September 2010 - Posts
People have always looked at things from different perspectives. There has been debate from time immemorial about a fast moving aerial object being a bird, a plane, superman, a UFO or a ball hit by Virender Sehwag or his ilk from the past era. Diversity is celebrated in most forward looking organisations and NC being no exception and embedded with a deep sense of CSR will never lag behind in such endeavours.
NC has conducted a survey among some notable thinkers of the current generation on their views on a half full/empty glass of drinking water. Here are a few interesting viewpoints that have been carefully selected by NC out of the thousands interviewed.
Manmohan Singh - 'I'll have to check with 10 Janpath.'
Julia Gillard (Australian PM) - 'Is the glass bullet proof?'
John Key (NZ PM) - 'Is the water contaminated?'
Gary Kirsten - 'Ummmmmmm No comments..'
M. Amir - 'I didn't drink the water of my own volition.. He compelled me to do it.' (pointing an accusatory finger in a random direction)
BCCI - 'The glass was full earlier. Lalit drank half of it.'
Lalit Modi - 'The glass was empty earlier. I filled it up to the brim. The BCCI drank half of it.'
Arnab Goswami - 'The glass is fully empty. But we have to defend our national pride at all costs. But all those responsible for these reprehensible act should be hanged. But the Ayodhya verdict is a more TRP friendly issue now. So let me talk about it.'
Sheila Dixit - 'The glass IS full.'
Gideon Haigh - 'It used to be such a good glass. As David Aaronovitch explains in his excellent guidebook Voodoo Histories: "If it can be proved that there has been a conspiracy which has transformed politics and society, then their defeat is not the product of their own inherent weakness or popularity, let alone their mistakes; it is due to the almost demonic ruthlessness of their enemy." I hold no brief for conspiracy theories. Butt the IPL is responsible for whatever you are asking me.'
NC (We are thinkers too!) - 'Should I put the whiskey in this glass or should I pour the water in my glass?'
Harbhajan Singh (anyone who claims that Bhajji is not a thinker has to say it standing within a striking distance from Bhajji) - Oye, Teri Maa ki.'
Ijaz Butt - 'I apologise in advance for whatever I am going to say now.'
Suresh Kalmadi / Bankers (Depending on who the reader hates more) - 'Where's the glass?'
Our interviewer to his horror realised that the glass he was holding had vanished into thin air.
Readers may ask what is NC doing writing such pointless posts on the eve of a compelling Test Match Series. Well NC managed to find some water to fill up it's glass.
Dear Prime Minister,
It is with a deep sense of sorrow and hurt that this letter is being addressed to you. We have been victimized and pilloried for no fault of ours by not only a section of our media but also by vindictive foreigners with vested interests, who have taken exception to the world class facilities being provided by us for the Commonbegging games. Instead of applauding the hard work and enterprise that has gone in, the enemies of this nation are trying to resort to ridicule and point accusatory fingers at the final results of our preparations. They obviously haven’t heard that evergreen phrase, ‘It’s the thought that counts’.
We would like to present to you some of our many sterling contributions to the nation’s cause. We hope that this note will smash all the negativity and fill us with a new hope for bidding for the next Olympics. We are well aware of all the potential pitfalls in organizing such mega events and see to it that we avoid all of them unlike a few athletes who may lose a limb on the potholed tracks now. It obviously assumes that all those fickle and biased committees that are unfairly formed to inspect our conduct will be laid to rest unceremoniously.
We will come back separately with a more detailed presentation on our capabilities of hosting the Olympics. Let us continue with the basic purpose of this note. We present to you our positive impact on nation building and national pride by highlighting the benefits to many of our ministerial colleagues.
Ministry of Finance – A plethora of financial analysts have pointed out in various research reports about the infrastructure deficit that is currently being faced by our country. FDI in developing infrastructure has been inadequate. We have managed to highlight the lack of basic infrastructure and the crying need for the presence of quality infrastructure companies in this country. We believe in the axiom, ‘Any publicity is good publicity’ and what better publicity than roofs (mind you, it was only a false ceiling) falling and collapsing footbridges that were to be used only by the common pedestrian and not the participating athletes? We believe that the country will see a surge in FDI flows in our infrastructure sector with our 'strategic' errors. These accidents were ‘planned errors’ and we wish to bring this fact to your attention.
