The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Way to go, Gilly !!!


When a cricket match is on, I am usually one who can be classified as a quiet spectator, not prone to making too much noise.

Last evening, however, I punched the air with my fist, let out a loud whoop, and cheered for one of the finest cricketers of all time.

I am sure 25 or more disabled kids across Australia would have cheered loudly, too.

A shell-shocked Dirk Nannes watched helplessly as five consecutive boundaries were hammered off his first over. Two of these were of one of the most exquisite strokes one can ever see – the straight drive past the bowler.

C’mon, I said silently, you need just one.

Nannes was promptly replaced. Not that it made a difference, as Pradeep Sangwan was hit for boundaries of the first two deliveries.

The third delivery was well pitched up, but the batsman launched effortlessly into it and deposited the ball twenty rows back into the stands at mid-wicket.

Adam Gilchrist had hit his 25th six of this IPL. And fulfilled his commitment to Amway. You could see the smile of satisfaction on the batsman’s face as he mouthed the words “Twenty five”.

Adam Gilchrist with disabled kids1

So, at least 25 disabled kids will receive specially modified bicycles. I am not sure if each six beyond 25 will add a bicycle (I hope so), but this has been a tremendous effort.

Gilchrist in full flow is a great sight, and he has done enough in his career to qualify almost automatically for virtually every all-time best-11 team, be it Test, One-Day or T20. And, yesterday, as he brutally and brilliantly took apart Delhi’s bowlers, you would have forgotten that he was 37 years old, and had retired from international cricket a year ago. The fastest 50 (in 17 balls) in the IPL was a statistic. But, everyone (including the Delhi players, whose nerves were torn to shreds) would have realized that were watching one of the greatest T20 innings of all time.

It was merely a formality thereafter as Deccan Chargers beat the Delhi Daredevils, but the defining period of the match was the Gilchrist blitz.

As I said earlier, I cheered loudly. And will do so every time Adam Gilchrist bats. Even if my favourite Chennai Super Kings makes it to the finals and the brilliant Aussie takes a few off them.

C’mon Gilly, c’mon !!!

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May 23, 2009 Posted by | About this and that, Cricket | , , , , | Leave a comment

C’mon Gilly, just one more …


I hope Adam Gilchrist hits at least one six during Deccan Chargers’ match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on 21st May.

This will then give him his 25th six in the current edition of the Indian Premier League. And, more importantly, will fund 25 modified bicycles for disabled children through Amway Australia’s Freedom Wheels Program. Each of the bicycles costs approximately 600 dollars.

Gilchris Freedom Wheel

The program is run in partnership with Technical Aid to the Disabled (TAD) who have taken on Gilchrist’s help. The retired Australian wicketkeeper accepted the target of 25 set by Amway, and was determined to clear the boundary as many times as he could during the tournament.

“As a father of three kids, I know how much fun riding a bike can be for a child. Now, every six I hit means a smile on a child’s face,” said the hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman.

Gilchrist has always been an aggressive and competitive sportsman, and a pleasure to watch when in full flow. Bowlers might not be amused by the sight of Gilchrist depositing the ball into the stands, but even the most cynical and hardened opponent will surely applaud the Aussie should he get to the target.

I will certainly cheer and hope that Gilchrist gets there.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | About this and that, Cricket | , , , | Leave a comment

No more slipping on a banana peel


The ubiquitous banana is a tasty and relatively inexpensive fruit that offers several health benefits.  Tropical by origin, it represents a significant source of income for several countries, particularly in Africa.

 A tonne of bananas, however, generates an estimated ten tonnes of waste (skins, leaves and stems), which is a bit of a shame.

 Parts of the banana tree do get used – the leaves are used to eat food from, and the stem is used as a vegetable in certain parts of the world.

The peels have no function unless you want to slip on one (and provide merriment to watchers).

Banana peel1

I read recently that a new use has been found for the peel, and, for that matter, some of the other stuff from the tree. Pioneered by a PhD student and supported by researchers at the University of Nottingham, an alternate use has been found – the conversion of this waste into briquettes that can be burnt for lighting, cooking and heating.

