Winning it the Pablo-Ponting Way !

I’ve just finished watching Narcos and I must admit that there’s something highly intriguing & fascinating about it, that I can’t fathom the fact that it is actually over. For those who haven’t seen it, let me brief you a bit. Narcos is an American crime web television series, which tells the rags to riches story of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who became a billionaire through the production and distribution of cocaine. Escobar was a bad guy,no doubt! He was responsible for killing of human race via bombings and murders but there’s loads to gain from his management skills and the way he lead his troops is commendable.

Pablo’s character is very strong and the amount of self-belief this guy possesses is something unimaginable. He had three opponents – the Colombian police, the Americans and the other mafias but he always lived on his own terms, managed his business with only a handful of trusted sources and removed everyone that came in the way of his family or work. Pablo is one of my favorite characters on the screen and Ponting had been the same on a Cricketing field. Escobar clearly reminds me of the Punter.

I absolutely loved the show and appreciate every single moment of it. Narcos has been remarkably scripted and there hasn’t been a dull moment,just like Ponting’s career; full of undying winning spirit.

Here’s a quick look at Ponting’s amazing stats –

  • Most International runs by an Australian Batsman – 27,483
  • Most International Centuries by an Australian Batsman and second of all time – 71
  • Second to Graeme Smith for most Test victories as captain – 48
  • Most victories as ODI captain – 165
  • Undefeated as Captain in World Cups games -35 matches

Pablo had been a mass murderer and a drug lord whereas Ponting is one of the greatest players to have ever played the game. It would be unfair to draw parallels but there have been some striking similarities in terms of their leadership and behavioral traits.

Pablo Escobar - Ricky Ponting

Being Ruthless
Ponting embodied everything Australia stands for: toughness and a skilled craftsman, who cared about the baggy green. He stepped over the line many times, but was always dedicated to winning games for his country. Pablo on the similar lines,acted ruthless when his game was at the stake.He didn’t even think twice to bomb an airplane and a Court;simply because he to.Remember the Sydney test? You lie,you cheat,you steal but ultimately you got to win. It’s like a family,do whatever it takes to keep them safe and win at the same time.

Charismatic Leaders
Escobar was very bright in terms of seeking the opportunity and fixing the problems. Cocaine was practically unknown in the US when he started out and when he finished
he was one of the richest men in the world. His men could do anything for him. In terms of organization, originality, and leading with a strategic mindset he should be considered up there with Ponting. Not only did he have 3 consecutive Ashes wins in England under his belt but he made the Aussies invincible across all the formats.

He led from the front, always. In fact,Ponting’s 2003 WC final knock that outclassed India out of the game was so amazing that Indians started to believe that he had a spring in his bat back then.

Street Smart & Intimidating
Pablo could use his tons of money and his fear to get what he always wanted. It’s his ego towards becoming the President that got him killed. Ponting too was quite intimidating at the same time.He considered sledging as a tool to help his team getting a psychological advantage over the opponent. Hayden McGrath Lee Warne were his Gustavo, La Quica, Limon & Blackie. Highly faithful and dangerous resources. Winning 3 consecutive World Cups isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and Ponting did it in style.

The Bandits
Both Pablo & Ponting were rebellions in terms of their technique. You pitch him short, it’ll be pulled off for a six.Also, the way Pablo roams around in his car in Medellin, even though he had a bounty on his head;shows that he backs his instincts to succeed. Ponting always had a plan B in shape just like Pablo, who always had an escape route ready for him in adverse situations.The innings he played in 2005 Ashes, was exceptional. He displayed a magnificent display of his character especially when the greatest of his men no longer existed. Similarly, even though Pablo lost his biggest strength-his cousin Gustavo; he fought hard and won it with pride.

Think Big and Dominate
You dream big and make them come true.Pablo had told himself that he’d a billionaire by 25. He did! Ponting too on similar lines did the unfathomable.Back in January 1999 he was banned for three matches after a nightclub brawl. He slogged hard and the world eventually saw him becoming Test Captain five years later is testament to the guy’s work ethic and dedication to the post he ascended to.Every time he walked to the crease he had fire in his eyes. He had determination, aggression and a great temperament. He had an amazing ability to attack and play shots that you could not set fields to defend against.

A naive boy from Tasmania went onto become the greatest captain of all time. It takes balls of steel to achieve this feat.

Crazy at Different Levels
I mean who wages a war against his own Govt. Ponting too at the same time, wasn’t any less.Be cool, be in control and not only handle fear but induce it to the opposition. That was their mantra. Now, coming to the 2006-07 Ashes series, Ponting was under huge pressure as Australia had conceded the urn to England the previous year. It was a make or break Ashes for Ponting as another defeat could well have meant the end for his term as the captain.But he absorbed the pressure gracefully, lived up to his reputation by leading the team from the front. He instilled fear in the eyes of the opposition by playing fearless Cricket.

