Extras March 10, 2009

Stop pissing in my coffee

Cricinfo
Well, we are on the verge of falling head first into the second IPL season and if it is anything like the first, we are all in for some exceptionally offensive scenes that will be played out for our benefit
76

From Sriram Dayanand, Canada

These are strange times. In the world we live in. There is hope in Washington, a mess in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the horror of terror in India, unease in the Middle East and above all, a sinking feeling in the homes and wallets of people across the globe. A day doesn’t go by without a gleeful, depressing or sanctimonious news report about another fraudster’s multi-billion dollar scheme to embezzle, subvert, misappropriate, grease away, palm off, blackmail and in much simpler terms, to liquidate the future of millions of people across the globe. People like you and me. The institution you have banked with for years has gone belly up and even in its state of rigor mortis, is leering at you, presenting its engorged gut in profile to you. Even as you are submerged in your own sea of apprehension and worry, there is anger swirling around you.

You feel violated.

As the world around you gets more and more surreal and uncertain, you look for relatively cheap and inexpensive ways to distract yourself. To keep your mind off the nagging tension of getting by from day to day, finding your first job, keeping your home and feeding your kids. You probably look to music, movies, books and that god-sent boon to mankind, television, for your distraction. You may also resort to sports and rely on it to make you look away from your bank statement. Just for a while. Just to catch your breath.

And if you are anything like me, you invest a lot in cricket. You start to follow the match scorecards daily even more diligently than ever. They become your alternate NASDAQ ticker. You look at strike rates and averages to forget the interest rate and the stock market index. You squirrel away small percentages of your feelings and inner voices towards this glorious sport and try to look at the return on your investments. Investments you have been making since you were a kid. From your piggy bank days, from the time of pocket money doled out by doting parents, from when you held your first paycheck in your hand. All the way till now.

You think back to the cricket of the last year or so, and a smile immediately appears on your face. There was Mendis bamboozling the best with his finger gymnastics. That magical spell from Ishant to Ponting at Perth. The Proteas using the Steyn gun on the Aussies to stunning effect. The Zen-like calm, combined with ruthlessness in Dhoni’s demeanor, as the Indians socked it to Ponting’s crew. The look of unbridled joy upon J.P Duminy’s face when he reached his first hundred at the MCG. The England team walking out at Chennai following the horrific events in Mumbai. Moments like that. Special moments.

Yes, there are frown inducing memories too. You remember Harbhajan and Symonds in Sydney. You fret over why you don’t remember anything about a match involving Pakistan. Sreesanth copping that slap (well-deserved, you may think) from the loose cannon Harbhajan. And why we still haven’t figured out how to prepare an outfield, leave alone a pitch.

And there are those bittersweet and poignant moments. Gilly, the Prince of Kolkata, Kumble and Haydos. Dravid, one of India’s greatest batsmen, suddenly looking lost, forlorn and scared in the nation’s gaze as he battled an extended loss of form. Vettori leading his hastily put together team with a quiet dignity, a wry smile and steel. You silently thank them for the memories. Cricket, at its best is good at generating just these kinds of memories. The very kind of memories you are relying on now to distract yourself.

These days, you wake up each morning and pick up your newspaper and settle down. You flip to the sports pages quickly. You want the business section to flash by in a blur. You are not ready to let it piss in your morning coffee yet. You are wondering about how Punter’s boys are coping in Jo’burg. Have Dhoni’s band of brothers acclimatized themselves in chilly Christchurch yet? Is Mahela really handing off the controls to Sangakkara in a few days? And will Freddie be able to walk out with his teammates behind Strauss in Barbados?

But wait! What has happened to your warm and cozy sports pages? Where are those match reports you were desperately seeking? The sports page looks kind of strange, doesn’t it? Big and lurid headlines screaming out at you. Must be something big. Ponting’s men wreaking bloody vengeance on the Proteas maybe? Something as unlikely and spectacular as Shoaib Akhtar actually playing and demolishing the Lankans in Karachi? Did Dhoni’s boys rack up 400 in a T20 match against the Kiwis? You go in for a closer look and then step back in surprise.

And in dismay.

The sordid Stanford saga is furiously unfolding in front of you and is occupying more and more newspaper acreage by the day. You remember that you even brushed past his grinning face on the front page. (Bloody hell, I believe he is on the front page of even the New York Times! What are they doing covering cricket?) This time around, the three letter acronyms pursuing him like ravenous hounds are not the ECB, but the FBI. The second round of the IPL auction (”There was a little element of feeling like a cow” – Adam Gilchrist, March 2008) has just been concluded with a discerningly muted euphoria compared to last year’s. Freddie, bum ankle and hip and all, is a millionaire and while K.P may have lost the captaincy, he has raked it in by the Mallyans of dollars. The second IPL season is almost upon us and they say the movie stars and billionaire franchise owners are fraught with worry about their splashy investments from last year. Shah Rukh is so worried that he may not dance for Kolkata this time. A worried Mallya is holed out on his yacht on the French Riviera nursing his drink. And Lalit Modi (him, of that four letter organization, the BCCI, with one three letter cricket league in his fist and another one under the heel of his Gucci loafers) has figured out yet another way to hog the headlines again. This time it is for losing an election and for being for accused of miscellaneous dubious activities, shady land grabs, political shenanigans and plain old fashioned crimes like forgery.

You take a sip of your coffee and realize that someone has indeed been pissing in it.

What happened ? All you wanted to do was to check your other investments. The ones which were going to tide you by the difficult times. You were looking for news of Tendulkar, but are inundated by news of his other boss, Ambani. For Duminy, but all you can find in these pages are stories of financial doom for the Deccan Chargers. For Gayle, but are being regaled with stories of that grinning bear whose offices in Houston have been sealed by the police. Look! There’s news of a nation-wide alert for the Texan god who descended on the unsuspecting Antiguans. What has he done now? It can’t be for bouncing Matt Prior’s wife on his lap last year, can it? Come to think of it, is this the first time the word cricket has been used along with the acronym FBI in the same sentence? You are looking for calypso tinged reports of huge crowds thronging the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in St. John’s but are staring at a photograph of long lines of people on the streets of the same city. They look too distraught to be standing in line for tickets for the Test match. What? They are lined up outside the locked up doors of their bank containing their meager life savings? They definitely don’t look like they are capable of heading over to that spanking new stadium named after the King himself. Yes, the new one built with Chinese money. And what are the Chinese doing funding and building cricket stadiums in the Caribbean? Have they lost their marbles? You remember getting Ntini’s autograph along the boundary at the Oval, and try to check out his bowling figures in yesterday’s match. But allegations against Modi for forging a signature have barreled it out to some obscure part of the newspaper.

