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Jonathan Liew, writing for the Telegraph, visits Boyd Rankin's family on their farm in Northern Ireland, to learn about the lesser-known side of the bowler who recently earned an Ashes call-up.
Boyd's height marked him out from an early age. By the age of 11 or 12, he already stood 6ft tall. Soon after that, he was playing age group cricket for Ireland. But his parents made sure he remained grounded. In fact, his eventual move to England at 18 was not motivated solely by cricket. His main objective was to complete an agricultural degree at Harper Adams University in Shropshire. "He was ploughing from eight or nine," says his father Bob. "If he's home, he's out at seven in the morning. He knew he had to rise in the morning to work. Other boys could just lie in their bed all day. That's not him. He's a very skilful tractor man, a very skilled ploughman. He's quite skilful, too, at repairing machinery. He taught himself to weld, pretty much."
The Great Tamasha mirrors India's rise as a nation to its rise as a cricketing power. James Astill, author of the book, documents the evolution of cricket - with its introduction during the British era to its extravagant and controversial avatar, the Indian Premier League. Speaking to Will Davies of the Wall Street Journal, Astill explains his take on the sport that verges on obsession in the country and believes it is an apt tool to describe the India's story.
I wanted to tell that story, but not through the usual all-India generalizations - not from the usual New Delhi vantage. There have been too many books like that already. Rather, I wanted a unifying theme or a story, which would allow me to reflect on India's broader narrative. And it was only natural that I found this in Indian cricket - which is spectacularly rich and politically powerful, also riven with infighting and corruption, and just unbelievably popular. Most of India loves it. And I love it too
In his time with Kenya, Aasif Karim has enjoyed some unforgettable highs, even if they were sprinkled between his team's struggle to cope in the international arena. Aditya Iyer of the Indian Express caught up with the former Kenya captain, who recalled his side's startling victory over West Indies in the 1996 World Cup, his ouster and subsequent retirement after the 1999 tournament and a surprise call-up for 2003 edition.
"I couldn't believe it. The same selector who had sacked me wanted me to be part of the World Cup team. I hadn't played a competitive match since 1999. But he was adamant," he says. Fast forward a couple of months and we meet our protagonist, wearing the green and red in Kingsmead. "There I was, too old to play cricket four years ago. Not only was I here, but Kenya had qualified for the semifinals of the World Cup," says Karim. "In front of me were the mighty Aussies. In a Super Sixes match. And behind me was a scoreboard that read: Karim: 8-6-3-3."
Dicky Rutnagur, veteran journalist for Hindustan Times and the Daily Telegraph passed away on June 21. Tony Cozier in the Stabroek News reminisces about sharing a press box with "the voice, spoken and written, of Indian cricket through three decades"
I cherish a picture of the two of us in the Bangalore Test during the 1974-75 West Indies tour (later carried in Wisden), Dicky's face wreathed in the typically impish smile that signaled he was holding forth with some yarn or the other. He made friends, and admirers, easily. Wherever his career took him, he had the respect of cricketers of all generations. The tributes that have followed his death confirm that impression.
Raju Bharatan in the Hindu, describes why Rutnagur was good enough to cover over 300 Test matches.
He was to cricket what Zubin Mehta was to music. He conducted himself as the quintessential professional. Not for him the literary flourishes of a K.N. Prabhu or an N.S. Ramaswami. Dicky Rutnagur was first a reporter, only then an opinion moulder. His smooth narrative style held you spellbound. This was reflected in the absorption with which his Editorial Musings and his day-to-day account of Test matches were read -- months after the events took place.
Amit Roy in India's Telegraph paints the various facets of Rutnagur's life - the journalist, the man, the cricket lover and devout Zoroastrian.
One reason I wanted Dicky at the Lord's lunch on Friday was because of what he felt about the ground. I had asked him about the world's most beautiful cricketing venues when I had done a formal interview with Dicky in 2005. "Lord's, of course," he replied. "My hair still stands on end when I go through the Grace Gate (the main gate at Lord's) after all these years. It is a privilege to go to Lord's. I will wear my best clothes to go to Lord's always, even for a county match."
Rutnagur was as noted for his pranks as he was for his opinions on the game, writes R Mohan in Mid-day
A few may have suffered at the hands of the press box joker that he was reputed to be. You were not initiated into cricket journalism until you had been doused by his water pistol. Mercifully, he carried it in days when security was not the watchword it is, otherwise he may have had a tough time explaining what a gun was doing amidst the paraphernalia.
