November 12, 2008

Ifs and Buts

What could have happened.
Ponting could have bowled Watto with Krazzo. India would have set Aus a
target of 269 instead of 369, and Aus would have chased it by tea.
Ponting, in one afternoon's worth of nuance, could have stolen the
trophy from under India's nose. Indians would have bled, and acted like
sore losers, brought up any wrong decisions, the low over-rates, kink in
Krejza's actions, Bedi's treason and blamed the Nagpur pitch yet again.
Dhoni would have had to shave his head, Rahul would have needed Z-cover,
Tendulkar would have said the team did well to get here and Kirsten
would have been forced out.

What happened.
Ponting wanted to play a Test against the NZies - them of
very-nearly-lost-to-Bangladesh fame. So he bowled Huss and Kuss at
Harbhajan, the most hated Sikh on earth, who got a Fifty. Ricky boy run
himself out to the most rollypolly of Indian fielders doing a poor man's
Jhonty. Dada led the side for the last few overs of his life. That, from
Dada to Waugh and Dhoni to Punter, was as solid a finger as they come.
Mr. MopHair got a car ! And now Gotham city thinks sledging should be
banned, or elbow-action be allowed !

November 6, 2008

Ricky Ponting, what a dick !

Jason Kreiza has taken 3 wickets, and Ponting has a lot of poo on his

In fact, Mr. Jazzy Krazzy took 2 wickets in the first session of the
first day of the Test. That's how many Stuey McCluey managed in 2 test
matches and 73 grand overs of boring stump to stump variety. Yet it is
Shiny McCluey who's been the "Star Performer." Ponting's selection
policy has displayed a distinct deficiency of ballsiness.

Sure JK Balding went for runs, but then runs are inversely proportional to
the wickets you take and that has been Ponting's toothache all tour. His
wheelers simply haven't been able to beat the Indian blade. Every one of
his charges has bled runs. Which happens in the dustbowl that is India.
New ball doesn't swing and spin comes slowly off the track. Runs WILL be
scored in India, defensive fields or not, new age cricket or not, Shane
Warne on field or not.

So, what do you try to do, O Visiting Captain ? You frikkin try to take

And who will get me those wickets ? Kraezzer Blazer - who turns it a

Not Stuey McCluey ? No, Not Shit McCluey ! Not even Pale White !

That has been Punter's problem. India rewards risk-taking and enterprise
in every sense, not just on the field, but Punter has tried to hide
behind the scrooginess of his safe options. He's devised the negative
tactic of operating "choking" bowlers with deep fields in place, and the
Indians have exploited the contradiction that is hidden therein. That's
not the way to win matches, that is how you try to save matches. For all
the 9,999 uses of "Attack" by the team's loudspeakers, it is nothing but
Defence. Ponting has tried to defend the team's glorious record in the
past, he has tried to defend the reputation of his best buds and
ultimately he has tried to save his own ass. Not for him to take the
game by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake down. He's happy
to tan in the suns of India, telling himself it's not his fault.

It IS his fault, and for that he deserves a kick in the nuts.
If he promiseth to not hug me with those hands he spits unto, I'll do
him this one favour.

November 5, 2008

Make mine a Super Special

Among other things, the 4th Test match between Ind and Aus will be VVS Laxman's 100th Test match.
So how's he done so far ?

Here's a snippet of Laxman's stats thus far sorted by match results.

Evidently his batting average shoots up in the matches India has drawn. It is nearly 20 points above his career average of 45.41runs. A conclusion that can be made is that Laxman scores heavily in dead matches.

Which would be a sham because it is a lazy conclusion ! Because, sample this:
(in Drawn matches)

Not so dead anymore, huh !! In the 2nd innings Mr. Wrists turns it on fine style. His average shoots up to the 80s. He occupies the crease longer. Looks like when the team is in dire straits - about to concede the match - our man here steps it up, and lives upto his billing of being Very Very Special.

