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Sight Screen

Friday, September 23, 2005


This account, of the legal team Pawar and his backers have assembled, is straight out of John Grisham.
Actually, Pawar's real weapon is Lalit Modi -- the man who already accomplished the seemingly impossible when he toppled the Rungta family -- Dalmiya's oldest, and strongest, pillars of strength -- from power in the Rajasthan Cricket Association. For a sense of what the Rungtas are -- were -- about, there's this column I once did on them; and mind, all this is just the tip of an enormous iceberg.
I am almost tempted to venture a prediction. I suspect the outcome of the election, as and when it happens, has already been agreed to by all parties -- but if it turns into a real election, and the Pawar camp wins, I'd not be one bit surprised to see a complete revamp of domestic cricket; the introduction of a soccer league style system, with corporate teams (didn't the BCCI make some noises about this a while ago?), etc. For why? Because Modi has been toying with that idea for a long time; he has a full-fledged project report ready to roll out; he has even tried bouncing it off the BCCI, but you know how that body is -- it's been thoroughly inoculated against even accidental contamination by new ideas.
PostScript: Out of here, guys. If anything really interesting crops up over the weekend, will post; else, see you Monday. Adios for now, and TGIF


  • Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

    I have a hawaii flower Check It Out!

    By Blogger Blog Babe, at 19:54  

  • Prem,
    Do you seriously believe that Dungarpur/Pawar will do anything good for Indian cricket? SeriouslY?

    By Blogger Jai, at 19:57  

  • jai: Dungarpur is harmless. He wakes at 10, gets his first drink at noon, is sozzled by 2, sleeps till 4, gets his next drink by 7 and spends the rest of the night boring everyone to tears.

    Pawar will get his pound of flesh, but he will do good stuff too -- he has, for the MCA (among other things, he was solely instrumental in resolving a seemingly impossible dispute). Plus, guys like Pawar and Modi will push for such things, not merely because they are good for Indian cricket, but because there is money to be made.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 20:00  

  • The Dungarpur part was funny. I will trust your words on Pawar, don't know anything about Modi. But Pawar being a politician, I have doubts how much time he will actually spend on cricket realted issues. The only politician who came into cricket administration and whom I liked to an extent was Madhav Rao Schindia.

    By Blogger Jai, at 20:06  

  • http://cricket.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-1241023,curpg-3.cms

    saurav on coachs and fitness etc

    By Blogger tombaan, at 20:11  

  • Wowow, can't wait to see new PCCI can do...it will be a fresh air.

    Have strong league with good pitches may yield new talented players in 3-4 yrs time.

    Jaggu was busy with corporate sponsorships and enjoying it. Like to see new team in action.

    By Blogger Rajg, at 20:48  

  • Prem,

    Just re-read your interview with Sunil Dev, linked to from a later post. I'm adding my comments here since it is the more recent one.

    A couple of quick thoughts cropped up after reading this interview. One was on Sunil Dev commenting that he had another libel suit against him, "this time filed by Dalmiya's good friend Mark Mascarenhas". Now this is the same Mark Mascarenhas who died in a car accident & who was Tendulkar's great buddy (he also had something to do with SRT's brand management....or something else). Wow, this gets complicated, but obvious on hindsight - why would Dalmia not try to get as much of a grip on every player as possible? In this connection, any insight into whether the cricket politicians try to hook SRT or any other current player into their games?

    Another thought was about Ali Irani, whom Sunil Dev vents about. An interesting story comes to mind. Once I was watching a game on TV with L Siva and talking about various things about cricket, and the topic turned to physios. I asked him if he remembered Ali Irani. He held up his hand, and one of his fingers is so crooked that Dalmia looks straight in comparison (ok sorry...couldn't resist...). "See this?", he said, "Irani set this bone after I broke it during a match." His tone said it all. I don't kow if Irani also gave him Revital.....

    By Blogger Jeetu, at 22:36  

  • Continuing where I left off... (also, I meant to say that teh interview with Sunil Dev was in an EARLIER post...)

    There were two other two things that struck me as painfully obvious in hindsight, but something that you don't think about immediately.

    One was about the betting to lose. The passionate discussions that I have been involved in over late night cups of chai have all beaten around the bush of exactly this, but Dev puts it all together so succinctly.