He played a belligerent knock of 196 which still goes down in the history books as one of his finest stints ever. Not only it set up the match for an Australian victory but eventually paved way for a 5-0 thrashing of England in that Ashes series.

Summing it up with this quote from Ricky Ponting –Always be fiercely determined and driven to succeed.

Both were proven Punters in their own way. Ultimately,it all boils down to which side are you on. Pablo achieved his fate (got killed) whereas Ponting nurtured his soul into something constructive and is still hailed as a legendary batsman & captain for all the right reasons.

Cheers to the great gamblers.

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In conversation with Brett Lee’s Ball

I think it’s been a while I have moved my arse off Bangalore. I have been acting too lazy to plan a trip.What’s wrong with you boy? Life’s too short to not travel, meet your favorite people, eat the food you like, love what you do and get lost in your wanderlust. Better do something about your life bitch ! These were the exact thoughts hovering in my mind just before I dozed off last night.

Helloes ! Anyone here? Binga ! Binga !
He is not at home. He is busy with the Irishmen, preaching the art of pace bowling in the World Cup.Either you can go to the ground now or you can drop a note and I shall pass it on to my master.Oh ! Okay. I am a huge fan of Brett Lee since my childhood. Do you mind if I sit here for a while and absorb the moment. Surely, and by the way same here. I’m so glad to have been in his hands for the last one and a half decades. Though, my shine and seam has gone for a toss but still the amount of respect this Kookaburra gets till day is impeccable.

Binga !

Ahaan. Can I please jot down this conversation, so I can go back and share it with my cricket frenzied nation? Definitely. Just make sure it’s brutally honest; the way my master is, said the leather cherry smilingly. Bowl !

Lalit : Pardon me. I didn’t get your name?
Ball : Haha. That’s fine. I am The Blonde’s Bombshell. I got the name when I sent 5 batsmen back to the pavilion with pride and pace equaling Lillee’s record of a five-for on the debut. Lee running with his blonde hair, caressing me on the way to do the trick and boom I did full justice to my master’s expectations.It was the perfect welcome anyone could get into the cricketing arena.

Lalit : How do you compare that day with today?
Ball : As mentioned earlier, when though I have become old and torn but till day we both share a mutual admiration towards each other. We are still the best of friends. He plays with me every morning and makes sure I am being valued .I am sexy and I know it.

Lalit : When did you actually realize that you were in great hands?
Ball :  It was in 2005, The Boxing Day. Kallis, one of the most difficult guys to penetrate through was on the strike. Lee kissed me and told me look friend gear up! Trust me you are gonna love this ride. He ran fiercely and held me tightly from head to toe and with that trajectory I went bouncing right into his helmet bamboozling him completely. Kallis was left dumbstruck. Minutes later, I knocked his timbers out of the groove. Then I realized, if I can get into this hole, I am not but my master is awesome.

Lalit : Is there any incident, which was too funny and still cracks you up?
Ball :  Yeah sometime back Piers Morgan challenged Lee that he would belt me all round the park.I looked at Brett and said game on. Forget about hitting me, he couldn’t even feel me till I hit him right on his shoulder, head, hand and booty respectively. You can call that stint as #TearsForPiers. Still cracks me up the way he ran for his life after that over.

Lalit : Is there any achievement you would like to share in particular?
Ball :  I don’t wish to act like a humble brag. But since you have asked me, let me share it. Not one, rather two actually.Firstly,I was the first one to take a T-20 hat trick .Secondly,I have the highest blood count of 380 scalps on my seam in ODIs as an Australian.

Lalit : What is that one day you wish to delete from your life?
Ball: Damn! You reminded me again.
Lalit : I am sorry. You can skip it.
Ball : It’s fine. Even though it was unintentional but I still feel bad. I ended Alex Tudor’s career in 2002 as I hit him right on the face.

Lalit : Which batsmen do you dislike the most?
Ball : Brian Lara and VVS Laxman. Former was a slaughter and the latter a surgeon. These two gave me sleepless nights and I hate them.

Lalit : Who is your best friend apart from Lee?
Ball : Adam Gilchrist. He takes care of me and I feel safe in his gloves. It’s a delight to watch Lee celebrate from that view as well.

Lalit: How has your journey been so far?
Ball :  Adventurous. I was always on the run. Lee never slowed down, however the conditions were. I was criticized in the early 2000s for not being a quality test material and as in and out of the side due to poor form and a couple of injuries. That was a sad time sitting back at home. Then I recovered back and answered the critics. In the 2005 I hit the 99.99 miles/hour barrier in NZ. That was insane and moreover when you have an outrageous fan following through thick and thin you feel loved and pampered (by the female ones). Overall a great stint with international career.

