Bangalore March 2, 2011

Boomtown Bangalore and the Bat Bash Bonanza

Andy Zaltzman's second World Cup podcast features reports from the crucial Bangalore Brave Hearts v Hyderabad Nawabs game, and a slightly less diverting international held in the same city, featuring one Peter Suchin Tendulkar

For those of you unable to stream or download the audio of the World Cup Cricket podcast, below is a transcript of the scripted parts of the show. But it is supposed to be listened to, not read.

This week’s podcast features some thoughts about and sounds from the Bangalore clash between India and England, plus some outright lies.

You can also subscribe to this podcast via iTunes.

The music in the podcast is by Kevin MacLeod.

Hello, cricket fans, and welcome to Bangalore, for the second instalment of Andy Zaltzman’s World Cup Cricket Podcast. I am Andy Zaltzman, author of the Confectionery Stall and Zaltzman On The Road blogs on Cricinfo, three-time Confectionery Stall World Cricketer Of The Year, producer-director of The Miserable Impossibility Of Joy In A Universe Of Unremitting Pain, the as-yet unreleased film trilogy about the batting career of Gary Kirsten, and the only man ever to be dismissed Handled The Umpire in a cricket match. Long story, let’s not go into now.

Later in this week’s podcast, I will be reporting on two titanic games of cricket that took place in Bangalore over the weekend: India v England, a match described as “quite exciting in patches, with bits of useful batting and a mildly diverting finish” by the International Understatement Association; and the Bangalore Brave Hearts against the Hyderabad Nawabs in the inaugural weekend of the Federal Bank cricket league. How would the Brave Hearts cope with the overwhelming pressure of having the pride and reputation of the entire banking sector of Karnataka weighing on their young shoulders?

We will have the second instalment of the Guess What Happened Based On The Sound Of The Crowd quiz. And we will have all the latest Minor Injuries news ahead of this week’s big games.

Amongst the things not in this podcast are: an exclusive interview with former Indian medium-pacer Paras Mhambrey about the dangers of unregulated financial markets and the irresponsibility of modern-day corporate banking; a frame-by-frame analysis of some recently discovered time-lapse film footage of former England one-day specialist Neil Fairbrother eating a pickled egg; or speculation over who would win in a fistfight between Ranjitsinhji and ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat. None of that in this week’s show.

Let’s start with that magnificent game in Bangalore. It might have been a tie, but cricket was the winner. And the good news is that cricket has now qualified for a home quarter-final. Sure, the structure of the tournament is such that it was always likely that cricket would make it through, but still, cricket played a blinder on Sunday.

The main highlights were of course the magnificent centuries by England captain Andrew Strauss and India’s opening batsman, er, er, what’s his name again, er, S-S-S-Such… Peter Such… Peter Suchin Tendulkar. What a player he would have been. Oh, come on science, make that come true. Make that come true. If you can make a mouse with an ear on its back, or a snake that barks, or a shark with wireless internet, all of which have of course been made (albeit that the shark just swallowed an IT consultant who was windsurfing on his laptop), then you can damn well make Peter Suchin Tendulkar. Come on. I know Sachin guards his privacy understandably carefully, but how hard can it be to take a DNA swab off an international cricketer these days? And Peter Such would willingly give his body to medical science. Make it happen. Earn your government handouts and free lifetime supplies of test tubes for once. I digress.

The evidence of the match might suggest that both teams are like a low-budget hat shop – their bowlers aren’t that great. But the pitch was flatter than an apartment in a skyscraper (hang on, I’m just waiting to see if that comparison stands… oh no, it has been rejected by the World Committee for Similes and Metaphors). So this was a batsman’s game.

And, for this week’s Guess What Happened From The Sound Of The Crowd quiz, question 1, I’m going to play you the sounds made by the Chinnaswamy stadium when Tendulkar and Strauss reached their hundreds. All you have to do is tell me who scored century A, and who scored century B.

Don’t rush your answers. Think about it. Remember Strauss reached his hundred off four fewer balls than Tendulkar, so maybe the crowd were a bit more excited about his 100. Remember also that Tendulkar had scored 97 international hundreds before, compared to Strauss’s 24, so Strauss’s, relatively speaking, has a bit of rarity value. Maybe the Indian crowd has got bored of seeing their man score brilliant hundred after brilliant hundred for more than 20 years. I’m not saying they have, I’m just saying that’s a factor you might like to consider before answering the question. As might be the fact that Tendulkar is a bit older than Strauss, so the crowd might not have wanted to startle him with a loud noise.

Time’s up, pens down, no conferring… Tendulkar’s hundred was clip… A. No it was B. It was B. What a moment to witness for a cricket fan: Sachin at his best in front of his adoring, worshipful home crowd scoring a century of almost painful perfection. As holiday outings go, I would recommend it highly. Very highly. Even more highly than a trip to the crazy golf course in the English seaside resort of Lyme Regis. Even though the windmill there is really impressive. Now I am used to similar waves of adulation when I do stand-up comedy shows. Honestly, all the time it’s like that, every joke... okay, you’ve got me.

