Really, how else would you describe the event of Mumbai Indians (MI) becoming the first team to confirm a place in the IPL 2010 semifinal lineup?
He has scored about 27% of the runs scored by MI, and is the highest run scorer in the tournament so far (512, strike rate 139.5). In 11 outings, he has been Player of the Match 4 times. And while he is leading the tally in the number of 4s hit (71), he has only hit 3 sixes (2 of them came in the last over of the 11th match).
The numbers are amazing enough but, what is really astounding is that he shows no sign whatsoever of the slightest dip in his hunger for more.
On April 24, he will turn 37. And 2010 is turning out to be one of his best years. Except for winning an ODI World Cup, he has no other real milestone left to cross. So, what is it that not only keeps him going but going like this?
I don’t have an answer to that, of course. Perhaps, as he has said several times, it is simply his love for the game. I just hope that this love stays exactly as it is.
Over at Smoke Signals, Prem Panicker has published an American’s account of becoming a Cricket fan. Prem adds:
On Cricinfo Gopal Rangachary talks of how he became a cricket fan. Strikes me, though we are all fans of the game, each of us acquired our fanboy status in different ways. Chikodi and Gopal have their stories; what’s yours? [Smoke Signals]
It reminded me of of my own entry into Cricket-fandom.
I was a voracious reader from an early age, and reading a newspaper was part of my daily routine by the time I was 7-8 years old. At the time, it was just the regional Hindi newspaper. I especially liked to read the op-ed page and the serialized comic-strip that this paper published. A lot of this reading was beyond my intellectual grasp, but I read it all anyway because there was something new to read every day – something that was not possible with books, though they had their own place in my reading scheme.
It must have been either around the time Tendulkar and Kambli created a new world record, or when Tendulkar played his first series in Pakistan (or was selected for it – my memory is fuzzy on the exact details). There was a newspaper article about Tendulkar, and what a phenomenal talent he was at such an early age. The article also carried a photo of Tendulkar.
It was that photo that made me think – if that young kid (just a few years older than me) can do it, then so can I. Parents were urged to purchase a bat and a ball, cousin sister was recruited to play against me (“one more thing for you to better me at“), stumps were drawn on a wall with a piece of red brick, and a new Cricket fan was born.
A few years down the line, and I was setting 3:00 AM alarms to watch the action in Australia (also triggering my English-learning in order to understand the commentary). A while later, I bunked school for the first (and last, I swear) time to watch a game, which turned out to be the game in which Tendulkar hit his first ODI century.
I could go on and on, but perhaps this should be kept to a personal story about one’s initiation to the game. The longer story of being obsessed with Cricket (going to the extent of watching Bangladesh-Zimbabwe Test matches) is for another day.
Don’t the team names in IPL strike you as a bit, umm, strange? The naming conventions behind the names are vague at best, and completely absent in general. They have been bothering me for a while, so I thought I’d take a look at them all.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Everybody’s favourite punching-bag. Forget the fact that they have managed to lose 8 out of 10 games in a format that gives the best possible odds to an underdog, but what’s with that name? What exactly is the connection between knights (or knight riders) and Kolkata? If they were going for an alliteration, that’s a failure as well (unless someone didn’t realize that the k in knight is silent). The only other well-known Knight Rider in the history has been the David Hasselhoff TV serial from the 1980s. Knowing his recent alcohol problems, he could hardly have been the inspiration behind the name. The acronym, KKR, doesn’t ring a bell either. And to come up with this sad name, they missed the most obvious name with pre-existing brand equity – Bengal Tigers. Royal Bengal Tigers, even. Heck, if it had to have Kolkata in the name, then Kolkata Tigers. It is not too late to change, I think.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: First, someone should sort out the exact name for these guys. Is it RCB, or RBC, or BRC? I understand that this team is named after a booze brand owned by the owner of the team, but was that really a good move? If the team has to be sold to another owner in future, the name would also have to be changed. The new owner could hardly be expected to carry surrogate advertising for someone else’s business. Why not just Bangalore Challengers? It would have had the added advantage of allowing us to call the team a bunch of BCs. Plenty of fun to go around, no? Of course, the idea of calling your team a bunch of challengers, royal or otherwise, doesn’t have good feng shui (don’t have a better term right now) to begin with. I mean, you do want to be the winners sometimes, don’t you? Rename it to Bangalore Heroes, perhaps (check the etymology of Bangalore for the connection). There would have been some added pain whenever the team lost, but it would have been better than being called bevdaas (drunkards).