Lalit : Lastly tell us about the farewell day at Big Bash.
Ball : I was a no less than a romantic thriller. Initially I was seeing the proceedings with a heavy heart, was recollecting all the good memories that I had cherished on the field but then in the last over I became a thriller as I picked up 3 wickets nearly giving the title to the Sydney Sixers.

Well, it was great talking to you and before I could thank him for the wonderful insights I woke up from my slumber and was transported back to Namma Bengaluru from New South Wales where Lee lives. Hail Binga and his Bombshell !

PS: I won’t procrastinate, going to Amritsar finally and yeah Good morning.

Sewaiyaan triggers Pakistani batting collapse, reveals Pakistan Bureau of Investigation.

Christchurch: Pakistani team seemed confident after the Caribbean boys put just 310 runs on the board, which was in sync with the Whatsapp message that predicted easy win for the men in green. Investigations revealed that during the innings break, while walking back to the pavilion Pakistani fielders saw a few fans eating Sewaiyaan and carrying a poster inviting them to have them outside.

#WontGiveItBack

#WontGiveItBack

Tempted with the invitation, Misbah discussed it with the team. Finally a unanimous call was taken that a plate full of Sewaiyaan is any day better than the empty cup and let’s finish the innings ASAP.Now the tussle started over the opening slot as to the surprise Misbah started padding up. Shehzad and Jamshed opposed the captain and claimed

that as openers they should get the chance to get out first to taste the sewaiyaans. Shehzad, Jamshed,Haris and Younis were already outside the stadium by the time Pakistan made just 1 run hunting for the sewaiyaan guy. They saw a food-truck parked nearby with a lot of WEST-Indian fans.The Paki fab-4 inquired about the sewaiyaan, to which everyone replied #WontGiveItBack and offered them a complimentary dhokla.

The fab-4 rushed back to the dressing room to inform that it was a hoax call. By the time they were back Pakistan was already 25-5 and a padded Misbah was rushing out to get his share.After knowing the grim reality he passed the message to the on-pitch pair to bat sensibly as they were fooled. Maqsood and Akmal gave it a shot but it was too late.

Meanwhile, the matter got escalated and we may see a sewaiyaan ban in Pakistan.

On a funny note, here is the match summary (In case you wish to give a damn!)
Feb21, 2015                                                                             Christchurch, New Zealand
Pak– 160/10 (39 Overs) Lost to WI 310/6 (50 overs)
MoM- Andre Russell for his all-round performance of 33-3 and 42 off 13 balls with the bat.

Transformers: Raw Boys to Resilient Men(Under-26)

The piece of post contains the list of batsmen who have evolved from brash and talented bunch of folks to responsive and deliverable commodities in the cricketing household. Watch for these guys in 2015 (in all formats of the game) as they get transformed to real men,who now possess the ability to read the game and turn it single handedly through their sheer passion and commitment.


  1. Kane Williamson [24 years 120 days]
    New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson is one of the brightest sparks in the game today, and it should only be a matter of time before Williamson goes on to engrave his name among the likes of kiwi greats -Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe.He has scored over 2600 runs from 34 Tests at a scintillating average over 40 .Without any elementary doubts,Kane is one of the complete players of modern day era. He already has made his way into the list of Top 10 New Zealanders to score most Test centuries for his country.With 7 centuries, he is next only to Sir Donald Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar and Sir Gary Sobers as a batsmen with most 100+ scores before turning 24.

    Williamson kick started his Test career by scoring 131 in his maiden Test innings against India in 2010 to become only the eighth New Zealander to score a century on his Test début. Later in 2012, he went on to play a match-saving unbeaten 102 in the fourth innings against the mighty Proteas.In the recent times after taking on the manhood in 2014,in his second tour of the West Indies in June 2014;Williamson finished as the top run-getter with 413 runs, including two hundreds that contributed to a historic series win for the kiwis.

    The innings of 192 against Pakistan is by far his best knock that reflects his character.Take a bow for that ! Williamson’s batting has reassured the team management, here’s a batsman who’s not just good enough in one format, but an asset who can bat classily at the No 3 position across formats.Kane averages over 40 in both Tests and ODIs.

    Williamson can well be compared to Virat Kohli, in terms of pacing his innings .He times the ball to perfection and is effortless in finding gaps. Williamson is rock solid and calm in everything . He not only defends sublimely but attacks with absolute control as well. His fastest CLT20 ton (of just 49 balls)playing for Northern Knights is the prime example of his adaptability,embracing the change of format.

    He is the complete man and the most apt batsman to endorse Raymond clothing.

    Kane Williamson - A legend in making.

    Kane Williamson – A legend in making.


  2. Steven Smith[25 years 187 days]
    Capable of taking the attack to the opposition, never say die spirit and giving more than 100%in every game that’s what Steven Smith is all about.Smith is currently one of the finest fielder out there and the most innovative batsman as well.He came into limelight in the first innings of the last Test of the 2013 Ashes Series at The Oval,where he scored his maiden hundred,reaching the total in style by hitting a six off a spinner.Then in 2013 at Mohali, he demonstrated his true grit by absorbing the pressure and delivering at a crucial stage.Smith’s 92 was a message to the world that he is a dark horse who can take on the bowlers outside the sub-continent as well.

