world cup 2011

Waterboy becomes Superman and a video tribute to the Champions

No, Adam Sandler is not the new ‘Man of Steel’; though I wouldn’t rule out the chances of seeing him wear his underwear over his pants anytime soon. Anyway, I digress.

A couple of days back, I was watching highlights of the India-Australia Quarterfinal game (coz thats what I do when I’m bored), and was marveling at how Yuvraj transformed himself into India’s MVP in this tournament; Since I had not written a serious article in a while, I thought I will write something about him.

So, please do take a look at Sportskeeda or FreehitCricket and let me know what you think.

Apart from that, I was forwarded this video tribute  by a friend on Facebook. If you’re an Indian, you will get goosebumps by the end of this video.


Letter from Gary Kirsten

(I received this in the mail today, as I had subscribed to Gary’s website. Contact him and let him know your feelings about his contribution to Indian cricket!)

Dear Benny

It has been a few days now since Team India lifted the ICC World Cup in a magnificent match with Sri Lanka.

I’m very grateful to have played a part in this victory which means so much to all of India. The past three years have been a privilege for me as I have learned about India and got to know not only the talented cricketers but also the many, many wonderful people I have met over this time.

All credit to the Indian team as they are the ones who did all the hard work and performed so brilliantly under pressure which was at times extreme. As a coaching staff, our role was to create a positive environment in which they could do their work. We have been fortunate that everything turned out as it did on the night.

Every single member of Team India did their part in achieving this victory. The side has now shown how successful they can be when pulling together as a team.

Thank you to the BCCI for inviting me to India and to the rest of the ‘team’ that have supported me since I came here in 2008. Particularly my fellow South Africans, Paddy Upton who has been with me from the beginning and Eric Simons who joined us more recently. There are many, many more people who while I cannot thank them individually, I am appreciative of the role they played in this victory.

Most important though is my family, who have played an incredibly supportive role which has allowed me to do this work. In the short term my priority is to spend meaningful time with my wife Debbie and our boys. We need quality time together as it has been difficult for them with me being away from home as much as I have over the past years.

My academy is very important to me. I’ve been fortunate in receiving some contributions which have allowed the facilities in Constantia Cape Town to be upgraded. My long term plan is for the academy to be my base and I have significant plans for how it can grow and flourish. At this stage I cannot make a firm commitment about when the academy will again be offering coaching services.
I would like to encourage you to be in contact using the academy website should you be interested in being assessed through our video analysis program, attending a course or offering sponsorship for the academy. I will keep you informed of progress once I have your details.

We also have a facebook page for the academy. I’d love to have you join our community.

All the very best

Gary Kirsten

A Date with Destiny at Mumbai – India are World Champions

Many years ago, a friend asked me why I spent so much time obsessing over a game which did not directly benefit me. To use his phrase, it did not ‘put food on the table’. In fact, it affected my studies, tested relationships with close ones and on a broader spectrum, decreased an entire nation’s productivity. This game had the ability to influence the mood of a country and yet, at the end of the day, apart from benefiting those involved in the game directly, it would not change the common man’s status for better or worse. So, why then care so much about this sport, or any sport for that matter?

April 2, 2011.

These are the moments why they matter….why we care….why entire nations can be lifted by sporting deeds performed by a few capable individuals. These are the moments why you can set your problems aside for a while and immerse yourself in a pastime which can give you as much joy, as it can give you heartbreak. These are the moments why sports exist.

The winning moment..

The men who won us the World Cup...

19 years...worth the wait...


The man behind the scenes..

The future...

The man who made it all possible...


Appreciation for an outgoing legend....

History making 15

A man who deserved to be in a World Cup winning team..

This is how much it matters to people on the street.. the streets of Delhi..


..and in Kolkata


Check out the final unforgettable moments…

So, there it is….moments to cherish for the Indians who were born after 1983 and never experienced the joy of winning the World Cup. For once, TV channels will stop showing clips of Amarnath’s last wicket in the 1983 final and replace it with Dhoni’s winning shot!

