Posts Tagged ‘cricketwithballs’

Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

The tale of the three Malingas

Abhishek had spotted it the day before, and we thought it’d make sense to take a walk to Cotton World, a store close to the heart of the city that was selling official cricket merchandise. A walk because the lunch at The Mango Tree, a popular Indian restaurant, took the best part of our appetite and money. But I’d still recommend it to travellers looking for ‘a meal-a-day to keep me going’ option.

Jerseys, Caps, Sri Lanka T20 WC Hosts Tees, Slinga-Malinga wigs and a host of other cricket merchandise were being sold at more than reasonable prices at Cotton World. Now before some of you guys decide to ask us to buy these when we return, I suggest you have a look at the photos we’ll be posting from the game tomorrow – will give you a fair idea on what we bought.

I decided to play neutral and opted for one of the stereotypical World Cup T20 hosts tees, while Goutham decided to chance his entry in to press-boxes by purchasing a SL tee. He also had Badri for company in buying the Slinga-Malinga wigs, opting for black, and yellow wigs.

What followed was beyond hilarious – the thought of being in a foreign land drove into their minds and any boundary conditions that might have existed back home was put to dust. They decided to wear the wigs on the streets, and within minutes, were the centres of attraction, attracting amusing looks from everyone on the streets.

This tempted Abhishek to rush back to the shop to get a wig for himself, and soon enough, the three became focal points of amused looks, chuckles and waves from passers-by – including a big cheer from a school bus full of children who, for no fault of theirs, may have been under the impression that there are clones of their nation’s most colourful cricketer roaming through the streets of Colombo.

Malinga clones spotted in the streets of Colombo – Goutham, Badri and AB

A short viral clip featuring them seemed the logical way forward, but Abhishek’s fear of a slim chance of passers-by mistaking them for a bunch of madmen buried the idea of a commemorative diorama featuring the best of Sri Lanka World T20 – I promise you, the video would have passed.

The Cricket Club Café

We’d decided on setting aside a four/five hour block to visit The Cricket Club Café, at Queens Road. The minute we’d set our eyes on this while browsing through Lonely Planet a few weeks ago, we’d decided that it would be well worth watching one of the evening games here.

Abhishek had made the reservation first thing this morning, and we ensured we reached well ahead of time. What followed was, by a distance, the most enchanting, holy (if I may use this term) and wholesome cricketing tryst with history and memorabilia.

Cross-Grounds? Now where do we go next

The video-camera was immediately out and we were fortunate enough to have a volunteer, Raj, take us through the café. Raj is currently in his 4th year at The Cricket Club Café, therefore no stranger when it comes to questions regarding the café’s rich 16-year history.

The walls are adorned with miniature (and a few full size) bats with autographs of teams that have played since the 1890s. Posters, player profiles, original newspaper cuttings from the earlier part of the previous century, and scorecards, among others, also fill up the wall spaces.

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that this is a café frequently visited by the men who matter – both on and off the field. Interesting collections included the autographs of the Indian and Australian team that faced each other in 1948 – there’s even a picture of Don Bradman and Lala Amarnath. The shoe worn by former West Indian paceman Joel Garner (I could’ve sworn I’d have found it easy to fit both my legs in to one of his shoes) was at display along with a bat that commemorated Graeme Hick’s century of centuries in First Class Cricket.

Memorabilia galore – one of the many you’d come across at The Cricket Club Cafe

There’s a large room/section dedicated to Don Bradman, called the Bradman Bar, and another adjacent one dedicated to English Cricket. The bigger room, housing the greater share of the tables, is called the Long Room – borrowing the name from l’original at the Lords. Not an inch of space was spared, and for a cricket history lover, if this isn’t paradise, I wonder what would be.

As the crowds started trickling in to catch the start of the opening game of the T20 World Cup, between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, we thought it’d be a good idea to talk to the other foreign visitors from England and Australia.

The mood was certainly infectious – crucial issues regarding the size and reach of Kevin Pietersen, who was spotted on TV as part of the Star Cricket panel, drew sufficient flak in itself, with a few believing that even his presence around the T20 World Cup was a sign of fetid things to come. It is very unfortunate that the off-field events during test series against South Africa will remain an inedible stain on an otherwise outstanding test career. But to his credit, he doesn’t seem that bad on studio – another career in the making?

No one denied he was a great player; he truly is a game changer, and a top entertainer. But anyone who creates an imbalance in team morale has no place in the squad. The English fans (all wearing Sri Lanka jerseys) certainly miss him, but understand that his absence was always inevitable (it was also announced later that he wasn’t to be included in the squad touring India later this year) given that his presence had started creating a disturbing appetite for attention within the squad.

Goutham and me with British Fans at The Cricket Club Cafe

The result of speaking to fans in the café was a good one for the host country as the Lankans, by far, were the most plausible of the major candidates to lift the trophy. West Indies (not surprisingly) was a close second, with Pakistan and India being the other names murmured as front-runners.

