Posts Tagged idiocy

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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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’
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‘what is written in mansour ali khan pataudi will’
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UPDATE:

‘how much wealth having nawab mansoorali khan patodi [sic]’
‘pataudi wealth’
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‘patody wealth’
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…..

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

That is all.

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Does not compute

Some days, when I’m feeling particularly masochistic, I try and imagine what it must be like to be a Pakistan cricket fan. Of all the brutal, frustrating, agonizing, heartbreaking, apoplexy-inducing existences a sports fan could lead, that must at least rank in the top five. From STDs to fixes, factionalism to nepotism, idiocy to instability, and – the shit icing on the cake of festering crap – the continued presence of Ijaz Butt, Pakistan cricket has not merely hit bottom (repeatedly), it’s scraped bottom with a spatula and then broken its fingers trying to claw even further down through the bedrock with its bare hands.

Watching Pakistan play, as a neutral supporter, carries with it certain guarantees. Not many, obviously – after all, calling the Pakistan team ‘inconsistent’ is somewhat akin to calling George Bush ‘a bit dim’ – but there are a few. Umar Gul will send down some perfectly pitched yorkers. Misbah will bat as though caught in the glacial timescape of a Salvador Dali painting. Shahid Afridi will bellow and gesticulate like a deranged orchestra conductor, then do his Messiah impersonation when he gets a wicket. Kamran Akmal will fill silences with high-pitched yodelling shrieks reminiscent of a boy soprano attempting to summon sheep from high mountaintops.

He will also drop catches and miss stumpings. Lots of them.

The incredible thing about Kamran Akmal’s keeping – and, indeed, Pakistan’s fielding in general – is that you expect it to be terrible. You always know what you’re likely to see – but it’s still capable of astounding. I know I’m going to see Kamran Akmal fumble a take – ok, who am I kidding, many, many takes – that a paraplegic chimp could have nailed with ease. But every time I see him do it, I throw up my hands and yell ‘Are you fucking kidding me?!’ – or some variation thereof – at the TV screen. The incredulity is fresh every time.

After a point it becomes surreal. I’ll be as blunt as possible – I do not for the life of me understand how it is possible to be as shit at keeping as Kamran Akmal is. Ok, wait, that’s not entirely accurate – I’m probably a far worse keeper than he is. Same for my 81-year-old grandmother. Here’s the thing though – I AM NOT KEEPING FOR MY NATIONAL SIDE AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL. So I guess it’s not so much Akmal’s breathtaking ineptitude that baffles me – it’s more the fact that he continues to be able to display it every time Pakistan plays. If your keeper’s performance is so consistently shithouse that spot-fixing is the less embarrassing explanation, THERE IS SOMETHING DEEPLY WRONG. Either Kamran Akmal has incriminating photos of Pakistan’s entire selection panel in flagrante delicto with minors and livestock, or…actually, no, there is no other possible rationale for his continued presence behind the stumps.

What makes it even more mindblowing is the Pakistan camp’s reaction every time it is pointed out to them that their keeper is an embarrassment and a liability, which essentially boils down to, ‘He’s not that bad. He just had an off day.’ Really? Ok, well, does he ever have ‘on’ days? Because you could have fooled us! Honest to God, someone needs to check the Pakistan drinks cart for Kool-Aid.

After the debacle of Tuesday’s match against New Zealand, during which Akmal twice missed edges from eventual centurion and MoM Ross Taylor – at least one of which should not have been missed by any wicket keeper at any level of the game unless he or she was experiencing an epileptic fit or bleeding profusely from the head –  coach Waqar Younis stated that the key for Pakistan going forward was not to panic. I entirely agree. Panic does nobody any good, and in any case Pakistan had no cause for panic. They would if they were unable to pin down the reason for their defeat.  But the reason could not have been more conspicuous if it were walking around wearing a neon sandwich board and trailing a 5-piece brass band in its wake.

