Archive for category T20

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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Toeless White Mongol’s Fantastic Incredible Adventure

Martin Guptill is a man who demands nicknames. This would be true even if he weren’t a sportsman existing in an environment where everyone must be referred to by nickname (even if, as with England a lot of the time, said nickname is pretty much just the player’s actual name with a ‘y’ tacked on the end.) For one thing, there’s his unusual last name; for another, the fact that the man has only 7 toes. My old nickname for him, therefore, was ‘Guppy Two-toes’ – which, if not exactly supremely imaginative, was at least a hell of a lot more so than ‘Cooky,’ ‘Belly,’ ‘Straussy’ and the rest of them, as if the England team were made up entirely of cutesy singing dwarves.

That is a nickname of the past, from a time when the New Zealand team – and especially their batting lineup – were either plucky underdogs who never quite made it happen for themselves, or a straight-up punchline. Their bowlers were mostly immune from the criticism, on account of not sucking at their own jobs and regularly picking up the slack after each inevitable batting collapse. Practically every set of photographs taken of Daniel Vettori from that time has a couple showing him, jaw set and brow furrowed under his helmet, padded up and striding out with an air of angry resignation to bail his team out of trouble by batting for a couple of hours (in a style apparently learned from a coaching manual printed by Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks).

But things, it seems, are different now with New Zealand.  Their Atlas, Vettori, plays only Tests now, and their team lineup is suddenly bristling with fresh-faced players not old enough to know what audio cassettes are. But it’s working for them. Zimbabwe might not have been the most challenging of opponents (though they have the capacity to be much tougher than they were during this last series), but New Zealand demolished them, over and over again, at every venue and in every format.  To my obvious delight, one of the main architects of New Zealand’s dominance was none other than Chris Martin, 37 years of age and in the bowling form of his life, perhaps invigorated by reducing Phil Hughes to a bloody smear on the ground in the Australia series.  This may in some part explain why one of the search phrases used to find this blog recently was “cricket the back of Chris Martin’s head,” but that’s something I don’t really want to think too much about except to assume that someone out there has a thing for graceful bald men who can swing a cricket ball, which is fair enough.

The other standout Kiwi was, of course, Guptill. He’s always been a superb fielder, so much so that he manages to stand out in a side that is primarily known for being a uniformly excellent fielding unit. He was the third part of the Hughes b. Martin equation in addition to flinging himself all over the place taking catches and stopping runs, and when he wasn’t doing that he was batting like he’s never batted before. He’s showed flashes of this ability in the past, but never so consistently, and now he resembles a man who has ‘Eye of the Tiger’ playing constantly in his head and has entrenched himself so deeply into The Zone that he probably cuts his food and puts on pants with exactly the same intensity and optimal use of technique. It showed clearly in today’s T20, the one that kicked off the start of the South Africa tour (a.k.a. the real test of the new-and-improved-now-with-40%-more-BADASS New Zealand side). After a spectacular runout of Hashim Amla that ended with both players and several stumps tangled up in a heap on the pitch and had everyone and their grandmother instantly referencing the legendary Jonty Rhodes moment, he then proceeded to carry his bat through the New Zealand innings and score most of the runs – except the winning ones, which he graciously left to James Franklin. The man seems unstoppable.

However, he is also possessed of facial hair and bone structure that, especially when he’s wearing a helmet, makes him look uncannily like a less-Asiatic Ghenghis Khan. It’s actually distracting. Yet, it might just be the source of all his powers, and so should be accorded due respect. Thus, his new nickname will now be the Toeless White Mongol. It’s not short and snappy, like good nicknames should ideally be, but I think it’s the name he’s earned. Go forth, TWM, and conquer.

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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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You win, Universe.

As anyone who is acquainted with me or has read this blog knows, I am not a fan of T20s. (If you didn’t before, you do now.) I don’t hate them – I had contemplated buying this shirt, but eventually decided I didn’t want to walk around with any statement emblazoned across my chest that I didn’t fully support – but they just don’t do it for me. I hate the manufactured drama, I hate the damn cheerleaders, I hate the fact that it’s about cheap spectacle and devalues the game. Given how much I love the game (here’s a hint – A LOT) that last one is the most egregious sin of all.

So I don’t usually write about them.

But the universe has been sending me nudges that turned into prods that turned into giant neon signs reading ‘HEY DO WE HAVE YOUR ATTENTION YET’ and I have finally caved. This post will be entirely about T20s. And not just one, either.

First, I must address a small but devoted fanbase. In the last month or so, people have been led to Long (Way) Off by typing the following terms into search engines:

‘Tim Southee’ – Yes, I’ve mentioned him. I believe I called him adorable, which he can be if his hair isn’t being alarming. I have thought him an extremely promising bowler since watching his performance against England in ’08, but have not wanted to jinx him by being all ‘OMG here is the KIWIS new superstar !!!!11!!’

‘Tim Southee single?’ – I have no idea. If he is, probably not for long. And if you have to Google that, you probably don’t have much of a chance. (Sorry.)

