Friday, June 29, 2007

Is Mathrubhumi a yellow journal?

By John Cheeran
Is Mathrubhumi a yellow journal?
P Jayarajan, prominent leader of the ruling CPI(M) general manager of Deshabhimani has reiterated the charges he made in the Kerala Assembly against the widely respected newspaper. It is interesting to note that the controlling stakes of the Mathrubhumi are with an ally of the LDF government, MP Veerendrakumar, himself a wily politician, now leading a rump of Janata Dal.
CPI (M)’s chief minister V S Achuthanandan, who has been behaving like a factional leader, had quickly clarified in the Assembly on Thursday itself that Mathrubhumi is a respected national daily. It is to be noted that Mathrubhumi has been relentless in carrying stories that hurt the interests of the Pinarayi Vijayan group in particular and the CPI (M) in general.
Jayarajan, himself at the helm of Deshabhimani, has quoted Britannica encyclopedia and NBS Nighandu, to reiterate that Mathrubhumi is a yellow journal. Jayarajan says sensationalism is the hallmark of yellow journalism and Mathrubhumi, by reporting that Deshabhimani has taken Rs 2 crores from a tainted lottery king Santiago Martin in the form of bonds, has invited the charges against it.
Yes, sensationalism is yellow journalism. But who defines what’s sensationalism?
Is telling the truth amounts to sensationalism?
If, then, let’s embrace such journalism. When the Hindu and Indian Express raked up the Bofors scandal was it yellow journalism or a crusade against corruption?
A newspaper’s success should not be measured only in the profit margin column. As long as a newspaper is able to provoke the establishment into rage, as Mathrubhumi has done in Kerala, they should be considered as traveling on the right track.CPI (M), it appears, is afraid of criticism. Of course CPI (M) in Kerala are stung by Mathrubhumi’s criticism.
Having said that I admit that journalists in Kerala often get their stories wrong, much as elsewhere. Just because something has appeared in newspapers such as Mathrubhumi and Malayala Manorama should not be considered as facts.
Take the ISRO spy saga and even the Rajani Anand suicide. Kerala’s newspapers, including CPI (M)’s Deshabhimani had indulged in mindless sensationalism in such cases. But to tar them with the tag of yellow journalism would be missing the wood for the trees.
I thought CPI (M) took pride in claiming that they stood for the people.
Indian Communists had brand-positioned the CPI (M) as People’s Party in the parliamentary shopping shelf .
Why should a people’s party fear a newspaper?
I do not consider Mathrubhumi as a yellow journal. They have a legacy that has been respected by generation of readers. But I also believe that despite two of the strongest newspapers adopting anti-Marxist line for decades, Kerala’s electorate has brought Communists into power, albeit honouring the five-year interregnums.
Readers, after all, are smarter than editors.

Sivaji the boss: Nayanthara emerges as pan Indian eyecandy

By John Cheeran
Everyone is talking about Rajnikanth in the wake of Sivaji: the Boss.
I’m not qualified to discuss Rajni. Tamizhan loves his Black heroes – Kamalahasan and Karthick are exceptions – but he prefers to cavort with fair skinned girls in his fantasies.
Tamizhan’s colour complex never goes off. Even in Sivaji: the Boss, Rajni asks his mother why did she give birth to him as black. (En amma enne karuppa pette?)
For me what’s important is Rajni’s choice of women. Shreya Reddy has given a romp.
But the piece de resistance of the movie is the item number by Nayanthara, the one-time Malayalam actress. Nayanthara had a similar role in Rajni’s last movie Chandramukhi too.
For Malayalis it is a defining moment when one of their sisters wins accolades as a skin-show stealer.
Nayanthara has come a long way since her debut in Sathyan Anthikadu's Manasinakkare. And you will not recognise the Nayanthara in Raapakal, after watching her Sivaji role.
Gone are the days of coy roles. Look at Aishawrya Rai’s role in Dhoom. Look at Kangana Raut or Bipasha Basu. To be accepted as a fantasy woman is the highest honour an Indian girl can aspire for. With Sivaji getting screen space all over India, and globally wherever the diaspora is, Nayanthara is winning her place as the male eyecandy.
For a girl from Thiruvalla nothing seems impossible. What I admire in Nayanthara (christened as Diana) is her total lack of hypocrisy.
Shedding clothes is no moral choice. It is a question of attitude. Nayanthara has loads of it.
Much as Tinu Yohannan and S Sreesanth claimed their fair share of national consciousness by playing for Indian cricket team, Nayanthara is stoking the fires of passion on a pan-Indian scale.
Let’s us toast the Made-In-Thiruvalla Vamp. Let’s have an eyeful of Nayanthara.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Deshabhimani: CPI (M)'s consultancy front

