WANTED! September 1, 2006Posted by Abhishek in Abhishek, Tennis.
A partner to accompany me from love to game-set-match.
Age no bar. Sex no bar(though female preferred). Should be from a good family with a pure sports background. Should not be married to other tennis stars and major requirement is a deep desire to watch Martina Hingis in action. A flexible attitude towards Sania Mirza is also appreciated.
So anyone mad enough to come with me to the Sunfeast Open from the 18th to the 24th of September to Kolkata, please contact me asap at: cheerfulguy AT gmail.
Thank you. And see you at the reception. Its going to be raucous.
This is a hair-pun-free zone August 25, 2006Posted by ramanand in Cricket, Ramanand.
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Man, what a mess. A bunch of babies in their nappies could hardly have made a bigger mess. And given that we have “top” legal teams in the fray (isn’t the fact that these lawyers already boast of a sterling track record in football and tennis litigation an indication of the state of modern sport?), the stink raised can only complement the bawling of journos and former players all over. With babies at least, you can change their diapers and give them a wash.
In particular, the volume has been the highest in the chatter from England, Australia and Pakistan. Pakistan has already declared Darrell Hair some kind of slimy monster (the “Go Back” poster in the linked article is hilarious, given that he is at home in England and suggests that the sub-contintental cottage industry of protest material is thriving), producing this wonderfully absurd comparison between Hair and a toothbrush moustache by Hairy, sorry, Harry Pearson. In England, the controversy has, in its wake, triggered off a rash of hirsute puns. This has become so infectious that no phrase remotely related to a bunch of dead cells is safe from writers. (I have had to be so vigilant in avoiding this fever that it has left me eyeing relatives of rabbits instead of whiskets to raise and pull out). A majority of English commentators have been in favour of Haq’s haqs. This in turn has brought down upon them, the collective ire of the Aussies, who say that Woolmer’s past form is as good as a prize horse in matters of tampering and attacking the English hacks for cooing for Pakistani haqs.
As a neutral, I must say I have greatly enjoyed the spate of wonderfully opinionated writing that has been suddenly unleashed. Every position on the three sides of the fence has been taken and attacked. I loved this bit by John Stern of The Wisden Cricketer:
But back to the Oval. I’m wondering how this issue will come to be labelled by cricket history. It doesn’t seem to have a ready tag. ‘Bad Hair Day’ makes a nice headline but is more of a judgment than a description;
So now we know why the ICC moved to Dubai: they needed more sand to stick their heads in.
Reactions from the Aussie press and ex-players has been unanimous. Perhaps this can be ascribed to the fact that since last year, we have been in the middle of one long war stretching from side to side of the Equator: a war that never really went away, but simply simmered, and is just starting to prepare for one long boil that will climax pretty soon. Meanwhile, the Aussie cricketers rough it out in their “jungle camp” as the dogfight resumes in London.
The South Africans left Sri Lanka because of security concerns. I hope someone will soon ask: Is it now safe to play cricket anywhere?
[Sorry for all the bad pun-ditry. It’s a hair-pun-free zone now. Starting now.]
Hello boys, August 9, 2006Posted by Abhishek in Abhishek, Miscellaneous.
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So I am back after a long outing in woods, which involved, breaking into a preist’s home at 12 at night, watching Tiger cry for quite some time, England finding a solution to their age-old problem being a bare-chested sporting country, and much much more.
Wanted: A Duellist August 6, 2006Posted by ramanand in Ramanand, Tennis.
In the days before Indian cricket team selectors could toss aside last year’s medium-pacers like they would banana peel, the constant refrain used to be: “Can’t a nation of close to a billion produce at least one medium/fast bowler?”. The crop of Munaf and VRV may have pushed the focus to different problems, but we can borrow the lament and apply it thus: “Can’t a globe that has tens of thousands of tennis players produce a player who can challenge Roger Federer?”
Almost everyone I know who follows tennis stopped back and stayed by a television screen because two players were engaged in elegant battle; not just in a single tournament, but over many seasons. Tennis has never needed any better advertisement (especially before smartly attired young Russians whose names ended in “-ova” started to appear on billboards). For my generation, the recent legends of Borg and McEnroe were replayed in the battles of Lendl-Becker, Becker-Edberg and then ultimately Sampras-Agassi. Since these also featured a stellar support cast of Connors, Wilander, Ivanisevic, Rafter, and Courier, tennis was not a collection of ‘breadsticks’ and ‘doughnuts’ as it threatened to be in the last couple of years of “The Rogera”.
