Saturday, June 30, 2007 

Try Ball

Yaar maine pehle hi bol diya tha, umpire se pooch le.

Yaar me pagal hu kya ki pehli ball par aisa shot khelunga

Mujhe laga ki “try ball hai”…

And so it begins! Many a legendary bowlers have come up with innovations: the doosra’s, the magic ball, the floaters, the beamers. But hats off to the gentleman who came up with this innocent novel idea called the try ball.

Cricket has gone through sea changes, so much has been improved and modified over the last 100 years and more. But this concept has a special place in every little street where the game breeds. For years this has been used over and over again, but I have always been mystified by the existence of the try ball. Why did it start and what real purpose did it solve. As you come to think of it you realise that the try ball can mean different things in different scenarios.

Scenario 1: the one described in the first three lines. When someone gets out of the first ball of a match he uses the try-ball card to bail himself out. If people agree to it then way to go…if people don’t this guy often has another oft repeated idea – ‘yaar shuru se khelte hain nayi team baant ke’. If other players reject this proposal as well, then keep an eye on this guy, his mummy will call him back very soon.

Scenario 2: bhaiyya bhaiyya me bhi ball daalunga. Kaisi bowling karta hai tu pace ya slow?...bhaiyya me batta pace daal lunganahi batta pace allowed nahi haiacha theek hai batta spin karungaacha dekhte hain kahin tu zada tez to nahi phek raha, le ek try ball daal….

Scenario 3: this usually takes lead from a last evening fight over a no ball decision. It’s a new game today, but just to irritate the other guy, the bowler, the batsman shouts as the bowler is running in…oye ye try ball hai.

Scenario 4: yaar bohot time ho gaya khele hue, u knw IITJEE ki tayyari ke time chhod diya tha maine cricket khelna to ab practice me nahi hu, waise to me apni colony ka captain tha…zara do chaar try ball kara de…

There maybe more such incidents, but the try ball definitely doesn’t look good from these examples. Let me put what I think could be the best use of the try ball. It is in everyway only to gauge the bounce of the pitch or whatever the game is being played on rather than judging the bowlers strength. Any bowler is smart enough not to go full throttle with a try ball. For the bowler it is an opportunity to get the body moving get the stepping right and ensure that there is no unwarranted swing.

As I moved from school to IIT, the try ball was taken over by elaborate and tiring net sessions. For two hours five days a week I was there, running in endlessly even if my captain told me not to. This trend was more prominent by the way when I was trying to get into the team. As the cricket became more serious, the try-ball became a bigger joke.

As I sit preparing for my GMAT next week, the concept of the try-ball draws me to itself more and more. The mocks have now taken place of the try ball. Hell the try ball is not easy to score off(smile). But in my case I think I am exercising Scenario 4 here. You know I have never appeared for CAT. Just did some preparation for fun in 4th year. My maths was always good you know but even that I am not in practice. Otherwise I cracked a 93 percentile in GATE. Please give me some mock GMATs (buhu buhu).

But the fact of the matter is that try ball is a bit like the building block to bigger things. It’s the alphabet that we learn on the street or the parks which transpires into words and sentences at Inter IITs. The try ball is and will remain the very basic education every cricketer needs. Even if it is a concept that largely invokes laughter and giggles, but what the heck! We play for fun don’t we? And this is one of the most innocent forms of humour on the cricket field. You decide for yourself what will you like to see Sachin Tendulkar do when he gets out the first ball? You want to see him pretend that the ball stayed low and he actually rammed the bat in his crouch? Or would you like to see him take off his helmet and tell Shoaib Akhtar – ‘yaar maine pehle bol diya tha……

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 

Change of Pace

Sometimes my mind wonders, what exactly is the ideal way to spend a day? The first thought is of being comprehensively engrossed with work at office such that I don’t get time to think of whether I had fun that day or not. The second thought is to do many things in one day such as play cricket, work at office, have a nice lunch and dinner have a nice long coding session and go to sleep. The third is to sit at home watch Friends on the laptop, and sit some more and sit more and go to sleep. None however, seem fulfilling.

I keep thinking about doing that one bit extra that would make me happy each day. This by the way is the motto of every human so I am no different. But what that one bit is or could be is something that doesn’t click. So using an iterative process to find that out I took step one – I bought a guitar. Well why waste time explaining what I did with it on a blog if I didn’t play it for even 7 days. So chuck it, guitar is out of the radar.

The second step was actually transpired from my desire to grow professionally, which is getting stronger by the day. I decided to register for GMAT and picked a date. It was purely coincidental that I picked 4th of July. I bought a book to prepare and this time it stuck. I have been regularly studying since then (regularly by my definition of course). But coming at 11 from the office all tired and sucked out, the studying becomes quite a pain. So it became strictly professional with no enjoyment to be gained out of it.