Once again, congratulations to Team India for a performance worthy of champions through the last few weeks; and to Sri Lanka and their magnificent cricketers for providing a tough fight. Not to forget – Ganguly, Kumble, Dravid, John Wright – who kickstarted the revival, and to Kirsten, Simons, Upton and the rest of the support staff for ensuring everything worked smoothly in the background.

Let the party continue!

Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. —Muhammad Ali

People don’t play sports because its fun. Ask any athlete, most of them hate it, but they couldn’t imagine their life with out it. Its part of them, the love/hate relationship. Its what they live for. They live for the practices, parties, cheers, long bus rides, invitationals, countless pairs of different types of shoes, water, Gatorade, & coaches you hate but appreciate. They live for the way it feels when they beat the other team, and knowing those two extra sprints they ran in practice were worth it. They live for the way they become a family with their team, they live for the countless songs they sing in their head while training all those hours. They live for the competition, they live for the friends, the practices, the memories, the pain, its who they are. It’s who we are. —Unknown

The Cup has come home!

All pictures are courtesy of Cricinfo.

Thanking the adrenaline junkies of the 2011 World Cup

7 games. 3 tight wins (including one against South Africa). 3 defeats (including two to Ireland and Bangladesh). 1 tie (against India, chasing 338).

Suffice to say that they eventually had to run out of whatever they were smoking.

Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand may still have dreams of lifting the World Cup, but the most exciting team of the competition was definitely the English team. Despite surmounting injuries, withdrawals and implosions, they scraped through to the quarterfinals, where they eventually ran out of steam. While Strauss and Flower look ahead to ways they can turn things around in the shorter format of the game, I would just like to look back and thank them for the memories of:

....a sign of things to come, in the game against the Dutch

...arguably the most thrilling match in World Cup history

...being at the receiving end of the most sensational upset in World Cup history

...a fight-to-the-death encounter against the South Africans Bangladesh cruel hopes of making it to the knockouts

...a come from behind win against the original Collapso-masters

…and thats about it. I have blocked the quarterfinal game from my memory.

So, thank you England, for making this the most exciting World Cup in a long while, and also for making the case for inclusion of Associate teams in future World Cups. Cheers!

That was utterly disappointing...anyway, when is the next Ashes??


The Ahmedabad Redemption for Ponting and Yuvraj

As Yuvraj crashed the fourth ball of the 48th over to the boundary and sank to his knees in wild jubilation, 8 years of heartbreak and disappointment over the missed opportunity in the 2003 World Cup final came crashing down. For the millions of people whose dreams were crushed that day, the exit of Australia from the World Cup despite Ponting’s century would have been sweet revenge. It was not exactly a thriller to match the England-India game at Bangalore, but it had its shares of nail biting moments, thanks to some trademark Aussie grit and suicidal running by Gambhir; in the end, though, lack of quality spinners and disciplined fast bowlers cost the Aussies and India have set up a dream clash with Pakistan at Mohali next Wednesday.

There were a lot of key performers from both sides; Brad Haddin was the first to up the ante, while David Hussey gave the finishing touches in the Aussie innings. As for India, Zaheer Khan was at his usual best, giving his side timely breakthroughs. Ashwin took perhaps the most important wicket of all, when he castled Watson early, and was also surprisingly sharp on the field. Tendulkar was all class and Gambhir was steady throughout his innings except for the final moments extending to his dismissal. Raina’s selection ahead of Pathan proved to be a master stroke, as he repayed the faith in him, by hastening the Indian victory. Ultimately though, this game was about two men, who entered the tournament in desperate search of redemption and found it in the quarterfinal; albeit, with differing emotions at the end of the day.

Ricky Ponting is a tough nut. He has always been, and he will continue to be till the day he retires. He has had a rough couple of years, with poor form coinciding with a downward curve in the team’s fortunes. He entered the World Cup on the back of conceding the Ashes at home, and questions swirling around a possible retirement. No sooner had the Cup began, he got into the controversy over a damaged TV set after a dismissal against Zimbabwe, fell to old failings against Canada, displayed a shabby reaction after a misunderstanding with Steven Smith over a catch, and even managed to find himself in the middle of the eternal ‘walking’ debate. All this while rubbishing retirement talk every other day. A lesser man would have thrown his hands up in exasperation and grumbled over the injustice of it all. Instead, he kept stressing that a good innings was around the corner, and eventually knuckled down in the first knockout game of the World Cup for Australia and produced an innings of restraint and skill, which would have been enough on most days, if it was not for the lack of contributions from his team mates. Ponting might yet play for a while longer, and his innings showed that while he may not be the master of old, he still has the fire and hunger to go out on his own terms. A true champion deserves nothing less.