Your are mad now. You should be mad by now. This wasn’t supposed to happen. They are storming your refuge too now. They robbed your city home and have now followed you to your cottage in the country and have ransacked it too. While you were outside, sitting by the lake, looking up at the stars. While you were out trying to enjoy the fresh air and the smell of leaves.

I, for one, resent this intrusion. I do not like the fact that I suddenly feel as if I got my investment reports mixed up. My two worlds have collided now in a way that they cannot be unraveled. I am being forced to wade through sewage now to get to the apple tree. I am forced to sit at the opera next to this obese, loud, belching, flatulent man who will proceed to eat his greasy burger and fries during the aria, while talking on his cell phone. The library I borrow my Rushdie and Roth from has been renovated and will now devote half its space to pornography.

Crass is what it is. An assault on my senses and sensibilities.

I do, and will bear a grudge against everyone who has been an accomplice in this crime of allowing these people to lay siege to my other side too. The one I had taken refuge in. Every single one of them. All the lawyers, financiers, diplomats, lobbyists, MBA wielding cardboard cutouts, businessmen, power mongers, politicians, dictators, hoodlums, ass kissers and boot lickers. There you go. I have pretty much listed the motley crew of people who are guilty of depriving me of a very simple pleasure that I had planned on relying on. A pleasure that they weren’t even supposed to be able to get their dirty paws on. The only problem here is that the same motley crew forms the list of office bearers of the collection of boards and organizations that are in charge of administering the very game we all care about.

Oh, you think I am over reacting here? I am being old fashioned, am I? Being a purist? Not willing to change with the times? Clinging on to an idyllic past in the face of an ever changing fast society? With all due respect to you my friend, that is the biggest load of putrid fecal matter you can throw at me. Bollocks to you, I say. In fact, I say that all the above over used and over abused reactionary platitudes are cowardly alternatives to admitting that things have gone awry. It has hit the fan, splattered across the room and is dripping down the walls.

Cringing at the failure to keep Lord’s off limits to helicopters of megalomaniac billionaires trying to make leery indecent proposals to the English cricket team is not being a purist. Not wanting to read about totalitarian despots who have clawed their way into the highest offices of the state and country’s cricket boards to dictate who plays where and when and for how long and against whom is not being old fashioned. And clinging to an idyllic past? I have news for you my friend. I am trying to cling to the absolute present. I am only trying to cling to the drama on the field here. To the bare bones dramatic reality of bowlers pitted against batsmen. And over reacting? You call a fervent desire to not see the very pulsing lifeline of the sport, the foundations of everything we want to remember, enjoy and hold dear to our hearts - and I am talking about the players, past and present here - being made to debase their images in this sordid drama over reacting?

Frankly, it is the image of the players which hurts the most. And yes, they are only images. But we are talking about the essence of what sustains our interest in the sport itself. The very collages of images of deeds on the field that make you come back again and again to the game. This is the one that is the most painful to bear.

Watching Sir Garfield Sobers wait at the edge of the circle of whirring rotor blades for Sir Allen Stanford to get out with his outsized valise of dollar bills is one image I never wanted to see. Not just now, in hindsight and in the light of him being pursued by the SEC and the FBI. Yes, Sir Garry was only doing his job and yes, he had the laudable goal of accruing financial benefits for his own cash strapped cricket board. But I am entitled to rue and mourn that image for what it does to my personal memory stash. We are talking Garry Sobers here. Arguably the greatest cricketer to ever play the game. The class, the style, the charisma, the talent and the breathtaking bravado with which he towered over the game in bowling, batting and fielding. A player who I never got to watch, but had absolutely no problem convincing myself that he was the real deal, the greatest and one of the most magnetic by a mile. Convinced to such an extent that my hackles rise when Yuvraj Singh is compared to him by some over-zealous hack writing in the Indian press. He should never have been put in a position where he had to stand on the grass that is still singed from his strokes from decades ago and shake that man’s hand. A man who had no qualms about openly deriding the game itself. Yes, I am entitled to be appalled by that image.

And then there is that photograph. The one that has been seared into the surface of my brain and is as fresh as it was a year ago. It is that photograph of the Texan overlord in the pavilion at Lords. Yes, that one. The one with the big transparent box with neatly packed twenty million dollars in the foreground and the man with the golden grin standing behind it flanked by Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Ian Botham and Sir Everton Weekes. I find it hard even after a year has passed to think about, leave alone speak about that image.

Because of Viv.

Viv.Oh Viv! Vivian Richards. Sir Vivian Richards! You, of the gum-chewing , magnetic and brooding walk from the pavilion with your bat swinging in your hands like a machete. The maroon Windies cap casting a dark shadow just over your gleaming eyes. The nervous anticipation and the dread of the fielding team rising with each step of yours. The desperate attempts by the opposing captain to suppress the urge to change the field three times before you have even reached the middle and taken guard. Stepping away three feet outside the leg stump and smashing Bob Willis over extra cover for six at the Oval. That 55 ball assault in the Test Match in Antigua that seemed to still unfold in slow motion. Swooping down on the ball like a panther for those 3 run outs at Lords in 1975. That smouldering glare behind that regal nose as Lillee stood in the middle of the pitch enquiring about your mother. You, who played your entire career with nary a word spoken, a smile on your face and when needed, a glare in your eye.

