• 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

    Read More »from Adios, Murali
  • Irfan was the person whom we had earmarked but probably he lacked on the bowling side - Gary Kirsten

    So, here's the news first. An all-rounder spot in the Indian side is vacant, a team that's preparing hard to erase all memories of its shoddy performance in 2007's World Cup - you can send in your CV. Speaking of which, did you know that Team India does not have a specialist all-rounder in either the ODI or the Test team? Do we need it? Of course! Besides Irfan Pathan's sweet little cameo, I can hardly recall any other name even being tried as a specialist all-rounder in recent times.

    With the World Cup just six months away, coach Gary Kirsten stressed on the fact that the team is in urgent need of an all-rounder. In the last two years, India toyed with Yusuf Pathan, Virat Kohli, Abhishek Nayar among others to fill the slot. Players in Yusuf and Kohli did prove handy with the bat but were less than useful with the leather. Nayar went for a couple of tours - only to warm the benches.

    Read More »from Cry for an All-rounder
  • 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

    Read More »from Muralitharan: Cheat, or Misunderstood Genius?

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