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Exit Dhoni. Enter Bhajji.

by Naked Cricket

Are India’s team selections being choreographed?

Why has Harbhajan Singh been picked in the Test squad? His first class numbers from last season don't quite add up - he played three matches for just six wickets. None of those matches made prime time TV though. But that one over in the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs where he dismissed Raina and Dhoni off successive deliveries made headlines. And that's the very nature of Bhajji-the-beast: he makes headlines. If those two wickets weren't enough, he threw in twin celebrations that sealed it. Followed by a dropped caught and bowled in that very over. Did you see the remorse? Injured finger? Hurt Bhajji? Harbhajan Singh, the once hugely successful soap opera, was back. What's the very purpose of soap operas - eyeballs, TRPs, roller coaster! What's the very purpose of Bhajji? Cricket may leave him but the melodrama never will.
It took two deliveries for the guy who dared to lift Nita Ambani off her feet to lift all of Wankhede. But does it warrant a Test spot? It's not as if Bangladesh had been invited to play Bhajji's farewell Test at his new home ground in Mumbai. His 16 wickets in 14 IPL games could have been the route to an One Day International (ODI) spot - but MS Dhoni is still India's ODI captain.
Harbhajan had not been picked in the ODI squad because the selection panel felt "chopping and changing or disturbing the combination" of the team that had reached the World Cup semi-finals was unnecessary - Sandeep Patil, Chairman of selectors (Read as Dhoni felt).
After Virat Kohli's ascent, it may appear that Dhoni's powers are on the wane but his turf remains as defined as ever - if anything, retiring from Tests may help MS strengthen his hold on the ODI and T20 teams. Way back to N Srinivasan and Chennai Super Kings' (CSK) earliest days, Dhoni's say in selection has been near absolute. The national squad invariably had his men, quite a few of them, CSK boys. To his credit, he handed his boys a rope long enough to play stress-free cricket. So for every Ravindra Jadeja that refuses to come around, there's a Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma who turns it around. Not to forget, Suresh Raina, always lurking on the sidelines of Test selection. For way too long, Dhoni's patience with Bhajji in the dressing room made another off spinner, R Ashwin cool his heels in the waiting room.
Harbhajan was once Dhoni's business partner. Perhaps they were even buddies. Very much doubt that's the case now. In 2010, Bhajji appeared in Royal Stag's "Have I made it large?" advertisement, set in his father's ball bearing factory. Soon after, Dhoni appeared in a spoof that showed a Bhajji lookalike being slapped by an agitated father. It didn't go down too well with either Bhajji or his family. They demanded the ad be pulled off the air.Here is Bhajji's "Make it large" ad followed by a spoof with Dhoni.

Bhajji last played a Test over two years ago in March 2013, under Dhoni. His inclusion in that home series was as much a surprise as is his selection for the solitary Bangladesh Test. In his last Test innings, he appeared to have been underbowled compared to the two other spinners, Ashwin and Jadeja. He went wicketless in his ten overs.
One of the reasons cited for the 34-year-old off spinner's return is the surfeit of left handed batsmen in the Bangladesh team. There's also the first choice off spinner, Ashwin and the two-Test-old leggie, Karn Sharma in the squad, but chances are that Bhajji will play. Is this a golden handshake for his long, dramatic service to Indian cricket: he made his Test debut in March, 1998? Bhajji, on the other hand, says he's ready to play for another four-five years. Question is, like in the IPL, will he bowl four overs in each innings of the Bangladesh Test? Bhajji's answer: One tight slap.

