Daily Archives: 18 June 2007

Ford Gate

Ford-Gate…

We recently got hold of the transcript of a conversation on a Mumbai BEST Bus from Matunga to Malabar Hill. At first we thought it was a joke. But then the more we read it, the more we realized that we had struck gold in terms of a wonderful scoop!

We investigated this a bit further and realized that we were onto a winner! This conversation on that bus was between a certain Sunil Have-Arse-kar and Ravi Shaft-Tree.

It took place the day after Graham Ford rejected BCCI’s Team-India-Coach appointment offer.

Have-Arse: Yaar, this situation is quite sad, huh? Why did that Graham Ford have to turn us down?
Shaft-Tree: That’s his problem Have-Arse. He doesn’t get our money. That’s all. Even Raw-Wool Dravid said today that Fords’ backing down was not a “lost opportunity”. Anyway, why should we give our hard earned money to a firang? Let’s do our usual thing and burn it all in India itself!
Have-Arse: Smart thinking. Be Indian, Screw Indians, By Indian.
Shaft-Tree: Egggg-jack-tlee…
Have-Arse: But why did that Ford have to slap us in the face?
Shaft-Tree: Because it was there to be slapped. Serve us right for going after a firang. They have morals yaar. That’s the problem. They are not like us.
Have-Arse: That’s correct. Why did they have to have morals? They should be more like us. You and me. No morals. No ethics.
Shaft-Tree: That’s why I think we should always go with amchi-Marathis. They understand us. You and me. We are the only two that matter in Indian cricket anyway. Amchi-Marathis are good. We can work with them. These firangs and Madrasis and extreme Northies like Buy-Shit-Sing Bedi are the main problem in cricket.
Have-Arse: So what do we do? How do we save face in all of this? Why don’t you take up another Manager-type assignment like that nonsense you undertook in Bangladesh? Can I suggest your name for Manager?
Shaft-Tree: If only India were touring Zimbabwe, I would have continued as Coach/Manager for one more tour.
Have-Arse: I can understand. I don’t know why we tour places like England and Australia. We should only play teams we can beat.
Shaft-Tree: Should we make this recommendation to the committee, then? There are plenty of teams we can play – West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Canada, Ireland, Bermuda…even USA has a team. I always wanted to go there.
Have-Arse: Will you take up a full time coach position, then?
Shaft-Tree: No, yaar. It is too much work. I just want to sit in the commentary box and find fault with others. I don’t like responsibility.
Have-Arse: Same here. I think that Buy-Shit-Sing Bedi got it right although I am going to adopt a dignified silence on the whole thing. But he is right. I don’t like commitment… I only like committees!
Shaft-Tree: We should find a scapegoat in the committee and blame this Ford-Gate fiasco on the ineptness of that one person.
Have-Arse: Good idea. But who?
Shaft-Tree: How about that Madrasi Srini-Was Plain-Cut-Rent-a-van as scapegoat?
Have-Arse: That’s a brilliant idea. I never liked that Madrasi anyway. He drinks too much. If he has to drink, he should do it in private like you and me.
Shaft-Tree: That’s very true. He is such an embarrassment. Who ever thought of his name in this superb committee? If Plain-Cut wasn’t there, we’d have embarrassed ourselves way back. Because of him and his smart-arse interjections, we had to wait this long before repeatedly embarrassing ourselves in public.
Have-Arse: To be honest, we are not really embarrassed. It is only that fool Kneel-And-Run Shah who is embarrassed. That Kneel-And-Run Shah is such an embarrassment.
Shaft-Tree: I heard he has been diagnosed with mad-cow-disease?
Have-Arse: No. No. No. Not mad-cow-disease. I know he is a mad-cow, but he actually has foot-in-mouth-disorder.
Shaft-Tree: But I saw him take his foot out of his mouth the other day.
Have-Arse: That was only a momentary lapse of reason. Moreover, he took that left foot out so that he could insert his right foot in!
Shaft-Tree: Why does he blabber so much in the media?
Have-Arse: Because that is his job! He has been hired to make us look good! It is always good to have a bakra around.
Shaft-Tree: So what do we do now apart from blaming it all on Plain-Cut-Rent-a-Van?
Have-Arse: I think we should think an amchi-Marathi for Coach/Manager. We can manipulate an amchi-Marathi more easily.
Shaft-Tree: Agreed. But who?
Have-Arse: Who is the first great amchi-Marathi that comes to your mind apart from me?
Shaft-Tree: Oh Master, there is daylight after you.
Have-Arse: I know, but who is next? I mean after me, daylight and then you?
Shaft-Tree: Polly kaka.