    Currently,he is proving to be a captain’s nightmare.After his back to back match winning knocks against the Proteas this is what ABD had to say-“You’re going to have to work hard for your wickets, and if you get a busy cricketer at the wicket it makes it very difficult for you to control the innings, to keep your rhythm and just to pace it a little bit better. He makes it really difficult for us in doing that “In the T20 format he is the go-to man for Rajasthan Royals.Smith is in such impressive touch across all formats that he should enter the Test series against India as Australia’s most in-form batsman.He has provided an example of how to grasp technical and mental maturity.Smith at the moment is the potential successor of Michael Clarke.

    Steven Smith- Future of Australian cricket.

    Steven Smith- Future of Australian cricket.


  3. Gary Ballance[25 years 14 days]

    His back to back tons at Lord’s and Rosebowl has not only made him earn the emerging cricketer of the year award but he has made him worthy enough to
    fill Trott’s shoes with extreme efficiency. The heavy built Zimbabwean born southpaw is only the third English player to have scored hundreds in his first two
    Lord’s Tests, after Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott. He is an exception catcher as well.He understands the importance of his wicket and the that’s clearly evident from the fact that he likes to spend time on the crease and tries to capitalise as much as he can. Currently Gary averages 61 from his 8 Tests. Watch out people. Be scared ! Very very scared of Gazza in the years in come.

    Gary Ballance- Lord of the Tests.

    Gary Ballance- Lord of the Tests


  4. Quinton De Kock [21 years 35 days]

    This boy has certainly come of age over the past few months.
    At 20,De Cock became the first Batsman in the ODIs to hit 3 centuries from 3 matches in the series.What made it more special was that De Kock had managed a 100% conversion rate from his fifties to hundreds;that showed no sign of ending, even after he turned 21.Quinny is equally a handy customer with the gloves as well.He is the fastest to get 50 dismissals in ODIs and 6 dismissals in a game.Also,he holds the honour of being the fastest to score 1000 runs in ODIs.

    “He plays a bit more fearlessly, takes on the bowling upfront and then settles in and gets the big runs. Quinny is a fearless cricketer but at the same time he is quite intelligent with the way he goes about his business. But he probably doesn’t think about the game as much as the other guys which is a positive.The way Quinny plays has been very refreshing for us. He can obliterate any bowling attack.
    He is going to be a superstar”  -Amla on Kock.

    Quinton De Kock- The mini dynamo

    Quinton De Kock- The mini dynamo


  5. Ahmed Shehzad [23 years 13 days]
    The Kohli look alike is held in high regard in his country and is the most promising youngster out of the lot.Currently he averages 48 and 34 in Tests and ODIs respectively. Shehzad was exceptional with the bat against the mighty Ozies in UAE in 2014. His knock of 176 was by far his most composed innings. He has a lot to offer to the green caps.The gritty stroke maker is hopeful in ending his nation’s quest for a quality batsmen.

    Ahmed Shehzad - The Green Sparta

    Ahmed Shehzad – The Green Sparta

Ajinkya Madhukar Rahane : The Pursuit Of Versatility

As the name suggests,”Ajinkya” which means invincible;this Marathi boy is an insightful talent when it boils down to discipline and professionalism.

Calm,focused,introvert,gentleman and steady like an impregnable fortress,Rahane is an ideal Dravid prodigy. Ajinkya,with his technical eminence and stalwart demeanour has cemented his spot in the Indian line (both Tests and ODIs) with extreme delicacy.

The perfect straight drive.

The perfect straight drive.

Rohit is injured. Can you open ? YES!

Yuvraj is out of form.Can you reinforce the middle order ? YES!

The team is crumbling overseas.Can you bat at number 3 and anchor the innings? YES!

Slip cordon looks vulnerable.Can you stand at slips and pull off blinders? YES!

Team needs some buoyancy.Can you carry drinks? YES!

Within no time,the nifty right hander has evolved as the most faithful name in the Indian cricketing household and indeed Rahane is the epitome of a modern day versatile cricketer.

Epitome of versatility- Rahane

India’s current batting brigade with Rahane as the most versatile batsman

He has a subtle blend of timing ,artistry and aggression which not only has helped him flourish in the sub-continent but overseas as well,where others did struggle in the recent times.Till date I have not seen Rahane slog,exactly the way his mentor used to play.

With the mighty Australian tour lined up,his skills would come handy especially facing Mitchell Johnson. If he can shield the team from his wrath and try inspiring the team by sticking on the wicket,our young guns might turn out to be formidable.Also,Virat is sort of back in the form. Hence, I strongly believe that the duo of Rahane and Kohli have the balls to turn the tide this time. Hoping to witness a good show and #InRahaneKohliWeTrust trending in the Kangaroo land.