First published here

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The untold story of this Virat-Anushka photograph

by Naked Cricket


The IPL has achieved lofty, new standards in the 2015 edition. There's also an ACSU (Anti Corruption and Security Unit) in place. Under its watchful gaze, players cannot meet girlfriends during rain-breaks as, technically, the match is still on. It's in violation of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) anti-corruption code. Did you know such a code exists - is there anything else under its purview? Something about bookies and match fixing, but why get into such frivolities when there's a Supreme Court.
The Virat Kohli-Anushka Sharma rendezvous was telecast live. It was on the fringes of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) dressing room, in the VIP enclosure. By now you know there was a Delhi Daredevils player involved - Yuvraj Singh. What was he doing in enemy territory? Yuvraj, when contacted, said in his fat Punjabi drawl, "DD has been trying to disown me ever since they owned me - my only peace is in another's dressing room, where they value my contribution to DD". When asked about the 16 crore price tag, he agreed it was a tad excessive, but did not want to be quoted on the same. "After the first few games, I really thought they would drop me and let me concentrate on my media commitments, but such was Guru Greg's faith in me, I did not want to sing Faith No More to him".
Asked if players should be allowed to meet their girlfriends during rain interruptions, Yuvraj blurted in no uncertain terms, "It depends on how heavy it's raining...and if the player and his girlfriend are not in see-through clothes and not got getting indecently wet, I think it's kinda OK." Reminded that it breached the rule of the minimum standards for Players and Match Officials Area (PMOA), he seemed disinterested and snapped, "Itni angrezi I dunno (I dunno so much English)". Next, Yograj Singh appeared on the scene, which is when both Yuvraj and the interviewer disappeared. Yograj could be heard laughing about Dhoni's first ball dismissal against Harbhajan Singh (first playoff) and something about how Punjab had prevailed.
Dinesh Karthik, always the other guy, almost went unnoticed in the much publicised Virat-Anushka snap. "I'm quite happy to get some much needed publicity. People have been asking, what are you doing in the RCB dressing room? It's only when I tell them that after Yuvi, I was the most expensive player at Rs 10.5 crore that they either shut up or laugh in disbelief." DK continued to ramble, "Virat and Anushka make such a lovely couple, and it's a shame that Virat has been pulled up for crossing into the VIP enclosure - he straddles both worlds, of an RCB player and a VIP and should be allowed to move freely from one to another. I can still understand if the BCCI had pulled up a commoner like me for being in the VIP enclosure..." DK was left rambling when we spotted Virat and Anushka.
At first, Virat nearly attacked us, mistaking us for a journalist who had caused him grievous harm. Virat explained that he wanted to move on from all the issues that he had so far been unable to move on from - "If you notice, I don't get angry with overseas' players anymore, they are our guests and for us Indians, guests are like God. It's just the Indian players..." he tailed off with a cheeky smile. When asked about the latest incident, he agreed as a captain he had crossed the line but a journalist who had crossed over from the Press Box into the VIP enclosure had instigated him. "Anushka was just wishing me well before I beat the sh*t outta that journalist bastard who wrote filthy scurrilous sh*t about us...it's only because of Anushka's warm embrace and Yuvi and DK's loving looks that I held myself back...otherwise that journalist who distinctly resembled that Hindustan Times journalist would've had hell to pay".
Anushka Sharma sternly said she would not like to comment on anything other than NH10.
(However plausible this might sound, this is a work of fiction.)
First published here

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"Being bubbly isn't easy after so many defeats" - Preity Zinta

