What do you do


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Bright crisp winter morning (or balmy summer morning if you are in southern hemisphere).

Imagine the scenario.

You step out on to the cricket field as a test batsmen. The pitch has a tinge of green. You know you will have to take time to settle in… read the pitch, watch how the ball behaves off the pitch and in the air. You take guard and get on with your game… focused for a long haul… no rash strokes… no rush of blood… Hour and half into the morning, you are moving smoothly. The nerves have calmed down. You have weathered the storm. You haven’t scored lot of runs but the ball is sounding sweet off the bat. You know big runs are there to be scored in the afternoon and evening sessions.

And then everything explodes in your face. Suddenly you are told that the rules have been changed completely. The half an hour before lunch is all you have. Because the new rules come into immediate effect and the opposing team will bat after lunch! You are so screwed.

Or imagine another scenario. 15 overs into a one day match, you are told that it suddenly is a 20:20 match! Screwed again.

Ok so it won’t happen ever like this. But what if it did. How would  you respond? Sure you are a great batsmen and can soak in stress and pressure like nobody can. But situations like this, I bet even your brain will freeze. You will lash out and do stuff that is so not you. Goes without saying, only if luck is with you on that day, all shots will come off… else you will be throwing stuff at the walls in the dressing room… maybe even throwing yourself against the wall..

Sure Duckworth Lewis method has tripped many a teams but in that you know what is likely to happen since you got an eye on the weather.

In cricket, you will probably lose the match and have opportunity to win the next time…

But what if life does the same to you.. whether at work or in a relationship…. Just when you are getting comfortable and happy about things and the rules change suddenly… what do you do??

Sure most of you will say that you surely will live to fight another day and another day and another day…. But what if every time same thing happens…

Professionally you can still find a way… adapt yourself to the game or start playing something else… you will get by.

But in a relationship…. what if there are no comebacks… or there are second chances but odds are completely loaded against you… what do you do?

Life doesn’t have a Duckworth Lewis equivalent. It just decides to screw you over without a warning.

Sure would love to know how people out there tackle these situations….what do you do when the rules change suddenly and trip you….

(image courtesy sriram-unplugged.blogspot.com)

CSK Vs. MI at IPL 2013


The match was a big farce isn’t it? Specially the Chennai SuperKings performance before the Mumbai Indian’s Match and post that in the match yesterday against Sunrisers… Makes one wonder if there was something wrong with that match… Here is a fictional account of what must have happened before the match. PLEASE NOTE – I SAID FICTIONAL. Disclaimer is very important given the two characters mentioned in the account.

On the eve of the match Mr S’ phone rings… Its Mrs A at the other end of the call

Mrs A – Big match tomorrow

Mr S – Really? I think my team is pretty much qualified so not such a big match for us.

Mrs A – You know what I meant… it is for us. These people from Hyderabad and Jaipur just don’t understand! Their teams were fine in the initial IPL period to build the hype by letting the underdogs win.. But is over.. its time for the big spenders who can create value for IPL brand to be winners all the time. Look at Soccer! Few teams are known around the world whereas so many teams play in EPL and Spanish League…

Mr S – Is there a point to this Mrs A?

Mrs A – Ummm actually there is.. You have helped us a lot in the past.. you know letting five foreign players play because God was injured…

Mr S – Yeah also like last year… when even though we had decided as a rule that only three teams from India will play in Champion’s League, we let your team get in..

Mrs A – Yes that too.. was hoping that we you could do us a favor. We know Royals are playing at home tomorrow and sure to win and with your team in such good form.. I doubt if my boys can match up and I am seriously worried. M thinks he is not getting as good a return on investment as he gets from other businesses.

Mr S – Let me get this straight.. you are saying we tank the match?

Mrs A – ummm yes.. can you?

Mr S – Sure.. one match wont make a difference but I want a promise from you and M.. you will not go after my guys at the next year’s auction. It makes things really difficult.

Mrs A – Ok we wont.. Can you also ask your boys to help us with our NRR? Should help to keep at least one of the upstarts out of the qualifiers..

