The ICC Hall of Infamy

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You gotta love the burra-sahibs at the ICC. Recently, following an article in the TOI I had a chance to look at their  Hall of Fame (evidently only people who retired before 1995 being eligible for consideration) and their Hall contains twenty-two Englishmen, eleven Australian and fourteen West Indians  and yes only three each of Indian and Pakistani players.

Not that ICC’s Hall of Fame matters a rat’s ass but it’s funny to see the “revenge” of the bura-sahibs who seek to bury their own obsolescence and the loss of colonial power (ever since the English and the Australians lost their veto power in the ICC) with a Hall of Fame that is so “oh those were the good days” nostalgic and so laughably biased that it isn’t funny.

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The Greatest. Period.

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It was in 1984. I was sitting in front of the TV when the pre-Grammy awards program came on. In pre-MTV days, state-controlled Doordarshan had almost no Western pop/rock programming except some horrible Europop that acted as fillers.

So I had absolutely no idea as to what I was going to see. I did not even know what the Grammies were. Good Bengali boys were supposed to listen to Rabindrasangeet and not even think about the devil’s music.

And then I saw him.

I did not know his name. I neither understood the lyrics. Even if I did, I doubt whether as a seven year old I would have understood a song about an illegitimate child.

But I was blown away. By the man in the video. The tip-toe stand, the twirl, the way he moved his jacket. The walk. The beat. And the pavement glowing as he put his foot on it.

Who was this mystery man?

My maternal uncle (mama) had just come back from the US. He had a wondrous cassette  player and a few cassettes. One of them was “Thriller”. It was then, over endless loops of that album, that I fell in love with what we then called “Western fast” music (as opposed to the slow Beethoven).

And I also fell in love with the man whose album it was. A man whose name I, and my generation,will never forget.

Michael Jackson.

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Pak A Punch Once Again

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Whether it be in claiming in their history books that they whipped the asses of India in all the wars that they fought against us ( including 1971 and Kargil) or whether it be in not giving up a match even when logic dictates otherwise, there is one thing that has characterized Pakistan—-their stubborn refusal to accept defeat.

If their pale surrender in the 2007 ODI World Cup and their final choking act in the 2007 T20 World Cup in front of the perennial losers India had tarnished this reputation, the 2009 T20 World Cup victory has asserted it once again.

With this victory, I hope, that the old Pakistan is back once again—-temperamental, nasty, supremely talented, the guys I grew up hating, loving and feeling jealous of.

Because with the colorless Kiwis and South Africans around and Australia looking a pale shadow of its old self, the cricket world needs some drama, some brilliance. The kind that only the men in green can provide.

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My Name Is Red

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 [ Caption: "Ami Miss Calcutta 1976" Ms. Sen---she is talking to a Maoist. With a red band on her head. Yes Ms. Sen, we may not know your "statistics" (Context: this Bangla song---ekhono to keu jaane na amar statistics) but we sure know how "independent" you are.]

Over the past three decades, the Left Front’s Red fortress in Bengal had acquired its aura of impregnability based on the Party’s  absolute stranglehold over rural Bengal.  While anti-incumbency, outrage at lack of development, atrocities like Bantala and Birati  might have lead to the loss of a few seats in Kolkata and some impassioned editorials in Anandabazar from time to time, it remained so insignificant in the electoral scheme of things, that the Politburo Pilots merely shrugged them off as not something worth getting their tea cold over. This confidence stemmed from the strategic infiltration of the party into all the institutions of rural life —panchayats, police, business and district administration– all of whom could be expected to work synergistically to keep the rural populace “in line”.

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Tik 20

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In 2007, I had hesitatingly “predicted” (perhaps too strong a word) India’s victory in the T20 World Cup. This was because I saw in them a shadow of our 1983 World Cup team—- underdogs, with little in the way of reputation and unsullied by  expectation.

This time however I saw in them the team of 1987  i.e. mega-hyped pre-tournament favorites who dominate the tournament and then in a few moments of madness (not keeping men for Gooch’s sweep, Kapil Dev’s crazy slog-sweep) throw it all away.

I was wrong. The Indian team of 2009 World Cup, unlike their grand-daddys in 87, never really looked, at any point of time, capable of going the distance. In all the matches save against Ireland they rarely dominated with their tournament hopes being obliterated by losing to two of the weakest teams in the league of the Big Boys—the English and the West Indies. When they played for pride, they did even worse going down in a spineless, spiritless surrender to South Africa.

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Baraah Na De

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[Photo courtesy Anirudh Bhatt]

Dhoni ki “baraah”  inch dilayega Vishwacup. I have my doubts. Not so much about the Viswacup but about the “baraah” inch part. Though why he went from 1.5 feet to “baraah” inch I am struggling to understand. Maybe Sehwag’s mysterious “coming back home”  may have something to do with the reduction.

To paraphrase John Donne “Any man’s muscle tear diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind.”