Category Archives: Sports

Yes We Know Its Time For #Sachin, Yet We Want Some More

Sachin Tendulkar

By Ankush Kumar

A spider and its climb tirelessly inspired a king to fight again. Victory was still not guaranteed but the fear of failure did not act as a deterrent to the man’s attempts. Great warriors have died in the lamest fashion, but none are remembered for their end, history still talks about their life and their efforts to conquer the world.

Tomorrow modern age heroes will adorn pages in different textbooks, they will inspire generations, but for many they will just remain a reference point. Nothing more and nothing less.

Yet for some bizarre reason we still want to cling on to a few of them forever. Why are we not ready to come to terms with the fact that ‘All good things come to an end”. Is it our insecurities or is it the fear that we do not have too many people who will inspire us again?

I guess its a bit of both worlds. The few good men, who have entertained us, given us a ray of hope, have made us believe in ourselves, in the process have learnt nothing but that. Shahrukh Khan has said it umpteen numbers of times that his biggest fear is that ‘one day he will get up and the arc lights wont be around’. He still is in a profession where his fans can get entertained at 70. But what about heroes who play on the field? How can they entertain us till death separates the genius and its soul?

The bitter reality is that they cant. Beyond a point defying age is stupid. Yet the fans that want to see Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar bat again outnumbers the critics who don’t. So what does he do now?

Imagine how tough it must be for the man itself to think of hanging the boots if its so tough for the fans. There is a entire generation for whom cricket has started and ends with Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

Few good men like him can adorn roles of mentors or coaches or teachers, but the reality is great sport stars make very average coaches. So how will the man entertain us? The answer is he wont. Once he walks back to that dressing room one final time, an era will be over.
Maybe the time has come, yes the BCCI has possibly squeezed in one tour before the SA series, maybe money was their priority, but then for once fans like me are not complaining. Maybe it will be his last test, maybe in bradmanesque fashion he will end his career, but that one chant ‘Sachiiiiin Sachiiiiin’ will reverberate through the roof of Wankhede this November.

Bruce triumphed, his failures are stories of folklore, warriors won, their battles are part of history, sport stars have fallen, lost, yet the only stories that are remembered is the number of hearts they have won.

His recent failures, have given a chance to his cynics to prove that he is Human not God, his fans knew that long back, its just that GODS were made by action and deeds and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar falls in the same category. One part in me and possibly many others will go numb when he will be gone. But till then let’s savor each run the legend scores as possibly even we know that the time is up.

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The Epic Fall of the Legend: Roger Federer

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By Siddharth Suneja

The Epic Fall Of The Legend: Roger Federer

It is one of the saddest things in sport to watch some of the greatest players/teams fall of their pedestal. It happened to Liverpool FC through the late 90s and early 2000s. It has happened to the Australian Cricket team recently. It happened to Michael Schumacher on his return and it is happening to the greatest tennis players of all time – Roger Federer.

An icon of the Open Era of Tennis, Roger Federer. The man has won the most number of Grand Slams in the history of tennis (17 and still counting). He has the record of being the No. 1 tennis player for the longest duration. The records that this man has created on his amazing journey through speak volumes.

  1. Holding the world No.1 position for the longest time – 302 weeks.
  2. Which includes a staggering 237 consecutive weeks stretch at the top.
  3. 17 Grand Slams
  4. Reaching the finals of all the grand slams in a year – 5 times
  5. 24 Men’s Grand Slam Finals
  6. One of only four people in the Open Era to complete a Career slam
  7. Most titles at Australian Open (Along with Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi)
  8. Most titles at Wimbledon (Along with Pete Sampras)
  9. Most titles at US Open (Along with Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras)
  10. And many more.

His fans across the globe are the most religious lot. Over the years it has not only been his tennis, but also his charm, generosity and attitude that has won people over. If you are looking for an equivalent of Sachin Tendulkar in Tennis, then Roger Federer is your man.