By John Cheeran
It has become impossible to tell Indian Marxists apart from politicians of other parties.
Marxists are as corrupt, if not worse, as rest of the world.
The CPI (M) rank and file in Kerala is still reeling under the shock that the suspension of Venugopal, Deputy Manager of Deshabhimani, from the party for accepting bribe – Rs one crore.
Venugopal, closely related to the late CPI (M) stalwart A.K. Gopalan (AKG), had taken the bribe allegedly from the owner of LIS, an infamous moneylending group in Kerala.
It is important to note that CPI (M) has taken the corrective step by expelling the offender from the party. But that party that prides itself as standing for the common man has an obligation to tell its followers what happened to the Rs one crore.
Has the CPI (M) degenerated into a shadow of Sonia Congress?
Prakash Karat and Pinaryi Vijayan can argue that lobbying is a part of contemporary politics and party is entitled to consultancy fee for such deal making.Has the frolicking with parliamentary democracy has debased the rank and file of the CPI (M)?
May be those who raise such questions are nothing but fools. Should one measure Marxists by a morality that one cannot apply elsewhere?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Uneasy lies the head that wears helmet

By John Cheeran
It is in Malayali’s blood to oppose everything.
From IMF to Globalization to helmets to girls and young women wearing figure-hugging clothes, Malayalis refuse to change their ways of looking at things
The opposition to wearing helmets is one such meaningless rage.
Helmets are a way of live in India’s main cities such as Delhi and Chennai. High Court has directed the LDF government to ensure that bike riders wear helmets and lead to better safety on the roads.
The gainer in this, obviously, is the one who wears the helmet. In the event of an accident, helmet will minimize the injuries to head. You tend to live longer with a bit of caution. In Delhi we used to keep an extra helmet with us so that even the pillion rider gets a safety ride. Now in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram Malayalis display senseless machismo by not wearing helmets.
What’s government’s business in this, asks enraged Malayalis.
After all, it’s our lives that are in danger, not LDF government’s.
Yes, I agree there. But then the same Macho Malayalis are scared in the face of chikungunya and are running with real and imagined fevers to the nearest public health centers. Why should government bother if a fever rages in the land? After all taking care of one’s health is an individual’s responsibility, isn’t it?
It is foolish to see conspiracies where none exist. Helmets are designed to protect you. And it is not fever that kills people in Kerala.
It is the filthy attitude that prevents Malayalis from cleaning up one’s own backyard and silly revolutionary urge to break rules and in the process own head, by not wearing helmets.

Monday, June 18, 2007

What makes Bishan Bedi attack Gavaskar?