That in itself is vindication, but since we're at it lets engage in some more Laxmania:
(by Batting position, in 2nd innings in Drawn matches)

Holy Cow !! The-Guy-Australia-Hate-To-Guts goes briefly Bradmanesque. Averages of 167 and 108 are obscene. The Boss, it seems, has on more times saved his team from humiliation when they were 5-6-7-8 down and the other Fab-4 superheroes were cooling their heels in the dressing room.

All of which means that all these 35 Drawn (out of his 99) games might not have been so DRAWN had the VVS not brought out the Super Special.

November 4, 2008

Saint KP

Saint KP

Quantum Leap

The quantum has leapt. With Anil Kumble's retirement the time for
cricket's new guard has come.

In Utseya, Ashraful, Gayle, Vettori, Jayawardene and Graeme Smith world
cricket already had a clique of young skippers strutting about. However,
the teams they lead do not form the crux of world cricket. It is India,
Australia and England who literally own cricket today, and frankly they
also play the best cricket. It would have been premature to call it a
change of guard with the senior statesmen - Kumble, Ponting and Vaughan
- still around.

Hence when Micheal Vaughan handed over the mantle to Kevin Pietersen it
felt like the start of something, like the wheels were being set into
motion. As unplanned successions tend to go, the incumbent could no
longer justify his selection and the young gun seemed an irresistible
force. Similarly, Kumble had not planned on retiring yesterday.
Circumstance and sense had forced his hand, and in Dhoni India had
simply planned ahead. And so the wheel turned. Nine of the ten test
nations are now being led by the young turks. Heady, youthful times are

Now if only Pup can pip the Punter, we can all toast the charge of the
youth brigade.

October 22, 2008

Softly does it

Call me a nay-sayer, but I find the best way to be an Indian fan is to
be prepared for a loss next game. India are no Australia whose fans can
afford the relative sense of security akin to Goldman investors. India
are the Lehmans, the Sterns, the Lynches - millionaires one day, paupers
the next. They're pretty bullish right now, but they must guard against
the risk that market expectation brings.

The expectation that, at Kotla, India will steamroll Australia. Commentators
are ruling out an Aussie comeback saying that this Aus team lacks the
ability to bounce back. The captain is deemed a sun-baked alpha-male
incapable of a deft soft touch. Their lead pacer can't seem to get over
the separation from his wife. The most imposing batter, that gladiator
from the past, seems to have lost all his teeth at the kitchen counter.
There's talk of resurrecting the fishing all rounder. And of the
newcomers nothing great is expected.

India meanwhile is presumed to bet sat comfortably. The batting
juggernaut seems to be slowly cranking up speed one last time and is
expected to go out on Nitro. The fast bowlers are being celebrated as
the next-big-thing of reverse since the Ws. The spinners on display are
considered rich in both guile and turn. Jumbo awaits in the wings -
giving the team double options at both captaincy and leg spin. The
curator is gift-wrapping the 22 yards of read earth for him. India is
expected to brown-wash the tired and cranky wizards from Oz, it is
supposed to leave them kneeling, bleeding, covered in mud, begging for
mercy. This is hype.

It reminds of Jan 2008 and reeks of exaggerated supremacy. Then, there
was a similar gap between the 2nd and 3rd Tests. Then, a group of beaten
men regrouped. Then, the dominant force closed their eyes, shot in all
directions and missed everything. India must guard against Kotla
becoming Perth.

As for me, I am prepared.

July 7, 2008

Diarrhoea outbreak at Hogwarts.

Subcontinental cricket is suffering from a diarrhoea of the 50-over game. And it is apt to make the cringing pun that the players are going through the motions. It might be that my memory is showing signs of aging, and I'm a prime twenty-five, but the fact is that I can no longer recollect one day matches for more than three days. Triumphant victories, resounding defeats, last ball nail biters - nothing remains. The deluge of ODI cricket in the subcontinent is so overwhelming that it undermines what passes from one game to another, I can no longer tell Dhaka from Karachi, Guwahati from Colombo. On average a subcontinent team plays a one day match every three days. The downtime between consecutive series has petered down to a paltry week. Off season - what off season ? This leaves hardly any time for the spectator to build up anticipation before a tournament start, and definitely none for a post-series breather in which to savour the memories.

