Monday, May 21, 2007

another shoaib post

Here's a well-articulated argument on Five Rupees against Shoaib Akhtar's inclusion in the Pakistan side. Well, far be it from me to shy away from an opportunity for such ripe debate.

I'm not sure I can pick holes in Ahsan's individual arguments per se. In any case, as he says, it's unlikely that either of us will change our opinion. But I can say that I am one of the few remaining Pakistanis who are just not ready to cut the cord. And in this capacity, I have a few points to make:

1. Maybe Shoaib does play 29% of our cricket. But more often than not, when he plays, he delivers. Bear with me while I do a bit of math. If he puts in a great performance 75% of the time he plays, then he delivers on 22% of the days on which Pakistan plays. That is probably more than Razzaq and both our openers put together.

I watch cricket to be excited. To feel it in my gut when a Pakistani shatters an Aussie's stumps, for example. And no bowler, as you mention, has been able to make me feel that more effectively than Shoaib over the past 10 years. If 29 out of every 100 days of cricket I watch is exciting, then so be it. It's better than the tepid half-ass way our team usually plays (the recent two-game streak excluded).

2. Yes, Shoaib is a prima donna. Yes, he has had problems with drugs. And yes he has, for lack of a better word, grown somewhat corpulent over the years. I have made this point before, but to me that sounds a lot like Shane Warne, minus the match-fixing allegations. Besides, isn't it the job of captain and coach to tame stupidity and bring it in line? Perhaps we need to focus on good leadership, rather than hoping for a team that is easy to lead.

3. The unfortunate reality is that none of our current players is about the nuts and bolts of the game. A simple look at our fielding will attest to that. What has plagued Pakistan most since Imran gave up the captaincy is a lack of focus on the nitty gritty of the game, and an over-reliance on talent. We have seen repeatedly with this team that talent can only take you so far. Can any of us say with a straight face that Inzamam was an "athlete"?

4. We may not have issues with his supposed playboy lifestyle, but sadly, (and as much as I am an Inzi fan) I suspect that this is a large part of why Inzamam took offense at his presence. I believe that the team is a perfect microcosm, a scale replica, if you will, of the rest of the country. What we see could be Shoaib taking out his frustrations at this ideological divide. Of course, nobody can be sure, but I do know this much: If I were kicked out of my job because I liked playing Grand Theft Auto in my free time, for example, I would be pretty frustrated too.

Friday, May 18, 2007

a new look

So Pakistan beat Sri Lanka today. Quite convincingly at the end, but it was a good match all the way through. I have grown so used to supporting the Lankans that at the start of the match I honestly wasn't completely sure who to support. By the middle of the day I had found my loyalties again.

I wasn't quite as impressed with the performance of our team as I was with their attitude. There was a new look about them. They looked fresh, excited, and upbeat. Afridi played an awesome innings, Akmal supported him with his own 50, Asif bowled well, and Malik captained cleverly, changing his bowlers around and setting more aggressive fields than we've become used to seeing from Pakistan.

At the presentation, both Malik and Afridi were relaxed and seemed to be having a good time. There was none of the ritualistic and showy God-thanking and overt deference to the captain. Just 11 guys who won a game and were happy.

There were a couple of mistakes, of course. Some very bad running in particular, and the top order didn't fire as usual, apart from an initial burst from Nazir. But for some reason it all seemed okay. I was happy to support the team wholeheartedly again in a way I haven't for a while.

So is this the beginning of a new era in Pakistan cricket? I don't want to jump to any conclusions just yet, but from this one match it certainly seems possible. Let's just hope it lasts.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

an allegorical account

Here's an article about how the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) has declared Inzamam (the team captain) an out-of-control tyrant who ruled the team with an iron fist and ran it into the ground.

So let me see if I've got the sequence of events straight.

1. You have a traditional governing body (the PCB) that bumbles and fucks around and makes money off its public (cricket fans) without really giving them a whole lot in return (in terms of a better team, improved training facilities).

2. So a man with some authority (the captain) takes matters into his own hands. He gets hardcore, gains the trust of the team and the public, and shuns the governing body.

3. Eventually he gets a little too hardcore for his own good, and starts making some inexplicable decisions. The team suffers, and there is a final showdown as a result of which the fans realize his time is up. This results in mass chaos, at which point the man is shamefully deposed.

4. The traditional governing body screams "I told you so!" The public is placated.

5. More bumbling and fucking around ensue (see point 1).

Sound familiar?

Pakistan zindabad.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

brokeback mountains out of molehills

This post might seem a bit dated by now, but I randomly came across this article in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day and it made me think. As the article exemplifies, it has become common for people to assume that males who do not want to watch the movie Brokeback Mountain are homophobic or "insecure". This is both unfair and erroneous. Has it never occurred to people like Mr. Hartlaub (the author of the piece) that there may be other reasons for some males not wanting to watch the movie than the mere fact that it has a few gay sex scenes?

Think about it. It is a 134-minute-long "tender, complex" love story directed by Ang Lee and based on an Annie Proulx story about cowboys. Now I know three things about my taste in movies: (1) tender, complex love stories, especially 134-minute-long ones, are generally insufferable (see Remains of the Day- enough said); (2) The last movie Ang Lee made was The Hulk; and (3) The Shipping News, the only other movie based on an Annie Proulx work, was boring, meandering, and pointless. Plus, I can’t even pronounce her name. All in all, I would be a complete idiot if I didn’t learn from my mistakes and still watched Brokeback Mountain, when it is a composite of all the types of movies that I just don’t enjoy.

But Brokeback Mountain isn't just a movie, it's a "phenomenon". And that is the genius of it. Making a movie seem more than what it is is a brilliant marketing tool, because it ensures that even people outside your target market will watch it in droves. Yes, many people watched Brokeback Mountain because they like movies like it. But we all know people who watched it because they felt they had to - to show themselves to be "open-minded" or whatever. That is absurd. I shouldn’t have to watch movies to be proving shit to anyone.

