Venkat Ananth

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Blog Posts by Venkat Ananth

  • A template for grassroot development

    North of Bangalore in Alur, a cricketing facility brings top-class infrastructure to young players.

    A panoramic view of the facility. A panoramic view of the facility.

    It’s a little trek getting to this place. The facility is located in an industrial area on the outskirts of Bengaluru, to be precise off Tumkur Road in Nelamangala taluk. If you quite manage the Bengaluru traffic alright, it shouldn’t take you more than an hour and 20 minutes to get there. And just as you enter the lane leading up to the ground, it’s hard to miss the aroma of freshly baked biscuits, coming out of the Unibic factory a few hundred metres away.

    Chances are that you’ve probably never heard of Alur in North Bengaluru. But it houses a cricket facility developed by the Karnataka State Cricket Association. And though it is a work in progress, it is one of the best cricketing facilities in the country.

    It’s not very often that you get to see and experience such sporting structures in India. Imagine walking past a gate bearing a half-rusty signboard that shouts out, “This property belongs to the Karnataka State Cricket Association”, and into a thirty-three acre facility that Read More »from A template for grassroot development
  • Of clean-ups and clean-chits

    The BCCI's officials continue to keep their interests and ambitions ahead of the game as the latest addition in the list of their cover-ups shows.

    The BCCI needs to be accountable to the game and the public at-large.

    It's probably what they’d planned for, anyway. If you believe the events of Sunday, the 28th July, you’d be coerced into thinking that all was indeed fine with Indian cricket. That nothing happened, a couple of months ago, when the IPL spot-fixing/betting scandal first surfaced. It was then described rather eloquently as the “worst crisis to hit Indian cricket”, with three cricketers, including a World-Cup winner, being masqueraded as petty criminals and locked up in prison.

    What ensued later, was an elaborate attempt at power-play, resulting in two officials quitting in protest, the President of the BCCI caught with his pants down, thanks to an errant relative and instead of putting propriety over personal ambitions, the sheer shamelessness in holding on to the job meant he’d stepped aside than resigned.

    The mandate, in early June was clearly for a thorough clean-up of Indian cricket. The public demanded better of our board, of our officials. Instead, they chose to look the other way. Read More »from Of clean-ups and clean-chits
  • Time to monitor player agents

    The role of agents in shaping players' careers needs to be taken more seriously.

    Tendulkar owes part of his financial success to his manager, the late Mark Mascarenhas.

    Here’s an easy question for you - what’s the next best thing to being a professional cricketer in India today? The answer is just as easy - being a player agent. It’s like leading a cricketer’s life, without actually playing the sport, getting a slice of every commercial deal you negotiate on their behalf, the lifestyle, there’s power and there’s access - the all important perk of being in the business. As an agent, you get a first-hand insight into their lives, so much so that you become an integral element in their professional life. Also, you don't need an MBA degree or anything of that sort either. Surely, it’s an exciting profession and I’d imagine every cricket lover’s dream job, but there are serious issues too, a lot of grey areas that need to be ironed out for the business to function with a degree of regulation.

    This is where the BCCI needs to be applauded for finally waking up and finally smelling the strong coffee, and taking baby steps in putting a system in place where Read More »from Time to monitor player agents
  • The joke's on Jadeja's critics

    The subject of many harsh internet memes, the young spinner has let his performances speak for him.

    Ravindra Jadeja took 24 wickets in the four-Test series against Australia.

    Not so long ago or perhaps even as I write this, Ravindra Jadeja is an Internet meme, the darling of the social media networks, a source of constant entertainment for the Internet cricket followers, more often than not, a butt of most jokes.

    Just before the Delhi Test match, a game he made his own through his performance, his Wikipedia page became the subject of random vandalism by cricket fans, presumably his detractors. It read, “Sir Ravindra Jadeja (edit) is a philanthropist, a Nobel prize winner, a double Laureus sportman of the year and the nearest human to being God. After consistent pleading by the BCCI to save the nation, Jadeja agreed to play as an Indian cricketer. He was Knighted in 2005 due to his one-in-a-million talent, and being the messenger of god.”

    But what is undeniable is the fact that he was the find of this series, emerging today as one of the most improved cricketers in Indian cricket. After all, twenty four, that's right, twenty four wickets in a series is no Read More »from The joke's on Jadeja's critics
  • The death of a rivalry

    Gone are the characters, missing are the mouth-watering contests. The great India-Australia rivalry is dead.

    Remember the good old 1990s?

    On their on-going tour of India, the biggest event in the Australian camp has occurred off the field and did not even involve the opposition. Australia’s bizarre axing of Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja did inject some interest in the series. But it has reduced the fading rivalry to a farce. 

    In 1996, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy began on a dustbowl in Delhi, paving the way for one of the most gripping rivalries in international Test cricket. It enriched the game in general. The early legacy of the rivalry was shaped by the promise of a challenge: while both teams were nearly unbeatable at home, the challenge was to prevail in foreign conditions. From the fast, bouncy tracks in Brisbane and Perth to the sandpits or minefields in Mumbai and Chennai, the contests between the two nations redefined modern cricket in a way that few have.

