IPL and International Cricket

Cricket has morphed over the years. It started off with Test Cricket – where the game is played over five days. Then came the One Day International – just a day’s worth of play where each side bowls 50 overs. And now the shortest version of the game yet – Twenty20 Cricket where each side bowls 20 overs and the game takes about four hours in total.

All three versions of the game are still played. The purists view Test Cricket as “real” cricket. The One Day International is the most common version of the game and the Cricket World Cup that occurs every four years is based on this format.

Twenty20 Cricket, though, is where all the action is. And this is where cricket is innovating and changing the most. For the first time ever, cricket has introduced a franchise model. India now has a version of the NHL or the NBA – the Indian Premier League (IPL).

There are eight franchises and each one is comprised of both Indian and international cricketers (from Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the West Indies).The IPL’s season is just six weeks long. After that, the player return to their national teams and go back to representing their countries.

Up until now, cricket has always been about national teams competing and so it felt really odd to watch the first game of the IPL. But I quickly got into it.

In normal circumstances, Matthew Hayden (an Australian batsman) whacking a six would be a bad thing since it meant India was being pummeled. But now the crowds go crazy because Hayden is part of the “their” team. It is quite cool really.

I think a huge side benefit of the IPL will be the improved interactions in “regular” international cricket. Crowd behavior, or rather, misbehavior, will hopefully improve. Once you’ve cheered for Matthew Hayden or Andrew Symonds as “your guy”, how can you really boo him  when he represents Australia?

There are also relationships being formed within the teams. When you become friends with someone, you can certainly play against them and be a fierce competitor. But it is very unlikely that you can sledge your friends and cross the line into disgusting behavior. In case things do devolve, as in India’s recent tour of Australia (a low-point in team interactions), there will be multiple relationships than can be leveraged to resolve the situation quickly. Hopefully all the good bonding going on between the players in IPL will ensure that future series are more about the game and less about personnel friction.

IPL – bite-sized cricket with some cool side benefits.

Oh, I am cheering for the Chennai Super Kings, my home team. And at this point, the only undefeated team in the league!!

Cricket in New York City

On Wednesday, the Department of Education inaugurated cricket as its newest league sport, with about 600 high school students playing on 14 teams during a 12-game season. The first matches, held in Queens, featured teams from John Adams, Richmond Hill, Aviation and Newcomers High Schools. The Department of Education said New York is the only public school system in the nation to offer competitive cricket.

Playing a Sport With Balls and Bats, but No Pitcher – New York Times

Incompetent Cricket Council

World Cup TrophyThe World Cup is over. Australia are the champions! Huge congratulations to them. They were brilliant through the entire tournament. They won every match by a huge margin. They were never challenged. They are they first team to ever win the World Cup three times and they have done it consecutively! Wow – they are truly in a different league from the rest of the teams. And thank you to Sri Lanka, who kept the South Asian representation going all the way to the finals!

Now, let’s come to the ICC – the International Cricket Council who have demonstrated they are nothing if not incompetent. This World Cup was the most pathetic ever. Writing about it makes me so angry because of the pain they have caused the teams, the fans and the damage they have done to the game.

  • Length: Who the hell has a tournament for seven weeks?? They are insane.
  • Ticket prices: So high that locals could not afford to attend. Every match I attended in the Super 8s had at least half the stands empty. The semi-final matches were also not sold out. Amazing.
  • Rules at the stadium: They sucked the joy out of Caribbean cricket – the fans didn’t bring their musical instrument and there was no Calypso. Damn – it was almost depressing.
  • Two mile exclusion zone: Fearing terrorism, all ticket holders were bused to the stadiums. The buses never ran on time. People often waited 45 minutes in a bus (I waited in a bus for an hour once!). And if you showed up late, you were out of luck. Huh? I paid for the ticket – I can go whenever I want. In Grenada, people walked 2 miles to the stadium!! What if someone was elderly? Amazing stupidity. In the US, fans still drive to Baseball and Football stadiums. There are ways to ensure safety and comfort for the fans. Oh, and in the midst of all this, in Grenada, I saw Mercedes cars and SUVs pull into the stadium for the ICC bigwigs. They should have been made to experience what the fans had to go through – aarrgh!!!