How am I supposed to come to terms with that image of you standing next to him behind the stash of dollars? Once again, your intentions were entirely honorable and that is precisely why he wanted you next him the first place anyway. But you in the same frame as him is just not right. You do not belong there. When I first saw the pictures from that day in the pavilion at Lords, I forced myself to think that you looked uncomfortable in the picture. I sincerely hope you were. And your old friend Beefy is right next to you too. Hamming it up for the cameras. Yes, the second greatest allrounder the game has ever seen. Headingly in 1981 and countless other exploits. A sublime and raw talent, who had the cricket world by the scruff of its neck and did it with a cheeky smile on his face for an entire decade. Beefy and Viv on the same team at Somerset! Can anyone forget that? He was months away from being knighted by the Queen. (Beefy, who we had chuckled to ourselves, had knighted himself in 1996 itself - with a bong.) And Sir Everton Weekes. One of the three W’s. A name which brings a look of admiration and pride on the faces of cricket lovers of my father’s generation to this day. The collective memories the three of you have provided has sustained generations of cricket fans. And will persist and pervade the thoughts of future ones.

Yes, this is what is being tarnished with everything that has happened over the last year and continues to have its fallout in public to this day. The characters causing the news for all the wrong reasons have been doing it relentlessly throughout this period. It may just be a coincidence that almost everything we are talking about is related to the new fangled hot shot kid in town – T20. And it is entirely possible that it is not. But that is not the point. I may have a personal opinion about not caring to wait for three matches to get to see Ishant bowl 9 overs, like he did in that magical spell at Perth last year. But I am at least entitled to want to watch a magical 2 over spell by Warney playing for the Royals against the Super Kings – the one where he mesmerized and fooled Dhoni into popping a catch to slip – without these characters shoving everyone aside, flashing their Rolex watches, mugging for the camera and also monopolizing the air waves and the print media.

Well, we are on the verge of falling head first into the second IPL season and if it is anything like the first, we are all in for some exceptionally offensive scenes that will be played out for our benefit. I for one, am bracing myself to see players from the past reverently kneeling with upturned faces and puckered up lips. Looking for the first one that passes by to kiss. It will make more of a dent in your saved up stash and will drive you insane. It should, if it is going to be anything like the one I would like to remind you of.

Last year, at the height of the IPL frenzy, Lalit Modi walked out to the middle and stood at the pitch alongside the commentators to toss the coin for the captains. A very professional looking but at the same time, a visibly hyper-ventilating Ravi Shastri introduced him to the TV audiences at home and suddenly said, “He is Moses of the game who has shown the path to blazing success.” Yes, he made this very statement looking into the camera as his fellow commentator yelped around next to him like an excited poodle. Even as I gagged on my coffee, I distinctly remember thinking that Ravi Shastri may accidentally have mixed up his myths and his Bible. Maybe he meant to say Midas, I thought. But, you know what? He didn’t. He meant Moses. He was trying to conjure up epic images for us of Lalit Modi parting the crowds at Eden Gardens and leading us to some kind of promised land up in the sky. He was just doing his job as commentator, of course. But did he have to lose all his bearings to mouth such claustrophobically sycophantic words? Ravi Shastri, who during his playing days personified a quiet and grim dignity. One who utilized his limited talents to the maximum possible and bravely fought many a memorable battle. One who fought his way from No. 11 all the way to becoming the de facto opener in Tests and ODIs. The one who we had proudly cheered for as he drove around the MCG in that Audi he got for winning the man of the Series award at the World Championship of Cricket in 1985.

Later during the season, he was to say “Lalit Modi is a tall man”. You are a tall man Mr. Shastri. You stood even taller during your playing days. Maybe you got carried away after you saw that gigantic 200 foot hoarding of Lalit Modi that appeared next to the Chennai overpass to coincide with the start of the first IPL season? For he is not a tall man. In fact he is quite a small man. Small but happens to be a big honcho at this bullying organization which is petty enough to deprive us of the pleasure of watching Shane Bond bowl to Sachin Tendulkar in a couple days. Just to buttress their own fiefdom. Just to squash that annoying upstart, the ICL, that seems to stick in their collective throat. Not that it has any perceivable threat to their coffers in any kind of way.

You don’t agree? Well, he and his cronies went one step further a few days ago. They withdrew Sachin Tendulkar this time, from an exhibition T20 game where Hamish Marshall, another Kiwi national team discard due to his association with the ICL, was penciled in to play. Just to bare their teeth again at the ICL and thump their chests. It would have been just an idyllic and old fashioned exhibition game, you know. How do you think that excited eight year old kid who was looking forward to seeing the Little Master in action at that game feels? He is just beginning to build up his own little stash of memories that he will need in the coming years. He is still in his piggy bank days in that. And that my friend, is a crying shame.

Damn right, I feel like I am violated.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael dickson on April 13, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    Looking back on this article a year later, it still rings true to this day. The amount of times we have to put up with the image of that stupid MRF blimp, the constant labelling of a Karbonn Kamal "Katch" and let's not forget the DLF Maximum drives me insane. The IPL is a great concept - up to four overseas players per side, seeing legends playing against each other - but it fails utterly with its execution. The rampant commercialisation of it detracts from the enjoyment of the game too much, but seeing as my beloved Black Caps aren't playing much after the World T20, it's the only cricket fix I can get. They are still pissing in our coffee, Sriram.

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  • Richard on May 3, 2009, 3:25 GMT

    Wow ! Special...very special. Thank you. sir. Thank you for this brilliant piece.

  • Neeraj on March 16, 2009, 13:17 GMT

    Yeah one hell of an article and is it just me or has the quality of comments increased some twenty zillion times after this article...

  • Sri on March 15, 2009, 20:32 GMT

    Very well articulated. Great article, even better comments. I'm sure we can all relate to the feeling of violation of memories. Just a couple of points on the IPL. For the concept to have succeeded as it did in the first version, you probably needed a megalomaniac like Modi. Imagine how eager the world's cricketing media would have been to see it fail, so that they could have said "I told you so". For all the hype, it did provide a wonderful platform for the talented youngsters. Why is the concept so bad, when the entire footballing world runs on this model? American sports all have professionals running them - it is inevitable that cricket will follow. Where there is money to be made and power to be had, there will be people to take advantage. What we can all do without is the sycophancy that accompanies the administration.

  • Manjunath on March 13, 2009, 6:09 GMT

    Excellent piece.

    I do not know as to what the present generation of fans and cricketers feel.Many belonging to my generation would certainly feel the way you feel and I am one of them.

