Prem Panicker

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Prem has been writing about cricket since 1996 -- and sometimes wishes he hadn't.

Blog Posts by Prem Panicker

  • They the People

    On Cricinfo, Sambit Bal calls this the 'People's Cup'. Every event needs a catchy slogan, and this one is as good as it gets.

    Nowhere does it say slogans need to be accurate, though. On the same site, another story on ticket distribution underlines just how much of a 'People's Cup' this one isn't. Consider this sample clip (Emphasis mine) :

    In Kolkata, the focus at the moment is on accepting the fact that the India v England match has actually been shifted out of the Eden Gardens. Ticket distribution is now focussed on handing out the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB)'s large share of their quota tickets amongst members and affiliate clubs, a practice which is also common in Mumbai. "There is no panic now," said an official in Kolkata, "because there aren't going to be fist-fights at the counter." And Punjab Cricket Association said tickets for matches in Mohali would go on sale from February 21, "including for the semi-final."

    This lopsidedness in ticket sales had been caused, an

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  • Fast track to the slow lane

    'Tis the World Cup, ergo the season of lists. One such, on Cricinfo the other day, listed some of the great bowling performances from past editions of the tournament -- a list dominated, incidentally, by fast men ranging from Joel Garner to Lasith Malinga, with every shade of swing and seam in-between.

    Missing from the list was one Indian performance I'd personally rate in my top ten -- both for the skill on display, and for the impact the spell had on the fortunes of the side. Here is the match report of that game, and from that, a clip on the spell itself:

    Ashish Nehra came in to the attack in the 13th over - and from that point on, England were reduced to spectators in the Nehra road show. The initial question was whether the recent injury would effect his rhythm. It did not. The next question was whether that burst of pace in the earlier game was a flash in the pan - it was not, as Nehra quickly moved up the gears to a top pace, on the day, of 145.8. The final question was, could

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  • Lalit Modi Unplugged

    Lalit Modi has given an exclusive interview to London-based journalist Mihir Bose on YouTube. Here, below, is the full transcript:

    Mihir Bose

    Lalit, is this strange you’re in London and you face some very serious charges in India?  Allegations about your conduct as IPL Commissioner?  India’s just celebrated Diwali, what are you doing here?

    Lalit Modi

    Well I’m in London, I’m hoping that the enquiry that is going on in India will come to an end, we are answering all the questions that are required to be answered, we are doing some teleconferencing and we’re providing the documentation that is needed to be provided to the authorities and to the different agencies that are conducting the investigation.  And my security agencies have advised me that it’s not appropriate time currently to go back till the security situation smoothens out.  And the Indian police have continuously told me yes, that the threat perception continues to be there and as and when I feel comfortable with that factor

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  • The IPL Fiasco: Battle Royale in the Offing

    Since the inception of the Indian Premier League a little over three years ago, Lalit Modi has run it like his personal fiefdom, carving out large chunks of the pie for family, friends and well-wishers. For the better part of two years, everyone -- the Board of Control for Cricket in India honchos, large sections of the media, even the public -- knew what was going on, but in the euphoria over the building of "the world's biggest sporting brand", they chose to turn a blind eye to behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

    And then Modi [acting, ironically, on the advice of the then BCCI president] chose to out the Shashi Tharoor involvement in the Kochi franchise, and all hell predictably broke loose. I've chronicled that event, and all that happened since, so exhaustively that there is little point in an extended iteration. Net net, the single biggest outcome was the universal demonization of Lalit Modi, who was depicted as the source for all ills in the IPL, and by extension Indian cricket. The

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  • BCCI to Franchise: Shut up or Else!

    In the wake of the dramatic axing of the Rajasthan Royals and Kings’ XI Punjab from the Indian Premier League, various franchises have been vocalizing their anguish, none more openly than industrialist Vijay Mallya.

    Almost immediately after the news broke, the Royal Challengers, Bangalore, boss posted on his Twitter stream the following message:

    “Wonder if the franchisees are serious stakeholders whose investments and participation are respected, or are they slaves who only come and play."

    In this connection, two SMSes sent out by Board of Control for Cricket in India Secretary N Srinivasan, who is also co-owner of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, is startling.

    The first, sent from his cellphone to one particular franchise, reads:

    “As we have been saying. Please align yourself with us. Or everyone will get the same taste of the medicine we have given today to RR and Kxip. Owners should not think they are above the Bcci”

    The follow up message, sent to the same franchise, reads:


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  • Adios, Murali

    He walks to the top of his mark and stands there, the ball a whirring blur as he tosses it from his bowling hand to his left.

    He surveys his field and with shouted word and eloquent gesture repositions them, moving them around in incremental inches until he gets them just so, with all the precision of a master of the geometry of bowling, one who knows exactly what he is going to bowl and precisely how the batsman will react to that delivery.

    A pause, and then his arms swing back, like those of a swimmer launching into a back-stroke; he bounces through his brief run-up and swings into his delivery stride. The images are synonymous with 'effort' -- the blurred swing of bowling arm and impossible rotation of the wrist; the mouth opened wide in a rictus of effort and the impossibly bulging eyes as they follow the trajectory of the ball he has just released; the eyes narrowing as they track the batsman's response; the mouth forming smiles that speak volumes -- a wry smile when the batsman

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  • Muralitharan: Cheat, or Misunderstood Genius?

    Sport is relatively easy to write: angels and demons, heroes and villains, triumphs and tragedies, neatly linear narratives in a way the world, shaded in gradations of gray, rarely is. And that perhaps is the secret of sport's enduring appeal -- it satisfies our need to take sides, to hiss the villain and cheer the hero without worrying about nuance.

    And then there is Muthaiah Muralitharan -- neither hero nor villain, neither black nor white; a player who resists being slotted neatly into the pigeonhole labeled 'greatest spinner in the world' or equally, the one labeled 'cheat'.

    Premier sports writer Rohit Brijnat, in an article dating back to 2004, underlined the enigmatic nature of the Sri Lankan cricketer:

    When he bowls, he knows cameras are focused on his arm, commentators on his action, and that words will be said, usually not pretty. Spectators in Australia simply bellowed "Nooo" with every delivery; an opponent has allegedly called him a "f------ cheat" to his face; every press

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