Muralidharan, Malinga & Sangakkara announce surprise retirement !

Malinga, Murali & Sangakarra packing their bags (Image courtesy asportsnews.com)

BREAKING NEWS !!

Sensational news has just emerged from Sri Lanka. It has been confirmed by the Sri Lankan government that Muralidharan, Malinga & Sangakkara have come out with a joint statement announcing their retirement on the eve of the world cup final against India on Saturday. It has been rumoured that all three were spotted hiding behind a giant paper masala dosa at the local McDosa outlet in Colombo and pretending not to follow the India Pak semifinal. The trio have been famously tormented by the Indian batsmen & bowlers on the field in various encounters. Off the field, on their recent trips to India, they have complained bitterly against the quality of Rasam served during the innings break. Malinga has been especially vocal that the lack of sri lankan chillies in the Rasam drastically reduces the violent twitching in his delivery action, thus rendering his otherwise lethal yorkers impotent.

Originally they wanted to announce their retirement right at the finish of India pakistan semi-final. However, they were reportedly counselled by Ricky Ponting that such an announcement, within minutes of the news emerging that they will have to play against India, will sound very hasty and cowardly. Muralidharan and Australians, being old pals, have a lot of trust in each other – so this prudent advice seems to have been taken well.

It has also emerged that Darrell Hair had called Murali repeatedly. When he finally got through to Murali, he advised him of a much more subtle option. He reminded him of the good old days they spent together in 1995 and seems to have suggested that he could start bending his elbow more than 5 degrees at the time of delivery and hope that Simon Taufel would call him for no balls. This would force Sangakarra to take him out of the attack. He and Sangakarra can then leave the field together on the pretext of Sangakarra offering to coach Murali in the confines of the VIP lounge.  But since Malinga would have had no part in this plan, he threatened to spill the beans. On hearing this threat, this plan was hastily rejected.

Many other options were mulled as well. These ranged from pretending that their passports have been mislaid, sudden allergic reaction to sea breeze and lack of appropriately skilled hairdressers in India. But in the end they decided to face it like men – and offered the real reason. The Sri Lankan cricket board responded spectacularly to this news by calling Chaminda Vaas from semi-retirement. Having been left out of all international cricket since 2009, he had recently been considering a move to become a commentator and follow in the illustrious footsteps of Sourav Ganguly and torment TV viewers the world over. But he seems to have accepted the offer, but on the condition that he would travel first class from Colombo to Mumbai, via Dubai. As this would ensure he can keep his Silver frequent flyer membership status with Sri Lankan airways. One slight glitch has emerged though. He apparently had sold his cricket shoes in an online auction, and is now trying to trace the buyer.  The Sri Lankan board are not too perturbed by this. They are quite confident that their request for a last minute replacement will definitely be rejected by the ICC. Since Vaas, will be spending all his time in sitting in the pavilion anyway, so whether he gets to the stadium with or without shoes is quite irrelevant.

The timing of this news is certainly intriguing and has left many cricket enthusiasts and experts puzzled. The Indian cricket team is quite nonchalant about this. However the most affected seems to be Andy Zaltzman, the Cricinfo writer. He had hoped to meet with his childhood hero Malinga and ask him the secret of his lovely tresses by inviting him to be the chief guest in the ‘Let your hair down’ party planned to celebrate India’s victory in the world cup.

Andy Zaltzman, trying to keep his remaining hair intact and think of a new chief guest (Image courtesy Cricinfo.com)

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p.s : This article is written purely in pun and should be treated / viewed in the same vein.

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From Hank to Hendrix

A bunch of 7 to 9 yr old kids learning to play cricket equated to a team of senior project managers working in a bank?  Musically speaking its like comparing Hank Williams, the great honky-tonk artist to the inimitable Jimmi Hendrix, arguably the greatest rocker of all – What can the two groups possibly have in common? Nothing much to the untrained eye, but perhaps a lot if you look from where i am standing. The reason i can say that with authority is that in a typical week i get through both these groups, the latter at work and the former in my role as the coach of the Under 9 cricket team at the Zurich Crickets.

So where do we start with the similarities, huh … ?

1. Getting them together in a place is next to impossible : Put 12 kids in an indoor gym at the beginning of coaching session on a Saturday morning, and you can’t even hear yourself think. You need to coax, beg, order, trick, sometimes all of these things at once – and you just might grab their attention. The team of project managers at the other hand have a slightly different set of issues – global conference calls, budget issues, tracking a 500 line item project plan etc. continue to have a have a higher priority. Discovering Atlantis is easier than having them sit down together whether for a coach-talk or a team meeting.

2. ‘Question everything’ is their shared motto : Either all project managers were under 9 cricketers once, or all the under 9s have a secret ambition to be a project manager. For every thing that you throw at them comes back to you at double speed disguised as an unanswerable question. Try answering this from a 7 yr old when explaining the best way to hit a straight drive “Why can I not use 3 bats together when I am batting?” or this a from a project manager when explaining the competition’s product offering “Why don’t we just buy them off, then we have nothing to worry about?“. Even Obama would not have an intelligent reply.

3. They are as multicultural as it gets : Both the teams consist of members from practically round the globe – South Africans, Germans, Italians, English, Australians, Swiss, Indians, Serbians, Israelis… you name it. I think only the Vatican is not represented.

4. Both continue to surprise & exasperate you : Surprises come in all shapes and sizes. Like the boy who just for the life of me cannot get the ball to pitch in line with the stumps, will suddenly come up and bowl a perfect in-swinging yorker leaving everyone flabbergasted. Or the perhaps the project manager who will have a ‘Eureka’ moment and manage to convince the stakeholder who has been resisting for ages, with a perfect argument that no one saw coming. In both cases you are left scratching your head in a mixture of admiration(wow! i didn’t know he/she could do that)  and exasperation (Why couldn’t he/she have done this earlier).

5. You continue to learn so much from them : Just the very fact that each of them is a personality in their own right complete with all the aspects that make us human, keeps you on your toes. The challenges they throw at you, the new perspectives they bring to age-old issues, their diligence to continue practicing their bowling at any spare time at home or working relentlessly to meet a deadline that is approaching like a steamroller – is enlightening. Every day/week offer you a little nugget of knowledge or experience that leaves you so much the richer.

Would one want to change a few things here and there, probably yes. But will the two groups remain the ‘originals’ if you did, probably not. So here’s to both the groups keeping their spirit and personalities.