It is usually enjoyable watching the later stages of the Champions League, but the past two days have been a bit of a disappointment.
It might not have been pretty, but it proved to be effective as Chelsea blunted Barcelona in the first-leg Champions League semi-final. The English team left the Camp Nou safe in the knowledge that they have home advantage in the second-leg next week.
Barcelona possess one the most electrifying attacks in world football today with Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Theirry Henry tearing down defences all over Europe. Against Chelsea, though, they came up against a wall that blocked everything that was thrown at it. Temporary coach Guus Hiddink’s pre-match battle cry of “Big clashes between big players” might have seemed like one in a series of mind games. It did not provide for great entertainment, though.
Barcelona versus Chelsea is usually one of those tinderbox ties. There is no doubt that Chelsea loaded up the testosterone for this match, employing the bulldozing power of the team’s strong men to negate Barcelona’s brilliance. If roughhouse tactics were necessary, so be it. At times it did seem that Hiddinck’s men were pushing their luck, and that eventually Barcelona would find the net, but it was not to be.
The frustration of the Catalans was increasingly evidence as the match progressed, and their inability to get onto the score sheet would worry them more than Chelsea.
Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger still harbours dreams of bagging a European title, and will, undoubtedly be satisfied that Manchester United’s rampant, incisive, and slick display did not result in more than one goal. The lack of gumption displayed by the Gunners could, perhaps, be blamed on the absence of full bench strength on the night, but the mercurial skills and ability of Cesc Fábregas apart, Arsenal will need to up the ante substantially if they are to go into the return leg next week with any hopes of going through.
I would be happy if it were to be Arsenal versus Barcelona in Rome on 27th May.
“A good politician rules out nothing”, AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa is reported to have uttered recently. That fascinating insight makes you speculate on what a bad politician, consequently, is prone to do.
A few weeks down the line, there will be many who will debate on whether the current edition of The Great Indian Election Tamasha has bettered previous versions in terms of gimmicks, shenanigans, controversies, hilarity, drama, absurdity, or sheer cussedness.
Not to ignore double-speak.
If Narendra Modi fired the early salvos by taunting the Congress on the Jai Ho platform, Mulayam Singh Yadav earthily stirred the pot with his “No English, no computers” verdict. That this rhetoric was hastily sidestepped is another matter. The same Modi’s “budhiya-gudiya” suggestion was labeled offensive and sexist, and was quickly muted.
Quick sound bites, no long-term recall.
The spat in U.P. between Munnabhai of “Gandhigiri” fame and the incumbent Chief Minister of the state has its funny side, too. Mayawati was not amused by Sanjay Dutt’s offer of a “pappi and jaadu ki jhappi” (kiss and magical hug) and threatened to sling the actor into jail. The FIRs filed against him made Dutt apologize, but, intriguingly, he said he would offer flowers and “jhappi” to Mayawati, but not “pappi”. Better sense prevailed, it would appear.
If mass dispatch of sms messages and emails, public displays of gymnastic athleticism by geriatrics, and intensive stomping of constituencies by suddenly eager and perked-up political types and their cronies was meant to instill confidence in a largely cynical electorate, the aerial delivery of assorted varieties of footwear onto the speakers’ podium was an indication that even the weary voters were seeking alternate ways of keeping amused.
If there is a resigned acceptance of the possibility of a hung Parliament, and the ensuing scramble for forging alliances, the old adage that politics makes for strange bedfellows begins to make sense.
The lady from down-South has probably got it right.
It was with considerable interest that I read a recent article by Gideon Haigh on Cricinfo’s website. He has written about how cricket commentary has deteriorated into a spectacle that promotes the commercial end rather than the game. You can see this at
I was particularly amused about his reference that “the IPL is bearing out JK Galbraith’s observation that television allows for persuasion with no minimum standard of literacy or intelligence.”
This reminded me of what I had written in one of my pervious posts on the IPL.
Gideon Haigh, is a respected English-born Australian journalist and writer, who has also been involved with Wisden’s Almanack. His views are usually incisive and forthright, and I tend to agree with much of what he has said.