And finally, today’s sheer stupidity. The Barbados ground has no lights. That means the match has to end before it gets dark. But of course that would be impossible to ask of this incopetent organizing body. At the end of the day, the players were playing in the dark – we could see the players on TV, but when they turned off the camera enhancements to show us how it looked live, I could see almost nothing. The players could barely see each other.

With Australia having pretty much won the tournament (Sri Lanka needed 63 runs required from 18 balls with 7 wickets down!!), the batsmen were offered light (i.e. they could walk off because they couldn’t see anything). Australia assumed they won and celebrated. The scoreboard declared them winners. But oh no! Because of the stupid rules, the batsmen would either have to come back tomorrow to play or come out and play out the overs in the dark. The commentators were completely disbelieving of what was going on. With everyone wanting to get it over with, the Sri Lankans trooped out and batted out the final three overs. And then, Australia won – again.

When Tony Cozier introduced the ICC officials at the prize ceremony, the crowd booed loudly. And rightly so.

Heads are rolling in various cricket organizatons around the world because their teams performed so poorly. I hope heads roll in the Incompetent Cricket Council as well. The ICC should hide their heads in shame at one of the most poorly organized tournaments – ever!

Amazing cricket, anguished fans

Three to winWhat. A. Match! Wow!! To watch a match like today’s Sri Lanka versus England match live is what makes cricket so much fun. While the World Cup so far, and most definitely the matches in Antigua, have been very one-sided, today’s match was amazing.

England bowled well to keep the Sri Lankans to 235. And then they batted well to stay in the match – for the most part. They sort of lost the plot in the middle and it looked like Sri Lanka might win handily. But Ravi Bopara and Paul Nixon came together and they batted brilliantly. Last over – England needed 11 to win. Last ball – England needed 3 to win…

The stadium was packed with English fans. Where are all the Sri Lankan fans? There were barely a handful and a big chunk of them were Indians who were rooting for Sri Lanka – like us.

Now, I’m perfectly fine being in the minority, but I’ve never really watched a match with English fans. While the large majority cheer their team and behave like “normal” fans, there are a handful that behave disgracefully. The problem starts because they drink non-stop. A bunch of guys around us were never without a beer and the few seconds their cups were empty was when they were walking to get more beer. That’s fine if you can handle your liquor, but some of them can’t.

So, around the 40th over, when it seemed like England was going to lose (before the Bopara/Nixon run-fest), there started to be loud cries of “Cheaters” hurled at the Sri Lankans. Excuse me?!?! Then, there was an incident when Sri Lanka appealed a tad excessively, the “Cheaters” and “Cheating” cries re-emerged. When does appealing constitute cheating, folks? Never, that’s when!

Then comes the final over. The final ball is due to be bowled. Three runs needed off one ball… Fernando runs up to bowl and completes his action – but where’s the ball? It never came out of his hand! Dead ball is signalled by the umpire. Now, I don’t know why that happened – if he had a glitch or if it was intentional. If he felt that he couldn’t deliver the ball the way he wanted, he is fully within his rights and within the rules of the game to not deliver the ball.

But it was very clear what the vocal English fans around us thought. Screaming, yelling, “Cheaters” “Disgraceful – that was disgraceful”. One of the guys yelling was right behind me, so turned around to get a quick peek and I noticed he was yelling looking at us (assuming, naturally, that we were Sri Lankan). It was almost frightening to see how upset and angry they were. I can understand disappointment, but letting their anguish get to the point where they lose all judgement? These are grown, adult men, behaving like children who can’t deal with losing a game. Disgusting. What was truly disgraceful is how these English fans behaved.

I never want to watch another match where England is playing. England, much like India, is a pathetically unpredictable team. They can be brilliant, but more commonly, they collapse dramatically without a moments notice. So their fans are likely going to be upset a lot. Who wants to deal with this kind of nonsensical behavior?? And remember, the English cricket fans are supposed to be leagues better than the English soccer fans!

Sorry, back to the match. Re-bowl the last ball. BOWLED HIM. Shattered the stumps. Silence all around. The handful of Sri Lankan supporters, us included, stand up and yell and scream “Yeah, baby!! Clean bowled!” (Well, to be honest, I said the “Yeah, baby” bit 🙂 ) The Sri Lankan team get in their huddle, celebrating. Amazing. Seven hours of play and it all comes down to the final ball.

