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Before AB de Villiers cried, the skies wept.

by Naked Cricket


  •  
  •  
  • O dear Leonard Cohen
  • Will you lend your voice and words
  • To the loss we're feeling
  • Because all we can do now
  • Is cry
  •  
  • Cry, cry, cry
  • All we can do is cry
  • Cry like we was babies
  • Cry like we was lost
  • Cry like we don't know when we're going home, AB
  • Cry like we don't know when we're going home, baby
  • Cry like we just don't know
  • Oh, what a game this is
  • The very game that makes me live
  • Is the very game that makes me die
  • The very game that makes me high
  • The very game that makes me die
  • Oh, what a game this is
  • The crying game
  •  
  • I cried like a Pup
  • I cried like a captain
  • I cried with AB de Villiers
  • I cried with Michael Clarke
  • I cried with my heart ripped bare
  • I cried for a player I scarcely knew
  • His childhood photographs on my bedside table
  • And I saw him growing up
  • And I saw him going up
  • I saw him fall
  • I saw us all fall
  • I saw that kid from the country
  • His farmer ways
  • I saw him with Warner
  • I saw him on the scoreboard
  • Forever not out
  • Forever, 63* not out
  •  
  • I saw Morne long legs run down at the Kotla
  • I saw Morne scissor balls back down at third man
  • How he made the ball rise on such a passive pitch
  • How he made the ball rise on just any pitch
  • "How the moon hits your eye
  • And the zing bails fly
  • That's a Morne"
  •  
  • I saw Morne as a boy going to school
  • The gentle gawky kid that wouldn't hurt a fly
  • The gentle gawky kid that wouldn't tell a lie
  • Such a good kid, such a straight good kid
  • And that kid sits on the banks of Eden Park
  • In a pool of tears, in a pool of blood, sweat and years
  • Morne Morkel, just sits there and weeps
  • All six foot four inches of him just sits there and weeps
  • That's a Morne
  • "When the moon hits your eye
  • Like a big pizza pie, that's amore"
  • Oh, what a game this is...
  •  
  • The very game that makes me live
  • Is the very game that makes me die
  • The very game that makes me high
  • The very game that makes me die
  • Oh, what a game this is
  • The crying game
  •  
  • AB was everywhere, every fucking where
  • From mid off to mid wicket
  • From a midsummer night's dream to a midlife crisis
  • AB batted in the 40th, AB bowled in the 40th
  • AB aged nine years, he was on to his 40th
  •  
  • AB says
  • I don't know what to do, I am completely at a loss
  • AB says
  • I don't know, I don't even know when we are going home
  • AB says
  • I tried my best to catch it, I didn't
  • AB says
  • As a captain, I'll be there for the guys
  • AB says
  • But life moves on and the sun will come up tomorrow
  • AB says
  • AB sobs
  •  
  • I write to my South African friends
  • I ask them the same question
  • How are you?
  • Antoinette Muller says
  • "Oh I'm fine. They did their best."
  • Sean Wilson says
  • "I'm okay. It's just sport."
  • Sean Simpson says
  • "I am shattered. Drinking nice wine though."
  • Ben Karpinski says
  • "Not well mate. Really not well
  • But hoping your boys can beat Australia on Thursday. That will help things"
  •  
  • The very game that makes me live
  • Is the very game that makes me die
  • The very game that makes me high
  • The very game that makes me die
  • Oh, what a game this is
  • The crying game
  •  
  • Before AB cried, the skies wept.

Credits, notes, asides:
"That's Amore" - by Dean Martin (lyrics by Brooks, Jack / Warren, Harry).
"That's a Morne" - by Sean Wilson (@SimplySean on twitter).

It's only after writing this that I discovered that Morne Morkel and I share a birthday. We did not go to the same school, however.
For a lark, picture Leonard Cohen singing "Now so long, Morne, it's time that we began to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again".

First published in daily O

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The voices inside Afridi's head.

by Naked Cricket

One day when I was rambling about this and that, K asked me, “Gaurav, do you always have so many thoughts running through your head?” I replied in the affirmative, and continued to ramble on, how I loved to be ON all the time. She nodded, in hindsight now, in a somewhat sympathetic poor you, you gotta put up with your constant tick-ticking. I have always wondered about Shahid Afridi’s attention span, how small it is, or if it exists at all.

