Thursday, April 29, 2010

Roopa is married.

Had been to her wedding reception yesterday in Chennai. We were meeting for the first time though we had only spoken on the phone since her Super Star Global win. I went to the function early and also left somewhat early. Kuldeep, her husband, was so young, fun and lively. Also had the opportunity of meeting Unni Menon. He did recall our meeting in the train so many years ago.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why Cricket can be converted to Baseball and soccer ditched for American Football

Two of the hottest sporting events currently underway are the English Premier League and the IPL.

Have you watched soccer matches lately? Despite the exciting moments in these matches what the players are constantly doing throughout are - kicking and tripping their opponents resulting in innumerable injuries, pulling at each others clothes, play acting and using hands to handle the ball many a time deceitfully. Trying to steal the ball from an opponent or stop him resembles a fight and very rarely enjoyable game play. Is there a match without fouls, injuries (some pretty serious), yellow and red card dismissals? No, there can never be. However in American Football all these are permitted and stopping an opponent physically, bringing him down, clashing, pushing, shoving are all acceptable. Players wear protective gear and are less prone to injuries. Players can also handle the ball by hand. When you watch these soccer guys actually fight for the ball you think they would be better off playing American football instead.

Furthermore Americans cannot stand putting up with low scoring games. We know of soccer "final" matches that were goalless even after extra time i.e after two hours of play. Finally deciding the games on penalty goals or sudden death (after the penalty goals cannot decide a match) is even more ridiculous. Americans would never entertain such a thing in their games.

And talking of Cricket I have two amusing incidents to write before I go on to explain why cricket is gradually going to become baseball someday.

In the first incident my boss at my first project in the U.S.A had gone to the U.K for an assignment where he had the misfortune of watching a cricket match on T.V. From his description it looked as though he had watched a Test match. He was telling me how irritating it was to watch a guy who kept hurling ball after ball for hours to a guy with the bat and the guy with the bat did nothing to hit the ball. Once in some 10 such throws the batsman would play it defensively. It was so boring he switched to another channel. In another incident some Indian developers who were working on an earlier project were asked to play baseball at a company event. To the amusement of the spectators the Indian players were running with the bat in their hands, after hitting the ball.

Considering the latest format of cricket, the T20, which is also its most enjoyable format in competitive cricket it is already beginning to look a lot like baseball.

First of all the game has turned into a hitter's game. People want to see runs and lots of them. Gone is the grace of the laid back stroke-filled play of the test matches that would go on for days. T20 all of a sudden even made the one-day 50-overs matches (ODI) look very long. Hitting is what they do in Baseball. No defensive play.

Even the current format of the T20 game can be improved further. Here are my recommendations, which will also propel the game further towards baseball.

1. Give each batsmen one more chance if he is out for a duck or before making 25 runs. How many experienced batsmen have been sent to the dressing room after facing just one ball. Certainly these guys need a second chance. I am not familiar with all the rules of Baseball but a hitter is given at least 3 opportunities before he is called "out".

2. Let fielders, at least those who are closer to the batsmen use gloves and other protective gear. Most of us who have played the game know that the cricket ball can be a lethal projectile. Cricketers have died after being hit by the ball, notable among them, Raman Lamba who at one time played for the national team. On second thought, if a batsman were to die from a ball that struck his head isn't the bowler culpable of murder?

For most of us who have played cricket we all know at least one person who has been hurt by the cricket ball. Teeth have been knocked off, people have been hit on the head, face and other parts of their bodies and the victims also include people who were neither spectators nor players. The list of broken window panes, damaged windshields and glass cases of automobiles and other household itmes is almost endless. We all know that the cricket ball is a pretty hard object. A new ball can travel extremely fast is both difficult and dangerous to catch or field. It is here gloves can make a huge difference. As in Baseball, with a single glove even a catch at forward shortleg can be caught easily.

To retain the gleam and shine of the ball all sorts of nauseating and disgusting things are done using sweat, saliva and what not to polish it. I am not getting into the world of ball tampering but players were fined or banned for indulging in it. Nothing of this kind exists in baseball.

Considering how bowlers like Malinga are bowling (there were several other bowlers who were actually throwing the ball) it looks as though in the future more bowlers will adopt this style (again like the throws in Baseball) instead of using the conventional over-the-shoulder bowling style. The over-the-shoulder bowling style is also the No.1 cause of shoulder injury among fast bowlers.

And finally the cheering (prompted via the public address system) and the cheerleaders already resemble American games.