  • Savi on March 13, 2009, 2:51 GMT

    Excellently written, Sriram, you've voiced everything I feel at the moment. This is the best cricinfo article I've read in a long time. I only hope it's not read only by long-suffering fans, but by the bigshots themselves. Oh wait sorry, they don't have time to read cricket news when they're off trying to hoard as much money as possible.

    If this goes on for any longer, we'll have to be burning cricket bats and balls and erecting tombstones which say "R.I.P. world cricket"...

  • Goods on March 12, 2009, 21:28 GMT

    Excellent. I feel the sameway, regarding the BCCI & IPL bullying others around, including the ICL. I wish we could collectively do something. Can you write a petition and we all sign it?

  • Chan on March 12, 2009, 17:47 GMT

    Friend, Cricket does not exist in isolation. Though your article is magnificent, it wants cricket and cricketers to live in utopia. There is no such place. ICL started the markting revolution of T20. IPL just pulled out too far away and took credit. Why was ICL started? For money. Why players joined ICL? For money. Why they lost? It is corporate war out there and they were on the wrong side. Do you cry for the thousands of 'innocent' workers being laid off in this recession? You ignore them. Just in the same manner ignore the cash and catch the match. Half the matches exist because of the cash. More than half reach you because of the cash. Look again, Cash has entered your coffee. You don't like it, make another.

  • steve smith on March 12, 2009, 16:34 GMT

    Yeah OK, but you are full of your own importance and too fond of the sound of your own voice, me thinks!

  • Michael dickson on April 13, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    Looking back on this article a year later, it still rings true to this day. The amount of times we have to put up with the image of that stupid MRF blimp, the constant labelling of a Karbonn Kamal "Katch" and let's not forget the DLF Maximum drives me insane. The IPL is a great concept - up to four overseas players per side, seeing legends playing against each other - but it fails utterly with its execution. The rampant commercialisation of it detracts from the enjoyment of the game too much, but seeing as my beloved Black Caps aren't playing much after the World T20, it's the only cricket fix I can get. They are still pissing in our coffee, Sriram.

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  • Richard on May 3, 2009, 3:25 GMT

    Wow ! Special...very special. Thank you. sir. Thank you for this brilliant piece.

  • Neeraj on March 16, 2009, 13:17 GMT

    Yeah one hell of an article and is it just me or has the quality of comments increased some twenty zillion times after this article...

  • Sri on March 15, 2009, 20:32 GMT

    Very well articulated. Great article, even better comments. I'm sure we can all relate to the feeling of violation of memories. Just a couple of points on the IPL. For the concept to have succeeded as it did in the first version, you probably needed a megalomaniac like Modi. Imagine how eager the world's cricketing media would have been to see it fail, so that they could have said "I told you so". For all the hype, it did provide a wonderful platform for the talented youngsters. Why is the concept so bad, when the entire footballing world runs on this model? American sports all have professionals running them - it is inevitable that cricket will follow. Where there is money to be made and power to be had, there will be people to take advantage. What we can all do without is the sycophancy that accompanies the administration.

  • Manjunath on March 13, 2009, 6:09 GMT

    Excellent piece.

    I do not know as to what the present generation of fans and cricketers feel.Many belonging to my generation would certainly feel the way you feel and I am one of them.

  • Savi on March 13, 2009, 2:51 GMT

    Excellently written, Sriram, you've voiced everything I feel at the moment. This is the best cricinfo article I've read in a long time. I only hope it's not read only by long-suffering fans, but by the bigshots themselves. Oh wait sorry, they don't have time to read cricket news when they're off trying to hoard as much money as possible.

    If this goes on for any longer, we'll have to be burning cricket bats and balls and erecting tombstones which say "R.I.P. world cricket"...

  • Goods on March 12, 2009, 21:28 GMT

    Excellent. I feel the sameway, regarding the BCCI & IPL bullying others around, including the ICL. I wish we could collectively do something. Can you write a petition and we all sign it?

  • Chan on March 12, 2009, 17:47 GMT

    Friend, Cricket does not exist in isolation. Though your article is magnificent, it wants cricket and cricketers to live in utopia. There is no such place. ICL started the markting revolution of T20. IPL just pulled out too far away and took credit. Why was ICL started? For money. Why players joined ICL? For money. Why they lost? It is corporate war out there and they were on the wrong side. Do you cry for the thousands of 'innocent' workers being laid off in this recession? You ignore them. Just in the same manner ignore the cash and catch the match. Half the matches exist because of the cash. More than half reach you because of the cash. Look again, Cash has entered your coffee. You don't like it, make another.

  • steve smith on March 12, 2009, 16:34 GMT

    Yeah OK, but you are full of your own importance and too fond of the sound of your own voice, me thinks!

  • satya on March 12, 2009, 15:22 GMT

    one of the best blogs I have read...

  • Prashanth Cherukuri on March 12, 2009, 14:57 GMT

    Do you want some cheese with your whine Sriram? Boring, endless and childish is how I'd describe your epic. I hope no one prints it out cos it would kill a hundred trees. I am surprised Cricinfo publishes anything that comes their way.

  • Fouad Khan on March 12, 2009, 9:13 GMT

    The firings at the Lankan team probably wouldn't have happened when you wrote this. I can imagine you sitting in front of your TV with tears rolling down your cheek as you watched the massacre of Pakistan cricket. I know I was in the same position. Love you and thanks for voicing this out.

  • Stephen on March 12, 2009, 6:42 GMT

    U r too whiny mate!! Beginning was good, end was fine.... something real bad happened with your coffee when u were writing the middle..

    I loved some comments: Phanto - Champion, if someone is pissing in your coffee, it means that you are not watching carefully enough as to what is going on around you.

    and Mohon - Rants like these are what strengthen my desire to see the likes of Modi taking over cricket completely and destroying everything these ranters love so much.

    And for you Sriram - Take it easy!!

