Tag Archives: MS Dhoni

RA.One NA – The Level After Next

The English Cricket Board has announced the sale of the movie rights to the present series in India to Whirled’s End Entertainments Limited for an undisclosed sum believed to be in the region of 1 billion green backs.

Gaming and merchandizing rites rights should see this figure swell to the  1.5 billion mark.

Said producer Third Man, “The idea came when Sachin Tendulka was captured on the cameras watching Virat Kohli in the Champion’s League.”

The slow car crash that has been England’s ODI series in India blocked in the plot for him.

“You see, there’s this old coach Andy Flower trying hard to ‘fit-in’ in his young team’s badass world.  He’s trying hard to ‘dude-up’   from ‘aiiiyyyo’ to‘yo!’” Third Man trevealed to the assembled press pack.

“While Flower tries every trick in the book to get through to his side, get ‘dude-ified’ and ‘up his coolness quotient’.  His squad had given up on him .. just when the coach-team duo hit a deadlock; Flower strikes gold when he designs one hell of a game.. Yo Kriket England.”

“Finally it all starts falling in place … they beat Australian Down Under, Sri Lanka and then India at home as the team scales the top of the world …only to find themselves a couple of months later in the middle of a crash… not just a hard drive crash but a slow motion car crash of a crash that would drive them to a disaster and make their lives go – kaboom!!!”

“All hell breaks loose when the team that was meant to be played with … starts playing them… when they encounter the super heroes Kohl.1, Dhon.1 and … Ra.One NA. … and the fur begins to fly.

Don’t miss it when it comes to a cinema near you.

Commenting on the cash injection that the Board will receive, a beleaguered spokesperson for the ECB said, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

Or as Third Man explained, “It’s all in the game.”

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Re-Booted India Spike England’s Protein Drinks

Nottingham is justly famous for boots.  That is not just for Boots’ the Cash Chemists, but for boots the footwear.

It was back in the 1860s when the Squire first noticed the ease with which young Sam Biddulp kept his footing. 

An impertinent batsman, unaware of His Grace’s reputation, had dared to sashay down the wicket to Him. 

In response, the Squire directed the delivery down the leg side beyond the reach of the upstart.  As quick as a flash, Sam B had stepped to leg and in one flowing movement had taken the ball in his gauntlets and removed a single bail as a skilled surgeon might have removed a diseased testicle.

“Fine work Sam, but how on earth do you keep your feet on such hard ground?”

Hobnails were then state of the art in providing the cricketer with the grip necessary to excel at the game but in fine weather, on baked earth, these often behaved like roller-skates.

Sam had winked in reply, discretely revealing to the Squire a dainty pair of boots made from the finest white Cordovan leather, from the soles of which protruded a bevy of long nails with small flat heads.

“I ‘ad young Sam Foster knock these up to my specifications, Sir.  And our blacksmith Tom Towel forged these here special spikey nails.”

As Lilley and Thompson found a hundred years later, it was Foster’s that made an advance in fast over-arm bowling possible.

Since then, the Squire has without fail bought his cricket boots from this self-same Nottinghamshire cordwainer.

These days the annual end of season trip to Foster’s workshop to have His old boots repaired and new ones fitted necessitates a trip in the Type III back in time 150 years to the cordwainer’s establishment in the Nottinghamshire village of Sandiacre.

It is for this reason that Third Man’s observations on the first of the five ODIs between India and England was interrupted when India were in the vulnerable position of 123/4 at approximately the halfway stage of their innings on a wicket of disconcertingly varying bounce.

“Come away from that television, Third Man.  They’ll be all out for two-twenty by the time we return,” commanded the Squire.

Booted and kitted, as it were, the Squire and Third Man returned to find India had in fact scored 300/7 in their full quota of 50 overs, the estimable Dhoni having scored 87 not out in 70 balls using to considerable profit that ‘shovelling’ technique uniquely suited to low bounce and anaemic Yorkers that lack their full ration of red blood cells.

Where India on this Hyderabad wicket played pace by getting back and across and straight, and spin late and with the turn, England, full of indignity towards the unpredictable bounce, soon lost patience and persistently playing across the line or against the turn,  embarrassed themselves with a faltering reply of  174 all out in 36.1 overs.

The enjoyment of the rout was all too evident on the faces of Ghambir and Raina asEnglandstruggled even to cope with the jesting deliveries of Virat Kohli.

Rebooted  India are back home.


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Portraits of Impermanence – England v India Test 3 Scrap Book


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Send For Mary Ann: England v India Test 101 Day 1

At 124 for 8, India who had won the toss in the second Test of the series and put England into bat had their sponsor’s boots firmly pressed down on the home side’s wind pipe.