And it has nothing to do with the sex scenes. I admit, I (a heterosexual male) am likely to be a bit squeamish about them - I can’t help it. But I was also squeamish about the scene in American History X in which Ed Norton jams a man's head (teeth first) into the curb with his foot. I still half-close my eyes at that scene. Yet, I consider it to be a fantastic film. And what about the scene in Pulp Fiction where Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames are kidnapped, strapped up, and raped by rednecks? As far as I am concerned, that is a far more disconcerting (albeit less explicit) depiction of gay sex. Yet, there are tons of guys (myself included) who would rather watch Pulp Fiction than Brokeback Mountain.

So if you tell me, Mr. Hartlaub, that Brokeback Mountain isn’t just a gay movie, then you should be able to accept that I may still not want to watch it, for reasons other than its depictions of gay men. The fact that you are so quick to judge me for my decision says more about your insecurities than it does about mine.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

world cup woe #6 - cricket at a crossroads

A couple of weeks ago, we (Omar and I) had a few lengthy discussions about why it is that we found this World Cup so boring. It must be understood that we are a pair of die-hard fans who grew up on the game; fans whose earliest cricket-watching memories are those of Imran Khan lifting the coveted trophy in 1992. So if we are left horribly unsatisfied by the sport’s premier event, then how can we expect the Scots and the Dutchmen of the world to chance upon the tournament on TV and suddenly start giving a shit about the sport?

Is it even possible to spread the game of cricket?

Therein lies the strange vicious cycle-esque dilemma. Imagine, for a moment, that the ICC isn’t a money-grubbing pack of wolves, and then ponder its dilemma about the nature of the game itself. Should it try to spread the game to all corners of the world that are even remotely interested, or should it maintain cricket’s status as a strange exclusive club of 9 or 10 countries and leave it at that?

Here’s the catch. The more countries the ICC tries to include, the more boring the World Cup, and the more frustrated people like us get. And the fewer countries it includes, the more it alienates the rest of the world.

Where does this leave ODI cricket?

ODI cricket is at a funny stage in its life. A stage at which it needs to decide its identity once and for all. If it is to stick around, then countries need to be granted ODI status the same way they are given test status, otherwise it is just making it more painful for the rest of us. Besides, just because these teams are in the World Cup doesn’t mean their countries are watching. Take a survey of Canadians and ask them if they even know about their 3 Cricket World Cup appearances. Then ask them how proudly they all watched their team get knocked out in the first round of their only FIFA World Cup. For that matter, Pakistan has won four Hockey World Cups and I’ve never seen a single hockey match from start to finish.

So the way to win these countries over is not to invite them to a boring party, but to leave them at the window looking in on a proverbial bash and trying desperately to get fake IDs. Cricket is an unusually technical game, and the closest it has ever come to being accessible to the casual viewer is twenty20. And let's face it, twenty20 is the only form of the sport that is likely to spread to countries that don’t currently play the game.

Can twenty20 be cricket's savior?

The immense popularity of 20-over-a-side cricket is still a bit disconcerting to the traditionalists amongst us, but its appeal is understandable. It offers sustained excitement and a shorter game that one can actually watch without taking a day off from work. Most importantly however, the shorter time-span makes the game a great leveler. It is way easier for a minnow to win a shorter game against an established team. So if minnows want to play, they should play twenty20s and leave ODIs to the big boys.

So does this mean the rise of the twenty20 and the death of the ODI as we know it? Well, if it does, then so be it. Everything must evolve. As the World Cup and also a recent Cricinfo article showed, fewer and fewer ODIs are tight contests these days. As far as tactics go, there isn't a whole lot of mystery left. Teams know how to win from a winning position, so that a 7-hour game is often decided in the first 45 minutes. And if this trend continues, then what’s the point? This isn't even something we can blame on the ICC or the television companies, as we have become so wont to do these days.

The ICC often comes under fire for packing in tournaments close together, but it's interesting to note that nobody is complaining about the twenty20 World Cup which is to be held in South Africa in September. The cricketing community is yearning for change, excitement, and something to look forward to. Perhaps we are quietly confident, after the series of disappointments that the ODI World Cup became, that the shorter version will be the explosive revival our sport desperately needs.

Cricket needs to either change as rapidly as the world around it - with increased globalization, shorter attention spans, and less leisure time to watch sports - or else stubbornly refuse to ever change and stay put firmly where it is. This slow crawl into the 21st century is neither here nor there, and it’s leaving us all frustrated.

Co-authored by Omar.

For more World Cup Woes, click here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

only the nandrolonely

These steroids sure are taking a long time to wear off. It's been nearly a year now. He must have taken enough to kill about ten horses. Either that or he's been popping pills the whole time he's been away from cricket.

Either way, it is an impressive dosage, and if he can still play cricket after this, I can only applaud him. Only Shoaib could pull off a feat like that.


Friday, May 11, 2007

where there's smoke, there's ire

Here's an article in the New York Times about how the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has been persuaded by anti-smoking groups to consider the prevalence of smoking (of tobacco) in movies when assigning ratings. That is to say, a movie that depicts no sex or violence, but merely some guys lighting cigarettes is unlikely to get a PG rating.

This is ridiculous, and it's the kind of thing that makes anti-smoking groups lose their credibility. Those who know me know that I (a non-smoker) am a proponent of the campaign to ban smoking in bars, and may wonder how this is any different. Well, it's not that I don't ever want to SEE anyone smoke, or because it may influence or tempt me, but simply because second-hand smoke bothers me personally. I shouldn't have to pay a potential health cost (however miniscule) for somebody else's (voluntary) actions.