  • Vipul Aroh on March 12, 2009, 6:22 GMT

    Hi Sriram. Reading your article, I had the same kind of feeling that I have whenever I read one of Sir Vidia's opinion pieces. Although I don't agree with anything he says, I cannot help but admire his writing style. Great piece in terms of writing, but I do not endorse your views. Although there is a tinge of truth in what you say, I think begrudging the money the players are earning (doing the thing that they do best) is a bit hypocritical. And please don't take it personally, but coming from a person of Indian descent who is based in Canada, it does not seem right. I am assuming that you went to Canada for better opportunities (including money), right? You are a good writer Sriram, but whinging takes you nowhere. Accept the realities and move on. Kerry Packer did not kill test cricket; neither will the Modis and the Stanfords with their T20 extravaganzas. Test cricket hurts itself the most by the kind of test matches seen in WI and Pakistan recently. Hope something is done re. them.

  • Anurag Jagota on March 12, 2009, 1:45 GMT

    Bravo Sriram...That was a six!!! You hit it way outside the stadium. I am sure someone felt the same but probably never expressed it as well when Kerry Packer unleashed the 'Big Boys Play at night'....but today he is gone and cricket has yet another flavor..so how would you like your morning coffee - regular? flavored? or decaf..

  • Vinay on March 11, 2009, 22:10 GMT

    I was yawning by the time i read your wingeing.The same "you" would praise the Texan billionaire for reforming the West-Indies Cricket had he not been involved in financial frauds.What IPL bought to world cricket is Indians cheering Andrew Symonds hitting bhajji out of the park in 5 months after Sydney Fiasco. Indians wanting to see Sachin and Sanath bat together and most of all Indians cheering the fall of Tendulkars wicket. IPL is a true celebration of sport where good cricket is recognized. And BCCI had done the right thing in banning folks who joined ICL, as a developing country where the youngsters are looking for quick money, India would have lost more youngsters to ICL. However, they are being arrogant and bullying the other countries to do the same which is a disgrace.

  • D.V.C. on March 11, 2009, 21:37 GMT

    That's one of the best articles I've ever read two thirds of.

  • shishir on March 11, 2009, 19:59 GMT

    I believe T20 is a good thing for cricket, though int'l T20 matches still tend to be more practice than real. I totally disregarded the results (NZ v IND) and believed ODIs will be different, and they turned out to be so. IPL is good, but that doesn't and should not mean that ICL is bad. Every man has a right to earn his living, IPL with its fancy terms doesn't want retired players unless they are Gilly or Warnies, sad as Shane Bond, Yousuf, etal were/are as good, and bullying their boards into not letting them play for their countries, bad. I still love Test and ODIs. There is place for T20, but let that be just those 2 matches. I would love to see a game,ppl enjoying the sport for the skill the players possess, not the amount of money the franchise owners can throw. Kallis is a great cricketer, his failure at IPL does not mean he isn't one. KP, if he succeeds is good, but if he fails, will he have been a bad bet? I think cricket is still alive, cheap scenese notwithstanding. HOPE.

  • Adeel on March 11, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    i agree sriram.... being a pakistani i can feel the pain. Losing stars like wasim waqar inzi saeed anwar , saqlain which once built a team of extreme exciting calibre was big enough a blow for us and now the current situation of pakistani cricket is just heart breaking... asif out of the scene .. shoaib injured..... its a wreck... i don't feel like watching the pakistani matches lol which happen like 1 in a century..... and all the other things that are effecting cricket.... u don't feel relaxed anymore... i hope things get better

  • G.Ravilla on March 11, 2009, 18:22 GMT

    The article is really well written but really unrealistic. One gets the feeling that if you have your way then cricket will be played only for the sake of playing it. While in an ideal world that might be possible but not in the world that you and I live in. Whether you like it or not money has become the be all and end all. In a lighter sense: "The library I borrow my Rushdie and Roth from has been renovated and will now devote half its space to pornography. "

    Whats wrong with porn boss ???!!!!

  • Grove House on March 11, 2009, 18:04 GMT

    spot on!

  • Jags Viswanathan on March 11, 2009, 18:00 GMT

    A commentary of what is proving the best and worst of times and no better proof than that Dickens is back in fashion. Can you imagine someone as crass as Stanford or Modi penning one serious thought from debtors prison or where ever they should be which elevates the debate? Having watched cricket from the slow paced sixties versus the frenetic new millenium, I would venture to add that is like a comparison between Roth and Rushdie versus Harold Robbins a slow descent from grace to cricket porn. Also you have missed out some men smaller than Modi like Dalmiya who set the trend in the 90's and big men like Wesley Hall. To misappropriate Einstein's quote on Gandhi 'Future generations will wonder how such small men tainted this noble game for filthy lucre'

    Kudos to you sriram for venting what many of us labelled purists feel about where the game is heading. Maybe the venting will get you a book deal.

  • sameer on March 11, 2009, 16:46 GMT

    Seriously, while the world over has been turned upside down by impatient men in the pursuit of the dollar, it is hypocritical for people to be resentful of cricketers trying to make money, and businessmen giving them that oppurtunity.

    Surely it is possible for the game to evolve to a level where there is money associated with the game and not just prestige. Who knows that might encourage more of us to actively engage in the sport, and not just pass a insincere remark over our morning cup of coffee, or tea actually in my case.

    A very readable piece though!

  • Born a Libran on March 11, 2009, 15:11 GMT

    Well written Sriram... Coming from the heart that...

    @Pranab: Today Stanford has been exposed to what he really is.. Who knows what tomorrow holds for IPL and Modi? NBA and the EPL havent become the professional organizations it is right now overnight (and still there are flaws hidden underneath)... I wait for the day the IPL is exposed...

  • shankargg on March 11, 2009, 15:08 GMT

    I'm fine with Modi. Subhash chandra and he finally did something with opportunity that was knocking for a long long time. good entrepreneurship. As far as ICL players being banned, it is ridiculous. I like the entrepreneurial-opportunistic Modi. What's so surprising about someone wanting to have it his way? You just need a strong man to oppose him so there is a good democratic process of ruling party and opposition party. The money that cricketers deservedly earn, the entertainment people get, the brands (livelihoods of ppl in those companies)that are able to sell their products on this platform...so many positives modi and subhash chandra have brought to the table. like chapell and ganguly, it took ICl for IPL to unleash its potential. go modi. go subhash.