People have laughed with him – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94xyOpETYYs

People have enjoyed with him – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HavKc00qaJI&noredirect=1

People have cried with him –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCjw0Unm8OY

And that is why his defeat to Tommy Robredo is one of the hardest things to swallow for Federer fans. Roger has probably had one of the hardest years in his playing career in 2013. Not making a single final in any of the grand slams is not something that happens with a champion like him. Moreover, he has managed to win only one tournament the whole year and has reached a ranking of No.7 in the world dropping out of the top 4, the lowest since 2002.

The nature of his defeat and continued lack of form has prompted many to begin discussing his retirement plans. Such is the predicament of geniuses; every move they make is applauded, analyzed, and ridiculed. Statements like ‘He is getting too old for this level’, and ‘he will never win a grand slam again’ start to surface. What everybody forgets is how Roger Federer is feeling at the moment. Fans have a tendency to overreact in these situations, as they are the ones getting ridiculed by Rafa and Nole fans at the moment. So they call for Federer to quit playing altogether and rob the world of his immaculate genius.

Mark my words – The world will be a lesser place the day Roger Federer decided to hang up his boots and retire to the beautiful country of Switzerland. Tennis world will never be the same without the omnipresent Federer who has given each and every fan across the globe something cheer about (Yes even Rafa fans). The mere presence of Roger Federer is what makes all the difference. The mere presence of Roger Federer is what keeps things sane.

PS – I am a fan of Rafael Nadal, and was eagerly looking forward to their anticipated encounter in the quarter final of this year US Open. 

Ashes, Champagne And Yuck: The Ill-Defined Peeing Episode

england players

By Ganesh Subramanian

So after the final test drew to a close after England’s late charge towards victory was halted by bad-light, the Poms well and truly got to lay their hands on the historic Ashes urn. Australia was totally outplayed in the series and England fittingly won the series 3-0. No doubt the historic rivalry of the Ashes transcends ages and generations, but that doesn’t call for an utterly disgusting way to celebrate the victory. For those who are wondering what I am talking about, a few players of the England team celebrated their victory by urinating on the Oval pitch.

Now comes the apology from the English camp for any offence that might have been caused to anyone by their actions. A few lines from the apology statement published in ecb.co.uk website are given below:

“The England cricket team would like to state that during our celebrations after winning the Ashes at no time was there any intention to disrespect Surrey CCC, the Oval or anyone else involved in the game we love,”

The interesting thing about this statement is that while England says that it did not have any intention to disrespect Surrey CCC, the Oval or anyone else involved in the game we love, what they actually ended up disrespecting was the very spirit of cricket by their “taking a leak” act. It was a shameful act to hear itself, let alone see it for the true connoisseurs of cricket. Wonder what MCC has to say on the English players’ actions given that MCC is the custodian and guardian of cricket!

The apology goes on to say that the act was a simple error of judgement from the English players more than anything else. How much more mean could that excuse be? No international player in his sane senses is expected to indulge in an act like that whether it’s a feeling of euphoria after the victory or something else.

In a series already marred by DRS controversies, Lehmann-Stuart Broad spat and so on, this was the last thing the series or more importantly the game of cricket needed. With interesting happenings in cricket on right now with Zimbabwe beating Pakistan in an ODI after 15 years, India A squaring the test series with RSA-A after their 2nd test loss, etc this post Ashes episode leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. One can only hope that in their quest for becoming a world-beating side, the English team learns a bit of modesty and humbleness also along the way.

Indian Cricket Since Independence: Why Not Much Has Changed In 66 Years

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Kartik Kannan delves deep into Indian cricket since Independence and brings to you his opinion as to why he thinks not much has changed though we think otherwise. 

66 years post Independence in 2013, the Indian cricket fan must be elated looking at the way India have progressed from wanting to draw test matches, to wanting to compete, to wanting to regularly win. We’ve found our icons, we’ve made biopics on our heroes, we’ve become the central power in world cricket, and as audiences we’ve made cricket a central source of our happiness. We’ve won 2 cricket World cup’s, a T20 world cup, and mildly basked ourselves in the sunlight that Test cricket affords to the number one team. We have the crowning jewel in the IPL where the world comes to play cricket, where computer analysts and commentators dissect every 1/120th of an innings. Not a bad journey, for a side that was left to fend for itself in the post-colonial hangover of the British Raj, Isn’t it?

