Monday, August 29, 2005


One of my good friends finished his candidacy exam, which he cracked (despite his cribs that he would flunk; wonder how people can crib so much about exams:-)) and took us out to dinner up in Albany, at an Indian restaurant called Gandhi. I use the term Indian very loosely, because it was really a Bangladeshi restaurant. Not bad, if you discount the really rude waiter and the crappy music in the background. Had malai kabab, fish kabab, chicken tikka, lamb kabab, chicken korma, chicken karahi and chicken rogan josh with nice pudinah parathas and lassi to wash it down. Finished with malai kulfi and rasmalai. Was so stuffed towards the end, just made an observation. I like to make connections, so here's a good one: Research and Food. The thought of doing research is sometimes more romantic and exciting than the research itself (I know it's totally wrong, but hell, it happens sometimes) THe thought of eating so many items sounds great, but sometimes finishing up so much food is really quite painful, as I discover again. Literally.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


At the risk of sounding cliched, who IS writing the scripts for these test matches????

First, the good news. I no longer need to crib about not being able to watch the cricket. Brilliant coverage, with Benaud et al, is now available, and it's fantastic to say the least.

On to the match, then. I'm impressed with Shaun Tait, I really am. Frankly, I can't, in all my years of watching cricket, remember another tearaway with a sling-arm action. (Unfortunately, Thmmo was before my time.) He set up day one nicely with the wickets of Trescothick (looks increasingly unlikely the poor bloke will ever get an hundred against the Aussies) and Bell. This was always going to be Freddie's series and his exquisite butchery (only in this great game do these words go together) of the Australian attack on Day 2 meant that Australia who had looked competitive at the end of Day 1, would now have to bat out of their skins. Well, they didn't and with some brilliant bowling by Simon Jones and Hoggy, were left licking their wounds. Another first innings failure, something that's becoming far too common with this side. For the first time since 1988, this proud team had been asked to follow on. Vaughny must have had a couple of things to weigh:
1) These damn Aussies control the weather, I'd better not risk the time element.
2) That damn Warney
Well, anyway, he thought that Warney was kinder than the weather and enforced the follow on (and almost regretted it, in hindsight).
The second innings effort was infinitely better, Langer, Clarke, Warney and Katich playing quite well to give some sort of respectability to the total England needed to chase. At this point, I must also be really critical of the umpiring, and frankly, Bucknor should go. He has been slipping steadily for the past few years, and now is probably no better than S.K. Bansal, he of the LBW-when-ball-pitched-outside-leg fame.
Finally the fightback. Everytime the Aussies find themselves with their backs to the wall, the true champions in the side rise to the occasion. Like I said in my last post, I dare anyone to find a cricketer with as much charisma and game-influencing-ability as Warney, not just from the post-modern era, but from the golden age of cricket as well. Sir Gary and the late great Sir Don can chew on this, but it won't stop it from being true. Champion, this man, absolute champion. Two wickets from the opening deliveries of his first 2 overs, and yet, nothing surprising, considering everything we've come to expect of this man. The fizz, the dip, the drift and finally the rip snorting turn and bounce. Orgasmic delight, really, watching him bowl. The one that got Vaughny was particularly special, I thought. As for the other big hearted Aus cricketer, Binga Lee, my respect for him grows with each passing game. He must be absolutely gutted, 3 tests in a row, he's had to pull out something extraordinary out of his bag of ammunition, and each time, he's manfully done his bit. Unfortunately the scoreline reads 2-1 against his efforts. Anyone who was lucky to see him bowl Freddie, the great Freddie Flintoff, neck and crop, would carry that image with them to their senility and beyond. Just bloody fantastic that!
Either way, what the result has done is keep the Ashes alive, and we should have a real cracker at the Oval. My prediction? A draw, and Aus losing the Ashes. A change of guard.

The kings are dead, long live the kings.

Oh, and by the way, I have won my 12 pack of Heineken already:-)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Old Trafford

I followed every minute of the exciting last day at Old Trafford on Test Match Special on BBC radio, and frankly, I have chewed on the last vestiges of my poor nails (courtesyEdgbaston) and I am now down to half a thumb and forefinger. First, a word of praise for the TMS team. Back in India, ever since ESPNSTAR entered our lives, about 1991-92, practically every major cricket series has been available to watch. While there's no denying the incredible amount of cricket knowledge this brought, what with the amazing expert teams of commentators, pitch reports, key tests, etc. , TMS took me back to the good old pre satellite TV days when I, all of 8 years, used to tune in to BBC radio on SW transmission to catch test match broadcasts and to MW transmission for Ranji trophy match broadcasts. The TMS team consisting of Christopher Martin Jenkins, Geoff Lawson, Graham Gooch, Jon Agnew, Vic Marcs et al. transported me to the action at Manchester in a way only truly great radio commentators can. Laced with typically dry English humor (the asides on the supposed row between Warney and Punter were particularly hilarous), and interspersed, for good measure, with keen insights into the edge of the seat excitement at Old Trafford, it was a truly wonderful experience. Thank you TMS!