Watching people smoke in movies, on the other hand, does NOT affect anyone directly. By upping the rating, the MPAA is merely saying that you should watch a movie in which people smoke only after you are old enough to decide whether or not to smoke yourself. If that's the case, we may as well not allow PG movies to depict drinking, driving a car, or for that matter, working for a living. Our kids, since they run out and do everything they see in movies, may become alcoholics, underage drivers, or child laborers. Or all three. In fact, we should all watch Sesame Street for the rest of our lives. That way we won't ever be exposed to anything untoward.

Strange how through all this, a movie like Home Alone will retain both its PG rating and its status as a children's classic, despite the fact that in it, we root for a child who assaults a man by hitting him in the face with a hot iron and jamming a nail through his foot.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

arcade fire sets the crowd alight

Okay, corny title, I know. But in my enthusiasm to write about this I haven't bothered to stop and conjure up something suitably subtle.

I went to the Arcade Fire concert last Friday. And it was awesome and fantastic and better than almost any other concert I have ever seen. Around two-thirds of the way through the show, the singer was like "Hey, I apologize to security, but you guys gotta dance to music, so come the fuck on down." And that's when we rushed towards the stage like madmen and jumped and screamed and danced our asses off.

I place into evidence here exhibit A, a video of the encore from that show, taken by some random guy standing in front of me (and diligently recording the show rather than enjoying being two rows away from the stage). Listen to how the crowd goes insane and sings the whole song. Also, listen carefully for a crazy loud voice that shouts "Wake Up!" (as a request) before the song starts. And guess who that is.

Immortality through Youtube. Awesome. I'm never going to achieve it through so I may as well take what I can get.

searching for answers

A while ago I wrote about how people were finding my blog by searching for the word "choot."

Of course, in most juvenile fashion, I found this incredibly funny back in February when I started my " a choot" series. (Incidentally, this is still true. Six hits last week were accounted for by the keywords "choot", "indian choot", "choot video", and, wait for it... "blood choot". Disgusting, I know.)

Also in February, I discovered that it is widely known among Pakistani internet users that if you isolate google keyword searches by region, you will find that the word "sex" is most widely searched for in Pakistan, and "animal sex" is particularly popular in Karachi. (I just came across an excellent post on this at Five Rupees).

Allow me now to point out yet another bit of googling hilarity. This one comes from Google Zeitgeist, which publishes a country-by-country list of the 15 keyword queries that have most gained in popularity over the course of each month. (During May in France, for example, you might expect a huge jump in searches for "Sarkozy"). Well, it turns out that in Pakistan, during March, the #10 query on this list was "male models". Above "cricket world cup 2007", which came in at #11.

Again, I leave the analysis up to you. I am merely a purveyor of facts.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

world cup woe #5 - lankan whining

I teared up when Sri Lanka lost the final. I was supporting them all the way after Pakistan lost. If the match hadn't been interrupted, it may have been a tighter game. And yes, maybe Jayawardane wasn't out. But all this is moot, because shit happens, and the Aussies won fair and square.

The question du jour is: Was it legal for Adam Gilchrist to put half a squash ball in his glove when batting? There is a lot of talk about this, and the Sri Lankan cricket board is whining away. I even received a forwarded email originated by some random Sri Lankan guy which was a petition to the ICC to ask that Lanka be awarded the World Cup because what Gilchrist did was illegal. "In the event I do not hear from [Percy Sonn]", writes R. Goerge Manuelpillai, "Legal Action will be meted against the ICC."

I am disappointed. This sounds like how the Aussie crowds whine repeatedly about Murali's action even so long after it's been cleared. Part of the Lankan mystique is that they let their on-field accomplishments do the talking, and they play the game their own way. That they are now resorting to fighting fire with fire in this totally inelegant manner is annoying.

Here's what I want to know. If Gilchrist had put a pineapple up his ass instead, and it helped him, would we still be talking about this?

For more World Cup Woes, click here.

world cup woe #4 - aussie whining

The Aussies whined like bitches once again, this time because Sri Lanka refused to give them a look at their three strike bowlers in their redundant Super 8 match. Never mind that Australia frequently rest their key players when they have already won, or don't care about, a tournament (see here).

I do think it was a bit wussy of the Sri Lankans to rest the players, but tactics are tactics, and the Aussies should be the last people on earth whining about that. If Malinga had taken a hat trick in the final, we would all have been saying what a brilliant move it was.

For more World Cup Woes, click here.

world cup woe #3 - administration

What I'm about to say here has been said to death. The tournament was too long, ticket prices too high, the last three overs of the final were a fiasco, and it was a bad format. Next time there should be quarter finals, fewer minnows, fewer officals muddling over the rules, and the locals should be able to bring trumpets to the stadiums.

i.e. this time it was not perfect, next time it should be.

I get it. You get it. Let's move on.

For more World Cup Woes, click here.

world cup woe #2 - a hat trick for st patrick

April 17th, 2007: I am soaking up sun on Miami Beach when I hear that Pakistan is out of the World Cup after losing to Ireland. Shock, horror, self-pity, and much sulking ensue.

Ireland went on to beat Bangladesh, and had previously tied with Zimbabwe. That's three good results for them. Of course, questions abound. Did their presence in the Super 8s diminish the excitement of the tournament? Yes. Are they a shit team? Yes again. But did they deserve to be there? Most definitely.

There's little else to say about this, except that people should stop all the conspiracy theory bullshit about how "interesting" it is that a green pitch was prepared for this Pakistan match. If Pakistan wants to win the World Cup, they should be able to beat Ireland on a green pitch. They didn't. They were unprepared for the torunament, and they lost fair and square.

Besides, everything else was green that day, so why not the pitch. It was Ireland v Pakistan on St Patrick's Day, after all.

