Thursday, November 29, 2007

Famous cricketers visiting us!

Our house in Devaparthiva Road has a unique distinction of having been set foot by famous national cricketers. First one of course is BS Chandrsekhar. It was always in awe people of the road and at least I used to look when he arrived here visiting his paternal aunt, my grandmother. GR Viswanath had once accompanied him when they came together to some function as guests sometime in 1975 or so when both were just about at their peaks of their careers and winning matches for India.
Much later, Javagal Srinath visited to meet his friend here. But the most surprising fact of Dattu Phadkar [all-r0under who played for India in 31 Tests] visiting our house is absolutely stunning. My memory became clearer when I stumbled upon a letter written by Kitti [my uncle] to his brother [my father] at Bombay. In his letter dated 24.2.1952 [still preserved] he informs about Phadkar visiting us. In fact, he was accompanying a close family friend renown as "Bombaai Ramaswamy" from the much renown "Bombay House" in Mysore, another great sports enthusiast too. I vaguely remember my grandfather mentioning about Phadkar, but our small age could not retain this unfamiliar name. It was there in the 'recycle bin' though. Ramaswamy, in all probabilities, had brought Phadkar to meet my sportsman-grandfather.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Ever since I watched the 1983 World Cup final on TV, each final of the subsequent World Cups never fails to pull me back to that evening when India made history. There were hardly a few who could afford the TV then. Only in B&W. Cumbersome, high antennae had to be erected to catch the feeble signals from the Bangalore DD Kendra. Not all matches were telecast like today. It had telecast the semi-final in which India beat England and the World-cup bug had bitten many. I had watched the semi-final in bits and pieces on my friend Keerthi’s TV, not at his home, but at his friend’s house. His friend's TV had broken down. So we took Keerthi's TV there to Gokulam, an area in Mysore that was in the range where signals were reaching in good quality from the Bangalore Kendra. This circus could not be repeated for the 'final' for some reason and I was wondering where to watch. It was a ‘final’ that HAD to be watched, no matter where. India was to meet the mighty West Indies.
Come June 25, I met Girish Nikam, my teammate. We were to meet that evening to go ‘somewhere’ to watch. He was as determined as I. I went to his house on my bicycle, as planned. The match had begun and India was batting first. We were listening to commentary from BBC on his old vacuum-tube-Bush radio. After some time, he discovered that there was a friend close by who possessed a 'telly' hoping to fill our belly with cricket. I left my bicycle in Girish’s house (where I was to take it back the next morning) and pillioned with him on his scooter to catch the action on far away Lord’s. But we were disappointed to see such an awful TV reception there. We felt contented even as the dots and scratches annoyed us to form very fuzzy pictures and it was quite a strain to the eyes. The radio commentary guided us to know who was doing what. Such was the quality.
Girish tried another source over the phone from there. By that time, West Indies were already two or three down, chasing India’s modest 183. Viv Richards was going great guns, but we heard on radio about Kapil Dev taking a beautiful catch to send back the danger man. While that brightened India’s hopes Girish’s call brightened ours – to watch better pictures. So we rushed to the new venue, which was Girish’s friend’s friend’s house, again somewhere in Gokulam.
Our joy knew no bounds when we saw such a clear picture! We witnessed wickets tumbling. In a short while, there were about 15 lucky strangers in front of the telly! The mighty Carribeans had incredibly perished like bunnies for 140. All of us thanked the residents and left, ecstatic, having enjoyed every moment of live action that we could. On our way back, people were shouting and celebrating on the streets. It was well past midnight when Girish dropped me home where I saw worried and anxious elders awaiting my arrival and wondering my whereabouts. In those not-too-many-telephone-days, I neither thought of informing them or cared for dinner either. Such was the thrill-intensity the match provided. It was an unforgettable adventure.
India's WC win was the reason Srinivasa Rao saw to begin a new chapter in our unique group. Masale Dose group! Read about it and more in this blog here:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CRICKET, the great game

Cricket is an idea. It was an idea of the gods. - Sir James Barrie

Many people ask "What is Cricket?" You have two sides; one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out when he is out. He comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in. And the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When both sides have been in and out including the not outs. That's the end of the match. That is Cricket! Durban's Kingsmead Oval's Centenary Museum has that description (in italics, above) for the tourist who wants to know what Cricket is about.

