Monday, March 19, 2012

Let's count Yuvi: 30, 29, 28...

Here's a bit of great news:

Yuvraj Singh's response to chemotherapy has left his medical team "fairly confident" that the mediastinal seminoma he had been diagnosed with "will not come back." Dr Nitesh Rohatgi, a key member of Yuvraj's medical team, told ESPNcricinfo that according to their assessment, Yuvraj could "get back to normal activity in about a couple of month's time." Yuvraj underwent three cycles of chemotherapy, the last one in hospital before being discharged, and is expected to return to India in the first half of April. 

Cricket book reco

Do you love books?
Do you love cricket?


Then cricinfo has an article for you.

Kohli Yug (Screengrabs)

I am yet to get over Virat Kohli's batsmanship in the Hobart ODI last month. Now we already have his killer touch again in the Mirpur win last night.
[If I am permitted to use 'touch' for an innings worth 182 runs...]


Hobart got me excited about an ODI after a long time....first time after 2nd April 2011, to be precise. An Indian batsman taking a very decent bowling side apart during a 300+ chase under pressure on foreign soil is a rare sight, even unexpected these days. For the man to succeed at it with a bonus point, and without slogging, is something special.


Mirpur was a showcase of Kohli's leg side artistry. He declared total dominance of any opposition in sub continent ODI's...and that does not look so snigger-worthy when coming from the lone guy that played well against Australia in away Tests.


Hobart, I reckon, was the formal announcement that he wants to be the new King. In all forms of cricket. At any country...and perhaps against any opposition.


An FB friend used the term 'Kohli-yug' on his status last night. 
Mirpur may be the start of that yug.


Screengrabs from Hobart ODI on 28th Feb 2012:
[pic  courtesy - Star Sports telecast] 

















Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Player#207

Rahul Dravid received the Test cap#207 for India.
Considering we have 206 bones in our skeleton, all of us can consider his legacy to live on as an omnipresent  207th bone in us...perhaps somewhere on our vertebra.


He left nothing to chance, nothing that he was aware of and could do something about. Quality assurance principles in full display. 


For an engineer / designer working in the engineering consultancy world (i.e. my profession) what would be the equivalent of Rahul Dravid's cricketing career ?


Let me try. 


This guy would be 
 - getting his left  (logical) brain medically checked every quarter for peak condition, 
- doing finger and eye exercises everyday to mitigate excessive work in front of the PC, 
- attending personal lessons outside office to learn new software every year, 
- staying awake till midnight to read project / schedule management lessons, 
- preparing in solitude for 10 minutes before each video conference / client meeting to ensure the issues are all 'loaded' into his mind and notebook, 
- starting on time and finishing on time, every time...
- cleaning toilets from time to time for the sake of office when the washerman is off duty
- taking action as safety floor manager against a senior colleague, if only for evading safety measures on floor despite previous warning
- trusting a new partner to be one of those foul-mouthed-but-good-hearted angels - only to realise later that the assessment was incorrect...
- backing his struggling but trusted teammates even as the partner and the employer would pressurise him to sideline them
- manning the security desk on a festive weekend to allow the security guards a few hours off
- and recognising that doing any damn work for the office team does NOT come in the way of his becoming the preparer of the 2nd highest number of EPC deliverables in the history of the game, while also registering the highest number of input data handled ever in EPC projects. 




Read on, and also remember the incidents he has earlier gone through, to check out:


Mrs. Vijeeta Dravid, his wife, on Rahul's single minded devotion to perfection in cricket:

