Archive for category India

With a Capital K – updated

Sidhartha Mallya, royal high commander of Royal Challengers Bangalore, is a singular individual. Heir to a brewery fortune, apparently beneficiary of a fine overseas education, he would seem the epitome of upwardly mobile nouveau Indian youth, exuding an air of success and self-confidence every time he steps out onto the RCB balcony for maximum camera time to support his boys.

He maintains a connection with the unwashed masses through, of course, Twitter, where he Tweets as @sidharthamallya, ‘Business Boy’, looking out at the Twitterverse with an off-camera-directed smirk over the collar of, naturally, a business suit. Through this platform he expresses loyal support for his team, praising, cheerleading, and, where necessary, defending, as is his right and responsibility. It doesn’t make for particularly scintillating discourse, but that, of course, is beside the point.

Last night, the news broke that RCB batsman Luke Pomersbach had been involved in an altercation with a couple at his hotel, and was the focus of an investigation after the woman involved accused him of assault. Very few facts were disclosed, which hardly mattered because there were plenty of rumours and speculation to fill that particular void. I’m no PR expert, but I would still assume that, with one of their players facing a charge of assault, even an as-yet-unproven one, RCB would issue a brief statement, reassuring their fans that the matter was being looked into and that any offense committed by one of their players would result in decisive and appropriate consequences for that player. It’s a fairly obvious reaction. You don’t want to commit one way or another because nothing’s been proven yet, but you certainly don’t want to publicly condone assault, especially on a woman. Especially given the horrific global and local figures showing the prevalence of violence towards women, and the absolute necessity for public figures like sportsmen to display their fervent opposition towards such violence. Of course, there have been cases of spurious accusations by women of rape or assault where the accused men have actually been innocent, but those cases are so incredibly few in comparison to the millions of cases of actual terrible assault, where the perpetrators have been allowed to walk free, or even where the women themselves have been blamed for having brought their own assault upon themselves, that surely, surely a statement from a prominent figure in the RCB wouldn’t be an assumption that the Pomersbach case was a spurious allegation? Surely a prominent RCB figurehead would not misogynistically and crudely proclaim, in the early stages of investigation into the incident, that the woman was a whore and a liar? Surely he would not use the ‘oh, and also she was totally hot for me and that’s how I know she’s a lying slut’ line? Surely not?

Let’s throw it to Sidhartha, shall we?

Yeah. In the interests of full disclosure, ol’ Sid then went on to clarify his statement by explaining how ‘everyone wants their 15 minuets [sic]’  (I can only assume he means ‘minutes’ since I can think of very few people with a burning desire to dance an old-school French ballroom dance exactly 15 times) which, of course, he knows all about. He then finished up by plaintively wondering why everyone couldn’t just focus on the cricket instead. Because seriously, when Chris Gayle scores 128 off just 62, who the hell cares if some lady might have been beaten up by a professional sportsman, amirite?

You know, Sidhartha, I have to give it to you. In a world where we are slowly, painfully, struggling to recognize and rectify things that have been swept under the carpet for centuries, like the frequent denigration and systematic oppression of the female gender, you dare to stand alone with views that were good enough for the 18th century so, dammit, they’re good enough now! Where others strive to bring to light the horrible truth that the vast majority of women are routinely exposed to horrific bodily violence, many unable to even tell anyone what they’re going through, many with no recourse for justice because of the established mindset that women must accept and indeed deserve whatever treatment men see fit to give them, many accused of being whores and bringing their pain upon themselves (the men who beat and rape them being, of course, blameless), you staunchly live in a world where the first assumption on hearing a woman accuse a man of assault is that she’s a lying slut who by the way wanted your body too, you stud you! You’re quite something. And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that you’re exactly the touch of class RCB needs in their wheelhouse. Classy with a capital K. That’s you.

UPDATE:

RCB player Dirk Nannes tweeted about how happy he was to see Mallya “coming out in support of his players.” This made me sad, because I like Dirk Nannes, and because what Mallya did wasn’t “coming out in support,” or defense. A defense would have been, “I’m positive the allegations against Luke are untrue and that he is innocent. We believe that the accusers are not being at all truthful.”

Exactly how is it a defense to bring in the woman’s sexuality? How is that relevant at all to her accusations? What Mallya has said is this, ‘The woman said Luke hit her fiance. She’s a whore who was all over me and not acting like a wife-to be.’ Nothing other than that to indicate that the accusation was false. That was the entire explanation. She’s an unwifely whore, so clearly she’s lying. Would Mallya have used similar rhetoric if it was the male friend making the accusation? Would he have said, the guy was coming on to every woman in the room, he’s clearly a liar? No, of course not, because to the Mallyas of the world, it’s only OK to judge and condemn women with the label of promiscuity. Not only that, but it’s the only condemnation necessary! No need to actually address the actual allegations, whether Pomersbach actually did what he was accused of doing. Nothing about Pomersbach at all actually.

