Where did opinion go? (Cricinfo)

Published in Cricinfo Magazine, February 2010

As 2009 drew to a close, an atypical cricket-related comment emanating from unusual quarters startled and delighted us, and provided a much-needed giggle. A phlegmatic observation by Phil Stoyanoff, the curator of the McLean Park cricket ground in Napier, illustrated a quality cricket has lost in recent times. Questioned about his insistence that the pitch he had prepared for the deciding Test against Pakistan would produce a result, he said, “Yes, because both sides have such bad batsmen. That’s my honest opinion – they’re useless.”
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When trickery was afoot (Cricinfo)

Published in Cricinfo Magazine, September 2010

Most childhood myths endure for longer than they should. Some are never forgotten. So it has been with me in the matter of Bishan Singh Bedi, the Sardar of spin and the most prolific of India’s famed quartet of the sixties and seventies. Once mythical status had been bestowed on Bedi by me, mesmerised I was and remain, by the exploits and imagined possibilities of the man blessed with that poetic bowling action. It all started with a conspiratorial revelation by an uncle when I was at an age when wonder and superheroes rule, and logic and reality are alien concepts.

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Goose on the Barbie (Cricinfo)

Published in Cricinfo, July 2009

David Morgan, President of the ICC might as well have been smirking in a military jacket sporting epaulets as he leaned back in his plush chair, stroking a cat, as he unveiled his latest threats to the game of cricket last month. “We are examining whether Test match cricket can be played over four days rather than five”, he announced, following it up with “I would be very surprised if within a year you haven’t seen some significant changes in Test match cricket.” Dwindling crowds and the propensity of Test matches to end in dull draws are the instigations for this apparently. Given the tumultuous and foundation-shaking times cricket is enduring, if you were hoping for reassurance from the gentlemen who purportedly “run” our sport, you were looking for a mirage in the desert. In the deserts of Dubai, in fact.

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Oh, for one more Welshman in Cardiff… (Cricinfo)

Published in Cricinfo, July 2009

As all those rugby loving Welshmen in Cardiff last week, perplexed by the unexpected opening act of an age old tradition of the island watched their city taken over by cricket, a lad from nearby Morriston, Swansea in Wales was the one who was so poignantly missing out there on the fresh turf of Sophia Gardens. Cardiff, as a choice for the first Ashes Test of 2009 was a tough pill to swallow for the more traditional venues, especially out in Manchester, but it would have been poetic if – Freddie aside – my favourite bowler from the previous edition of the Ashes of 2005 had lined up for the national anthems on July 8th, 2009, before the horns were locked.

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The Gautam Gambit (Cricinfo)

Published in Cricinfo, June 2009

On the 20th of August 1969, the Beatles finished recording the song “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, marking the last time all four band members were in the same studio at the same time. Indian cricket’s “Let It Be” moment came in Nagpur on the 10th of November, 2008, the last time Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman would be on the field representing India in a Test match for the final time.

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Some ùbúntù (Cricinfo)

Published in Cricinfo, April 2009

“We are all at our best, our societies flourish most, when we co-operate in the spirit of what in our country we call ùbúntù, the essence of being human, when my humanity is caught up in your humanity. I wouldn’t know how to walk as a human being, I wouldn’t know how to speak as a human being, I wouldn’t know how to think as a human being, I wouldn’t know how to be human, unless I learnt it all from other human beings. I need other human beings in order to be human, and we say in our part of the world, in the spirit of ùbúntù, that a person is a person through other persons, that we are made for interdependence, we are made for complementarity, for I have gifts that you don’t have and you have gifts that I don’t have.

You could almost see God saying “Voilà”, rubbing his hands and saying “That is precisely why I created you different, not so that you should be separated, but different to know your need for one another”.

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