Not Quite! Indian cricket finds itself today, not too far from where it started, looking at patterns that and the big picture, despite the highs of Indian cricket, that are reminded to us in various re runs on the sports channels. Indian cricket has always resembled a Renault Duster, by the collective aura of its individuals, but when it comes to the seminal moment of the 4-wheel drive working in tandem with the steering wheel and the accelerator on a rough terrain, the experience that’s more often been given has been that of a cranky Maruti 800. We always have some part that doesn’t work, and the other sturdy parts take the pressure. The end result is that we have a Maruti 800, which goes by a few pleasant drives, but still is continually searching for its service station, despite having the highest number of service stations. The service stations’ are exactly BCCI’s coffers. No cricket board makes the kind of wealth like the BCCI make, but still the Indian cricket team is searching for the recipe that makes their concoction consistently tasty.

When I think of why we are the way we are, I see the following reasons

a)   No Domination DNA– Indian cricket is reflective of its education system, where the focus is on numbers and individual merit, with little focus on teamwork. India also historically has been a nation that’s played catch up to its rulers, and has never gone on war by itself to conquest territories. So the DNA to dominate or ward off attacks has not genetically been there. India has seen a Tendulkar, a Venkatraghavan, an Eknath Solkar, but not a team like Warwick Armstrong’s ‘Invincibles’

b)   Lack of Worth Ethic and Discipline– John Wright and Greg Chappell’s notes on Indian cricket did briefly touch upon the lack of work ethic and discipline in Indian cricket, which never quite allowed India to get out of the quagmire they find themselves stuck in. Speaking of lack of the need to charter a vision, India has never quite had a moment to themselves to feel the need to start a revolution to having a world-class team in all forms of cricket. Not having a clear memo to climb cricket’s Everest and staying there, and not finding the right men to climb regularly has been India’s undoing.

c)    No effect from Drubbings– When the West Indies they were bounced out in the 70’s and shamed with whitewashes from Australia, they decided to meet fire with fire, and scouted for fearless cricketers who’s primary responsibility was to instill the fear of life into the opposition. They never looked back until Steve Waugh shot the Caribbean bubble in Sabina Park, that had grown 15 years without a negative result across countries. That moment of shame never happened to India, despite two incidences of 0-4 drubbings in Australia in 4 tours across 2 decades. As a result the strong urge to build the world’s best team has not originated from the stare in the eye.

d)   Passing Shower, but not a consistent Monsoon– Whenever Indian Cricket faced an acid test, it found its way out of a hole (Like Eden Gardens 2001, Cricket World Cup 2011 being instances), but never quite allowed the positive energy to translate into a culture or a DNA forthe full value chain to absorb (Selectors/Domestic Players/Current Squad). We’ve allowed talent and grit in the shape of a passing shower to give us our cricketing monsoon, instead of having steady rainfall. We don’t need drought, we don’t need floods, we just need a consistent and threatening monsoon, but do we have the right rainmakers who promise the parched Indian fans of cricketing glory?

e)    Rainmakers- The Administrators– The final point is the need of having a great administrative unit, to run the show. While great administrators have come and gone by, Cricketing administration is a combination of respect for the audience, financial acumen and a vision to run the game with growth in mind. India’s done brilliantly on the financial acumen, while Australia and England have done well in the other departments. India with the financial backing it has, needs to put its eggs in the right basket and bet on a vision, rather than allowing random politicians stripping the game’s sanctity through their misdeeds.

India will still manage to produce a leader like MS Dhoni, a run machine like Virat, but it will struggle to produce their version of the ‘Invincible’, unless India pauses to think where they want to be. Like just another Indian cricket fan, despite the passing showers, I keep hoping that the “Fire in Babylon” moment in Indian cricket is not too far away, as I pass yet another Independence day, waiting for Indian cricket’s independence from its prejudices.

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Seven Girls In Junior World Cup Hockey Squad Are Anaemic: Michael Nobbs

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By Soumitra Bose

Ex-Aussie Olympian identifies flaws in India’s hockey system but says with scientific approach and immaculate talent spotting, the former world champions can regain the golden days.

