Sunday, April 25, 2010


           ‘Cricket is the religion and Sachin is god’ read one of the posters when the man from Mumbai was batting in one of the matches. Such is the career graph of this little boy who came from a middle class family from Mumbai with a decent upbringing that he catapulted into the ranks of legends of world cricket. With a history of 20 playing years, this man surely is unstoppable. Playing from the age of 16 years when boys of that age dream of girls and studies, this ‘boy’ had a different stance altogether. Eat cricket, sleep cricket, live cricket was the motto and he left no stone unturned to give cricket as much he took from it. He is one of the most loved cricketer in the country. Think cricket, think Sachin!

             It is simply astonishing and very hard to figure out how can someone by so consistent for 20 years. Of course, he had his bad days, bad patches, but he bounced back hard, whenever he hit bottom. And the best part is, he lets his bat do the talking. No matter what the critics say about him, he never reacted harshly, he maintained his calm, and responded with the willow in his hand. The moments when he raises his bat when he achieves a half century or a century or a double century, it is his answer to the critics, as if saying….Take this!!!

              He stands on number one on all record books. This is not a task of an ordinary talent, this surely is a gift god bestows on few. I remember one interesting one liner regarding him…God wanted to play cricket, so Sachin was born. I think this might be true. One more thing that makes him extra special is that inspite of being the highest run getter in almost all forms of the game, he has achieved those with style, with proper technique. The drives, the pulls, the glance are all packed in with a panache. He is like a living dictionary for all the lovers of the game.

               Ravi Shastri mentioned him in a correct way while introducing him…here is one greedy man. Humorous as it may sound, but it sums it all. The greed! The greed to play cricket and to play it better, for the country, for himself. i have heard there is one more factor that keeps him going so much for this greed, he says his coach Mr Ramakant Achrekar has never said to him ‘well played’ for any of the stupendous innings till date. Sachin wants to hear his guru say that, but the guru knows that his disciple can deliver, much better, even much better. This keeps Sachin going harder and harder, guess he wants to achieve that some day, while Mr Achrekar might feel that after saying that Sachin might relax.

                 The greatness of this man is that everybody identifies with him and everybody feels that they are playing when he is out on the field. Arey Sachin out ho gaya kya, is the common question when India is playing cricket. Every Indian finds a sense of fulfillment when he scores a century, guides India to victory or bowls everybody simply with his humility. I don’t remember any other cricketer ever achieved this feat. One interesting and humorous posters I read was , ‘ Sachin is making people atheist, to believe in god or him’. Comparisons with god, what else can a person achieve in his lifetime?

                There have been innumerable praise and media buzz with the feats that this prodigy has achieved, but a personalized tribute always holds a special place in the heart. My blog will be incomplete and will be wanting for more if I do not write about the person who defined the way cricket is being followed in the entire nation –one man called Mr Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. One of the very few people whom I admire with utmost respect- should have a mention in my blog. This is not an attempt to publicize my homage to him, but as a channel to express the bubbling desire to write about him. And no better day that his birthday, today as he turns 37, I dedicate this post and a lot of prayers to the great man whom I call  Sach-in-vincible.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Circus called Cricket

