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    After becoming an expert in the hook shot that ends in a six over the third-man boundary and scoring a few goals in hockey after all the hard work was done by the other 10 players, I confessed to myself that studying the two games from the ropes was a better option. Though I wish I had started that process earlier than 1996, around 15 years of watching, reading and sometimes still practising that 'hook shot' over has allowed me this space on Cricketnext and IBNLive to write and get read.

    Death is not unusual. Every day, every minute, people, of every age, die. When timely, it's accepted as 'had to happen'. But when untimely, we ask: 'Why?'

    A wise man never goes for an unripe fruit. God is the wisest; then why He plucks away His wards as young as 25? His decisions are indisputable, not open to appeal. But hey Old Man, why Hughsey? That's not fair.

    Untimely calls for Dhoni's head

    Tuesday Aug 19, 2014

    You change a captain on performance grounds in two cases: (a) if he continues to fail as a skipper after his appointment or (b) when a proven leader hits a downward slide, fails to lift the team out of the hole and there's someone capable waiting in the wings to take over.

    Mahendra Singh Dhoni is in the fast lane to make the grade for category (b), barring the last bit of the qualification criteria after India's batting order turned into a 'disorder' of unmatched proportions in England.

    Tendulkar, the constant

    Monday Nov 18, 2013

    Now that he's gone, it will hit us. At no. 4, for 24 years, on those 22 yards, he was there. But won't be now; the Zen master has left.

    Detached from the hysteria, yet well connected; simple, yet complicated; millions with him, yet alone when holding a bat. There was a different space about Sachin. 'God' may be a little exaggerated title, but the zone he maintained put a halo behind him. In that zone, Sachin was engaged only to cricket.

    I am saddened. The foundation of my fancy for cricket has taken a beating. It's shaken up, still jarring as I speak. Not because the game is in disrepute, but because the attempts to disinfect it are obtuse. It's a fa├žade, so to speak. Fraudulent attempts by shallow men wearing veils of hypocrisy to get away scot-free. Unfortunately, the spinal cord of our cricketers hasn't stimulated their brain stem. And that's hurting amid this humiliating episode.

    It's awfully convenient to say, "The show must go on". But dear elite, be careful when you say that. Be very careful about it after selling your vocal cords to the BCCI, after filing for amnesties, after bargaining contract fees and extensions, after being helped onto ICC committees, after getting vice presidencies in the chief's company and so on. That makes your ambassadorial comments nothing but 'His Master's Voice' and makes you a disappointing bunch for the fans: a gutless bunch that puts money over the game.

    The punter and the journalist

    Thursday May 23, 2013

    It took close to 14 years, since the Mohammad Azharuddin episode in 1999, for a first-of-its-kind crackdown on the betting mafia, which has had contrasting effects on cricket's two beneficiaries - the 'punter' is in the bunker and the 'journalist' out on the prowl.

    No one can deny that India has paid a big price for the delay in cleaning up its cricket. The game is less pleasing, many playing the game have become dishonest, the majority of its administrators are crooked, the experts are commentating under instructions and most of those who loved the game by heart are now in contact with it either to bet (the punter) or to make ends meet (the journalist).

    There's some sort of nervousness circling Indian preparations as England set foot through the Gateway of India for a four-Test series. Gautam Gambhir

    This is hurting - excruciatingly so. It's hard to picture a struggling Sachin Tendulkar, agonising to actually watch it. But this can't continue. The end

    The other day my son was learning how to cycle - to put it right, the act of balancing. "If you don't pay attention, the