Mr S – Sure.. done

And we all saw the match… We all saw how Ashwin didnt bowl his full quota… We all saw how desperately Hussey was trying to get out… and CSK were batting like complete novices  and we all saw how professional they were yesterday.

Randomness


Quite a few people have asked me why have I not written any post so I decided to write one. And thanks to those who missed my posts and mentioned it.

First up… wonder if snapdeal.com would mention the name of the sucker who paid 50K for a date with Gul Panang! seriously 50K?? On the other hand they might not mention the fact that nobody wanted to pay that kind of money… Gul might become the laughing-stock and go into serious depression that no one wanted a date with her!

Cricket World Cup starts this week and I thought I was the one who was missing the buzz but as read in the newspaper, it is pretty much a general feeling. The only people who are going hyper about it are the various brands who are exhorting team India to win and want consumer also to win. Don’t think consumer is seriously interested in all the shams that are peddled by way of price offs and contests and stuff.

The general viewer is either in a state of ennui when it comes to cricket or 1. has become comfortable with the thought of India winning the World Cup 2. is not setting his expectations high this time (after the fiasco in 2007).

And staying with cricket, I don’t know if I am the one who has noticed the mistake in ESPN-StarSports promotion or others have too. But the promo says that India will be getting into the battle for World Cup glory after 28 years! Sure they are harking about the 1983 World Cup but India has of course played in every Cup since then. It is  not as if that we had not played in the World Cup since 1983.

Scammed India – Ok so enough in the news about the 2G scam and all the skeletons are falling out of the cupboard. Nothing new over there. We all know that irrespective of which political party is in power, they all make money. Arun Shourie would now be a pariah and his political career is finished after claiming what he has on Karan Thapar show.

Truth is that for any business to prosper in this country, one needs a “well oiled” government machinery. Now if it was lubricant that was required, likes of Castrol would have India as their biggest market. But in this case it is the Swiss Banks which are laughing their way into their own vaults. We should just forget about it.  Nothing ever will come out by discussing it.

And life goes on in the country… rapes, murders, police inaction or misguided action, selective judiciary activism… corruption.. inflation etc.

About advertising – can somebody put a ban on Max Bupa and Future Generali advertising for their various policies and shit? The stuff is getting morbid now.

Signing off… can somebody put pressure on all the corporates and brands not to put intense pressure on the guys with this sham called Valentine’s day. It can’t be love if it is measured in the size of the gift or the price of the gift. All the stuff in newspapers, TV and radio about valentine’s day and various offers.. makes me sick and makes me want to throw up. Won’t even want to log on to Facebook to see the kind of messages that would be going back and forth and all the sugary status messages.

Enough of the random grumbling. Hope I have something nice to write about for the next post…

A beautiful game through the eyes of a cricket fanatic


Past two weeks have watched the world go crazy about soccer… Every which way you turn, there is something about the World Cup. Not that I was too keen on Asia Cup (in spite of being a fanatic) but still couldn’t stay away from logging into cricinfo for  my daily dose of cricket. Or even catching some of the T20 action from England (my kids were kinda wondering why would I want to watch counties in another country!)

But coming back to the beautiful game. I don’t watch EPL or bundesliga or…. but I do watch world cup… And the past two weeks of watching (and no I don’t watch the match starting midnight) have left me wondering why this game is called beautiful. Most matches to say the least have been boring. The so called favorites are floundering. Is Argentina part of the favorites? Maradona actually is quite an entertainment value on the sidelines and in terms of his quotes.

There is this whole swooning that happens over Brazil.. or Spain or Portugal etc etc and I wonder why… Except for that really freak goal that was scored by Brazil (was it the altitude and the wind that made the ball curve the way it did) there has hardly been any magic to keep one enthralled.. unless the ball constantly moving from one side of the ground to the other, bereft of any strategy, is considered enthralling.