"I hit that big six you know auntie always tells me Kamran dropped it very nice kebabs the way I am senior Karachi and Lahore are forget England I like to watch Bollywood movies especially long drives in my new car to retire" – Afridi mindscape, impression  

From the early years, when he used to open the batting and go downright Mad Max, he seems to have mellowed into an eccentric old uncle whose pyjamas fall as he repeats three anecdotes (one for each format) simultaneously. At his peak as a player, all that energy went into cricket – breaking records, filling India’s new ball bowlers with fear, and always holding a threat that he was far more than he actually was. And that was the cricketing dare of Shahid Afridi.

In the last few years though, Afridi became a parody account of his former self. His retirements started to sound like a senile man’s joke – Boom Boom became the joke joke, there was always an encore to it. And he retired with such earnestness, only to return with equal earnestness, retiring and un-retiring from one format or the other, it became tough to keep tabs on which parody account was still active. What this did do though was spawn an assembly line of cheap Afridi memes and jokes; it was like they were Made in China. Hell, all you got to do is watch Afridi bat, talk, whatever, it’s funny enough, you cannot top that. Not on twitter, not on facebook, not in this lifetime. It’s like hoping jokes on Jim Carry will be funnier than Jim Carry. Cannot be, so don’t even try. In a way, I’m glad, and hope Afridi has retired for good, won’t see any of the tripe anymore. Or maybe I’m just jaded, and can’t make any Afridi jokes anymore. How I longed for an original Afridi joke – one that was nothing to do with his age. And that’s when Afridi allegedly said, Thanks My Nigga to Mark Nicholas.

Once upon a time, I too would make Afridi jokes about his age. This one’s from November, 2011, after one of his many comebacks. 


But all the age jokes pale in comparison to an observation made fielding at square leg – claiming he saw Sachin’s legs trembling while facing Shoaib Akhtar (who claimed Sachin was scared of him). This cartoon is from October, 2011, with Shoaib Akhtar, Afridi and Sachin taking a leak together.


Making fun of Afridi’s grasp on the language was always fun, here’s one on how he claimed the captaincy.


Only recently Afridi wore earplugs to block the crowd noise and up his concentration, even joking that he wished to keep them on when anyone spoke to him, especially the captain. Glad he didn’t resort to the plugs earlier in his career; more than his runs and wickets, Afridi was about a superhero-comic bond with his manic fans. Though I doubt the BOOM BOOM shrieking fans were the trigger; Afridi was both the trigger and the gun. One that he pointed way too often to his mouth. But when heroes go down, they go down fast.

Thank you for the madness, Shahid Afridi. Next, standup commentary please. Hopefully during this IPL. Just imagine Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar rapping together.

First published in daily O

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What if Bangladesh win the World Cup

by Naked Cricket

I just love it, everyone and their octopus has decided on the four semi finalists. Even arithmetic tends to agree - India beating Bangladesh 70-80 per cent chance.  Where's the one guy who got the 1983 Prudential World Cup result right, I want to hear from him - fully expect him to crown Bangladesh the champions. And that's why I just had to ask Twitter - what if Bangladesh wins the World Cup?








My World Cup highpoint so far: Bangladesh beating England and gatecrashing the quarters. That's when I started to think, what if they beat India, what if they win the semis, what if they hold it together in the finals? I don't think it's such a long shot, especially against overachieving India. I wonder, apart from Shakib who we know from the IPL, do we know any other Bangladeshis by name - behind Jadeja's beard hermitage there doesn't seem too much of an inclination to learn. Sir has been called on to bat thrice in six games so far, good for India, not so good for him. He looked scratchy in more ways than one, refer beard again. Then his not so slow left arm spin which tends to sweat and go down faster, shorter, with a hit-me cherry on top. Oh, what will we do with Sir? But the Bangladeshis, all their left-handed batsmen in their flying machines will be waiting for him - Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, The Shakib Al Hasan, four of the top six are left-handed, when will Dhoni bowl Sir - to back-to-back centurion Mahmudullah? With Bhuvi's injury and Stuart Binny proving himself indispensable as 12th Man, in all likelihood Sir will play. And Rohit will open.

Jadeja and Rohit, India's bookends, at one and seven, meekly holding the tales India's batting will tell this World Cup. Between Dhawan's twin hundreds and Virat's century against Pakistan, Rahane has been forgotten, again. That knock against South Africa was a sign, one that went unnoticed. And even though that 60-ball 79 came at four, Rahane's real value is opening for India. One that we're unlikely to see in this World Cup, against Bangladesh at least.

