SPORTS

EU(RO) EXIT AND FALL OUT

Posted on June 28, 2016. Filed under: FOOTBALL, EURO 2016, SPORTS, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

First it was the exit from the EU (European Union) called ‘BREXIT’ and then it was the exit from EURO 2016 that brought England into focus, albeit, one on the front page and the other on the last page.But in both the cases, the failures resulted in some casualties.

As a student of Economics, it always is interesting for me to read about how things like free trade areas, economic unions etc. work in practice.That for me, was the reason why I felt connected with the referendum that resulted in the people of Britain deciding to leave the European Union. The Prime Minister of England, David Cameron, predictably announced his intention of leaving office after the ‘leave’ vote. It always has been a contentious issue in England.

The second exit of England relates to the ouster of football team from the EURO 2016 held in France. The opening minutes saw Wayne Rooney giving his team the lead from a penalty. But as is the case, the English players only flattered to deceive and at the end, Iceland were the winning team. As the match went on, the English players simply looked like going through the motions and waited for the final whistle. The manager of the English team, Hodgson made public his decision to quit his post almost immediately.

England has never won any major international football competition since the win at home in 1966 edition of the World Cup. The Germans still are not happy with one particular incident from that finals even after all these years. The best performance in the EURO is a last four finish in the 1996 edition of the tournament when it was hosted by England.The loss to Iceland is surprising to say the least.It is a surprise since the English Premier League produces quality football, of course, with a great deal of help from ‘foreigners’.

I am now interested in finding out the impact of BREXIT on English football in the years to come. The Bosman ruling allowed many players ‘free transfers’ and many players from other European countries could ply trade in England and also in other EU football leagues. With the leave vote, it remains to be seen as to how the English FA decides to tackle the new problem. The earlier restrictions relating to the number of foreigners at any time on the ground may create difficulties for the football bosses of England. At the same time, the English league may be left behind in terms of quality.

Experts are still wondering over the economic impact of BREXIT. The exit of Britain from the EU was not entirely unexpected as also the progress of England in EURO 2016.I am thinking about the effect on English football.

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ON TECHNIQUES

Posted on April 21, 2013. Filed under: CRICKET, IPL, SEHWAG, SPORTS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

 

Oxforddictionaries.com provides the following meanings for the term technique:

1.skill or ability in a particular field

2.a skilful or efficient way of doing or achieving something

Merrian-Webster.com also has a similar offering to make when technique is defined as a method of accomplishing a desired aim.

What is my aim of talking about technique?

It has to do something with athletes and sportspersons in general and Virendra Sehwag in particular.

Sehwag has been one of my most favourite of cricket players and when he fails to perform as is the case now, it is painful to say the least for me and many of his fans.

A student of mine, who is now a colleague, blamed the lack of technique as the reason for the repeated failures of Sehwag that has led to the omission of the batsman from the Indian team. Even in the world of IPL where Sehwag was expected to score heavily, things have been extremely disappointing.

There are instances when commentators use the phrases like ‘straight out of the copybook’ or ‘right out of the coaching manual’ while describing a shot. I wonder which or whose manual or the copybook is to be used as a reference while explaining a particular shot played by a particular player. This is because each player has his or her own technique that is as individual as the player in question. This is very much a dichotomy since every player is urged to play according to his or her natural talents (meaning individual technique), yet at the same time, we spend too much time thinking and talking about some manual or copybook.

Every player has a particular way of dealing with a specific ball or a pitch and it is very difficult to have a similar solution for all. The physical characteristics of the individual player do matter a lot when playing a shot. There can be only one Brian Lara and no matter how hard one desires to imitate his style, the lefthander will be considered unique.Ravindra Pushpakumara of Sri Lanka had a bowling action very close to that of Waqar Younis of Pakistan but the Sri Lankan could not even once replicate the success of the Pakistan paceman. A certain Vivian Richards had a style and technique of his own and no other batsman till date has shown that kind of an ability that would make bowlers shiver in their pants.

