Sunday, August 21, 2005

Soccer Post
Felt inspired to write about it, due to our inter-hostel soccer tournament going on, plus saw Arsenal and Chelsea slug it out, and read in the paper this morning about the strong team that Inter Milan has assembled this time to challenge for the Serie-A Scudetto(Italian League title) .

It is my favourite sport, I love watching it for hours, and do not mind watching even games between Abhahani krira chakra and Brothers Union ( Bangladeshi club sides) , watched these games when I used to vacation in Calcutta, Bangladesh TV used to come, this was before the advent of Cable TV.

My support for Inter Milan also started then, this was in the period 89-91. When the talented German trio of Andreas Brehme, Lothar Matthaus and Klinsmann used to play for them. I was a big fan of the Germans since the 86 World Cup and supported them ardently in the 90 WC in Italy. I cried when they lost in 86 and I ran out of the house shouting with joy when they won in 90.
Before the tournament started I was in the midst of my summer vacation in Calcutta. Doordarshan used to show Italian League highlights weekly in the evenings around 7 or so. I remember distinctly that me and my cousin used to come back totally sweaty and tired after playing what else, but football in the nearby club ground, then after a quick bath, we were generally ravenously hungry and with our evening meal (maggi/milk and banana/ khichdi/bread omelette) we used to sit in front of the TV for that half an hour completely glued, watching those 5 min clips of all the major Serie-A matches played that week.
The Italian league at that time was no doubt the toughest league having a galaxy of stars like Maradona and Careca (Napoli), the mercurial Dutch trio Van Basten,Rijkaard and Gullit( AC Milan) , and the German trio in Inter.
My cousin was a Napoli fan due to Maradona and the Brazilian Careca, and me Inter due to the German connection. Inter was the defending champions, but that year it was Napoli who eventually triumphed due to the magic of Diego. But I had the last laugh as Germany won the World Cup befittingly by defeating Diego's Argentina.
I and my cousin used to maintain our own scrapbooks on the players. We used to cut pics from Sportstar,Sportsworld and other old mags. We used to enquire with the vendors regularly when the next issue will be coming and pester parents for money, fortunately no one else read those mags, so we were saved and could get on with cutting from day one. My cousin used to keep pics mostly of the Brazilian and Arg players, while I had Germans, plus some of the other European stars. Deliberately I didnt keep the Latin Americans as it was his domain.
We used to give them mundane monikers like ( Rock-Matthaus, One-Man Army for Enzo Scifo, Hurricane/Spitfire for Linekar, Genius- Romario etc). We also used to decorate the pages having the pictures by drawing patterns, flags,colour them etc . We used to clamour for attention by showing it to whomsoever who cared, and tried to get his/her opinion on whose scrapbook was better.
I would love to get my hand on that scrapbook now, it would surely open a floodgate of memories. That unfettered passion for the game has surely diminshed now. Also the maniacal support for Germany has gone for good.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Last Week
Had regular classes throughout the week. Attended all but one; that was early in the morning at 8am, didnt feel like listening to the droning after having slept pretty late.
Organized a quiz after long, had collected a surfeit of questions in the last few months, it was good to challenge the motley band of quizzers here with the stuff. Almost all the questions got answered, except the majority of the sports ones.
On the exercise front I resumed jogging after an extended injury induced break(my torn knee ligament) . The sheer sense of satisfaction one gets after a long run (in my case about 1.5-2 km) is uplifting, with the heart pumping away, intake of copious amount of fresh air. It brings a feeling of exhilaration. Though while running it takes a huge willpower to put one leg in front of other with the body wanting to call it off, but the mind willing it on, one of the few victories the mind has over the body. I would like to increase the score for the mind in the mind vs body game.
Finished a substantial back-log of newspapers and BusinessWorlds that had accumulated. I generally keep it in a place in the room so that the backlog is visible and I do take some action to dispose it off by reading. Rather than putting it in a neat stack out of eyesight, because that would mean it would keep on mounting.
Read a book by R.Laxman called "Distorted Mirror", light reading. Currently leafing through PowerShift by Toffler, he has a gripping style and grabs you by the eyeballs. I hope the pace continues throughout the book.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Langer vs Sachin
This post has nothing to do with cricket directly. The title is just to show the relative luck or bad-luck of the two batsmen. Today I had a Langer-esque day. Got answer sheets of a mid-term paper. Was expecting average marks around 60% or so. Got 90%!! . The exam had gone in the Langer fashion, lots of nicks given , trapped plumb and good balls just missing the edges , but the fielding side dropped a few catches and the umpires were lenient. In this case both these entities being the professor. And I managed to get a winning score.

On other days/exams I am like Sachin, victim of a harsh decision for a minor fault, like missing one step of the question, or getting an initial calculation wrong, or an ambiguously worded sentence, thus messing up the rest of the question, with the professor coming down harshly on me . The frustration of knowing what could have been, when I drag myself back to the dressing room (hostel room) .

Only difference with cricket is that the decision is not instantaneous (though one cannot categorize Bucknor's decisions as instantaneous also) , one still has hope even after committing big blunders that somehow the professor will overlook the mistake or give some "grace" marks.

Unlike Gilchrist I am not a walker i.e. would not go to the professor to tell him that he gave me more than I deserved or even for a scoring error on the higher side( hmm.. Has not occurred yet I guess, but most probably I will stay put and thank the patron saint of exams) .
After all have you ever heard of a batsman who got out on 100 and went to the scorer and told him, that look buddy you put an extra tally-mark in my score when I was on 42, or go to the umpire and tell him look the previous couple of runs I ran was 'one short'.

Like Tendulkar I am not a dissenter. I will not fight for those extra half-mark, or try to convince the prof that it is just a minor mistake, and the penalty is too harsh. I just take it on the chin, and start preparing for the next innings.

Also similar to cricket , every innings/exams starts on zero, you have to take fresh guard and not rely on past laurels or dwell on past failures.

As the experts of the game say that these good/bad decisions even themselves out. I also believe in that mostly , but what I feel the important ones are still skewed. Tendulkar has also been reprieved in a lot of occasions, but as far as I know they never helped India much or were not in crucial matches. On the other side he was plain unlucky in a few big ones, like in Sharjah where Javed Akhtar gave a howler; umpteen decisions in Australia, when he was the Captain which really demoralized him and the team. And the sheer bad luck in Chennai test against the Pakis in 01, when his back spasms started.

On the other hand Langer always came out with a providential double century whenever his position in the team was under threat.
Give me Langer any day.