The creators of these briquettes claim that no machinery is required, that the process is very simple, and the end product is a fuel source that is fairly efficient and cost effective.

This would be a good energy alternative, and would reduce the rapid deforestation that is taking place, particularly in some of the biggest banana-producing countries like Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi, where more than 80% of current energy needs are met from burning wood.

The researchers are prepared to give the idea away for free.

If this means one less banana peel to slip on, it’s certainly no bad thing.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | About this and that | , , , | Leave a comment

Silly appendages


Mention the name Hollywood, and you immediately associate this city with the American film industry.

There is no physical place by this name, but, over time, Mumbai (or Bombay is it used to be called) which is the center for Hindi film production (the largest film producer in India and one of the largest in the world), became known as Bollywood.

Fair enough.

But, with films being made in other locations and locations, this portmanteau of the words Hollywood and that of a film producing city began to get extended, and I was amused to discover several other names.

Kodambakkam in Chennai (Madras) is home to the Tamil film industry, and goes by the name Kollywood.

Tollywood refers to both the Bengali film industry based in Tollygunge in Kolkatta (Calcutta) as well as to Hyderabad, the centre for Telugu films.

Gollywood refers to the Gujarati film world.

The cinema of Bangladesh, which is based in Dhaka, is sometimes referred to as Dhallywood.

While Lollywood refers to the Pakistani film industry based in the city of Lahore. Pollywood refers to its counterpart in Peshawar, the provincial capital of the North-West Frontier Province.

Interesting thought – if films start getting made in other centres, will the same concept get adopted? Will Jaipur become Jollywood, Siliguri become Sillywood, and Mavelikara become Mollywood?

What’s wrong with maintaining one’s own identity? Is this silly, and totally unnecessary appendage, required?

May 10, 2009 Posted by | About this and that | , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s brutal


“It’s going to be an honour to fight for you guys on Saturday night and you will not go home disappointed,” said boxer Ricky Hatton. He was up against a Filipino named Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

The brutality of a fight that lasted a mere 5 minutes and 59 seconds stunned most of the 20,000+ British fans who had traveled all the way to watch their man. The Filipino threw 53 power shots in the second round alone and landed with 34 of them, leaving Hatton sprawled on his back in the ring.

pacquiao-versus-hatton

The boxing world hailed a new champion

I have heard and read about the exploits of a man who, during his prime, claimed that he was The Greatest – once upon a time, Muhammad Ali could “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, but suffers from Parkinson’s disease today, a condition almost definitely aggravated by his boxing career.

I have read about Rocky Marciano who never lost a fight during his entire career.

And I have read about a thuggish lout named Mike Tyson who, apart from battering opponents in a boxing ring, dished out more of the stuff outside of it, too.

Boxing is a sport that has often left me struggling for answers to a fundamental question. What is it that attracts people to watch two men beating the daylights out of one another? It is some kind of primeval, sadistic, fascination for watching a pummeling? Is it a milder form of the blood-sports of ancient times?

It is one of few sports where success is determined primarily by the physical punishment inflicted by a competitor on his opponent. The rules of the sport dictate that you are allowed to hit your opponent only in areas above the waist. But, is beating your opponent senseless with your fists, rendering him unconscious, or inflicting injuries such as broken ribs, bleeding and swollen faces and eventually, scrambled brains, really a “sport”?

The chances are that a boxer gets hit so many times on his body and, particularly, his face, that it could lead to cumulative and permanent brain damage, and even death.

There are numerous cases in which a boxer has died in the ring or shortly after a fight as a result of injuries sustained in the ring. They include Gerald Mclellan, Jimmy Doyle, Duk-Koo Kim (both the referee who officiated the match and Kim’s mother committed suicide in the aftermath), and female boxer Becky Zerlentes. The Journal of Combative Sport reports that more than 1400 boxers have died as a result of fighting injuries.

It is a dangerous sport.

Fans of boxing will argue that motor racing is potentially more dangerous, and quote examples such as the death of Formula1 driver Ayrton Senna on the racetrack. A cricket ball hurled from 22 yards at 150 kilometres an hour does not take long to slam into a batsman’s head if he is not watchful enough, and can cause death (remember Raman Lamba?, some years ago?). Other sports such football and hockey, can be dangerous.