Let’s be clear, I don’t think that dropping Kamran Akmal will magically turn Pakistan’s fortunes around, or that everything that went wrong against New Zealand was his fault (Ross Taylor’s blitz in the death overs was courtesy some incredibly crappy bowling, for instance). But that’s not the reason he should be dropped. If a player performs badly over the length of time Akmal has, he no longer deserves to be part of the team. Simple. Then again, affairs in Pakistan cricket are never simple. Even so, even knowing the murkiness that surrounds the team and its selection, I still can’t dredge up anything even approximating a good reason for keeping him on. He really is that bad. And Pakistan’s refusal to acknowledge that fact only makes them look like idiots. Although, in fairness, they have had Ijaz Butt for an awfully long time, so that ship has pretty much already sailed.

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Unwanted Associations

February 18, 2o11: The ICC, in their infinite wisdom and ever-mindful of their weighty responsibility to promote and shepherd the growth and development of the beautiful game worldwide, announce the reduction of teams participating at the World Cup from 14 to 10, effective from 2015. The tournament is too bloated, everyone says, so we’re only giving the people what they want. It’s not entertaining to watch the inevitable, interminable, first rounds of heavyweights annihilating the minnows. You know, if they want to play in the ODI World Cup they should just play better! There’s nothing to stop them, certainly nothing like a lack of money and cricketing infrastructure, or a shortage of match experience because they aren’t pencilled into the international calendar anywhere.

But, to show that we care, we’ll let them go to the World T20 tournament. Tests are the purest form of the game, so obviously these young aspiring teams cannot be allowed to play it! They’re young sides, just starting out, who need to develop their cricket, and what better way then by effectively restricting them to no cricket except the dumbest, hollowest, most technique-bereft format of the game?

February  22, 2011: England, holders of the Ashes, narrowly avoid a loss to the Netherlands, securing victory with 8 balls to spare.

March 02, 2011: Ireland, having given Bangladesh a brave fight days earlier, chase down England’s score of 327 in their final over, spurred on by the fastest century in World Cup history, scored off 50 balls by Kevin O’Brien.

Of course the Associates do not belong at the top level. They clearly are incapable of matching the levels of skill and discipline displayed by the top-level sides. Why, an Ireland or a Netherlands could only dream of being able to field like Pakistan, or bowl like England. They certainly cannot produce compelling cricket or close-fought matches. And, of course, their inability to match the big boys is entirely their own fault – it’s certainly nothing to do with a lack of support from the ICC, or from not having the chance to play competitive cricket on a regular basis, or from not playing higher-level teams, ever, except at the World Cup. Obviously. Their stagnation is entirely of their own making, and heaven forbid they continue to besmirch the gloss of the Ultimate Cricket Contest with their presence.

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Five Open Letters

Dear Test Matches are Boring People:

I’m sorry. There is nothing here for you. I recommend that you seek alternate sources of amusement: maybe stare at a slowly revolving disco ball (so much SHINY! You’ll be amused for hours! Oh, wait, you don’t have hours, do you? Ok, minutes! You’ll be amused for whole minutes!), or go watch some MTV.

Dear Murali is a Chucker, Dammit! Stop celebrating him and loving him! I said STOP! People:

I’m sorry. It must be hard, living in your joyless, cobwebbed world where fun goes to die and everything is angular and narrow and unchanging. It sounds awful. But you know, most of you are really really old, so you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that the sweet release of death is likely near at hand.

Dear Pakistan Fans:

I am deeply, indescribably, bouncing-up-and-down-shrieking-nonsense-and-flinging-confetti thrilled for you. I really really am. But I am also concerned, knowing that many of you are probably still recovering from yesterday. Remember: if you are still experiencing seizures, blood rushes to the head, stomach-turning nausea and/or constriction in the chest area in 24 hours, seek medical attention without delay.