Chennai Super Kings: Being just kings wasn’t good enough, I guess. Like the previous two, a stretched connection to getting something royal in the name. Why? And in the 21st century, is it too much to expect people to do a Google search before unveiling the name? For a sporting team, being synonymous with a brand of cigarettes doesn’t send the right message across, does it? Seriously, couldn’t these folks have had the decency to at least come up with a healthier name? Like the Chennai Chillies or something. But seriously, let me think of something. Umm.. Chennai Champions. There, that wasn’t so difficult, was it?
Kings XI Punjab: The best I can say about them is that, unlike the previous three teams, they have a more legitimate claim to having something royal in their name. But even they could have easily done better. Why the “XI” in the name? We know that the playing team has 11 chaps, but there is an unspecified bench strength too. Besides, there is no need to waste space on a number that serves no purpose whatsoever. Punjab Kings would done just as well. Punjab Maharajas would probably have been better (Maharaja was the title used by Sikh kings). And this is only if you absolutetly must highlight the royal connections. Like Kolkata, they’ve also missed out on a name with obvious brand recognition – Punjab Lions. Being lion-hearted (sherdil) is the one thing that Punjabis are known for, after all. I mean, who hasn’t heard of the term “sher-e-punjab” (not just the restaurants, but this man as well)?
Mumbai Indians: The name that confused the hell out of everyone. In fact, the only name perhaps to evoke a collective WTF from people when they first heard it. I am rather ambivalent about this name. On one hand, it is certainly WTF-esque, but OTOH, it is the only name that forces the commentators to use the full team name without cutting out the city/region. Just think about it for a moment. Every other team-name can be shortened, except this one. It just wouldn’t make sense to call the players “Indians”, even though most of them obviously are Indians. So yeah, +1 for that. And -100 for the WTF-ness of it all. Mumbai Ghatis would obviously have been offensive, and Mumbai Marathas might have led to some political problems later on. But why not capitalize on a quality that Marathas were/are famous for? Mumbai Warriors would’ve been just perfect.
Rajasthan Royals: Considering that Rajasthan was home to hundreds of small kingdoms at the time of India’s independence, and even now has a great deal of tourism that thrives on that heritage, this team probably has the most reasonable claim to such a name. Bonus marks for successful alliteration too. No major objection to this one, except my bias against royal names in general. That bias comes from the fact that being “royal” isn’t necessarily a positive thing. What images does “royal” evoke in you? Past Glory. Sense of entitlement. Debauchery. Stagnation. Not a great name, IMO, but no suggestions from me either.
Delhi Daredevils and Deccan Chargers: These two teams have got the best names, methinks. True, there is no real connection (however stretched) but they are starting with a clean slate and can afford to build long-lasting brands around these names. As of now, these are empty vessels into which fans can pour whatever identities and emotions they want to. Unlike kings, knights, and royals, these names do not highlight past glory and are not fixed ideas. In fact, both these names signify a certain amout of action and movement. No chances of stagnation here. The best part is that they didn’t fall for Delhi Sultans or Hyderabad Nawabs, which would have been easy (and lazy) picks. Go Daredevils, go Chargers!
Before the skipper went out to toss, I had a first-hand experience of what made Lordie such an accomplished captain during his time. He took over the match briefing, and boy, was he charged up or what. He just let loose, telling the boys what is expected of them, telling them that they are part of the best team in IPL and they need to stand up and be counted. (I must tell you that I stood up right at that moment, but I don’t think the counting was on then). And he has balls too. Imagine the slowest member of the team chastising guys twice as fast on matters such as agility, speed and throwing. [Fake IPL Player]
In my opinion, it is unlikely to be a player. If only because only a complete fool would risk his career with such a move (and continue even as the powers-that-be are looking for him). Remember Fake Steve Jobs? Yeah, that one turned out to be a journalist. I am guessing that this is also a journalist, who perhaps has some insider access (family member even).
In case you feel like following the blog, use this handy guide to all the code names used by the Fake IPL Player (Lordie = Saurav Ganguly, Big Sister = Shilpa Shetty, and Little Monster = Sachin Tendulkar, for example).