It was then, after tea, that Broad and Swann impishly launched a counterattack.  India’s bowlers, who had previously been perfecting the tantric art of bowling balls round corners, reduced their length and invited the big shot, while the field scattered generously to allow the single.

When Swann departed, caught off his glove in the gully to a 75 mph ball from Praveen that leapt from a good length in a way that the 90mph Malcolm Marshall would have been pleased with, India allowed Broad to farm the bowling and shield the eleventh man, James Anderson.

Broad ended with 64, easily twice the score recorded by any of the other batsmen.  The last three in the England line-up put on nearly a hundred to almost double the score to 221, but it appeared not to matter in any way to the cool and composed MS Dhoni, he of the sang froid.

The Brit, a member of an Island race, has never valued languages other than his own and a half dozen or so that no-one living now uses such as Latin, Greek and Old Persian.  

So when a couple of million of them were transported a hundred years ago across to France to fight in the First World War their reaction to the incomprehensible sounds uttered by the locals was to paraphrase them into something that sounded … well … English.

The Gallic shrug articulated in the expression ça ne fait rien, “it does not matter”, became a catchphrase of the lowest ranks of the army whose duty it was to accept whatever fate and his bungling officers decreed in a fashion both resigned and cynical. 

In English mouths the phrase evolved via ‘san fairy Ann’ into the plaintive, ‘Send for Mary Ann’.

Could the influence of Shri Madhvacharya be detected at Trent Bridge on India's tactics during the first day's play of the second Test?

India’s captain at Trent Bridge yesterday appeared to be as fatalistic as the old British Tommy facing a hail of bullets.  “Dear Fellows,” he was heard to say, “We are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do.  Who are we to seek to influence the future?”

To which VVS Relaxman standing at first slip with knees as inflexible as iron girders intoned, “Even God cannot alter the flow of Vidhi.”

As the players left the field at the end of the England innings Anderson turned to Broad, “Stuart, I just don’t get it.  Man may not be able to will what he wills, but he is free to do what he wills.”

Ten minutes later the boy from Burnley, where the favourite tipple is still a ‘hot Benny’ or Benedictine  first sampled on the freezing Western Front*, translated these words into action, having Mukund caught by Pietersen in the gully with the very first ball of the Indian innings.

These fine philosophical distinctions surrounding predetermination will be further articulated when play resumes with India on 24 for 1 in pursuit of the 221 runs that England have on the board.

Send for Mary Ann or, “Deo Optimo Maximo,” as they say in Burnley. 

* 93 years after the Old Pals returned from the trenches, this East Lancashire town is still responsible for the consumption of more of this herbal liqueur than everywhere else in the world … put together!

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The Road to Trent Bridge – Beyond the 2000th Test

The Law of Large Numbers operated yesterday as India failed to hold out against England for the prescribed number of overs remaining in the first Test or to score that other large number, 457, needed to win the match.  

As anticipated the expected value of the Champion’s second innings was drawn towards the average of the results in what is now a sample of 2000 similar experiments. 

Their score of 261 runs in 93.3 overs was normally distributed about the mean and gave encouragement to the Central Limit Theorists hunched over their calculators sheltered under the canvas bell tents atop the new Mound Stand.

It was never going to be enough and, with the final Indian wicket falling 28.3 overs before the scheduled end of this Test, England were home and hosed (by the old crone of Clicquot) well before the shadow of the Warner Stand could creep over this famous playing surface on which neither Tendulka nor Laxman have achieved triple figures.

No Game Changer emerged from the pack of overcooked, undercooked, ill and injured Indian players.  They fought the Law, and the Law won.

Lady Luck had not been on their side.  Inserting England on that first morning, they were making progress when Khan (undercooked) pulled up lame.  Then, bad light and rain intervened to shield England from the worst of the batting conditions.

Timorous umpiring and the good sportsmanship of Dravid allowed Pietersen to escape and add a further 150 runs to his score – close to the ultimate statistical difference between the two sides.

Tendulka (overcooked) was beset with a virus that disrupted the settled batting order and the disposition of Gambhir, struck on the elbow while fielding at short leg, caused further disturbance and limitation. 

Sehwag is not here, timing his absence for surgery to the demands of the IPL calendar.

The majority of these set backs will persist as the Indian motor-coach takes the M1 north to Nottingham where the second Test starts with only a three day breather.  The champions are in a difficult place. 

Their captain, who Sunny Gavaskar says has ‘a life-line running up to his armpit’ is exploring every inch of this portent.  The reputation of their motivator-coach, Duncan Fletcher, is balanced precariously on the top of a steep and pinnacled normal distribution.

After a night in their hotel, a balanced, focused and primed England team will make their way north to Trent Bridge where their ‘game’ will be even more suited to the conditions.