Sunil Gavaskar was extremely successful playing against some of the greatest fast bowlers that have graced the game. He did that without the use of the helmet and that too on wickets that were really fast and bouncy all over the world. At the same time, Gavaskar was equally adept against the spinners as his last innings of 96 versus Pakistan at Bangalore would testify. But there were some question marks about his record against spinners like Derek Underwood. The same is the case with Sachin Tendulkar when it comes to the handling of left-arm spinners. In his last tour down under, Rahul Dravid the technician was repeatedly out bowled. Do these o-called failings cast a question mark over the technique of these masters?

In tennis, the top players have their own style or techniques. Nadal is different from Djokovic who is completely different from Federer when it comes to technique. But all of them are successful. There was a time when the two-handed backhand shot was out of fashion in the men’s game but Djokovic has made it something of his signature shot. Those pundits or the so-called experts who earlier had some theories about why the two-handed backhand would not work are having a quiet time eating the humble pie.

Usain Bolt was deemed too tall for a sprinter and he has the physique of a marathon man from Africa but Bolt is the fastest man in the world for sometime now.

There have many singers who made the initial mark by imitating or covering the songs of the inimitable Kishore Kumar but later they tried to shed this image and started to sing in their own way. One can sing like a Kishore Kumar but one cannot become a Kishore Kumar.

It is not the technique or the lack of it that is responsible for the poor showing of Sehwag. The opposing teams and their bowlers have become smarter and Sehwag has failed to recognize this and reinvent his game. The failure is more due to the lack of confidence in part and in part due to the arrogance. Given the current state, it is very difficult to anticipate a successful comeback by Sehwag into the Indian team but that does not in any way diminish his contribution to the success of the Indian cricket in the not too distant past.

It is not mathematics where there is a unique solution for a specific problem. It is a sport where individual ability and creativity are involved and where a critical decision is to be made when not even a few seconds are available.Does anyone bother about the techniques of masters like Leonardo DaVinci or Michelangelo? Let us not bother about the technical failings of Sehwag. Sit back and recollect those innings where Sehwag conjured some magic with the same technique in the past.

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A POINT TO PROVE?

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, IPL, IPL 2010, IPL3, SPORTS | Tags: , , , , , |

By his standards, Sachin Tendulkar did not have a good time so far in the IPL.But in the third edition, the great master seems to be determined in putting up a good show.

Sachin is all guns blazing and the latest team to fall prey to his bat is the one captained by Saurav Ganguly.The pitch seemed a bit tricky when the Knight Riders were batting but Sachin put all that to rest with another of his grand exhibition of stroke play.It was in the match against the Anil Kumble led Royal Challengers that Sachin paid dearly for his experiment of playing inside the line of the ball to the leg side.

The rich vein of form continues and recently a show on television wanted to know the reasons why Sachin is not willing to play T20 for the country.Let Sachin enjoy doing the thing that he loves the most-scoring runs for the team that he plays for.

Looks like Sachin wants to prove a point about playing in the IPL.

That is not good news for either the rival teams nor their bowlers.

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SUMMER OF 1985

Posted on March 10, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, INDIA, SPORTS |

 

I could only listen and read about the win of India in the 1983 Prudential World Cup.I was very young and it was my father who told endless times the story of the famous win to me and my younger siblings.

By the time the 1985 Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket took place in Australia, I started to play cricket. With no television, the print media and the radio were the only sources of information.

But there was a problem. The event was to be followed by 10th class examinations that in many ways are life defining for most of us, even now. My mother would not let me have the radio near me and so while she was busy with her school or household chores, I would get the scores from my younger brothers.

The win made me take to cricket after the examinations.It is true that I could not make much of an impact on the cricket field as well on the result sheets of later examinations, but cricket has remained with me since that eventful day of 1985.

Months after the famous win in Australia the son of a successful businessman of my town started to make money by showing the video footage of the finals between India and Pakistan.It was not that difficult to ask for money from father much to the chagrin of my mother.

The win in 1983 was considered a fluke but the win in 1985 suddenly made India a team to reckon with in the future.It is this win that heralded many innovations. The carefree batting of Srikkanth at the top and the inclusion of two spinners in the team coupled with a large number of players who could bowl and also bat made the difference to the way one dayers have been played since. Also, let us not forget the fielding display put on by the Indians.

Two decades after the win in Australia, I could watch the recordings on the television and whenever I watch the same, I am taken back in time to the good old days.

In many ways, 1985 shall remain the most important year in my life. It was the year I stepped into the college minus the uniform and the opening prayer. It was also the year of the great victory for the Indian cricket team.

