Thursday, September 22, 2005


Watched Nagesh Kukonoors latest movie Iqbal over the weekend. The beginning was great, the next one third was passable and the ending a bit too sensational.

Starting off with a movie celebrating Indias win in what looked to to be the 1985 world series match, at the end of which Iqbal is born, to the way he names all his buffaloes after the bowlers of the Indian team since he rightly feels that they are never given their due, the movies holds you in rapt attention. His own private 22 yards, the way he closes his eyes and can hear the applause of a crowd cheering him on, the longing glance when he sees the boys at the academy are excellently done. His sister also gives a great performance, introducing him to the academys coach, who later fires him since Iqbal gets provoked once and does what most pace bowlers do.

But the best performance comes from his next coach Naseeruddin Shah. He delivered a superlative performance in "Teen Deewarien", his dialogue where he says that its more enjoyable if one looks at life like a game of chess in response to Juhi Chawlas question about life not being a series of games was excellent. In this movie he plays a player who was not given his due in his playing days and is perenially drunk, till Iqbals sheer persistence makes him coach the raw Iqbal and turn him into more of a finished product. Again Kukonoors class is evident when the Ranji Trophy selections go on and the selector tells Shah "Sir, main aap ka fan tha"...

But of course the best one is "For all the people jo mera bhala chahte hain..I have one advice for them...GO TO HELL"

The ending though seems a bit unbelieveable but then who cares, in the age of item numbers and songs in Swiss locations with a 100 bandis around a top less hero this movies comes as a whiff of fresh air.

All in all a very well made movie. (Though what made it even more nostalgic for me apart from the private pitch, the closing eyes and able to hear the applause of the crowd was the fact that I learnt most of my cricket right at the stadium where the Ranji match at the end of the movie is shown.)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Beginning of the End

If the Ashes are finally won by England, most cricket fans would start wondering whether this is the beginning of the end ?

But people who have been following cricket would have seen the signs earlier. The 2003-04 series against India was one such series. Both McGrath and Warne were out due to inujuries and a ban. And the bench strength was simply not upto the mark. Gillespie bowled with a lot of fire and spirit in that series but could not make an impression beyond getting Akash Chopra out and a highly debatable decision against Sachin(I personally agree with the umpire, when batsmen dont play shots they dont deserve any benefits).

Brad Williams, Nathan Bracken were decent bowlers who could bowl well if the pitch had something in it for them. Bichel was at the end of his career. In both Adelaide and Sydney the former the best batting track in Australia and the latter the spinning track there they suffered. McGill though he took wickets gave away far too many runs. He would feed off the pressure created by the other bowlers to bowl well which was simply no longer happening.

And then the tours in Sri Lanka and India were won by some excellent batting by Martyn and great bowling by Warne and McGrath. They also found batsmen of class in Katich and Clarke who are fitting replacements to the Waugh brothers. The former gritty like Steve and Clarke the flamboyant, free flowing batsman and a good player of spin to boot.

But they still have many problems as far as the bowling is concerned. Brad Williams is pushing 30, Tait is still a very raw quantity, Kasprowicz and Gillespie are old shadows of what they used to be. And theres still no replacement for Warne, someone who can bowl a tight line and take wickets as well. Lee seems to be the only one who poses a challenege, but he leaks too many runs and is not too good while bowling on flat pitches. Hauritz is nowhere near being international class, and Hogg is a good option but again he is on the wrong side of 30 as well.

The Aussie selectors too seem to have become softer. Hayden would not have played after the 3 matches on the tour. Gillespie would have been dropped but they tried to stick to something that would work but was sadly past its expiry date.

Right now the Aussies have enough batsmen to replace the existing lot in case they decide to drop someone, but the worrying thing is that they dont have any bowlers. And its the bowlers who win you test matches while the batsmen can only set it up.

Where Australian cricket goes from now will largely depend on the manner in which people like McGrath and Warne are phased out of the team giving them enough time to train the tyros the nuances of the dark arts of swing and seam, plus all the treacherous tricks of spin bowling.