This year the IPL bonanza concluded in June and the flag post event, Asia cup, was fixtured for early July. A month's gap in the harsh summer, what luxury ! The players looked set to use the intervening month to cool off, the press dreamed up an extended bout of volleying amongst the Asian rivals, the Indian team might have had the time to dig out a tape or two of the Mendis carrom ball and the Asia cup would have ended in a crescendo celebrating all that's good in Asian cricket. Instead, the witches that run our cricket boards got together and brewed up an ugly money spewing syrup called the Kitply cup. It wasn't the first time they had done so, remember the IPL was similarly pulled out of the bag and plonked into what was supposed to be India's rest period, but while the IPL was born out of the necessity to embrace change there could surely be no such pretension about the Kitply cup. It was a tournament of tired teams playing on over-worked pitches at the onset of the Bangladeshi monsoon for the honour of lifting a plank of plywood. Safe to say I remember nothing of the games played.

The real witchery of the Kitply cup was in what it robbed us of. It robbed the players a chance to have a decent rest and a preparatory camp. Niggles and strains could have been sorted. Zombie cricketers could have caught some naps and the support staff could have worked out the new mystery spinner. The media, so essential to modern cricket, too could have enjoyed a longer build up to the Asian title race. Opposing camps could have lined each up in the press better, intricate rivalries could have been sufficiently hyped and strategies of mental disintegration could have been firmly established. No such thing happened. Rather, India's best batsman did not play due to a side strain, Pakistan's captain shabbily collapsed from exhaustion minutes before a match and his coach successfully instrumented a journalist walkout.

Because our witchcraft institutions compromised the quality and the success of the Asia cup for the chance to pick up an extra nickel along the way. It was thus that the baffling Ajantha Mendis brow beat the indifferent Indian batsmen in front of an absent crowd.

February 16, 2008


For the first times in three years I was dropped today.
I have thought about it here - A club cricketer's diary

January 30, 2008

The State Team

Following my suggestion for Sachin Tendulkar to be made the President of India, the BCCI installed a sub-committee to assess the feasibility of that suggestion. The sub-committee has found such a proposition possible indeed, and has gone one step ahead to recommended a full re-organisation of the Indian Government.

The Government will be formed by a coalition known as the Undressed People’s Alliance. This alliance will be led by Mr. Sharad Pawar who has promised to unlearn the Marathi language and to pick up Italian by the time the Government is installed. Mr. Pawar will not be taking an active role in the Cabinet and will read his Italian speeches from Roman script. Other partners in this alliance are the Senior Citizens’ Action Party led by the vibrant leader Mr. Raj Singh Dungarpur and the Aishwarya Samaj Party represented by the influential Mr. Amar Singh. The opposition is to be headed by Mr. Subash Chandra who represents the Future Vision Dal.

As intimated earlier, Sachin Tendulkar will be appointed the nominal head of India. His installation will take place this Friday in Melbourne at the Presentation Ceremony for the T20 match between India and Australia. Top leaders of the UPA alliance will fly to Melbourne to attend the ceremony in person. The Chief Justice of India will administer the Oath of Office to Mr. Tendulkar over a web-conference. In keeping with international protocol, Mr. Tendulkar will convert his Cricket tour to a State visit to Australia following his swearing in ceremony. In a show of solidarity, the Australian team have agreed to lose the game.

Upon his return to the sovereign Mr. Tendulkar will then oversee the institution of The Council of Ministers, who will be as follows:

Ø Cabinet Ministers

* Anil Kumble Prime Minister and in-charge of all unallocated portfolios. His management qualities have been highlighted recently, and while some might argue that age is against his appointment to the premier post, a trend of frequently-transplanted politicians in the recent past means he is still a safe bet.

* MS DhoniRailways, Prime Minister’s Office and Panchayati Raj. Mr. Dhoni has age on his side. He will do well to learn from the matters of the PMO. We hope he’ll further the Railways’ profitable ways as his sensibilities are in line with those of his predecessor, Mr. Lalloo Prasad. His rooted-ness and his infectious hair-sense should make him a popular champion of the Panchayati cause.