It was also the year when Boris Becker won the Wimbledon.

Let us all tip our hats to the winning team of 1985.

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A GOOD SERIES IN PROSPECT

Posted on March 5, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, SPORTS | Tags: , , , , , |

 

The first one dayer of the Chappell-Hadlee series played at Napier went in favour of New Zealand. With this win, the Kiwis have ended the 12 match winning streak of the Aussies. The second match at Auckland will surely see the Aussies going all out to keep their standing intact.

New Zealand always have the habit of pulling out all stops when it comes to their trans-Tasman rivals and more so in their home conditions. It is true that the Kiwis are much more of a capable team in the shorter form of the game.The New Zealand team also has the advantage of playing at home on some of the smallest and sometimes very funny shaped cricket grounds.It is here that people like Brendon McCullum can make the ball sail over the ropes even with mishits and edges.

The Aussies will never take their opponents lightly since the last time round the Kiwis managed a 3-0 whitewash over their much celebrated opponents. But this time things are going to be tough for the Blackcaps since their skipper Daniel Vettori is doubtful for the second match and their influential allrounder Jacob Oram is out of the whole series.Oram has the ability to clear the longest boundaries and also bowl a rather heavy ball. Vettori is a world-class albeit an understated spinner who often does well against the Aussies.Also, the tactical acumen of Vettori is also invaluable.

In the first match, Scott Styris played a winning knock down the order. It is interesting to note here that Styris came into the team only at the last instance following the fitness problems of Vettori.He will want to do well in the remainder of the series.Ross Taylor has to continue his good touch with the bat.

The Aussies have to post a really big total and their bowlers need to keep the opposition batsmen in check. Ricky Ponting needs to come up with a brutal and a big innings to take his team to the shores of safety.

It is time the Aussies learnt to put their emotions under control. The sight of Mitchell Johnson having a verbal go at Styris was something unbecoming of a champion team.I wonder if the match referee would have stuck to the 60 percent fine if an Indian player were in place of Johnson!

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THE QUESTION REMAINS THE SAME

Posted on March 4, 2010. Filed under: HOCKEY, INDIA, SPORTS |

Another loss by the margin of 5-2 and this loss to Spain puts to rest all the speculation about India’s great hockey revival story. There is no way India can now reach the last four with England winning its three encounters.Australia is looking pretty solid with the demolition of South Africa. Now India has to do something great to win the remaining matches, at least to provide some consolation to the followers.

If anyone thought that the loss to Australia was an aberration, team India proved them wrong with yet another display that lacked conviction. Chances were not taken and in the end, the scoreline reflected the opportunities that were squandered.

Indian teams have never been comfortable with penalty corners, but the success rate of 1 from 8 is not expected from a team that is supposedly on the path of revival.The forwards just could not push the ball into the net and the midfielders were unable to keep in possession the ball for any length of time.Time and again, the defenders were made to look very ordinary in the face of the counterattacks from the Spanish.

As in the past, the scapegoats will be found and they will be made to accept all the responsibility for the poor showing.It would not be a surprise if the absence of Shivendra is cited as the main cause of the defeats.

The proverbial question of India’s revival still remains unanswered.

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FLASH IN THE PAN OR AN ABERRATION?

Posted on March 2, 2010. Filed under: HOCKEY, SPORTS, WORLD CUP 2010 | Tags: , , , , |

It was the same old story, the same old failings and the same old result-a defeat after raising the expectations to very high levels, in fact, leaving some to dream about the glory days of long gone by decades.

The hockey team that suddenly became the focus for all the right reasons after the stunning victory over Pakistan, was stopped in its tracks by the team from down under.The stronger physique of the rival coupled with a stronger strategy was too hot to handle for team India.

This match between India and Australia grabbed the headlines in the manner that has been given to cricket matches between these two nations since 2001.This was a proud moment since hockey became as fashionable as cricket.Over the years, hockey matches between India and Australia were considered one-sided and there was very little hope for the fans.But now after the win over Pakistan, things appeared rosy, to say the least.

Team India could do no wrong in its match against Pakistan, while nothing seemed to go right in its encounter with Australia.Penalty corners, never a strong point with the Indians, proved to be very costly and decisive against Australia.Three penalty corners were squandered away and that made the difference to the final scoreline.