by Naked Cricket

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," screamed Ravi Shastri, perched on top of one of the PCA stadium light towers in Mohali. His voice carried to nearby Chandigarh, and up the hills, shaking the quiet of Kasauli. "Pun-jaab has lost too many on the trot to play another IPL team again, they need to look for inspiration within," muttered a visibly frazzled Preity Zinta. She added, "Being bubbly wasn't easy with so many defeats." A manic Sidhu interrupted her - "She was starting to feel flat like bubbly that has lost its bubbliness quotient.
What good is Champania without the Champagne bubbles, she is no better than a beggar without a begging bowl!" Sidhu looked for an imaginary drummer, on not seeing one, he undertook a drum roll with his crooked fingers instead.
Even a normally unperturbed Sanjay Bangar (coach, Kings XI Punjab) claimed his team's IPL drought was beginning to remind him of his worst days when he ran out his captain, the Prince of Calcutta, never to play for India again. “I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat...dreaming I have run out David Miller when he's smashed Ishant Sharma for seven consecutive sixes in an over (two off successive no balls, one for height, the other a front foot no ball)”. “Left needing six from the penultimate delivery of the over” chirped Laxman Sivaramakrishnan. Bangar frowned at Siva and then continued frowning at no one in particular - “I face the last two deliveries and manage just a leg bye to Naman Ojha who even ignores my single and throws the ball in the air, celebrating, further belittling my effort... It later strikes me that I could have run five leg byes and nobody would have noticed but instead I just walk off crestfallen. There is also a vague memory of Preity Zinta beating me up but maybe I was just imagining things.”
Dropped for the last few games, Virender Sehwag says somewhat nonchalantly, "It's bad enough being dropped in the Tests for Murali Vijay and in the ODIs for Rohit Sharma, but now to have some chokra called Manan Vohra take my place is destroying my sense of worth. I have forgotten how to sing at the crease. Luckily, I'm no longer at the crease. But even during my short stint in the nets I was besura...my son says his friends have stopped speaking to him because he is the son of a benched player. I spoke to Preity Zinta, she felt the cause of 'children of benched players' was always close to her heart and that she would put her personal problems aside and speak to her ex-boyfriend about an ex-player. She claimed she was even behind the rehab of another ex-KXIP player - Yuvraj - and that both Yuvi and Viru sound similar to her."
Finally, at an Extraordinary Executive Committee meeting, it was decided that KXIP will play none other than Kings XI Punjab. Not once, but twice. There will be a home game in Mohali and an away game in Pune. A toss of coin will determine which team will be referred to as KXIP and which one will be Kings XI Punjab. Ravi Shastri snapped, "Either way, little Bhajji will be in the house".
If this fails to translate into a win for either KXIP or Kings XI Punjab, it has been learnt that KXIP will rename itself as KXIPD. It was also learnt that the D stands for either Delhi or Daredevils.
(This is a work of fiction. No IPL players were intended to be hurt in its writing.)
First published here

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Are Delhi Daredevils afraid of Yuvraj's daddy?

by Naked Cricket

Why do teams refuse to let go of the gone guys?
The high point of the DD-RCB match was when I spotted Dr Luthria in the aisles, for the first time not behind his desk. He waved as he passed me, "No use waiting, going!" It wasn't yet half time, but DD was down for the count. Even before a ball was bowled, it was clear the crowd would cheer players they admired - during the big screen intros, Gayle, Virat, AB, Starc (all RCB) received applause befitting of home boys; and only Yuvraj and Duminy (DD) got some acknowledgment from the Kotla. It mattered little that DD opener, Shreyas Iyer had knocked a whirlwind 83 off 57 balls barely three days ago on this very ground. Who was Shreyas Iyer? They did not know him. Who was his opening mate, Mayank Agarwal, they did not know him either. Aaah Duminy, yes, they knew him alright. And Yuvraj, they did sound like they knew him rather well.
Or is it the memory of Yuvraj Singh that they knew? It's been seven games and Yuvraj has two 2s, two 9s, two 20s and one half century to his name - 124 runs in all. Whereas Virender Sehwag has one duck, two 1s, an 11, in addition to a score in the 30s and 40s - 96 runs in six matches. Sehwag's highest, 47 (41) and Yuvraj's highest, 54 (39) were made in the same match. DD won that game, some guy called Mayank Agarwal was man of the match. But what does the Kotla care.
On 18th February, soon after Yuvraj was purchased for Rs 16 crore by Delhi Daredevils, I had written here - "Will Yuvraj score match winning runs? Debatable, but going by past seasons, doubtful too. Will he lead the side? Unlikely, he hasn't shown any such qualities before. Will the crowds line up to watch him? Yes goddammit, he's Yuvi."
This might have been true for the first few games but seven matches later, expectations if any, are low. During my first Kotla-visit this season, I spotted as many teenage groups in Gambhir shirts as Yuvi's No. 3. There still is a lot of chatter around Yuvraj, how a boy whose voice hadn't yet cracked, squeaked from behind, "Dekh lena, aaj Yuvi chalega, dekh lena". He repeated himself but who was listening? But also nobody mocked or laughed, there is still a deep fondness for Yuvi though quite different from the outright awe for AB de Villiers - a player on top of his and everyone else's game - at the Kotla, the only chorus was AB! AB! He was down at third man, and there was an almost languid quality to his half raised hand, almost Tendulkar-like - and that got the AB! AB! chorus further activated.
Can Yuvi be activated? How long before Kirsten's patience runs out, is there such a thing as Kirsten's patience running out? Are Manoj Tiwary and Saurabh Tiwary even seen as replacements? Is it a case of let's just play the Big Y and hope for the best - if he comes off, we stand vindicated, if he doesn't, it's not like he's doing any worse than the rest of the team, or is he? Manoj Tiwary has batted twice in four games, a 32 and a nought not out. CM Gautam has played just one game, four runs later he was dropped swiftly. It's not as if DD's bench is overflowing with recognisable Indian replacements.
Coming in at 36/2, at the fall of Duminy's wicket, Yuvraj "flashed hard" at his first delivery. Both this expression and the shot were dismal in equal measure. Yuvraj failed to make contact. In his brief innings of five deliveries, there was no attempt to defend. Like most players who are not AB de Villiers, Yuvraj too takes his time to settle. When he tries to hit himself out of trouble he only begets more trouble. Isn't that something out of the Old Testament of cricket? Why so non-serious, Mr Singh?
Oh right, this is the IPL, not really cricket is it? A tournament where last season's superkid, Manan Vohra continues to be benched for non-performing big name players like Sehwag and Murali Vijay. To Punjab's credit though, they dropped Glenn Maxwell after a run of Yuvrajesque scores, will DD make their move? Or are they afraid of Yuvi's papa?