In a piece in Man's World magazine, Sharda Ugra shares her experience of being a ghostwriter on two vastly different cricket biographies - John Wright's Indian Summers and Yuvraj Singh's The Test of My Life: From Cricket to Cancer and Back.
Now that the books are done, in hindsight, I think it would be close to impossible to take on an ultramarathon without either affinity or respect for the subject. A key commandment? Abandon your ego and your own stylistic imprints, replicate the narrator's own voice. The book, after all, belongs not to you but to the sportsman whose life it contains. It is he who must speak, authentically and credibly, to the reader and hold their attention. That's what you're there for.
James Anderson has stamped his authority as England's leading bowler in the record books. He surpassed Darren Gough to become the country's highest wicket taker in one-day internationals, a month after claiming his 300th Test victim. Sam Sheringham of the BBC catalogues Anderson's interview with his colleague Mark Chapman, in which the he talks about the skill, physical and psychological requirements of bowling quick.
"When I first got picked for Lancashire I couldn't swing the ball, so [coach] Mike Watkinson took me aside and taught me how to do it: the grip and the seam position," reveals Anderson.
"He said imagine the feel of it coming out of your hand almost like an off-spinner, your arm coming over almost like a round-arm, or low-arm. That really worked for me because I'm a feel kind of bowler.
Mushtaq Mohammad takes Aditya Iyer of the Indian Express on a trip down memory lane, reflecting on how it felt to become Test cricket's youngest centurion, his admiration for brother Hanif, and his exploits during club matches in England.
"In one such match, I was up against a Middlesex club with the great Fred Titmus in it. We were chasing a rather large target and Freddie, a giant of an off spinner, was bowling. I couldn't get a run. I looked around and realised that the only gap was at third man. My shot was pre-meditated, but it connected and went for four," he says. "But Titmus appealed!"
Appealed? "Yes, poor old Freddie. He went wild and pulled his hair out. This was 1964, you see. The umpire told Freddie, 'You got a ball in your hand, he has a bat. He can do whatever he wants with it'. And there, the reverse hit was invented."
South Africa -- for no fault of the cricketers themselves --was a big issue. Any serious thinking person, anyone who is passionate about his colour, his race, would certainly have turned his back on South Africa. It's nice to hear about my great innings but the greatest innings that Vivian Richards played was not going to South Africa.'
Matthew Hayden, in an interview with the BCCI, reflects on the historic 2001 series against India, and how integral the tour was to him and his Test career with Australia.
In 1995-96 a small unit of Australian batsmen were selected to practice at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. During the same time, there was also a small spin-bowling camp that was going on under Bishen Singh Bedi and S Venkatraghavan. I wasn't picked for that. I rang the chairman of selectors and said, 'Look, if there's any way I can go on this tour, please consider me for selection.' As it turned out, Greg Blewett pulled out of the tour and I was called up.
That trip wasn't about batting in India. I don't even remember picking up my bat and having a net. I was more a witness to the subtleties of the strategy of spin - where those two gentlemen would set fields, what their bowling plans would be, how that will impact me as a batsman and how I can manipulate the field to score runs. It was more about understanding the captaincy moves and the mind of a spin bowler. It was then for me to take that information away and start to generate some scoring options, form an attacking game plan against spin and develop the ability to bat for a long period of time and sustain the pressure of spin bowling. It was an incredibly valuable experience, one that I really cherish and will never forget.
Jonny Bairstow can't find a way into the England side at the moment, not least because of the emergence of his fellow Yorkshireman Joe Root, but the memories of his early exploits, including 95 against South Africa at Lord's last summer, still burn bright. While he bides his time on the sidelines in New Zealand, he has spoken to Vithushan Ehantharajah in All Out Cricket about adjusting to the attention after hitting a ballistic 41 off 21 balls on ODI debut to secure victory over India in 2011:
"I was thrilled to win the game but the next couple of days were pretty special; people were suddenly taking an interest in me and asking me for interviews. It was a nice feeling. The flipside was that my profile rose and people who didn't know too much about me started to pay a bit more attention to how I was playing for Yorkshire. That in turn brought more comment on what I was doing for the Lions as well. It's more noticeable when you make the step up to play internationally; I mean, this was all from one knock. In any instance you can suddenly be shunted into the spotlight."
Greg Chappell, the former Australia captain and India coach, talks to the Telegraph's Lokendra Pratap Sahi about his relationships with Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, and his philosophies in cricket.
The role [of a coach] is highly misunderstood [in India] and the expectations are very high... When I took over, the expectations were such that nobody could have achieved what was expected. One must realise that, at times, you need to risk losing in order to set things up for the future.