It is also worthwhile to recall a letter written by Lord Harris in THE TIMES (2.2.1931): "…You do well to love it, for it is more free from anything sordid, anything dishonourable, than any game in the world. To play it keenly, honourably, generously, self-sacrificingly, is a moral lesson in itself, and the classroom is God's air and sunshine. Foster it, my brothers, so that it may attract all who can find the time to play it; protect it from anything that would sully it, so that it may be in favour with all men…."

The game is played with a hard leather ball with a willow bat. The 'klunk' produced when ball strikes bat is sheer pleasing melody. But it is a hard game played the hard way. Only the fit, talented, hard-working and courageous can survive long playing it. There is more to Cricket than just winning and losing.

Cricket is indisputably pre-eminent for its qualities as a means of entertainment, of character building and even as a way of life. It is a game synonymous with sportsmanship and chivalrous behaviour. Great cricketers are respected all over the world not only for their technical skills, but because they are gentlemen. The game does not encourage gamesmanship or underhand tactics. The laws of the game must be obeyed and there is a strict code of personal behaviour which is intended to cover all situations not governed by precise laws. No player can ever be greater than the game itself.

Cricket is a storehouse of pleasures and rewards. The rewards of physical and mental health, personal satisfaction, life-long friendships and other less tangible things stand out. It is a game which always upholds ethics and etiquette. Cricket is renown for its 'glorious uncertainties'. The game can be very absorbing and exciting. Sometimes, soporific and dull. The progress and outcome of a match is dependant on unpredictable factors like weather, ground conditions, personality, mental poise, varying individual skills and opponent's strengths. Their combination in varying degrees is what makes the game so thrilling and keeps the suspense element till the end. They say that 'the game is not over till the last ball is bowled'. Watching the game is a sight to behold esp. when the great players are in action. The connoisseurs have always liked the Test Matches. This is where all of Cricket's nuances are in full bloom.

Numerous bizzare incidents happen in this game. Here is just one: Harold Charlwood, playing at the Oval, gave a dolly catch in the deep and was dropped. He had already taken two runs and was run out when on his third. Meanwhile the second run had been signaled 'one short'. He went down in the score-book as "dropped, made one run, ran one short and was run out. All in one hit!"

Humour in Cricket has always been amusing and unique. Cricket's own jargon adds much beauty to it and can drive a lay person crazy, like this one: During the last Ashes Test at the Oval some decades ago, Norman Yardley, the England Captain received a letter from an old woman like this : " I have no interest in cricket and I do not care who wins. But the other day, quite by accident, I listened for a few minutes to a Test Match Commentator. He said that someone or something called Lindwall bowling. It sounded purely a name to me, but when he proceeded to say this bowler had two long legs and one short fine leg, I was shocked. Tell me Mr.Yardley, what kind of creatures are these Australian cricketers? No wonder our Englishmen can't win". Sans humour, Cricket would have become quite monotonous.

There have been many great people who have thoroughly excelled. Some have even been knighted in honour of their yeomen efforts. Such a personality could be easily located by anyone. Once an Australian fan of Sir Don Bradman mailed a letter when Australia were touring England. He addressed his envelope "Mr.D.G.Bradman, Somewhere playing in England". It reached the man!

There have been many great acts of sportsmanship on the field. At Leeds in 1909, Jack Hobbs hit a ball to the mid-wicket boundary and while doing so, had dislodged a bail with his right foot. An appeal was made but neither of the two umpires had seen it and so favoured the batsman. Hobbs knew this. So, two balls later, he withdrew his bat away to a straight ball and allowed himself to be bowled.

Cricket can bring great fame and fortune but the joy it gives to the player and the beholder is immeasurable. It is probably the profoundest of all games. Perhaps this is why there are so many who are playing and following it. It is a great team-game that encourages honesty and provides a 'family atmosphere'. It prepares us to face situations positively with humility and enjoy the process more than its outcome. Victory is no doubt sweet, but it teaches you to accept a defeat gracefully.

Playing Cricket is a wonderful feeling (in its true spirits). Those who have experienced are the fortunate ones for, it is a complete game which has everything in it. It makes the man. Playing the game demands top physical fitness and athleticism. The body will not obey the mind if one is not fit. The proverb "a healthy mind in a healthy body" holds a lot of water esp. in Cricket. A 'cricketer' is a more worthy name for one who works on his fitness, who is a 'team-man', a gentleman, skillful to the extent of adapting according to different situations in matches and usually an amateur (An amateur is one who engages himself more as a pastime rather than a profession. The word amateur is often misunderstood and freely used wrongly to mean 'immature'!!). Those who fall short with these qualities are all mere 'cricket-players'. I reckon this is the subtle difference between them.

George Bernard Shaw (perhaps the greatest of cricket ignoramuses) had quoted: "A game played by eleven fools and watched by eleven thousand fools". Not for nothing Cricket is the most popular game.



First of all, let me mention that these points have been compiled from my many years' experience as a player. This was brought out in the form of a small booklet and distributed to the young lads at our Mysore Gymkhana Annual Cricket Coaching Camps, with a purpose that they would enjoy playing the game and learn practising on these lines. I have put down as many points as I could - from my old school of thought. Old or new, these should hold good on any day, at least most of them. There is always scope of improvement, for innovation, for learning.

Each sentence is a 'point'.

* * * * * *

The primary requisite for any sportsman is physical fitness.
An unfit player is a liability to the team and may not find himself in the list!
Hard work is the one and only way to keep yourself fit (for playing in a match).
Muscles obey the mind only if the person is physically fit.
Cricket demands athleticism, strength, stamina, endurance, patience, concentration and mental toughness. Without proper physical training, it is impossible to enjoy playing!
Warm-up and stretching exercises MUST be done before playing (both practice and match). They make the muscles flexible and prevent injuries.
Muscles build up lactic acid after the event (long hard day on the field) and has a stiffening effect. Warm-down prevents it and makes you fresh for the next day.
"A healthy mind in a healthy body" : Remember this old saying, always.
Only fit sportspersons know what a "light, feathery feeling" is. Experience it!

Fielding is the key esp. to limited overs cricket. It requires 120% effort. Yes, 120.
Good anticipation is the secret. You will be at the ball quicker if you anticipate!
Prevent boundaries; ‘Extra’ runs should never be gifted away.
Back-up for throws must be anticipated at all times.
A fielder must back-up for any misfield by another fielder within his reach.
Aim the base of the stumps for a direct throw - hitting chances increase!
Good fielding boosts the bowler’s confidence. All bowlers expect support.
Always call to field/catch or leave the ball to the other fieldsman.
Always throw the ball on the full to the ‘keeper when there is no chance of a run out at the bowler’s end.
Always remember these: Catches win matches. A run saved is a run scored.
Without using illegal means, maintain the shine on the ball if conditions demand.

The wicket-keeper is the king-pin of the fielding side. He is there in every ball bowled in the game.
He should ALWAYS think that each and every ball would come to him.
He should ALWAYS be ready behind the stumps to take the throws and each time the ball is played.
Conceding byes and dropping catches are his minus points.
He should keep encouraging the bowlers and fielders because he is always in the centre of action.

Do not throw away your wicket. Always make the bowlers earn it.
Taking singles and twos is the essence of batting. Unsettle the bowler’s rhythm by rotating the strike.
Unnecessary slogging will lead to disaster.
Keep the good balls away safely and wisely select the ones to score from.
Run the first run quickly, esp. if the ball has been hit to the deep field.
Slide the bat near the crease on full stretch esp. while completing a quick run.
Both batsmen must watch the ball till it becomes dead.
Be ready to capitalize on any fielding lapse. Put pressure on the fieldsman.
Always call and respond with a clear YES, NO or WAIT. Make calling a habit even for ‘easy’ runs.
Bat the full quota of overs.
Never run to a misfield unless there is 'a two' in it.
Build up good partnerships and accumulate as many runs as possible, without wasting opportunities, while keeping a healthy run-rate.
One mistake will bring about your downfall. If the opponent lets you escape, make them pay for it.
A captain's dream is a 'batting depth' up to #11. But remember, it is the responsibility of the first 6 or 7 batsmen in the order to score the bulk of the runs. The rest is a bonus.