At best, we might see Rahane come in at three if an opener falls early. Not quite Rayudu, but almost as dispensable, that's how India has been with one of their best overseas' batsmen off late. For Bangladesh, the key would be to challenge both Dhawan and Kohli early - throw in a dare with a few short balls, both love to pull like they were Ponting. But the MCG isn't quite the Kotla, is it? Negate Dhawan and Kohli, and Bangladesh makes India recalibrate their scoring-rates - from free-flow to stop-start-build-reassess-keep-wickets-in-hand for the death overs. Which is exactly where India's problems were batting first against Pakistan and South Africa.

And if Bangladesh beat India, then they won't be lowly Bangladesh anymore, they'll be the semi-finalists - no matter who they play, they'll have the occasion and that friendly-nothing-to-lose-underdog tag. The world's greatest cricketing clichés will wrap the tigers up and what's worse, they'll all be true.

What if Pakistan knocks Australia out in their quarter-finals? Far more likely than Bangladesh knocking Australia in the semi-finals, right? And what if Gayle has another mad day against New Zealand in the quarters and Andre Russell goes nuts against South Africa in the semis? Far more likely than Bangladesh knocking South Africa in the semi-finals, right?

So, Bangladesh have to beat India (in the quarter-finals) then beat Pakistan (in the semi-finals) then beat West Indies (in the finals) to win the World Cup. Doesn't seem like such a long shot now, does it? Just need Pakistan and West Indies to do some of their dirty work. Teamwork at its very best.

First published in daily O

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Wanted: DRS for online piracy

by Naked Cricket

Original ideas were killed in making this post

To eke out a few Likes on Facebook, some thugs will pass off your updates as their own. If they could, they'd pass off your selfies as their own. Not surprising then, that a bunch of FB cricket pages (with hundreds of thousands of followers) do this day in and day out, post after post. Do they hire a bunch of underage kids, lock them up in a sweatshop and make them pry through trending topics - "oh wow! #IndvsPak, #ViratKohli, 231 Likes, 159 shares, Troll sir very happy when he sees this".  Ace photoshoppist @NotDavidWarner nails it - "Facebook? Don't even bother trying to police. At least 20 crappy meme sites exist, and they have no talent other than stealing content, just make your watermark bigger than theirs, if that's possible."

Have your say. You can comment here.A message from @TheGoanPatiala informed me that my Shikhar Dhawan cartoon was doing the rounds on Whatsapp - only it came with a massive Troll Cricket logo, and if that wasn't enough, it had a TM too. My signature and credits had been removed. I first posted this Dhawan cartoon on December 31st, 2013, with the World Cup and Dhawan's form on the up it called for a twist. I posted it on 10th March, 2015 again, within an hour and a half it had been reposted by Troll Cricket. Their brazen branding and Trademarking of my work, made me mad. I was determined to show them for what they were - next, I fully expect them to pass this piece as their own.

Photoshop by @Aanchal

My first such experience was when a Kohli-Dhoni cartoon appeared on a cricket website without my consent. I mailed the site but they only paid up when I shared the screenshot with them. Next @hashtagcricket alerted me - my old Baba Ramdev cartoon had resurfaced on a hardcore commercial website (with close to a million followers). There was both an apology and a willingness to take the cartoon down. Having spoken to cartoonist, Satish Acharya, about this, I was in no mood for their nonsense; this is what I told them - "My cartoonist friends and I have faced this problem way too often - we have arrived at only one conclusion that those using content without permission should pay for it. I'd appreciate if you could please pay me Rs XXXX- for using my cartoon on your website." Once again the screenshots helped in a prompt payment. Here's @NotDavidWarner on some of his forgettable experiences -


Photoshop by @notdavidwarner



"Cricket Australia was flying Fawad Ahmed to the UK at the start of an Ashes' series to sure up their spin bowling ranks. By chance I created a #boxoffice film poster called "Saving Private Lyon" with the relevant characters Photoshopped into the relevant places. It was brilliant, but I had never warmed up to watermarks. Twitter was abuzz, unfortunately it buzzed when THE Michael Vaughan tweeted my image, sans watermark, sans credit, and being the first humorous cricket related Ps image to hit Twitter - it was a success. I was bitter as f***. I vowed never to leave a watermark off an image ever again - unfortunately my design sense still forces me to try and hide it in the graphic, unlike our friends at Troll Cricket who will slap an ugly logo across the protagonist's face just so that people think they created the image. Haha, as if. They are as untalented as they are unethical, and luckily they have slowed down in stealing my stuff since I called them out on Twitter.