For the record, Pomersbach may well be innocent. I believe it’s entirely possible that the allegations against him were completely fabricated. It doesn’t matter, this isn’t about him.

It wasn’t Luke Pomersbach’s actions, innocence or guilt that Mallya was talking about, which would be necessary if he were, in fact, “supporting his player,” Dirk. For Mallya, it was enough to condemn the woman with the oldest, ugliest way possible. Brand her a whore. What other evidence could anyone need?!

That’s misogyny for you, folks, ingrained and ugly and, of course, completely unquestioned.

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Bands of Outsiders

It’s that time of year: time for the Champions’ League, aka the T20-Tournament-That’s-Kind-of-Like-the-IPL-Except-More-Involving-and-Slightly-Less-Idiotic-In-Execution (or TTTKLIEMISLE, as it is almost certainly never referred to.) It has IPL teams, obviously, since otherwise no-one in India would watch and none of the usual slew of advertisers would want to make their presence known with their customary deft subtlety.

I actually quite like this tournament. I will almost certainly like it less and less as the final draws nearer between what will very likely be two IPL sides, complete with the massive avalanche of idiocy that scenario will entail. The reason I like it at the moment is because of the presence of the strong club and county sides filled with talented and motivated players that are, for the most part, familiar to only their home supporters. (And to people like me who follow county/regional cricket in New Zealand and England despite not being from or living in either of those countries, but we are a rare and unbalanced breed.) As glorious as it is to see the elite players and the legends working their magic/screwing up royally (delete as applicable) during the rest of the year, there is a special pleasure in watching the as-yet-undiscovered kids and the small-time pros step up to their time in the big arena.

The New Zealand contingent, obviously, weren’t quite good enough. I did get to watch Chris Martin and Lou Vincent (my adoration of whom is well documented), which is a silver lining, albeit admittedly a pretty slender one. Maybe more of a silver tracing? Somerset, who are of course playing without their front-liner Marcus Trescothick (another of my all-time favourites) have done far better, and this makes me happy because even Bangerless, they are awesome, with a fantastic captain in Alfonso Thomas.

I’m neither entirely proud of this nor able to fully explain it, but the greatest joy by far that the Champions Trophy affords is the sight of the IPL teams getting beaten by county and regional teams. The more comprehensive the defeat, the happier I am. I don’t care if it’s an English or an Australian or a South African team dealing the damage. I should point out that this has little to do with the players (with the exception of a small but fuckwitted handful of them) and more to do with the simple fact that they’re IPL teams. They’re associated with the shrillness and painful stupidity of that entire ridiculous overblown klaxon show and therefore the more matches they lose the more vindictively happy that makes me, because I am an angry person who doesn’t like stupid shit.

Maybe it’s partly because of the IPL owners? Watching KKR going down in spectacular fashion at this very moment against the South Australia Redbacks is a delightful experience, not because I dislike Ryan ten Doeschate, or Gautam Gambhir (…ok, maybe a little) or Brett Lee (quite the contrary, in fact), nor out of any especial love for South Australia. KKR just needs to lose. They have a stupid name, dumb outfits and an owner who is one of the most painfully idiotic and narcissistic men in existence.

So, Viva Le Champions’ League. I approve. If there was a decent Test on right now you can be sure as hell that would be on my TV instead, but this will do in its place. A little schadenfreude is good for the soul. Bring it on.

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The Farnsworth Post

After the last post, on my feelings regarding the death of the late Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, these were the top searches that led newcomers to the blog:

‘mansur ali khan pataudi wealth’
‘mansoor ali khan pataudi wealth’
‘tiger pataudi wealth’
‘mansur pataudi money’
‘pataudi how much money’
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‘what is written in mansour ali khan pataudi will’
‘mansur ali khan pataudi death videos’
‘mansur ali khan body’
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UPDATE:

‘how much wealth having nawab mansoorali khan patodi [sic]’
‘pataudi wealth’
‘pataudi moneys’
‘patody wealth’
‘pataudi’s wealth’

…..

……..seriously? SERIOUSLY? Screw every last one of you.

That is all.

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Memoriam

The last Nawab of the former Princely State of Pataudi, former Captain of India, died today in a Delhi hospital. I didn’t see it coming. Apparently very few people did. His death was a result of a lung condition that had plagued him for some time, but if you hadn’t been reading about it over the last few days you wouldn’t have guessed he was unwell. He was at there at Oval at the end of the 4th and final Test to present the conquering England team with the trophy that bears his family’s name (a tribute both to him and his father, the senior Nawab, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi), apparently in perfect health. His profound disappointment at India’s 4-0 series loss was tangible then, but it didn’t affect his poise. Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was born a prince, and class practically dripped from his pores. It was always that way.

