Why I Hate IPL

The dark side of cricket has shown its face. Again… Just when we had forgotten that it existed. Just as we reveled in how much glory and money a sport can bring – through masala version of the game – we had forgotten that betting existed. And so did match fixing. Oops, it’s called ‘spot fixing’ now.

A few cricketers, including once India’s fast bowling hope Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, were nabbed by police when they were with ‘arranged’ women – allegedly supplied by bookies who offered them money to perform according to their wishes in an official IPL (Indian Premier League) match – for spot fixing. A sad day for cricket enthusiasts, no matter what nationality you have…

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The God of Small Beings

Many cricket fans would say that the Maya calendar was not wrong after all. It just missed the mark by two days. Instead of 21st December, 2012, the world ended on 23rd, as Sachin Tendulkar quit One Day cricket.

Called the most complete batsman of the era, he quit as the highest run getter in the 50-over format, by miles. The domination can be estimated by the fact that next three in the highest runs list have already retired and the one nearest to him and still playing has scored not even two thirds of the runs yet. Some sport stats remain etched in memory for long. Like Don Bradman’s average of 99.94, the run total of 18,426, 49 centuries and 23-long playing years will continue to amaze sport fans. Yet, sport is not about mere statistics.

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Where is Binod Das?

The National One Day cricket championship ends just as the New Year begins. For all the criticism Cricket Association of Nepal has faced for not organizing the nationals during the customary season of summer, the timing of the nationals has been perfect this time around.

There is something about winter and cricket that makes sense. The sun shining on the pitch, after moist and dewy mornings, just as the players warm up and spectators enjoy sunbathing along with contest between bat and ball makes it a delightful sight that perhaps no other sport offers. Add to that women’s team practicing under the watchful eyes of Pubudu Dassanayake – just as the men fight it out for the national title – it seems as if everything were perfect with Nepali cricket.

Alas, not everything is. This time around, most people who came to cricket grounds to watch cricket in the capital had one question in mind: Where is Binod Das?

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Ricky Ponting: Second Best? Maybe Not

 Ricky Ponting has retired from international cricket.

And though we knew it was coming, we took a sigh when he announced it, in an uncharacteristically emotional yet pragmatic press conference. The sigh – perhaps of relief that we did not need to see the great man struggling against lesser bowlers – was also because we knew we would now see him only in record books, YouTube videos and numerous articles written on him. And that shall always talk of the glory days of Australian team under him.

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Captain Cool

If you followed Nepal’s march in ACC Trophy Elite, you could not have remained unaffected with one man’s performance. That of Nepal captain Paras Khadka, who not only took the responsibility of scoring most runs in the tournament, but also took wickets during important phases in many matches with his military medium (pace) bowling.

With his performance, he has made his coach say that ‘Paras is the best captain among associate cricket nations’. If you followed the twitteratti of facebook dwellers,  you would like his new nickname ‘Captain Cool’. To me, the story began long, long ago.

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The Road to World Cup

Nepal embarks on another campaign at Asian level Cricket, to play in the ACC Trophy Elite. As the players leave the country, their heads will be held high, having received previously unheard sum – for the cricketers – from the government of Nepal.

The reward is a result of Nepal’s entry into the ICC World Cricket League Division 3. And what an achievement it has been. As expected, it’s been celebrated well, by public, by various (political) organizations – trying to cash in on the increased popularity of cricket. But yours truly gets a feeling that we might have had one celebration too many. Nothing wrong with the celebration, as long as it doesn’t become an impediment for the future plans.

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Callous Association and Compassionate Fans

What is the first question that comes to your mind if you hear of a Nepali (or any other) player playing for a foreign club?

How much is he or she getting? Naturally yes. Sport is a professional arena and you sell your skills for a price.

Nepali fast bowlers Amrit Bhattarai and Chandra Saud were selected by Sri Lanka Port Authority Cricket Club to play in the U-23 League, organized by Sri Lanka Cricket Board. There, both Bhattarai and Saud will play one 3-Day match and one 1-Day match every week, for 3 months. But, according to the contract, both players have to bear their own expenses, including ticket to Sri Lanka and food.

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Needed: A Stitch in Time

Come August 13th, Nepali Colts will play the Aussie Colts, the defending champions, at the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup. Champs versus minnows… Miracles aside, anyone who understands cricket would predict a dominating performance by the champs.

But that is not the point to be discussed here.

Ever since the event was revived in 1998 (One Youth World Cup was held in 1988) – as “globalization” of cricket became a buzzword, thanks to the then ICC President Jagmohan Dalmiya – Nepal is a country that can be termed as one of the ambassadors for the game. Nepal has benefitted and grown in stature in these championships.

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The ‘Gentle’ Wall

If you are a cricket fan – which yours truly is, unashamedly – reading ESPN cricinfo becomes a daily routine. But yours truly did not open it for an entire day, Friday (9th of March, 2012). The reason, I did not want to read that Rahul Dravid had retired, despite knowing it beforehand that he was scheduled to do that.

Life is such; sometimes we act as if we were an ostrich, the bird which hides its own head in the sand and thinks that it is safe, just because it cannot see danger coming. We pretend that not seeing things means nothing has happened (have you noticed people looking on the other side intentionally while crossing the road, just when you reach them while driving?).

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We Will Wait !

“Don’t whisper a word. The whole worldwill be able to hear you. Wankhede is stunned into silence. Rampaul spoils theparty, Sammy holds the catch at second slip.”
Perhaps obituaries would soundcomparatively pleasant to some cricket fans. The lines appeared on ESPNCricinfoweb portal, as Sachin Tendulkar departed without scoring what could have been his100th international century – just one-hit-over-the-boundary shortof it. As many firsts that the man has pocketed, this would be another first in the history of the game.
The dreaded words appeared: ‘SRTendulkar c Sammy b Rampaul 94’. At little under 140 kmph, this may not be the best ball West Indian pacer Ravi Rampaul might have bowled, but certainly willbe the most memorable for him.

Cricket’s call for change

Hardly had Nepali cricket fans recovered from jolt due to ICC confirmation that the next two World Cups will be 10-team events, they were given another shock. The news of a few former national cricketers moving the Supreme Court against the activities of Cricket Association of Nepal has surprised many, at the same time raised quite a few eyebrows too.
Much has already been said by the players and officials from Ireland, the most successful of the associate nations in past two World Cups, along with Scotland, Kenya, Canada and other nations about the associates being shown the exit doors. Whether it moves the money minded ICC or not; Whether it has excluded the ‘world’ from the World Cup or not; Whether that decision will mar the reputation of cricket across the globe or not, the single decision has killed the aspirations of cricketers from the emerging nations. And that includes Nepali players too.

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Learning from the Tiger

And Tiger Woods got divorced, officially. The man, who has dominated the sport – till date this century – cuts a lonely figure now on the greens, where once he prowled sans fear.
From the day he turned pro, he towered over all other sportsmen of the generation. A beacon for those who wanted to take up sport professionally. He was perfect, and made us feel that he could do no wrong. And we asked, “Is he human?”