* Rahul Dravid ­­Defence and Statistics and Programme Implementation. He is a world renowned expert in these areas and will bring solidity to the table.Someone said, "Form is temporary, Class is permanent." Mr. Dravid has been known to have class.

* Sourav Ganguly Human Resource Development and Corporate Affairs. In the past, Mr. Ganguly has shepherded a number of talented up-coming politicians to success and it is hoped he can translate the same magic to the unemployed of this country. Recent encounters with a disgruntled Australian have opened his eyes to the sensitivities of other people. The charge of Corporate Affairs is placed in a bid to remove him from the Chyavanprash adverts resulting from an ensuing conflict of interest.

* VVS Laxman External Affairs. Given his excellent track record in dealing with foreign diplomats and international situations it is fitting that he be nominated to the MEA. In a bid to keep his confidence high, it is also mooted that he fulfills his duties on a 6 month home - 6 month Australia basis. When in Australia he will double up as our Ambassador there.

* Yuvraj Singh Agriculture and Rural Development. The committee recommends demoting Yuvraj to semi-pro politician status. Keeping in line with the style of his blunders lately it is believed he will be best suited to the Agriculture industry. As agriculture happens in rural areas, he could also be entrusted with the Rural Development ministry.

* Zaheer Khan Health and Family Welfare. Having a huge in-depth knowledge of the health facilities in this country makes Mr. Khan indispensable for monitoring the Health of the nation. Lack of any evidence to the contrary convinces us he is a good family man too.

* Irfan Pathan – New and Renewable Energy. He is the only man we have in this sector.

* Harbhajan Singh – Culture and Social Justice and Empowerment. In light of recent international incidents we believe he is the right man at the right time. His understanding of the fabric of our national social being makes him the ideal man to represent the values of our proud culture. He also possesses a keen sense of India’s new-found social conscience and is seen by many as an icon of Sikh empowerment.

* Mohd. Kaif – Home Affairs and Minorities. A proven performer on the internal scene he has ably headed various State ministries for a long time now. It is natural progression that he now assumes higher responsibilities. He will also represent the minority interests in the UPA alliance.

* V Sehwag – Power and Food Processing Industries. Sehwag has some brilliant ideas on rejuvenating the Power sector. In his previous stints he has proven his mettle in difficult conditions and against formidable opposition. He should also be allowed first take on the opposition’s questions in the Parliament. Mr. Sehwag’s mother will take care of the FPI sector in an unofficial capacity.

* Wasim Jaffer – Personnel and Public Grievances and Pensions. Someone’s got to do the job.

* Dinesh Kaarthick – Youth Development and Sports. The only athletic build in the alliance makes him top contender for what is essentially a job of outrunning Messrs Gill and Kalmadi. We bet his boyish looks will fool the IOC into bringing the Olympics to India.

* MM Patel – In-charge of Daman and Diu, and, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. With a frictional personality and mixed results in previous roles of responsibility it is best he is kept at a distance and be reassessed on monthly visits to the Capital.

* Pankaj Singh – Water Resources. For sentimental reasons.

* VRV Singh – Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. A misnomer ministry really, allocating MSMEs to Mr. Singh should allow him to manage the huge sector without pressure of hype and visibility. It is a safe risk for the same reason.

Ø Ministers of State

* Ishant Sharma – State Minister for Youth Development. A just reward for the big strides he has made in a short duration, to rise from being a Delhi Youth Brigade workhorse to the Head of All India Youth Barbers’ Union. A lack of respect towards foreign premiers means he is not ready for the big league just yet.

Ø Others

* RP Singh – Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh. Long-lost nephew of alliance partner Amar Singh, RP came to the limelight (and Amar Singh’s bulging eyes) after stellar performances in the UP primaries. His appointment will achieve two things – a quiet coalition and a reined star.

Finally, in keeping with tradition it is recommended that this sub-committee be elevated to the status of a Full Committee and Mr. Sunil Gavaskar be placed at its helm.

