramatic for the shambolic Test series that preceded it — and for captain Chris Gayle’s very evident disinterest, that prompted the likes of Viv Richards to blast him for “betrayal” and others to demand that he quit wearing West Indies immediately while non-partisan sections of the media debated whether there was after all something in Gayle’s suggestion that Test cricket was dying.

From that to this has been an amazing turnaround; Gayle is on the money when he suggests that his team is now feared by all rivals. Tony Cozier picks the batting, bowling and fielding of Dwayne Bravo as the team’s prime source of energy — unarguable, but it would seem to go against the meme British correspondents have been trying to inflict on us that IPL=bad.

So, why? Could it be that the shortest form of the game suits the interest level and attention span of this generation of West Indies cricketers the best?

So what has accounted for the team’s revival? Clearly the shorter the game, the more the West Indies enjoy it. In 2007 in England, the 3-0 loss in the Test series was followed by a 2-1 win in the ODIs. Three years earlier, after the 4-0 Test whitewash in England in 2004 came the triumph in the Champions Trophy. Two years later, they were forced to go through preliminary qualification yet still reached the final.

Thoughts?

Clippings

An occasional series on stuff I’m reading [You’ll find more of these on the ‘Reading Matter’ sidebar]: David Usborne of The Independent talks to Malcolm Gladwell ahead of the Britain leg of the journalist-author’s promotional tour.

For those few who blink-ed and missed him, a recent article on Vivek Ranadive and the innovations he brought to basketball coaching via his work with daughter Anjali’s team. Much more here, at his New Yorker home. And a video on problem solving, facing challenges and more, here.

And tangentially related, this essay on the relevance of books — the kind published by leading universities — in today’s McNuggets age:

First, books remain the most effective technology for organizing and presenting sustained arguments at a relatively general level of discourse and in familiar rhetorical forms — narrative, thematic, philosophical, and polemical — thereby helping to enrich and unify otherwise disparate intellectual conversations.

Second, university presses specialize in publishing books containing hard ideas. Hard ideas — whether cliometrics, hermeneutics, deconstruction, or symbolic interactionism — when they are also good ideas, carry powerful residual value in their originality and authority.

Last straws

Some of the outrage was orchestrated, though. On Monday, Dhoni’s effigy was burnt in hometown Ranchi, but apparently it was “arranged” by two channels.

That is from an Anand Vasu story on the front page of the Hindustan Times, today. Almost predictable — having created the meme that Dhoni is somehow overnight turned uncool and, worse, arrogant towards the media, stage-managed protests, strident ‘analysis’ and all the rest will naturally follow.

The “arranged” bit reminds me of this. TV needs a ‘mahaul’ — celebration, hate, whatever.

Update: Amit Varma on the media.

Younis Khan speaks out

Put up or shut up, says the Pakistan captain in response to unsubtantiated innuendo that Umer Gul was achieving reverse swing through unfair means. The sting in this story is in the tail:

Geoff Lawson, the former Pakistan coach, was commentating on Saturday’s match at The Oval and noted that several New Zealand pacemen achieved subtle reverse swing towards the end of their innings.
“My first reaction after reading [Vettori’s] comments was of being pretty disappointed,” Lawson told Cricinfo. “It sounded as if an issue was being made just because the New Zealand batsmen couldn’t play him. There was no great mystery to what he was doing. He was bowling it nice and full and getting it to go just enough, not metres.
“I was commentating the game, and we were noting on air that some of the New Zealand bowlers were getting it to go a little bit reverse when they were bowling full towards the end of their innings. Gul was the best bowler at the last World Twenty20 and it’s pretty disappointing for New Zealand to have made an unofficial approach. It seems Pakistan carry the cross for these kinds of things.”

Geoff Lawson, the former Pakistan coach, was commentating on Saturday’s match at The Oval and noted that several New Zealand pacemen achieved subtle reverse swing towards the end of their innings.

“My first reaction after reading [Vettori’s] comments was of being pretty disappointed,” Lawson told Cricinfo. “It sounded as if an issue was being made just because the New Zealand batsmen couldn’t play him. There was no great mystery to what he was doing. He was bowling it nice and full and getting it to go just enough, not metres.

“I was commentating the game, and we were noting on air that some of the New Zealand bowlers were getting it to go a little bit reverse when they were bowling full towards the end of their innings. Gul was the best bowler at the last World Twenty20 and it’s pretty disappointing for New Zealand to have made an unofficial approach. It seems Pakistan carry the cross for these kinds of things.”