Michael Nobbs quietly flew out of Delhi in the wee hours on Thursday before telling sports.ndtv.comthat at least seven girls in the junior India squad that won a historic World Cup bronze in Monchengladbach, Germany last Sunday were suffering from anaemia

In an exclusive chat, Nobbs congratulated the junior girls for winning India’s first World Cup medal but cautioned against a general “burnout” due to a lack of scientific and long-term diet plan in the coaching system. “I have two teenaged daughters and they are part of an Australian system that not only takes care about their skills but their health as well. India have to adopt such an approach or else, these girls from rural India would be lost forever,” said Nobbs.

“The welfare of India’s hockey has always been topmost in my mind. I am not trying to point fingers at anyone, I am just trying to say that India can do much better with proper scientific training and approach”, Nobbs said. Anaemia is a medical condition indicating iron deficiency in the body leading to tiredness and lethargy.
“It’s a very common among girls and in India it is acute. How do you expect the girls to match the healthier and stronger European girls in a world competition? Considering this, the bronze (India beat England) has been a brilliant achievement. It’s nice to give cash awards, but there is a lot to do with these kids,” said Nobbs.

The veteran coach said anaemia can be controlled with proper scientific diet and monitoring. “I was surprised to meet a dietician in SAI, Bangalore who has been working for the last 40 years without having done anything noteworthy,” Nobbs said, adding the government was simply wasting its resources.

Nobbs said India had the potential to make it big in world hockey with a scientific approach and careful talent spotting. Unlike most foreign coaches who leave on an extremely bitter note, Nobbs said he would be happy to return to India, but wasn’t sure if he would like a second innings as chief national coach. (Also read: Rani Rampal: A cart-puller’s daughter who stormed world of hockey)
The 59-year-old Australian, who resigned last month on health grounds, is flying to Perth to seek medical advice for hyper-tension before travelling to Hobart to meet his 15-year-old daughter, a hockey prodigy. Nobbs’ elder daughter is an international figure skater.

Nobbs left with mixed feelings on Indian hockey. While his deteriorating health condition – fluctuating blood pressure and hemorrhoids – forced him to stand down as national coach, the genial Australian was unhappy with several issues that threw a spanner in his work.

“I was getting cranky at small issues which I would normally overlook. I think my health was also refusing to side with me. In Holland during the world league, I thought I would die, I passed out twice and was sometimes seeing 44 players on the pitch” said Nobbs. (Suggested read: Ministry to now fund customised training for 50 sportspersons)

“I couldn’t have carried on like this and with a few things not going the way I was wanting, I think resigning was the best option. I surely wasn’t sacked. The media reported without checking the facts but that’s expected when you are doing a high-pressure, high-profile job,” said Nobbs.

Nobbs didn’t elaborate on the “few” things that irritated him but selection matters and the way players without credibility were picked to attend national camps clearly angered him. “I surely don’t want to work for Hockey India again but India have the potential to match any country in the world. It’s oozing with talent and there is no dearth in resources. I have seen this with my own eyes and there is a lot of work to be done,” he said. (Also read: Sports Minister unimpressed with CWG, Asian Games progress)

Nobbs said Hockey India’s secretary-general Narinder Batra was a man with a mission. “He surely is eager and putting in a lot of effort and money in Indian hockey. He surely is demanding and why not? But he won’t be able to do things alone. For example, if the national selectors are watching just eight games and picking talent for a national, Indian hockey is going nowhere. You are doing injustice to a great kid because his team lost in the first round,” the Australian Olympian said.

Nobbs has presented a vision statement to the Sports Authority of India, a much maligned body in India. The Aussie, on the contrary, says SAI has a big role to play and can turn things around in the country. “My understanding of SAI is that it has to be the driver. If SAI is funding Indian sport, it has the right to ask questions. That’s not happening. National federations must be answerable to SAI and I can tell you there are honest men in SAI with lot of vision,” said Nobbs.

The Australian said India badly needed a Sports Bill. “It will raise accountability. There are just too many people in the establishment who have taken things for granted. And the national bodies have to be wary about ex-players who act like advisors. The game is much more scientific now. You have to accept change to keep pace with the world,” said Nobbs.