    At home, India were incredibly tough to beat. Australia had to wait 35 years for a series win in India when, in 2004, Adam Read More »from The death of a rivalry
  • The earthy charm of the Ranji Trophy

    The domestic tourney isn't quite dying the tiger's death we're sometimes prone to casually speculating about.

    For a generation that seems to be immersed in the brevity of the format that predominates India's cricketing narrative off-late, the Twenty20 - the Ranji Trophy might come across as a product not worth consuming - unattractive, stale, ho-hum and perhaps static. It comes across as a theatre sans the absurd cacophony, set at times in an ambience where the very charm lies in the tranquility of proceedings.

    There's a genuine sense of modesty as far as the Ranji is concerned, a tournament that comes stripped of the exhibitionist facade that Indian cricket has tended to put in the last five years or so. In a sense, this is an entirely different world - quite lonely, in fact - a world where greed doesn't equal more money or bizarre kamikaze valuations, but equals runs or wickets with that eternal hope of visibility, or that single-minded aspiration of making it to the big-time.

    There's so much to love about the Ranji Trophy, despite it's oft stated deficiencies (the standards, the pitches, the Read More »from The earthy charm of the Ranji Trophy
  • Testing times for Gautam Gambhir

    The southpaw should look beyond numbers and focus on his technique.

    Bowled by Morne Morkel, one of his sorry dismissals in the ICC World Twenty20.

    As unfortunate as it might seem, it’s perhaps getting easier for Gautam Gambhir to memorise and state convenient stats than conjure up a useful Test knock at the top of the order. By resorting to number-crunching, widely considered as the last credible attempt by reasonably successful sportsmen to save their legacy and justify their relevance, Gambhir has discursively given away the fact that he’s struggling, short of confidence and indeed, short of runs. It’s not as if Gambhir is a lone ranger here, for we’ve seen Indian cricketers  tediously harp on their past performances with stat-attacks - the likes of Harbhajan Singh or for that matter even Sourav Ganguly towards his fade away phase. And as much as these numbers do count for something, the lack of honesty in acknowledging failure is inexplicable.

    Undoubtedly, the numbers that Gambhir let-off so convincingly do add up - the fact that both he and his partner Virender Sehwag have collectively managed to average 52.69 in their Read More »from Testing times for Gautam Gambhir
  • Selective attention: All eyes on Patil & Co.

    It's upto the selectors to chart the course for Indian cricket. Will they choose glory or doom?

    Around this time last fortnight, as the BCCI met for one of its landmark boardroom events, the Annual General Meeting - they had an imperative task at hand which could perhaps define the route Indian cricket has chosen to take for the next year. The suits had to sit together and pick a national selection committee to succeed Kris Srikkanth & Co and in their wisdom and in a first, much unlike the usual bazaar like cacophony, negotiations, politicking etc and resisting every zonal pressure that came their way, they chose Sandeep Patil and his colleagues as the five supposedly-wise men to take and make decisions. Patil, who has previously involved himself with Indian cricket in various capacities as a coach and until recently, the director of the National Cricket Academy, was appointed Chairman of Selectors, with the likes of Saba Karim, Vikram Rathour, Rajinder Singh Hans and Roger Binny as his new colleagues in the job. Save Roger Binny, none of the other four selectors were first

    Read More »from Selective attention: All eyes on Patil & Co.
  • Mind the gap

    The members of India's under-19 World Cup winning team still have a long way to go, and the BCCI will have to play a key role in their transition.

    The Indian team celebrate winning the 2012 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Final. (Getty Images)

    First things first, and I thought India Under-19’s successful campaign in the recently concluded World Cup was special for a variety of reasons. They tasted defeat upfront, came through fixtures that could have gone either way with a sense of character not expected of teenagers, and ultimately, excelled in the final.

    This was an eventual culmination of everything they did right and went through together as a squad over the last two years.

    The BCCI, whom I otherwise have no particular love for, deserve every ounce of credit coming their way for their work in age-group cricket, for their proactive measures in ensuring this success. It’s an aspect of Indian cricket they’ve always believed in, and taken whatever steps needed to facilitate age-group cricket. While celebrations are a must, especially for a bunch of lads who’ve been through the classic ups and downs in the last two years, a little sense of perspective will help, and hopefully prevail.

    While praise is somethingRead More »from Mind the gap
  • India roll up sleeves for busy season ahead

    The much-discussed transition is now a matter of reality. Mission 2013 starts here

    It's finally here - a rather unusually scheduled home season that most of us have been looking forward to for reasons that range from the curious to the exciting. The curiosity, or rather a sense of anxiety that has been fuelled by the retirements of two of Indian Test cricket's stalwarts. The much-discussed transition is now a matter of reality and not just your average pub chat in Bengaluru or Hyderabad.

    The exciting part about this very phase is the sheer joy of watching youth in action, trying in their own little way of finding their feet in the big time, trying to admonish whatever little self-doubts they had, trying to show and prove that they belong there and set the narrative for hopefully, years to come. The next eighteen months, a majority of which India will spend playing its best cricket at home, will play a critical role in setting the blueprint for its long-term future.

    This blueprint I am referring to requires a pretty clear and specific mission - the next overseas tour isRead More »from India roll up sleeves for busy season ahead


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