  • Captain Swing on March 11, 2009, 14:30 GMT

    I understand the agonised howl of protest and we are indeed in a hard season. I guess that the ban on ICL players is actually illegal (restraint of trade) by the laws of England and Wales. Are there no similar laws in other jurisdictions? And Phanto, the whingeing English run the most aggressive and successful nation state the world has ever known. Whingeing must be good.

  • lakesidey on March 11, 2009, 13:47 GMT

    Very pertinent words, Sriram - I feel your pain :( You've put into crisp words what doubtless many of us have suffered :P

  • Pranab on March 11, 2009, 13:22 GMT

    Sriram, your piece started off brilliantly but in the end i felt that your anger on some of the points was broadly unjustified. Stanford i have no care for but IPL yes. I enjoyed each and every game of that. It was a great spectacle and the future.. believe you me! I think the Shanes and the Marshalls chose to earn money while they could knowing only too well that the ICL was itself was not doing anything to promote the game as such. Why fret over their losses now? Cricket is bigger than Modi and Stanford and i am sure it will survive for newer memories for the next generation. Come to India mate to watch the unlikely spectacle of Indians praying and wishing Brendon McCullum to get over his injury soon so that he can do an encore of the first IPL match.

  • jay on March 11, 2009, 12:59 GMT

    Bravo. for writing such a long article. u should have published a booklet instead. I just read in bits and pieces.

    Overall: 3728 words 20403 characters (with spaces) 16691 characters (without spaces) 31 paras

    anyways, tooooooooooo long to just say a few lines.

  • Tony Hood on March 11, 2009, 12:58 GMT

    Brilliantly, coruscatingly, incandescently well written! Cogent, passionate and truthful. But sadly, deplorably, people like Giles Clarke will take no notice.

  • AN on March 11, 2009, 12:24 GMT

    Has anybody read the the Old Testament? Moses was an exeptionally cruel human being and contradicted himself all the time(if he even existed). "God" was worse. Having said that, Modi or Giles Clarke are what they are and I am not going to say that they are any sort of role models from any angle. Now, back to the article itself...Poorly written polemic with only mindless anger shown. I dont know what your day job is, but dont resign just yet. Criticism of players/adminstrators/journalists etc. may be justified, but all I just see here is a 4 year old's tantrum. Made for very irritating reading. I also wish you had read up on Contract Law re: IPL/ICL fiasco. One cannot be centrally contracted and play both, just as one cannot work for the EPA or Ford or GM at the same time. Bond et. al. knew what was coming and chose to join ICL. He does not regret it, as he makes more money doing so. So in the end, all this outrage is just pretention nothing else.

  • Arun on March 11, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    Awesome... you just said everything that i kept in my head but couldn't put into words.. kudos Sriram

  • Rony on March 11, 2009, 11:36 GMT

    Wow!! Take up writing full time buddy. As incisive as they come. You couldn't have captured the sentiment of the romantic "cricket as solace" fan better."Moses of the game", My foot; and that too from Ravi-the poor man's wall-Shastri!!!

  • Ashish on March 11, 2009, 10:31 GMT

    Maybe you need to drink Tea?

    Seriously, a very good piece.Keep it going.Although I would request you to cut down the length of the article-My eyes started glazing over somewhere towards the last one-fourth.

    Regards

  • R.Narayan on March 11, 2009, 9:33 GMT

    Great read! Boy, was ever a spleen vented! But seriously, in response to some of the comments, I think every cricket lover is happy to see cricketers make money. What is sick-making is the sight of Greats of the game slobbering over the feet of a Texan cowboy and India's own Moses (Moses fortunately may soon be looking for a life vest, as the seas seem to be turning on him!).

  • Ravikant on March 11, 2009, 9:17 GMT

    I am 50 years old and remember vividly all of the cricketing details that you have mentioned.You have written what many of the ardent cricketing supporters have been feeling for a long time-mainly how money matters seem to be dictating over every single aspect of our lives including cricket.And that is why we feel uncomfortable to see Stanford's position himself next to Sobers or Viv Richards.We,who have been following cricket from the time of radio commentaries to the latest T20's feel more & more cheated and done in as time has been passing by.But,these are indeed strange times that we live in.However,I feel confident that cricket as we know will survive and geniuses such as Tendulkar,Imran,Viv Richards,Botham,Hadlee, Gavaskar to name a few will continue to occupy a special place in our hearts and minds. Sriram, thank you for your article.It has been very well thought and written and that is the reason that you have instantly connected to thousands of cricket fans world over!

  • sudhanshu on March 11, 2009, 8:04 GMT

    great writing sriram. agree with all you say esp. about mr. modi and stanford. but i am afraid there aren't many like you and me these days. thanks to cricinfo for keeping the tribe alive. but what you doin in canada mate????? come back sriram, your counrty needs you. i need you. the dollar would be on its way down in a few days...i promise.

  • Dilip on March 11, 2009, 7:42 GMT

    Awesome Sir! Poetry in motion! You should be offered a regular columnist role on Cricinfo.

  • sridhar on March 11, 2009, 7:11 GMT

    Bang On!After a long time, I read something that I really liked.Sadly as the world is not getting better in a hurry , it is still cricket that is the solace and the contests in South Africa on good pitches reminding us that test cricket is alive and kicking. Yet there is cricket that is happening in West Indies and happened briefly in Pakistan which could easily post the last coffins on test cricket. The BCCI I am sure will go about in its blundering way and cricket will live on albeit shakily as long as there are entertainers like Sehawag and Sachin to name just two and bowlers like Mitchell Johnson and Dale Steyn. That is the real McCoy, Nasdaq and BSE be damned!

  • Brendan Layton on March 11, 2009, 6:01 GMT

    It's good that have stood up for what you believe in. Maybe someone out there will pay attention and remember that the world is all dollars and cents.

    And in regards to Mohan, you should get some perspective, and undoubtedly a better personality. You don't happen to work for the BCCI do you?

  • Robert on March 11, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    Fantastic Rant... possibly the most accurate and honest piece written in any publication for a very long time.

  • Prasad Bhamre on March 11, 2009, 4:51 GMT

    Brilliant peice! Enjoyed reading about the angst that we all share but cannot articulate as well as you have. Always knew you as a useful middle-order batsman, but this article puts to rest the catches you dropped off my bowling!