Dear Mohammed Aamer:

You are altogether adorable and delightful, and fucking hell you can bowl. May your career be long, illustrious and smiley. PS: Eat a sandwich or something. You’re clearly in great shape, but some of us are worried that if you fall over you’ll snap in two and that would be a tragic loss.

Dear Salman Butt:

Not to be a buzzkill or anything, and I want to extend my sincerest congratulations on your fabulous victory, but please, please, PLEASE don’t get ahead of yourself. The crash is going to make that one time you drank eight cups of coffee and everything was great until later that afternoon when you thought you were going to die seem insignificant by contrast. Also do not listen to Moin Khan: he means well, but the last time someone got as throughly carried away as Moin seems to have been after you won, his name was Mr. Fredricksen and he lived in a house with billions of balloons attached.

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Groundhog Day

Yes, it’s been a while since the last post. I’m actually kind of wondering if anyone will actually read this, which is sort of liberating. I could probably talk about anything. Movies, recreational drugs, quantum physics (IT’S THE STRINGS! DAMN YOU, FEYNMAN!) the possibilities are limitless.

The only reason I would have to do that, instead of talking about cricket, the game I love and adore and which is the hallowed pursuit of noblemen and kings, is that NEW ZEALAND ARE FUCKING LOSING THE PLOT AGAIN.

Ahem.

I always swore I’d never be one of those awful people that does nothing but hurl abuse at their chosen team when the chips are down, but, really, New Zealand? You bowled Australia out for 231 and still managed to collapse? It’s Daniel Vettori’s 100th Test, but apparently a dream Day 1 is all he’s allowed on such an august occasion, before it’s back to the usual business of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It’s always the spinners, too. I’m currently in Bangalore, and everywhere there are large billboards with Rahul Dravid’s face staring down, practically ordering us to follow the Royal Challenge, as the BRC’s IPL campaign is apparently now called. Anil Kumble is on a few as well, and as happy as it makes me to see him get some glory after all those years of being the overlooked stalwart, it’s an equally sharp reminder of how good he is and was, if we’d only been allowed to see it. I’m reading John Wright’s Indian Summers, which I highly recommend, incidentally, and in it he reiterates what the rest of us have known for a long time: that Kumble was underused and underrated at what should have been his peak years. Vettori certainly doesn’t have the problem of being underused – if they used him any more they’d probably actually physically break him – but he’s never allowed to be as effective as he should be as a spinner, being brought on ludicrously early after the quicks have cocked up the job with the new ball, and then inevitably trudging out again to bat the team out of trouble at number 6 or 8. New Zealand have done their best to wring as much as they can out of Captain Dan, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that someday we’re all going to look back on these few years and wonder why the hell they had to do it in the first place. It’s a team sport, gents. Ross Taylor’s doing his best, but there need to be 9 more of you not being bench decorations for this whole ‘winning matches’ thing to work.

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Atlas Sighed

There’s been a trend in recent years of younger men captaining their national sides. The current captains of India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Bangladesh are all in their twenties. (I am going to leave Pakistan out of this equation because their captaincy issues – well, issues in general – are myriad, and give me stress headaches when I think about them.) England and Sri Lanka have guys in their early thirties, and Australia has either a 28-year old or a 35-year-old depending on what format they’re playing.

Chris Gayle and New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori have a couple of things in common – they’re both national captains, they’re both 30 years old, both are key players in their respective IPL teams, and they both put in an all-rounder’s version of what is usually called a captain’s knock in ODIs this past week – Vettori’s a fighting 70 off 49 and 2-43 from his ten overs against Australia, and, against Zimbabwe, Gayle’s an 88 off 111 and 1-25 from his ten (he also took a catch and was instrumental in a runout.) Gayle’s performance helped the West Indies win, Vettori’s wasn’t quite enough to allow New Zealand to do the same.