Have-Arse: Appoint him as coach.
Shaft-Tree: But Polly kaka is dead! He died on November 6 2006!
Have-Arse: Really? And he didn’t tell me? Everyone tells me what is going on in Indian cricket. Why didn’t he tell me and seek my permission before dying? And why didn’t you tell me till now?
Shaft-Tree: I thought you knew. After all, Oh Master! You know everything don’t you?
Have-Arse: Yes, but suddenly the world is turning against me. Ever since I talked about Hookes in that manner, no one tells me anything.
Shaft-Tree: Yes! That was very embarrassing. I thought you were Kneel-And-Run Shah for a minute!
Have-Arse: Don’t talk about it. I should have blamed that on Plain-Cut-Rent-a-Van too.
Shaft-Tree: Anyway, nothing can be done about it. And Polly kaka is no more.
Have-Arse: Let’s appoint him as Coach/Manager then! That way, we can still hold the remote control on Indian cricket.
Shaft-Tree: How can we appoint a dead amchi-Marathi yaar?
Have-Arse: We would be better off appointing a dead amchi than having a living Australian who likes to SMS to every one. That Chappal should have been slippered like Stew-Dear Naik.
Shaft-Tree: I support an amchi, but not a dead Polly kaka yaar. Moreover that Absolute Power will not accept a dead man. There can only be one dead man in BCCI and Absolute Power has reserved that ticket already! He wrenched that dead-man ticket from the hands of Jug-of-Melon Dalmation.
Have-Arse: Ok, ok. Then who is the next good amchi-Marathi that you can think of apart from me, daylight, you and Polly kaka?
Shaft-Tree: How about Dull-Lip Veg-“YesSir”-Kar?
Have-Arse: I never liked that tight-fisted Dull-Lip. He never really identified himself as an amchi. He always had a chip on his shoulder. And he was always on about national integration and crap like that. He is best left as a selector. That way he will remain powerless. All he can do is select teams. That anyone can do. Remember that we need someone there as Coach/Manager so that we can retain the remote control. Dull-Lip has a mind of his own.
Shaft-Tree: That is so very true. He does have a mind of his own. You know. On your valuable, sensible and honourabe suggestion, I put a few team-selection suggestions to Dull-Lip. But that Veng-“YesSir”-Kar doesn’t seem to listen to you and me much these days. I asked him to drop Very-Very-Lax-Man and also So-Rough Ganguly from the team, but he wouldn’t agree.
Have-Arse: Exactly. So, it can’t be Dull-Lip. Try and understand yaar. Just as I groomed you in the art of LSR (Leadership Sans Responsibility), I am trying to groom you in the art of RCM (Remote Control Management) and here you are, thinking about progress.
Shaft-Tree: Ok, oh Grand Master. You are so wise.
Have-Arse: Ok ok. Stop kneeling in public. That too in a public bus. Suggest another amchi.
Shaft-Tree: How about A-Bit Wade-Pav-kar?
Have-Arse: He is another amchi with a mind. I ask you for amchi’s and you point out the only two amchi’s that have a mind? Tu kya paagal hai? Listen to Wade-pav-kar’s bhashans in the media. He’d put Munna Bhai to shame.
Shaft-Tree: Sorry boss. I didn’t realize you wanted an amchi without a brain.
Have-Arse: Suggest any another amchi name then!
Shaft-Tree: Ok. I thought of another one… Break-Nath Soldier!
Have-Arse: Brilliant. Appoint him as coach.
Shaft-Tree: Have-Arse. I am very sorry to say this. But Break-Nath too passed away on June 26 2005.
Have-Arse: What? He too? And I didn’t know? What is going on? Why did no one tell me? Why did he not tell me before he passed away?
Shaft-Tree: You were busy changing the batteries on the remote control then.. That’s when Chappal was being appointed.
Have-Arse: Yeah! I know. The remote control batteries were not working then. That’s why that SMS-loving Aussie got in.
Shaft-Tree: It is a pity I know. I never liked him. I always prefer Bata Chappal myself.
Have-Arse: So, suggest another amchi.
Shaft-Tree: How about Sad-deep Patil? He is another amchi. If I remember, he took Kenya to the semi-finals in the World Cup in 2003?
Have-Arse: Nakko re. He is too young. Remember he is only 50. We need someone who is at least over 70.
Shaft-Tree: Oh ok. More constraints! So we want an alive amchi without a brain who is at least 70 years old?
Have-Arse: Yep.
Shaft-Tree: Ok! How about Chacha Chamcha?
Have-Arse: You are joking.
Shaft-Tree: No, I am not. I think Chacha Chamcha would be ok. He’ll do what we — I mean you — ask him to do.
Have-Arse: But the man can hardly walk!
Shaft-Tree: Yes, I know. But Chacha Chamcha Chandu Boredom should be a good choice. And he still walks around with a cricket bat in his hand.