When I travelled with him for the first time, in Australia in 2003-04, I began to notice how he would prepare for games - the importance of routines, and his obsession with shadow practice at odd hours of day or night. I found that weird. Once, I actually thought he was sleepwalking!
Now I know that with Rahul's cricket, nothing is casual, unconscious or accidental. Before he went on tour, I would pack all his other bags, but his cricket kit was sacred - I did not touch it; only he handled it. I know if I packed only two sets of informal clothes, he would rotate them through an entire tour if he had to and not think about it. He has used one type of moisturising cream for 20 years because his skin gets dry. Nothing else. He doesn't care for gadgets, and barely registers brands - of watches, cologne or cars. But if the weight of his bat was off by a gram, he would notice it in an instant and get the problem fixed.
Cricket has been his priority and everyone around him knows that. On match days Rahul wanted his space and his silence. He didn't like being rushed, not for the bus, not to the crease. All he said he needed was ten minutes to himself, to get what I call his "internal milieu" settled, before he could go about a match day.
When we began to travel with the kids - and he loved having them around during a series, even when they were babies - we made sure we got two rooms. The day before every game, the boys were told that their father had to be left alone for a while, and Rahul would go into his room for his meditation and visualisation exercises. On the morning of the game, he would get up and do another session of meditation before leaving for the ground. I have tried meditation myself and I know that the zone he gets into as quickly as he does - it takes lots of years of training to get there. It is part of the complete equilibrium he tries to achieve before getting into a series.
In the last few years he worked doubly hard to make sure he played the game in his best physical condition in the toughest phase of his career physically. He tried to understand his body and work on his limitations - he was able to hold off shoulder surgery despite a problem in his rotator cuff because he found ways to keep it strong. When I was pregnant with Samit, we spent two months in South Africa to work in a sports centre that focused on strengthening Rahul's shoulder. Because he sweats profusely, he has even had sweat analysis done, to see how that affects his batting. He found that Pat Rafter, the former Australian tennis player, had a similar problem.
To get fit, he went on very difficult protein diets for three months at a stretch, giving up rice, chapatis and dessert altogether - even though he has a sweet tooth. He wanted his batting and his cricket to benefit from his peak fitness, even heading into his late 30s. He has been to see a specialist in eye co-ordination techniques, for eye exercises for the muscles of his eyes. If there was a problem, he always tried to find answers.

Abhinav Mukund, Gen-Y teammate during England'2011 tour:
There was one game where the ball flicked his shoelaces and he got out in England. You could notice the next day that he had changed his shoelaces and tucked them in deep. When you say that the man leaves nothing to chance, that is the biggest example of that.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Take a Dravid Test

Want to know why RD is rated as highly as he is?


Take this test.


I can't forget the words of admiration for Dravid that came up on the results page of that test as it announced my results. 
I am recording those words for keep's sake:


You have scored 22 points 
We were being sarcastic when we asked if you can be like Dravid.
Of course you can't. No one can. Not even Sachin. 
But your choices show you come close to being the gentleman cricketer he was. So congratulations for being an all-round good egg. Your mother must be so proud 

Staying at the Top [repost from old DS blog on cricinfo]

This is an old post. I made the original post way back on 4th December 2005 at cricinfo's now defunct blog "Different Strokes" (old).
This particular post now stands dedicated to Rahul Dravid, the great one-down Test batsman of India who retired from a 15+ years long Test career on 9th March 2012.
At the time he retired, Rahul was the all-time 2nd highest Test run getter for all countries in all time, behind only his India teammate and co-partner in another record of Test partnership runs - Sachin Tendulkar.

Here is the post:
------------------
Staying at the top


Let’s explore a new game. The oldest one, perhaps. Envisage an amphitheatre with a frighteningly large and admirably levelled playing field. We call it the arena. Standing loftily amidst the eerily quiet arena are a handful of very high pedestals of various shapes and sizes, strewn over the place like islands on the oceanscape. Each such pedestal, or podium, has just enough space for one person at the top. Painfully narrow and disconcertingly steep ladders offer access to each pedestal from all possible sides.

That was a virtual panoramic footage of the arena. For it is not quite so quiet in reality. This amphitheatre of glory is forever overflowing with numerous enthusiastic players desirous of participating in this game. This is no team game – each one for himself. Each player picks a pedestal of his choice and plays with the aim of making a successful climb up the crowded ladders to the top of the pedestal and trying to stay on at the lone spot on offer. If thrown off by a pretender, the player has to try and rework his way to the top from wherever he lands. The choice of pedestal is at the player’s discretion.

There are no other rules to this game. No restrictions are exercised on the number of attempts allowed to an individual player, nor does the cold granite of the amphitheatre know of the reverberations excited by a game-over whistle. It is up to the players when they wish to join the game or leave it.

New challengers come from far-away places and join the game every day, just as a few old ones slowly walk away into the horizon. And yes – recesses are unknown luxuries up there at the coveted pedestal top and on the battlefields that are the ladder rungs.

The amphitheatre is the world of sports watchers, and the arena is that of competitive sport. Each pedestal signifies a separate sport.

People at the top of the podiums are called winners. A winner who stays there for a long period qualifies as a champion. And the name of this game is ‘staying at the top’. They have called it so since this endless and intoxicating game got flagged off. The number of podiums on show is way too less compared to the ocean of participants. New winners keep emerging on various pedestals. It is the easier part – getting to the top. Experts and past champions say that a stay at the top asks for even greater skills. “The longer the stay, the more difficult it becomes.”

