Dalmiya vs Ganguly

Check out the unfolding saga. Ganguly shoots an email from England criticizing Jaggu-bhai, who in turn is trying hard to re-establish control over his local fiefdom — Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). Both these folks at the moment are fighting for survival and don’t need each other even though at one time they drew upon each others strength and clout. Its amazing how things evolve over time.

Ganguly is trying to get back into the game by dissosciating himself from Jaggu. Unfortunately, his form in the county games is hardly strengthening his case. If Ganguly really had issues with the source of Chappell email leak one wonders why he didn’t raise the issue earlier.

Note how the Bengal Govt has entered the fray with the CM and Sports Minister in opposite camps! A terrific concoction of sports and politics out in the open!

Manjrekar vs Tendulkar

It was interesting to read Manjrekar’s analysis of Tendulkar’s mindset. Firstly, one must congratulate Manjrekar for taking on and criticising India’s leading cricket icon. On the other hand, his analysis makes little sense! He wants Tendulkar to play even when he is not fully fit? He is complaining that Tendulkar wants to play only when he is 100% fit! He is finding fault with Tendulkar for not playing the Super Series. He says Tendulkar is afraid to fail!

None of these make any sense. It riduculous to even suggest that senior players should play even when they are not fully fit! If senior players start doing this, then automatically the junior ones will follow! In fact, given the amount of cricket there is these days, its a smart thing to pick the games and series to feature in. You just increase your longevity in the game by this approach. Sachin should be commended for conserving himself for the big games. The cricketing world would love to see Tendulkar in the next world cup rather than in a “brain dead idea” of a Super Test Series. Lara played that Test and was a dismal failure. I would much rather see brand name players score everytime they go out into the middle than see them struggle!

When is the last time an India player quit the game when he was on top? (Sunil Gavaskar, and that was 15+ years back). These days there is way too much money in the game and the tendency is to grab every opportunity so as not to loose out on the big bucks. In other words, its very tempting not to say “no”. Most Indian cricketers are eventually booted out (Ganguly, Kapil Dev etc.). But Tendulkar has done a very smart thing by not being drawn into every single match. Knowing when to quit is almost a super human ability. Rather than over expose himself and then eventually become a fading Indian legend, he has thought through (I suspect) is current state and realized that its best to conserve than get burnt out. The reality about Tendulkar is that he is still relatively young, but has already played for 16+ years. By picking his games he is trying his best to ensure that he lasts longer and gives the world top notch quality at the expense of quantity.

Tendulkar taking frequent breaks opens up opportunities for youngsters. If Tendulkar had continued to play we would never have known the abilities of Robin Uthappa, Venu, Raina and the like.

Lastly, he says Tendulkar is afraid to fail. Of course! As a sportsperson you better be afraid of failure simply because failure is what brings about the end of ones career!

Manjrekar might be one of the better TV commentators, but this one he completely misread!

Al Gore: The Heat is on!

Man, the heat is unbelievable. Just look at the reports about heat related deaths in the US.

Can’t take the heat? Vote Al Gore for President! Maybe its time to bring in the environmental President. Gore has promised not to smirk at his opponent in the debates and promised to kiss his wife for a shorter duration at the next Demo convention. Would you vote for him then?

Middle East; Deepening Crisis, Appalling Indifference

The crisis in the Middle East is getting worse by the day. Unfortunately, President Bush appears to think that asking Syria to stop “this sh..” will take care of the problem. So he has done little to ensure a ceasefire. G8, UN, none of these organizations are able to intervene to the extent of at least ensuring an immediate stop to the violence and killing of innocent people. Its an appalling state of affairs. It sounds like the US is waiting for Israel to beat the “crap” out of Lebanon before they intervene. Israeli justification being “Hey, they are throwing rockets at us and have kidnapped our folks, so what do you expect us to do?” (Its hard to argue with a nation surrounded by enemies. Its only natural that they press the panic button). So the US waiting game continues while innocent people get killed in Lebanon. Instead of preventing the extremist Islamic forces from around the world over gathering under Ahmedinijad’s call to “destroy Israel from the map of the world”, the current approach of the US is only going to hasten the coming together of the extremists elements. Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas, LeT, LeQ …the list just keeps growing.

The current approach of the leading nations of the world is only going to strengthen the hold of Hezbollah in Lebanon, similar to the rise of Hamas in Palestine. If Israel thinks that the Lebanese are going to turn against Hezbollah because of this conflict, they are mistaken. The Islamic countries involved in the Middle East need to step away from the “destroy Israel” mind-set. It hasn’t worked and it’s unlikely the US is ever going to let it happen. The US for its part needs to badly reach out to the Muslim world instead of continuing to appear as a blatant Israel backer. There are no easy solutions but there is definitely a need to re-think on both sides and on the part of the US. Easier said than done, but better to attempt a solution than to let the crisis continue to linger after over five decades of Arab-Israeli conflicts.

Pak vs England at Lords

A target of 380 on the last day and Pak played like India in recent times. The least Pak could have done was to show some intent to win. A good place to start might have been to open with Afridi or at least promote him in the batting order. Instead Inzy did a Rahul Dravid by playing for a draw and walking away with a better overall batting average.

What was Pak expecting? Monty and gang to bowl them out in less than a day? The defensive approach in Test cricket is mighty frustrating to say the least. If you are an Indian cricket fan, you have some consolation — There are other “gutless” teams around. Only the Aussies are capable of taking up a challenge of this magnitude.

India Team for Tri-series in SL

With the world cup fast approaching the tr-series is a great opportunity for India to experiment as well as rest some of the regulars. Sachin should be back, fitness permitting. Given the nature of the pitches in the WI, a leg spinner (Piyush Chawla) might be worth a try. Yuvraj Singh and Pathan could use a rest.

The allrounder spot is wide open especially given the run of poor form from Pathan. Romesh Powar or RS Sodhi might be possible candidates to fill the slot. A new fast bowler who can bat should be a welcome addition. Opening the bowling with Munaf and Sreesanth weakens the batting quite a bit.

India might be better off going in with Agarkar, Sreesanth (or Munaf), Bhajji, Powar and Chawla for the bowling while Sachin, Viru, Dravid, Kaif, Raina (or Sodhi or another all rounder medium pacer like JP Yadav) make up the batting along with Dhoni.

Violence in the Middle East

The shock of the Bombay blasts have barely set in and the Middle East has erupted! If the US does not intervene immediately, the situation could easily get out of hand.

This is a great opportunity for President Bush to reach out to the Arab world by pressing Israel to go easy. Another tough call for the President.

Bombay Blasts

The recent bomb blasts in Bombay deserve to be condemned by all and sundry. It was only a matter of time that the terrorists strike again after NY, Spain, and London. What was surprising was that India was the target this time around given that India has been relatively lying low on Iraq, Afghanistan and other issues. So it was a little surprising that India was the target this time around.

In any case, a few post-blast developments deserve to be mentioned.

  • The Govt. Of India has been cautious. They have not come out and blamed their neighbors. At least not yet.
  • LeT and some of the other groups have condemned the attack and said that they were not responsible for them. (I can’t recall where I read this!)

Both of these are positive developments no doubt. One can only hope that there is no retaliation of any sort for these attacks. Such moves by anyone or any group can only worsen an already bad situation. Retaliation of any sort will only perpetuate the cycle of violence.