Roger Federer, out of nowhere, has installed himself (and with poise) as the definitive player of his eneration – a fact that no one even wants to start disputing. Such unanimity amongst both watchers and critics is as rare as Federer getting beaten on grass. So much so, that despite our affection for the Swiss, we will grasp at any straws, even if they come from a clay-filled, grass-less surface.
Rafael Nadal has provided it to us in the last 14 months. The attachment of the suffix “-ever” to some glorious epithets before Federer’s name awaits victory at Roland Garros, preferably with Nadal to greet him from the other end. But with Nadal’s astonishing ascent to the finals of Wimbledon (which even the kindest of critics will point to his easy draw, earned by his ranking from the clay-court spoils), we are in danger of getting too excited about this “rivalry”.
Perhaps the US Open will give us a good idea as to where Nadal stands. Those hands that rubbed in glee anticipating a long run of Roddick-Federer clashes have been thrust deep into pockets. Does Nadal really promise to be the only spell, mental or physical, against a man who would probably have been burnt for being a warlock in less englightened times? This time we’ll wait and watch.
Rajk points me to this unbelievable Federer moment. You may not believe it even after you see it. Andy Roddick didn’t seem to.
The usual suspects – a post mortem July 12, 2006Posted by ramanand in Football WC, Ramanand.
Now that drama has butted in and left, and also that it is just less than a week after, perhaps it is a good time to quickly revisit Arnold’s question on the not so glorious certainties of the WC i.e. why are most of the football WCs dominated by the same set of superpowers.
This world cup, more than any in recent times, has seen a lack of its fair share of huge upsets. Portugal, the only semi-finalist, without a WC crown cannot be compared to Croatia or South Korea in past years. So why do the same teams strut about every 4 years?
Take a look at the Czech Republic. After a stunning opening, they faltered rapidly (much to my dismay) once they had their chief strikers on the injury list. OTOH, Germany and Italy could stave off cards and crashes by sheer depth in their squad. Most of our usual suspects had great depth, perhaps not so much in world-class talent but in a decent standard and ability to replace players with ease.
Mental strength and a sense of confidence in certain situations like the penalty shootouts saw the likes of Portugal, Italy and Germany succeed. Contrast this with Switzerland. Italy is a new addition to this list after years of failing from the spot as a team. But ever since Totti’s glorious corner slot against the Aussies, they haven’t looked back.
As for the French, well, sheer memory, both muscle and mental, seemed to have pulled them through.
So go on: tell us the reasons why Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Portugal and France (now legitimate usual suspects?), and to a small extent England – a veritable Rogue’s Gallery of World Cup aspirants – were incriminating themselves again this quadrennial.
Gauls Versus the Romans July 7, 2006Posted by samratsengupta in Football WC, Samrat, Uncategorized.
So a World Cup final straight out of Asterix Comics. Though the French team composition reflects more of the motley collection in the “pirate ship” of Asterix (which by the way perpetually gets sunk) rather than the Gauls. I hope I am not being racist here as Monsieur Le Pen, who commented about the French team being uncomfortably polychromatic for his eyes.
Italians and French are culturally close, both people are supposed to be argumentative,not workaholics( being politically correct here :) ), expressive in love, they have fashion twins in Milan and Paris. France also ruled over Italy for much of the 18th and 19th century, Napoleon even designed the Italian Flag. French team is a good ad for United Colours of Benetton. The team colors and nicknames are also Blue. Azzuri( from Azure) and Les Blues. Surprisingly even Uderzo (Goscinny and Uderzo creators of Asterix) is of Italian descent, still he surprisingly champions French chauvinism in the Asterix series.
French seem to have taken a swig of Getafix potion after their tepid group display. It also lulled the other teams into a false sense of complacency. The French attacking midfield has been a revelation, they have a perfect trio in Ribery, Zidane and Veira. Operating at a dual level with the pacy Ribery and the languid and composed Zidane, with Viera adding the robustness. Opponents cannot gauge at what speed the French will attack, this multi-dimensional capability gives them the edge. For Zidane time slows down, he has so much time at his disposal( similar to Federer), though he is past his peak still he is one of the best midfield operators in business The only bad egg in the french basket is the egg-head Barthez, his blunders may sink the French ship.