Rewinding a bit,Rahane incepted his vintage form from being called as The Night’s Watch for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL season 6. The boy had become a man back then.He scored 560 runs at a scintillating average of 40 from 16 games at a strike rate of
130,which included two classy knocks of 98 and 103* as well.

Tendulkar’s retirement proved a blessing in disguise for Ajinkya.He was offered a permanent berth in the Indian side at number 4.Finally,his patience paved off and that meant NO MORE BENCH for him.

Without seeking much of stardom,Rahane silently started putting some runs under his belt ,that too on the foreign soils.Right from 51* and 96 in Durban to 118 against the black caps,Rahane always kept his head high and did his job meticulously.Subsequently,his rock solid technique fetched him a ton at the Mecca of Cricket as well.That knock of 103 at Lords marked the dawn of a new phenomena – a phenomena of trust,hard work and consistency.He carried that momentum and scored a vintage ton at Birmingham in the third ODI in the same 2014 England tour.

A moment to cherish. Ton @ Lords.

A moment to cherish.Ton @ Lords.

Effortless straight drives,mighty pulls and a chip over cover are the prime ammunitions in his armoury.It’s a treat to watch him bat when he is on a song.But it is equally disheartening to see him throw his wicket after being well settled ,the way he did at
Dharamsala recently.The effort that he had putting scoring those 68 crucial runs went in vain.He certainly needs to work on that bit.

But let me tell you one thing very clearly.Whether it is Rahane ,Kohli or Pujara these lads should never be rated against the veterans.It is unfair for both the camps.Those legends belonged to a different ball game altogether.They played under different circumstances,under a different leader with a different mindset.Give them some time to explore,to struggle,to loose and to fight back.Trust me,you will eventually start looking up to them as well.

On a positive note,with the kind of form he is in both personally(just got married) & professionally,if he continues this sort of maturity for another year or so; I definitely see him steering team India to the paths of glory.

One people! One nation! One destiny!

“Look at the eyes,the concentration. Trying to scare the batsman! I reckon this one will be straight at the jaws as well. Oh it’s a good bouncer that just missed his nose. That was a fine aggressive nasty delivery. ”

The moment I hear it, I get become hysterical and the first thing that pops up is the ferocious West Indian pace attack of the 70s. Let me take some pride in sharing how the Caribbean boys became invincible.

During the 1960s and 70s Blacks were not regarded as equals. That was the time, the heat was on for them to get up, stand up and deliver for their respect. Cricket was an instrument of colonialism for the whites and was very much seen in imparting English aristocratic values to the blacks. In West Indies cricket is something that flows in the blood. They play cricket for the value of the cricket. Their history has been a long and painful struggle against the forces that denied and depressed them. Babylon! And it was only through the same cricket, they could win their long lost respect (which meant freedom to them) back.

But there was a big catch to it. Initially, there were sparks and flashes of individual geniuses but it never resulted into West Indian victories. It was like a bunch of non serious locals playing it for fun and frolic. You could read “Calypso boys collapse again.” very frequently with every country they toured.

Their team had no backbone .They desperately needed someone who could hold the people together. Someone, who could bond them and inspire them for the common goal of being victorious, they needed a composed figure and then Clive Lloyd debuted in 1966.He made the gang into a team by giving direction. He was a great thinker and everybody respected him as a leader. He wanted to have a different team with a different thinking. His mentoring instilled the thought process that look “we are strong people, we are here to win”.

Clive Lloyd- The captain. The Leader . The Father.

Clive Lloyd- The captain. The Leader . The Father.

In 1975, the young and inexperienced WI side travelled to Australia to face the champions on their own soil. During that era in Test cricket, a set of fast bowlers(fast as in really fast people who bowled at 90-95 miles an hour and that  extra dimension decided whether you get hurt or not ) were used as a parameter to distinguish between a good side and a quality team. Wait; let me tell you Australia was the number one ranked team. All thanks to Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee – these names were ruthless enough to scare any God damn batsman. They were truly intimidating. Their ideologies were simple – “Once you have the capability to hurt someone with a bullet in your hand, the person facing you isn’t thinking of hitting the ball, he is thinking of self preservation.”

The Ugly Aussies-Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson

The Ugly Aussies-Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson

During the game all you could hear was LILLEEE-LILLEEE -KILL -KILL -KILL!! Out there it was a war. There were injuries, broken fingers and jaws EVERYWHERE. It was a humiliating sight; like a military assault on the West Indian cricket. That was a nasty series with a lot of confrontations both on and off the field. Australians played like seasoned campaigners and they literally screwed the Caribbean bolts. Test cricket wasn’t a gentleman’s game anymore; there were chants of “You black cunts! Go back to your trees” after the Score line (AUS 5 – WI 1) was displayed.

