Of Sania, IPL and other ‘newsmakers’

So the big news, since we last spoke, was Sania Mirza announcing her engagement to Shoaib Malik. An occasion for considerable humor on Twitter streams, with my friend Ramesh Srivats nailing it when he said, “Good thing Shoaib and Sania don’t have to do the saat pheras — she wouldn’t get past the first round”.

Cruel, perhaps — but indicative of how rapidly Sania Mirza has slipped in the public estimation from her glory year, 2005, when she hit her career high ranking of 27 on the back of a dream run at first the Australian Open, when she lost in the third round to Serena Williams, and at the US Open later that year where she was the cynosure, celebrated as much for her fearless tennis as for her feisty attitude and funky T-shirts. Outside of a Grand Slam title in 2009 in tandem with Mahesh Bhupathi at the Australian apart, Sania since that breakout year has made the news more for controversies and recurrent injuries, rather than for her game — so perhaps the cruelty is understandable.

More cricket news from Pakistan: Mohammad Yusuf has announced his retirement “for now” — the caveat clearly indicating that this is more an attempt to prompt a dialog with the powers with a view to an eventual return, than the act of a cricketer who has reached that point where the daily grind no longer appeals. That point occurs to Osman Samiuddin, who starts off his column with this:

Not once in his scripted spiel did Mohammad Yousufactually say anything about quitting international cricket, which, given that the occasion was to officially announce his retirement, seemed a strange way of going about it. Having already told the biggest, most influential Urdu-language paper in Pakistan – essentially the whole country – two days ago that he was going to retire, perhaps he felt he didn’t need to say he was actually retiring at the function organised for that very purpose.

It was only after he finished thanking past captains, players, God, and talking about a PCB letter, that a bemused reporter asked him, just to be sure, “So you are retiring right?”

“Yes, yes,” Yousuf quickly responded. “Yes, this is my retirement. I have retired from international cricket.” The whole affair has about it the permanence of an ice cube in the Sahara.

On the surface, funny. But at a larger level, indicative of the state of affairs in Pakistan cricket, where players are in a state of suspended animation, the administration has been reduced to a joke, and media and commentators laugh that they may not weep.

Busy day, so for now will leave you with some random reading: India Today’s cover story on the IPL; a Mint article on how the tournament is proving to be a great showcase for emerging brands; and Ashok Malik on the economics of it all.

Back in a while — and, of course, live on Yorker between 3.30-4.30. Links etc as always on Twitter — mine and the official Yahoo ID.

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13 thoughts on “Of Sania, IPL and other ‘newsmakers’

  1. Happy birthday Prem. It has been a real pleasure reading your posts, and hope it will be the same in future. Somehow Pakistani cricket reminds me of Indian bureaucracy – some fantastic talents undone by a rotten system. Wish you a great year ahead, and hope you win Indibloggies this year:D

  2. Happy bithday Prem, it has been a real pleasure reading your articles. The new look is also good, though will take some time adjusting to. Pakistan cricket often reminds me of Indian Bureaucracy , so many bright talents but all undone by a rotten system . All the best for the coming year. Hope you win Indibloggies this year. 🙂

  3. Hi!

    The links in the quoted paragraph from Osman’s article are all wrongly pointing to prempanicker.wordpress.com instead of cricinfo.com.

    Thanks

  4. Happy B’day Prem.

    Seriously, don’t care about Sania. There’re far better sportspersons out there who deserve the attention, hype, money much more than Sania. Lets hope after her marriage, she’ll be out of India and public eye. Her career is over anyways.

    As for Pakistan, I never take their announcements seriously. I’ve lost count of how many times Akram/Imran retired. Their shenanigans are good for a laugh only.

  5. Before I even read your post, I urge you to revert to the old style. This new style attracts attention and I cannot read it in office pretending that I’m reading an important requirement:-)

  6. Happy Birthday.

    Regarding Sania I feel sorry not for her or her choice, I rather feel sorry anybody in India watching news channel with the Sania news going 24/7.

    I would be disappointed if the Thackray clan would react in a mature way to this news. This would also be a cue for some Mullah from Pakistan to declare henceforth Sania would need to play tennis in a Burkha. That would lead the British to speculate it would be breaking tradition to play in Wimbledon in non whites. But some ‘moderate’ British would come on BBC to assure everybody wearing a white burkha is not Un-Islamic.

    • But some ‘moderate’ British Muslim would come on BBC to assure everybody wearing a white burkha is not Un-Islamic.

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