January 23, 2008

Around the Cricketing world

Sachin for knighthood!
The idea is preposterous and reeks of swell headedness. Sachin is far too big for the Queen's honours, as is the Indian populace for its Colonial masters. The Commonwealth has become an antiquated concept and kids only read about it in their history books.
Sachin should rightly be made the President of India, or possibly the King of the sub-continent. His creaking speeches might make our diplomats cringe in their seats but India could do with a leader of his integrity and sure-footwork. Our official behemoth could learn from his decisive shot-selection, its near flawless execution and at times the audacity that it packs. The Indian billion has looked up to Sachin for close to two decades now, they are already used to his quiet diplomacy and his infectious passion. It would then only be natural progression. Our cricket teams could be coached by the National President, and he might as well be appointed Life President of the ICC. Sachin for Secretary-General anyone ? India would rule the world, I mean Sachin would.
What chance has Pratibha Patil ?

Kumble said today, "...There is definitely a lot of talent in India. It's about ensuring they get the confidence and probably 4-5 years from now, you'll have a good set of players to ensure India goes forward."
I wonder what he means by going forward. To me, right now looks like pretty much the top. I don't mean the rankings, I mean the quality. We could become Australia, but that is more about consistency than quality. I can't see the "forward" here. Maybe he means with the loss of the big five India would take several steps backwards and then move forward. That would make sense.
Or the game in whole - when I first started watching cricket in the early nineties, ODI cricket was just taking hold and Test were starting to become lively. From then, the game has definitely come a long long way forward. But I don't see a great deal of change in past five years. ODIs are now saturated, Tests are at their fashionable-most, and the T20s have been declared a hit. T20 might annihilate ODIs but that is a backward step. Where can cricket go from here ? I don't see. Not forward certainly. Has International cricket reached its pinnacle ? You think ? I think so too.
Fifty years from now, remember, I said it first.

It is amazing to see the number of quality opening batsmen Delhi has put up for National honours in recent times. There's Sehwag who, despite his middle-order background, looks very close now to re-establishing his position at the top of the Test pecking order. Performances in Perth and in the side game at Canberra wouldn't set tongues wagging yet but they conveyed a sense of corrected skills and renewed desire. Then there's the duo of Akash Chopra and Gautam Gambhir. One's considered a has-been and the other non-Test material, but both are raring to have a go at the top. With more than 1200 domestic runs this season between them and the trophy in Delhi's bare cupboard, they have just consolidated their cases.
Jaffer's recent non-exploits could mean one of them is just a selectors' temptation away.

January 13, 2008

Freckles and Ginger top.

Shaun Maclean Pollock has retired from international cricket. It is only fitting that he has bowed out with a five-for in his final game that South Africa won by an innings and a hundred runs.

Over the past thirteen years, Shaun has epitomised all that has been good in international cricket.

Product of a highly accomplished cricketing clan (ref. Graeme and Peter Pollock), Shaun has had to work doubly hard from the onset of his career. His entry to the national side was at a time when his father was the convener of selectors, and time and again he had to prove his worth in the side. That he proved it by the sheer weight of his performance speaks volubly about the values of the man and the clan that he belonged to. Once established as one of the boys, he combined with Alan Donald to conjure a formidable pace duo that established South Africa as virtually impregnable at home and highly dangerous everywhere else. South Africa's rise to the top echelons of international cricket in the late nineties owed a lot to the abilities of these two gents.

The glory days of that Cronje era weren't to last long though. The betting scandal stormed South African cricket and Donald started to fizzle out. It fell upon Pollock to weather some very tumultuous times. Not only was he left to manouvre a fresh and un-tested pace-attack, he was also appointed to a rocky captaincy reeling from the jolts of the match-fixing expose. For the next three years Shaun Pollock set about re-building his team's reputation, carrying out both his duties without the slightest hint of failing - winning series after series all over the world with the worthy exception of Australia. His captaincy, his man-management and his PR-skills in the post-Cronje era especially stood out, and were testaments to his inner strengths.

In the aftermath of a failed home world cup in 2003 he was ousted as the Captain. The load of single-handedly carrying the pace-attack all this while was beginning to take a toll on his speed as well. He was forced on a break but he refused to let that dampen his fighting spirit. A fierce competitor, he came back into national reckoning with renewed vigour and heightened accuracy. It brought him a bowler's salvation - loads of prized sub-continent wickets and something of a realisation of his underrated batting potential. Just reward for a proud man!