People say that there is intense strategy that is involved in soccer and I am sure there is… and if there is.. then I wonder why Brazil was cribbing about the very defensive approach by North Korea… Hmmm did they expect the Koreans to keel over and play dead and let them score at will? Fans of Brazil of course must be happy today now that Ivory Coast did precisely that last night…

France is another story… They are sounding more and more like the Pakistan Cricket team with all the squabbling that is going on…

Italy… boils down to the last group match to figure what happens to them…

I have watched the world cups in the past and I must say (much to the ire of the soccer lovers) that the game is not beautiful any more… There is a sameness (much like one day cricket between 15th over and till the batting power play that happens).. the flair is missing.. creativity is missing… excitement is missing and yes the commentary sucks big time (get the commentators from South America! even if we don’t understand the language, they sure know how to get people excited).

Oh and by the way… India beat Pakistan! and the match was quite something! and West Indies is putting up a fight against South Africa (must be absolutely shocking for the South Africans).

So while I wait for the Asia Cup final, will watch the World Cup and tonight’s matches should hopefully be fun…

Sachin Tendulkar on TV – the only way to watch him play


Yet another record and yet another milestone and many more to come… Twenty years of performing at the top.

Everyone would envy the people who were at the ground witnessing the event. Yes they were the lucky few. But I am glad that I have watched and would continue to watch cricket on TV.

People  would have watched all the shots on the ground and everything would have been a blur. Three hours and fourty five mins of watching ‘blink and you miss show’!

But only the people who watch on TV would have seen the steely resolve in his eyes. The absolute calm on his face which probably belied the swirl of emotions inside. Channel 9 in Australia now has the technology which tracks the rate of heart beat of the players on the field. How I wish that we had that technology operating over here. Or the day of the India-Pakistan match in 2003 World Cup when he looked pumped and came out with an intention to decide the match in first 10 overs.

There are moments that can only remain in our memory because we watched on TV. The dejection  after scoring 175 against Australia last year and losing. Or that day in Chennai when he took us so close to beating Pakistan.

It is the ultimate sight… a huge stadium and all the fielders spread around like predators and the bowler charging in (or in case of someone like Shane Warne trying to play mindgames)… the camera starts zooming into this figure taking guard and ready to make those instant decisions in his mind in a fraction of a second as to which shot would be required for the ball coming at him… How many on the ground would ever be able to see what I watch on TV.

You would never be able to miss out the way wrists move the bat when the ball goes whizzing past point or the movement of the body to change the line of the ball for the paddle sweep or the head so still and the bat coming down in a straight arc for that effortless straight drive… And the thrill of enjoying the shots again and again in the replays that happen… On the ground, the shot is over and gone… and in spite of all the large screens put up on the ground, you can never savor the feeling of the shot… similar to that beer going down your throat. Which actually brings me to another point… The beer just doesn’t taste the same on ground as it does when sprawled in front of the TV…

I have, like many others have been watching Sachin for 20 years now… had the opportunity for a very brief hand shake when I met him at a shoot. I still have the tee shirt that a friend of mine got signed by Sachin for me during a Pepsi shoot (its still wrapped in transparent bag and safe in my cupboard).

20 years of watching him and living the highs and the lows through his eyes… walking into the ground for taking guard… or walking back after getting  out… That walk back when I (because I become Sachin) am out for a low score… the silence of the crowd is actually deafening) or the walk back after having done enough to ensure an Indian victory… the agony in the past when in spite of having done enough and India loses… biting of the nails and despondence on the face at the closing presentation…

We see around us many Sports stars who have been icons and have either disappeared or have let the fame get to their head (including many wannabes too)… but yet to come across a man who for 20 years have believed in only one thing – the game itself… Sure this game has given him enough… but for this man I think… every match when he goes to take guard.. the excitement and anticipation is the same as it was on his debut…

Hats off Sachin… and I think it is rather unfortunate that it took a 200 in an ODI for me to write a post… But this is a post which may not be read by anybody and yet it will remain in this virtual world forever…

Reality shows – Escapism for all… profits for all


Much has been written about the reality shows and my word wont be the last on them. But love them or hate them, they will be around for some time and will pander to every emotion or desire we have.

Singing, dancing, bitching, splitting, Big Boss voyeurism or even cricket! IPL to me was one of the biggest reality shows. The only thing missing in IPL was the sms or text message voting. Though the 6up was probably an attempt.

