Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sad demise of Indian Cricket?

We are the Champions?

The World Champions?

Also, one of the best Test Teams in the world?

Is it? Obviously Yes! We are. But is it true only for our soil?

Do we fail anywhere outside? Do we fail miserably in our 'tests' on foreign soil?

It hasn't really been the case to this extreme until the recent past.

I was very disappointed when my team, which made me and every Indian proud by lifting The World Cup last year after 28 yrs, was thrashed and could do nothing but submit in England. There is anyways some not-so-soft-corner somewhere inside me for the English, for they ruled us and did what not (according to the History Books I studied in school). And whatever happened in England last year hurt me deep inside.

I was so eagerly waiting to see my favourtie cricketer, The God of Cricket, The Sachin Tendulkar to score The Special Century right there, at The Mecca of Cricket, The Lord's. Sadly, that didn't happen. I told myself, if not first, then it will be in second innings, and likewise, if not this match, then the next. The wait just continued. In any case, I agree, it is just a number. But I still wanted it in Lord's, his first there, if it would have been.

Nonetheless, it is OK, that it did not happen. But what really bruised me was our dismal batting performance. The Batting performance of The Team with not only a strong batting lineup, but applaudable bench strength as well (possibly for the first time ever since I have started watching cricket). And to rub it in, was the constantly publicised, omnipresent fact, that my team had failed to score more than 300 even once! One man stood tall, The Wall, but all he could see from the other end, was one after the other wicket fall.

All over Facebook, Twitter, News Channels, News Papers, and Real World almost everyone was criticising almost everything about my team but honestly, I still believed that they would do better in the next innings and the next, maybe the next after next but that did not happen. This sad chapter is still lying inside me in a corner that I did not wish to visit anymore.

Sadly, I did today. What made me do that is perhaps a pessimist view of the near future when, hope-not, we fail that bad or even worse, again. Everything now seems to be exactly the same - My expectation of The Master to score The Special Century at the MCG, then if not in first innings then maybe the next, then maybe the next match, and here I stand in the present. Another batting collapse in the first innings at the SCG, where The Cricket God averaged 221 before this match (making me all the more excited in anticipation of witnessing history being written).

You ask me again, and I will again say, it is not the failure to reach that magical figure by The Sachin that is bothering me. I will be brutally honest, it is what is happening, the collapse. OK, I can accept Sehwag doing only what he has managed to do, I can accept Gambhir going through a bad phase perhaps, but it is very very hard for me to hear, see, digest the failure of The Wall and The Very Very Special Man in Australia.

How are we managing a batting collapse yet again? Bad pitch, unfavourable conditions maybe, but then how does one of the weakest Australian side in 15 years pile up runs on the scorecard, that including a century and a maiden test double hundred. It is frustrating, upsetting, disappointing to say the least.

Well of course, there are positives that even I see in this series like our Captain always does. For one, The Master looks in good touch. And then, Ashwin knows how to use the bat.

But isn't it time to seek answers to reasons for failure overseas and do something about it, rather than just keep "looking at positives" and "not being bothered about a loss or two". Of course, I believe my team is already doing that and are perhaps also trying out things but after seeing today's play there are bad visuals haunting me.

Someone like Ponting who was going through, perhaps, the worst phase of his batting career quite recently, is standing strong, playing better and better and better in every knock, while I sit and see The Wall not having reached even 100 in the 3 innings and The Laxman who has a history of giving sleepless nights to all Australians, having played a prank on them thrice, scoring a total of 5 in this series till date.

I hate myself today for even accepting that we are good, perhaps the best, only on our soil and that I accept defeat already. "Hate" because, after all I should support my country, patriotism, etc. But then, of course this is the outcome of what has happened since the England Tour. It is the heart vs. mind game, wherein my heart overruled all that my mind said during the England series. Of course, the outcome of that series has subdued my heart to an extent that it is not even contesting and standing up against what my mind is saying now.

And now for the icing on the cake (read: rubbing salt into wounds), one of my friends who is in Australia gave me an account of what he is going through - being mocked at on the streets. Not only this, he says, at times when he calls up his manager at work to say "application is down" he gets a reply saying "wall is down.. so is tendulkar" (sic).