By John Cheeran
Bishan Singh Bedi carries chips on both his shoulders.
And India’s legendary left-arm spinner has his own reasons for that. Bedi loves to speak his mind and I’m not surprised that Bedi, who was spunky enough to call Muttaih Muralitharan a cheat, has branded Sunil Gavaskar a destructive influence in Indian cricket.
Bedi has said that Gavskar always liked power without responsibility.
The comments come in the wake of Gavaskar, a prominent member of the Indian cricket board's (BCCI) coach selection panel, criticising leading candidate Dav Whatmore in his columns and instead suggesting the name of former England player John Emburey, who has had little success as a coach and was largely considered a dummy candidate.
Bedi said: "Cricket circles had immense and blind respect for him (as a cricketer) and he successfully used this to ensure that board officials remained in awe of him. He wants the glamour, the position and if there are any financial gains so much the better...but he does not want any accountability. He's always liked power without accountability." On Gavaskar's contribution to Indian cricket, Bedi said: "I had a lot of time for his batting but never as a thought leader. You tell me what his contribution has been. He is destructive, there is nothing positive."
One of the oldest divides in Indian cricket is between Mumbai and the rest of India. With the emergence of players such as Bishan Bedi and Kapil Dev in Delhi and Haryana the divide took clear shape of Mumbai vs Delhi.
Now the Indian cricket and even Zee TV’s Indian Cricket League having a clear Mumbai imprint all over it, it is no wonder then that Bedi feels isolated in his own corner in New Delhi.
It is no secret that Mumbai lobby has taken over Indian cricket. Sharad Pawar, Niranjan Shah, Ratnakar Shetty all are key BCCI officials from Mumbai or Western India. Chairman of selection committee is Dilip Vengsarkar. Cricket manger is Chandu Borde. Ravi Shastri is the Man Friday for Sharad Pawar.
Sunil Gavaskar wields enormous influence in matters of cricket within the BCCI. The BCCI has given Gavaskar more importance than that is due in the coach selection committee. It is to be noted that there was none in the panel from Delhi or North India.
Sishir Hattangadi (former Mumbai Ranji player) is the only Mumbai-based cricketer Outlook has spoken to.
Obviously I don’t expect anyone from Mumbai to bad mouth Gavaskar.
All these should irk Bishan Bedi.
And Bedi is hardly the businessman that Kapil Dev, Gavaskar’s nemesis in the past, has become. Kapil has made his peace with the establishment much in the manner of Indian cinema’s angry old man Amitab Bachchan.
Not Bedi. Fire still burns in his belly. Bedi is quite right to point out that since his playing days Gavsakar has done nothing positive for Indian cricket.
Having interviewed Bedi at his SAIL office in Delhi and at Karnail Singh Stadium many times over in the past I know he does not take back his words. Words are swords for this feisty warrior.
Bedi has proved his guts by becoming the Indian team’s coach when Raj Singh Dungarpur anointed Mohammad Azharuddin as the captain in 1990. Even Kapil has done his bit in a similar manner. Whether these two tasted success is quite different matter. What matters Bedi and Kapil were brave enough not go beyond their syndicated columns and take the onus of doing things, in what they believed their way, the right way.
Gavaskar prefers to run with the hare and hunt with the hunter. He does not want to assume responsibility. It is easy to preach. It is easy to throw his weight around in the committee room by hurling John Emburey into the coach debate.
Why doesn’t Gavaskar take up the onerous task of making Indian cricketers world champions. It is easy to criticize Greg Chappell but the Aussie had the balls to take on what is considered as the most pressurized job in the cricket world.
What matters to Gavaskar is his own survival. He makes his peace with ease whether it is Jagmohan Dalmiya or Sharad Pawar in the seat. He forced Dalmiya make room for his son in Bengal Ranji team when things got going toigh in Mumbai.
When Shiv Sainiks ranskacked the BCCi ffice in Mumbai in 1999 with Pakistan poined to tour India, Gavaskar, the Mr India of Indian cricket, did not utter a single word on the incident although he takes pride as a cricket journalist. Gavaskar was an opportunist at the crease.
He still is an opprtunist and that hurts Indian cricket.