For more World Cup Woes, click here.

world cup woe #1 - farewell, bob

One of the reasons I went on hiatus last March was that when Bob Woolmer passed away, I felt I needed to write something that both matched the solemnness of the situation and expressed my personal disgust at whoever was responsible. Since I am good at neither personal nor solemn writing, I found this particularly difficult. There were enough comments about how cricket is just a game, and a man's life should not be on the line for it. To me, this was too obvious to mention, and so, for want of anything original or appropriate to say, I refrained altogether. But it behooves me to say a few words before I write anything else on my blog, and so I will.

As much as I disagreed with some of his tactics as coach, I was a huge fan of Bob Woolmer the man. He took on a team that was as dysfunctional and confused as the country it represented. Yet, throughout his tenure, he saw their dysfunctionality as neither a weakness nor the product of an inferior society, but merely as a cultural difference. And he tried to deal with it by understanding it, rather than by attempting to change it. What's more, not once did he criticize or badmouth the team or the country. And for this, I admire and thank him. No man deserves to die like that, much less a good man like him.

We may never find out what happened in that hotel room. But one thing is certain - no foreigner will ever want to have anything to do with the Pakistan team again. Sigh...

For more World Cup Woes, click here.

guess who's back...

Dear readers,

It's been a while. Much has changed since my last post, both for me personally and in all the spheres where I usually target my commentary. Often in this period, I've come across something and thought, "Ooh, I should blog about that," and then not had the time or the energy. But here I am again, at your service.

Let's get some of the backlog out of the way before I start writing in real time again, as it were. Pakistan is, for want of a better analogy, going through another serious contraction in its ongoing quest to birth a solid identity. A comment on my previous post wondered why I hadn't written about the law minister debacle. I get depressed when I read this stuff, and even more so when I talk about it, so I will let it be what it is, and stick to the lighter stuff from which I have carved my niche here on

Which brings me to another dilemma. For lighter stuff, I often resort to writing about cricket, which, over the last two months, has produced a string of news that is anything but 'light'. My last post was on the first day of the World Cup. Now the tournament is over, and there are many things to be depressed about. But to shy away from even these would be akin to resorting to a blend of journalistic laziness and cowardice. So here comes a series, in chronological order, of my World Cup woes:

Bob Woolmer's Death
Pakistan's Exit
Administrative Mishaps
Aussies Whining About Lankans
Lankans Whining About Aussies
Cricket's Identity Crisis

Hopefully this will give me a nice segue into a regular routine.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the pakistan team is a choot

My last post about the Pakistan team was about how awesome they were. And here I am writing another incendiary choot post with them as the subject. I'm not schizophrenic, and it's not that my opinion has changed. It's just that the team navigates so effortlessly between being "the shit" and being "just shit" that you can't really blame a person who tries to evaluate their performance on a day by day basis.

So anyway. They sucked yesterday. They were so completely lackluster and undominating that it was depressing to watch. Pakistan is the most nondescript team in this tournament. Apart from a vague reference to Mohammad Yousuf, it'd be hard to identify any one particular strength of this team with any degree of certainty.

Everyone has their own view on what went wrong. They may all have different opinions, but they're all correct, because the fact of the matter is that everything went wrong. Rana continues to suck balls, Imran Nazir is a jackass, and the "senior" batsmen played like idiots. Omar has summed it all up pretty well, so no need for my redundant analysis. I will add only that Azhar Mahmood would be an infinitely better choice than Rana. In fact, I was going to write a "Rana is a choot" post, but that would be unfair. Everybody sucked.

Umar Gul was the only one who actually put in a solid performance. The next game should be called Umar Gul vs. Ireland. It's not like anybody else matters.

Of course there is a chance that they will now play brilliantly and make me eat my words. Let's just say I've never wanted so badly to be proved wrong...

Friday, March 2, 2007

a tale of two pities

As the World Cup draws near, we are being hit every day with news of another player that must miss out for such and such reason. Each of these incidents is a shame, because the whole point of the tournament is to bring together the best talent in the world. But few are as interesting as the two most recent tragedies.

First, it's official. Shoaib and Asif are out, due to "injury." I put the word in quotation marks because I, like many, don't believe they are really injured. The conspiracy theory, for anyone who hasn't heard it yet, basically says that they are waiting till the nandrolone is completely flushed out of their bodies before they test. That way they might miss the World Cup, but won't have to deal with the prospect of a life ban.

Meanwhile, around 8000 miles away, New Zealand's Jacob Oram is grappling with a personal dilemma of his own. Having fractured his ring finger, Oram has been told by doctors that he will have to sit out the World Cup. But with himself and the rest of his team in tremendous form, Oram is so desperate to play that he is considering amputating the finger in question.

So here's a pair of players that are feigning injury to avoid having to take a urine sample for the duration of the World Cup. And there's another who is willing to injure himself just for the chance to play.

Here's a couple of men who have tried to patch up numerous problems by piling complication upon complication. And there's a man who knows how to cut to the chase. Literally.

Surely there's some middle ground somewhere.

cross-posted at

Thursday, March 1, 2007

oranges and lemons

A common motivational statement goes something like this: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Turns out, you could also make the Taj Mahal. Or that big Jesus statue that sits on the cliff above Rio de Janeiro.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the Fête du Citron, an annual festival on the French Riviera in which people get together and make gigantic sculptures out of oranges and lemons. It's all pretty fantastic.

It also gives me a chance to post about something that makes me happy, to silence all you " is too angry" folks. You know who you are.

It also makes me think of a recent post by 4e44. How the heck do you find out that you have the uncanny ability to make sculptures out of citrus fruit? Is it discovered by your parents when you're young? "That billu, he's good with his hands, he's going to grow up to be a famous orange sculptor."

I wish. All my poor parents could say was: "That billu, all he'll ever be good for is writing a blog detailing how everything in life pisses him off."

