Dear Congress…

why do you care? Put differently — what the eff business is it of yours?

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3/4th water, 1/4th Jonty

An early sighting of exceptional talent, in this piece on the South African fielding machine:

The modern mantle might just belong to Sybrand Engelbrecht, a 21-year-old blond ghost who haunted backward point with enthusiasm as memorable as his athleticism at the 2008 Under-19 World Cup. He took five catches, some of them positively Rhodesian, in the three matches he played, and added to his value by hurrying and harrying batsmen into and out of singles. If the ball was being hit somewhere he wasn’t, he was in the captain’s ear, nagging to be moved to the hot spot.

Rediff, ToI, and a sudden attack of deja vu

While reading this story in ToI over the weekend, I had this feeling of been there, heard that.

Here’s where I’d been, and here’s what I’d heard.

The two Rediff links are bylined. While one of the names attached to those pieces — Professor Manohar Rao, a math whiz, cricket fanatic and all round good human being — is unfortunately no more, Dr Srinivas Bhogle is around, so I know where to go to ask questions about some of the underlying assumptions.

I’m not sure, though, who the “we” in the ToI piece is. There’s a lot of “we assigned” and “we worked out” and stuff — but I wish we knew who “we” was/were, so questions could be addressed to them.

I’m not suggesting ToI just took the fruits of other folks’ labor and got “inspired” by it, in the fashion of Bollywood’s finest.

Just saying.

How about a fool’s cap?

First, it was Jairam Ramesh doing his nut over the convocation gown. Personally, I don’t give a flying fish whether or not you have gowns at these things — but “barbaric”, Jairam? The right word to use, you think, when you are referring to an education-related practice? Why did they give you that doctorate, again?

The minister’s little number resonated with several others. Take it off, Jairam, cheered Murli Manohar Joshi from the sidelines. Nitish Kumar likewise. And now, closer home — my home, that is — Karnataka minister Ramachandra Gowda wants the ceremonial cap replaced with an indigenous version.

Must be the heat.

Sir Alec, RIP

Christopher Martin Jenkins pays tribute.

The right to know

Pradeep Magazine nails it in his piece in the Hindustan Times:

Sports Minister MS Gill needs to be complimented for bringing all the federations into the ambit of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, which in turn means the public will now have the right to know how and where the money given to them by the government (tax-payer) goes.

Is the money being spent for the purpose it is meant for or does most of it get siphoned off, as is alleged by many?

However, the sports body which generates enormous revenues and profits that could be the envy of any rich corporate body, unfortunately, does not fall under the gambit of this Act.

The reason for the exepmtion presumably being it is a private body which does not take a single pie from the government and hence cannot come under government or public scrutiny.

This is a false presumption, if one goes by the 2004 High Court ruling in the PIL filed against the Board by Rahul Mehra, a lawyer by profession, but an inveterate sports fan by nature. By admitting the PIL, the Court had in its judgment clearly said that the BCCI may be a private body, but it performs a public function and therefore comes under Article 226 of the Constitution (public scrutiny).

The BCCI, which for reasons beyond comprehension, is loathe to subject itself to public scrutiny (unless it has something to hide) shields itself behind the argument that it is a private body and cannot be questioned by the state.

BCCI conveniently forgets that not only does it get tax benefits, it also gets other largesse from the state, like stadias at throwaway rates and, most importantly, is allowed to use the name India for the team which represents it. It gets these concessions because it is deemed a charitable organisation which performs a public function.

Live chats and all that

Right, so first up, today’s Live show on Yahoo will be hosted by Amit Varma [for the very few who need it, the relevant links: Amit on Twitter, and blog].

Tomorrow, I’m back as host — and joining me is JRod of Cricket With Balls [this is his blog].

Wednesday is for statistics buffs — joining me is Dr Srinivas Bhogle, elder brother of Harsha and a certified whiz with cricket stats. Srinivas, and the late Professor Manohar Rao, had while I was with Rediff created our rankings system there on a well thought out, well articulated analytical platform, and has been updating it ever since.

As Dr Bhogle [more of his work here] pointed out in course of a recent conversation, cricket/sports analytics is sadly under-developed. Sadly, because cricket more than most other sports lends itself to endless statistics-based discussions and debate. We’ve started talking of what is possible and how it can be built; let’s see where that goes. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Dr Bhogle is live on the chat, to chat numbers.

So — Amit Varma today; JRod with me tomorrow and Dr Bhogle with me the day after. Should be fun — join in. Links to the shows — 3.30 pm-4.30 pm each day — as always on my twitter stream and also on Yahoo’s News and Cricket streams.