I never saw him play – not properly. He was 70 years old at his death, and he had been made Captain of India at the age of 21. Flickering grainy black-and-white clips of video footage and the reverent words of others are all most of us have as proof of his sublime ability with a cricket bat.  A slight, bare-headed figure, stepping out and swinging, or slouched with languorous elegance in the field. Neither the photos that captured his easy, slightly dreamy smile nor the footage that recorded his prowess as a batsman give away his sightless right eye. Sunil Gavaskar is, in my humble opinion, an arrogant blowhard far too fond of the sound of his own voice, but I will nevertheless use his analogy here to explain the scale of Pataudi’s accomplishment after the accident that took away his eye: forget facing down a fast bowler, try walking around with an eyepatch for just one day and see if you’re able to light a candle.

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was among the last of the Indian royals to hold a title, and among the first to inform a diverse collection of young men hailing from all parts of India and all levels of wealth (or lack thereof) that they were all equals, himself included. Many people more suited to the task than I have written, and will write more, on the many ways he changed the game, the many strokes of genius and faith and inspiration that have made him legend. Four spinners. Playing to win. Attacking. Forthrightness. I hope they do. The more the better. Their words, and his, as when he spoke out boldly in lone opposition to the IPL governing council of which he himself was a part, are now all we have left.

My mother is not an avid cricket watcher; she tolerates her husband and youngest daughter’s fixation with it, but knows little about the game and cares only out of an instinctive sense of nationalistic pride that India do well when they play. The death of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, however, has shaken her deeply. She tells me now of days spent as a young woman at the Bangalore cricket ground with friends and cousins, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the dashing Nawab. How they would watch the cricket because of him, because of the new feeling he had brought to a sport that had seemed flat and boring to them. She is a practical woman, not prone to sentimentality, but her eyes light up now, reliving the frisson of many years ago, at the memory of arguing with a cousin over whether the figure in the box five metres ahead of them was really him, only to have the dispute silenced as the man himself turned his head for a brief, wide smile.

I never saw Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi play, but I didn’t need to for his death to weigh on me. It is impossible to express how deeply he will be missed. Rest in peace, Tiger.

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…aaaaand we’re back.

Well, that was anticlimactic.

My training is scientific, so it’s impossible to watch this New Zealand side play without my brain almost involuntarily formulating a giant experiment to evaluate how they perform under different levels of expectation. Is there really something to this wretched underdog thing that Shane Bond hates so much? Test it! Send them into three series deciders, one as favourites, one as 50-50-too-close-to-call competitors, and one as these-jokers-haven’t-got-a-hope-in-hell rank outsiders. Repeat several times to get a decent sample size, play the same 11 every time at the same ground against the same opponent (preferably a consistent side – Lanka? SA?) to reduce the number of variables. It would make a fascinating research study, albeit one that might be a little bit hard to get funding for.

Normally I wouldn’t advocate treating international-level sportsmen like lab rats (even though it would be frankly awesome to see Alastair Cook frantically trying to find his way though a giant hedge maze to the Maybelline stand at the other end) but honestly, there might really be no other way to explain this NZ side.

This is not to say that the NZ setup should feel badly about this series. They performed far above anyone’s expectations – so much so that the third test shitshow was even more bizarre because of the gritty fighting that had come before. Verily, New Zealand cricket, you are a mystery wrapped in an enigma sprinkled with really hot men.

I know I’m probably supposed to be writing about the Ashes, but everyone else in the known universe, along with their great-aunt and their great aunt’s cocker spaniel, seems to be providing fairly comprehensive coverage already, so I will abstain. I will say, though, that of all the members of the England Test side, I would never in a million years have thought that Tim Bresnan would be the one with the most rhythm.

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Return of the Mac

I just referenced a song in this post title that was released in 1996. FOURTEEN. YEARS. AGO.

I am SO OLD.

…anyway.

You’re probably expecting me to talk about Brendon McCullum now. You would be entirely justified in this expectation (and yes, I’m very aware of how many times I have used the word ‘expectation’ and its alternate conjugations here in the last few days, it has in fact started to lose all meaning for me) since, of course, Baz done good today. He’s been persona non grata a little bit for his decision to quit keeping, at which he is undeniably excellent, and for being all reputation and no runs of late. Going out to bat against the world’s number one Test side and scoring a shitload of runs is obviously the best way to counter this sort of thing, which is exactly what Baz did and bloody good on him for doing it.

But it’s the other Mac that has drawn my interest. The inconspicuous Mac. Mac the Lesser. Also known (by me, in my head, involuntarily, every time I see him or hear his name mentioned) as TIMMAY!*

Tim McIntosh.