Well, may fall short of the proverbial lemonade, but it's the best I can do with my lemons.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

a show by any other name

The L Word is a TV show on the Showtime network about a group of women, mostly lesbians, living in Los Angeles. It's something of a soap opera, with terrible dialogue. It does, however, contain some steamy scenes that make it mildly bearable. But before all you pervs who found this blog through weird searches get all excited, that's not what this post is about.

The show is typical of Showtime's repertoire, which often brings into the spotlight issues that many are not comfortable with. The issue in this case is: lesbians. The show has a number of items on its agenda: Making people talk about lesbians; Asking questions like 'What does it mean to be a lesbian in America in 2007?' And most importantly, pointing out that apart from the way they have sex (which is totally hot), lesbians are just like the rest of us.

All that is fair enough. But I have a problem with the name. I'll explain. The show is about a group of women. The bigger issues are dealt with through the women's stories, but for the most part it's a soap opera about these characters, who are individuals in their own right. Calling it "The L Word" implies that it is a show about lesbians that happen to be these characters, rather than one about these characters who happen to be lesbians. In other words, they are implying that this is a show that represents not these lesbians, but all lesbians. It's like doing a show about a group of black people and calling it "Black People." The "L Word" is, after all, just an 'edgy' way of saying "Lesbians."

I understand that this is the first big show about lesbians, and therefore groundbreaking. But what about the second show about lesbians in, say, 2012? Will it just be called "The L Word 2"? I also understand that many lesbians are proud of the show for bringing their lifestyles into the mainstream. And they should be. But part of bringing something that others consider alternative into the mainstream is to not put a label on it that says "ALTERNATIVE" in big block letters.

blood will have blood

Shoaib, Asif to Get Complete Transfusion from Razzaq's Blood

In order to remove all traces of Nandrolone from their urine in record time, the PCB has launched an incredible and impressive secret campaign. Adbul Razzaq, an important, yet replaceable, member of the squad, conveniently fractured his knee just minutes before leaving for the Caribbean. In an interview, he appeared completely befuddled as to how it happened. Chloroform, anyone?

Meanwhile, the rest of the squad, including the reserves, and even a few spectators, have already pissed in cups and been cleared by some drug testing authority in Malaysia. Wasn't the movie "Entrapment", starring Sean Connery, filmed in Malaysia? Didn't Connery play Bond for a while? Wasn't "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" the worst film ever made? Exactly. That's shady too.

Doctors in England will be performing the world's first (maybe 100th – who knows, first sounds better) complete blood transfusion and muscle sieving procedure to remove the controversial nandrolone from Asif and Shoaib's bodies. They will then use Abdul Razzaq's blood to fill them up again. It's dramatic, it's crazy, but it just might work. As long as they don't somehow infuse the two with Razzaq's somewhat insipid bowling ability, it sounds completely foolproof.

Of course, questions abound. Is the procedure safe? In particular, will Razzaq survive after donating every ounce of his blood? The answer is: who gives? We've got Azhar, haven't we? They're practically the same person.

If all goes well, Shoaib and Asif will be nandrolone-free and ready to roll when Pakistan take on the Windies in a couple of weeks. In fact, they might as well pop a few more doses while they're at it.

co-authored by Omar

cross-posted at Omar Loves Cricket and

Sunday, February 25, 2007

adnan siddiqi is a choot

Some of you may have noticed that I cross-post my cricket posts on, a sort of combined forum for Pakistani cricket bloggers to get better outreach for their posts.

Well, I recently posted michael holding is a choot there, and here is a comment I received from a fellow named Adnan Siddiqi.

"Your voice could be heard if you had no't (sp) prefered (sp) to choose censored words. I hope you can make a difference between a personal blog and a collabrative (sp) forum?


First of all, I didn't prefer to choose "censored" words. No words in my post were censored. Mr. Siddiqi would like for some of them to have been, but they were not.

In any case, I recently wrote about the differences between the real argument for free speech and the not-so-important argument about being able to do whatever you want for no reason whatsoever. Well, here's an example of the former.

I am not asking Mr. Siddiqi to read my articles, and I am not certainly not asking his opinion on them. God knows I have a painful time trudging through his overlong posts to edit them. He does, however, get 100 times the hits I do, so he's probably doing something right... But that's not the point.

I also noticed that he has a link on his blogroll to a site called "Fucked Company." I can only assume he endorses this site. So my guess is that Mr. Siddiqi has one of two problems:

1. It is fine to cuss in English, but the word 'choot' is particularly offensive.

2. There is a difference between posting on and

Of course, he mentions that it's the latter, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that if I had merely substituted for an English term (say, 'pussy'), it would not be quite as much of a problem. In fact, I have written some pretty nasty things in English on that seem to have gone unnoticed, which is a particularly disturbing double standard.

As for the second point, I will admit that for a while I was hesitant to post darrell hair is a choot pt. 2 in its entirety on, but more out of respect for the creator of the site (Teeth Maestro) than anything else. But Mr. Maestro went on to express disappointment that I had censored the post, since he is a true champion for free speech. Add to this the fact that I am one of the three official site editors, and I set about the task of expressing my opinions in most unbridled fashion.

It may be a collaborative forum, but it is still a forum for free expression, and I should be able to use whatever words I wish, as long as I talk about cricket. That's what makes it interesting. If everyone expressed their thoughts in a predetermined template, there wouldn't be much point in collaborating, would there?

"Don't block the blog" is the word on the street among Pakistani bloggers. Well, don't temper the blog either, I say. Otherwise everyone's blogs will start sounding like tepid, watered down drivel...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

every f%#$ing thing is not censorship

Here's an interesting piece in the New York Times. Basically, students at Middlebury College have been told they can no longer cite Wikipedia as a source in History papers. For some reason this has created a big furor.