Once they came back, they realised everything was at stake. WI cricket was at the crossroads. Their own people had turned hostile and that sort of environment could either make you or break you and they didn’t have a choice. They didn’t want any crumps, they wanted the loaf. They knew that there was no going back and it was cricket, which had to pave the way for their better future.

Clive stood strong and said never again! If we also can find some good fast bowlers who are just as quick as they are or even quicker that’s it. He went into the Caribbean, looking for genuine spearheads that could fit into his plan – “One people! One nation! One destiny!”.

Geographically speaking Caribbean islands are the countries/ islands which are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Some of the well known islands are Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica and Trinidad. All have diff Governments, diff attitudes towards diff things but everyone is united by a common banner that is the West Indian cricket. Their cricket speaks for all the different accents and forces out there.

Caribbean Kings sharing  a jolly moment after the hunt.

Caribbean Kings sharing a jolly moment.Michael Holding,Andy Roberts,Joel Garner,Colin Croft and Viv Richards(from Left to Right)

Initially his two major findings were Michael Holding and Andy Roberts.

“When you look at Michael Holding carrying a ball in his hand; what you are looking at is an African individual with African rhythm born to just bowl .Michael with that stride would put that fear into any batsman.” These were his exact words on Michael Holding .He was a young man, who just knew how to bowl quick and knock the timber out. He was popularly called as whispering death, because of the way he used to run while bowling. It resembled the way how a cobra takes it stride calmly, hypnotises it’s a prey and them hunts him down.

Andy Roberts: One of the hard noses! A warrior, who took his fast bowling more seriously than anything and bowled fearlessly without a smile”.Never show any emotions, so that nobody knows what to expect “was his mantra. He had two different bouncers. The first one was the one that could be hooked for a boundary effortlessly while the second one was with the same action but thrown with a greater force. It aimed straight at the batsman’s face with the sole motive of inducing a great deal of pain to him. He was the original lead of the pace attack. The Hitman!

Not long after that the Indians toured the Caribbean islands. Lloyd was eager to banish their humiliation and wanted to show that they had a character to win. West Indians made India buckle and wounded. Gavaskar surrendered that match as a sign of protest. Killer instincts floored the Indians and battered Indies hit back mercilessly.

Now, aggression meant passion for them and they bowled belligerently to kill! They were on a mission. A mission in which they believed in the fact that they were as good as anyone (referring to Aus and England).They instilled fear in every batsman’s heart. They wanted to prove the world what these bunch of black guys were capable of. They were playing to make their people proud.

In 1976 they toured to England to beat their former masters.

“You brought the game to us and we are better than you “every guy in the team wanted to demonstrate it to the Englishmen. Losing a battle or a territory was acceptable to the whites but not a test match from the blacks. Tony Greig made a statement -“make them grovel “just before the commencement of the series, that acted as a catalyst in igniting the Caribbean spirits exponentially. Clive responded with a vengeance “Guys need not say much. Our man on the television has just said it all. We know what to do now” and everyone took that seriously. VERY VERY SERIOUSLY! That comment alone was enough to set the tone for the series.” FOCUS TO DEMOLISH “became the Caribbean motto. The bowlers turned the heat on and made the whites beg for mercy. That by far, was the hottest English summer ever. Nobody wanted Tony to get caught or leg before, they just wanted to knock his timbers out of the grooves and they did it with absolute perfection. That’s one thing I’ve learnt personally as well from them “Forgive but never forget!

Score line read Eng 0 – WI 3.

Through cricket it was a message to the white world to abort this racism by defeating it on the field of play.

During 1977-1978, Kerry Packers’ World Series cricket sharpened their skills. They were a much more lethal and professional team by then. The other two finds for Clive were- Joel Garner and Colin Croft.

Joel Garner-The big bird (debuted 1977): 6′ 8”, someone who either aimed at your toes or neck. Garner relied more on accuracy than on lightning pace and was termed brutal when it came to the bounce.

Colin Croft (The smiling assassin).”Croft goes for the throat. “Chants were viral when he used to bowl. His action was the most complicated part about his life .The prancing run was straight but the batsman saw only his head bobbing behind the umpire until he veered out wide of the crease just prior to delivery, leaning back and slanting the ball awkwardly in to the right-hander. He was a menace to the batsman fraternity. He would knock you down and would simply laugh at you for hours. You do not get to see such raw characters these days.

Quartet broke the mph limit. All 4 could bowl at stupendous pace and were rightly called as terrorists, dangerous or even murderers. They were on top of their game. All of them! After defeating England, they had traversed a long journey- from being called as the third world citizens to the pioneers of the game.