‘I love you Tim Southee’ – Aw, that’s cute. But if I can offer some entirely well-meaning advice: he’s probably unreachable by this point. Go for the nice guy who opens the door for you at school or awkwardly compliments your perfume.

‘How old is Tim Southee’ – Dude. Do I look like your personal ReferenceBot? Also, if you’re trying to figure out if he’s legal, that is really, really creepy. (Run, Tim! Run!)

‘Tim Southee hot’ – Um. Wouldn’t go that far. Attractive boy, but he’s a kid still. Hotness might come later.

Ok, now that that’s dealt with, I can properly give plaudits to Tim for his performance yesterday. As I’ve said, he’s very young, and that was not a young man’s performance. He’s showed glimpses of that kind of nerve and maturity before, but the control he showed yesterday in the last part of the innings, and then in sealing that final over, was pretty extraordinary. Fortunately the batsmen – Brendon ‘You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’ McCullum and my favourite imaginary superhero, Martin ‘Guppy Two-Toes’ Guptill didn’t let him down. Other people have described Baz’s unreal innings much better than I could, so I’m just going to record what flashed reflexively through my head when I saw it:

DAMN, boy.

I refuse to comment further on Shaun Tait than to say: that was super-classy of you, Shaun, and look how well it worked!

And then, just when we thought the day had been action-packed enough, there was the match that hardly anyone even knew about, let alone was planning to watch: West Indies v Zimbabwe.

I am a staunch Zimbabwe supporter – when Grant Flower announced his plans to return and be their new batting coach, I was overjoyed – so I was actually pretty keyed up for this. That lasted all of ten minutes into Zimbabwe’s innings, and by the time they’d crawled painfully from 0-3 (yes, you read that right. 3 wickets, ZERO RUNS) to 105 all out, it was extremely late and I figured that even for a cricket masochist of my calibre, battling exhaustion to watch them be further humiliated wasn’t going to be worth it. So I went to bed.

My reactions on waking up this morning:

On the one hand, YAY Zimbabwe! Bloody hell, that was a spectacular comeback! Grant Flower’s still got his work cut out for him, because damn if that wasn’t some pretty abjectly pathetic batting, but still!

On the other hand: Are you freaking kidding me?!

Good God, West Indies. I mean…I have no words. (Suleiman Benn, you are exempt from this, you did a great job. Congratulations. I’m sorry this is the team you’re saddled with.) I hope to God that Chris Gayle was sitting out for even a remotely legitimate reason, because I already think he’s a tiresome arrogant ass who thinks he’s far cooler than he actually is and would hate to have to expend the energy to dislike him even more.

Ottis, I like you. I do. I do believe you’re doing your best. But if Grant’s got a tough job ahead of him, yours seems positively Herculean. I’m not exactly likening the West Indies cricket team to the Augean stables, but at this point, they both do seem to be equally full of shit.

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OH MY GOD SHUT UP

Oh God, Lalit Modi, you seriously need to shut up.

If you don’t care about all the mean things people have been saying about you and your baby – no, really! Not at all! Look at you so supremely unconcerned! Not caring lalalalalalala-can’t-heeeear-you! – why the hell can’t you stop tweeting about it? And this:

Been told Ricky Ponting pressuring players not to come. Maybe its due to the fact he was dropped from KKR.

Really? Really, Lalit? You’re going to go that route? Is it really possible that you don’t understand what an immature jackass that makes you sound like (for those who weren’t convinced of that already?) The last time that sort of comment was considered a mighty riposte was when I was in bloody kindergarten.

But when you really made me mad was when you broke out this little gem:

If you did not know I work best under stress. So donnt fool yourself. We are proud to be indian and not afraid to show it [sic]

Oh HELL NO. This has absolutely nothing to do with ‘being Indian,’ you avaricious, unmitigated ass. Don’t you dare mask your twisted dealings with the façade of patriotism or nationalism. Don’t you dare.

Ugh. It takes a special kind of awfulness to make people who would otherwise agree with the point you’re making, like Samir and myself, almost not want to admit that because that would mean we actually had something in common with you. Welcome to you, Lalit Modi. You are that special kind of awful.

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Getting down

Sarfraz Ahmed and Eoin Morgan go low to a delivery from Shoaib Malik. England v Pakistan, 1st T20 at DSC Cricket Stadium.

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Yeah, it’s another post about me. Sorry.

So I went to this match over the weekend. Given that I’m neither English nor Pakistani, that T20s are my least favourite format of the game by some distance, and that this was one of only two matches in a largely meaningless series, it should not have been a particularly huge deal. Thing is, I don’t get to watch cricket in the flesh, in actual stadia. Like, ever. Doesn’t happen. Hasn’t happened, as a matter of fact, since I was about 9 years old, and I’m in my early twenties now. So even given all those dampening factors, I had been nevertheless bouncing around like an overcaffeinated Red Setter for about a week beforehand.

I went, I watched and I wrote. Specifically, I wrote a Fan Following report for Cricinfo’s Page 2, which you can read here.

I also took approximately 580 photos, a few of which you can see here. I picked the best ones, honest.

You thought I was kidding, didn't you?

Enjoy!

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