With the IPL having run about two weeks now, it has got rather irritating when the action on the playing field has been described with a commercial slant injected in between. Sure, the sponsors are ponying up big money and deserve a mention. And, indeed, the IPL is not the traditional cricket format in terms of all that goes with it – the hype, the so-called city franchises, the mix of players of varying nationalities, the American-style cheer-leaders, etc., and is, therefore, free to innovate in any which way it chooses to.
Yet, a wicket is a wicket, a sixer is a sixer, and having the former described as a “(Sponsor name) moment of success” is a bit thick. Come on, the batsman made a mistake and holed out, the fielder did a fine job in taking the catch, and all credit to the latter. Where does the sponsor come in, and how is it the sponsor’s moment of success?
Describing a game with a rich dose of superlatives is all fine, and when you up the ante with raised vocals in order to inject greater excitement, it is also acceptable up to a point. But, when the hype and hyperbole exceeds the credulous, then it begins to get a bit much, and you are tempted to hit the mute button on the audio and stick to the visuals.
You cannot satisfy everyone all the time, and the IPL as well as its television broadcasts will attract some degree of criticism. Which is only to be expected. Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket made people sit up and take notice because of its very unique and interesting packaging and presentation.
Yet, in the ultimate analysis, if the game is described in a banal and superficially hyped-up attempt to engage the lowest common denominator, it will surely lead to a dumbing down of cricket.
That would be unfortunate.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
He shares a name with two prominent figures – one is a politician, the other is a sportsman.
And, when his younger sibling captained a cricket team, the older one promised that he would shave off his beard and moustache if the team won the trophy.
He kept his promise, when the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Indian team won the T20 World Cup last year.
Narendra Singh Dhoni is now campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party, being impressed with and inspired by his namesake Narenda Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat.
The younger Dhoni is a hugely popular figure in his home state of Jharkhand, and the BJP is, perhaps, hoping that this connection will help its party win parliamentary seats from this state in the ongoing elections.
There is never a dull moment during Indian elections. If film actors and former cricketers can join politics and others from the same profession play the role of crowd pullers, it is but natural that the politicos pull out all stops to leverage the high profile image of these persons to their advantage.
Asked if the current Indian captain would join politics, the older sibling said, “He is preoccupied with cricket.”
That’s a relief. I am sure millions of Indians would prefer that, too.
In some way or another, we crib about most everything.
The weather is either too hot or too cold, it is too humid, and there is too much pollution. The neighbour is an inquisitive loudmouth, the boss is a pain in the butt, the subordinate is a habitual shirker.
The guy in the next lane is an inconsiderate road-hog, the shop assistant is too surly, service at the service centre is atrocious, and the samosas are too cold. The banks rip you off with their extortionate service fees, telephone lines are perpetually busy, and the take-away dinner is stale.
It is all a matter of perspective.
The important thing is to draw a line, and take stock of what is REALLY important, and what is not. And this is where we all make mistakes.
Consequently we are unrealistically critical and unreasonable.
We never ever pause, take a step back, and do a reality check about where the problem lies.
This is not to say that there is no problem – it is more a question of how we view and approach it.
I recently came across some very interesting lines written by Marianne Williamson, who is a spiritual activist, author, and lecturer :
“Events are always in flux. One day they love you; the next day you’re their target. One day a situation is running smoothly; the next day chaos reigns. One day you feel like you’re an OK person; the next day you feel like you’re an utter failure. These changes in life are always going to happen; they’re part of the human experience. What can change, however, is how we perceive those experiences. And that shift in our perception is the meaning of miracles.”
Ï realize that we sometimes carry a lot of baggage of guilt about something we have done or could have done. In this context, Marianne Williamson also says, “You’ve committed no sins, just mistakes.”
The important thing, I suppose, is to learn from these mistakes and move forward. And, look at people, places, events, and things, differently and more objectively
At the end of the day, it is our call, our option.
For, when we wake up in the morning tomorrow, and look at ourselves in the mirror, we have to remember that the face in the mirror belongs to the person who is responsible for our happiness!!!
As I said earlier, it is the perspective.
It is amazing how fortunes change so dramatically.
Ferrari have dominated Formula1 for years, and ended the 2008 season with 172 points, way ahead of nearest rival McLaren who had 151.
Lying ninth out of the eleven constructors who participated last year, Honda Racing got a mere 14 points.