First published here

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Yusuf Pathan is to Gambhir what Jadeja is to Dhoni.

by Naked Cricket

The Kolkata Knight Riders have more baggage than Louis Vuitton. Most of the Final XI are no longer part of their national squads. Skipper Gambhir has a team of amazing has-beens. The very reason for this team is the nostalgia they serve at the post match party. The memory chest overruns with Gambhir on top. Manish Pandey was the first Indian to score an IPL 100. Uthappa hasn't done much since he doffed his imaginary hat against Pakistan in 2007. Yusuf Pathan. Where do you start with Yusuf? You could ask his dad? Or Irfan? Or speak to his chewing gum. They all will have a tale to tell. And if this wasn't enough, there's the blast-from-the-past, Piyush Chawla. If only these guys could play in sepia. But play they will, for Gambhir must prove them wrong every season. The Avengers come to mind. But there is thought to this team, and it challenges Gambhir, Yusuf, Uthappa, Chawla - to start thinking, from has-beens to wannabes to will-bees, to who knows, maybe even a Beatle. Chawla would be Ringo. Gambhir, Lennon. Uthappa, Paul. And Yusuf, George. Surya Kumar Yadav could be the fifth Beatle.
But what will Umesh Yadav be? From being India's go-to bowler, he was either injured or benched, before doing his thing in Australia this World Cup. But those were ODIs; Yadav has played only one T20 international. His IPL numbers aren't that hot either but against his old team, the Daredevils, he was man of the match for his 2/18. A second, third, fourth coming? Gambhir has enough patience to pull him through bad days.
Firangs have their own baggage: Shakib Al Hasan, KKR barely played him, not foreign enough for them? Then when they wanted to, the Bangladesh Cricket Board didn't let him. And just when he started this season, Pakistan came along.
Andre Russell inhabited the DD bench more than Manoj Tiwary, India's. And when Russell did play, he bowled that one over that invariably was his last. Under Gambhir's watchful eye, life has been more play and less bench - just the other day a match winning 66, and before that a naughty 41*. Suddenly everyone's talking a lot less about Andre Russell's hair.
Morne Morkel was dropped by DD for a qualifier/semi-final/eliminator when he was their top bowler. And he's seen some bad days in the IPL; bowls length, almost as readily as Ishant. Gets hammered, like Ishant. But can run through the batting, unlike Ishant. But if you watched him slide and sort-of-field, your heart will bleed for the turf and his limbs in equal measure. So far he's been picking wickets every match.
It took a while for KKR and Gambhir to figure out that Ryan ten Doeschate must play - and pronouncing his name right should have nothing to do with it. Has an ice cool head, can close games in case Russell and Pathan don't, and even bat up the order - has two T20 centuries. That he played for the Netherlands can no longer be held against him.
And then there's Sunil Narine, who doesn't quite fit into this team but won them the tournament, outsourcing it's called. This year though, Narine has had more than his share of baggage - his action was called and he missed the World Cup. Seems largely unaffected by everything but it could be just be that blank look he wears.
After KKR's victory against the Daredevils, Gambhir took backing Yusuf Pathan to a lofty new level - "I have always had a lot of faith in him. Faith and trust is one thing that does not go very quickly. So I always feel he is the game-changer for us and the way he has batted in this tournament till now, I think he is just going to be our biggest game-changer." Going by the last few IPLs, it's tough to tell what the basis for this faith and trust is - but it appears to be paying some dividends now. Gambhir's approach to team selection isn't too dissimilar to Dhoni's - back your boys, then back them some more, and if that isn't paying off, back them some more still.

