Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

The 1992 Indian Cricket Team and Things That Blow My Mind

Look what I found in my basement:

The cover of the card

The cover of the card

 

Signatures of the Indian 1992 World Cup Squad

 

I got this card for writing a letter to the team. It reminds me of when I was 12, and what cricket (and this card) meant. So many things to talk about here:

  • Recent chief selector Kris Srikkanth is still around.
  • No photograph of Tendulkar, but there’s a signature.
  • Manjrekar and Shastri are now in the commentary box.
  • The bowling attack isn’t half-bad for the time: Kapil Dev, Prabhakar, Srinath, Raju, Banerji, and Shastri as proto-Yuvraj.
  • But the batting reminds me a lot of 2012. A lot of aging stars, about to be shown the door: Shastri, Kapil, Srikkanth. And a few batsmen who we thought were the future, but didn’t pan out: Amre, Kambli, Manjrekar. Who would have thought back then that the real hidden gem of this team was Srinath?
  • Remember Jadeja’s catch from this World Cup? Now seeing Jadeja and Azhar’s names just makes me sad.
  • Prabhakar’s name just makes me angry.
  • And Kiran More’s name reminds me that we used to repeatedly walk past the Benetton store he owned in Baroda just to see him.

But most of all, the thing that continues to blow my mind is that Sachin Tendulkar is STILL PLAYING CRICKET today!! I was 12 and now I’m 33, but Tendulkar will walk out to play a Test match in Nagpur tomorrow morning.

This was a great World Cup, even though India didn’t do very well. Nine teams and most were quite good. Even Zimbabwe punched above their weight. And everyone played everyone else in the first round.

Oh, one more thing. Raju with a bat is just funny.

Advertisements

We’re Humbled

Humble Oils

Humble Oils (Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass)

India stand at the brink of the kind of defeat that an entire generation of cricket fans in India has never seen. And while Ashwin could still pull a Headingley today, we don’t have a Bob Willis to bulldoze the English batsmen.

Sid Monga for Cricinfo, in his day four match report.:

It was fitting that the [Barmy Army] “band” drowned out the despondent Indian contingent in the stands, putting in place the jingoistic advertisements put together by the host broadcasters, which ridiculed English people.

Well played, Sid. Arrogance is grating, but you can get away with it as long as you’re winning.

In July 2011, after India lost the Lord’s Test, I wrote an article titled “We’re Arrogant” fighting against the rhetoric from the English media:

No kidding, we’re arrogant. We were arrogant at Lords, and not because Ganguly screamed shirtless for the members in red and gold jackets. We were arrogant because two 20-year olds had just chased down 326 in your backyard. In the erstwhile home of cricket.

We’re not arrogant because we’re jerks. We’re not arrogant because we bought this place. We own this place. And we own it because we win.

And now, we no longer win. And while I am yet to see evidence of humility, we have been humbled. On the plus side, the most exciting era in recent Indian memory is just over the horizon. It has been “just over the horizon” for some time now. If we get past denial, and recognize that this is an era of transition. Of experimentation.

As Tank said to Neo, “it’s an exciting time. We got a lot to do. Let’s get to it.”

Project Management Euphemisms to Fix New Zealand Cricket

Ross Taylor was pushed aside as captain of New Zealand after serious disagreements with coach Hesson. And Taylor has made himself unavailable for the next series. The long and short of it, from Andy Bull:

Taylor has been been stuck in an internecine squabble over the captaincy with Brendon McCullum ever since Dan Vettori stepped down. Hesson worked with McCullum at Otago for six years, and ever since he took over from John Wright as head coa ch last August he has made it all too obvious whose side he is on. The panel that appointed Hesson to his position included Stephen Fleming, who still draws a lot of water in Kiwi cricket circles, and just happens to be McCullum’s manager and business partner.

New Zealand cricket is in trouble and the current disagreement with Ross Taylor isn’t even the biggest part. It is, however, the most recent and most public symptom of what has brewed for some time.

The problems in New Zealand cricket are systemic. New Zealand Herald has produced a special report called “The Shame Game” for a week now outlining all the problems and figuring out if there is a way out. The solution is introspection, and rethinking the boardrooms as well as at the grassroots of the game.

On the other hand, here is a paragraph from Brydon Coverdale’s article on the current crisis in New Zealand cricket:

After the miscommunication, it will take some serious man management, and execution of plans, for Hesson to get everyone back on the same page.

I haven’t seen such a dense package of euphemisms since I  last watched Office Space. This is the kind of thing that would work if this was a call center where the biggest problem was that they were getting rid of the coffee machine. Seriously.

Are Cricket-Bloggers Special?

Yes.

Why We Write, continued

Matt Becker, the midwestern cricket-blogger who at times seems like my intellectual twin, wonders if cricket bloggers are a special breed. Are we non-competitive and helpful to other bloggers? More so than bloggers in other domains? And if so, why?

