Archive for the 'Sports' Category

Tendulkar, Federer and the pull of love

The two careers have much in common. Both are global icons who transcend their sport. Within cricket and tennis they are regarded as the most complete players of their generation. At their best, both have touched a kind of serenity that is beyond the imagination, let alone the ability, of even very good players. Both have avoided controversy. They have little left to prove to anyone.

But I suspect the deepest pull of all is love. Love of the peace that comes with total concentration; love of the craft and the discipline of routine and practice; love of defining and controlling events; love of nervous excitement; love of winning; love of mastery; love of the stage.

via Ed Smith: Tendulkar and the pull of love | Cricinfo Magazine | ESPN Cricinfo.

Don Tales

Alright, so we got whipped! I had predicted a 1-1 series, and not even in my wildest dreams envisaged a 4-0 whitewash.

To alleviate the pain I was looking for something to read, and stumbled upon the a few tales revolving around Sir Donald Bradman that had been shared by Cricinfo readers during a long rain-break in a long forgotten India-SL match. Somehow I had the foresight to copy all the interesting tales in one location; re-sharing those tales here. Obviously I am not the source, I’m just an accumulator for this post.  All credit goes to the millions of readers of Cricinfo.

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There is, for instance, the tale of Bill Black, an off-spin bowler playing for Lithgow, who on a memorable day in 1931 bowled Bradman for 52. The umpire was so excited that when the ball hit Bradman’s wicket he called out: “Bill, you’ve got him.” The ball was mounted and given to Black as proof that he had dismissed the greatest batsman in the world.

Later that season Don Bradman again played against Black. As the bowler marked out his run, Don said to the wicketkeeper: “What sort of bowler is this fellow?”

The wicketkeeper, a mischief-maker like the rest of his tribe, replied: “Don’t you remember this bloke? He bowled you out a few weeks ago and has been boasting about it ever since.”

“Is that so?” said Bradman. Two overs later Black pleaded with his skipper to be taken off. Bradman had hit him for 62 runs in two eight-ball overs. He made 100 in three overs and finished with 256, including 14 sixes and 29 fours.

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On Bradman’s first tour of England in 1930 there was a popular rumour that the English pitches would sort him out. As an ardent subscriber to this theory, George Macauley, the feisty Yorkshire seam bowler, couldn’t wait to get at Bradman.

When Yorkshire played the Australians Macauley demanded loudly of his captain: “Let me have a go at this bugger.” His first over was a maiden. Bradman then hit him for five fours in the second over and took 16 from the third. A spectator yelled, “George, tha’ should have kept thi’ bloody trap shut.”

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Bradman could read a batsman and tell you how to bowl to him, but he did it obliquely, as with Bill Edrich, who tended to play across the line, at Lord’s in 1948. Ray Lindwall habitually placed a short leg behind the square leg umpire. When Edrich came in, Bradman asked Lindwall, “Do you want that short leg behind or in front of the umpire?”

“No, leave him there,” Lindwall said.

He bowled a couple to Edrich and would have had him caught by the short leg if he had taken Bradman’s hint. He asked Bradman if he should move the fielder.

“It’s too late now,” Bradman said; “he won’t play that shot again.”

Edrich played against Australia for another five years; Lindwall says he always had him in trouble as a result of Bradman’s tip.

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Lindwall recalls that the team attended a black tie function while a match was in progress, and that three of the bowlers on duty, himself, Colin McCool and Ern Toshach, were then invited to a party 15 miles out of London. They had to make three separate cab trips to get there; this persuaded them to stay at the party rather than attempt a complicated trip back in the early hours of the morning. When they did get back, still in dinner suits, they went up the hotel stairs in case Bradman was in the lift, but met him doing his exercises. The great man said no more than: ‘Have a nice night? You had better do all right today.’

They had a shower and took the field. Bradman bowled the three of them all morning; each took three wickets. Lindwall was on the rubbing table at lunch when Bradman ‘smacked me on the behind’ and said: ‘You were pretty lucky today.’

‘Why? We got them all out.’

‘If you hadn’t I would have liked to see the three of you bowling all afternoon.’

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When the Don scored 334 runs in a 1930 Test at Leeds, and a London newspaper finally trumpeted just two grateful words on posters around the city: “HE’S OUT!”

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Few tweets from @sidvee

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It was told to me by the great Australian batsman, Dean Jones, who positively swore on the head of his daughter it happened, and I have since been told that Merv Hughes also confirms its truth.

The scene is set at a Test match between Australia and the West Indies at Adelaide Oval back in February 1989. These were the days when the Windies were the greatest power the cricketing world had ever seen, the days when they used to select 11 fast bowlers in the team and a 12th man who was a fast bowler just to be on the safe side.

And it was into just such a furnace that the young bowler Mervyn Hughes walked – with bat in hand. Figuring fortune favoured the brave, Hughes wielded the willow like an axeman his axe, and somehow – after snicking fortutiously, connecting full-bloodedly, and missing entirely – he finished the day’s play at 72 not out.