Dravid takes anticipatory bail for England trip

By John Cheeran
There are different versions on Rahul Dravid’s take on the lack of a coach for England-bound India team. The fact that instead of Graham Ford, the BCCI has given Dravid 72-year-old Chandu Borde to help him run the side should have a bearing on the performance of the side. Or so goes the common man’s perception.
BBC Sport quotes the Indian skipper “"A coach or cricket manager can make a difference in the team's preparation. A captain cannot give individual personalised attention to all 15 of the team. Coaches do that. "
"It's about preparing a team before and after matches in terms of looking at the whole picture, giving an outside view and taking the pressure off you in off-field activities. "I am sure this is a short-term measure and I am sure they will find someone who will do the role."
Dravid is bloody keen to separate the coach’s role from that of players. Coach can help in preparing the side, but players themselves will have to do the job of scoring runs and getting wickets.
Deccan Herald reports that Dravid does not consider that absence of a full-time coach is not a Major drawback. That’s not the message the BBC Sport puts across.
Deccan Herald staff report went on to say that “Dravid dismissed that notion, saying he was excited about the challenge of leading the side on a tough tour.“The pressure never increases or decreases. As India’s captain, there is a certain amount of pressure and a certain amount of joy that comes with it. There is great excitement about doing what you can, and that is the way I will be approaching this series,” Dravid said in Bangalore.
“There is a need for someone who can take the pressure off the players outside of a cricket field. Once a game starts, it is the responsibility of the captain and the players to perform well. A coach or a cricket manager, whatever terminology you want to use, can make a difference in the preparation. I am sure this is a short-term measure and I am sure they will find someone who will do the role.“As captain, you cannot give individual attention to all 15 members. Coaches can do that, if it means spending extra hours in the net, throwing extra balls or putting extra balls in the bowling machine. That's where his role is, before and after a game,” he said.
All said and done, I want to ask Dravid this.
Does Dravid believe that a better-prepared side has more chances of defeating its enemies?
Is Indian team ‘fully’ prepared for the Ireland-England tour under Chandu Borde, who has not even met the players so far?
One thing is pretty clear.
The BCCI will not able to excoriate this side if they plumb new depths in Ireland and England. Dravid has taken anticipatory bail even before boarding the flight.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Karat should sack Achuthanandan as chief minister

By John Cheeran
Communists in Kerala, as elsewhere, are a proud lot.
They do not react positively to unsolicited advice.
Even then I should advise CPI (M) secretary general Prakash Karat that he should sack his party's Chief Minister in Kerala, V.S. Achuthanandan.
Anger, and a sense of betrayal is growing in a Monsoon-drenched Kerala over Achuthanandan’s move to protect land grabbing by his own party CPI (M) and CPI. The credibility of the CPI (M) as a moral force has taken a terrible beating from which recovery is going to be a very long haul.
Achuthanandan’s mask as an honest leader has been ripped open by the circumstances.
It is easy to demolish someone else’s efforts; not so easy to bring down party owned resorts.
What has been projected as a big popularity drive by VS has bit back the Marxist leader.
Pinarayi Vijayan lacked patience and triggered public spat with VS on who should take the credit for Munnar demolition drive.
Now where is Pinarayi? Why he is not taking credit for what’s happening now, or to be specific, not happening, in Munnar?
Achuthanandan has tried to sell a lemon to common man by clubbing political parties and religious organizations together. Can comrade VS point out a single case of land grabbing by religious organization in Kerala?
Achuthanandan’s sidekicks are wearing dothis over their head these days. And they accuse Pinarayi of winding up CPI to move against VS and wreck the Munnarr drive.
Such excuses are silly.
Is Achuthanandan a puppet in the hands of Pinarayi?
It is time Achuthanandan came down from his moral high horse and quit the Chief Minister’s post.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Munnar land grabbing: Kerala's schadenfreude