Let’s talk about the most significant part in their cricket history. They decided to tour Australia in 1979.With every day passed; they were made to relive 1975. Everywhere they were made to watch the highlights of the massacre that took West Indian cricket for a toss 4 years back.  *“We must beat Aus at all costs. I didn’t matter how we did it but we had to, UGLY NICE PSYCHOLOGICALLY PHYSICALLY any adverb that comes to your mind put it ” – Colin Croft

The Ozies were the masters of sledging back then as well. Once Lillee signalled Viv that he was going to blow off his fucking head on the next bowl and he literally meant that. To the contrary the West Indians were ready to take them on this time. Viv in particular was very clear.” I don’t want any helmets or any sort of protection. The only way I smell defeat is if I’m knocked down and that won’t happen. Bring it on!! “- were his exact words in one of the games in that series.

The same Australians who were so damn aggressive while bowling were crying when the Caribbean quartet came onto bowl. The harder they bowled, the harder they fell! Game after game, they kept on building the pressure and slowly hammered them into the ground.

Australia 0 – WI 2

Wow that indeed was special for West Indies. They had become the best team in the world and their joy was beyond any words. The world saw the emergence of a whole new breed of people and culture. Even the term whitewash was renamed to “blackwash” after that. Black was the new brave.

Bob Marley- The legendary Jamaican singer

Bob Marley- The legendary Jamaican singer

Cheers to their spirit. Now plug-in to Bob Marley’s “Get up, stand up!” and feel their glory!

PS: Listening to the same song in loop on India’s 68th Independence Day
* References from the movie Fire in Babylon.

Lance Klusener – The real badass of South African cricket

Sundays are the days when I am at peace with myself especially during the afternoons. Today is no exception. As I lie down, I just close my eyes; let myself wander into the memories of good old days.

As a 90’s kid in India with cricket flowing in the arteries, it meant everything to me and it still does. Within no time I see myself playing cricket cards and I can tell you there isn’t a better sight holding the player’s card you love. The actual superheroes and sci-fi stuffs had no room inside my heart instead Sachin was my superman, Bevan the He-man and Klusener- the Batman.

Lance Klusener -My Batman

Lance Klusener -My Batman

Before the joyous moment transcends, I think it is time to get up and capture it through my pen and share the reason why this person on the card is so legendary.

Born and raised amidst the Zulu tribes of South Africa, this naive country boy ended up becoming the classiest all rounder of my era .Without bothering much about the perks of the game he did his job on the 22 yards battlefield and merrily returned to the dressing room like a shepherd would do after the dusk. He had a powerful and an intimidating character, the kind a real fighter should possess and was rightly called as the ZULU WARRIOR.

It was primarily during his military services days (after school) that he started to like cricket and drew everyone’s attention. The combination of upbringing and three years in the army contributed to a straightforward approach in his bowling – Hit the batsman’s head if you can’t hit his stumps. That was the exactly the kind of temperament Malcolm Marshall (who at that time was in charge of revamping the South African cricket at the provincial level) was looking for.

Within no time he  flourished under Marshall’s guidance, established the reputation as a man for a crisis and made his test debut in the mid 90’s as number 11 who could bat .He was a revelation as he scalped  his career best figures of 8/64 Vs. India  in that game. Zulu never stopped attacking as a bowler, the kind of exact stuff you would expect from a Marshall prodigy. He belonged to those rare breed of cricketers who not only delivered but conquered at the same time. Sadly he couldn’t last much as a Test bowler .Due to a serious ankle injury in 1998 he was forced to drop his pace and he started to focus more on his batting abilities.

He could infuse life into a match any moment by changing the dynamics either by his hasty striking abilities or by his fierce medium fast bowling. It was the 1999 World Cup where the warrior showed his real all round talent to the world. Every game he would walk in, finish off his task, go back, and behave as if nothing great happened. He swung match after match South Africa’s way: 52 off 45 balls turned the tables on Sri Lanka at Northampton; 48 off 40 sealed England’s fate at The Oval; 46 off 41 pulled the game with Pakistan at Trent Bridge from the fire.

In nine matches, the southpaw smashed 281 runs off 230 balls, without giving off his wicket. Majority of his World Cup runs came in front of square on the leg side, the area I personally like to hit in the most as well. Those hefty pulls and rock solid punches over deep mid wicket felt same to me as a teenage girl in India would feel after meeting Shah Rukh Khan. He claimed 17 wickets (18 had not Herschelle Gibbs dropped Steve Waugh) and his fielding was equally applaudable in the tournament.

However, more than the runs he scored the condescending disdain that he showed towards the bowlers in the death overs in that World Cup was a lesson in slaying on a cricket field. Well that’s Lance Klusener for you – crude, honest, and an entertaining game changer to be precise.

Zulu hitting a shot in his favourite zone

Zulu hitting a shot in his favourite zone

But the most iconic game in that World Cup or rather his entire cricketing career for which he’ll be remembered for his lifetime would be the second semi-final that was played between Australia and South Africa in Edgbaston, England.