Which brings us to the biggest individual success story of the 2011 World Cup. A man who has been pilloried for the last few years over his weight, lack of fitness, attitude issues, and most importantly, poor form. Dropped from the Test team and temporarily removed from the ODI team, Yuvraj faced a crisis of confidence from where only he could redeem himself. After making an equally baffling return to the ODI side, he didn’t show any signs of what was to come till the tournament began. At the outset of the Cup, he was identified as the primary 5th bowler, even as there were grumblings over whether he even merited a place in the playing XI. After a silent game against the Bangladesh, he warmed up with a now forgotten 50 in the game against England. Then, he got into his stride, with both bat and ball against the lesser teams in the group. This was sandwiched by a failure in the game against South Africa, which raised murmurs that he could only raise his game against weaker opponents. That is what makes his performance against Australia that much more creditable. With the ball, he never really let the batsmen get away picking up the wickets of Haddin and Clarke in the process; but his defining moment came with the bat. He walked into a relative position of strength at 143/3 in the 29th over and saw it stumble to 187/5 after nine overs. With a batsman who was short on practice and confidence for company, he was tasked with shepherding his side to victory and a semifinal clash with their neighbors. The pressure was immense and the possibility of another choke very realistic; but this version of Yuvraj has a certain kind of steel, which has imbued all that the world can throw at him, and transforms him into some sort of venged warrior. He responded in thrilling fashion taking boundaries of Tait and Lee and inspiring Raina to play a blinder of his own. When he hit the winning runs, he let out a roar which was as much a release of all the years of pent up frustration as it was for the cherished victory over a mortal opposition. Redemption is rarely sweeter.

So, hats off to the two champions who performed in the backdrop of another thrilling encounter between these two sides. Their paths may diverge from this point on, but for a few hours on an Ahmedabad evening, it was their day (and night)!


Two ridiculous reasons why England will win this World Cup

In the 2009 Ashes, Kevin Pietersen played the first two matches before getting ruled out of the remainder of the series due to an Achilles tendon injury. Three games later:

The following year, Stuart Broad returned home after playing the first two matches in the Ashes, due to a torn abdominal muscle. Guess what?

I rest my idiotic case.

England is the new Pakistan and South Africa are still South Africa

Move over Pakistan. Take a hike, India. There is a new ‘mercurial’ team in town. In their last three games, they have tied, lost and won matches in thrilling fashion. They managed to lose to an associate nation despite scoring 327, and against a tournament favorite, they won despite scoring 171. Their ground fielding and catching in this tournament belong to the blooper reels, while their batting revolves around just four batsmen. Their team consists of players who would make a traditional Pakistan team proud – a flashy strokemaker prone to implosion at the sight of a left arm spinner, a stolid batsman who at one down is the most consistent batsman in the line up, and a spinner who has to score runs lower down the order so that he may some runs to bowl with!

Single handedly, they have brought the World Cup alive and made Group B the hottest ticket in town, thereby making matches in Group A bland by comparison (It doesn’t help that Pakistan has become weirdly consistent and shorn of drama, while Australia seem to have retained a bit of their old clinical efficiency). While the ICC and rest of the cricket world have been busy breaking their heads over the 10 team World Cup planned from 2015, the English cricket team has gone to ‘bat’ for the cause of the Associate nations, by narrowly avoiding a loss to Netherlands and losing in thrilling fashion to Ireland.

They have also quietened debates over the merits of 50 over cricket, and shown that as long as you have brilliance balanced with mediocrity in the same team, there will be no lack of excitement in the games your team plays. England might not win the World Cup, but there is no doubt now as to which team you should follow for an exciting game of cricket!

As for South Africa – just when I was beginning to think that they were the only team capable of winning this World Cup, they ch****.