“Fait vos jeux.”

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Dhoni’s Command Performance


Congratulations India, thank you Sri Lanka.

After all, the ICC World Cup was great theatre.  It’s denouement in yesterday’s finale fulfilled if not exceeded expectations.  For the cricket devotee it was high drama with endeavour, responsibility, depth and that ambivalent of all qualities, leadership, providing grand entertainment for a billion and more spectators, with the limelight illuminating the nature of the human experience.

The insincerity of the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ was exposed at the toss.  But the funny business backfired.  This was a great toss to lose, as later a carpet of dew robbed the side bowling second of the grip needed for their spinners.  

Seeking to define a quality so often eradicates it.  The spirit of cricket comes not from its external codification but from the interplay of the performers who cannot help expressing the light and darkness of our humanity.

This was a day which would test the depth of talent on each side.  Both sides knew that on the Wankhede wicket the traditional opening bowlers would have their best chance of the tournament – no need to improvise and surprise. 

Khan was the first of a number of players through the day who seized the responsibility on offer. His opening spell with its first three overs maidens set tight bounds for Sri Lanka’s run getting – five overs for six runs and the wicket of Tharanga ensured that Sri Lanka would have to work hard to set a winning score.

And they did labour effectively with first Dilshan  (33 from 49) and Sangakkara (48 from 67) putting on 43, then, Sangakkara and Jayawardene, whose orthodox  technique alone seemed capable of propelling a batsman at a run a ball, added a further 62. 

Jayawardene amassed runs as a magician conjures coins with an illusionary absence of effort and guile. Samaraweera (21 from 34) proved an able assistant to the great run maker, but Third Man sensed that Sri Lanka were aiming for 260 and not 300.  This was not the act of the tightrope walker hazarding life and limb.  It was the judgement of the theatrical memorist, the human calculator.

But this computation produced the dramatic line of the match.  At issue not only whether Sri Lanka could achieve their target but, more vitally, whether or not the target was, in its misjudgement, the stuff of tragedy.

Cup Finals demand that the best deliver, but they also demand that those further down the play bill create the atmosphere in which the stars shine. 

 Coming in at 182 for 5 at the end of the 40th over, Kulasekara could have walked on and walked off as quietly as a shield bearer in Scene Three or as meekly as Kapugedera (1 from 5) had before him.  But he seized his day, speaking his lines fluently (32 from 30) and in so doing allowed Jayawardene to grace the end of Act One with as worthy a century (103 in 88 balls) as any ‘neutral’ or ‘partisan’ could have wished for.  This was the innings of a true champion, but was his part that of Hector, heroic loser, or of Achilles, doomed to win?

Now, as Act Two began, Malinga followed where Khan had strode in the game’s Prelude.  With his second ball he pinned the jumping Shewag in front of the wicket and soon after persuaded Tendulka, who had previously bothered only to employ the middle of his bat, to try its edge. 

All India looked into the pit and saw fire and dragons.

The new generation of Gambhir (97 from 122) and Kohli (35 from 49) accepted the responsibility of the older generation’s legacy and took the score to 114 before the latter was caught and bowled by Dilshan’s Ariel. 

At this point Sri Lanka’s calculations looked astute, but with its magical appearance dew was forming on each blade of grass on which the drama was being played, confining the spinners to bit parts.  Also, in the wings, the real hero of the action was about to make his entry.

At the fall of Kholi, MS Dhoni, now exercised his courtly privilege, took up his gauntlets and advanced to the middle of the stage ahead of that other leading actor, Yuvraj, from whom he proceeded to steal the show. 

Dhoni’s relentless pursuit of the Sri Lankan total might have inspired awe but this man is a great human being, his feet of clay openly displayed beneath his costume.  He is modest.  He thinks of others.  Beside him his fellows reach the heights of their potential.  He is the great facilitator.  He calmly merts criticism with a winning smile and pushes on with his rich source of self-belief sustaining him.  Above all he is generous.

Leadership can so easily stifle initiative, smother freedom and restrict responsibility.  It is well to be suspicious of it.  Charisma is a self induced deception on the part of the follower, not some supernatural power possessed by the followed. 

At other times so-called leadership is no more than naked authority, the exercise of power over people, a dehumanising restrictiveness, a fear of the ability of others and a drive to suppress.

But in MS Dhoni (91 from 79) we have the rare quality of leadership which is nurturing.  Every culture seems to have its mythic leader, their qualities the stuff of books and plays.  Few pacing this earth can match such ideals.

How fitting that this cricket tournament, this World Cup, should shine a spot-light onto one so fine; one truly who merits the ‘bill matter’, The Noble One. 

The Great Dhoni finished it with a six.  Well, it was in the script.


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