Three weeks ago both my flatmates moved out to get to bigger things in life and I am mostly alone at home. The ‘boriyat’ has started to creep in. So in an effort to pick things up I took step three and joined a fitness centre. As most of you know my body is in a great shape, actually shapes, so going to the gym was not such a bad idea. It was a costly deal but I took the risk.

It’s only been a week so far at the gym and thankfully I haven’t missed a day yet. Can’t say right now whether its sticking with me or not, but here is what I have now – I get up at around 8 – 8.30 in the morning and go to office by 9.30, work for around 10 hours and then leave for the gym at around 8, work out at the gym till about 9.30 – 10, eat my dinner, mostly alone, and get back home by 11 in the night, from 11 to 12 I check mails and stuff, from 12 to 1 – 1.30 I study. If I then have some energy left I watch Friends and go to sleep by 2 only to get up at 8.30 next morning. That’s what you call a busy day... and how!

The gym so far is good, its refreshing once you get through your workout because there is that sense of accomplishment. It definitely doesn’t give me much time to think about other things. This blog is an exception I guess.

The interesting thing is that five days in the gym I realised that going to a gym can be like being in a relationship. You have to be regular if you want anything to materialise; you have to work hard every day but at the end of the day you are happy; they take care of you, your health and your diet; and in some cases they will ask you to quit smoking!

P.S. For the record Aarti has never asked me to quit smoking, and as I say that I don’t think even the gym instructors have. :)

Saturday, June 02, 2007 

Punching the air !!!

If I were to choose the lousiest week in the year and some days I have spent at my job, then last week was it. For five days I was almost without any work. Although I was supposed to be working but some of the projects were so boring that I couldn’t help wander around checking and reading global gyaan on the net. To add to this there was a serious issue on Friday, where I found myself in an unintentional malice which the client almost made out. The issue was hopefully sorted by the weekend.

The Friday night kind of sucked, as I got my salary but had no one to go out with, my room mates have moved out and I was alone eating dinner at one of our usuals. I slept relatively early as I had to wake up early for a match on Saturday morning. We won the match and I was the man of the match.

We bowled first and I have definitely got some rhythm going now, with 3 overs for 9 runs and a wicket. But as always my team starts experimenting once there is a good start and we ended up conceding 159 in 25 overs. We started ok and were going along at 4-5 an over. By the 22 over our score was 128 for 7 and I came in to bat. In the exacting heat of 12 noon in gurgaon I ran twos of virtually every ball. I hit an off spinner over extra cover for four, a shot I guess Roushan Singh would have been proud of. We needed 12 from the last over. After my partner handed me the strike of a leg bye of the first ball, I ran 3 consecutive twos leaving 5 to get from 2. Old memories started haunting me.

Around 3.5 years ago I was at IIT Bombay playing against IIT Roorkee. I was the vice captain of IITD, I was on strike with 5 to get from 2. Two swings and no connection, we lost by four runs. I had let my team down. I could not look anyone in the eyes when I went back to the dressing room. This time I wanted to make some amends. So the first of the two disappeared for a four to square leg. One to get from the last ball, the whole field was up and the match was not over. The ball went over the mid on fielder and nobody bothered to chase it, we won the game and I scored 29(14) to seal the game.

Success can be perceived very differently by different people. A few months after I passed IIT my mother complained that she was disappointed that I didn’t throw my hands up in jubilation just when I had heard the result for JEE. One of my close friends asked me why I was not jumping with ecstasy when my hostel made it to the semi finals of a tournament for the first time after ending up last on three previous occasions. I try to put success in a bigger picture. You need to hold the celebrations for the real thing because it means something.

The one time I can never forget when I punched the air full throttle was when I took the second last wicket in an important final. Although I took a wicket next ball too to win the cup but that was emotional as it involved the success of the whole team. The previous ball was for me, stumps flying away for a perfect in singing yorker at a time when it was imperative.

I try to set short term goals, so that I can try to achieve them one at a time, even if a pack of short term ones are supposed to lead to a big one. But the celebration has to accord the value of success. Today as I lofted the final ball to get the winning runs I made a small pump of the fist as that was as much as it deserved. I can still feel the disappointment and shame of that December evening in 2003 at Bombay; I guess nothing can make it go. But it is pleasing to tell yourself that you can do it, maybe not at that level and therefore the celebration is toned. I wish I had made connection with those two balls, as I kept waiting for another opportunity. It never came.

I guess all this teaches an interesting lesson. Celebrating, enjoying and partying in success are not forever. It can never be ‘more the merrier’. But still it’s important to try to look for success all the time. That’s the paradox, I guess that’s life.


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