The Aussie said the pressure will now be on Roelant Oltmans, Hockey India’s High Performance Manager, who will double up as coach in the Asia Cup in Malaysia later this month. “Roelant is a man with proven caliber. He will learn a lot in Indian hockey as I have learnt in my two years here. It won’t be easy for him but I wish him all the luck,” Nobbs said. (Related: Oltmans congratulates junior women team)

India must win the Asia Cup from August 24-September 1 in Ipoh to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in The Hague. India missed a World Cup berth after a poor show in the Hockey World League in Rotterdam recently. Only the Asia Cup winners gain a direct entry to the world championship. (Suggested read: Dhanraj Pillay says foreign coaches not the solution for team)

“India normally play well against Asian teams. We should be able to beat Malaysia, Pakistan and Korea to make the World Cup,” said Nobbs, who of course added that India are not at full strength. According to him, the absence of Shivendra Singh, Sandeep Singh (both dropped); S.V. Sunil and Danish Mujtaba (both injured) will be felt.

Indian Street Cricket From The Eyes Of Jack Hoyle – 3

The final part of the three-part series on Street Cricket in India from Jack Hoyle. Watching these pics and his travel, one thing is sure, he definitely has a good book in his camera. Looking forward to much more from him. 

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A young boy shows off his cricket ball as a game gets underway in a temple courtyard, New Delhi.

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A youngster waits in the wings as the older boys show him how it’s done.

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Next man in.

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It’s not just boys who are mad about cricket, plenty of girls are too. A group of boys and girls play in the shadow India Gate, Delhi.

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A young boy takes a large stride as the ball goes past the bat and towards India Gate, Delhi.

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The ball goes flying over the keepers head and towards the government buildings.

Keep watching this space because Jack is going to give us his presentation on Myanmar next, his last place of stay. 

Depleted India Rout Zimbabwe To Take The ODI Series

ind vs zim

By Ganesh Subramanian

After M S Dhoni’s heroics in the final of the tri-series in the Caribbean, India embarked on yet another ODI series, this time against Zimbabwe. India was expected to dominate and probably win the series, but this 5-0 whitewash is slightly unexpected. Die-hard Indian supporters may vehemently disagree with this, but I am saying this on two counts. One is that India went in to the series with a new look squad with the likes of Ashwin, Dhoni, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar & Ishant Sharma rested. Secondly, Zimbabwe has always been a nation that has challenged India in cricket. They have been more of a thorn in the flesh kind of cricketing nation when it comes to matches against India. Remember the match in the 1999 World Cup when India lost by 3 runs?

Barring the first two ODIs where Zimbabwe managed to apply some pressure on the Indian side, the Indian team has been thoroughly professional in whitewashing the African nation. Zimbabwe batsmen appeared listless in the whole series, be it against pace or against spin. The batting has let them down badly in the series, mainly due to lack of contribution from their experienced pros. Brendan Taylor, the skipper, had a series to forget with the bat as well as with the gloves behind the stumps. The other seasoned campaigners like Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura and Sean Williams shone briefly in patches in the series and were not able to make a substantial contribution. The bowlers did their best but could not win matches given the low totals they were defending. The positives from the series for Zimbabwe have been Kyle Jarvis who looked impressive and Sikandar Raza Butt, who seems a good prospect for the future. Zimbabwe quickly needs to reflect on what needs to be done since they have series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka coming soon.

India must be pretty happy with their work in the series. All the batsmen have been amongst the runs at different points in the series. The seam bowlers have utilized the new ball to create dents in the Zimbabwean batting line-up and the spinners have polished off the innings quickly. Kohli’s captaincy has been impressive and he has been selfless in dropping himself down the order especially in the last 2 ODIs so that the others can have a hit out in the middle. Personally for me, I would have loved to see Parvez Rasool make his debut in the series to see what he has got. This was the best opportunity for the team management to try him out given that once Ashwin returns to the fold, it would be difficult for Rasool to get an opportunity.

Now India earns a much deserved rest for a couple of months before hosting Australia for one T20 and 7 ODIs followed by a tough tour to South Africa in November. The boys in blue need to make the most of this break to relax and enjoy themselves and get their batteries recharged for the series ahead.