Tim McIntosh is a bit of a cipher. He’s New Zealand’s Test opener, but no-one really knows anything about him – most people, even those who watch cricket regularly, probably couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Yet in the past year he’s not done too badly – scoring 4 50s (and twice – against Australia and Bangladesh – getting agonizingly close to 100s) in addition of course to coming off a pair to score 102 and 49 against India in Hyderabad. This relative annonymity is quite possibly because unlike the Big Mac (sorry) Brendon McCullum, he isn’t exactly an electric batsman. (Cricinfo’s profile of him calls him ‘a graduate of the Mark Richardson School of Batting,’ which pretty much sums it up.) It is just so typical of the fate of guys like him that when he does something awesome, like score a century and a fifty in the same match after coming off a pair, flashier stars like Baz, Harbhajan, and Chris Gayle swoop in to eclipse him.

Not here, though. Today I celebrate the achievement of quiet, unassuming Timmy Mac. He took on the top Test side in the world on home turf with the axe hanging over his head, and if it wasn’t for him, New Zealand could well have fared far worse in this match.

A footnote: People who know me should have suspected I wouldn’t let this go unmentioned: my beloved Grant Elliott – now CAPTAIN of the Wellington Firebirds, bitches! – has just scored 122 against Northern Districts in the NZ Plunket Shield. It is possible that the percentage of my readership that cares about this is less than 3%, and that’s being optimistic, but you know what? I don’t care! GO GRANT ELLIOTT! WHOO!

 

*I know, I KNOW. I’m a horrible person for this. Tim McIntosh is a fine upstanding and rather hot specimen of a man in the peak of physical and mental health. I AM NOT PROUD, OK?! IT IS AN INVOLUNTARY MENTAL ASSOCIATION!

 

 

 

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On Expecting the Expected

Ever since it became apparent on the second day of the first Test in Ahmedabad that New Zealand weren’t in fact going to be crushed into dust by India, as everyone and their grandmother had predicted, I’ve been giving Dileep Premachandran a hard time for this article. (Mostly because he called Chris Martin “ready for the knackers’ yard” and anyone even casually familiar with me or this blog probably knows that suggesting Chris Martin is anything less than completely awesome is, in my opinion, punishable by torture and execution.)

But.

Truth be told, I was predicting the same thing everyone else was. I believe my exact words were “Vettori’s 100th Test appearance for New Zealand is going to be a nightmarish, bloodstained massacre.” If I felt any ambivalence I disguised it well.

I love New Zealand (yeah, not news, I know). I have a massive amount of faith in their players. I know that they have an uncanny ability to come good when appearing totally down and out. The fact that the spellcheck on WordPress still doesn’t recognize ‘Zealand’ as a word AS IT IS DOING RIGHT THIS FUCKING MINUTE sends me into a mini rage spiral. Still.

It was impossible not to. One of the oldest cliches in cricket is that anything can happen, but that’s sometimes just not true. Put Canada into the field with Australia and there’s a 99.99% chance that you could correctly predict what would happen. It’s like the lottery: technically, yes, there is a chance of winning, but you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning, twice, in the same place on your body at the same time of day while wearing the same 6 items of clothing. After the Bangladesh tour, with India coming off beating the mighty(ish) Australians 2-0, it would have just been unrealistic to think that the Kiwis – in a Test series no less (statistically the format in which they have been least successful in recent times) – would be anything other than woefully outmatched. They no longer had Bond or O’Brien. Their batting lineup was shakier than a house of cards on a seesaw in an earthquake. They had just emerged from a series in which they had failed to win a single ODI…against Bangladesh.

If the New Zealand team were a horse, it would have been taken behind some sheds and shot as an act of mercy.

There is very rarely anything nice about being proved spectacularly wrong, but (as England fans who were around in the 90s and early Aughts will attest) there’s nothing better than the team you love winning when you had prepared yourself for them to lose. It’s SO much better than an expected win. It more than compensates for the contrasting feeling – losing when winning should have been a foregone conclusion. It may in fact be one of the best feelings there is for a sports fan.

Shane Bond has said publicly that he’s always hated the ‘underdogs’ tag New Zealand have long been saddled with for this very reason, that they were expected to lose and winning was a bonus. And I agree with him. It’s not healthy for the team to think that way. It’s probably more than a little pathetic for the fans to constantly think that way. But it’s so hard not to, when it means that you occasionally get to experience this feeling. Because, for real, it feels fucking fantastic.

Or maybe I’m biased and the feeling is heightened for me because my long-beloved Chris Martin took 5 for 63 when certain people-who-will-not-be-named-except-that-their-first-name-rhymes-with-Felipe-and-their-last-name-is-Premachandran had written him off as old and past it. It’s possible.

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