Been a bit busy the last week but also the prep work for the next post on my favorite Carnatic ragas is taking a bit longer than I want (I hear rambodoc muttering thanks).

So like what my favorite satirist Andy Borowitz said a while ago, perhaps this like pointless filler column. I guess I am trying to prevent the “flame” (# of hits) alive.

Twenty20 Cricket

What’s up with this? The format seems ridiculous for a sport. I thought that for a sport to be engaging, there must be two opposing aspects which are sort of on even ground(batting vs. bowling, attacking vs. defending, offense vs. defense) . But this one is too heavily slanted towards batsman. Like I commented in pr3rna’s blog, why even have professional bowlers? The crowd wants to see a lot of 4s and 6s – why not just give it to them with the least resistance? Have an amateur bowler (or better yet a bowling machine), and amateur fielders – perhaps very good actors who can dive when there is no need and not field so that to the crowd it looks like “a great shot past the fielder”.

Of course, just when you think it cannot get any more silly, you have the concept of “bowl-out” to break a tie – like a penalty shoot-out in soccer. Which genius came up with this idea? The penalty shoot-out is quite anti-climactic, but this tops that by also being comical! But at least I think this joke won’t play out that often as a tie at the end of 20 overs would be quite rare.

I cannot find the link on The BBC Sports website about history of Twenty20 – but I found their seriousness in taking this sport serious to be quite amusing. Apparently, a crowd of a few thousand in England is enough to declare this is a rage and it has “caught on”. Soccer in the US draws a heck of a lot more, but it is still “catching on”.

I certainly do not doubt the entertainment value of Twent20 cricket, but can it last as a sport? Or will it only last until the next best thing? I think soon people may get tired of the mindless hitting – but then our appetite for masala movies is never satisfied …

Gatherings, festivals, Social Events Galore

It is quite clear that the size of the Indian community here in this big mid-western city has just exploded exponentially. This year, like in May, the months of August, September and October are loaded with functions and events. Every weekend, we have something to attend to – whether is cultural festivals, dance arangetrams, music concerts, dance programs etc. etc. And very often, we have clashes – two functions on the same day and we have to pick one!

One big indicator of this rise in the size of the Indian community is the # of cars parked at the local temples on a weekday. I remember 10 years ago, if I went to the temple during a weekday in the evening, there will 2-3 cars parked. The temple would literally be deserted except for the priests and a couple of administrative folks. Nowadays, you go anytime the temple is open, there are at least 20 cars. Some days, you think there is nothing big going on – but the entire parking lot is full. On big religious days, local police has to come and organize traffic. On really big ones like Deepavali, you have remote parking with people having to take shuttle buses. In a US city, 10,000 miles away from home. Wow!

The talent of professional musicians is mind-blogging

I am a lover of music – but specifically Carnatic Music. Last week, I witnessed a orchestra from India learn within a matter of few days, 3.5 hours worth of music to be performed with coordination with dancers (three dance groups, 5 hours including the 4th dance group with which they were touring).

The # of new pieces they learnt were about 40 I think. They had to remember how many times certain lines/phrases had to be repeated, when to “extend”/”improvise” a certain part to allow the dancers to enhance the scene etc. Some pieces included fairly complex rhythmic combinations. They did all this with only 1-2 live rehearsals with each dance group. And they did a fantastic job given the seemingly herculean task! I was there for the rehearsal and just watching them pick up stuff, make minor adjustments as and when needed all seemingly at a blink of an eye – it was truly mind boggling!

Not that busy to not comment

Well – I have not been so busy that I could not visit the blog world. I did spend time – mostly commenting on wonderful, engaging topics by mahendra and nita, and enjoying the humor of krishashok’s jalsa and jilpa, and rambodoc’s twisted wor(l)ds.

When you are afraid to lose, you will almost never win since the best result you are looking for is not to lose.

Where is the fun in such attitude? But that is cricket for you – Indian style. I am of course referring to the anti-climactic finish to the last test match between India and England that just concluded. I am not an active fan of cricket nowadays but I do follow it fairly regularly. I have only one thought about the Indian team’s approach in the last match – What the @#%$ ?

Maybe it was just my imagination, but I thought Shastri said “India should go for the kill.” And this is how one goes for the kill? But maybe he was talking about killing the possibility of an exciting finish, killing the interest in test match cricket? You know the interest that was dead a few decades ago, but was rejuvenated by the Aussies via their fabulously successful, killer-instinct strategies. Other teams have also adopted this with good success, and I think this is a huge reason why test cricket has been very interesting during the last decade. Not a great fan of the Aussies – but the guys did make test match cricket much much more interesting for me.

Let’s face it – Indians were playing not too lose, and they did not lose. With so many balls being bowled, and batted, in the end they just didn’t have the balls.

Was their approach was safe? Yes. Smart? Hm…m ok yes. Was it wimpy? Yes! Was it downright, pathetically wimpy? Oh bloody yes!

Come on Team India! Live a little!

But why would they adopt such an approach? To make sure they won the freaking test series of course – a win guaranteed even by a draw! Oh, nothing uncommon in cricket – but how lame is that? I am sorry – but in a sport where a result is not guaranteed in every bout, the idea of a “best of” is a farce, a big joke and a big bore. It is a convenient excuse for the conservative to go into his shell. It justifies draws, and it is the root of big boredom. It makes way for the Gavaskars, the Mudassar Nazars, the Tolchards (ok that should tell you i am an old timer).

I started loathing test cricket because of these idiotic draws. And in those days, in a 5 match series in India, if India wins the first one – you know what to expect for the next four. Yes – India will play for draw in every subsequent match, even if there is the slightest risk of losing. Of course, Gavaskar would bore you to death with big knocks racking up records. Great concentration and application yaar – the fans and media would praise. Sure enough – but who cares when watching him is like watching a 3-day chess match? Many such innings made a match into a boring extremely long movie or television-series. Actually, worse – because the story doesn’t end in the last episode. There is no closure.

It is time we find a way to at least drastically reduce the possibility of the draw, if we cannot eliminate it completely from the test cricket vocabulary. But how? I have no idea. All I know is that I hate these kinds of draws. I hate that a sport I love allows for it, allows for you to justify it, feel good about it.

Maybe at the start of the test match, we should divide the # of sessions equally among the two teams. So you have an initial cap on an inning which will hopefully prevent those Gavaskar knocks of 100 runs in 1.5 days. You bat through those # of sessions – you declare whether you want to or not. However, if a team is bowled out for lesser that the allotted # of sessions, the other team can gain that session which can allow for building a good lead by going above the initial cap.

I have not obviously thought through this and I am sure it has many holes and it won’t work. But I loathe freaking draws in test cricket! Anything to reduce the possibility would be welcome. Maybe, if a match is drawn, all players should be required to give up their match bonus, which will be used to refund the audience. Yes – they will then tear each other apart to avoid a draw!

See – if it were not for a rain forced draw, match #1 would have gone to England and we would 1-1. Maybe India would have been more aggressive in the last match. But who am I kidding? The wimps would have been even more scared of losing the match and the series, and would have gone for the draw from the beginning!

Oh – if and only if they had enforced the follow-on! England would have batted and come with a nice response in their 2nd inning. And since they had more to lose, and absolutely needed to even the series, they would have setup up an interesting Indian 2nd inning – evenly poised, a fitting last bout.

Ah! That would have been quite a match ….

But – time to wake up. What am I thinking! Knowing India, they would have collapsed and lost. I would then be complaining – Why the needless risk? They had the series bagged – they should have forced the @#$% draw! Morons!

It is indeed nice to have your cake and eat it too …