Apparently this article has been making the rounds, and a lot of campuses are starting to talk seriously about the issue. As usual, the New York Times has painted the issue in broad black and white strokes along the lines of: "Some professors are so old school they want to ban laptops altogether, and others so hip they have robots for TAs."

But jokes aside, it does seem as if a lot of students are very vociferously against any such policy. The article cites one writer in the Middlebury Campus in particular who says that the ban heralds "the beginnings of censorship."

Of course, as enlightened semi-divine beings, we all have a problem with this on a very visceral level. We like to say things like: "Censorship and academia are mutually exclusive," "Censorship is modern fascism," and other similarly wordy rhetoric that doesn't actually mean shit.

How is it censorship for a professor to say that a student can't cite bloody Wikipedia as a source in an academic paper? If you want to cite lyrics from Smash Mouth's "Can't Get Enough of You Baby" in an Economics paper about supply shortages, and your professor says you can't, is that censorship too?

No matter how much we may hate to admit it, an academic environment is actually pretty regulated. If it weren't, we wouldn't learn anything. Everything doesn't have to be free all the time. Talking about free speech just for the hell of it only detracts from the real (and incredibly important) argument for freedom of speech.

Of course, if you do want free expression, then everyone should have the right to exercise it. So how's this? You are free to cite Wikipedia to your heart's content... and your professor is free to flunk your ass out of school.

michael holding is a choot

In one of my earliest posts, I applauded Michael Holding for sticking up for Inzi and pointing out double standards in world cricket. I also noted that this was against my better judgement; that he is, in fact, an idiot, but that his statement on that occasion had thoroughly impressed me.

Well, his statement du jour is no less impressive. Unfortunately it's for all the wrong reasons. Mr. Holding is back to his old ways. The ways, in short, of a choot.

His latest little nugget of idiocy goes something like this: "Fuck all these bullshit teams in the World Cup, cut to the chase and have the good teams play each other. Maybe include one of the little teams so they feel awesome. "

Before I continue slandering him, let me point out that I agree. Two months is too long for a world cup, and especially with super 8s instead of super 6s there is little point in watching the first round at all. So instead of eight associate teams, have, say, four, but don't screw them over completely. A lot of those teams work very hard to get there.

But that's not the point. The point is that he said this not only in public, but at a World Cup reception for Bermuda, an excitable new member of the World Cup pantheon that had invited him to be their guest speaker. Now, at least he's not being hypocritical. And I respect his right to have that opinion. In fact, as I said, I kind of agree. But don't go to someone's party as their guest if you're only going to tell them they suck balls. That is just brazen and insenstitive. All in all, it's the work of a choot.

And there's more. At the same function, he went on to say (in paraphrase) "Oh, and by the way, don't blame us West Indians if the World Cup sucks. It's part of our culture to do things at the last minute, so we tend to find all this 'buying tickets in advance' bit very confusing. "

Hm, well, Michael, not everyone has the luxury of living in the Caribbean. If someone travels halfway across the world to watch a game of cricket, he damn well better be sure months in advance that he is going to be able to get into the stadium. And accomodating reasonable people like that is a good way to start if you're going to organize a worldwide tournament. Besides, it's not such a confusing concept if you think about it...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

chooting my own horn

It has been brought to my attention that people enjoy my crudeness here on In particular, they seem to enjoy my use of the word "choot." How do I know this? Well, for one, my Darrell Hair is a Choot pt. 2 post was a hit. Teeth Maestro, among others, lauded it for the "pure, untamed quality" of my style. Others called it "angry", "caustic", "brilliant", and "a bit too much".

Well, maybe not "brilliant"... But still.

Another, more interesting, way in which I made this discovery was via good old Google Analytics, which tells me that 14% of's visitors over the past week found it by googling the keyword 'choot.'

This is both amusing and disturbing. Turns out is the 15th item returned by Google in a 'choot' search. Over time, I hope to improve this rank.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term 'choot,' it is an Urdu/Hindi cussword on par with, say, 'asshole.' Literally, it is the word for a woman's... um.. thang.

For those of you unfamiliar with my above usage of the term 'thang,' it means 'vagina.'

In any case, to satisfy both of these newly emerged target markets (choot seekers as well as untamed quality enthusiasts) I have decided to begin a series of posts titled " a choot." In this series, I will direct my wrath at people whom I deem to be bastards/idiots of the highest order, worthy of a post all their own.

Fans of will know that compiling such a list should not be a particularly difficult task for me.

Note: Readers of Omar Loves Cricket and King Cricket may recognize my newfound penchant for a series of posts as mildly derivative. Some of these readers may then scoff at my lack of originality. These readers can fuck off.

Monday, February 19, 2007

can you be the next pakistani opener?

Position Available: Opener for the Pakistan cricket team (National Squad) - temporary position

Position Requirements

No experience required.

Age - Must be young. Under 25, with minimum domestic or international exposure.

Preference for candidates from “warring tribal areas.”

Required to score 100 on debut
…and 50 every 20th game thereafter.

Cover drives must be spectacular
…no other shots required
…the worse your pull shot, the better your chances
…proper technique is severely frowned upon

Must flash aggressively at every 3rd delivery well outside the off stump
…contact with delivery optional

Must get out on every 5th such aggressive flash
…contact with delivery not optional

Bandana wearers encouraged to apply.

Must have the diving agility of a cheetah
…but the catching ability of a snail

Must be able to bowl legspin or off break
…however, not required to take wickets (please see note)

Note: In the event that a wicket is taken, or if said player does in fact have wicket taking abilities, the PCB and team management cannot be held responsible for the consequences. The ICC will suspend said player for one of the following reasons:

a) Throwing
b) Match-fixing
c) Match-fixing and throwing
d) Bringing the game into disrepute
e) Bringing yourself into disrepute
f) Bringing iguanas into disrepute
g) Bringing koala bears into disrepute
h) Bringing antique furniture into disrepute
i) Not bringing anything to repute whatsoever
j) All of the above

Complicated numerical nomenclature will be supplied for every law created/cited in the process of having said player banned for just enough games till he/she is completely demoralized and out of form.

Terms and conditions

Short term contract only, 1-1.5 tours
Must be willing to travel extensively, across continents, on a moment’s notice

co-authored by Omar

cross-posted at Omar Loves Cricket and

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

in most awesome fashion

I don't often say nice things about the Pakistan team. Reading, one might be inclined to think I don't even like them.

But I do. And they won. In most awesome fashion. And I am psyched.

It's been a while since I saw them perform so professionally. I will admit that after the last ODI I thought it was all over. In fact, I was going to post, but I got lazy. I was going to say that the management will now panic and start shuffling players around. I was going to say that every now and then you will lose badly, but it doesn't mean you freak out and change everything around.

Now that I've served up my words, I will proceed to eat them. Only two changes were made today: Azhar for Sami, and Nazir for Hafeez. Both worked out beautifully. Azhar bowled like he'd never been out of the side, and Nazir did the groundwork for what eventually became a phenomenal score.

They didn't panic - in fact, they stuck to their plan quite assiduously. The batting didn't collapse - in fact, it was rock solid. And even though Rana was shit as usual, Asif impressed by recovering from his infamous 28-run over to leak 29 runs in all 10 overs, just when South Africa were starting to go nuts.

Even when the team has played well in the past few months, they have given my cynicism little reason to fully subside. But bouncing back from a 164-run loss to a 141-run win comes pretty damn close.

cross-posted at

darrell hair is a choot pt 2

Fans of will remember my very first post, in which I argued (quite eloquently) that Darrell Hair is, in fact, a choot.

It's now time to revisit that theme. To set the tone, I've deliberately put up a picture of him tugging at his dick under his coat to underscore, up front, what a wanker he is. Literally.

Darrell Hair is like a big, fat, ugly boomerang - no matter how far you think you've thrown him, he keeps coming back. The latest installment in this ongoing saga involves him trying to sue the PCB for racial discrimination.

Of course, the PCB is blaming it all on the ICC and all sorts of other rhetoric. But I want to try and follow this to its logical conclusion - which begs the question, on what grounds is Mr. Hair claiming that the PCB is a racist organization?

I can think of two possibilities:

1. Because the PCB suggested that he is a racist.

Hmm. I'm sorry Darrell, but calling someone a racist is not racial discrimination. In fact, it's kind of the opposite. It's actually discrimination against racism, which, unfortunately for you, is pretty acceptable these days. Too bad you weren't born 200 years ago.

2. Because he was removed from the "elite panel" and Billy Doctrove wasn't.

We all know Billy was just following your fucking orders, Darrell. Besides, there are more differences between you and him than your race. Or do you not see that...? Perhaps if this case doesn't work out you could try and sue the PCB for discriminating against fat people, or people who wear glasses on the field.

Or maybe they were discriminating against people who act like bastards and push people around and call them cheats without evidence.

Oh, wait.. that's acceptable too.


cross-posted at

Sunday, January 28, 2007

india killed the video star

A while ago, Omar put up this post arguing that the ban on Indian movies in Pakistan will inhibit the Pakistani film industry from improving itself. He said that the lack of competition would allow the Pakistani industry to become complacent and settle for mediocrity.

Dog considers himself a die-hard 'liberal', so when he did this, I had to explain to him that it was, in fact, a fiscally conservative argument. A liberal would have wanted to protect the Pakistani film industry until it became good enough to compete in the global marketplace.

In general, my stand on this has veered tentatively on the side of protectionism. But that's not what this post is about. After all, loyal readers will know that tentativeness doesn't form the basis of too many posts here on

What I would like to do, however, is draw some comparisons to television. A similar ban was placed some 3-4 years ago on Indian TV stations. Prior to this ban, there were only 2-3 Pakistani channels worth mentioning, and the only real attempt to go global was by broadcasting PTV to the UK and US and calling it “PTV World.” Other than that, the status quo had existed unchanged for a good 10-12 years. Meanwhile, Indian television was pouring into every middle-class Pakistani home.

Since the ban, no less than 62 privately-owned stations have emerged in Pakistan, with plans for another 9 by the end of the year. Coincidence? I think not.

There are, in fact, two reasons for this boom. The first is that the government has become a lot more tolerant of free speech than it once was. The second is that the prominence of Indian TV stations had made Pakistanis accustomed to cable television as a source of entertainment. Once these stations were removed, a concerted effort was made to replace them with local alternatives.

So protectionism, in a sense, led to the current media boom in Pakistan. But not exactly. It was not the banning of Indian stations per se that caused the change. Instead, it was the application of the ban after having grown used to the high quality product that generally accompanies global competition.

So the question is, could the same idea work for the Pakistani film industry? Possibly, but there are two very important differences. First, film and television are two very different products. A movie in the theater needs to capture the viewer's attention for a sustained period of time. Thus, Pakistani films would have to be of a very high caliber in order to compete with Bollywood's high budget extravaganzas. Television, on the other hand, succeeds in part because it is consumed in bulk. Because there are so many stations, it is possible to keep oneself entertained by switching between them. The quality of each station need not be particularly high, as long as it is mildly entertaining for short periods of time.

Second, despite the ban on Indian movies, there is a strong, and quite open, black market that deals in them. This makes it possible for the banned product to make it to Pakistani homes anyway, and neutralizes whatever protectionist effect the ban may have had.

In other words, the black market has made it so that the market is essentially already open. So, just like television a few years ago, Pakistan has grown accustomed to Indian movies as a source of entertainment. Point being, if the black market is shut down, then the dearth of quality films will force the Pakistani film industry to offer an alternative. Movies may be harder to make than TV shows, but if the growing professionalism of the media in Pakistan is any indicator, there should be no dearth of high quality, creative, and talented individuals to fill the void.

