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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stuff Over Here

If my last month's schedule was busy like Obama's, this month's is more like that of the president of Switzerland. Do they even have a president? Who knows, for all we know they may just be, you know, nobody making any trouble and generating news as interesting as drying paint. You know what I mean right? In case you don't; I'm having a quiet and quite sedated couple of weeks now. Not much work, already long weekend extended to 4 days by taking Friday off and all. Things are cool, so to speak, though not literally as it looks like this summer is going to be as hot as the last which was the hottest summer ever recorded in Japan. But then again, I'd take a hot as an oven summer day any day over shitty, gloomy and cold days of winter.

During the weekend I along with my teammates went to play our second game of cricket of the season. It was about an hour's drive away from Tokyo, actually it is in the now famous Ibaraki prefecture, a place nobody outside Japan would ever know if not for that earthquake. As is the custom with Sri Lankans we yet again got late about an hour but the opposition being Indians did help; we were quite early in their eyes. So after our good old skipper - actually he's quite younger than me - winning the toss and electing to bat (pretty much the default decision I must say) I went out there to open the batting, though of course not alone. However, as it is the custom with our team we were yet again in trouble with 4 down for 13 only few overs into the innings. Crisis alright. However I dug in with our next guy JT and started building a partnership mainly taking singles and twos. Unfortunately it was probably the hottest day of this summer so far, and I quickly realized how unlucky I was not to get out. To hell with ones and twos; running is a bitch when it drains you out like that. Anyway yours truly did not do a Mahanama but got the score up to 73 with good support from JT. But then a vicious in swinger - at about 12 noon on a hot-like-hell day - did me in and I was gone for a quick 39 off 35. Sad I couldn't stay longer but the others who batted after me too dug in, with a 60 n.o. from JT and an unprecedented double figure from Solomon, our usual last man, to get the score up to 201/9 after allocated 35 overs. Very good score but that was as good as it was going to get for us that day. Our fielding display that followed could give serious competition to eleven drunkards fielding on one leg with one hand tied to their backs. I don't think I need say more.

Secondly, I CAN'T wait for the Tri-Nations to start. Only months away from the Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand, this is the last chance for three of the biggest competitors to get a measure of their strengths and fine tune the last bits of their machinery, so to speak. Wallabies already suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of Samoa last week which is NOT what they would have wanted going into the Tri-Nations to face the mighty Blacks. Bocks may not be the number one side in the world, but you never know what they can do. And All Blacks probably has one of their greatest teams in history with a set of backs as awesome as they come. Usually Tri-Nations offer much more competitive rugby than the RWC so the coming two months will be, well, I'll have something to look forward to. Go the Blacks!

Finally, though I have rugby to look forward to there's only one game per week. And I'm in a serious slump when it comes to watching TV series as all the regulars won't start till this fall. So can somebody please suggest a couple of good ones? And no I DO NOT want to watch The Big Bang Theory or Two And a Half Men. Why is it that EVERYONE suggest those two when you ask for a TV series? Beats me.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fancy Cars. Meh

For as long as I can remember I've never really been a big fan of cars. RD will tell you that most men aren't like that, I agree as well, but then again I'm not most men. Though the title says 'meh' I don't really mean cars are such. Most of them are indeed pretty neat machines and offer you much more than their initially intended purpose of getting from A to B, A and B being two geographical locations not two girlfriends, though that is also quite possible if your car is impressive enough. They offer you one million or so options and services and some more, looks great and are fast. But it's just that they never really appealed to me much.

Of course if I were filthy rich I would not have minded having a few cars for no particular reason other than I am filthy rich, but I am not. And so, I don't really see the point of spending shitload on something that can go from 0 to 100 in 3 seconds because, well, what am I supposed to do once it goes to 100? In Sri Lanka you don't have roads where you can go at 100mph and in Japan you will get the ticket delivered to home if you go at 100mph. I'm not saying I don't want a car - in fact I do - but that's because I want to get from A to B comfortably and quickly. That's all I expect from a car, nothing more nothing less. I'm not laughing at the people who really do love their cars, the people who really do want to buy the hottest stuff around. I do understand that they really love those - I remember once reading somewhere that some big percentage of Americans loved their first car more than their first girlfriend - and that it's their passion. Just not my thing.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Goodbye Sanath

Let us stop ridiculing the man for a moment. Much has been said about his return to the team, rightly so even, but what's done is done so let us move on and appreciate a man who changed not only Sri Lankan cricket, but world cricket as well, a feat that only a handful in the history of the game can claim rights to.

In fact, I'm just going to talk about just one innings which I think is the best of the lot. He has played so many breathtaking knocks it's so hard to pick one as the best, but this in my opinion beats them all. I am not talking about his devastating 189 in Sharjah, nor his fastest 100 versus Pakistan and it's not even his 125 in the Asia Cup Final 2008 which I thought is one of the greatest ODI knocks played in recent times. The best innings by Sanath, for me, is not even a century; it is his breathtaking 79 against India in the 1996 WC preliminary round game.

That was the innings that defined him. That was the innings that made bowlers the world over excrete bricks just at the thought of bowling to him. That was the innings that changed the world cricket for good. For every six they hit, for every match they win the likes of Gilchrist, Sehwag, Gayle, McCullum and Pollard owe it to Sanath for without him neither would they have emerged, and in turn Sanath would not have been who he was if not for that innings. That was the innings that started it all.

Until then, he had some big hitting knocks - even when opening the batting - under his belt. He was known for his big hits, but there he just took it to a new level. Back in the day when there was only 15 overs of powerplay and much better pitches for bowlers, a 250 was a competitive score and 271 - which India made - was pretty much a winning score. Especially considering the fact that India, on paper at least, were much better a team and Sri Lanka were - a lot of youngsters these days don't get this - ranked minnows back then. When we look back we think what an awesome lineup we had, but the truth of the matter was that lineup became awesome because they won the World Cup; before that they were just another minnow, and inconvenience the other teams had to get through to advance.

So when he walked into the middle with Kalu, after Sachin's brilliant 100 albeit two decisions going in favor of him, Sri Lanka were not expected to win. And they certainly weren't expected to be on 42/0 after just 3 overs. It's taken for granted these days, but back then that kind of a score line was unheard of. That instilled so much fear into Azharuddin and his boys' mind it went a long way in us winning the World Cup. That innings alone created so much buzz suddenly Sri Lanka were a team to be feared of and our chasing had achieved some legendary status, almost mythical. So much so that when the two teams met in the semi-final later, Azharuddin decided to bowl first on a pitch that had so much evidence that it would crumble later on; a decision had a lot if not everything to do with that knock of Sanath. The moment Azar decided to play for Sri Lanka's (supposed) weakness than to play for India's strength, they had lost. Aravinda played one of the greatest ODI knocks of all time in that game, yet it was Sanath who had defeated the Indians even before a single ball was bowled. Such was the impact that one innings had on us winning the World Cup.

Thank you Sanath, thank you for all the memories.

Originally published here.