But as a newcomer to Asian cricket-watching, it was another magical, almost spiritual, experience, to go with the fervour of the opening match in Dhaka, and life-changing splendour of seeing Robin Peterson bowl a tidy spell for South Africa in Delhi. Imagine Rodin chiselling out one of his better sculptures. In front of 40,000 adoring French art fans. Imagine Charles Dickens, or Chuck D as he was known by his contemporaries, banging out a quick novel on his magic typewriter at a packed London Literodome, the sadly now defunct 60,000-capacity writing arena he used to play at in the 1850s. Imagine Florence Nightingale curing 100 soldiers in an hour in front of a sold-out crowd at a Crimean War Appreciation Society bash. Put them all together and times them by 98. That’s what it was like in the Chinnaswamy. Roughly.

Well played Sachin. You are good at batting. Keep your mind on the game and you’ll go far.

Before going to the game, I had my first attempt at playing cricket on the subcontinent. Some local players were practising on the ground next to ESPNcricinfo’s Bangalore office, so I thought I would test out my cricketing skills against them. Nice idea. However, as it turned out, I did not have any cricketing skills to test out. Zaltzman stumped for 2. An innings that was scratchier than an eczema-suffering dog at a flea convention. (And that one has been approved.)

Like so many English batsmen through cricket history, I failed to adjust to subcontinental conditions. It didn’t help that I hadn’t wielded a bat for 18 months. Nor did it help that I’d never played with a hard red tennis ball before. Nor did it help that I was born with the natural hand-eye co-ordination of a loaf of bread.

It turned out that the guys were the Bangalore Brave Hearts, in final practice for their titanic showdown with the Hyderabad Nawabs. I went back the following morning to see the match, and get a taste of Indian cricket at a lower level. And for this game between the Bangalore and Hyderabad offices of a bank, there was probably about as big a crowd as there was for England v Holland in Nagpur (excluding the schoolkids let in for free, admittedly, but let’s not let facts get in the way of a spurious comparison). And the enthusiasm for the game was plain to see, as captain Prasanna led the Brave Hearts into battle.


It was a tense start to the Brave Hearts’ chase, and at the drinks break, I spoke to wicketkeeper Rohan, and first their coach Rajesh…


So, a lot of confidence ahead of the big game. Confidence that initially looked extremely well placed, then looked hopelessly optimistic, then bang on the banana again, then groundlessly hopeful again, and finally half-right half-wrong. As I left to go to the Chinnaswamy, he Brave Hearts were treating the Nawabs’ bowling like an unwanted Christmas teddy bear, sixes flying all over the place as Bangalore issued a powerful early statement to the other banking cities of India. Go Brave Hearts.

Awards time now, and the AZ World Cup Cricket Podcast Slingy Fast Bowling Spell Of The Week goes to… Lasith Malinga. There is no finer sight in world cricket than a fast bowler charging in and bowling as fast as he possibly can at the batsman’s toes. Particularly when that fast bowler has a magnificently unorthodox action and heroically ludicrous hair. Malinga could have informed the Kenyan tailenders in writing a month in advance exactly where he was going to bowl those balls, and it would have made no difference. They might have taken the precaution of removing their poor little feet from the target area, but they would still have been out. It was a disastrously unequal contest – Malinga bowling to the Kenyan tailenders was the cricketing equivalent of Muhammad Ali in his prime versus a bowl of cornflakes. Similarly, you might have known that the fight would end up with a breakfast room splattered with cereal, but it would still make compelling viewing.

A few pointers for the rest of the tournament now.

Nothing really matters yet, it’s still three weeks until the quarter-finals. I’m having fun though.

Latest minor injury news now.

Australia’s BRAD HADDIN chipped a tooth biting into a rock that team-mate STEPHEN SMITH had painted to look like a nectarine as a prank, but is feeling better after a trip to the dentist and a lollipop for being brave given to him by coach Tim Nielsen. New Zealand’s biff-bang batsman JESSE RYDER feared being ruled out of the tournament after winning a game of hide and seek resulted in him lying undiscovered behind a lawnmower in a shed for 36 hours; Ryder has been successfully rehydrated and is now fit to play (well, fit-ish). Zimbabwe’s tweaker PROSPER UTSEYA was unhurt after trying to recreate Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon using a plastic canoe and the hotel swimming pool. Utseya once jumped a tricycle over a row of 14 toy buses. And Umpire MARAIS ERASMUS is fit to continue after a trigger-finger injury scare in which his dismissing finger, which has been insured for $4.5m, became stuck in an orange whilst Erasmus was regaling fellow umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Steve Harper with his famous Fruity Fingers Puppet Show.

That’s about it for the podcast this week. There will be more from Sri Lanka next week. In the meantime, you can read my blogs on ESPNcricinfo, and follow the latest short-form hogwash, lies about minor injuries, and live match updates, from some matches, sometimes, if my computer doesn’t run out of puff, on the @ZaltzCricket twitter feed.

I’ll play you out this week with some of the sounds of the tumultuous final stages of Bangalore’s epic showdown on Sunday, as India and England batted each other to the brink of oblivion. And do listen out for the reaction of American sports journalist Wright Thomson, whose trip to the World Cup has been his first exposure to cricket. Bye bye.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer