Business as usual for the Windies: it's a measure of how low the once-mighty windies have sunk that the prefix 'once mighty' now seems like little more than a very distant memory. after yet another abject surrender by an innings and some runs - this time to the south africans - you wonder whether the windies will ever regain their place closer to the top of the cricketing ladder. (not, if you ask us.) with shiv chanderpaul, for once, contributing next to nothing in the first innings and being unable to bat in the second due to illness, the gulf between the clinical south africans and the incompetent tourists transformed itself into an ocean, which the islanders from the caribbean couldn't come even close to navigating. how the south africans contrived to lose the first test of the ongoing series to this bunch of no-hopers is a mystery we'll never get to the bottom of. then again, i suppose we should thank our stars for that. if nothing else, it made the first three tests of the series just that bit more engaging for the people following it; and a little more worthwhile for the people who run cricket nowadays - the advertisers.
Monkey v/s Bastard: the people that decide these things in the hallowed portals of the icc are going to find it very hard to convince the people who worship a 'monkey god' that calling someone a simian is racist. but call an indian a 'bastard' and you've probably hit him where it hurts the most. you see, the majority of indians are overly sensitive about their parentage and morality. almost anywhere you go in india - including the most forward-thinking parts - a child born to unmarried parents is frowned upon and ostracized. (assuming such a child is allowed to be born at all.) so if the aussies are going to insist on making an issue out of harbhajan calling andrew symonds a monkey, the indians are going to get pretty medieval about this latest fracas and make hogg pay for calling them 'bastards'. (god knows, they're not good enough to make these aussies pay on the field.) that the aussies chose to go the whole hog and do everything within their power to make harbhajan pay for taking the monkey out of symonds - despite having won a test they had as good as lost on the first day itself - is a reflection of how strained the relations are between the two teams. if the men from down under had even an iota of grace, they would have savoured their 'assisted' victory in the second test at sydney and not tried to rub salt into the wounds of the already smarting indians by getting harbhajan banned. after this, for many indians, australia is likely to be the new pakistan.
Advertisers bat for Yuvraj: seeing that their young, marketable star has proved to be totally incapable of making any runs in australia - even against a second string attack - a consortium of advertisers have contacted the indian team management and requested that they be allowed to bat for him. the ever-studious but no-longer bespectacled indian skipper quietly informed them that batting for yuvraj involved a lot more than just putting pressure on the the management to juggle the team around the needs of their star. it required playing responsibly, delivering when the chips are down, keeping one's head firmly planted on one's shoulder, making a significant contribution in any which way possible and not descending into an almighty sulk at the drop of a hat. suitably chastised, the consortium withdrew their support for yuvraj and thanked their stars for the 'racism' controversy that had kept the audiences glued to their television screens. (even though, the outclassed indian team hadn't.) last we heard, the very same consortium had placed a punt on sehwag coming good in the perth test. not a bad gamble, we think, when you consider that the likes of nathan astle and lou vincent - slashers with minimal footwork and similarly questionable technique - have done well in the past on the bouncy waca wicket.
Footnote: our team for the third test against australia is sehwag, jaffer, laxman, sachin, sourav, dravid, dhoni, kumble, pathan, rp singh, ishant sharma. we're also, unlike most of the official mouthpieces, quite certain the indians will not lose at perth. that's assuming billy bowden and asad rauf don't do a bucknor and benson on them. let the game begin.