Put pressure on the batsmen by bowling line and length with great consistency.
Make the batsman play all the time. The more he plays, the chances of dismissing him quickly are bright.
Bowling no-balls and wides will be asking for trouble. That also delays over-rate.
Frustrate the batsmen with tight, miserly bowling. Think and bowl to the field set by the captain.
Make the batsmen earn their runs. Do not gift them away by bowling loose deliveries.
Concentrate on every ball you bowl. Bowl to the set field and plan.
Do not get panicky if a boundary is scored. Stay cool and think properly.
Conceding boundaries will only ease pressure on the opponents.
Never bowl to the batsman's advantage, if you have spotted it.

It is usually the best and most experienced player who becomes the captain.
He should lead by example, should command respect (not demand it!)
He should never forget that he is also one among the players.
He should try and make best use of the talent-resource available in the team.
It is his moral duty to have concern for other players.
He should not hesitate to consult others when short of ideas.
He is responsible for the team's performance, esp. bad!
The ideal position for the captain is near the centre of action. This will enable him to study the batsmen, the pitch and be easily available near the bowler for any tactical help.


Never forget the basic techniques and etiquettes of Cricket..
Use all the available protective gear for physical safety - boosts confidence.
Always play with a positive attitude (in the nets as well as in the match) and give your best to the team.
Never under-estimate the opponent or never get over-confident. Be self-confident.
Have belief in your own skills and you will perform well.
Commitment, discipline, dedication, determination and involvement to the team and the game itself are absolutely essential to succeed.
Results are achieved only if the players combine as a team.
Do not panic at any stage. Keep your cool and think properly.
The result of the match is immaterial so long as you have played the game in its true spirits and the best of ability.
With team balance as objective, only the best eleven players will be playing the match. Others should assist in duties like scoring, helping their team-mates on the field, etc. These are also part of this team-game. That is also 'Cricket'!
Always make a sincere attempt at whatever you do on the field.
Failing to make an attempt is blameworthy, whereas failing to succeed in the attempt is not.
Never argue with the umpire’s decision.
Be honest when you make the appeal to the umpire. Do not mislead him.
Cooperation with the captain of the team in every regard will strengthen team-spirit. Respect the captain and his decisions.
Avoid shouting at others esp. on the field.
Hone your cricketing skills with regular practice. There is always scope for improvement. There is no end to learning!
Consistency is the watchword. Always look to perform better than the last time.
Stay focused on the job (match or practice) without losing concentration.
Play the game in its right spirits and enjoy playing it. That is why Cricket is here!
Play in the 'nets' as if you are playing in a match. Do not be casual.
If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.
Play with a will to win. When the going gets tough, the tough should get going!
Experience the special joy of being part of the winning team. There is nothing like it! At the same time, be able to appreciate any good things the opponents show. "Sporting gestures" go a long way in keeping a good rapport with one and all.
Never become proud of your brilliant performances. Try to forget them then and there itself and be ready to do it again, in a better way. Learn to be humble.
Never indulge in unnecessary conversation with the opponents on the field. Avoid "sledging". It is of no good at all!
Diet: Healthy food habits have a direct relation to your performances at all times! Avoid "parties" prior to a match.
Sleep: Good rest is a must esp. before a match. There is nothing like a "good night's sleep" to make you fresh and energetic, both mentally and physically.
Never be ashamed to learn from others. There is much to learn from watching others. Be observant.
Become a "cricketer" not merely a cricket player! A "good cricketer" is closest to a "complete sportsman"!
If Cricket is taken in its right perspective, it will make you a good useful person in society.
Read about Cricket. Imagine Cricket. Be mad about Cricket. But NEVER EVER neglect studies. If you do, you will be "stumped"!
Always remember, no player is greater than this wonderful game of Cricket.