Dravid showed courage because, for everyone else, it was we can't do this, for if we get beaten, the media would tear us apart... Dravid did a magnificent job, because he bought into the philosophy of taking risks, making changes and looking ahead. As I've said, you don't stand still in sport... We wanted to take risks because we wanted to get better as a team.
Hemang Badani, the former India batsman, talks to Subash Jayaraman on the Cricket Couch about how Tamil Nadu players tend to go a "bit soft" after debuting for India, his belief that the ICL spawned the IPL, and how he played a part in the legendary Laxman-Dravid stand in the Kolkata Test.
We had India and Australia at Eden Gardens, in the series India won 2-1, and Laxman scored 281. It was the 4th day where Laxman and Dravid played for the whole day. You can go back to the video evidence, there was only one man who took them drinks and water and gloves the entire day. That was me. Laxman and Dravid insisted that only I come in every time. I would bring in water, gloves or banana or whatever they wanted. I was the only one to bring it, they asked no one else to come inside. The entire day. I was the only man to help them out. I actually felt a part of the partnership that day.
I was told by Dravid, more than Laxman, "Tu hi aana, aur kisi ko bhejna mat", which means 'only you come, don't send in anybody else". I kept running in, it didn't matter to me, there was no hard work in it. It was just one of the things cricketers do. It feels nice to be the someone that they wanted to be there and find some comfort levels that they were okay with.
On the eve of his comeback to international cricket, Yuvraj Singh, in a chat with the Telegraph's Lokendra Pratap Sahi, talks about facing up to cancer and how he coped during his treatment.
What kept you going?
The doctors’ message — that once I’d finished the chemotherapy, I’d walk out of the hospital as a man who never had cancer... Of course, there were more bad days than good, but I’d try and keep myself in a nice frame of mind ... I had to go through it all to be alive.
Former Pakistan fast bowler Waqar Younis on being handpicked by Imran Khan for a national camp, how he perfected the reverse-swinging yorker, and winning a Test alongside Wasim Akram with the bat. All that and more in an interview with Shoaib Naveed in the Dawn.
"I wasn’t ever taught to bowl line and length, and feel like coaching is sometimes bad for you as a budding fast bowler. Raw is always good. I remember I bowled extremely waywardly in my first few games, but Imran never told me to hold back, or asked me what I was doing. These days the captain will easily get frustrated and say 'What are you doing?…I didn’t pick you for this.' But Imran told me 'I picked you to bowl fast' and that’s what I did."
Ian Bishop, on the Cricket Couch, talks about starting out as an opening batsman, a being timid kid, the mental attributes needed to be a quick, and how tough it was for him to quit cricket early.
"I have to admit that saying goodbye to the game was little bit difficult because it was all that I’d known. Ever since I was 18, I was a professional cricketer in north of England. The back injuries and back problems that I had caused so many technical deficiencies. Every day of the last 3 years of cricket was a struggle. To try to correct my action, to try to find the right rhythm to bowl every single day seemed different. It wasn’t so much physical pain as much as it was just knowing what I wanted to do, knowing where to put the ball, knowing how to get the batsmen out, but being incapable of executing it, because I couldn’t put the ball where I wanted to."
Ravi Shastri made his debut for India in 1981 when he was 18. After a successful career in international cricket, Shastri has spent 18 years as a commentator. As he turns 50 on May 27, Shastri talks to Clayton Murzello in the Mid-Day about his life where he has never been too far from the spot lights.
Someone asked me what will you do for your 50th (birthday) and I said, ‘just knock one into the gap, quietly take a single because you have had enough 50s as a player, and make sure you lift your elbow 50 times instead of the bat. In life, the hundred is when you turn 60. Hopefully, you reach there and when you do, one must celebrate it like a hundred.
Pragyan Ojha, who took a career-best 7 for 109 in the Delhi Test against West Indies, speaks to Sai Mohan in Mid-Day about making a successful comeback to Test cricket and his goal of becoming one of the leaders of India's bowling attack.
You've developed a slower version of your arm ball which has been getting you good rewards...
Yes, it is basically one of my biggest weapons now. I have to keep varying my pace, otherwise batsmen will get used to my bowling. I don't have too many major variations from the back-of-the-hand or fingers. I realised that you cannot experiment too much. I am a very simple bowler and person. Most of the great left-arm spinners, my heroes, were all simple left-arm spinners. If you see Bishanpa (Bedi)... he told me one day that the main things for a left-arm spinner are perseverance and accuracy. If you have these two things, only then you can try and bring in variations and do other things. I want to learn more about great left-arm spinners.