July 24, 2007

The West Indies aren't much good at cricket.

Talking of English cricket, this is hilarious. Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie at their best.

More on the first test.

S Rajesh at Cricinfo, as always, comes up with pertinent stats. One thing stands out. India played 96 overs in the fourth innings and only four times in their entire test history they managed to last for more overs. That is a pretty remarkable stat. Still, the middle order is a cause for concern, as Sambit Bal points out.

The crucial thing to remember now is that India managed to avoid defeat in the first test only twice (1971 and 1986) in all their tours to England. And on both occasions they went on to win the series.

July 23, 2007

Finally rain works for India.

Frankly, it's about time weather went India's way. After many painful experiences of being denied victory because of rain, India have the relief of avoiding defeat because of rain at Lord's in the first test. As always, it is not just entirely luck. Dhoni played an exceptional innings and most others stuck around for enough time. The partnership with Laxman was crucial and so was the extremely tense 30 ball partnership with Sreesanth.

But on the whole India was way below the mark. The batting has much to improve. Bowlers did much better than expected. But the key really is the middle-order. Both openers got 50s and that is a welcome sign. India will feel a lot better to enter the second test on par with England. If they bat as well as they can, things will become lot more interesting.

July 22, 2007

Conflicts between modernity and orthodoxy.

The world has come a long way from inquisitions. Such methods of dealing with religious heresy are no longer in vogue. It is also fair to say that to a large extent the religious fanaticism has become both less extensive and less violent. That is not to say however that all the issues of conflict between moronic religious dogma and irresistible modern truths have been resolved. This is especially true in the three great monotheistic religions. It is probably true that many people no longer believe that god created the earth in six days, but several other religious strictures continue to cause much confusion and agony among well-meaning people.

This is a very good article by Noah Feldman in NYT
on his own struggles arising out of a modern Orthodox Jewish background and a liberal universal humanism. He is mostly honest in depicting the irreconcilable conflicts, though he doesn't go all the way, and takes the easy way out by suggesting that his orthodox schooling gave him something undoubtedly invaluable.

In one particularly illustrative incident, a doctor speaking at his school suggests that it is OK to treat a non-Jew to save his life on the Sabbath day. Talmud prohibits working on the Sabbath, but an exception is granted to save the lives of Jews. It is apparently pretty clear that this exception does not extend to save the lives of non-Jews. But this doctor, in consultation with his rabbi, has come to the conclusion that it is fine to save a non-Jew's life on the Sabbath only if your intention is to preserve good relations between Jews and non-Jews. It is against Talmudic principles to save his life out of universal morality. Much as I admire the formal and closed beauty of this principle, I see no way of reconciling this with a humanistic outlook.

July 8, 2007

Language Sensibility.

I am "language-sensitive". Few things make me stand up at attention as a sloppily constructed or badly punctuated sentence. That is why I enjoyed this.

July 2, 2007

Where is the coach?

To be sure, there's nothing mind-blowing about winning a 3-match series. Still...it is against the no.2 ranked team in one-day cricket; it is a first against SA outside India; it is the first series/tournament win away from home since 2002.

This gives some food for thought. There's been much hue and cry about picking a coach for India recently. Before that it was Greg Chappell and his machinations. It seemed as if everyone believed coaches win matches. Indeed, in the last few years, coaching has become a very high profile job.

The interesting things is: this first away one-day series win for India in 5 years has come when there is no full-time coach (Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh are there, but they are only specialized bowling and fielding coaches). Isn't that funny!

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