A message to Botha, Duminy, de Villiers – who all, over the course of the last few weeks had gone out of their way to stress that this team was different from previous World Cup squads – “Nice try, but you have fooled no one. The tag will remain with you till you win the World Cup. So, might as well embrace the ‘C’ word and get your thought process straight. Remember – after denial, comes acceptance!”

India vs England – Images of an Epic encounter

A result the game deserved!

100 overs. 676 runs. 18 wickets. 2 brilliant centuries. 1 five-wicket haul. 4th tie in World Cup history and the 3rd involving India. These are all statistics which will go down in the record books, but they will never be able to convey the intense drama which began with the first ball edge from Sehwag’s blade and ended with a frantical single by Swann and Shahzad off the last ball of the match. In between these two balls, an epic tussle between two top teams took place – both teams trading punches throughout the game, Tendulkar’s masterclass overshadowed by Strauss’ captain’s knock, Bresnan’s brilliant death over bowling matched by Zaheer’s devastating powerplay spell, England’s lower order hitting sixes on demand while the Indian fielding was uncharacteristically sharp in the dying stages of the game. Already, many are calling it as one of the finest ODIs in history, let alone World Cup history. Enough match reports and analysis will be written about in the next couple of days. So I will just stick to images from the classic, which was the perfect advertisement for One Day International cricket. Enjoy!

'The last World Cup match held in Bangalore was a classic between India and Pakistan. Wonder how today is gonna be'

'Hey Stumpy, should I choose to bat or to bowl?'

'Alright..Lets get the party started!'

'47th century. 2nd against England in 9 years...wait..what??'

'This is Jimmy's first wicket in India since 2006; Looks like he is done for the rest of the World Cup, then'


'Sorry have to wait a bit longer to break into the team, now'

'I hope you picked me in your fantasy XI, Swanny!'

'You gotta be kidding me, couldn't even wait for Yuvi to come on, could you?''

'Haha...they said that I shouldn't figure in the World Cup..2 matches in, I'm the leading run scorer..who's the muppet now?'

'This is T for terrible...and you wonder why we aren't big fans of the UDRS'

'Alright, lets take the powerplay..whats the worst that could happen, right?'

'I'm back!!!'

'Ah..drat..I should have trusted my patented nudges instead'

'This ain't over till I say it is'

'Watch his hands, Aj...He might just slap you!'

'Don't look now...Sehwag doesn't look pleased!'

Ireland will be the next opponent for both teams; England play them on the 2nd, while India take them on in a week’s time. Still, questions remain over both team’s bowling departments. How soon they can remedy that, will determine how far they will progress in the tournament.




Can the Irish make their own luck?

The World Cup is not even a week old, but the grumblings about bloated schedules and minnows devaluing the tournament are in full force. To an extent, they are fair given the performance of Kenya, Canada and Zimbabwe. So far, only the Dutch have done a terrific job of providing a contest; but I will reserve my judgment till Ireland get their campaign going.

If there is one ‘minnow’ team capable of putting up a contest in every game, it is Ireland. They made their World Cup debut in 2007 and had a dream run, starting off with a tie against Zimbabwe and in the biggest upset in World Cup history – knocked out Pakistan through a thrilling 3 wicket win.

While the subcontinent heavyweights returned home in shame, a bunch of amateur cricketers (who had the least experience in the tournament but made up for it with sheer joy and love of the game), entered the Super 8s, to face the big boys. Inevitably, they faced tougher games and bowed out before the knock-out stage; but not before defeating another Test playing nation in the form of Bangladesh. They returned home, much later than they would have imagined, but with a story to tell their grandkids in the future.

Four years on, lots has changed. The profile of cricket has changed in Ireland. All except two are professional cricketers, in the squad. Now, they come with expectations to not just compete, but to claim at least one big scalp. Considering that they have West Indies and Bangladesh in their group, it is not an unrealistic proposition.

Their recent form may have been patchy, but there is no doubt that in the likes of Botha, Dockrell, Johnston, Joyce, the O’Brien brothers, Porterfield and Rankin – they have the players to rise up to the occasion, and join the Dutch in giving the ICC something to think about.

To know more about Team Ireland, click here.