Now, on to the match. Punter showed more character than I would have given him credit for. Blame it on his mateship with Mark Waugh during the latter's playing days, and his love for a good punt, but I have always looked at him as too much of a weak character to stamp his authority on this great Australian side as a leader. I mean, you just looked at Steve Waugh's side and said that, yes, that was HIS side. Ditto for Taylor and AB. In his early test matches as Captain, he had the experience of Darren Lehmann (Yuck!) to guide him, but coming into the Ashes, his tactical and decision making abilities seemed about as solid as a politician's promise.
But anyway, his 156 was the stuff of legend, the kind of stuff that Steve Waugh built his persona on. He will probably never be a Taylor or a Warne as far as tactics and strategy go. He might never match Steve Waugh for sheer force of personality, decison making and ability to inspire men. But today he has gone some way towards proving that he CAN be a leader of men, given eough time. I see, rather, I hope for another period of decline for the Aussies to match that of early-to-mid 80s, and the romantic in me almost willing Punter to guide them out of the rut, flinty eyed and grumpy, much like AB did.
A word on Warney too. The flawed genius or the wizard, no matter what he is to you, there is no denying the fact that he is the greatest champion in the world today, Tendulkar,Lara and Dravid notwithstanding. No one I have seen in the last 20 years of watching cricket has come close to influencing test match results with as much regularity as he has. Ball, bat and mouth, he just has it all. The media has not been kind to him, nor has Cricket Australia, in denying him captaincy, but when he is gone, the game shall not hold half the charm it does now, as far as I am concerned.
And finally, a word of appreciation for both the sides enacting this great Drama, and opening the eyes of the football crazy English nation to the excitement that even a draw in cricket can offer.

Friday, August 12, 2005


"The coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings, such as love and hate, toward a person, object, or idea."

In other words, a situation where I want to be happy for cricket, but cry buckets for the Aussies.

Just as well Punter is the captain. I don't think I would have been able to take it, had Steve Waugh been the first Captain in ages to lose the Ashes to the Poms.

A friend of mine who was a great WI supporter has had to endure the torture of watching HIS side plumb the absolute depths, and now it's my turn. Sad, but necessary.

Like they say, no one or nothing is greater than the game!

Monday, August 08, 2005


I came across this article on Cricinfo, by the "great" Arjuna Ranatunga

"The injury to Sourav Ganguly off a short-pitched delivery will once again raise the old bogey of his weakness. But then the wickets of sub-continent help the fast bowlers with its own vagaries. Unlike Australia or South Africa where the ball comes at even pace and height, the ones in the sub-continent are generally not true. I still carry the image of Ganguly of previous years when he was good at hooking and pulling. "

Oh dear Lord, when?????????????????????? When was he good at hooking and pulling?????????????

Ranatunga adds, "May be he should start doing it more often once again."

Please, Saurav, don't heed his advice. Please spare us the agony of watching a pull shot being played with stiff forearms holding the bat in a tennis grip and arcing it from knee height to shoulder height.

And if you, old dog, are still interested in learning how it's done, watch Dravid do the pulling and Punter do the hooking.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Old Man who Lived