We dug up foot paths that didn’t require digging and 'restored' them, beautified the city with 100 dollar potted plants and successfully modified Parkinson’s law, ‘Work expands to fill up the available time’ to ‘Time can’t expand to complete promised work’. Such financial genius needs to be given it’s due.
Ministry of Home Affairs – A few months ago most participating nations were worried about the security of their teams and were wary of terrorist attacks. PC was under a lot of pressure to provide fool proof security for the games. We, single handedly have managed to shift the harsh focus from the security aspect to us. The fact that the recent shoot out at the Jama Masjid didn’t culminate into a walkout en masse proves that our willing sacrifice to divert all criticism to us is bearing fruit. We await a thank you note from PC.
Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports – Historically the host nation has done very well at these games and it would be a shame to see India doing badly in the upcoming edition. Fingers would be pointed at Mr. MSG (not Monosodium glutamate but MS Gill though he is equally harmful to Indian sport) for our woeful performance. Our goal was to prevent the top athletes from coming to Delhi and we wish to point out that we may surpass even our high standards with entire nations refusing to participate. This gives our athletes a once in a life time opportunity to grab all medals in the competition. Need we say more?
Ministry of Tourism – Our contribution to the ministry of tourism, we believe, is our crowning glory. We have taken all possible steps to ensure that the athletes experience the real India. What better site for an athlete than to wake up and see dogs and cows roaming freely (the animal right activists among the athletes will weep with joy)? We guarantee that all visitors will go back and rave about our country as a tourist destination.
Our greatest gift to the country is a brand new UNESCO heritage site (applications are already made). Till date Taj Mahal was India’s biggest tourist attraction. There were a few problems for tourists. They had to drive down all the way from Delhi to Agra to see the man made wonder. In another 2 years India will have a structure comparable to the Taj. We present to you an artist’s representation of the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in 2012.
This in a nutshell is our defense, dear PM. We have many other unmentioned achievements but as covert anti-Imperialists we will be satisfied to be judged by history to be the destructors of the Commonwealth and the common wealth.
If you are still not convinced by our staunch defence, will allegations of conspiracy by all developed countries to defraud the CWG OC suffice? They have sabotaged the games by treacherous means. We have no proof as of now but give us some time and you shall get it. What is the Delhi police for?
Ijaz Butt Suresh Kalmadi
P.S. – The latest reports that I tried to commit suicide but the roof collapsed are factually incorrect. I didn’t try the suicide but the roof did indeed collapse.
The greatest joy an ageing warrior can feel is when he knows that the next generation is capable enough to carry his legacy forward. Leander Paes, fondly called Lee, would be feeling like that old warrior in Chennai. A man who carried his national team on his shoulders for more than a decade, who punched way above his weight while representing his country, would feel justifiably proud of generation next in reinforcing his hope and desire to keep the glorious Davis Cup tradition going.
India historically have done exceedingly well at the Davis Cup given the limited resources at its disposal. And the last decade and a half was mostly centred around Paes and his heroics with Bhupati guaranteeing at least the doubles match in any tie. He would play 3 matches in 3 days and was expected to win all of them because neither Bhupati nor any substitute could be reiled upon to deliever in the other 2. The man delievered more often than not. There were brain lesion surgeries on the way, a professional split with Bhupati on the circuit but that intense desire to do well for the country dwarfed all hurdles.
The nagging worry had always been about what would happen once the two stalwarts retired (sounds familiar to us Indian cricket fans no?) . Bopanna hadn't really inspired confidence as a reliable singles player. But the rise of Somdev DevBarman had instilled some hope yet with Paes not playing the singles and no one in the team featuring in the top 100 of ATP rankings the future seemed bleak.
Somdev's comfort had the Indian team opt for hard courts for the Brazil tie. Traditionally India had always preferred grass courts but times were changing and so were the main singles players. But the Chennai weather wasn't; global warming or not. The Chennai heat was the team's trump card with the ever partisan crowd support already taken for granted.