By John Cheeran
Instead of raising a ruckus over V. S. Achuthanandan’s space grabbing statement that exonerated politicians and religious organizations on Wednesday, media in Kerala, as is their wont, have pussyfooted.
Now, what did Kerala’s so called People’s Chief Minister say in his press conference at Thiruvananthapuram?
The land grabbed by political parties as well as temples, mosques and churches built on such encroached lands but belong to the government will not be taken back by his special officers.
Why is it that LDF’s honest chief minister has suddenly decided to act as a deity who is eager to please vote banks and the rank and file of CPI and CPI (M)?
And why are the leading media organizations and journalists shying away from pointing out the untenable position taken by Achuthanandan?
Land grabbing is land grabbing. It cannot be couched in red rag to justify an illegal position.Why should one condone crime, if religious organizations or political parties commit them?
Achuthanandan has been forced to flee from his moral high ground once it has been come to the light that his party CPI (M) has benefited from Ravindran Pattayams just as the CPI, if not more. Pattayams are given ostensibly to farmers, and Communist parties have no right to get it until it has been done in the name of one of their humble farmer members of the party. In Munnar, Achuthanandan’s and Veliyam Bharagavan’s parties have given their land, grabbed through pattayams, to corporates who run resorts there now.
Is this revolution? I have heard that revolutions eat their own children. In Kerala, Communist babies have eaten their own revolution.
And why JCBS are stopping short of demolishing these offensive structures?
Because such a move will hurt both the CPI and CPI (M). Communist cadres, after all, cannot march on empty stomachs.
You can demolish anything, unless it belongs to you. Those who were rejoicing in Munnar and elsewhere in Kerala when JCBS pounded the resorts and other sundry structures constructed on lands, as hotly disputed as the demolished structure in Ayodhya, were happy only because it did not belong to them.
Nothing spurs men and women on a moral track as much as jealousy. What we witnessed in Kerala in recent times is nothing but a classic example of Schadenfreude.
Long live revolution!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Axe Effect in Indian dressing room: Sehwag, Harbhajan out

By John Cheeran
Ah, changes, changes.
AXE effect fills in the Indian dressing room.
My regret is that had the selection committee chairman Dilip Vengasrakr was bold and sensible enough to impart the kind of changes that have been made to the Ireland-England bound Indian team before the World Cup, the Indian cricket would not have been plunged to the abyss that it languishes in.
It is also important that whether Rahul Dravid relented in his support for Virender Sehwag or not, the Delhi dazzler has been justifiably cast out of the squad.
Selectorial axe has fallen on the heads of Harbhajan Singh and Munaf Patel.
Sehwag’s absence ensures that Dinesh Karthick will be secure as an opener and that should bolster Indian batting. Harbhajan’s vacation in Chandigarh makes sure that Ramesh Powar gets enough overs to buy some wickets.
Criteria for selection should be performance and nothing else. Karthick and Powar deserve their places. And make no mistake, north India cannot afford to waste its tears for Sehwag and Harbhajan when the region is getting scorched under a merciless sun.
Equally heartening is the break given to Bengal medium pacer Ranadeb Bose. Bose, who compensates his lack of pace, by a disciplined line and length was lucky to miss the jinxed trip to the Caribbean. Bose was heartbroken when the list was announced for the World Cup. Now that the Test team’s doors are opened for him, Bose should hit the deck.
Selectors have kept their faith Ishant Sharma and they had little choice with Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathans losing themselves in mysterious self-confidence wrecking viruses. Selectors, much like the God, can help only those help themselves.
It is also interesting to note that rush for a place in the Indian middle order has intensified with Mumbai Rohit Sharma getting a ride to England. Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly should be on their toes now.
The 16-man team for the England Test series: Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar (vice-capt), Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthick, Gautam Gambhir, Saurav Ganguly, Venkatsai Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ishant Sharma, Ranadeb Bose, Anil Kumble, Ramesh Powar.
The 15-man team for one-day matches against Ireland, South Africa and Pakistan:
Rahul Dravid (capt), Mahendra Dhoni (vice-capt), Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthick, Rohit Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Piyush Chawla, Ramesh Powar.