  • Atul Bhogle on March 11, 2009, 4:44 GMT

    Brilliant piece man! But as someone said, keep the faith. The game has seen many attempts at hijacking and even though this might be the most aggressive of the lot, it will withstand! Amen!

  • Split Infinitive on March 11, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    As a cricket tragic from India, allow me to add my two bits - I would also like to tell the broadcasters where to get off. No first and sixth balls, no replays, no additional bits of trivia and anecdotes that really makes a great broadcast. I for one refuse to buy any product that stops me from watching a replay of an Ishant dismissal, or a Laxman cover drive... Futile, I know, but at least it is a gesture. For what else can one do? I know one thing that I can and will do - continue to love and obsess over the great game!

  • Matt on March 11, 2009, 1:28 GMT

    I've thought my coffee tasted a bit wrong too, lately, but look harder. There's always something in World cricket to offset the Modi's, Stanford's and horrible terror attacks. JP Duminy, Ponting's debutants, a great last day in the West Indies by England and an ODI masterclass by the Little Master are just a few. Keep the faith, Siriam, and the fire.

  • Naresh Satyan on March 10, 2009, 23:02 GMT

    Thanks Sriram, for the best article I've read on cricinfo in quite a while.

  • Manoj on March 10, 2009, 22:41 GMT

    If I didn't know better I'd think Sriram was sitting on a rocking chair on his porch, with a shotgun cocked waiting for modi to pass by!

    Nice! Keep that taxi cab rolling!

  • Arsalan Khan on March 10, 2009, 21:16 GMT

    Great stuff!

  • vallish on March 10, 2009, 18:05 GMT

    awesome piece buddy. become a sports columnist man. i would buy the paper just to read your articles. good read and thanks.

  • Vinod Dhar on March 10, 2009, 17:16 GMT

    Well a good article though the sheer volume takes out the real focus points. Anyways, in case I remember it rightly, Richards took 56 balls to complete the century and not 55 as mentioned by you.

  • Avinash Iyer on March 10, 2009, 17:16 GMT

    Awesomest! I have been thinking for the last few months that the Business page in newspapers have extended till the last but one page, and here is your piece articulating the same. Brilliantly written sir. Hats off!

  • Kirk-at-Lords on March 10, 2009, 16:30 GMT

    You have vented the collective spleen of cricket supporters around the globe, Sriram D. Good on you for doing so! What next, besides getting ourselves clean cups of coffee, tea and such? I say it is time for a World Cricket Convention to reform and redirect the sport at all levels, from rules-making to formats to marketing to security. Never has any sport been in such need of restructuring to save it from such an array of negative, destructive forces. Out of this effort will come cricket of which we can all be proud. We will once again be able to delight in the on-field exploits. The off-field cupidity will be all but banished from ever section of the daily newspapers and other media. I suggest the ICC sponsor a convention in Philadelphia, USA, at Haverford College, that country's most venerable and ongoing cricketing locale. If Philadelphia gave rebirth to the USA in 1789, it can do the same for our beloved passtime. Chak de Cricket!

  • saurabh on March 10, 2009, 16:19 GMT

    an exceptional piece of writing my friend, i just held back my tears as i read through it and re-visited my memories of the year when cricket went truly commericial.

  • Mahesh Sethuraman on March 10, 2009, 15:44 GMT

    wowwwwwwwwwwwwww. Brilliant piece. I wish I could write like this.......

  • Neil on March 10, 2009, 14:54 GMT

    Sriram, My thoughts written better than I could ever elocute them. Thankyou my friend for sharing your invective with us. Neil

  • Vikram on March 10, 2009, 14:33 GMT

    Wow. A really great piece. I might not agree with everything you've said, but the manner in which you've written this is impeccable. Straight from the heart. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

  • doesn´t matter on March 10, 2009, 14:19 GMT

    an Indian from Canada. what possibly made him go there? hmmm..let me guess. not so difficult..dollars! what is the whole article about!

  • Sri on March 10, 2009, 14:11 GMT

    Sriram, well written and I can understand what you feel. But sincerely, greed and selfishness aren't new human traits, even in cricketing history. If Sobers, Viv, Shastri can put up with that for the love of the game, so can I. I feel that rather than appreciate the cricketers who are just playing cricket (irrespective of what money they make or made) or just looking to promote it, you take the same path of what the Stanford's have done to cricket - your writing just undermines the respect of cricket. Its a depressing read. We all feel that Stanford and likes should never have been within inches of cricket..but thats a side show; although money governs cricket its not all. We have superb players who primarily want to play for their country. We still have great contests on decent pitches. If you care to look properly, the first ball of a test in the crisp air with men in whites all around brings along with it the same anticipation as ever. Hope your coffee tastes better next time..

  • adrian on March 10, 2009, 13:43 GMT

    Excellent piece mate! I think the true scandal as it stands is that we won't get to see how the careers of players in the ICL would have turned out. There is no way anyone can justify keeping these players out of international cricket. I would love to see Shane Bond, Hamish Marshall, Mohammed Yousuf and the rest back in test cricket where they should be. Yet, seemingly, due to 1 man's ego it won't be happening. It makes me sick!

  • Mujahid on March 10, 2009, 13:31 GMT

    Great piece, I agree with much of your sentiments, although I have to admit, I am looking forward to watching the IPL and I think its great for the game. Hope its a safe one and all the players can participate.

    Also loved the quality of your writing.

  • prakash on March 10, 2009, 13:28 GMT

    Although I couldnt agree with you on many of the aspects, the write up was quite compelling and was written well. Will let you know of the things which I couldnt concur with you little later.

  • Mohan on March 10, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    Rants like these are what strengthen my desire to see the likes of Modi taking over cricket completely and destroying everything these ranters love so much.