Inspite of home advantage all seemed lost with both Somdev and Bopanna losing their matches in five setters. down 0-2 and staring down the barrel. It was all down to THE duo to keep the rubber relevant. Inspite of their off-court differences the pair had won 23 consecutive doubles matches at Davis Cup. It looked like # 24 would delay the inevitable. And # 24 was duly achieved. The warrior had aged but he was showing the pretenders what playing with fierce pride meant.
Somdev and Rohan Bopanna paid the ultimate tribute to Leander Paes on a hot sultry Sunday afternoon in Chennai. All those magnificient fight backs would be flashing in front of Leander's eyes today when Rohan Bopanna won in straight sets. The young guns will have to be consistent to even come close to Paes but they have shown that they have the requisite talent and tenacity to carry Leander's legacy forward.
There is HOPE!
NC has decided to make public startling revelations about the football game that WILL be played in the EPL between Arsenal and Sunderland later tonight. NC believes that Cricket can’t corner all glory when it comes to ‘pointing to the spot’ and ‘penalties’. The above mentioned terms originated and blossomed in Football and Cricket has no right to usurp them.
NC (Not Cricket for reader’s who still haven’t got it) has also learnt of some other interesting ‘scoring patterns’ in a couple of other EPL games. We will expose them in a separate piece (hint – One of the ‘expose’ features a Wayne Rooney photograph) at an opportune moment. The right time for that expose will have to wait for the time when Man United leads the EPL league table. We expect that wait to be a long one.
NC has learnt from reliable sources about the pattern of play in the upcoming Arsenal game. Some important ones are disclosed below to the unbelieving fans.
- It is going to be a high scoring game.
- The half time score will be 1-1.
- Arsenal will have 60%+ possession in the first half, lead by 1-0 till the 35th minute. After that one of the back 4 will commit a silly mistake, and gift a goal.
- Arsenal will keep on passing the ball for extended periods of play. They will pass at least 6 times more than their opponents. This passing will create 17 clear chances in the first half it self. Bendtener Chamkah will miss all of them.
- Fabregas will surely be involved in the goal scoring move.
- One Arsenal player will be injured by the 80th minute.
- There will be at least 2 goals scored in the 2nd half.
- Wenger will rant about the physical nature of English football after the game.
NC hasn’t disclosed who will be the winner of the match as we are not alleging match fixing. We are talking about a pattern of play that has been decided in advance by the players. NC has already contacted authorities (Salvation Army counts) and passed on all requisite proof.
In case the match doesn’t pan out as forecasted, the other side (of the bookie cartel, not Sunderland) paid better. So heads we win and will brag about giving the heads up to FA, tails we keep quiet and say nothing.
It seems another news paper is also planning to come out with similar allegations against a national cricket team. We can bet our last penny that sensible people will take them as seriously as they take our blog.
From the London summer of 2004 to the NY summer of 2010 the world has gone through a lot of change and turmoil. What remained a constant were the Men winning the Tennis Grand Slam tournaments. Out of the total 26 Grand slams contested during that period, 2 men have won 23 between them. ‘Duopoly’ is how an economist would explain this phenomenon.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal together have cornered most of the glory in Men’s Tennis. Djokovic, Safin and Del Potro were the notable party poopers on 3 occasions over the past 6 years. But that was more an aberration than any real threat to this unbelievable dominance. Let’s not forget that the Rafa-Roger combination played each other in 7 out of the 26 finals as well.
It has been 6 years of almost complete domination by 2 men in an intensely competitive sport, overcoming injuries, bad form and boredom. The stand out feature in this achievement has been the fact that Men’s Tennis was supposed to get more and more competitive every passing day. In an era where power hitting is the name of the game and an upset is on hand on any given day, maintaining this kind of consistency has been an awe inspiring feat.
If one looks at the ATP rankings for the last 5 years, the abovementioned gentlemen featured in the top 2 almost all the time. And the #1 ranking has changed hand only between these two. It hasn’t been only about their Grand Slam success but also their consistency through the entire ATP tour. There were times when one of them was believed to be going down hill. Federer in 2008 seemed like a shadow of his undoubted genius but bounced back strongly in 2009. Nadal in 2009 during and after his injury related break also seemed to be fading away. Many thought that he could not be as lethal as he was earlier. A lot was said about his way of play and the kind of pressure that put on his knees. All those doubts have been put to rest for now.