Chandu Borde: Pawar plays an old card!

By John Cheeran
Indian board’s announcement of former Test cricketer and selection committee chairman Chandu Borde as cricket manager to the Indian team for its Ireland-England tour comes as a surprise. But this surprise was long in the making by the BCCI and is less ‘shocking’ when you consider a series of events that preceded.
The best man to run Indian cricket was Greg Chappell. But having failed to keep him in the event of World Cup fiasco, the BCCI dithered on choosing the next coach. Look at Australian Cricket Board.
They had decided on John Buchanan’s heir apparent even before the World Cup started and had a suitable man groomed for the job.
Indian board was waiting much like the father of the neighbourhood siren waiting for a prospective son-in-law. Sharad Pawar and Niranjan Shah must have believed that Indian board’s assets would lure coaches. Rejection of an eager suitor like Dav Whatmore and spurning by an eligible Graham Ford has forced Pawar to hand over Indian cricket team to 76-year-old Borde, a man who has seen it and done it all.
What signals are the BCCI trying to send out by dusting up Borde from its cupboard?
Borde’s appointment as a cricket manager, when there are many men such as Madan Lal, Mohinder Amarnath and even S Venkataraghavan ready to be crucified as coaches, shows that the board wants to bring in a foreign professional despite its recent snafus.
That should be good news to the followers of Indian cricket.
But the episode exposes the BCCI’s management skills. They knew all about finding a replacement for Chappell after the World Cup meltdown, but despite its overflowing coffers, none were identified.
Even the handling of Ford interface was far from professional, with the Board jumping the gun without waiting for South African’s Yes.
As for the larger debate of whether a cricket team needs coach or a manager the Ireland-England tour will provide answers.
Cricket coaches for senior national teams are a new-fangled phenomenon in 1990s. There are some uncharitable views that post of coaches are a kind of pension scheme for retired cricketers.
Borde is not expected to hold PE for Rahul Dravid and company. Bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh should take care of such affairs.
The problem will arise only when the Indian team, managed by the grand old man, comes back with series win in England.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ford slaps Indian board in its face

By John Cheeran
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), world’s richest cricket board, is spurned by a young South African, who has not played a single Test or One-day match.
What does Ford know about cricket, and Indian cricket in particular?
Graham Ford has said no the BCCI offer to become the coach of the Indian national team.
Ford’s refusal is nothing but a slap in the face of Sharad Pawar and Niranjan Shah.
Ford has said that he prefers to carry n with his assignment with English County Kent.
It is interesting now to note that Indian cricketers and board itself tore the resume of someone who was pretty much keen to manage a much riven Indian cricket team.
Yes, Whatmore must be hard pressed to contain a few chuckles and watching with interest how the story develops from here.
But be sure that last is not heard on Ford deal itself. Money has its attractions and who knows Ford’s verbal crossover on Monday may just be part of tough bargaining. May be Ford is peeved that the BCCI held out only a one-year deal to him for which he is not willing to abandon the quite and comforts of Kent.
Also happy must be our desi brigade, whom I admonished in an earlier post to take up assignments with Bangladesh and Pakistan. But hope springs eternal.
Who knows in a patriotic fit, Pawar might even tell Ravi Shastri to take charge of the team.And how can Shastri refuse when the future Prime Minister of India requests him to save Indian cricket.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What next for desi cricket coaches?