Some of the bigger Twitter heists I have suffered/ can remember with names that I can think of?@MichaelVaughan (via @nickobrady26) popping my stolen image cherry (142 RT)@warwicktodd_not Enjoying the fruits of my Channel 9 pitch map meme, even giving credit to some half-arsed FB site who stole it from me, all the while my watermark stuck out like a white guy at an NWA concert. (309 RT)@SriniMama16 wanted a piece of the Phillip Hughes pie. Everyone else was mourning, he was stealing. (1.3K RT)Plenty more I can't be bothered to count, most recently AB de Villiers 'fastest 100 race' with Usain Bolt. (TooMany RT) - thank god Harbhajan Singh RT'd the real tweet, restored some faith. @HahaCricket serial offender. Worst of the worst. An ex-employee of theirs recently apologised to me on Twitter for their constant plagiarism."

Photoshop by @notdavidwarner

 "My sportskeeda article was Anu Maliked by someone. I immediately complained to the editor and they were quick to warn the pirate" - @TheGoanPatiala  " It's been happening to my cartoons also. Want to take legal action, but don't have enough time to chase lawyers and all. May be you should consult a lawyer friend." - @SatishAcharya Editorial Cartoonist.

Satish, I really would have liked to consult my lawyer friend @IslandExpress, but he's honeymooning in Vietnam.  

I'm on Twitter, watching the tweets roll by, it's 12:25 AM, still high tide. @saeedsherazi tweets an image to @karachikhatmal in the hope of a Retweet, what else - it's a hilarious image, even funnier when you consider the text that goes with it.  It's been lifted word for word. I can't help myself. I tweet - The image belongs to @notdavidwarner

This is a collaborative post. Please do comment if we missed a mention; if you want to expose an online thug, tweet to us @BoredCricket and @notdavidwarner

First published in daily O

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The Waste Indies

by Naked Cricket

It's been a few days since Holi but I haven't been able to remove the filth from that day. And I didn't even play. All I did was watch India play the West Indies. Did you see that match? What did you think of it? It made me sick. I still feel sick thinking about it. That day a lot of us were throwing up on Twitter. Within a few hours, Pakistan played South Africa, what a match that was, and we were all feeling loads better, at least so I thought.
I didn't want to write about the India-Windies' match as a kneejerk reaction; for that there's Twitter. I read a few match reports which ignored that passage of play - were they deleted at the last minute, was it better left unsaid? What would the reaction have been, had India been in West Indies' place, and if MS Dhoni had made similar bowling changes as Jason Holder? I suspect you and me and Arnab Goswami would've gone on about it till the 2019 World Cup. But India won, and there was another "Mauka Mauka" ad on, and mostly everyone was happy.
Well, I wasn't. I started to be unhappy soon after Jadeja was dismissed and India slid to 6-134. To win, India had to score another 49 runs - just that those 49 runs on that WACA pitch were way more, even more with the four West Indies' pacers who had ripped out the heart of India's batting. After Jadeja's wicket, the quicks' Taylor, Russell and Roach bowled the next three overs conceding 18 runs, India still needed 31 more for a win. Which is when part-timer, Marlon Samuels, came on to bowl.
"Don't really understand Samuels bowling now. The four frontline seamers have ten overs to bowl between them."
- ESPN Cricinfo Live commentary
And if one Samuels' over wasn't enough, he bowled another one - and if that wasn't enough another part-timer, Dwayne Smith was brought on from the other end. The next three overs were bowled by part-timers' Samuels-Smith-Samuels. Part-time West Indies' captain, Holder, still had nine overs left from his frontline seamers on the fastest wicket in the world.
"I'm not too sure about the last few overs why Marlon Samuels bowled, why did Jerome Taylor still have two overs left at the end of the day - now he was the best bowler on hand... and it seemed as if at some point the last five to six overs the West Indies gave up, he said ok, India, it's yours... I don't believe in playing cricket like that." - Michael Holding
Holding repeatedly said, "I don't know whose idea it was?" Now that's such a loaded statement, but whose idea was it? Earlier, Jason Holder had had one of his better days as a batsman, scoring his second half-century and highest ODI score, 57. From 8-124, he had pushed his team to 182. He had India on the mat and then he pulled the rug from under his feet; why?
Jason Holder is 23, and he's barely played 30 ODIs. He became captain more by accident - first Darren Sammy fell out of favour with the West Indies Cricket Board, then Dwayne Bravo. Not many out of the Caribbean would've heard of Holder, but the WICB had - and he was their man, they made him captain for the 2014-15 South Africa series and subsequently for the World Cup. What about Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin with 565 ODIs between them - did you see them once go up to Holder in those last few overs for a quick chat? Begs the question, does anyone in West Indies' cricket communicate anything? And when they do, it's usually to gag the players, telling them to shut up or turn up and play a farewell series with India.
Oh, just read that Jason Holder was picked up by CSK in the 2013 IPL auctions.

