Wednesday, April 29, 2009

ICL players to be allowed back into official cricket

In a stunning development today, the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) stated that all the Indian ICL players who sever ties with the unofficial league within May 31 will be allowed to play domestic cricket immediately.

The Board had long maintained a policy of isolating the league and it's players from all official cricket, even going to such lengths as preventing it's own players from playing in exhibition matches featuring past ICL players, and preventing past ICL players from commentating in official matches involving India.

The ICC has also maintained a hard stance towards this unofficial T20 tournament.

The reasons for this sudden change of attitude of the BCCI remain unknown, however the decision of the ICL committee to take up legal action is speculated as one. Instead facing many players in a long-drawn out court battle which the BCCI would probably lose, they have decided to cut the strength of the ICL player community.

The fact that the ICL is struggling to pay off it's dues to the players and that it's future remains uncertain due to the economic downturn has given cause for the ICL players to approach their boards for reinduction.

The ICL players who break up all ties with the ICL would be allowed to play international cricket after a cooling period of one year, starting from May 31 2009. However, they will be allowed to play domestic cricket in the ensuing period, starting from June 1 2009 itself.

ICL authorities or concerned players could not be contacted. More news is expected to follow, especially about the fate of those players who wish to break out, but have contractual obligations with the ICL.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mumbai Terrorist found to be an adult!

Kasab, the lone captured terrorist from the November Mumbai Attacks has been found to be an adult by the medical team that examined him.

His dental and other medical information have revealed that he is at least more than 20 years of age, contrary to what was previously stated in court regarding his age- as 17.

He was requested to be tried in a juvenile court by Kasab's lawyer Abbas Kazmi, citing his age, which was believed to be 17. However, after 4 doctors of a medical team testified today in court that he is a an adult according to their examination, a situation has arised where his request for him to be tried in a juvenile will be rejected.

Abbas Kazmi, Kasab's lawyer appointed by India, hopes that the margin of error involved must be considered. He believes that other cases where dental records were used to determine age must be referenced to understand the margin of error possible in this method of determining age.

Meanwhile, Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist, was seen smiling in court while the doctors testified against his age.

Dhoni's name: A startling discovery

Everyone is now crazy about Dhoni! A whole nation chants the one name even louder than the old God- Sachin Tendulkar! Dhoni is now the hottest property in town, especially in the penny-wise-pound-foolish Chennai. It looks like he'll soon upstage the little master in the popularity stakes. He might soon own beach resorts in his name.Anyway, however unlikely are the above said statements and events, Dhoni's name has an intrinsic connection with the land of beach resorts- Maldives.

The traditional boat of the Maldives has been known by the name of "Dhoni". Today it has taken a new avatar-of the multi-purpose sail boat with a motor or lateen sails. The sailing dhoni was used in earlier days by Maldivian fishermen. During the industrial revolution many fisherman changed to its mechanized uber-cool transformation.Does anybody suspect Dhoni has his roots in the fishermen community? There is a word Thoni in Tamil used to describe a wooden raft. However, we cannot verify whether this Thoni or the Maldives Dhoni or the usual Dhoni (word used to describe washer-men. Dhona- to wash) was the inspiration for the name of India's present charismatic ODI leader.

There’s an enduring sight on the banks of rivers or ponds in India- you find washer-folk dipping the clothes in the water, lathering them and smacking them hard on a stone or the adjoining steps- that’s the way they wash their clothes (the smack sort of removes the water and the stain stuck to the lather)
So you see! His parents had named him so for good reason. He does the Dhoni bit with excellence- smacking not the clothes, but the ball.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Flintoff and Pietersen: White Elephants of the IPL

Back in February, when Flintoff and Pietersen were bid for the highest amounts in the 2nd IPL Auction by Chennai Super Kings and Vijay Mallya’s Bangalore Royal Challengers respectively, they were touted as the highest paid cricketers’ in the World and England basked in the so called “glory” of it all.

Actually there was no truth in the statement that Flintoff and Pietersen were the highest paid cricketer- Dhoni has reportedly earned more from endorsement deals (unbelievable but true, he has overtaken Sachin Tendulkar) and loads of the Indian players are way ahead of their English counterparts.