By 2007 a new quick attack had started to take shape for South Africa with Ntini discovering consistency and Dale Steyn showing up as the new spearhead. Pollock welcomed the competition, and has spent large parts of the past year grooming these successors, passing on to them valuable lessons on the importance of pitching it on line and length. The new generation looks raring to go now and like all other previous times, Shaun has known that the time is right.

This has been the story of a man who has done all that was asked of him and then some more. A lesser man would have struggled to carry bowling attacks, a weaker character would have succumbed to match-fixing and no other man could have resurrected such a proud sporting culture. Shaun Pollock did it with a smile, both in victory and in defeat.

January 9, 2008

Of Bhogle, Tony Greig and ARUN LAL!

At the end of every bilateral series, Cricinfo comes up with scores out of 10 for each player based on his performances in the entire series. I thought I would conduct a similar exercise for commentators. The only difference is that unlike players, commentators are not subject to the vagaries of form and hence these ratings reflect my opinion of how good or bad a particular commentator is in general.

Harsha Bhogle 9

A contradiction to the popular notion that only ex-players are qualified to comment on the game, Bhogle is a breath of fresh air in a usually staid commentary box. In fact, the average user can relate more to him simply because he has not donned international colours for his country. Consequently nothing he says is tainted with the overbearing authority or arrogance of an ex-player, thus allowing the viewer a chance to disagree with him. Armed with a marvellous vocabulary, Bhogle is eloquent and always fair in his assessment of a player/ team. A point deducted for a tendency of getting a tad over-excited at times.

Barry Richards 8.5

I have not had the privilege of listening to Barry Richards very often. In fact, the recent India-Australia was the first time I heard him for a significant period. What comes across effortlessly is his ability to read the game and an uncanny knack of predicting what the bowler or batsman is going to try next. I believe he leaves his co-commentator as impressed as the audience with his sharp cricket brain. Coupled with this is his fearlessness in disagreeing with his colleagues while on air. Diplomacy at the best of times is, well, boring. Difference of opinion entertains, sometimes almost as much as the action in the field. Deduction in points because of his voice which can be grating at times and his reading of the Indian pitches is as good as my ability to code in BASIC.

David Lloyd 8.5

‘Bumble’ Lloyd is turning out to be the heir apparent to Henry Blofield and is taking over Boycott’s mantle of India’s favourite English commentator. With a strong Lancastrian accent, he matches Boycott in the accent stakes and has people in splits without having to refer to his grandmother on air. Anyone who heard his modernized rendition of the legend of Robin Hood during India’s test in Nottingham will testify. To top it all off, his favourite football club is Accrington Stanley which sounds like a Quidditch team Harry Potter would support. Oh by the way, when he talks about cricket, he shows why he was coach of England once.

Geoffrey Boycott 8

Another one from the old school. Boycott is so full of brazen opinions that he makes Ian Chappell look like a boy scout. A legend in India for his honesty (and his Yorkshire accent no doubt), he is never shy of taking the mickey out of his colleagues. The ego is all too apparent even when he is talking and sometimes tends to detract from the action. There is never a dull moment though, when he is in the hot seat. It’s either anecdotes from his playing days or hilarious comparisons between players he doesn’t like and his “moom”. His verbal duels with ESPN’s (ex) resident jester Navjot Singh Sidhu made for some great moments.

Ian Chappell 7

Chappell is the epitome of the “ugly” Australian. He usually has a controversial and loud opinion on all things cricket, and everything else too, I would imagine. He makes it plain that only ex international players are qualified to comment on anything that goes on within the field which means there is a hint of the dismissive in his voice when he is paired with Harsha Bhogle or Alan Wilkins. He is considered one of the shrewdest captains of his time and the reason can be understood from his razor sharp insights into the game. Lately though, he has developed a couple of not-so-endearing traits. One is his proclivity to delivering judgments on a new player immediately and then refusing to back down, even in the face of evidence which goes against what he thinks. An example would be Matt Prior during the English summer. The second is frequent sentences which begin with “when I was playing”. Invariably things were better when he was playing and cricket is going to the dogs now – a la Bishan Singh Bedi.