First published in daily O

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WTF did Virat Kohli say?

by Naked Cricket

An Indian cricketer is chatting with two Murdoch University employees when a journalist starts to abuse him. How do you think the cricketer would have reacted? Yeah, poor journo alright.
An Indian journalist is chatting with two Murdoch University employees when a cricketer starts to abuse him. The journalist does not react. Later, the cricketer's apology is sent via another journalist citing mistaken identity.
The journalist is Jasvinder Sidhu. Did Virat Kohli think it was Navjot? Kohli can claim it was Mitchell Johnson, still not on - this was not a sledge on the cricket field aimed at a cricketer or a random spectator in the crowd, this was an unprovoked abuse at a journalist. Kohli is not on vacation, he is representing India (though some will claim he represents BCCI, Nike, Star Sports) - in that case, is it on? For that, we must delve deep into the dressing room - BCCI jokes' culture - and their understanding of the BCCI culture that anything goes. But if Kohli is under the impression that he is representing India, it does warrant a rethink, young man.
And what inappropriate abuse - abusing a journalist of a leading English daily in Hindi. Thereby forcing the abused journalist to report (in his leading English daily) these very Hindi expletives - though thankfully with ast****s in place. "Despite the distance, I could hear invectives like g***u and be***hod pretty clearly." We must investigate what those ***s are, but then, this site too belongs to a leading English, never mind.
Swearing Solutions
Glad to report, Kohli did break into English abuse - "Huffing and puffing, Kohli said, "Yes, you ba****d. You are here also". C'mon, why the ****s here, bastard is acceptable, no? But this last part, very dicey, especially if aimed at an Aussie cricketer who could misconstrue it as a racial slur - "Before I could gather myself, he walked towards the dressing room with his kit in hand, murmuring continuously, "m** ki c***." Not for a moment did I think disallowing WAGs and aiyas was a good idea. They're necessary to iron out wrinkled... and crumpled trousers.
Appears it's crucial to address the vice captaincy here - Kohli is still not the ODI skip, and this abuse was not in his capacity as Test captain. Is it becoming of a vice captain? What standards, if any do vice captains have? Or will Kohli just grow into the job and start mouthing platitudes instead of be***hoditudes?
For starters, Kohli should have, and still can, personally apologise to Sidhu. And while doing so, avoid any Hindi abuse and that one English word in particular, bastard, even in jest. You are not mates. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship but there is much work to be done.
F***er, this is for you, Virat.
After apologising in person, allow Sidhu to abuse you. Encourage him to wag and point his fingers as you did to him. Also, don't force him to use the same filthy language, if idiot, fool, bad boy, loser, big lips, obnoxious, depraved, national disgrace, filthy tongue, are more his scene, so be it. Hear him out, as he did, you.
Grant him an interview in private. Sure, get Shastri's ok on this, don't be surprised, Shastri could be the first to suggest this. Apologise to him in the interview. Tell him you thought it was Navjot, it works for most people who abuse someone called Sidhu.
Do a shinny, happy people photo-shoot with him and those two Murdoch University employees. Who knows, maybe even a story, how the two were basking in the mistaken glory of being abused by Virat Kohli.You love press conferences, do another one. Speak from the heart as you often do, it's not half as much fun as the abuse, and you'll leave the journalists asking for less.

First published in daily O

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