The tradition in Test cricket is that the batting side take a few beers into the fielding side’s dressing-room afterwards, but not on this evening. Instead, Merv took an ice-box full of bottles, so keen was he to give the men of the Windies the full blow-by-blow account of every run he’d made. So it was that half an hour later, Jones – who himself had contributed 216 – and Hughes and several other Australian players were in the Windies dressing-room, when a sudden hush fell upon the gathering.

They looked to the door and there was Sir Donald Bradman himself, being ushered into the room by several South Australian cricket officials. The Don had expressed a desire to meet this mighty team, and now here he was.

For the next 15 minutes or so, the great man was introduced to the visiting players, with each West Indian standing up well before Sir Donald got to their position on the bench. Then, when their time came, they warmly shook his hand and had a few words.

This all proceeded splendidly until Sir Donald got to the last man on the bench, Patrick Patterson – the fastest bowler in the world at that time. So the story goes, not only did Patterson not stand, he simply squinted quizzically up at the octogenarian. Finally, after some 30 seconds of awkward silence, Patterson stood up, all two metres of pure whip-cord steel of him, and looked down at the diminutive Don.

“You, Don Bradman!?!” he snorted. “You, Don Bradman?!?! I kill you, mun! I bowl at you, I kill you! I split you in two!”

In reply, Sir Donald, with his hands on his hips, gazed squarely back at Patterson and calmly retorted: “You couldn’t even get Merv Hughes out. You’d have no chance against me, mate!”

Wide Angle – Anil Kumble

Wide Angle by Anil Kumble

Buying Wide Angle by Anil Kumble is without a doubt one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Most of my real life investments are giving me shallow returns, but I’m sure this book will rarely, if ever, lost its value.

This book is a collection of the photographs taken by Kumble throughout his cricketing career and it is a great experience to see glimpses of the life cricketers have when on the road, and while playing – whether losing or winning.

There is nothing in it to *not* like the book. The only actual complaint I have is why was the book not longer? Why weren’t there more photographs?

If you are a cricket fanatic, this book is a must must buy. Wish the hardcover version was not so steeply priced. Would love to own a copy of the hardback sometime.

Preview the book.
Wide Angle @ Stack your Rack.

And it’s back!

So tomorrow onwards I know how my evenings would be spent – sitting in front of the TV and trying to catch every ball of the India’s tour to England. After the WC, Cricket had taken a backseat with the advertisements taking up the prime time during IPL. I’m hoping (foolishly, I know) that there are less ads for the India-England series.

When I compare the teams, I feel England is a tad better than the Indian team. Without Sehwag, Indian opening combination fades in front of England’s combination. Middle order (# 3, 4, 5) is India’s strong point whereas the # 6 and 7 – it is a tossup. On his day Dhoni is better than anybody else, but he has been performing sporadically in the test matches. And when we compare the bowlers it is absolutely clear which team is superior. Swann, Anderson, and Tremlett – all are very very dangerous. And when you look at India’s bowling lineup it starts and ends with Zaheer. Bhajji is not the same aggressive bowler that he used to be, Sreesanth is plain mad, and the maximum hope I have is from Ishant. He showed signs of regaining the form he showed in Australia. Remember the Ponting-Ishant tussle?

And since England is at home, they had that advantage too. So I predict it to be a drawn series: 1-1 with rain playing spoilsport in the other two matches :)

Whatever be the result, cannot wait to watch high quality test matches once again!

Roland Garros, bulleted.

Few thoughts on the French Open…

  • Time is such a rare commodity these days that I took nearly 3-4 days to realize that French Open had started.
  • Was wishing for a Nadal-Federer cracker, got the wish :) Got to see exceptional tennis from the two masters.
  • Djoker was blown away in the SF. Federer was majestic in that match, seemed to me he was intent on taking revenge for the Aus Open SF loss to him.
  • Earlier there was Fed, Nadal, daylight, others. Now it is Nadal, Fed, Djoker, daylight, others. Murray is still no match for the top three.
  • While I’ve always been a Nadal supporter, I’ve no doubt that Federer is the best player of all times; it is just that even though he is the best, Nadal is almost always better than him :)
  • And while I’m talking about Federer-Nadal rivalry, this article is a must read: How did Rafael Nadal humble the great Roger Federer. Bear in mind it is a two year old article.
  • It was good to see Li Na cross the final hurdle. Was rooting for her in the Aus Open, but Clijsters had been a better player that day.
  • Can someone tell me how is Caroline Wozniacki still the world number 1? Guess it is akin to SA getting the top ODI/test rankings despite not winning any major tournament. Consistency is rewarded…

It is so easy to write a post in the form of bullet points :)


Meet the Blogger…

I write! Topic does not matter, can be my life, or my travels, or any match I saw, or the Hyderabadi life, or reminiscing about Raipur, or penning Short Stories & 55s.

I can be contacted at kunalblogs[at]gmail[dot]com.

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