  • shankar on March 10, 2009, 12:16 GMT

    Top piece Sriram

  • phanto on March 10, 2009, 12:14 GMT

    I can see why the English and the Indians shared an historical cultural affinity during the Raj: they both love to whinge. What a shame that whinging isn’t an Olympic sport! There's big money in the game today, get over it. I read this kind of crap in 1977-79 when WSC was on; today, that’s some kind of golden era. Supposedly, the great evil of that time was the 50-over format, the white ball & night matches. Now T20 is allegedly Satan's gift. I have read few cricket writers who are truly prescient; this is just another Luddite "things were sooooo much better back then" piece. Cricket can conquer the world, particularly with the T20 format. Champion, if someone is pissing in your coffee, it means that you are not watching carefully enough as to what is going on around you.

  • MIthun on March 10, 2009, 12:03 GMT

    Brilliant. Couldn't stop reading it till the end. Agree with all that you said. Wonderful writing.

  • Brian on March 10, 2009, 11:23 GMT

    That is absolutely brilliant, Sriram. Lucid, knowledgable, incisive, straight from the heart and so expressive of the feelings of so many of us who love the game for its natural simplicity, beauty and drama. Well done.

  • Sammy on March 10, 2009, 11:03 GMT

    Agree. Totally agree. Shane Bond is the biggest casualty of the BCCIs bullyboy antics and its frustrating for a NZ supporter! SHameful! What a waste of superb talent. Stanford is and always was a loud crass american with no real appreciation for crickets true spirit.

  • Duncan on March 10, 2009, 10:51 GMT

    I wholeheartedly concur. Brilliantly said. I want to take these slithery shysters who are ruining everything that is honourable and worthwhile, and do to them as the Roman consul Gaius Popilius Laenas did with the Seleucid King Antiochus IV. Antiochus would not agree to withdraw his armies from Egypt - he said he'd think about the idea and respond later. Laenas promptly drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus, and said he would not let him cross that line until he'd given a straight answer. Yes or no. War or peace. Enough politics. Enough shadow-games. Enough conjuring tricks. These people are keeping us from our lives.

  • Jay on March 10, 2009, 10:37 GMT

    Superb article, Sriram; unlike the egregious Mr. Modi and his sycophantic lapdogs, you do indeed stand tall.

  • Vikas Srimal on March 10, 2009, 10:19 GMT

    Awesome piece, buddy. I'm glad Cricinfo put it on the Home page, or I'd never have reached it. And the loss would have been entirely mine. Great piece, word-perfect articulation & issues that resonate with every fan of the game. Way to go, Sriram. Take up full-time cricket writing! :)

  • Harvey on March 10, 2009, 9:38 GMT

    Sriram, you are clearly the type of fan that the ECB's Giles Clarke would dismiss as an "anorak." As a fellow "anorak," I have to say that yours is the best article I have read this year.

  • Rohan on March 10, 2009, 9:21 GMT

    Guy,

    That was straight from the heart right through the gut.

    Awesome writing!

  • Patrick on March 10, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Brilliant. Loved the part about Viv Richards. I was at the exhibition T20 and when we found out Tendulkar wouldn't be playing, a lot of people just lost interest and started asking when the internationals started.. a cruel trick by the BCCI

  • Rob Steen on March 10, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    I may not agree with every single syllable, nor share the sheer volume of your anger, but this is the best piece of literary venting I've read for years. But please keep the faith: Stanford's gone, Modi will pass on and the game will survive and prosper once more.

  • Adarsh Darapaneni on March 10, 2009, 7:25 GMT

    Wonderful piece Sriram. You have given vent to what many of us cricket fans strongly feel about BCCI & IPL's shameless bullying and the inept cricket administration everywhere else by the likes of ICC, ECB, PCB, WICB etc

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Adarsh Darapaneni on March 10, 2009, 7:25 GMT

    Wonderful piece Sriram. You have given vent to what many of us cricket fans strongly feel about BCCI & IPL's shameless bullying and the inept cricket administration everywhere else by the likes of ICC, ECB, PCB, WICB etc

  • Rob Steen on March 10, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    I may not agree with every single syllable, nor share the sheer volume of your anger, but this is the best piece of literary venting I've read for years. But please keep the faith: Stanford's gone, Modi will pass on and the game will survive and prosper once more.

  • Patrick on March 10, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Brilliant. Loved the part about Viv Richards. I was at the exhibition T20 and when we found out Tendulkar wouldn't be playing, a lot of people just lost interest and started asking when the internationals started.. a cruel trick by the BCCI

  • Rohan on March 10, 2009, 9:21 GMT

    Guy,

    That was straight from the heart right through the gut.

    Awesome writing!

  • Harvey on March 10, 2009, 9:38 GMT

    Sriram, you are clearly the type of fan that the ECB's Giles Clarke would dismiss as an "anorak." As a fellow "anorak," I have to say that yours is the best article I have read this year.

  • Vikas Srimal on March 10, 2009, 10:19 GMT

    Awesome piece, buddy. I'm glad Cricinfo put it on the Home page, or I'd never have reached it. And the loss would have been entirely mine. Great piece, word-perfect articulation & issues that resonate with every fan of the game. Way to go, Sriram. Take up full-time cricket writing! :)

  • Jay on March 10, 2009, 10:37 GMT

    Superb article, Sriram; unlike the egregious Mr. Modi and his sycophantic lapdogs, you do indeed stand tall.

  • Duncan on March 10, 2009, 10:51 GMT

    I wholeheartedly concur. Brilliantly said. I want to take these slithery shysters who are ruining everything that is honourable and worthwhile, and do to them as the Roman consul Gaius Popilius Laenas did with the Seleucid King Antiochus IV. Antiochus would not agree to withdraw his armies from Egypt - he said he'd think about the idea and respond later. Laenas promptly drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus, and said he would not let him cross that line until he'd given a straight answer. Yes or no. War or peace. Enough politics. Enough shadow-games. Enough conjuring tricks. These people are keeping us from our lives.

  • Sammy on March 10, 2009, 11:03 GMT

    Agree. Totally agree. Shane Bond is the biggest casualty of the BCCIs bullyboy antics and its frustrating for a NZ supporter! SHameful! What a waste of superb talent. Stanford is and always was a loud crass american with no real appreciation for crickets true spirit.

  • Brian on March 10, 2009, 11:23 GMT

    That is absolutely brilliant, Sriram. Lucid, knowledgable, incisive, straight from the heart and so expressive of the feelings of so many of us who love the game for its natural simplicity, beauty and drama. Well done.