Becker:

Something about cricket writing touches nerves with people, and for some reason it attracts phenomenally talented writers, and for some reason those writers want to promote other, less talented, writers, instead of simply ignoring them or even worse actively dissuading people from reading them.

I started writing on the Internet in 1998, when we just called it “writing on the Internet” instead of blogging, and we were all webmasters. And over the last 14 years, I’ve blogged about Star Wars, technology, tech policy, film, Apple, and oh, I must be forgetting some other topics.

But rarely have I found the sense of community, camaraderie and the general rising-tides-lift-all-boatsiness that is common among cricket-bloggers.  Like Matt said, it makes me keep writing.

Twitterati

Before Twitter, blogging was very different. To build a community, or participate in a community, you had to go to forums or be a good citizen in the comments of other people’s blogs. In short, you had to build a reputation on other people’s territory before they came to yours.

It often felt like I was blogging in a vacuum. Do people read what I write? Why? What do they think when they read it? How do I find other like-minded people who find my obscure hobby interesting?

These days, with Twitter, if you’re good, consistent and focused, it’s a level playing field and the community is all in one place. And the live nature of sports (and the 24-hour nature of cricket) makes it a perfect match for Twitter.

Since cricket doesn’t have an audience the size of soccer or isn’t as media-rich as some American sports, the Twitter cricket community is of a manageable size. It’s not rare to have a meaningful, short conversation with the Editor of Wisden or an Editor at Cricinfo or your favorite blogger.

The currency on Twitter is “sharing cool stuff”, so naturally it’s a great community of people who will go out of their way to share your stuff. As long as it’s cool. The niceness of cricket bloggers that Matt Becker refers to is largely a niceness of cricket tweeters.

Deep Backward Point would have no readers without Twitter. Sana Kazmi tweeted a link to one of my early posts. Jarrod Kimber saw it and linked to it. A few more people started following my tweets. And the rest was history.

A few months later, hours after I posted my first Willow TV story, Subash (The Cricket Couch) sent me a direct message on Twitter that he wanted my phone number so we could talk about the story. I had been writing for more than a decade and nobody had ever wanted to call me about something I wrote. That turned in to the Boredwani podcast.

Later, I was invited to join The Sightscreen team because of a single tweet of mine that Minal responded to. (Someday I hope to follow through on the contents of that single tweet.)

Twitter is where this blog gets its traffic from. It’s where I formulate my ideas. It’s where I’m challenged and encouraged. And it’s where my people live. And I’m convinced that’s how it is for the cricket blogging community.

Money, Money, Money

When I was writing about Apple, or even Star Wars during the prequels, competition was intense. You wouldn’t send traffic to your competition. You still see this play out regularly in the tech blogosphere (e.g. engadget, gizmodo, theverge)– they will re-write each other’s stories, and barely give credit. Bloggers in other fields worry a lot about losing rank on Google, which results in less traffic, revenue and relevance.

Here in cricket-land, since readers don’t translate to money, we’re not really competing for readers. We can send our readers away in the hope that if we send them somewhere cool, they will come back.

It is our gift and our curse that cricket is a small sport. At Internet scale, the number of people who are interested in reading non-mainstream articles on cricket is minuscule.

The advantage is that the community is manageable and no money to be made.

The disadvantage is that there is no money to be made. Yet.

Undiscovered Business Model or No Business Model

There are no independent cricket bloggers who make real money without going mainstream. Those who have turned this in to a full-time gig have done so under the banners of ESPN or media-conglomerate-du-jour. There is no business model to support what we do.

But perhaps that will not always be true. Maybe there is a future where money flows in to the amateur, alternative media producers.

I know I have some ideas. And I hope others do to. And when it happens– if it happens– I hope we can keep the good parts of what we have now.

Did You Get a Copyright Notice from BCCI on Twitter?

I was recently asked for advice on how to respond to a DMCA takedown notice from Twitter. I wrote an email to this person, and thought the advice was useful enough for other people to put up here on the blog.

I AM NOT A LAWYER. I DO NOT PLAY ONE ON TV.

All of this is advice that I would follow, based on years of reading and blogging on the subject at my other blog. In fact, it is advice that I have had to follow, as explained later in this article.

Sidebar: What is a DMCA Takedown Notice?

Here is what happens. Let’s say the BCCI owns copyright to video of the England Vs. India Test series. Someone posts a link to a pirated stream on Twitter.

The BCCI has employed a company based in Bangalore to monitor Twitter (and other sources, I suppose) for links that infringe copyright. When this company finds infringing links, it sends a DMCA takedown notice to Twitter to have that Tweet removed.

The United States passed a law in 1998 called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This law contains what is called the “safe-harbor” provision, which protects a service provider (in this case, Twitter) from monetary damages from infringing activity of its users, as long as the provider (Twitter) meets certain conditions.