If ever the sums earned by every Indian player through endorsement deal come out, their “salary” would dwarf the sums of money Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff and Kevin Pieteresen earn through their central contracts and all their commercial deals.

And no one was kidding that the amount of money on offer to a player was a true test of their ability. To put it into perspective- Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladeshi bowler who bats decently, was auctioned for $600,000 while Shane Warne, captain of the Rajasthan Royals- the title holders from IPL 2008, had been roped in by the Royals for less than half that amount in the 1st IPL Auction.

Anyway, English media went on a flattery spree writing article after article heaping praise upon their most celebrated heroes.

However, come April and come the IPL, the media were left running helter-skelter. Flintoff and Pietersen had become the perfect cases of the White Elephant.

At the end of 4 games, one abandoned, Flintoff had the notorious record for most expensive figures for a bowler in the IPL- 50 runs off 4 overs for no wickets, potentially a match losing spell. Prior to that, in the first match he had been hit for 3 sixes in one over by a 25 yr old Indian Abishek Nayar who hadn’t represented India in international cricket.

If that wasn’t enough, Flintoff had more suffering in store as the IPL progressed. Towards the end of the 3rd game for the Chennai Super Kings, which they went onto lose from a position of great advantage, choking a la South Africa (aptly so in South African soil) Flintoff complained of a niggle and ended up requiring surgery, thus ending his stint with the IPL.

Pietersen’s stint wasn’t anything to write a song about too. Having been dismissed for 2 ducks, Pietersen, playing his 5th innings of the IPL, got off to a decent start and looked good for a strong match-winning innings when just before the strategic time-out, he went for the switch-hit against Vettori, one of the best bowlers of the shorter version of cricket, whom he had spanked for a boundary the previous ball, and was bowled, stumps splattered.
With that loss, Pietersen has had a miserable IPL, worse than Flintoff since Pietersen is the captain of the Bangalore Royal Challengers, who have been abysmal with the bat so far, and their fortunes haven’t changed from the last IPL.

England have to rue the decision of allowing Flintoff to play in the IPL, and not being strong likee Australia over Lee, whom they saved cunningly for the Ashes by picking him for the ODI side, but not allowing him to play, citing injury concerns.

Lalit Modi had his reasons to make the 2 teams pay so much for the two White Elephants- the marketability of IPL in other countries was the issue here.

Collingwood and Shah haven’t played a single game in the IPL, but the English media has blown out of proportion the contributions of Flintoff and Pietersen and even went onto call the Bangalore Royal Challengers Vs Chennai Super Kings match as a clash of the titans- between Fred and KP, their version of Achilles Vs. Hector.

But did it really matter to the Chennai and Bangalore fans? They just wanted to see their favorite stars in action and no one was kidding that the ultimate battle was KP Vs. Fred.

Anyway, Modi had his wish- the IPL has been well covered in England, will continue to do so, following Bopara’s scintillating 85. And Fred won’t get even half of the promised $1.5 million since he has played just 4 IPL matches. The situation is the same with KP. The only reason he would be playing the 6 Bangalore Royal Challengers match is because he is the captain and because it will be his last game afore he jumps back onto the plane to England, so Vijay Mallya would want to extract as much juice as he can from KP and nothing to do with performances.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two days of Kill Bill: Final Lesson

Well, the movie went on expected lines with the (usual) occasional twist and I enjoyed it thoroughly. What was more important was the fact that I learned a few things from it (well, not exactly learned since I've always been thinking about those philosophies, but just that now I have more reason to believe I am right).

The point is "Life doesn't play by the rules. In fact, nobody plays by the rules called morals and ethics and all that. We ought to improve ourselves only by beating these people or things or whatever, by playing by the rules. That's what will make us great. Whining that Life is unfair is silly, since Life was never meant to be fair."

Anyway, about the movie itself- almost every scene I could understand, but the climax was something that left me with a bitter aftertaste, but probably it was the right decision.