       India- a land where one sport defines incredible number of passionate people. A land where the game of bat and ball rules the heart of the people. Cricket is the name of the game and fanatics are all around in the country giving every bit of advice, comments and suggestions for individual players. It is ironical to know how a land of more than one billion people, which boasts of its national game as hockey has very few followers as compared to cricket. The passion for cricket goes to an unbelievable adrenaline level for the city which hosts a particular match.
        The way it has catapulted  itself from the famous 1983 world cup victory to present scenario is breath taking. There have been lots of factors which have ruled and dominated the cricketing landscape over the years, nationally as well as internationally. But no matter what, it reaps in those anxious eyes every time it makes a headline. 
        Cricket has always been a slow and steady game when it was inculcated by the Britishers. The game used to last for 6 days previously which we know as the test match. Interestingly, these test matches had one rest day when the captains of the two participatory teams would decide on a rest day between the match. Later it was shifted to a 5 day playing format without a break. This surely is the ‘test’ for all the players of the ability to be vigilant yet docile, active yet steady. This form of cricket which is still prevalent is always referred to as the true test of a cricketer’s ability. Such format though present but marks a insignificant contribution to be in a cricketing calendar.
        A smaller version of the ‘test’ match was thought of by Kerry packer when he came up with this format of a 50 over match i.e the ODI (One Day Internationals). Those too were played for 60 overs but with time was reduced to a 50 over arrangement. This set-up was well received by the audience and people thronged on to the stadiums and tv channels to watch the ‘limited’ version of the game. Such a response gave rise to innumerable multi team tournaments like the world cup, champions trophy, tri-series, four team series etc. This formula worked so well with the masses that it started gaining momentum in due course of time.  
        In the decade of 2000-2010, a realization dawned that the 50 over game is a bit too longer version of the game and a yet shorter version needed to be formatted. This thought gave rise to the concept called 20-20, where a 100 over version was reduced to a 40 over version in a day. This concept, though debated and discussed a lot before being introduced had its own concerns before it was launched in England.
        The cricket crazy nation like India was not behind to adapt to this new and improved version of the game. With the advent of this format in this country, a new platform called an IPL (Indian Premier League) got created. With the induction of a tournament like IPL, the country was on a verge of a broadcasting wave. Though based on the European counterpart (EPL), newer terminologies like team franchises, cheer leaders came into picture. Who would have ever imagined 5 years back that a boundary or a sixer from a batsmen would be danced upon by the women clad in minimal clothes who knew nothing about the game. Who would have thought that a game which required utmost concentration would bring in music into the stadium when a wicket goes or a batsman is on a roll.
        Though with the IPL brought together three pillars of the Indian money making schemes together- Cricket , Bollywood and Politics. A superb formula to create a altogether different experience of cricket by bringing glamour and power into play was stunningly received by the public. 
The product has devised as to appeal to a very large audience. It brought in all the razzmatazz which is prevalent in American football and its equivalent.The prospect it brought was incredible for a global response, when last year many major countries pitched in hard to host the Indian extravaganza. IPL’s appeal goes out of india with this year the event is made to reach to yet wider audience with a live streaming of the matches all around. All possible mediums of entertainment are given daily doses of IPL for the duration it is on.
        But we are forgetting one thing- we are loosing on ‘real’ cricket. Though the IPL is a win-win combination for all, the looser is cricket. Many feel that cricket is the main hero of the ‘circus’ called IPL- I feel it is the fading hero.
        The ‘real’ charm of the game is diminishing as batsmen are more concerned on quantity rather than quality in making runs. The artistry of batting is restricted only to the veterans who improvise intelligently in such conditions. Young cricketers will target themselves to play in IPL more than at international level because this is a money minting business. Ofcourse, it is a great opportunity for local talent reach to global audience. The bidding process means that money guides the loyalty to a particular team. One player plays for a certain team this year and next year he finds himself amongst a new group of players. The penetration of glamour in cricket is of a major concern for the ardent fans of the game. I was shocked to read some news channel flaunting news about a match as ‘ Shilpa vs Preity’. It is very disturbing to know that these glamour dolls who invest in the teams rule the game- where is the respect for the talent that they endorse. The commercialization of the game is giving an ugly shape to it. Comparing the game with English Premier League and other games looses the charisma cricket is associated with.
        The so called IPL party nights too is a matter of pondering. The loosing team is also seen partying the same night- where is the reverence for the game? Most of the cricketers seem to fancy an entry into such parties than on the field. Exclusive fashion shows for IPL?
Nobody ever imaged an ad being featured between two balls. Look at the edition this time- we are exposed to ads even for a 5 sec slot. Even when a bowler takes his walk towards his run up. Are they showing match in between ads or ads in between match?
64 matches in this edition. 94 in the next one. Isn’t it getting boring? An overdose of cricket? An overdose of parties and overdose of cheer leaders, of music of fashion shows of glam dolls, of celebrities, of endorsements, and a whole lot more of commercialized cricket. 
Still it will gain the same amount of response because it has been welcomed as the ‘circus called cricket’.