Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scout's honor

Aakash Chopra played with great distinction for Delhi on the Indian domestic circuit before he was unceremoniously dumped from the squad.  Rather than waste time fighting the system, he took that as an opportunity to migrate and play for Rajasthan.  In two years, Rajasthan won the Ranji Trophy twice and his reward.....

....well, read for yourself.  There's a reason I will be following the fortunes of the Himachal Pradesh Ranji team very closely this year.  In fact, my dream final would be between Himachal Pradesh and Hyderabad.
So, why am I on the road once again? Have I fallen in love with this nomadic lifestyle? Or is it the lure of money that has forced me to ditch my old team? No, I don’t like living out of a suitcase and away from my family for five months in a year. The older you get, the more you miss the comforts of your home. No, it isn’t the money either, for God’s been kind enough to provide enough work to keep me occupied and the fire burning in the kitchen. I’m on the road for the very thing that made me hit the road for the first time - honour, a sportsman’s eternal quest.

Poetry in slow-motion

It's no secret that I believe Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all-time.  Or, at least, if there was/is a tennis player with a greater range of shots combined with grace in hitting the yellow ball, I'd like to have watched him/her play.  And I'd still think Roger could have held his own.

The secret to his success (as it is with most other successful sportspersons) is how focused he is on the ball at the moment of impact and beyond.  Check out this video:

And if that isn't enough for you, check him out in super-slow-motion....

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Paradise regained

If he plays a few more Tests, Mahela Jayawardene will supplant Rahul Dravid as the most prolific Test match fielder in history.  Lots of articles will be written about the (often) ignored Sri Lankan batting legend.  Many more have already been written about Kumar Sangakkara, who melds his lawyerly background with an outspokenness that is loved by writers everywhere.  Sangakkara, with his faux British-Lankan accent captures the popular press while the man who has made more runs, scored more centuries, and made the highest-ever score by a right-hander in Tests is content to cede the spotlight.

However, for all the press that the more prominent cricketers of our time (the Pietersens, the Tendulkars, the Kohlis) get, I doubt any of them will be the feature of a tribute as wonderful as this one by Wright Thompson, of ESPN.
This happened a few years back, a month after finishing a crushing second in the 2007 World Cup. It was during the war, when checkpoints regularly stopped traffic on the highways. Java and Mahela, the team captain, rode back late at night from a friend's funeral. Java drove. It was dark and empty on the garrison road. The troops stopped them. It was dark, the soldiers focused and on edge, the cricket star was out of context. Java was exhausted and needed to get home. "Tell him who you are," Java begged. "I won't," Mahela said. 

Java laughs now in the hotel lobby. "This guy asked for the ID," he says, "so he gave him the ID. The ID doesn't say 'Mahela Jayawardene,' it says 'Denagamage Proboth Mahela de Silva Jayawardene.' Even if you read it, it doesn't click, unless you look for it, you know?" 

They waited on the soldiers to finish searching their car and then drove on to town. Java was annoyed and wanted to know why Mahela wouldn't do something so simple that would speed up their day. "I may play cricket," he said, "but let them do their job."