Window of opportunity

Dileep Premachandran makes the case for the coronation of the Proteas as toppers of the world Test table, in the wake of the Ashes.

Cricket, like English football, has had two all-powerful dynasties dominating much of the past three decades. West Indies’ hegemony mirrored Liverpool’s time at the top of the tree and the Australia era has gone hand-in-hand with Manchester United’s dominance. Now, with the exit of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden over a period of two years, Australia have come back down to terra firma.
Of the pretenders, who is best equipped for a long stay? Or will the future mirror the mind-numbing mediocrity of the heavyweight boxing ring? Where once you had Ali and Frazier, you now have Klitschko and Chagaev. Cricket can ill afford such a dizzying fall from grace, especially in an era when Test cricket is struggling for survival. Competition is a wonderful thing, but it’s a dominant champion that gives a sport a real edge and other teams something to aspire to. To echo the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, you need someone to knock “right off their fucking perch”. …
What of India? They followed up home victories against England and Australia with a sloppy display in New Zealand – winning one, being outplayed in the next and then spurning the chance of victory in the third game. They were the only side to go toe-to-toe with Australia during the glory years, and have also worked out what it takes to win away from home. But there are cracks in the edifice, with impending retirements and complacency casting a pall over the future.

Cricket, like English football, has had two all-powerful dynasties dominating much of the past three decades. West Indies’ hegemony mirrored Liverpool’s time at the top of the tree and the Australia era has gone hand-in-hand with Manchester United’s dominance. Now, with the exit of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden over a period of two years, Australia have come back down to terra firma.

Of the pretenders, who is best equipped for a long stay? Or will the future mirror the mind-numbing mediocrity of the heavyweight boxing ring? Where once you had Ali and Frazier, you now have Klitschko and Chagaev. Cricket can ill afford such a dizzying fall from grace, especially in an era when Test cricket is struggling for survival. Competition is a wonderful thing, but it’s a dominant champion that gives a sport a real edge and other teams something to aspire to. To echo the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, you need someone to knock “right off their fucking perch”. …

What of India? They followed up home victories against England and Australia with a sloppy display in New Zealand – winning one, being outplayed in the next and then spurning the chance of victory in the third game. They were the only side to go toe-to-toe with Australia during the glory years, and have also worked out what it takes to win away from home. But there are cracks in the edifice, with impending retirements and complacency casting a pall over the future.

Advertisements

Add Bhim

Following on from an earlier post about media response to former colleague Chindu Sreedharan’s Bhim-centric narrative on Twitter, here’s more — this time a story, and an interview, from Reuters.

Kind-hearted kicks

Sans comment — because the immense wtf-ness needs to be savored without extraneous asides:

A husband and his relatives cannot be prosecuted for “cruelty” towards wife merely because the mother-in-law or other family members

had kicked her or for that matter threatened her with divorce, the Supreme Court has held.

All hands on deck

This dates to when I was in college. Gathering around the newspaper over a cup of tea was a family tradition. One day there was a newspaper article about how scientists were catching hold of male Anopheles mosquitos and castrating them, as a means to control malaria.

An uncle listened patiently while another read out the report. And at the end of it, he went: Can’t you control malaria better by simply killing the mosquito you caught, instead of taking all this trouble — plus, dead mosquitos don’t bite, but castrated ones do?

Here’s a story that reminds me of that time [more here].

A research vessel carrying a team of about 30 researchers, technicians and crew members embarked on Sunday on a three-week voyage from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, based at the University of California at San Diego.

The expedition will study how much debris — mostly tiny plastic fragments — is collecting in an expanse of sea known as the North Pacific Ocean Gyre, how that material is distributed and how it affects marine life.

Nice. But couldn’t they have found space on that ship for a couple of guys from say the Bombay Municipal Corporation [on second thoughts, source personnel from some more professional outfit] to get rid of the damn garbage?

Write lines

A magazine section to produce for India Abroad; an interview to write up for Rediff — and a Bhim episode looming in the immediate future, on which I have as yet not been able to spend a moment’s thought, let alone put a word down on paper. All of that primed me for this passage in a Vikram Seth interview on Outlook magazine:

You are the first Indian writer to have got, and continue to get, a big advance, in a way professionalising writing, making it possible to earn a living from it without resorting to a day job?

I never thought that would happen.

If you look at my first two novels — The Golden Gate and A Suitable Boy — no one would have thought they would get a decent advance — and of course, The Golden Gate didn’t. That (money) was never my initial motivation. But I am very grateful that it actually gives me the time to concentrate on writing and other things that interest me, rather than being tied to some other kind of job. Or worse, a job involving words which I think depletes one of a particular kind of energy.

Not even remotely wishful of using my name and Seth’s in the same sentence — or even the same planet — this is the one problem more than any other that I’ve grappled with during this Bhim thing: after spending an entire day reading words, editing words, playing off words for work and for occasional pleasure, it is damnably hard to go back home and grapple with more words.

It’s a nice interview — read it for your pleasure. Also from Outlook, another Seth interview — this time, about the High Court judgment on Article 377, and the personal implications for the writer. And from the archives, this link I had saved from the time that doorstopper of a novel Seth is now planning to sequel first came out.

And since I’m in a mood to have you amuse yourself rather than expect me to amuse you, further, unrelated reading matter: Rana Dasgupta in Granta magazine on Delhi, and from The National: The New York University of Abu Dhabi.

Oh, and while on Delhi, read this. Take the thought to its natural conclusion, and in time every building in New Delhi will become a monument to the pol who once lived there, no?

Later.

Chicken pickle

The story thus far: Labor MP for Glasgow Central Mohammad Sarwar took the battle over the origins of the chicken tikka masala to a whole other dimension earlier in July, when he asked that the European Union give Glasgow Protected Designation of Origin status [wiki] for the popular curry.

Not so fast, say India-based chefs: that dish has been made in India for generations.

Serious wtf moment.

Bindra’s whereabouts

Abhinav Bindra demystifies the ‘whereabouts’ clause in the WADA dope code.

“It’s a simple process,” said Bindra. “Once you have a login for yourself, you create your profile by entering in the mandatory location details: a mailing address, your residential address, your usual training address and a likely competition address, for the next three months.”

Fair enough. But then again, when was the last time Abhinav had to (1) Turn up for an ad shoot, with all the delays it entails? (2) Turn up for a sponsor function/event, with ditto?

Strikes me the life of a star cricketer is slightly more complex, and slightly less amenable to the ‘wake up, pee, train, eat, sleep, rinse, repeat’ lifestyle Bindra talks of in this post.

I’m not suggesting it can’t be done — the question I cannot find an answer for is, is it necessary, should it be done, aren’t there other, less invasive, alternatives? [And the answer to these questions cannot be, oh, but so many others have accepted, so what’s the fuss?].