Some champions have a number of stays at the top of their chosen pedestal. They are celebrated for the triumph of their spirit and a unique ability to claw back repeatedly after taking blows. They become legends in their own right. Some other great ones, however, do their entire stint on the podium at one go.

The longevity of rule of some greats often brings forth diverse reactions. These greats keep on displaying new skill sets and deft manoeuvres that help them maintain that little extra edge over the challengers from the ladder, in the process drawing applause and eliciting reverence from the connoisseur who knows the game from having played it.

Besides witnessing the battle at the top, the discerning spectators also derive thrills from the little progresses and setbacks of wannabe and returning champions unfolding in the mini tussles down the ladder. The battle royale for the top slot, however, is all that matters to the casual entertainment-seeking observer seated in the distant spectator’s chair. And for all the grit on display, survival at the top can be pedestrian fare when compared to the thrilling rise, humbling fall or fairy-tale resurrection of a champion.

A challenger has half the world backing him during his thrilling ascent to the top. But then comes the hard, seemingly one-dimensional battle of staying on. During this phase every trick conjured up to retain his supremacy is seen as routine; somehow the champion no more merits too much credit. As the stay gets longer some caustic, instant-fun-loving spectators are even heard jeering him for ‘blocking the way’ of rookies, little realising that the game remains healthiest when strapping challengers are made to get the better of the top dogs and earn their place under the sun.

The departure of greats can register a variety of patterns. Some trust their instincts when time beckons. Though still in love with being a champion, they accept the inevitable and leave the podium without being actually toppled over. Some other champs get into the ‘spectator mode’ of thinking and get bored with the absence of higher peaks to challenge them. They too discard the arena of their own free will, the reason being monotony and lack of hunger. There is yet another kind who realise the wane in their skills, but the still-raging fire in their bellies makes them fight on till they are dislodged.

Now, did you like the game?  

Dravid: Tributes on his retirement




What should we call him?
The Wall? For the protection he offers to our middle order gods?
The 'Away man', for his prowess in foreign conditions?
Mr Dependable?
All the titles are cliched...and while each define him to an extent, none hold up the spirit of Rahul Dravid fully.

Last night I was chatting with a friend, another Dravid fan, who was despairing at the state of affairs in the country, especially corruption and mafia threats. In particular, the murder of IPS officer Singh by the mafia - and the silence of media and FB alike to the incident.
These words came out spontaneously:
"....be steely, be patient, be focussed on the gains to be made, bite your lips and let go of everything but hope for the side you stand for...be Dravid.
For this is a long term, multi-generation away match we are playing.....the game called 'maturing of a people'."

I wasn't trying to chalk up a Dravid tribute then; but even if I did I could not have thought of a better tribute for Rahul Dravid than suggesting that we take inspiration from his powers of long-term adherence to a tough task, and demonstrate the same Dravid-ian traits as Indian citizens in not giving up on this country's slowly but surely improving future.
Like a famous dialogue in the movie 'Sarkar', Dravid is no more just a cricketer.
Dravid is a 'soch' i.e ideology..an ideology to handle and live through tough situations with determination and humility.
[pic courtesy: www.espncricinfo.com]
--------------

Links to some tributes to Dravid on his first class retirement:

a) cricinfo stats tribute for Indian cricket's MVP away from home: http://www.espncricinfo.com/
magazine/content/current/story/
556766.html
  [his average in matches won by India: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/28114.html?class=1;result=1;spanmax1=23+Sep+2010;spanval1=span;template=results;type=allround ]
b) Siddhartha Vaidyanathan's unforgettable blogpost on Dravid's retirement: http://
sidveeblogs.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/goodbye-dravid/
c) Harsha Bhogle's tribute: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/556769.html
d) Sameer Chopra's personal account of the 'other side of the ever-courteous Wall': http://blogs.espncricinfo.com/
thepitch/archives/2012/03/meeting_rahul_dravid_the_soul.php
e) Mrs. Vijeeta Dravid on "her husband, the perfectionist": http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/556979.html
f) Mukul Kesavan on how 'defence was the best offence' for Dravid: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/556801.html
g) cricinfo's "Dravid test": http://pavilionview.blogspot.in/2012/03/take-dravid-test.html
h) Dravid's statistical worth vis-a-vis other greats (Anantha Narayanan's analysis of batsmen by pitch / bowler worth): http://blogs.espncricinfo.com/itfigures/archives/2012/03/batsman_by_bowler_pitch_qualit.php
i) Ganguly on Dravid retirement: http://cricket.yahoo.com/news/rahul-s-experience-should-be-utilised--sourav-ganguly.html
j) the Dravidian Era (in pix): http://cricket.yahoo.com/photos/the-dravidian-era-slideshow/the-dravidian-era-photo-1331270575.html  &  http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/17299331
k) Dravid's career in pix (cricinfo): http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/gallery/556655.html
l) Dravid Interview, when he announced retirement: http://www.dailypioneer.com/home/online-channel/top-story/48424-dravid-walks-into-international-cricket-sunset.html
m) Others' tributes to Dravid on his retirement: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/17310407
n) Cricket writers on Rahul Dravid: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17309801
o) Dravid's Bradman Oration: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16212952
p) Gen-Y Indian batsmen on Dravid: http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/story/556948.html
q) Akash Chopra on the constantly evolving game of Rahul Dravid: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/557698.html
r) Keki Tarapore (Dravid's coach from early days) about Dravid: http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/story/103543.html
s)  Eight of Dravid's best: http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/story/556798.html
t) A special tribute from Kent ex-colleague, Ed Smith: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/557122.html
u) Dravid's Bradman Oration, 2011 (youtube video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt7fFVKmt60
v) Dravid - Reassurance is a virtue: http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/NFKxzkwZTmKRCavKv7wjSI/Rahul-Dravid-The-gift-of-reassurance.html
w) Youtube tributes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFFdakyzxOY , "Eye of the Tiger"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54CBD3DkG40 , Corporate India meets the Corporate Cricketer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctKTtXr50-Y
x) Dravid pages: http://cricket.yahoo.com/_specials/rahuldravid/ ; http://www.dravidthewall.com/ ; http://www.rediff.com/cricket/rahul-dravid-retires-2012.html

My personal tribute to Dravid: a collection of my Dravid posts on Pavilion view & other blogs


"FB has been prompting me to switch over to its 'timeline' version of status update.
After today I have no choice...my Wall has retired today.
All that this Wall and his illustrious Big Five colleagues stood and toiled for...may those live on in the vision of genX, genY and genZ."




That was my Facebook reaction to Rahul Dravid's retirement from Test and first class cricket on 9th March 2012.


In the past this blog has had some posts on Dravid's work as captain and cricketer.


The first one I want to share is a general post that somehow applies to Dravid today. Especially the last three paragraphs. The pre-retirement thoughts of Dravid that have come out through his press-conference and also his ex-teammates' comments on the dilemma of deciding on his last tour. 
I wouldn't have contemplated Dravid to fit this post while writing it - I was making a general point and, in any case, Dravid was at his peak then. 
The original post was on Cricinfo's Different Strokes. We have now reposted it in this blog and dedicated it to Rahul Dravid.



Other "Pavilion View" posts on Dravid:


The importance of being Rahul Dravid - part one  (Jan 2006 - at the start of his captaincy tenure, before Pak'06 Test series)
Rahul Dravid too (Jan 2006 - at the start of his captaincy tenure, before Pak'06 Test series)
The delicate art of captaincy (June 2006, West Indies)
The great folly of the greats (Jan 2007, SA)
Dravid's current lean trot (Jan 2007)
Deserving luck (Mar 2007)
Future guys of Indian cricket (Jan 2008)
Dravid's column on Laxman (Nov 2008)
The Wall's papers (Dec 2008)
Highest number of catches (Apr 2009)
Holding the hands of greats (Sep 2009)
Spirited cricket (Oct 2009)
Remembering Rahul's best days - 1 (Aug 2010)
Dravid, the World Cup great? (Feb 2011)
Screenshots of Dravid's 3 hundreds at England (Aug 2011)
Dravid & the importance of pink ball cricket (Apr 2011)
Right up Wall street (Nov 2011)
Picture Perfect Wall (Nov 2011)
...
...
...
And finally, to conclude this post I will re-post another old Facebook status message. It was posted some days after the proudest moment I had in quite sometime as an Indian cricket lover. I had stood up in my living room with the spectators and applauded the man when he opened the innings in the 4th England Test of 2011 facing a large English target, carried his bat in the innings and then came out 10 mins later to follow on...

Can't stop feeling proud of RD after that 4th Test...the way he took a new role and produced the one of the best 3 ever in it since India played Tests (carrying the bat as an opener)..and then came out to bat AGAIN within 10 mins to follow on. Here's an excerpt from a news link that reflects what he did that day:
"August 21: He comes to the field with his ‘aglets’ knotted and almost pasted to his shoes. He isn’t taking any chances and plays the knock of the tour. Fathers in the stands want their sons to play like him and mothers want them to behave like him. "