F1 is yet another reality show. When Schumi was around, everybody knew who will win and it started getting boring. So the organisers devised various ways to make it interesting. This year Lewis Hamilton is languishing, Ferrari is still trying to come to grip with the whole diffuser bit and Brawn… a team out of nowhere is rocking!

The reason this post has come about… read the other day in the paper of how people in Bhaichung Bhutia’s town are buying cash cards to send their votes so that he can win!

What a money spinner “jhalak dikhla ja” is turning out to be. Par for the course when it comes to reality shows. Increased eyeballs translate into more ad revenues for the channels. Revives in some cases or starts a whole new career for many. Viewers get loads of vicarious thrills by all the exhibitionism on display (we just love to see the dirty laundry washed in public) And of course the whole text messaging… adding to the revenues for the service operators. Every one gains!

Now imagine a scenario where the favorite were to actually win everytime and there was no text messaging to vote. Viewership will drop. revenues will drop and the program would be off air in a flash. Who wants the favorite to win… its not a great story. Every underdog who wins is actually all the people living their lives in his/her win. Enough has been said about Susan Boyle so I wont say anything but since its UK… would recommend people to read this book (supposedly fiction but holds true for every reality show) titled CHART THROB! worth a few laughs and of course quite an eye opener.

Lets take Cricket World Cup. Three World Cups in a row, there was a sense of inevitability about them, Australia was going to win and that lead to a certain amount of boredom for me. Only excitement was teams like Ireland or Bangladesh creating a few upsets (how… please read Chart Throb).

Take IPL for instance… Rajasthan Royals last year and Deccan Chargers this year… kept the excitement going and of course left people with lot of conversation on why the favorites lost.

So for all those who still believe that reality shows are real… they are as unreal as they can get. Favorites never win. The judges are there with well scripted lines and everything is an act. Only the person who comes from distant place will win.

Everything around the show is a well crafted marketing and PR strategy.

But the fact is… we want these reality shows because it help us escape the mudanity of our lives… make for great water cooler conversation and also in parties (some can show how well informed they are and some can act snooty about the whole thing although they also probably watch every episode) so three cheers for the reality!

Can Corporate India learn from Mumbai Indians debacle?


Sports analogies have long been used in corporate world… Most have been about team, motivation and excellence. But is there a lesson to be learnt from the campaign disaster for Mumbai Indians?

The most expensive buy… A bunch of talented experienced and rookie players. A captain who is an icon and can supposedly make the nation come to a standstill with his performance… and yet they faltered… all the strategizing and planning amounting to nothing. Well actually something.. a spot above the other over hyped team called Kolkata Knight Riders!

How many times the corporates have made the same mistake. Get into a business… Believe that putting together the best management team with a highly visibility leader would take them to the top…

The best management consultants are called in for strategy and then the company goes nowhere… Rifts happen, leader is questioned… the consulting organization is not paid their fees and the whole project is stalled… I bet this would sound very familiar to many… it does to me because I been there… part of the team which just disintegrated.

How can a person who has been a great individual performer can ever be a leader. And especially when there has been a history of poor performance as the captain?

Too much  of strategy is also not a good thing. So many matches where one was left wondering if the Mumbai Indians had a strategy for winning or losing?

So many players were left wondering about their role…

And to top it all… the leader did not exactly set the field on fire now .. did he?

The lesson here for the corporates is that all that glitters is not gold. Environmental factors are far more important in deciding the strategy. And more importantly you need the right players in the right spot (not necessarily the best players)

And of course the biggest… the best performer is not necessarily the best leader. The fact is when the right team is in place, you dont need a leader even… Look at Delhi Daredevils – It didnt matter who was the captain… they kept winning. Because the thinktank had all the right ideas and the right people to exceute… Reputations did not matter… Imagine Glenn Macgrath warming the bench almost the entire tournament. I bet they will unleash him in the semi finals!

The point is that as an organization we cannot let primma donnas or past reputations dictate our decisions. Knowing who is right for what role is very important… Its the end objective that needs to define everything.

People who read this blog are welcome to add or rip the analogy apart…