This is why I love cricket! I could not have asked for a more brilliant match to end our wonderful sojourn in Antigua.

Sri Lanka win

Photograph credits: Me 🙂

Antigua antics

WI-Aus MatchAntigua is beautiful. And the brand new stadium is stunning. Every seat has an unobstructed view and you feel really close to the action. But here are a few little tips to make your cricket matches even more fun.

1. Take a folding umbrella. Rain has interrupted play at a number of matches during the World Cup. Today was no different (in fact, for the first time, the reserve day will be used and the West Indies will bat tomorrow). We thought we were really smart that we thought to take an umbrella with us. However, all walking-stick umbrellas were confiscated at security. Goes to reason – you may poke someone’s eye out or shoot a missile at a player.

2. Bring food with you or buy food well before the lunch break. It appears that the basics of managing process are not part of the Caribbean plan. The menus at the concession stands have over 50 items. And each one is prepared *after* you place your order. So, after standing in line for over 45 minutes (in the rain, sans umbrella), we were still not at the front of the line.

3. Take empty bottle caps with you to the game. Really – you know, the screw on ones for colas and water? Take them. When you buy a drink they unscrew the top and only give you the bottle. Apparently, it is a safety mechanism to ensure that you don’t refill the bottle and hurl it onto the field at your favorite, incompetent team. But what that means is that you are carrying a half-used bottle around with no cap and liquid sloshing around.

4. Get there early. At least for Antigua, you can’t drive to the stadium. You drive to a parking lot and then take a shuttle. Except the shuttle doesn’t go when it has a few people. It has to be full. We tried to explain to the driver that we were going to the game late and no one else was going to show up, but it still took him 15 minutes to be convinced.

And why is it that everyone wears their team shirt to the game even if their team is not playing? Maybe I’m just being bitter since I can’t wear an India shirt. The game (or the half that was played today) was a blast. Matthew Hayden, congratulations on a brilliant 158. Go West Indies!

Highlight of the day: Rubbing shoulders with Jean-Luc Picard.

India out of the World Cup

India is out of the world cup. They have only themselves to blame. They batted like they didn’t care, on a wicket where batting was not hard. And yes, I publish this before the game is officially over, but that’s a risk I am so willing to take!

Dhoni and Sachin are peas in a pod – can succeed only when there is no reason and always fail when they need to succeed. Bad run-outs. Agarkar playing so carelessly after his captain goes up to him and tells him to play properly. Ah… the whole team has failed pathetically. They lack the will to win. Crumble at the sign of any fight from the opposition.

The bowling… well, 27 extras. Wow. Letting them get to 254 was a mistake, but the batting made made even 150 look like a tough target.

Here’s the positive – I won’t be wasting any more time on watching. Yay! Hours and hours of free time are opening up like a vista in front of me. It’s been fun folks (well not really fun either), but it is all over.

I will say this. This team has played well in the past. When they are on fire, there is no team as fun. I’ve grown up watching some of these guys. So, for those memories, thank you. But this chapter is closed.

Good night and good luck!

It’s in India’s hands

Dravid said, after the loss to Bangladesh, that they are only going to worry about what’s in their control – he got his wish. The Indian team are now in control of their destiny in the World Cup. If they win on Friday against Sri Lanka, they are pretty much through. If they lose, they are out. As simple as that.

Today, Sri Lanka whipped Bangladesh. Bangladesh had a much worse day in the field, but it also showed how badly India played to lose to them. But, that’s all in the past.

Since Bangladesh has a significant negative Net Run Rate, they need to beat Bermuda by some enormous difference (350? 400? something like that). Let’s assume for a moment that that will not happen since no team has ever won by that margin.

So, all in India’s hands. Almost everyone wants them to lose –

• Sri Lanka wants to win because only if they win do they take 2 points through to the next round

• Bangladesh wants Sri Lanka to win because that’s really the only way NRR doesn’t matter and a mere win against Bermuda will put them through instead of India

• All of Pakistan probably wants Sri Lanka to win so that they are not the only big team eliminated and so that arch-rival India keeps them company on the long trip back home.