If one looks at Women’s Tennis during the same period the world has witnessed 9 Grand Slam champions. Serena Williams has won 7. Justine Henin has won 4. Sharapova, Venus and Kim Clijsters have won 3 each (Clijsters having won 2 after coming out of retirement over the past year). Mauresmo and Kuznetsova won 2 each with Ivanovic and Schiavone’s single triumph completing the list.
Women’s Tennis statistics get even more interesting when one looks at the #1 ranking. From June 2004 the world has witnessed as many as 9 different #1 players with the top rank changing hands an amazing 23 times between them.
Conventional Tennis wisdom has it that the men’s tour is far more competitive than the women’s tour. The term ‘competitive’ implied the probability of a lower ranked player beating the favourite on a given day. It was more so on the men’s tour because of the presence of the so called ‘surface’ specialists. Pete Sampras never won the French Open where the likes of Kuerten reigned. On the other hand Ivan Lendl thought very lowly of grass courts though he managed to reach a couple of Wimbledon finals only to see his dream fade away at the final hurdle.
The women’s tour on the other hand was dominated by a handful with Navartilova, Chris Evert, Graf and Seles ruling the roost for a considerable period of time. Things were supposed to change and get tougher each passing day with the emergence of Eastern European Tennis along with Spaniards and South Americans clay court specialists.
When one looks at the statistics presented earlier the question that naturally arises is that whether one is looking at the complete reversal of conventional wisdom. Can one safely say that Women’s Tennis has become far more competitive than men’s Tennis?
Tennis has been constantly evolving and improving in terms of power, fitness and technique. A major reason for the near total long lasting domination of men’s Tennis by Federer and Nadal can be explained by the premise that the duo itself stayed at the cutting edge of this evolution. Their quest for continued improvement and perfection has kept them a couple of steps ahead of the chasing pack.
Nadal, when he burst on the scene, was known for the heavy top spin he generated, his retrieving skills and his incredible speed. His serve was passable and he was promptly slotted as a clay court specialist. His hard court performance at the start of his career was ordinary and grass court titles looked completely out of reach. But he added more dimensions to his game and in the recently concluded US Open his serve became his new weapon.
Federer always had an all court game but clay was his weakness (if one can call it a weakness). But when you are the top ranked player in the world, every player is gunning for you. Every weakness was analysed threadbare. The tremendous self motivation needed to keep on winning was a battle against self. The fact that this man reached 23 consecutive grand slam semi finals stands a testament to his consistency in a world where faster, fitter and more powerful players were emerging dime a dozen.
In women’s Tennis Serena and Venus Williams have shared a substantial # of grand slams between them but even they have been inconsistent over the past 5 years. Have they really kept themselves at the forefront of the evolution in the game? And has the women’s game evolved/improved substantially over the past 5 years?
Kim Clijsters coming back from retirement after having a baby and winning 2 US Open titles in a row makes for great fairy tale stuff but doesn’t reflect too well on the depth of talent in women’s Tennis. Especially the 2009 title when she had hardly played a couple of tournaments before playing the US Open. Clijsters was only 23 odd when she retired from the game so one admits that she is still very young to really compare her come back to a Foreman’s or a Schumacher’s. But the fact that being away from the game for a couple of years didn’t make too much of a difference is quite telling.
A lapse in focus and motivation also seems to be haunting women’s Tennis. One is not drawing any chauvinistic conclusions from the examples cited below but trying to theorize the plethora of champions and top ranked players in women’s Tennis in the last 6 years.
Anna Kournikova not withstanding, Tennis has witnessed Maria Sharapova signed an 8-year, $70 million endorsement contract with Nike. Her career prize money on the other hand has been around USD 14MM. She has been named as the highest paid female athlete in 2010 by Forbes earning USD 24.5MM.
Following the retirement of 25-year-old Justine Henin, Sharapova said, "If I was 25 and I'd won so many Grand Slams, I'd quit too." In an interview after the 2008 Australian Open, she balked at the idea of playing for another ten years, saying that she hoped to have a "nice husband and a few kids" by then.