Tony Greig 6.5

Greig, surprisingly comes off as very different from what he was portrayed as a player. The genial, friendly attitude is in sharp contrast to his confrontational antics during his playing days (“We’ll make ‘em grovel” probably being one of the most offensive and definitely the dumbest statement ever made). It would not be a surprising if he has high blood pressure – so excited does he get by things that would seem mundane to most. A sharply run couple is akin to a stick of dynamite placed beneath his chair, while a six, well, it would seem that horses have to be summoned to prevent him from jumping right into the field on such a momentous occasion. Given this habit, he occasionally comes across as a male version of the dumb blonde, but the same habit also enlivens a soporific match and keeps the adrenalin flowing during an exciting one.

Ravi Shastri 6.5

A trier, much like during his playing days. Shastri is well spoken and can elucidate when the mood takes him. Suffers from a lack of original input and his incessant use of clichés – “jyest what the doctor ordered” being his favourite – is designed to draw tears of frustration from a piece of cardboard. Despite these shortcomings, he is fair in his assessment and doesn’t shy away from airing his opinions. ‘The Shaz and Waz show’ during India’s tour of Australia in 2003 highlighted the man’s earthy side and endeared him to the audiences. Arguably the best Indian ex-cricketer in the commentary box.

Nasser Hussain 6

Nasser Hussain started off as one of the most irritating commentators on air; opinionated and extremely biased, basically an English Gavaskar. However, he is emerging to be one of the better speakers on evidence of the India England series. Wearing his English heart under his shirt rather than on his sleeve, Nas’ insightful remarks added significantly to the pleasure of watching the India England series. It did help that almost every time Hussain found a flaw in Rahul Dravid’s field placing, Dravid changed the field to exactly what he was advocating. On present form, his ratings will only rise with each passing series.

Sunil Gavaskar 3

Gavaskar clearly suffers from a big hangover of his playing days. Always on the defensive and always on the lookout for any perceived slight to India or an Indian player, he can be an embarrassment at times. A Tendulkar inside edge is talked about for the purity of its technique for 5 minutes, so God forbid Sachin hits a six when Gavaskar is on air! People go for a fifteen minute walk and return to find him still talking about the straightness of the bat, the placement of the feet and the determination (for God’s sake!)in the eye. Jokes which would struggle to elicit a smile from one of those ‘laughter clubs’ and a flatness of voice which would put an elephant in a coma, Gavaskar is best listened to with the mute option activated. Great player though.

Rameez Raja 3

Raja suffers from a paradoxical malady. An inability to communicate clearly coupled with the constant need to say something. His sentences are usually garbled and grammatically horrific – a sure passport to multiple dates with the cane when he was studying in convent school. He tries too hard to prove a point, and on the few occasions when he is right, repeats it enough number of times to convince the audience that the time has come to end it all and jump off a high rise.

Laxman Sivaramakrishnan 3

Siva reminds me of a ventriloquist’s dummy – in that he serves as a mouth piece for the “main man” (read co-commentator) -“Stand and Deliver” being the sole concession to “originality”. Suffers from Tendulkar-mania much like his Indian counterparts and is usually found sitting on the fence over any other issue – ready to tumble whichever way his colleague goes. Zero voice modulation, which is unlikely to earn him any public-speaking awards.

Arun Lal 1

Mr. Lal earns a point because he can listen to himself and yet not consume 700 sleeping pills. If we ever get the news that he uses ear plugs, he’ll get a zero. I am sure it was an unfortunate encounter with Lal that led Goscinny and Underzo to create Cacophonix. Few people were as unsuited for a job as Lal is for commentary in English. He can compete with Raja in the garbled stakes, cross swords with Gavaskar over who worships Tendulkar more and is in a league of his own when it comes to non-stop drivel that necessitates copious consumption of Prozac.

Special Mention

Sreenivasan Radhakrishnan (Neo Sports Anchor) 0

I honestly have nothing to say.