A target of 214 to chase in 50 overs was on the cards for South Africans. Klusener came into bat when South Africa was 175–6 in 45 overs. Courtesy his big-hitting South Africa entered the final over at 205/9 with 9 to win off the last 6 balls. The two men at the crease were Klusener (on strike) and Allan Donald. Klusener scored consecutive fours in the first two balls of the over hammering Fleming through the deep cover boundary, levelling the scores and leaving South Africa with only 1 run to win off 4 balls with Klusener on strike. Donald survived the third ball with a missed run out chance at the non striker’s end .The fourth ball witnessed Klusener miss-hitting his shot to mid-off fielder Mark Waugh. Klusener went for the run, although the chances of a run-out were high and two balls were still there in the kitty. However, Donald at the other end didn’t see Klusener sprinting down the pitch for a run, and Klusener was almost at the bowler’s end by the time Donald (who had also dropped his bat) began running. By then, Waugh had thrown the ball to Fleming, who rolled it back to Adam Gilchrist who took the bails off at the other end, meaning Donald was run-out by some distance, thus ending the match with the scores level.

However, a tie meant that Australia progressed to the final since they had beaten South Africa in the group stages of the tournament. As Bill Lawry put it during the final ball:

“…this will be out surely – oh it’s out, it’s gonna be run out…oh, that is South Africa out – Donald did not run, I cannot believe it. Australia go into the World Cup Final – ridiculous running with two balls to go. Donald did not go, Klusener came – what a disappointing end for South Africa.”

South Africa choking in the semi-final. Eruption of joy for the Australians

South Africa choking in the semi-final. Eruption of joy for the Australians

SA lost their nerves when it really mattered and Australia went on to win the tournament. From there on they have inherited the tradition of choking at the crucial moments but that jinx has finally been broken by their under 19 lads. Although Klusener’s heroics went in vain that day but there was a silver lining attached to it. He went on to win the Player of the Tournament and the number 1 spot in the ODI batsmen rankings. At the press conference Zulu justified his strategy-“I always try to finish games with six balls to spare, because if there is a cock-up, the people coming in get a chance to do something. If you leave it to the last couple of balls then it can go anywhere.” – Lance Klusener

Lance Klusener -the Man of the Tournament 1999 World Cup

Lance Klusener -the Man of the Tournament 1999 World Cup

Whenever I think of Lance Klusener, I think of a swashbuckling Sparta who could slit the enemy’s throats with his all-round brilliance. His stance in particular was the most fascinating trait about his bowling. It made me go bonkers in my childhood. His calm straight head just before the delivery reminded me of a Hit Man, who was focused with a single point agenda of Killing the opponent. I can ape many bowling actions but the coolest of them is still his’. It fetches me wickets every time.

His batting style was equally stylish. From the way he would walk out to bat carrying that 2 kg wooden log, the opposition knew that he wasn’t a rookie to be messed with. He looked like a hybrid of a baseball player, a ninja fighter and a professional lumberjack. The army cut hidden under the helmet, the muscular frame veiled by the green and yellow oversized baggy shirt, the nonchalant biting of the chewing gum and the monstrous back lift added to the menace of the beast that he was.

I somehow have a fascination about the term “slogger” .Viru was called one, KP also at times and Zulu wasn’t an exception. Please can someone tell these mad critics that being aggressive isn’t about slogging? Though he never gave a rat’s ass about what those experts had to say, he mockingly replied once -” You see me hitting the ball out of the ground, but I hit hundreds of those in practice. It may look like a good shot, and it is, but you have practised it a hundred times before the game…” It isn’t luck always. Of course cricket is about luck at times….Balls go in the air and fall in gaps, but hitting does not just happen. You have to learn to improvise and swipe – and be at peace with what you do.”

He was as calm as a cucumber off the field .He would often read a book before he entered the battleground to bat no matter what the situation was and rescued his team time and again from improbable positions. According to him aggression was something to be shown on field only not in life and never took anything personally.

Post World Cup his bowling hit a rock bottom with some mighty injuries. Differences with the skipper and the rise of young talent like Kemp and Kallis doomed his career. “To be honest Lance, as fantastic as he is…can sometimes ruin a team and termed him as a DISRUPTIVE FORCE. His ability as a cricketer is very good, but his ability as a team man is not very good and he kind of can infect a team and bring down the youth…” – The 22-year-old Graeme Smith explained Klusener’s exclusion after he took over.”

Well whatever Smith, I still love him as I did in the 90’s He is definitely one of the most calculating hitters the game will ever see and you know it Biff! His excellent  strike rate while bowling and batting  and an ODI batting average of 41.10 definitely ranks him among the finest all rounder to have ever graced the game.

Lance may you live long and prosper. You are still an adorable bad ass.
Hail Zulu !! #MyRealBatman