Caroline Wozniacki who was the top seed at the recently concluded US Open had the following comments during an interview – “Well, I'm so lucky that I am the face of Adidas and Stella McCartney and I have my own special line that no one else is wearing. I think that's really nice. For me it's important to feel good on court and of course to look good. Then I can focus on my tennis at 100%.”
On being asked if her dress was a bit too short she replied, “I think it's nice. I definitely am sure I'll get a lot of male fans now.”
Serena Williams formerly had a special line with Puma and currently has a line with Nike. The deal with Nike is worth US$40 million and was signed in April 2004. Since 2004, she has also been running her own line of designer apparel called "Aneres"—her first name spelled backward. In 2009 she launched a signature collection of handbags and jewelry. The collection, called Signature Statement, is sold mainly on the Home Shopping Network (HSN).
She leads a very active social life, has ambitions to act in Hollywood and pursues many other interests outside of Tennis
"I've had a lot of different offers, interesting offers from TV shows," she said. "If I wasn't playing tennis, I would have something to do every day, but unfortunately, I don't have time for it right now."
Venus Williams is a graduate from The Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale, FL with an associate’s degree in fashion design. A surprising fact about Venus is that she has never been #1 at any time in the last 6 years. The main reason being that she doesn't play a lot of tournaments, a necessary factor to reach #1.
Every person is entitled to have varied interests in life and more power to them. Living out of a suitcase with very little time for personal life is not everyone's cup of tea. With most Tennis players starting the grind by the age of 6-7, having varied interests can act as a stress buster.
But to be at the peak of any sport for a long period of time needs relentless focus and motivation. That motivation seems to be in short supply in the current crop of women Tennis players. In a lighter vein, fashion and endorsements are doing to women’s Tennis what IPL is doing to young cricketers per cricket purists.
By claiming the US Open title for the 1st time in his career today, Rafa Nadal became the seventh person in the history of men’s Tennis to complete a career Grand Slam. The dream final with Federer didn’t materialise but guess an exclusive club with just two members can tend to get boring some times. It’s always nice to have guests.
Shahid Afridi feels that the word 'Agent' is almost assured of claiming the top spot in the 'Top 10 hated words in World Cricket'. The word 'Twitter' is giving it a tough fight as per Kevin Pietersen. 'IPL' is a sure fire winner according to most of the 'puritanical' writers like Pradeep Magazine. But 'The Australian' believes that 'India' will win hands down and they seem almost as confident as Mazhar Majeed was about the 'no balls'.
The mention of Mazhar Majeed brings one back to the central theme of this post. The quintissential 'agent' brings to mind the image of a slimy, sleazeball with zero integrity and unreliable promises, the guy who will grease palms of corrupt officials thereby smoothening the rough path for a needy businessman. In India he will be typically wearing a safari suit, Raybans and chewing Paan Masala. The kohl in the eyes is optional. But this description applies to the generic term 'agent'. There are many agents who appear regularly on national Television, take part in highbrow discussions and even talk of propriety. In Washington they are called lobbyists. In India they are called 'intellectuals'.
From thousands of these 'agents', there arise a handful who reach the pinnacle of success. They have their fingers in all pies. Only a few amongst these elite agents have the gumption to boldly go where no man has ever gone. The crem del la creme of these get the honour to be named after their chosen profession. 'Mr. Ten Percent' is one of them. Not Cricket has caught hold of a photo of the said gentleman in Cricket.
Oops.. sorry this is an incorrect photograph. This is the respected Mr Asif Ali Zardari. 'Not cricket' meant to publish this photo appearing below
Yes! He indeed is our Mr. Ten percent. Or that's what his wards claim him to be. A free loader who gets commissions out of their hard earned money, makes them feel like sweat shop workers working for peanuts (Actually 9/10ths of a peanut). Nikey would be so proud of him.
Sreesanth caught red faced (above)
Sreesanth - Paaji, lets fix the spot for our party today at night
Bhajji - Teri Maa ki. Fixing karta hai? Ye le @#$%
courtsey NOTPW (News of the Parrallel World)
This is the undeniable proof that Sreesanth tried to fix things with Bhajji.
P.S. - SP has come up with the same proof on BCC!. I swear this article isn't fixed.