Archive for December, 2012

It has been a few days now, since Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from the ODI format. I have always wanted to write on that, but have been very emotional since then that I have not really been able to write something substantial enough to post here. I would surely do that in the coming days. Also, I would really like to add that I am very disappointed with the manner he quit the game. It would have been great had he played against Pakistan and then announced his retirement. he truely deserved a send off from the field. And with retiring against Pakistan, it would just have been special as he made his debut against the same opponent 23 years ago. But now is ODI innings is over and I all I can hope is that he does not hang up his Test boots soon. Also, as a huge fan all I can hope is that BCCI can convince Sachin to play at least 1 ODI against Pakistan to get a fitting farewell to an ODI career. But I guess that this would only be a dream.

In the meanwhile, as I have written that I wanted to write a lot on Sachin but just could not pen done anythig substantial enough, I came accross this article written by Harsha Bhogle as a letter to Sachin Tendulkar. This is a very touching one, and does give a great tribute to the genuis so I thought of putting that here till the time I can write a tribute to the great man. Here is the original article:

Dear Sachin,

I guess this means the countdown has begun. It couldn’t have been easy for you since cricket has been your life, your solitary love outside of family. I know there are cars and music and seafood, and, as I recently realised, the odd glass of wine, but a bat was what you were meant to hold, and it is with one that you mesmerised a nation and a sport. I wondered if you could have given up Test cricket and stayed on in one-day internationals – until you told me it takes a lot out of you. And you were never one to give less than a 100%.

I guess your body finally won. It had been giving you signals – that permanently cracked bone in your toe, the struggle to get out of bed when the back played up, that elbow… ah, that’s a different story altogether, but you always overruled it. It must have sulked but you forced more out of it than anyone else. It was bound to serve notice one day. I mean, you will be 40 soon; people get reading glasses at 40.

But you leave behind an aspect of cricket that you defined. There will be comparisons with other greats in Test cricket, and you will be a chapter in its history, but with the one-dayer, you are its history, in a sense, certainly for India, where you played in more than half the games (463 out of 809). The team had played a mere 165 games before you started, and it is a measure of the impact you had that there were only 17 centuries scored by then. India made a century every 9.70 games. After you started, that number comes down dramatically, to one every 3.52 games. And since that first century, in Colombo, it comes down even further, to one every 3.23 games. To think that you started with two ducks.

Now, of course, the kids keep notching up the hundreds. This young fellow Kohli, for example, who plays with your intensity but whose vocabulary I guess you would struggle with!

Looking back, I can’t imagine it took you 78 games to hit a hundred. But then you were floating around in the batting order, spending too much time not being in the thick of it all. I can see why you were so desperate to open the batting in Auckland that day in 1994. Why, when you told me the story of how you pleaded with Ajit Wadekar and Mohammad Azharuddin to give you one opportunity, you sounded like you were still pleading. But I guess you had a history of wanting to be in battle, like that misty night in Kolkata (it was Calcutta in your youth, wasn’t it?) when you took the ball in the 50th over with just six to defend and delivered a win.

It seems impossible to imagine that you averaged a mere 30.84 till that day in Auckland, and that you dawdled along at a strike rate of 74. Since then you averaged 47 at a strike rate of 87. It was a marriage meant to be.

I remember that afternoon in Colombo when you approached your first hundred. It had to be Australia, and you were in sublime touch, and you so wanted that first one. You made 110 in 130 balls, but oh, you agonised over those last 15 runs before you got to the century. In a sense, it was like that with the last one too, wasn’t it? It was in those moments only that you were a bit like us, that you wanted something so badly, you let it affect your game. But between those two, you were always so much fun, in that belligerent, ruthless, adolescent first phase, in your second, rather more mature and calculated, existence, and of course in that joyous last. What fun that was. The 163 in Christchurch, the 175 in Hyderabad, that 200 in Gwalior, the 120 in Bangalore, the 111 in Nagpur. If it hadn’t been for that devilish 100th, would you have continued playing the same way? That 100th hurt you, didn’t it, as it did all of us, and I guess we didn’t help you by not letting you forget. When the big occasion came, you always played it like another game, even though you knew it was a big day, like those two classics in CB Series finals in 2008, or, of course, those unbelievable nights in Sharjah in 1998. But this 100th took away four or five more.