KKR should make the playoffs. Let's see how far can one man's belief in his jaded army push them?

First published here

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It's better to burnout than to fade away.

by Naked Cricket

A sleepwalk in the park for Gayle and Dhoni

In front of the outdoor screen at Cyber Hub, there were no more than seven-eight of us languidly watching the Daredevils-Sunrisers' match. Sidhu was holding court with his minion, Arun Lal tweeting ponderously when the sardar briefly caught his breath. Strategic timeout.
When I returned after the break, and so did Duminy with a wicket, overheard that familiar comment - "strategic time out, fixing ho gayee... out ho gaya". Going by IPL standards, if you can call them that, this year the on-field occurrences have been less strange. Just that Delhi Daredevils won two on the trot. And Mumbai Indians lost four straight games. Not that there's anything strange about either set of results. Mumbai also started slowly last season, and all of Delhi's games have been tight.
Then Chris Gayle's mysterious ways happened. An imperfect ten off 24 deliveries that included a maiden over against Malinga in the batting power play. At the best of times, it's hard to tell whether Gayle is injured or not, so when he's struggling for fitness, it's just gauging how bad his niggles are - but play he must, just as Dhoni rarely misses a match for CSK, Gayle is top draw for RCB, and this was a home game, not to be missed at any cost. Scurrying tight singles for the Jamaican can be no less than a Bolt-like feat these days. A two nigh impossible and a three is a Loch Ness Monster.
Gayle was dropped by his fellow West Indian, Lendl Simmons when on nought (though he did seem to be on nought throughout his innings) and later by Malinga - both fairly straightforward chances. Gayle was subliminally trying to tell us something - "I can't quite remember how to bat". It was painful watching him, so imagine how wretched he must have felt? Here was a dude who smokes sixes like Tendulkar waves to his devotees at the Wankhede, what was happening? Why was it happening?
Have your say. You can comment here.When Gayle finally fell, RCB's score stood still at 48/2 after eight overs. Nothing
extraordinary, just that they were chasing 210 for a win - at an
asking rate of 10.5. Later that night, Big B tweeted with an odd choice of words. He used IPL and fixed in the same sentence. Freud smiled.
Doubt this will be the last time Gayle will go into Henry mode - some will know that in between Christopher and Gayle, there's a middle name. It's like Dhoni was in Singh mode yesterday - 31* off 37. While Henry was doing penance in the first eight overs, Mr Singh had undertaken secretarial duties at the Municipal Corporation in the last ten. Both innings appeared far worse as they were set against batting orgies.
But just as Gayle smashed 96 (56) little over a week ago, Dhoni had his moment earlier the same day with a smacking fifty. Seven sixes and as many fours for Gayle, four each for Dhoni. But in a tournament where teams are often playing two games in barely three days, being on auto pilot is sometimes the default mode - few will recall Raina or Faf's single digit scores from the same match. Dhoni's slower than run-a-ball trek though not in the same ballpark as Gayle's pilgrimage, prompted this comment from the CSK skip, "When I went to bat, I ate up a lot of deliveries." In T20 as in Rock & Roll, it's better to burn out than to fade away.
Tendulkar's only IPL century was in a lost cause. There was a romance to the hundred, everyone lapped it up. But by then, Ramesh paaji (Sachin's middle name) seemed to be in Henry and Mr Singh mode. But play every game for Mumbai he did, how could he not. It wasn't what he did, but the fact that he was there on the field. Sometimes batting for a few overs but fielding for a full twenty. The last I saw him in an IPL game was at the Kotla, MI vs DD. He scored a fifty. It was faster than run-a-ball, his team won that day. The Delhi crowds mostly cheered for him. Each time he bent to field, it was an event. As it is when he waves from the sidelines of the Mumbai Indians' dugout these days.