By John Cheeran
What should our desi coaches do now?
Indian cricket board and Indian cricketers have ignored and insulted them by appointing a man who has never played Test cricket and one-day internationals as a coach.
And to make matters worse, Sharad Pawar has new fixer is from South Africa, the nation that perfected apartheid into an art form.
Desi coaches would do well to remind Pawar that Mahatma Gandhi was booted out of a train compartment in Graham Ford’s land.
Well, for Madan Lal, Mohinder Amarnath and Chetan Chauhan I have a suggestion.
Why do our desi coaches fail to get interview letters from other cricket nations or even provincial teams?
Yes, yes..Madan Lal coached the UAE and Sandeep Patil did stints with Kenya and Oman.
But there is hope for desi coaches after all.
Without wasting time, they should apply to Bangladesh Cricket Board and Pakistan Cricket Board since they are hunting for new coaches. They should act fast or else Sunil Gavaskar will recommend John Emburey’s application there as well.
Or else, they can march to Jantar Mantar and burn Ford’s effigies..Good luck.

India bring on Ford: Change of coach, yes. Will there be a change of direction?

By John Cheeran
Yes, it is Graham Ford only.
The 46-year-old former South Africa coach, currently cricket director of English county Kent, was selected ahead of former England spinner John Emburey, senior board official N. Srinivasan announced in Chennai n Saturday after the two were interviewed by its coaching committee.
Ford's appointment would have to be formally ratified by the board's decision-making working committee, he said. It is due to meet on Tuesday.
He would have a one-year tenure in the job which fell vacant after former Australia skipper Greg Chappell quit following the team's shock first round exit in the World Cup.
"The seven-man (coaching) committee has recommended to the working committee the name of Graham Ford as India's next coach," N. Srinivasan said.
He said Ford would inform the working committee when he would assume charge. Although his contract with Kent runs until 2008, the club have already given him permission to apply for the job.
Ford was rated well ahead of Emburey, cricket director with English county Middlesex, due to the reported backing from senior players including skipper Rahul Dravid, a former Kent player.
The board surprisingly rejected on Wednesday Australian Dav Whatmore, the outgoing Bangladesh coach who until then had appeared to have almost secured the job.
Ford is expected to take charge at the earliest as the team is due to leave later this month for Ireland, where they face the home country and South Africa in one-day internationals, followed by a full tour of England.
Ford has inspired South Africa to eight wins from 11 Test series in two years until he was sacked in 2001 after consecutive series defeats against Australia in the wake of the Hansie Cronje match-fixing saga.
Ford is regarded as a motivator and his lack of experience at the highest level of the game should work in his favour. Unlike Greg Chappell, Ford made the cut neither as Test cricketer nor as a One-day player.
For Team India, success on the field will have to be earned by sheer dint of hard work.
Change of coach has been achieved; will there be a change of direction as well?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Will there be a fatwa against Joy Alukkas?

By John Cheeran
Marxists in Kerala say lighting of traditional lamps (nilavilakku) is a Hindu ritual and should not be used to inaugurate public functions, be it a jewellery shop or college union function.
I recall my student days when the Student Federation of India (SFI) used to fuss over the non-secular aspect of nilavilakku.
Obviously Muslim fundamentalists in Kerala, nurtured by petro dollar from the Middle East, championed such a stand taken by secular Marxists.
Now I’m amazed to see some pictures from Dubai. Picture shows Joy Alukkas’ latest jewellery showroom being inaugurated by Jassem Mohammad Ebrahim Al Hasawi, a prominent Muslim in Dubai society, by lighting the nilavilakku.
Ah, isn’t it sacrilege for a Muslim to perform a Hindu ritual?
Should Muslims buy jewellery from a shop that has been opened by performing a Hindu ritual?
I’m sure these questions should agitate the Kerala’s Muslim fundamentalists.
May be, a fatwa on the subject is coming our way.
Till such time secularists should put aside their gold hunt.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ford runs over Whatmore's coach

