Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: England

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.”


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.


Why Indian Fans are on KP’s Side

On Twitter, Indian cricket fans (and fans of Indian cricket) are largely on Kevin Pietersen’s side in his battle against the ECB. Here is my theory why.

I want to preface this by saying:

  1. This is a theory.
  2. Since it is a theory, and it might hit close to home for many people, I don’t expect everyone to accept this theory as explaining their feelings on this matter. Even if the theory is true. Instinctively– and perhaps reflexively– we may discount this theory purely because it says some uncomfortable things about how our minds work. Having said that, I accept that the theory may be wrong.

In the summer of 2011, England comprehensively beat India over the course of four Test matches and a handful of limited overs engagements. India was significantly disadvantaged through injuries and the unavailability of players, but to be fair, they were also outplayed.

The combination of the English press and the English Cricket Board, however, continued to make the point that the English system for producing a cricket team was, in fact, inherently superior.

Now this may have been true– the truth is, we will never know for sure. However, this was not a message palatable to Indian fans at the time. Especially since the much-maligned Indian system had until recently produced a world-beating team in Tests and One Day Internationals.

In addition, this message was coupled with the common attacks about too much cricket, IPL as devil-incarnate, the lack of preparation for “transitioning” the senior players, your players are fat, with unmanaged injuries and on the other hand–

–Look at the professional, perfectly managed English team that Andy Flower rules with an iron fist and a heart of gold. Marvel at our perfection, for we will be the new dynasty in Australia’s place.

Indian fans did not take kindly to this message. And Indian fans took note of the members of the press most stridently pushing the all-hail-andy-flower-ecb-is-singularity message.

This summer, the ECB is locked in a battle for its relevance against Kevin Pietersen. And the English press has largely fallen in line with the ECB, serving as their mouthpiece, dropping leaked tidbits when requested. You scratch my back, I scratch yours, KP was a Saffer anyways.

Schadenfreude time.

The English establishment– and specifically certain characters we remember well from last summer– has continuously upheld and sold the English system as perfect and “professional”.

In the KP story, we see how and where this is not true. We see how and where the narrative of a perfect English system breaks down.

And we enjoy it.

At the same time, Kevin Pietersen alone among all English Test cricketers plays a brand of cricket that is (sometimes abhorrent-ly) referred to as a “subcontinental” brand of cricket. I say this with no disrespect to English batsmen, but KP is the least English of English batsmen.

His style of play would not stand out so much among say an Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan line-up. But among the English, he is positively alien.

And we appreciate this.

Also, KP is an iconoclast. India is a country of one billion iconoclasts. In fact, India as a country is united by one thing and one thing alone– to rail against the man. KP is an honorary Indian.

Sorry, make that Delhi Daredevil.

A Weighty Issue: Two English Journalists Talk About Samit Patel

All this talk about Samit Patel. I can’t stomach it.

It is a weighty issue.

Is he hungry.. for success?

Yes, at the highest level. But sometimes I feel he is being waisted.

Ah but the weight of expectation is pretty high now.

That’s food for thought.

He is a player worth his weight in gold.

That’s a lot of gold. But does he really measure up when compared with the competition?

There’s a growing body of research that shows he can make it at the highest level.

It’s just a matter of mind over platter, you know.

True. He just needs to quit cold turkey.

A trip to the paint store is in order. He just needs to get a little thinner.

Fat chance. All this talk is wearing him thin.

I get the feeling this might all just be wishful shrinking.

If he succeeds, he can enjoy a heavy bottom-line.

A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

The Trott Dossier

My first “feature length” article appears on the newly minted, and it’s on Jonathan Trott. Also, it appears in the section of the site I am very proud to have named: Damned Lies and Statistics. I have found the statistical master key to the #TrottsFault enigma. I won’t give away the plot, but here’s an excerpt:

The England ODI team is stuck in the ’90s– not willing to commit to the modern pace of the game. Jonathan Trott typifies this problem. The player– and the team– who are content with “good enough” in an era of an abundance of runs.

Go read more. There are charts too. Read the rest of this entry »

In Defense of Cook (and Geeks)

I’m a big fan of Cook the Test batsman. I’m not sold yet on Cook the Test captain (though it seems inevitable). I’m ambivalent on Cook the ODI batsman, and I’m not sold on Cook the ODI captain. And let’s, for the purpose of this article, assume T20 does not exist.

But as someone who is described (by myself and others) as a geek, I can’t help but lighten-up when Minal describes him as follows:

Cook is the essential geek you need in your group to research, compile and present the project and fetch the grade so that you and your friends can play pictionary and scrabble into the night and get up early to watch cricket matches.

Yeah, that was never me. But I knew that guy too, and while I’d never let him captain my team, I would make sure no one would bully him around.

(Also, I’d call him a nerd, not a geek.)

Third and Fourth Test Songs Called Off Due to Chronic Depression

I was going to write songs for all Tests in this series. I know.

But I just can’t. I know boy bands have been getting away with it for decades now, but I can’t keep writing the same song.

If I did write the songs, they would be cover versions of this line from the second Test song:

[England] batted on, and on and on
And on and on and on and on
India went on to promptly collapse
Maybe ’cause they wanted day 5 to relax

Hey Mr. Dhoni, what you gonna do?
You and your boys look like you haven’t got a clue
Tell you the truth, you don’t look like #1
Cause your team’s out there playing like it’s 1991

Read the rest of this entry »

A Message from Michael Jordan to Mahendra Singh Dhoni

MJ to MSD, across time:

Before India’s Awesome Fightback/Terrible Defeat

Alan Tyers writes an awesome choose-your-own-adventure style article on the state of the India-England series:

Off the pitch, however, a spat between [Voice of the New India / triumphalist buffoon] Ravi Shastri and [much-respected former England captain / bitter has-been] Nasser Hussain has further ignited simmering bad feeling. The DRS is just one battleground between the BCCI and the ECB as they fight over [the very soul of our great game / television money] and cricket adjusts to the [exciting / distressing] shift of power from Lord’s to Mumbai.

The Trent Bridge Test, in Song

As you know, I’m writing and performing a song about each Test in the India v. England series. Here is the one for the Lord’s Test. Without further ado, here is song two:

That’s a digital banjo and funk beats. And here are the lyrics (though I improvized to match the beat, so they are not precise):

Sreesanth and Ishant, having tea for two
Praveen joined in while the bounce was still true
By tea, they got England on a plate
How you gonna win a game from 120 for 8?

Hey Stewie Broad, you might not be aware
They call you Barbie on Twitter, that just don’t seem fair
‘Cause your batting like Beefy and bowling like him too
Though India’s chasing really well at 117 for two.

Hey Mr. Dravid, show a little rage
That you’re payin bills at your advanced age
VVS and Yuvraj tried to do their part
But that swinging ball from Stewie Broad was rippin’ it apart.

Let’s get that run out, out of the way
Bell was an idiot, to walk away
Dhoni held up the spirit of the game
Was he a sucker for Flower mind games.

Ian Bell batted on, and on and on
And on and on and on and on
India went on to promptly collapse
Maybe ’cause they wanted day 5 to relax

Hey Mr. Dhoni, what you gonna do?
You and your boys look like you haven’t got a clue
Tell you the truth, you don’t look like #1
Cause your team’s out there playing like it’s 1991