However, ALL OF INDIA wants you to win!!! So, Team India, time to step up, time to play big. It is in your control – go for it!


The match, not the country. Well, the match against the country’s cricket team. This is a must-win match for India. More than must-win, India needs to score at least 350 to get the net run rate in their favor. Time for the Indians to step up, time for the people who are failing to try to make it work. After all, folks, it is Bermuda! A match that should have been inconsequential has taken on monumental proportions.

To all my non-Indian readers, apologies that there is so much cricket on this blog of late – but I am Indian and it is in my blood 🙂

Post-script to the Indian innings: If you could bat like this what on earth were you guys doing against Bangladesh? Sleep-playing? Sure, they are a better team, but still… Well, at least you’re awake and alive now. Welcome to the World Cup, Team India! 413 is brilliant. Yes, it is against Bermuda, but still good.

Post-match update: India wins. Still some areas they could have done better. Like fielding and the inability to close things out – letting Bermuda get to their highest WC score of 156! But at least we won and the Net Run Rate for India is now +2.507. Based on what happens on Wednesday with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the scenario will become more clear.

———— Blogging the match (why? I don’t know… it helps calm the nerves)

2nd over: Robin Uthappa learns from Sehwag. Fishes outside his off-stump. Edges to a second slip. Dwayne Leverock stands at first slip, but he stretched from first slip, kept stretching and got it! Amazing. I think the guy weighs 300 pounds – amazing to see him get it. The bowler, Jones, is so happy that he’s in tears. Aww. I like Bermuda.

4th and 5th overs: After some usual swishes, Sehwag actually hits a couple of clean fours. Fingers crossed, fingers crossed. Please, please don’t give it away! If there is a time to redeem yourself, Sehwag, now is it. Step up to the plate!

6th: Two smashing fours from Sehwag. Sivaramakrishnan says “Could this be Sehwag’s day?” Don’t jinx him please!! Argh. Commentators curse is powerful.

7th: Oww. Another swish by Sehwag. Learn, for god’s sake! Move your feet! Ah, another one just misses the outside edge. Yikes.

8th and 9th: 4s from Sehwag. Hmm… is he back? Please be back.

10th: Four fours from Sehwag. Excellent. On a side note – Ganguly still refusing to take easy singles!!

12th: Sehwag’s fifty – yeah! Keep going – need to keep going today. Reclaim yourself in a big way!

13th: Ganguly dropped. Tough catch. Phew.

14th: Straight drive down the ground by Sehwag. Nice. Why oh why couldn’t you all play like this against Bangladesh?? And drinks.

Oh, a break for now. Blogging this helped me get over some of my nerves. I never knew all the benefits of blogging when I started 🙂

15th over: Two huge sixes by Sehwag. I have to stop asking why they couldn’t do this against Bangy. What’s done is done. Now they need to fight like men.

19th: After a maiden over, Ganguly hits a nice six!

20, 21, 22: Field is now spread (Bermuda did not take the 3rd and final PowerPlay) and India is now grinding away. Taking the singles, the twos. Moving along nicely. A time of consolidation.

23rd: Six from Ganguly on the first ball of the over.

26th: Bermuda takes the PowerPlay. Sehwag hits a big six. Gets into the nineties.

27th: Sehwag on 99. Ganguly drives down the ground for four that flies over the inner ring of fielders.

28th: Jitters. Swishing, swashing, flailing. Be calm. Get it together. Get your 100 and keep going, please. Mr. Sehwag! There it is. Congratulations. You needed it. We needed it. I hope you keep going. I hope this is a return to form. Finally, repaying Dravid. Yes, it is Bermuda, but better now than later. John Wright has a funny comment – Rahul signals to Sehwag: Great job, stay there, you owe me a 100 more.

30th: Fours by Ganguly and Sehwag. Oh, a mistimed shot. Sehwag skies one. Out for 114. Good job, Sehwag. Welcome back. Please don’t let this be an aberration against a minnow.

31-34: Somewhat tied down. A few runs here and there. Dhoni settling in, Ganguly not getting boundaries.