The Romans are also well-organized as ever. The Italian team has the right blend of youth and experience. The icons Totti and Del Piero would also be as determined as Zidane as it is their “Last Supper” also. The hit men Luca Brasi(Toni) and Gilardino are sharp. Pirlo and Camoranesi add to the flair. Defence is impregnable with Cannavaro being the marshal, Nesta’s return would bolster it further. Gattuso is the wild cannon in the middle to thwart attacks. But most reassuring is the imposing figure of Buffon in goal.
Italians have the twelve year cycle in WC 70 (RU),82 (W),94(RU),06(W?) . But the French coach Domenech with Linda Goodman and MM Joshi as advisors, would have something in store to counter this.
Overall I expect a thrilling WC final, the best since 1986.
Spiku July 4, 2006Posted by Abhishek in Abhishek, Football WC.
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And then the four saw
Sternly eye to eye,
Leaving just twenty-two.
Advantage Paes-Mirza? July 2, 2006Posted by Arnold in Arnold, Tennis.
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How many of you’ll think that Leander Paes (or maybe Mahesh Bhutpathi) and Sania Mirza should pair up in the Mixed Doubles?
And how many of you’ll think they will?
WC Musings June 30, 2006Posted by samratsengupta in Football WC, Samrat.
World cup excitement this time has percolated down even to the mainstream media, the airtime and print columns dedicated to soccer this month is unprecedented, I feel it is almost equivalent to that given for the cricket WC.
This has brought football popularity out in the open. Hopefully this would popularize football even more, attract sponsors and lead to some tangible improvement in the local infrastructure and standards. Enough daydreaming.
The new offside rule has caused lots of heartburn for many teams, but I think the rule is a positive move, otherwise most of the defences had perfected the offside traps, now they have something more to think of. I get really irritated to see numerous offside whistles, it breaks the rhythm of the game. Was really surprised to see the African teams playing a high defence line, and getting caught many times by forwards breaking the offside trap. The African teams are not known for their tactical nous, so such trap implementations do not come easily to them, and I feel they should not deploy such tactics. They should rely more on their natural strengths. Play man-to-man or zonal defences. The Ghanian defender John Mensah really impressed me, reminded me of Marcel Desailly in his peak. He got an appropriate moniker of the “Rock Of Gibraltar”.
The Germany Argentina match has all the ingredients of being a classic and I am sure we would not be disappointed and I believe the winner of this match is going to take home the cup.
England surely lack the passion, their players look somewhat flat, and have belied the pre-tournament optimism about them. Portugal has been a revelation , they seem to be the hungriest of all teams to win. Though it seemed the same with Spain and Holland , but unfortunately got knocked out.
Most surprising was that all the previous winners who participated in this edition have qualified for the QFs. My friend Arnold would be pretty pleased that his point of view has been vindicated http://sillypoint.wordpress.com/2006/05/31/the-not-so-glorious-certainties-of-football/
and we can safely say that the winners would be among them, considering a weak Ukraine and a sub-staffed Portugal.
My only wish is that Samba’s cute butt gets kicked and they do not walk away as the winner. French geriatrics or Portuguese streetfighters/English Flat beers, seem to have an uphill task though.
Worried about England? June 29, 2006Posted by Abhishek in Abhishek, Football WC.
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Here is something to mull over. Nicely detailed and wickedly British.
Meanwhile, some Robbo picks of the day :
[…] enjoy the Valentin Ivanov show, featuring brief guest appearances from Portugal and Holland.
(About Ronaldo) A goal for every stone.
[..] the Azzurri don’t even have to work to close the match out – which of course delights Francesco Totti – the biggest and laziest jessie in the tournament. The only decent pass he’s played so far is in that Pringles ad.
I haven’t seen so many shimmies, hip-wiggles and step-overs in ages – Cole, Ronaldo (the slim one), Robinho, Tevez, Robben – all look like they’re auditioning for Celebrity Strictly Come Dancing.