Somebody said to me he didn’t want you to quit because it would mean his childhood was over. It isn’t just them. Just as the child in you never grew up, so too did many grizzled old men become children when they saw you in blue 

I know how disappointed you were after the 2007 World Cup. You weren’t batting in your favourite position, you were unhappy (if you could ever be unhappy in the game that you revered and tended to like a servant), and without quite saying it, you hinted at the fact that you might have had enough. But the dawn always follows the darkest hour.

After the age of 34, in a young man’s game, you averaged 48.36. Even by the standards you set yourself, that was unbelievable (in spite of all those nineties, when, almost inevitably, I seemed to be on air). And most of those came without your regular partner. While Sourav was around, you averaged almost 50 at a strike rate of 89. The mind still lingers on the time the two of you would come out at the start of a one-day international. (I watched one of those partnerships the other night and it seemed only the commercial breaks could stop you two.)

By now you were playing the lap shots more than the booming drives down the ground. It puzzled me and made many nervous. “I want to play down the ground too,” you told me, “that is why I am playing the paddle shot. As soon as they put a fielder there, I’ll play the big drive.” You were playing with the field the way your great friend Brian Lara did when he was on top of his game.

But beyond the numbers some memories remain. I couldn’t believe how you went after Glenn McGrath in Nairobi. I must have watched that clip 50 times but understood it more when you told me you wanted to get him angry, that on a moist wicket his line-and-length routine would have won them the game. That pull shot is as fresh in the memory as that first cover drive off Wasim Akram in the 2003 World Cup when you took strike because you thought the great man would have too many tricks for Sehwag.

I remember that World Cup well, especially an unheralded innings in Harare that helped beat a sticky Zimbabwe and put the campaign back on track. And your decision to keep the Player of the Tournament award in your restaurant because you would much rather have had the smaller winner’s medal. It told me how much that meant to you, and when I saw the tears on your face that night in Mumbai, I instantly knew why.

I had only once seen you in tears and that was at a World Cup too. You were practising in Bristol. You were just back from your father’s funeral and were wearing the most peculiar dark glasses. There was none of the usual style to them; they were big enough to cover half your face. You agreed to my request to speak to the media and briefly took them off while you were arranging your kit bag. I was taken aback to see your eyes swollen. You must have been in another world but you were courteous as ever. It was only Kenya the next day, but I can see why you rate that hundred.

There are so many more. I was only a young cricket writer when I started watching you play, so there will be many. That is also why so many of us will miss you. Somebody said to me he didn’t want you to quit because it would mean his childhood was over. It isn’t just them. Just as the child in you never grew up, so too did many grizzled old men become children when they saw you in blue. You were a great habit, Sachin.

So you are done with the blue then. But the whites remain. That is our first image of you – the curly hair, the confident look, the front foot stride… all in white. I hope you have fun in them. You don’t need to try too hard to prove a point to us because when you have fun we do too.

Cheers, you did well for us. And you gave life and strength to our game.

 I believe that this is really a fitting tribute for the great man, and since this comes from Harsha Bhogle, it is very special.


There has been a certain outburst in public ever since the news of the Delhi Rape case has come to limelight. There have been various marches all across the country asking for justice for the victim and the accused to be given capital punishment. The media has been on the move as well trying to highlight the loopholes in the security during the dark in the country and especially in the capital.

