Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SRK Plays Villain - Stabs Dada in Back

An overhyped 'star' and an overrated coach have combined well to finally get rid of an equally overvalued captain. When the news of multiple captain theory first broke, one wondered if it was SRK's move to eliminate Ganguly from the scheme of things at KKR. The fears of many of Dada's supporters came true just a day before Knight Riders' opening match in IPL-SA.

I have always maintained that Shahrukh Khan has given respectability to mediocrity. It is a pity that Indian film watchers have to grant him superstardom in absence of any worthy superb actor. But, nothing succeeds like success, and the success he has got, seems to have made him believe that he can take dig at anybody, contemporaries, seniors or some of the most respected personalities too.

John Buchanan too likes to make everybody believe that he is a genius when it comes to Cricket coaching. He likes to claim credit for Australia's dominance over the Cricketing world in the past decade. But everybody realises that a phenomenal bunch of players - the likes of McGrath and Warne among others - were equally, if not less, responsible for the golden Age of Aussie Cricket. Was he trying to grab perverse attention by propagating his 'rotating captain theory'?

But now it is amply clear that the 'theory' was an attractive gimmick to overthrow Ganguly. There were a host of Cricketing Pundits talking vehemently for and against BuchananTheory that was never going to be put in practice. In one of the most shrewdly executed plans, SRK has managed to knock out the Dada. The point to be noted is that this talk of multiple captains was muted as soon as it was clear that the IPL might be played outside India. What a classical case of opportunism that might put the likes of LaluPrasad or Mulayam Yadav to shame!

I am not a big fan of Ganguly too. Like SRK and Buchanan, he too is overrated by many. True, he is the most successful Indian captain. But his success was built around personal exploits of Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar, Kumble and Harbhajan. But I do admire him for the graceful exit from international Cricket he chose for himself. Going by the press reports, Ganguly was keen to do well in this IPL. But this unceremonious boot from captaincy, I wont be surprised if he repeats his graceful act once again!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Siddhu to Campaign Against Azhar!

Indian Cricketers and film personalities enjoy tumultuous following. Many film stars have successfully encashed their popularity to make foray into politics. But very few Cricketers, and sportspersons in general, have ventured into the trouble waters of electoral politics. Only three former Cricketers and one former Olympian Hockey player have reached Indian Parliament so far. This time a few more are trying their hand.

Although, former skipper MAK Pataudi, the Nawab, who became first to win a series overseas, twice tried is luck at the elections, he could not become the first Cricketer to win an election. The credit goes to Chetan Chauhan, opening partner of Sunny Gavaskar in the Seventies. Chauhan has won Loksabha elections from Amroha in UP, twice – in 1991 and 1998 – and losing thrice. This time too, he is in the fray from East Delhi Constituency representing BJP. Also representing BJP is Kirti Azad, who is trying to regain Darbhanga seat to return to parliament for the second term. Kirti, member of World Cup winning team of 1983, has politics in his genes, as his father was the Chief Minister of Bihar in the Eighties.

The third Cricketer turned MP, Navjot singh Siddhu is a colourful personality. A flamboyant batsman of his time is also known as firebrand commentator and a popular TV show judge on reality laughter programs. Due to his inimitable Siddhuisms, he is a star campaigner for his party, and is eyeing for third term from Amritsar seat for the parliament. Avid Cricket followers will remember how Siddhu angrily abandoned the England tour when Azhar was the captain. Siddhu is all set to take on his former captain in the election rally in Moradabad from where Azhar is contesting.

Azharuddin’s entry into politics is very surprising. But even more surprising is the decision of congress party to field him, considering his tainted image because of his alleged involvement in match-fixing scandal. Madan Lal, another member of Kapil’s Devils seems to have taken his candidature for elections too seriously. Soon after being nominated, he suffered a heart attack. Hopefully he has recovered well enough to jump head on into the political arena. Chetan Sharma is also in the fray. May be he is trying to wipe off the ignominy of getting hit for six on the last ball of the match by Miandad at Sharjah in 1986.

Aslam sher Khan, member of India’s world cup winning hockey team of 1975, became MP as early as in 1984, and again 1991. After losing a couple of elections, he is again contesting this time from Sagar in Madhya Pradesh. He is also a member of Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) ad-hoc committee for hockey.

Ace shooter Jaspal Rana, son of former minister in Uttarakhand, and Ranjib Biswal, former Orissa Cricketer who represented India at U19 level, currently OCA president, also having family background in politics are also contesting this year’s elections.

The number of sportsmen, vying for a seat in parliament is very small compared to film stars. But never mind. There is whole lot of politicians who are ready to interfere in sports. The list is topped by Suresh Kalmadi, the present IOA president, followed by Sharad Pawar, the ICC president elect, and many more. Is there any hope for better days for Indian sports?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

'Outsourcing' of IPL creates Problems for Other Sporting Events in India

Indian IT industry thrives on the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) by the Western world. Like everybody, Indian IT industry is badly hit by the global recession. But Cricket in India is not at all affected by recession. On the other hand, the super-rich BCCI is out to help the cash strapped Cricket Boards across the world. This year’s IPL has been outsourced to South Africa. Who knows this trend will continue in subsequent years. Lalit Modi, the high profile IPL Chief might even invite bids from other Cricket Boards!

Shifting of IPL has been welcome by many and criticized by as many. Aussie, Kiwi, British Cricketers are happy. But players like Sachin and Pollock know that IPL wouldn’t be same without the Indian supporters in the Stadium. The team owners are not complaining but don’t seem to be overly upbeat either. Politicians have a reason to worry as they fear the focus on Election campaigns might be shifted to Television.

Lalit Modi and the IPL must be having its own reasons to get this year’s IPL edition through as per the scheduled dates that are clashing with general election. Modi, the IPL, and the Team Owners may or may not earn profits out of IPL’s sojourn to Africa. But it has created problems to other Sporting events to be held in India.

Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president has clearly blamed the Government for failing to assure security during IPL matches. This has prompted the authorities of Australian Tennis Federation to express their reservations about sending their team for Davis Cup tie to be held in May this year. Commonwealth Games, scheduled to take place in 2010 are already under the cloud as the preparations are way behind the schedule. Now, the participating countries, interestingly most of them are Cricket playing nations, have started clamoring about the security situation in the sub-continent. Recently concluded Indian Open Badminton GP in Hyderabad too was hit by he same issue as the Eglish players chose to skip it because of security concerns. India is also scheduled to host the Hockey World Cup in 2010. But the FIH president Leandro Negre while admitting that terror attacks can take place anywhere, has expressed reservations about security preparations.

All these apprehensions have gained voice because of IPL’s outsourcing. The BCCI, who successfully persuaded Peterson’s England team to continue its India tour after terrorist attack on Mumbai in November last year, is now sending wrong signals about India’s ability to fight terrorism. Sharad Pawar is ICC’s President designate and de-facto boss of BCCI. He is also a minister in central Government and aspirant for PM post after Elections. But his tacit approval for IPL outsourcing certainly raises questions about his ability to protect Indian interests.