First published here

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Have you been approached by the Mumbai Indians yet?

by Naked Cricket

Mumbai Indians' pursuit of Sir Donald Bradman as their mentor-in-chief has never been documented. Unlikely as it sounds, it never happened. The Don’s time was way ahead of the IPL. Countless others such as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Anil Kumble, John Wright, Jonty Rhodes and Robin Singh were far luckier. Give it a few more years and Bhajji will join his Sachin Paaji on that watchful bench, with Pragyan Ojha as his apprentice. Match after match, these fine cricketers squat in that Mumbai Indians’ dugout with an intensity only an Ambani can afford. The Mumbai bench extends to old faithfuls Sunny bhai and brother Ravi in the com box. There’s Nita bhabhi and her sons, and on occasion Mukesh bhai too. And what better if the match is at Wankhede. We are family.

On the field, the Mumbai Indians are stuck in a time warp – after years, there’s still a plan underfoot to eke out a return on investment from Kieron Pollard. For years he batted so low, you’d think he was being saved for the IPL after party. And when he did surface, so did the bouncer or a spinner with guile. In between there were petrified IPL virgins sacrificed on the altar of Pollard the match winner. In 2010, Michael Holding said, "Pollard in my opinion is not a cricketer". Since his international debut in 2007, Pollard is yet to play a single Test. By the look of it, it’s doubtful he ever will. Once retired, he too may find himself on the MI-bench.  Position – Catching coach. Key areas – Acrobatic catch, the dodgy ones on the boundary. Additional responsibilities – how to sledge Australians, especially Shane Watson. Overheard saying, “My moves are better than Dwayne’s”.
Lasith Malinga went easy on his Sri Lanka career, retiring from Test cricket so he could be called the world’s best death bowler in a local league. To extend his IPL career, Malinga could play even fewer matches or none at all. Having captained Sri Lanka, an appointment as the Ceylonese Ambassador on the MI bench appears likely. It’s another thing that apart from Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera there are no Lankans in the IPL. So what if Perera doesn’t play, there are still two MI vs. DD matches for Malinga to pen his "Sri Lankans in the IPL diary". Perhaps even a chapter on MI’s match in Chennai – titled ‘No Sri Lankans in the IPL diary’.  Additional responsibilities – On your toes & off-your-yorker coach and how to mysteriously smile while being smashed around. Overheard saying - “For me, MI stands for Malinga Indians”.
Aaron Finch’s indifferent World Cup run is leading to an even more indifferent IPL run. Form-is-fickle coach for Finch. A largely philosophical assignment, he will speak of his record breaking 156 that was preceded by three single digit scores and followed by yet another such score, only to be followed by two half centuries...there, you get the drift. Position – Hit out or get out coach. Additional responsibilities – help under nourished, uncapped Indians put on weight – Eat right or get out coach. Overheard saying – nothing. 
Corey Anderson, signed on by the Indians after he knocked the fastest ODI century, has mastered the what-am-I-doing here look. Will be Finch’s assistant in the philosophical class. Will also hold special classes for sacrificial virgins (young Indian bowlers in the IPL) on how not to bowl at all by being picked as a flash bat who can bowl a bit. Additional responsibilities – how to keep your chin up and out. Overheard saying – nothing.
Unmukt Chand: English speaking coach. Will introduce the players to the Oxford Dictionary and St Stephen’s college. Additional responsibilities – social media. Overheard saying – stuff nobody understands.
Parthiv Patel: Will screen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. After the screening will stand there as Display No. 1 and a much younger Display No. 2 barely five minutes later. Additional responsibilities – are you kidding, someone so young? Overheard saying: “Mummy!”
Harbhajan Singh: Once retired, he will sit next to Sachin paaji. They will laugh. Not since VVS and Cheeka will there have been such levity in an IPL dugout. In inner circles it will be rumoured that his position is that of Mental Mentor or MIMM – Mumbai Indians Mental Mentor. Additional responsibilities – lifting, slapping, clapping, other mundane tasks. Overheard saying: “Teri ma ki” or “Monkey” or “Maan ki" or "thank you, Sachin”
Rohit Sharma: Talent Scout. Will solely work on himself. Will continue to scout for hidden talent within. Will spend time behind closed doors with Shastri’s booming voice. Additional responsibilities – to pout. Overheard saying – “Thank you, Ravi!”