Ross Brawn, the ex-technical director of Honda Racing bought over the Honda team after the car maker pulled out of the 2009 season. A new team – Brawn GP – emerged.
It has been an astonishing turnaround.
With four podium finishes after three races (Australia, Malaysia and China), Brawn GP lead the constructors’ table with 36 points, almost twice as many as their closest rival, Red Bull-Renault. McLaren lie in fourth place with eight points.
And, Ferrari, after three races, have yet to notch up a single point, their worst ever start in Formula1 since 1981.
The prancing horse that is on Ferrari’s logo is barely trotting at the moment.
It is embarrassing, to say the least, for a team that has won 15 drivers’ championships. There have been signs that the team has been unable to cope with the rule changes that have been introduced, and their race strategies have also been lacking in imagination. Add a failure to correctly assess the conditions on the track on race day, and you have all the ingredients in the recipe for failure.
Jenson Button of Brawn GP, with 21 points, has two first and one third place finishes this year, and is really looking good. Team-mate Rubens Barichello is at 15 points, in second place.
The 2008 champion driver, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, is struggling, with just four points in three races, well behind Jenson Button. Felipe Massa, who narrowly missed the drivers’ title last year, and third-place finisher Kimi Raikonnen, and got 172 points between them, have yet to get onto the score-sheet.
The Formula1 caravan now moves to Bahrain for the next race on 26th April, and unless Ferrari, in particular, and McLaren can conjure up something magical, and quickly, it will be hard for them to challenge the runaway leaders.
Team Ferrari has considerable experience and technical resources, and will surely rebound as the season progresses. By the time this happens, though, it might be just about too late to salvage anything out this year’s championship.
Music and dance are an integral part of many cultures, and some of the dance forms have deeply symbolic and even religious significance. Dance, combined with music, often weaves an intricate story that carries deep meaning.
In certain African societies, dance goes beyond mere creative expression. It is almost fundamental to the way of life. Play lively music, and you will see people from some regions automatically sway – a fascinating sight.
There is one dance form I have seen that is wonderfully expressive. It is called Atilogwu and originates in Anambra State in eastern Nigeria. The Igbos, the people of that part of the country, consider this to be their “national” dance.
Atilogwu which literally means “Is this magic?” is vigorous, lively, and fast. The foot-stomping rhythm, and the gymnastic and acrobatic routine, accompanied by drum beats, is vibrant. Add to this the colourful costumes, and you have a performance that is as spectacular as it is entertaining.
It is a dance that is brilliant to watch. Have a look at some samples at :
It wouldn’t surprise me if you want to see more.
The 2009 version of the IPL has begun, and it does appear that the organizers have done a marvelous job in getting things under way in such a short span of time.
The opening ceremony was good, though not extraordinary, and the general festive mood was definitely in evidence. It sure promises to be an interesting month and a bit of television viewing.
The crowd was keen and energetic, ace percussionist Sivamani kept up his traditional drum beats, and the commentators pumped up their vocals. But, after all the hype, the two matches on the opening day were disappointing, with all four teams playing well below what they are capable of.
Missing were the pyrotechnics witnessed on the opening day last year when Brendon McCullum blasted a century. Instead, we witnessed some good old-fashioned grafting from some of the seasoned Test stars.
The shaggy, black canine, that held centre stage for about ten minutes during the first match, hung around longer than some of the big names, and if the performance of the batsmen didn’t exactly light up the show, the antics of the dog certainly did.
It was a sight watching the spirited efforts of the ground-staff as they attempted to get the mutt off the field.
Makes you wonder how the dog got onto the playing arena in the first place. A cynical journalist even speculated if the ten minute hold-up in proceedings was a deliberate ploy to generate some additional advertising revenue for television broadcasters.
The Guardian newspaper’s Rob Smyth came up with this gem, “How can you take this tournament seriously now? All the money in the world, and they can’t get a dog off the pitch. Imagine if it started relieving itself on a good length.”
There is, potentially, the likelihood of much grumbling in thousands of households across the world, as husbands park themselves immovably before the TV screen each day for the next five weeks, and sparks are sure to fly as all social obligations are deferred / ignored.
Will I be watching? Yes.
Will it be fun? One sure hopes so.