35th: Ganguly starts off with a lofted four. Ganguly goes down the track and is stumped. Out for 89. Nice job.

39th: Dhoni opens with a huge six. Yeah, let’s go. Another one in the air and he’s out! Still 12 overs to go. We need someone to power India past 350. I hope they don’t collapse again. Yeah, yeah, I know – no, I am not negative. I believe n de-jinxing this team 🙂 Tendulkar in.

40-43: Going along fine

44 and 45: Four and then six by Sachin and Yuvraj respectively.

46: Berserk. Two huge Tendulkar sixes

47: Yuvraj hits a massive six. Yeah baby!

48: Oh my god – two fours and two sixes. Yeah! Yuvraj on fire!!!

49th: Two huge Yuvraj sixes. And then, he’s out. 83 off just 46 balls. Amazing. But Tendulkar keeps going. Yes!

50th over: Six from Tendulkar first ball. Six from Dravid in the last ball of innings. Tendulkar scored 57 off just 27 balls. India finishes their innings at 413.


I spent all day watching India lose to Bangladesh. Bangladesh! Wow!

Sure, Bangladesh is the best of the rest (best of the teams outside of the top eight), but what a pathetic showing by India! I have to say that this goes to the arrogance of Dravid and the rest of the team. Nothing more than that – they all played pathetically. No effort in any department, they just meandered around.

And to Dravid – come on, dude! There is a limit to confidence and loyalty. You are single handedly jeopardizing India’s chances by supporting a player like Sehwag, who, with another pathetic performance with the bat has crippled India’s batting performance. The team and the team’s winning is more important than one individual. Time to realize that.

Hats off to Bangladesh. They came to the party ready and did a great job.

Now, given how things play out, India may not even make it to the 2nd round of the tournament. Every match is must-win from this point. Go big or go home, guys. I, for one, am pretty disgusted.

UPDATE: In other news, Pakistan lost to Ireland. If there could have been a more pathetic display than India’s Pakistan put their hands up and grabbed that title. Pakistan is pretty much out of the World Cup.

Best Nike commercial of all time?

“Nike says it is amongst their best Nike commercials of all time. In dealer conferences in the US, they are showing this ad at the beginning and at the end. It may later be shown in the UK and elsewhere also,” says Dias.

While there have been quite a few links to Nike’s first ever cricket commercial, finally, Rediff does a more in-depth story about how it call came together.

Agnello Dias, a Senior Vice President and Executive Creative Director at J Walter Thompson was responsible for making the commercial a reality. He says:

“For all of us who have played cricket on the streets, we know we have to play a quick game — to bowl or strike the ball — before the next car comes by,” says Dias. “The game in the ad is being played in a traffic jam and captures the chaos and disorder of an everyday cricket field in India, where there could be 21 matches being played at the same time!”

I think the ad does a great job of communicating the chaos. It also does a great job conveying the passion that people in India have for cricket. A game can start at any time. Anyone is up for it if they have 5 minutes. One of my closest friend’s brother was a bowler who trained at MRF Pace Foundation, trying to make the Tamil Nadu state team. I remember when he’d come back from practice and all the little kids in the colony would beg him to play street cricket in the cul-de-sac. He’d steal a quick glance to make sure his parents weren’t monitoring him and he’d run out to play with them.

The music is fun. I wish I could get a “song” length version. Maybe Nike could loop it a couple of times and put it out as an MP3?

Featuring a Konkani song in the ad was Dias’ idea. He shared the idea with ad filmmaker Abhinay Deo and made him hear Konkani music on his car stereo while eating vada pao in Kalbadevi, south Mumbai. Dias wrote the lyrics and the song is loosely based on an old Goan song.

Other little tidbits about the commercial

  • Where it was shot: On a set in Karjat, near Bombay
  • Time taken to compose the track: The initial composition took around two days. The final track was finished in 2 hours.
  • Time to shoot: One month (!!) Wow, that’s longer than some movies!
  • India’s bowlers Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan play cameos in the ad and are not the star attractions

The World Cup Opening Ceremonies are on as I type this. Can’t wait for it to get going. I love cricket!!!

And if you haven’t watched the ad, here it is. Do you think it is the best Nike commercial ever?