It is argued by some that the suspension of Shivendra for foulplay after the first match was the reason for the defeat to Australia.But the other members of team India could not raise their play seemingly exhausted after the effort against Pakistan.

The World Cup is not over by any means, but after this defeat, one is discouraged to look ahead to the rest of the matches.

It is either a case of a flash in the pan(the win over Pakistan) or just an aberration(the defeat to Australia).

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AN INTERESTING CHOICE

Posted on February 28, 2010. Filed under: CRICKET, SPORTS | Tags: , , |

Waqar Younis has accepted the offer to coach the cricket team of Pakistan.It is learnt that Younis shall be with the team till the 2011 World Cup.There was speculation in the past about this but now Younis has himself confirmed the offer from the PCB and the subsequent acceptance.

There is nothing new in a former player becoming the coach but things are extremely complicated in Pakistan. Things between Younis and his bowling partner, Wasim Akram were less than cordial and this can divide the team into two groups, each owing allegiance to a great fast bowler.Add to this is the fact that former players like Javed Miandad and Sarfraz Nawaz are always happy to give their take on Pakistan cricket.

Waqar was a great bowler but this does not guarantee his success as a coach. It is not rare to find great players not having a good time as coaches. The players might not be as talented as the coach and the coach finds it difficult to make the players lift their game.Besides, Waqar does not have any coaching experience.

Even as the contract runs through the forthcoming World Cup, Pakistan can still spring surprises and have a new coach in place of Waqar

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YEH HOCKEY MAANGE MORE!

Posted on January 24, 2010. Filed under: A K MATTOO, HOCKEY, HOCKEY INDIA, INDIA, K P S GILL, M S GILL, SPORTS, SURESH KALMADI, VIDYA STOKES | Tags: , , , , |

Damn with the game of hockey!

First the men demand money and after a strike and press conferences, and offers of help from really unexpected quarters, the light is found at the end of the tunnel and money is raised and the players are happy to take part in the conditioning camp. A K Mattoo, the standing-in chief of Hockey India puts in his papers feeling pissed off in the whole episode.

Just as everyone feels nostalgic over the record books gloating over the achievements of the Indian hockey in the past decades, the women decide to stick black tape on their arms in a sign of protest.

As usual, the women players talk of dues promised but not paid and in the light of the settlement deal reached with the men, this is perceived as a gross injustice, which is justified.

Not surprisingly, the new standing-in chief of Hockey India, Vidya Stokes, claims no knowledge of the protest of the players with a straight face. Then taking a u-turn, the players are offered Rs.50K each, which is turned down.Again, in a bizarre repeat of the earlier week, offers come in from the unexpected sources and the players are promised their dues.

This time, the former boss of Hockey India, K P S Gill did not offer his help in resolving the crisis in minutes, like the case was with the striking men. The Central Minister, M S Gill, a self appointed cleanser of Indian Hockey too seemed busy with more important things. 

But like a bolt from the blue, the women players are not satisfied.They insist on changes to be brought about in the whole system.So the impasse has not ended.The ‘top’ sports administrator in the country, Suresh Kalmadi has his hands full.

Again, as expected, the elections to elect the office bearers of Hockey India is ‘postponed’ for some unavoidable reasons(a common phrase used in India).

The game of hockey is surely helping the news channels to gain more points and making bloggers like me appear to be important.

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IS A WIN POSSIBLE?

Posted on January 21, 2010. Filed under: BANGLADESH, CRICKET, INDIA, SEHWAG, SPORTS, TEST CRICKET | Tags: , , , , |

India have managed to take 7 wickets of Bangladesh and the home team need another 200 runs to secure the first ever win against India in test matches.That is highly improbable and it is no exaggeration to say that it would be impossible. But what is interesting is that whether the Indian bowlers would be able to get the remaining 3 wickets.

In the first innings, the lower order batsmen of Bangladesh put up a brave fight and almost equaled the Indian effort when more than half of the team was back in the pavilion with few runs.

There is no better opportunity for the beleaguered Indian bowlers to get a win even when it is against Bangladesh.

Hope the standing in captain Sehwag does not regret calling Bangladesh an ordinary team before the start of the test.

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