Once upon a time, when the balance between the powerful and the meek had shifted, and seemingly irreversibly so, to the wrong side, a prophecy was made. "The meek shall not lose", it said, "they shall win ". But since the prophecy had been made by someone who was but one of the Meeks, someone who answered to the name of David Graveney, neither the Powerfuls nor the Meeks really took it seriously enough. After an epic battle on the first two days of the war, at the most hallowed battleground in the world, when the Meeks realized that the Powerfuls were not infallible, not invincible, the Powerfuls were stung into using weapons so deadly they should have been outlawed by the human race long ago. The Meeks had no answer to the Metronome, so straight, so pin-pointedly accurate. They failed to negotiate the Thunderbolt, who unleashed misery upon misery upon the hapless Meeks. It wasn't fair, but most things in life aren't. The Powerfuls even had in their midst a wizard, who could weave magic and confound his enemies into making mistakes and into looking as intelligent as a Communist. He would curl his weapon, almost like he was winding it up to strike like a great black cobra which would spit venom at his enemies. The Meeks suffered crushing blows and lost the battle. In an earlier era, with this one battle, the war would have been lost too. But fate knew that there was an infirm, but righteous Old Man to save, and he would die if the Meeks lost. Therefore, it had intervened and chosen one warrier who would not give up, who would display the qualities that made the Powerfuls so formidable. He was the Chosen One. He had joined the ranks 8 years ago, but had yet to fight a battle against these most powerful Powerfuls , until this war started. He reminded everyone of another great warrior who had laid to waste the Powerfuls in an era when the balance of Power was not as skewed as it was on this day. He had to put his hand up and be counted, which he failed to do in the first battle. But with the Old Man's life at stake, fate intervened. The Metronome got damaged and the Powerfuls lost their most subversive weapon. On the first day of battle the Chosen One then took the battle to the enemy camp and destroyed the Gypsy, the Thunderbolt and Wizard. On the second day of battle, he destroyed the enemy defences as he conquered 3 of the warriors defending the enemy fort. Then, just as the Meeks began to have hopes of a heady victory, the cunning Wizard struck a demoralizing blow. With a spitting cobra that breached the defences of a Meek warrior, the battle was in balance again, as Day 3 began. The Wizard, more powerful than Dumbledore the Wise, or Gandalf the Grey , threw curses left, right and center, unleashing the destruction that had made him the most feared name in most Meek households for more than a decade. The Thunderbolt was also hell bent on exacting revenge for the ignominy of Day 1.It seemd a battle gone wrong for the Meeks again. Till the Chosen One stood up. Alone. A bloodied warrier standing amidst the ruins. Battling a painful wound to his shoulder. Battling the great dark wizards of the enemy. Battling history. Battling for the Old Man's life. The Cunning Wizard's curses were repelled and rendered useless. The Chosen One then pulverized the Thunderbolt into submission and gave the Meeks new hope. He returned later to capture some of the most important defences of the enemy, helped by an ordinary footsoldier who had his big moment when he captured the darkest of the enemy, a dark wizard who must not be named. The battle was almost won. Almost. But day 4 brought all the nightmares of previous defeats back to life. Self doubts began creeping in. But the Old Man's life was important. It had to be saved. For all the things that are great and good, for all the things that the young need to learn, the Old Man had to be saved. And just when it seemd like the Powerfuls would call upon their great mental resources to emerge victorious again, the tall, lithe and graceful Meek warrior struck. The Battle was over. The Meeks had won. They had lived to fight another day. They knew the Powerfuls would come back at them hard, but for the time being, however, the Old Man had a new lease of life.

I join them today in celebrating English Cricket, the Old Man who Lived.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Freddy and Jason

Reading the scorecard on Cricinfo yesterday made me all too aware of a great connection that exists between so many different things in the world. As my advisor(who, by the way, features in the story later) says, "Illustrate your thought process", and so here I am, doing just that.

I have already mentioned cricket and power electronics as two of my great loves. A third one, though to not the same extent, is movies, more specifically of the slasher, serial killer variety. So, anyway, on the cricinfo scorecards, the names of Flintoff and Gillespie just stuck out like sore thumbs. Fintoff and Gillespie???? Cmon, that's Freddie and Jason! Of the slasher, serial killer variety. Where does power electronics figure you ask? Well, this one is more complex. But it took only one Eureka moment triggered by the dark, confused (read utterly screwed up) recesses of my mind for me to make this realization. The Neville Cardus of power electronics is a guy called Fred Lee, from VTech. He has 60 graduate students working under him, and any self respecting power electronics student has had occasion to read at least one of his papers. So, there's our power electronics Freddie. And you know what my advisor's email id is? jsun@..... jsun. Hmm.. Jason. So there, we have our power electronics Jason as well!

Like my advisor says, research is all about making the connexions:-)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Freddie Rulz

Followed a bit of the test match day one on Cricinfo. Without the great Glenn Mcgrath, the Aussie attack was never going to be as menacing, as has been clearly evident in test matches he has missed. The Aussies are REALLY gonna struggle once the great man retires, Warnie notwithstanding. Lee was taken for over six an over, which is just superb. The Poms eventually managed 407 in a day. Couldn't believe this was an English team we were watching here. The slow, boring Poms of yore, playing at a Trumperesque or Bradmanesque pace. Good for cricket, I say! Freddie came into his own and hit Binga for 3 massive ones, apparently. Look forward to catching the highlights at night. Let's see how the Aussies bat tomorrow. Hopefully, it should be a cracker of a test match.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The greatest joke ever

I made this one up as I was cooking dinner a couple of days ago.

Q. In aquatic animals were to make a Hindi Movie, who would be the villain?
A. Ah, it isn't the shark, but the Pra(w)n.