Have-Arse: What are you talking about, Shaft-Tree? That is not a bat, it is a walking stick.
Shaft-Tree: No. No. Have-Arse, age must be catching up with you. It is a cricket bat! See properly again. Having said that, you seem to always see what I can’t see.
Have-Arse: Of course I see what you can’t see. Haven’t you heard the old saying – “Je na dekhe Ravi, te dekhe Sunny“? In other words, “What the Sun (Ravi) cannot see, Sunny can see”.
Shaft-Tree: I thought the statement was “What the Sun cannot see, Kavi (Poet) can see”
Have-Arse: Same thing, yaar. When I used to bat, people used to say it was poetry in motion.
Shaft-Tree: But I’ve heard people say that these days, when you speak it is the equivalent of “loose” motion! Remember Hookes?
Have-Arse: Please, do not remind me of that Hookes episode yaar. I made Kneel-And-Run Shah look good! In fact, let us please not talk about Australians at all. Ok? I should have walked out of the MCG that day when Then-Is Lillie bad-mouthed me. I immediately cried on the field and dragged that other fellow who was batting with me away from the field. What was that guy’s name? That Northie… Anyway, I should have walked out on the Aussies. That So-Lean Dew-Rani made me change my mind. Anyway, you made me change topics again. We have to come up with the name of an amchi Manager
Shaft-Tree: So, Chacha Chamcha Boredom then?
Have-Arse: But I am still concerned yaar. The fellow can’t walk!
Shaft-Tree: So? All the better. Let’s give him a runner. That way he can sit in the dressing room appearing to be in control while drinking his whiskey. Why would he want to go out onto the field in the cold English summer anyway? We — I mean you — can bark instructions to him via remote-control and the runner can take these onto the field. That would be brilliant.
Have-Arse: What if he has a heart-attack midway through the tour?
Shaft-Tree: Look on the bright side. At least in that case, you will get to know about it!
Have-Arse: That’s true! Do you really think Chacha Chamcha Chandu Boredom will be able to do it?
Shaft-Tree: I think he stopped doing it many years ago. I spoke to Chachi the other day myself.
Have-Arse: I mean coaching the team and not doing “it”. Dirty mind…
Shaft-Tree: Yeah, he can do it. All he has to do is sit in a chair in the dressing room and sip his whiskey all day. Moreover, he will certainly be our Chacha Chamcha.
Have-Arse: Ok. But how are we going to convey that Chacha Chamcha should be our Manager to BCCI chief Absolute Power?
Shaft-Tree: Because he is a politician, we have to be very careful. It was easier when we had Jug-of-Melon Dalmation as the BCCI Prez. Even that Madrasi No-AC-Muthiah was easy to deal with.
Have-Arse: Do you know what happened when Muthiah was sent through a Rectifier?
Shaft-Tree: No.
Have-Arse: We got DC Muthiah! … And people say I don’t have a sense of humour.
Shaft-Tree: Actually, that is not true. They only say that you don’t have any sense.
Have-Arse (In angry tone): Ok then. You talk to Absolute Power and get him to think that the appointment of Chacha Chamcha Chandu Boredom was actually his idea. That’s the only way that egotist will buy the idea.
Shaft-Tree: Ok boss.
Have-Arse: Meanwhile, you call Dull-Lip and ask him to include A-Bit Shock-ar-kar, Was-a-bat Jaffer, Round-hit Sharma, Bye-Raj Bahut-Ho-Gaya-tule, Romesh PowWow, ZaZa-Gabor Khan and others from Mumbai in the team. Any chance for Win-A-Neck Samant in the team as the wicketkeeper?
Shaft-Tree: No Mahindra-Jeep Dhoni has got that spot. We can’t shift the Jeep out of the team.
Have-Arse: Make Mahindra-Jeep an amchi then. Simple.
Shaft-Tree: Ok Master. Did you know that Raw-Wool Dravid is also an amchi? He was born in Nagpur.
Have-Arse: I know, but he is not a true amchi. Tell Veng-“YesSir”-Kar to make Soft-Chin vice-captain. We need more control.
Shaft-Tree: One of these days, all XV players will be amchi.
Have-Arse: And don’t forget that we will have an amchi coach too — dead or alive. And of course the remote control managers will always be me, daylight and you!
Shaft-Tree: Bus stop aa gaya Master.
Have-Arse: Hey Shaft-Tree! Look at that Madrasi looking fellow seated behind us in this bus! Do you think he heard what we said? Do you think he has recorded this conversation?
Shaft-Tree: Really?
Have-Arse: I think so… Will that get us into trouble?
Shaft-Tree: There is no problem even if he has heard us or recorded this conversation. Don’t worry. We can fix these problems. If necessary, I can talk to several Dons that I know.
Have-Arse: I can talk to a Don too. The best Don there ever was!
Shaft-Tree: That Don that you are referring to is dead too, by the way!
Have-Arse: Really? He too didn’t inform me?