Here are ways in which they are different. Gayle has a carefully cultivated image as Mr. Cool, all shades and bling and diamond earrings; while Vettori is occasionally bearded, laconic, and wears prescription glasses – you know, like a geek. Gayle loves his lucrative high-profile endorsements and his million-dollar-deals; Vettori, presumably content with the not-inconsiderable revenue from his own IPL contract, is known for commercials promoting sunglasses for schoolchildren, New Zealand Libraries and Visique Optometrists. Despite both being key batsmen for their sides, Gayle is a top-order striker of skill and elegance, where Vettori comes in at number eight with a small and homely repertoire of shots that somehow brings him lots of runs.

Those don’t really matter very much, though; they’re just interesting tidbits of trivia.

Here are the important differences.

What he just about failed to do the other night, Vettori does all the freaking time. He’s New Zealand’s rock, a man who started out as a bowler of finger-spin in a country filled with quicks because of its fast seaming wickets and made himself one of the best in the world at that, and then worked on his mediocre batting with single-minded focus that couldn’t make it any prettier to look at but did quadruple its effectiveness. He’s now New Zealand’s talisman, their beardy lanky Superman who does it with his glasses on. The side has suffered in ODIs, where they are usually strongest, with the loss of people like Jesse Ryder and my beloved Grant Elliott to injury, but it’s Vettori’s presence or absence that makes or breaks this team. Ever since he took on the responsibilities of national selector, coach-of-sorts and Lord knows what else, the jokes have been coming thick and fast – it’s only a matter of time before the ‘Vettori for PM’ shirts hit the market. They already have ones reading ‘Give Dan More Jobs’ – in what I can only assume is a fatalistic attempt to see just how many things can be dumped on him before he cracks, like a reverse game of Jenga with weights added instead of bricks taken away…and, you know, a real-life dude instead of a toy tower. (Or, as Dave Tickner has pointed out, a really sadistic real-life version of Buckaroo. Crickaroo?) The sight of him coming in late in the game, face set in concentration, to save the innings and take New Zealand home, has become so familiar it’s a wonder they haven’t come up with ‘doing a Vettori’ as verbal shorthand for it, like the way ‘being Mankaded’ came to represent being run out by the bowler because you backed up too far in anticipation.

The reason I’m mentioning all this is to explain why, despite Gayle’s performance and the fact that it was the only thing that saved the West Indies from another in a long, long string of emphatic and embarrassing defeats, I haven’t written a post praising him, and don’t plan to. He doesn’t deserve it. The contrast between him and a man like Daniel Vettori is significant because of their many similarities in age, IPL-involvement and all-round ability, but there’s another comparison I can make that’s even more telling: with Bangladesh’s captain. Another man who this week has had, like Vettori, to be key bowler and batsman for his side while also serving as their leader, only to fall agonizingly short of victory (in his case, to England.) And having done that, to face the international press with grace, optimism and a relentlessly positive attitude.

His name is Shakib-al-Hasan. And he is 22 years old.

So this, Chris Gayle, is why you don’t deserve to be praised. You don’t get to come in after months of fuckery and think you can make up for it with one game. Not enough. You’ve been put to shame by a No. 8 batsman and a kid barely out of his teens – in my humble opinion, they are twice the captains, twice the cricketers, and, yes, each of them is twice the man you are. It’s clear you have an extremely high opinion of yourself; well, take off them shades, boy, I’ve got a photo to leave you with.

This is Daniel Vettori the other night, in the process of trying desperately to take his team over the line. Fun fact: Dan’s got chronic back issues, stemming from an incident in his teens when he actually broke his back; an injury to his bowling shoulder that he’s opted not to have surgery on because that would mean not being able to play for up to 12 months; and on the morning that photo was taken, a stiff neck that almost forced him not to play in the match at all.

Yes, that is him diving. After having spent the first session in the field, and already having batted for an unknown period of time. That’s commitment, Chris. (It might also be stupidity, but it’s certainly not stupidity on the level of some of the stuff you’ve come out with.)

Commitment.

Look it up.

And when you’re done, go talk to young Shakib and take notes on how to be a real man.

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