    The second was about cricket being commoditized now with every Tom, Dick & Harry opening up an academy & kids opting for cricket for the money. Not that the latter itself is wrong/bad, but there is a danger that it could create automatons without what it takes at the highest level. Among its plusses, it probably opens up the pool of potential cricketeers many-fold. It also brought a smile to read this reminiscence by Dev, "Arre, those days, we used to get so pumped up, get gooseflesh when we were playing for our school against rival schools. Today, does the cricketer playing for his country feel half that sense of thrill?" I guess some things do ahppen as one gets older....

    By Blogger Jeetu, at 22:47  

  • Since I was on a hat-trick, I figured I'd complete the job.

    Once I was discussing Indian cricket with an Aussie friend, when the inevitable comparisons were thrown up. Australia, with a population less than that of a medium size state in India, produces a great display of bench strength & wins 3 World Cups, but India with its teeming billions manages to produce fewer such players (his opinion, not mine) & barely scraped together one WC win. I figured that I had to defend India (Mera Bharat Mahaan & all that). Here are some points I countered with, admittedly without much serious thought into the matter. It may be interesting to get others' perspectives on this matter.

    1) Sure, we have a billion, give or take a couple of Australias (actually, it'd be TAKE, not GIVE...or is it the other way around?). However, the population that can actually afford (economically) to even consider cricket seriously is probably a tiny, tiny fraction of that. Let us say 10% - down to a mere 100 million. Of these, the ones who can actually play cricket to save their lives against a medium pacer are a small fraction - 5%, let us say (optimistic, from my past observations) - and we are down to 5 million. Probably less than 5% escape being shunted off to becoming doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc. - the pool is down to 250,000...
    Well, I carried this exercise on a little further & ended up with around 2 players in India who could potentially make it into Test cricket. Which begs the question, where did the others in the team come from, if my calculations were correct. In any case, should I not try to become a management consultant?
    The point being that societies that emphasize sporting excellence as part of their culture seem to have a better statistical chance of finding run-of-the-mill stars. Large societies seem to have a better chance of finding statistical outliers. The largest find freakish outliers like Tendulkar (don't ask me about Bradman - my friend already did).

    2) We have ...ummmm... a mildly inefficient cricket governing body in India... This brings to mind the quote I read somewhere by someone that India had progessed IN SPITE of its government, not because of it. Bingo! We aren't even talking about regional/team politics yet.

    3) We have regional/team politics.

    There are probably many more excuses that we can collectively come up with for our sorry state in cricket - this is a timeless issue. I'm hoping that this current point in time will lead to a path where we don't need to use any of them, but it never hurts to be prepared.

    By Blogger Jeetu, at 23:09  

  • jeetu, interesting story. About why India hasn't fulfilled its potential in cricket, I think its because success at the international level is all about fast bowling (including swing, seam, cut, variation, etc.). Bowling pace, and batting against pace. And our domestic system has traditionally been set up to produce spinners. I was looking up the record of the first class matches played on the new Nagpur pitch, and a lot of them finish within three days. That could be because many of our first-class batsmen are so unused to playing against pace in testing conditions.

    For a while we were dominant at home because other countries had such wrong-headed techniques against spin. But I think that's decreased a lot in recent years. They're learning to play spin like we do, and finding out that they can play it nearly as well as we can.

    It could also be because of the coaching of young cricketers. I'm struck by how nearly all of our batsmen bowl spin rather than medium pace/pace. Yuvraj is a great athlete. How come he grew up bowling loopy left armers, instead of trying to bowl fast? Laxman also is tall and broad-shouldered. Instead of bowling off-spin, how come he never tried bowling medium pace and extracting bounce off the pitch?

    Ganguly is an exception, also Jadeja. Obviously, that's changing, probably more and more coaches and young cricketers will realize that fast bowling is the quickest, if not the easiest, way into the Indian team. And that a good bowler is worth more to a team than a good batsman.

    But whether up to now there's not been enough emphasis on fast bowling at junior levels in India, and why this might be so, I don't really know. To answer that question, someone would have to know what they're talking about;)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01:25  

  • and it's always struck me that whenever the old-school indian batsmen (gavaskar, etc.) are asked how they learned to play pace so well, they invariably reply that they learned to play on matting wickets, and so grew up learning how to deal with bounce and pace.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02:16  

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