EXIT STAGE LEFT!

{to be continued…}

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Raised Eyebrows: Cataracts or Contracts?

Team India Player contracts for the 2007-2008 season have raised a few eyebrows — most notably, the retention of Irfan Pathan in Grade B and the allocation of Zaheer Khan in Grade C!

This could be seen an ill-deserved boon for Pathan and a demotivator for Zaheer Khan. After the irresponsible and messy Coach-Gate fiasco, which resulted in the choice of septuagenarian Chandu Borde as Manager of Team India, and the team selection for the tour of Ireland and England, which has left the team moderately imbalanced, the last thing India probably needed was for the only experienced fast bowler in the team to be demotivated. Well, what lack of fitness and lack of form could not do, the BCCI has achieved in one fell swoop! When the BCCI is able to dish out regular doses of upper-cuts to the Team and to its chances, why does the team need to play oppositions at all? There is a better opposition for Team India in the BCCI itself.

So, what is wrong with the gradation system?

Well, for one it relies almost entirely on performance in the last year and not at all — to the best of my knowledge — on future potential. Moreover, the contracts are for only 17 players. Surely, the BCCI — the Worlds’ richest cricketing body — can do better than that?

This is either a case of short-sightedness or lack of vision. Someone needs to rid the BCCI of its cataract and cancer. Or else we will see a continuous and relentless internal hemmoraging of Indian cricket.