But, injury in these sports is incidental – it is not the prime objective.

In its magazine issue dated 14th July 1997, Newsweek said, “Had Tyson bashed Holyfield’s brains in, he’d be judged a great champ, not a beast.”

I guess it is a matter of how you look it.

I will always question it, though.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | About this and that, Other Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

Value for money???


Huge sums of money have been spent on some of the big names in world cricket for participating in the Indian Premier League. But, after almost three weeks of action, one has to question the wisdom of spending such big bucks.

The inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008 created a stir when the successful bids were announced. The 2009 version saw two huge sign-ups each of which was bid at 1.55 million dollars – Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff.

Both were abject failures. Pietersen, who captained the Royal Challengers Bangalore side scored two ducks in his first four matches, and, after six matches he played, notched up a measly 93.

His England colleague, Andrew Flintoff, broke down with a recurrence of an ankle injury after just three matches during which he took all of two wickets and scored 62 runs.

Such a colossal waste of money.

I am not a statistician, but merely one who enjoys the game. But, when watching some good and some abject performances, my thoughts turned to the benefits that have accrued through the presence of a few of the prima donnas of the sport.

For sure, the presence of the big names adds to the aura, and pulls in the crowds, but from a purely performance point of view, the payback has been abysmal.

I thought of looking at some numbers just to see what the arithmetic looks like.

I have considered all matches till the 4th of May. The information used is published data that is available. Using this, I have looked at the fundamental indices, viz. how many runs a batsman has scored per match he’s played in, and the average cost of that run. The price per match is based on the fact that each team plays fourteen matches during the round robin stage, which then becomes the theoretical number of matches for each player – hence auction price divided by 14 is the price per match for that player. 

The analysis throws up some interesting facts.

ipl-batting1

Kevin Pietersen has been the biggest flop. Not only has he contributed a mere 15.5 runs per match he’s played in, each of those runs has cost $ 7143. Flintoff has been a flop, too. Compare that with the 289 runs scored by Mathew Hayden as a cost of $ 649 per run, AB De Villers’ 181 runs at $ 829 or Suresh Raina’s 264 runs at $ 1231. Gautam Gambhir, an otherwise outstanding player, has put in a poor show, too. Interestingly, the so-called elders of the fraternity such as Tendulkar, Dravid, Gilchrist and Hayden have performed at a level that should say a thing or two to the others.

JP Duminy, Rohit Sharma, and Yousuf Pathan have done a good job for their teams. And, Dwayne Smith, particularly after his ruthless demolition in the match against the Chennai Super Kings on 4th May, has truly been “paisa vasool” (money’s worth) as a speaker of Hindi would say.

As for the bowlers, some interesting facts also emerge.

If one considers Andrew Flintoff’s role to be primarily that of a bowler, he has been one huge hole in the pocket. Two wickets in three matches, with each wicket costing $ 166,071. Wow!!

ipl-bowling1

One must say that the Mumbai Indians have got their money’s worth through the signing of Sri Lankan, Lasith Malinga. Some of the expensive youngsters might have taken wickets, but have done so at a fairly hefty price – Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan, for instance. And, it was nice to see the ageing warriors such as Anil Kumble and Shane Warne grab wickets at a reasonable enough cost.

What baffles me, though, is the fact that some franchises have paid big money for players they have not used at all. One such example is Mashrafe Mortaza of Bangladesh who was purchased by the Kolkata Knight Riders for a staggering US$ 600,000, and is yet to play a match. I am unable to fathom the reason for the decision to make this talented player warm the bench at a time when the team has already plumbed the depths of non-performance.

Likewise, the most notable contribution of England’s Paul Collingwood, who was bought by Delhi Daredevils for US$ 275,000, was, perhaps, carrying drinks for his on-field team-mates.

I know that there are several ways of looking at performance, return on investment, contribution, payback, etc. Mine was a simplistic way.

Yet, one is left with the feeling that the franchises need to a bit more selective and sensible when it comes to the 2010 edition. It’s not the hype and glitz alone that matters – if a player is not going to add significant value to a team, reputations count for nothing.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | About this and that, Cricket | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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