Dear Know it All – Being on the wrong side of offside

Welcome to yet another edition of ‘Dear Know it All'(or DKIA as my millions of readers like to call it). I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to my millions of readers(have I mentioned them before?) for the slight delay(six months) in getting this edition out. So hold on, sit tight, and say goodbye to those pseudo-know-it-all hacks that you may have turned to in the interim.

Our first question comes from a cricket fan who finds himself lost in the football fever that has gripped the nation. Very current-affairs and all:

Dear Know-it-all,

I am an honest, god-fearing, hard-working and simple cricket fan. My life was going absolutely brilliantly – I was the life of every party with my abundant knowledge of cricket trivia. People were always in awe when I rattled off scintillating facts like the number of times Sachin Tendulkar has been out on 17, while playing with his collar up, in the second innings of a match, which started on the third Monday of a month. But off-late, things have changed. People don’t seem to be interested in listening to my detailed analysis of Sachin and Dhoni’s favourite nursery rhymes, and how they’ve applied the learnings from them to improve their cover-drives. All they want to talk about is football and some guy with cleanliness issues(messy, I believe he’s called) and Ronaldo(who seems to have made a comeback after fixing his tooth and having grown some hair – people have conveniently forgotten that Sehwag and Bhogle were the pioneers in that field). I decided to watch a game or two but I was extremely disappointed by what I saw. How can I ever get behind a game where mastery over off-side play is considered to be a bad thing? I am losing friends at a faster speed than Ravi Shastri’s tracer bullet and I’m very unhappy. Please help.

– feels like the perpetual thirdman in this cricket match called life

Dear feels like the perpetual thirdman etc. etc.,

This is an extremely serious epidemic that has plagued the cricket-buffs in the country. The ICC has sponsored a lot of research programs to find a permanent cure, but they’re no closer to one yet. One home-grown solution that seems to have worked in alleviating the associated stress for some people is to lock oneself inside a room for a month and watch that channel which shows Sachin making his Sharjah century, all day long. Chanting ‘Whadddaaplaaayaa’ in Tony Greig’s voice seems to bring relief too.

If you absolutely must go out and mingle with the football fanatics in this period, it is advisable to take proper precautions which include memorizing a few phrases:

‘Cricket has been become so commercial! Everything’s fixed!. That’s why I switched to watching a proper sport like football when I was 4.”

“Baichung Bhutia is not the only good player that India has produced, okay? There’s also that guy. You know who I’m talking about!”

“Brazil are favourites. But I wouldn’t discount Argentina,  Germany, Italy, Uruguay, Cameroon, Ghana(just list the names of all the teams that are still in the running). This world cup has been so unpredictable!”.

If all else fails just scream the following every couple of minutes:

Is the referee blind??! That was clearly not off-side!”

And now for the most important tip of all – while bluffing your way through these conversations, it’s very important to remember that Manchester United is not playing in the World Cup. Many a reputation has been sunk that way.

You’re welcome.


Twenty20 Wins!

There you have it, the perfect cricket final that anyone (spectators, sponsors, the BCCI, Lalit Modi et al) could have asked for. And what a deserving victory it was! The Royals, the team that was written off by everyone before the tounament even began, sneaked the cup on the final delivery.

How did a seemingly ordinary team (on paper) pull it off, and so comprehensively at that? Was it Warne’s inspirational captaincy that did it? Was it the superb allround performances by Watson, Pathan and Tanvir (to name a few) that tilted the scale in their favour? Was it the fact that the youngsters of the team lived up to the confidence that was shown in them? Was it because Rajasthan had stumbled upon the perfect Twenty20 team combination? Were their cheerleader just better at their job than the others? Maybe it was all that, and a bit of luck on the way, that was the secret of their success.

The tournament helped to unearth some great new talent for the Indians and surprisingly, for the Australians too (remember Shaun Marsh?). It also succeeded in doing something unheard of in Indian cricket – it made domestic cricket profitable. The transfers/purchase of players will add an interesting dimension to the game. Although they could have come up with better couloured caps for the best. I mean, purple and orange? Really?

Now for the obvious question, what does this mean for the 50 overs game? It’s going to be very difficult to sit through 50 ‘slow’ overs after that! Maybe it’s time for Twenty20 to take its place. The fifty over game was created in seventies to make the game more ‘fun’, and it was instantly successful. For more than 38 years, the fifty over format has enthralled the cricket fans. But then along came some wiseguy who noted that nothing interesting really happened between the 15th and 40th overs. Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking about you! So maybe its time we just did away with those overs and embraced Twenty20 cricket as its successor. I for one see no point in there being two different versions of the smaller format, specially when one of them is so overwhelmingly more exciting than the other. What do you think?