At the moment, Dinesh Karthik, R. P. Singh, V. R. V. Singh, Robin Uthappa, Ishant Sharma, Romesh Powar, Piyush Chawla, Rohit Shama, Ranadeb Bose, et al do not have a contract. And these guys are on the plane to Ireland and/or England. Manoj Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara and S. Badrinath — players with identified and acknowledged potential — do not have a contract.

Australia, in its list of 25 players, has guys like Cullen Bailey (SA), Daniel Cullen (SA), Brad Haddin (NSW), Ben Hilfenhaus (Tas), James Hopes (Qld), Phil Jaques (NSW), Mitchell Johnson (Qld), Chris Rogers (WA), Adam Voges (WA) and Cameron White (Vic). Clearly, this is an investment to the future! Some of these guys haven’t played an ODI or a Test! They have also retained faith in Jason Gillespie (SA) when he hadn’t played either an ODI or a Test match in the immediately previous year! This shows foresight, courage, planning and process-cleanliness.

I know I have been going on for a while about systems and processes in Australia. That is how they got to where they’ve got to in World Cricket. If they had sat on their fingers — as the BCCI tends to do — the only thing they’d have got is ring marks on their collective backsides — which is what the BCCI has a lot of!

Surely, the BCCI can increase the contracted player list to 25. Surely the BCCI could come up with a system that assures contracts to players based on both performances in the last year as well as future potential!

Even Pakistan is thinking of delivering a contract-list of 25 players.

The main rule that discriminates the contracted lot from the non-contracted lot for Team India is the one that says that “Any player who plays a minimum of five Tests or 15 ODIs during a season automatically qualifies for a Grade C contract for the following season”.

So, Dinesh Karthik, R. P. Singh, V. R. V. Singh, Robin Uthappa, Ishant Sharma, Romesh Powar, Piyush Chawla, Rohit Shama, Ranadeb Bose, et al could still bag a contract. However, they are not on the starting blocks and that is grossly unfair, in my view. Potential has been discarded with a view to rewarding past performances. A contract should recognise future potential as much as it does past performance. Someone needs to tell the BCCI lemons that one should not drive a car merely by looking at the rear view mirror!

Another beef I have with these contracts is that they are nine months late! They are effective from October 1, 2006 and will expire September 30, 2007. What are the BCCI officials doing if they cannot administer a player-contracts-process in an efficient and clinical manner? Yes, there were disputes relating to a percentage share of revenues, etc. But there are few contract processes that are sans dispute and negotiation. That is a fact of life. To have a contracts-system that is delivered 9 months late is a terrible shame.

Finally, the actual gradation of a few players indicates that there are a few people who are asleep on the wheel on the BCCI bus. How can someone like Irfan Pathan score a Grade-B contract when Zaheer Khan languishes in Grade-C? Even Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan’s Mumbai-mate, who has done precious little in the last year, finds himself in Grade-B!

The graded players are:

  • Grade-A (Rs 50 lakh/yr plus match fee): Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni.
  • Grade-B (Rs 35 lakh/yr plus match fee): V. V. S. Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar.
  • Grade-C (Rs 20 lakh/yr plus match fee): Gautam Gambhir, Wasim Jaffer, Sree Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Suresh Raina, Munaf Patel.

M. S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh have moved up from Grade-B to Grade-A. This is perhaps understandable. It is also perhaps a sign to both that a lot more is expected of them in terms of commitment and responsibility.

Virender Sehwag, V. V. S. Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan have dropped from Grade-A to Grade-B. These are understandable too. Irfan Pathan, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh are not on the plane to England. Moreover, their form has dropped off considerably and worryingly over the last year or so. Laxman’s drop to Grade-B is perhaps understandable. His ODI career is all but over.

Mohammed Kaif and Murali Kartik are out of contracts. And that is understandable too and they have been replaced by Wasim Jaffer and Munaf Patel.

Overall, this has been yet another shambolic performance from the BCCI.

— Mohan