Now, I really don’t know what to say about all this, as I have a lot of mixed feelings seeing at the case. I definitely feel sorry for the victim, and to a large extent feel kind of ashamed of belonging to the NCR region where this case has happened. I always was proud ad maybe I still am proud saying that I belong to Delhi, calling it as “Dillwalo ki Dilli” but such cases really put a big question mark I front of me. And the worst thing is that I can’t do anything about this, just stay quiet and wait and watch of what happens to the case, and during this time all I can do is feel sad for the victim, that’s it.

People say make your voice be heard and make a difference. I am not sure whether this statement holds true. There have been people on the streets demanding justice, but what has it resulted to? The last time people came on streets country wide to support Anna Hazare what difference did it make to the government and the judicial system? Probably nothing, except for making Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal household names countrywide. Again people are coming out in support of this young victim demanding capital punishment for the accused, but will this make a difference, especially in the judicial system? I am not really sure about this?

I believe, already many people like me have already lost faith in the judicial system of India. How can one justify Kasab getting hanged just a couple of days before his fourth anniversary in India, when there were clear evidences in the form of video footages and the result should not have taken more than a couple of months. Another such case was that of Jessica Lal, when the Supreme Court finally confirmed the accused guilty well 11 years after the killing had taken place. And this murder did not happen in solitude, but happened in front of as many as 32 witnesses, but still it took 11 years to finally convict accused, who for all those 11 years was enjoying a decent life. And what about Sonali Mukherjee, acid was thrown on her face and what has happened to the prime accused? They are living a comfortable life for the past 9 years. In the meanwhile all Sonali could do is fight and after seeing her  patience broken during this long period she has asked for euthanasia, as now she cannot bear her medication both financially and mentally. India is a developing country, and we all are talking about it becoming a developed country soon, but with such a weak judicial system that plays a huge role in the society, I think a dream of becoming a developed country might remain as a dream only.

Again, would giving capital punishment to the accused be correct justice to the victim who is currently battling for her life, and if she survives, she might have to live with the trauma all her life. What is really justice for her? Would giving capital punishment to these people give her the life back which she was dreaming of a week earlier? I don’t think so. People have also come out as giving chemical castration as a punishment to the people who commit such a heinous crime.

All, I want to say is by giving these accused the capital punishment or chemical castration would this crime stop in the country? That is where I think a change needs to me brought about in the levels of thinking, upbringing of the people in the country and a major revamp is required in the laws against crime. These days people who are slightly powerful, in financial terms and politically are not afraid to commit such crimes as they are very confident that either they would never be caught or even if they are, they would not be convicted as the conviction rate in the country is too low, and especially against powerful people it is negligible. The thought that prevails in the mind of the people that they could get away with such heinous crimes is one thing that needs to be eradicated. No country is perfect, there are crimes committed everyone across the globe, but the difference lies in the judicial system, in the rate of the number of cases being convicted, and the time duration in which the accused gets the punishment.

I strongly believe that laws against such crimes need to be changed. Yes the culprits of this case need to be hanged, but they should be hanged soon. It should not happen that they are kept in prison for another 5-10 years and then hanged. Also, a very strong message needs to be sent out to the public that if such a crime happens, the accused would not be spared and would be given the severest of the punishments and that too in quick time. We need to change the mindset of the people. We need to educate children right from the beginning, we need to counsel the youth so that the thoughts of such crimes that may be arising can be curbed. We need to start this education right from the grass root level only then can we think or eradicating such crimes from the country. We need to get the change in ourselves first and our closed ones and think start thinking of the society at large.
Also, people are talking about security issues. I really don’t think people should speak of this when half of them don’t take security measures themselves. People drive bikes without helmets, people drive rash on roads, people drink and drive and then all they do is blame others in case of an accident. So talking of any security measures is really baseless. The change needs to happen within ourselves first, and we all need to think about it, as it is high time we all come together and make this country much better for living.

Coming back to this particular incident, I rest my case. The accused should be given punishment whether it is castration or capital punishment, but it should be done soon. There is no point hanging onto this for long.