One of the conditions is that if Twitter receives a DMCA takedown notice for infringing material, they must remove it. As long as they promptly remove it (and comply with other conditions), they can’t be sued for copyright infringement.

More on the DMCA: something I wrote in 2008 on the 10 year anniversary of the law and of course, the EFF.

Now that you “understand” the DMCA

So you received a DMCA notice from Twitter with the subject: “We’ve received a DMCA notice regarding your account”? Tough.

Perhaps this is what happened:

  • The tweet has a link to a pirated stream.
  • Someone at BCCI searches for these links and sends a DMCA takedown notice to Twitter
  • By US law, if Twitter receives a DMCA takedown notice, they must remove the content.
  • So Twitter removed just that offending tweet and notified the users.

If it’s a standard DMCA notice, you don’t have to respond. I suppose if a Twitter user is in violation repeatedly, their account could be suspended. But if this is just a one-off thing, and you know that the link was pirated, there’s nothing more to be done.

Now, if one strongly believed that the tweet was not infringing copyright, there are ways to fight it. But it’s hard to win, because people like us can’t afford legal fees and the law (DMCA) heavily favors the large companies that own copyrights.

I have tried to fight it for my short documentaries on YouTube, which use short clips from Hindi films, but have had no luck getting them reinstated. My videos are definitely fair use, and protected under US law, but the DMCA is a terrible law that has no legal recourse for the little guy. (Sidebar: when should you fight a DMCA notice? When your content is Fair Use.)

But my real advice is: don’t provide direct links to pirated content in public forums.

DMCA is bad law. It’s been bad for 14 years. But your public link to pirated content? Let’s not pretend that was a great idea either.

Cricket rights around the world are a complicated matter. Being smart about what you post on the Internet is not complicated at all.

References:

  1. The Electronic Frontier Foundation on the DMCA
  2. My article on the 10 year anniversary of the DMCA
  3. Chilling Effects has a searchable archive of DMCA notices. Search for “cricket” to see scores of BCCI notices.
  4. Twitter’s Policy on DMCA Notices

USACA Melodrama: Presented Without Comment

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s the full thread.

Yuvraj: the Third Act

In February, with more hope than logic, I predicted a third act to the future blockbuster Yuvraj: The Film.

The third act has begun.

Yuvraj Singh: at the beginning of the third act

Couch Talk and the Weird Pleasures of Writing Online

I was re-listening to the Sambit Bal episode of Subash’s excellent Couch Talk podcast, where they have this exchange:

Subash– Another issue that has been raised–
Sambit– Raised by whom?
Subash– By a lot of fans on social media is that there are various articles that are published on the cricinfo with byline as ESPNcricinfo Staff.
Sambit Bal– I think it is a very small group of people raising the issue, very small among the millions of readers.
Subash– Let’s say there was one person who raised the issue. If it is a valid issue, it doesn’t matter how many people have raised it. Under that by-line, if it is strictly news story for 3 or 4 paragraphs, it is perfectly alright. But, there have been instances where opinion has slipped into these stories. How do you keep a track of these things?

In my fantasy, they are talking about me. I am that one person.

The Internet is a great place for cultivating an ego through inconsequential events. I’ve been mentioned twice before on Couch Talk in two separate episodes with Jarrod Kimber. Once indirectly for something I wrote and once directly for something I tweeted.

And while I criticize Cricinfo often, one of the high points of this blog’s short life was being mentioned on Cricinfo’s Surfer.

These mentions made me feel good. And then it made me feel a little dirty– why does it make me feel good to be mentioned by uber-bloggers for inconsequential things?

We live in an echo chamber. It may be a good idea to step outside once in a while.

Chomsky for Cricket Australia

Jarrod Kimber, with top notch satire in the form of Noam Chomsky expresses an interest in playing Test Cricket for Australia:

“In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, Test Cricket is more than just an ideal to be valued – it may be essential to survival” said Chomksy.

Luckily, Chomsky’s normally in form. (sorry, that’s a context-free joke).

England, Be Proud of “Pom Africa”

 

I’ve wanted to write about the xenophobia of many in England who regularly test their immigrant cricketers for their “Englishness”. And I’ve wanted to write about those outside England who mock and criticize England for the same. But David Mutton just did it, and did it better than I would have:

I am English, British and a European, a New Yorker and as the years go by I will increasingly become an American. Any child I am lucky enough to bring into this world will be an American citizen, and if by some miraculous inversion of genetics they become a sporting star then they will almost certainly represent the United States. There are hundreds of millions of us with these dual allegiances and shared cultures. And it is something to celebrate.

Amen. Wish you had a country that attracted the best and brightest from around the world.

A similar, but different, sort of phenomenon surrounds the IPL (and the Indian market in general). The best cricketers from around the world increasingly make their money from the Indian market.

There are still no questions of national allegiance, but team allegiances are murky. India is the new frontier.

There’s a gold rush analogy, or one about a wild west for hired guns in there.

Either way, in the end you’re left with Califonia.