The heroine isn't effortlessly winning the revenge battle. Her antagonists are shrewd and just about as good as her in fighting. She makes mistakes, gets caught, is even buried alive, but still you and I know that it's not going to be the end. However, Tarantino plays with you when he extends your agony by delaying her escape from the grave scene.

The audience are treated to myriad and circuitous ways to kill a person and some cheesy soundtracks, but still you've got to love this film- it's got this eternal swagger (especially the heroine).

To me, after having watched each film on consecutive days, I get a feeling of relief- it's over. I learnt a lesson (not spoken in the dialogues, which aren't really worth remembering, except perhaps one-"Revenge is a forest..." something which we hope you won't have to repeat to anyone) watched a film worth watching once, got some basic ideas about the film (so that I don't look silly when folks talk about it at a party, not that anyone will do- it being a killer film and all that, it'd end up being a killjoy topic), and can now rest my mind on these kind of films.

So what's my opinion of Kill Bill Vol.1 and Vol.2 combined? Watch it only after you've watched the Dollars' trilogy (at the least). And watch it just once- there aint nothing there you'd have missed the first time around- the film's so uncomplicated.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Two days of Kill Bill: First Look

I had been hearing a lot about this film and references were made to this film in a lot of articles I read, so I decided finally that I had to watch it and be done with it once and for all.

Well I've not watched a lot of spaghetti westerns to understand every tribute to all those films- I could relate to some of the music (that sounded very much like from the Dollars trilogy of Sergio Leone) and to the all-powering demeanour and inexorability of the lead character, but nothing more- I couldn't recognise any link to old films.

But it really didn't matter, since the story stood out by itself. Now I was really impressed by the illusion of reality created by Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and I can imagine the kind of expectations this film would have had and although this film doesn't stand upto Pulp Fiction in the reality front, it has drama to compensate.

The spaghetti westerns were all about that- drama, theatre, pure action you could enjoy with a suspended sense of disbelief. The moment simply overpowered you that you couldn't think whether this was humanly possible. Who cared, you thought, this is cool!

It transported you back to your days as a young boy dreaming of becoming a superhero or something like that. In that respect, you wouldn't get better tributes than Kill Bill.

I love Tarantino's style- there are only a few main characters, and he mentions clearly the name and personality of each of them and along with the chapter-wise screening of the movie, it allows for the smooth flow of the film that you just sit back and enjoy the action as it unfolds.

You don't have to strain your brain cells to understand what's happening out there on the screen- each scene has sufficient buildup, expected talk between characters and expected action (with a few twists, but nothing shocking) that you get the feeling of playing a video game.

But then again, a lot of spaghetti Westerns and a few celebrated films like Desperado (of a similar genre) were accused of looking like a video game. The best advertisement for this genre is its simplicity and Tarantino sticks to it- it's simpler than Desperado and about as lucid as Leone's Dollars (the first was simplest and the best I'd say).

Anyway, I've just watched Vol.1 today (actually yesterday). Vol.2 calls out for me. Catch up with you later.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

North Korea emerges as a Nuclear Power

US and UN have been speculating about North Korea's nuclear capabilities for quite some time, but recently they have accepted that North Korea has emerged as a Nuclear Power.

Following underground Nuclear tests in 2006, concerns rose about North Korea's intention and the extent of their success in the Nuclear race, but the US shrugged off the anxieties stating that such bombs couldn't be a threat since they (North Korea) would not be able to fit them into missiles as warheads.

However, learned officials ranging from the US Secretary of State to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency have acknowledged that North Korea has the ability to strike South Korea and the neighbouring regions- upto Japan with Nuclear warheads.

They don't have the long range missiles to be a threat anywhere else, but nevertheless their weapons could be devastating on South Korean and Japanese cities.

It must be noted that Japan is the only country to have been the victim of nuclear attacks- only 2 in history, bombed by the US on Aug 6th 1945 and Aug 9th 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively.

Japan is not a nuclear powered state and hence with the newly acquired nuclear arsenal, North Korea could find Japan a soft target in case of War.

South Korea expressed concerns over naming North Korea as a nuclear state since it would give it more leverage in case of negotiations.