Sigh, let me try and end this frustration and disappointment initiated chain reaction of blabbering with my Heartadramus prediction - The Heroes will Rise, it will get better, this match ends in a draw and it improves exponentially from there on.

Sorry to break it for your hearts, I am laughing at what I wrote in the last line. We are all set to lose this one.

And yes, maybe I am taking all this too seriously and making a big deal out of this, but well if you don't, I am sorry you wasted your time reading this, it wasn't for you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Arsenal in 2011

1) Arshavin's winner against Barcelona. When Nasri cut back, the Russian caressed the ball into the bottom corner to send the Emirates into ruptures. Lately, Arshavin has been blamed for being "disinterested" by a lot of Arsenal fans. To me he has always been a player who has given you that impression but capable of moments of brilliance. Yes, the frequency of those moments of brilliance is getting lesser. But, a fully confident Arshavin still has a lot to offer to Arsenal. Wenger has said many times that he is a player who "takes a lot of risks". So obviously Arshavin is looking for more than the obvious simple pass. I hope he extends his spell.

2) WZCZ and Koscielny's coming of age. It wont be wrong to say that a certain moment between these two probably cost Arsenal the chance to get a trophy and more importantly add some belief in the squad. But, the two have gone from strength to strength since that horrible moment. If there is a feel good factor about the current Arsenal team, then Kosh and the big Pole play a huge part.

Has a commanding presence and organizes the defense
Reads the game superbly and is always there to charge the striker on one-on-ones. The most . recent one was the one against QPR in the first 10 minutes.
Handles the long-balls and set pieces with great confidence calmness.
Has exceptional shot-stopping capabilities
He is only 21 and is huge Arsenal fan

3) RVP's wonder strike against Everton and WZCZ's foot-worship of RVP.
Well RVP's strike was awesome, but it was not as if it was unexpected. More importantly it helped us another 1-0 win over a superb Everton (my 2nd favorite team) side. I think David Moyes' team has been one of the most under-rated teams considering the funds they have. Players like Rooney, Graveson (Remember him? He went to Madrid in about 2004 or '05), Lescott, Arteta, Yakubu have had to be sold. Tim Cahill (5' 8''??) has played as a lone-striker for them at times. And yet, they remain one of the most consistent teams in the most difficult league in the world. Arteta's attitude behavior ever since he came to us (towards Everton and of course in Arsenal) has been immaculate.
WZCZ has been criticized by many for "worshiping a human." But do we care for them? It was one of those wonderful "I cant thank you enough" kind of a thing from WZCZ to our captain. It represented most Arsenal fans' sentiments. And it came from someone who is arguably our 2nd most important player (Song is the other one in contention for number 2) this year.

4) Influx of Benayoun and Arteta.

Obviously the OX, BFG and Gervinho signings have been awesome.

Arteta has been immense and his contribution has been there to see. (Probably only player who has started all games apart from WZCZ this season??). But, Benayoun's commitment has been ever-so-impressive. He has never been one to sulk or complain. He scored a screamer against Olympiakos and performed consistently in the Carling cup games. When we needed ever so desperately, he came up with the winner against Villa.

Oh and why does Arteta raise both his arms before taking any set piece???
I thought it was an Everton thing, but he does it here also.

5) Getting rid of Nasri and Bendtner. I dont dislike people like Chamakh and Arshavin. Yes, they find it tough due to lack of confidence, or talent or technical ability.
But, certainly Nasri and Bendtner's comments since they left Arsenal convince me that both of them were "GOOD RIDDANCE."
Cesc's loss hurt us. But, Nasri's??? Not really. Yes, he was a technically gifted players and one that Wenger would have liked to hang on to. Yes, he had 3 or 4 good months in Arsenal. But to me, that was that. His performance in the second half of last season was above average at best.

Bendtner, again not as bad as he people think and not as good as he thinks of himself. But, only if he dint talk could I stand him.

6) Henry's return.
Wenger has said that Henry "will not tarnish his reputation" after fears from Arsenal fans that he might be embarrassed. Obviously his presence will only be beneficial to people like Walcott and Ox on and off the pitch. Arsene has known him as 17 year old and probably knows more about "Henry-the footballer" than the man himself.
Welcome back Thierry Henry! Legend!

Come on the Arsenal!!