First published here

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Mr Benaud: Death of a gentleman.

by Naked Cricket


“A boy, just beginning...25 years of age...baggy green number 408.”
“His father’s best mate...son, brother, fighter, friend...inspiration.”
“Phillip Hughes, forever rest in peace, son.”


I have time for you, Mr Benaud
I have acres of time for you, Mr Benaud
It’s taken me half your life to know that
It’s taken me all my life to know that
It’s taken your life
And it’s taken your death
For me to know
It’s time to slow down
Wait at the kerb of a sentence
Wait mid sentence
Wait
Just like that
Like this

Drop words like teardrops
Drop words like teardrops
Like they’re hardwired to the heart
Hold words back like tears
Hold words back like tears
Like they’re hardwired to the mind
Like they’re meant to be.

Oh, you, Cohen of cricket,
Oh, you, Cohen of cricket,
On your knees, serenading us
With a twinkle in that eye of blue
With a twinkle served with that Sydney sky of blue
Crisp as cotton, ironed and creased
Crisp as the cover drive, ironed and teased
Just about there, just about there
A prod, a push, a fable, all timing
Never a nick, nor an edge, all timing
“Simply superb”

Through the 80s and the 90s
At 5:30 in the AM
Through the haze of bleary childhood sleep
I hear ya, Mr Benaud
“Morning everyone”
And I wake up
To the bikinis on the banks
And the landscape of your chosen words
And the cricket they served me in courses.

Now I’m quite sure you knew of
Tony Greig and yourself
Sharing
In addition to the Channel 9 box
A birthday
You may even have known
Of Morne Morkel being an October 6 born
But how could you know
It was the four of us all along?
Two down, two to go.

This is the death
This is the death of a gentleman
This is the death
This is the death of Test cricket’s man
This is the death
This is the death of Kerry Packer’s man
This is the death
This is the death of the cricket man
The is the death
This is the death of the voice man
This is the death
Of someone who was seldom not his own man
This is the death
This is the death of a gentleman
 


A gentleman, just finishing, 84 years of age...baggy green number 190
Bill’s best mate...father, husband, fighter, friend....inspiration
Richie Benaud, forever rest in peace, sir.


If you strain your ears some
You’ll hear him call
“That’s Stumps.”



Hat tip – Death of a Gentleman is the title of a film by Sampson Collins, Jarrod Kimber and Johnny Blank. 
 

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