We’d completed several rounds of starters and drinks by the time Ajantha Mendis recorded T20Is best bowling figures to wipe out the Zimbabwean batting. There was hardly any room for the main course – the tempting facet being that most of the dishes carried names associated with the sport – David Sheperd’s Pie, Gooch’s Fish ‘n Chips, Viv’s Veggie Bake, Pollard’s Paelia, Knott’s Nachos, Chanderpaul’s Cheese & Veggie Pie among others.    

The Two Chucks and the Two Ducks

As we were getting out, we were given pleasant surprise when Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber, of the Two Chucks fame (ESPNCRICINFO, stepped out of the café. Sam came over to us and asked if we’d be okay to answer a few questions that he’d like to record. We were more than happy to do it, assuming he’d return the favour shortly afterwards.

Abhishek spent some quite some time elaborating on his responses, given his plethora of knowledge on the sport. Once that was done, Goutham decided to take charge and got the camera rolling. What Jarrod and Sam initially thought as a request for a photograph, turned into an informal interview – something they were, to their credit, totally okay with.

The CouchExperts with the Two Chucks

As amateur journalists, it is always a thrilling experience to meet men who’ve cemented their places in with their pen on paper. We’ll upload the video shortly.

But overall, speaking to Jarrod and Sam summed up by far, one of our most memorable cricketing experiences. Keep watching out for this space as we head to the Premadasa today to catch a couple of games – anyone fancying the Afghans?

P.S. The full video of our (i) coverage at The Cricket Club café and (ii) short interview with Jarrod Kimber and Sam Collins will shortly appear in this space – i.e. once we are within a bandwidth field that has a speed in the range of three-digit kbps.

Goutham Chakravarthi

13 February 2011


It is almost incredible that the world of cricket media fails to see beyond what’s with the experts. Numerous debates on the future of television coverage have raged the TV and internet space newly only to see predictable conclusions in the form of pay-per-view and HD television as its future. But I cannot fathom why there isn’t enough importance given to a whole lot of discussion, analyses and literature the non-experts’ section of the cricket world has to offer.

Largely it is a pile of waste that comes out post-game on TV or in the press. Cricinfo is among the most sought after sources of information for fans who want more than what they get on TV: pods, humour, debates being most prominent among them. But even then, Cricinfo still throws a large amount of the same rubbish all other forms of media do – pre-match predictions (templated and boringly predicatble), sound bites, injury rumours and of course a whole host of ex-cricketers not worth an ounce as experts.

It is beyond doubt that some of the best cricket analyses come from bloggers. Perhaps because these are people who enjoy watching the game and in no hurry to meet a deadline. Often these articles and opinions are far more interesting as they tend to have different flavours of perspective. Largely intelligent and even successful people on various counts of life are able to relate to various events on the game that sometimes escape even seasoned experts and journalists.

It is hardly surprising that pods like Test Match Sofa or Test Match Special are a lot more enjoyable today than a group of great ex-cricketers who give you the score every second ball or call an ingenious Laxman flick with a sponsor prefix to it. May be a day is not far off when technological advancements make inroads into television coverage where a bunch of people from across the globe connect to call the action and those who prefer their version over the official version can choose to listen to it. I would any day take Andy Zaltzman cussing over a piece of action than an ex-cricket go “he’s only gonna get better with age” everytime he sees a promising youngster.

Recently, there have been stories of journalists not being too happy with cricketers’ tweeting. Some seem to think cricketers have now taken over their jobs. Some recently have found cricketers taking a dig at their writing offensive. Ryder and Swan are a lot more fun with their tweets than many of the journalists taking offense to their comments. May be, for lesser spontaneous cricketers, they can try becoming their ghost tweeters. Much of today’s cricket journalism is bland.

Today’s writing largely remains ancient as it was decades ago when newspapers recounted the day’s events when live action didn’t reach the majority and as a result the writer unfolding the sequence of events allowed the writer to paint the game to the readers. It is a largely different world today where instant tweets even as the events unfold have become the norm (not to mention cricket coverage on phones and over broadband).

May be, that is why slightly unorthodox but mighty fine observers like Andy Zaltzman are entertaining and sought after. Great captains of yore who read the game well and inform of the likelihood of events to unfold still hold fort. Still, Opinion columns are predictable and so are post-game analyses. May be, they are going the way of player interviews that are repeats of the same thing time and again. Our experts ask the same questions, the players give the same answers and the writers write the same things. No reason why the consumer to this feels cheated.

Not sure if am being callous here. But I do believe that the best coverage out there is by the fans – amateurs who do it for fun and hobby but with as much dedication and application as the pros. Talented bloggers like Arnab Ray (Great Bong), Adam Wakefield (Bleacher Report and often in the Inbox section of Cricinfo), Subash Jayaraman (Cricket Couch), John vd Westhuizen (Cricket Guru), Brendon Layton (The Straight Bat) will provide interesting views to rival the best that goes around everywhere else. Of course, cricketwithballs, boredcricketcrazyindians, thealternativecricketalmanack keep us all entertained with their brand of cricket literature. And I hope that the best our of tweeter cricketers continue to keep us all entertained with that information their boards and press don’t want them to give us.

As much as a world cup it is going to be of Bhogle, Chappell, Boycott, Roebuck, Baum, Booth and Houwing, I will keep my eyes open for the best blogs, pods and tweets.

And may be, some of you will check out this space for more.