By John Cheeran
Twist in the Dav Whatmore tail has left many in Indian cricket perplexed.
Once The Times of India frontpaged the story a few weeks ago that the Australian has been all but appointed as the new coach for the Indian team, such a twist was unforeseen.
But that is Indian cricket.
Since I believe no coach can overhaul the Indian cricket in a short span, I had not taken much interest in the coach business. But I must say that skipper Rahul Dravid did the right thing in looking beyond Whatmore for guidance to the team’s fortunes.
Whatmore’s biggest credit in the recent times has been the World Cup coup he pulled off for Bangladesh against India in the Caribbean. That led to talks such as how the man has worked wonders with sub continental teams – Sri Lanka’s World Cup triumph in 1996 and now Bangladesh’s entry into Super Eight, in the process pushing India into the abyss.
For Indian cricketers who were finessed by Whatmore in the Caribbean, the presence of the former Bangladesh coach would have been a constant reminder of their shame.
None of them including Dravid and Virender Sehwag would have welcomed such irritating thoughts as they strive to rebuild.
That must be the singular reason that scuppered Whatmore’s chances. Sunil Gavaskar's dislike for Whatmore is only adds the detail.
It has been reported that players themselves were scouting for a suitable coach in a much a shrunken field.
None of the team members welcomed the idea of having a former Indian cricketer as coach.
Jokers such as Madan Lal, Mohinder Amanath and Chetan Chauhan were dragged into the race by Kapil Dev, with the former Indian captain vigorously arguing for an Indian coach.
It seems former South African coach Graham Ford, who is now handling English County Kent, is Dravid’s preferred choice and the other candidate, propped up by Gavaskar, is former England skipper and off-spinner John Emburey.
Ford was South Africa’s coach between 1991 and 2001 when South Africa won nine of their 11 Tests and one-day series, including a historic Test series win in India.
It is also to be remembered that the match-fixing controversy and Hansie Cronje affair happened during those days. And Emburey’s coaching stints with Northamptonshire and Middlesex did not yield desired results.
That strengthens Ford’s case to become the Team India coach. But none is certain after what they did to Whatmore.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Birla, Ambani and Achuthanandan

By John Cheeran
Despite Monsoon, Kerala’s current political climate remains hot. Anti-bourgeoisie grandstanding is a box-office hit there. CPI (M)’s Chief Minister incumbent V.S. Achuthanadan is against the rich and might in Kerala.
Achuthanandan has been declaiming that Ambani’s Reliance will not be welcomed in Kerala to open their retail chain. V S wants to get applause from the thousands of retailers in Kerala who act as obscurantist middlemen as far as consumers are concerned. And these retailers rarely contribute to the tax kitty.
Once Reliance comes to Kerala, these retailers will have to shut their shops, though it will take a long time to happen such a thing. Consumers will and should get a better value from for their money from hypermarkets such as Reliance is planning.
To oppose such business ventures, as Achuthanandan and his acolytes are doing, is not good Communism or good economics. I’m afraid that CPI (M) secretary Pinaryi Vijayan can, for once, see eye-to-eye with his bete noire on handcuffing Anil Ambani.
But is that the course the LDF, and CPI (M) in particular, must be adopting when Kerala is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first democratically elected Communist government in the world?
Let me remind comrades that EMS Namboodiripad as Chief Minister of Kerala in 1957 wooed north Indian industrialists to set shops in the state. EMS always believed in subjecting the society to the hammer blows of industrialization, ostensibly to advance the class struggle. But the point is that EMS also wanted Kerala to prosper and to that end he was willing to set aside puerile dogmas. Comrades did not hesitate to woo the private sector in 1957.
Let me quote from Sarvepalli Gopal’s biography of Jawaharlal Nehru, volume 3.
“Curiously what gave the planning commission concern was that the state government appeared to be unduly favouring the private sector. The Birla group was given permission to set up a wood-pulp plant, and plans were drawn up to invite a private company to construct a refinery for the manufacture of lubricating oil, in contravention of the industrial policy of the Government of India. There was, in fact little that was Communist in the official activities of the state ministry and even the Communist Party disapproved of some provisions of the agreement with the Birla Group.”
Ah, how I wish VS Achuthanandan abandoned his phoney ideological posturing and build on the advantages that Kerala has.
John Cheeran at Blogged