Of course, nobody is likely to take any sort of initiative on moving any of this forward. That’s the kind of thing that only happens in movies.

Friday, January 26, 2007

the splinter of our discontent

In this post, Teeth Maestro refutes my (and to some extent, Omar's) argument that Shoaib Akhtar should play on the Pakistan team based on performance and not personality. His point is that Shoaib’s unruliness and disregard for authority splinters the Pakistan team, generating a lack of discipline and unity.

As usual, I have something to say about this.

First, I agree that a side needs to be, as Mr. Maestro puts it, a “coherent organization”. But one rogue character does not an incoherent organization make. There are far worse things for our team’s collective coherence than Shoaib. Nasim Ashraf is one of these things. His shady dealings with Waqar and the doping scandal, for example, must surely have divided opinion among the players, and can hardly be considered good for team spirit or morale. Why blame Shoaib for the team's lack of discipline as a unit, when the management's divisiveness is so painfully blatant?

Mr. Maestro also argues that Inzi and Woolmer should have all the power to administer the team. I agree, but implicit in his statement is an assumption that without Shoaib’s antics, they would have this power. This is naïve. It is a well-known fact that the PCB clings firmly to the reigns of power in Pakistan cricket. Removing Shoaib is not going to change that.

On another note, perhaps there is another side to the Shoaib story that we are not seeing. Why is Shoaib so frustrated as to be perpetually fighting with Woolmer? It seems nobody is sparing a thought for the way the management may have been treating him. Sure, he is aggressive by nature, but at least some of his actions must be provoked. Quiet provocation by Woolmer and/or the PCB may be less obvious to the naked eye, but isn’t it possible there may be something in it that is going unnoticed?

Shoaib is our best bowler, and every effort should be made to accommodate him in every game we play. Does nobody find it at all surprising that this is not happening? That he is, in fact, being discouraged from playing, through a combination of childish he-said-she-saids? These shady reports about how he is "also carrying a knee injury" and is therefore "not guaranteed" to play in the World Cup are suspicious and need to be investigated, instead of just saying: "Well, he was an arrogant prick anyway, so good riddance."

The PCB exists to protect the players’ interests, not undermine them, and certainly not to conduct personal feuds with them. When the latter starts to happen, it is time for us to demand an explanation. We should support our players, rather than the crooks that run their careers into the ground.

cross-posted at

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

canning kaneria

Don't get me wrong. I like Danish Kaneria. I saw him on a plane once, showing a picture of a hot woman in a magazine to Kamran Akmal. I found it amusing. He seems friendly. And he has an innocent look about him, like he's not hiding anything.

Unfortunately, that's the problem. What he's actually like as a person I can only guess, but it's quite clear that as a bowler, he's not hiding anything. He has no tricks up his sleeve. Or up anything, for that matter.

When he first came on the scene, there was talk of a new prodigy - a new Abdul Qadir, even. He took plenty of wickets against South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, and Australia. But a closer look at these figures suggests something might have been wrong. Here's a sample: 2/100, 4/117, 7/118, 2/130, 5/125, 7/188, 6/150, 3/136, 3/123, and 5/127.

Clearly, that's a lot of wickets. But it's also a lot of runs. Those 44 wickets came in a small number of tests, but at an average of 30. His career average is 33. Not counting Bangladesh, it's 36.

So his average isn't great. Fine. Problem is, it's getting progressively worse. Since the start of 2006, it's an appalling 39.

I'm not the biggest fan of using numbers to judge a man's performance, but there's a story here. The fact is, he has become more playable. And it's not that he's getting worse as a bowler, or playing on unconducive pitches. It's just that people are getting used to his bowling.

Kaneria is, essentially, a one-trick pony. He can turn the ball a fair amount, and he will work hard, bowling at the same spot all day if Inzi wants him to. But that's about it. Playing Kaneria is like riding a bike: once you know how to do it, you know how to do it. And only in the event that you make a mistake will you get out.

His googly is so ill-disguised that even lower order batsmen are able to read it with a fair degree of regularity. And he has no flipper to speak of. He doesn't vary his flight too much, and only vaguely varies his line.

These are times in which every team has a number of analysts trying to pick up the opposition's strengths and weaknesses. Predictability is not a virtue. Kaneria needs to jazz up his game.

And if he doesn't, then the management needs to look into replacing him. I'm sorry Danish, but that's far too many innings of 45 overs 3 for 150. The times they are a'changin'. Change with them.

cross-posted at

arrogance shmarrogance

I am sick of people saying:

"Shoaib Akhtar is arrogant and therefore should not play."

It is idiotic. Since when did humility become a prerequisite for playing cricket, or any sport for that matter? These players are supposed to be professionals. This is their job. If Shoaib is arrogant, don't go to dinner with him, or invite him over to play with your kids. But surely you can work with him. God knows we've all worked with a few arrogant idiots from time to time.

I am not a fan of Shoaib's antics. But his 'arrogance' does tend to make him an exciting player to watch. He is a celebrity and a superstar, and every now and then he should be allowed to act like one. The way his career has been manhandled says less about him and more about the disastrous state of man management in the PCB (and in Pakistan in general, for that matter).

It is a pity that the PCB has not learned to deal with Shoaib the way the Australians managed to deal with Warne. The Aussies did so well, in fact, that a man who has been found guilty of both match-fixing and doping is still hailed as a hero around the world. There are other circumstances at play here of course (the Australian media is a tad more influential than the Pakistani media, for example) but even so, Shoaib is lucky if he gets respect from his own countrymates.

So what if he's arrogant? He's the best bowler we have (sorry Asif, but it's true). Unless I'm missing something, the team that goes out to represent Pakistan should consist of its best players, not its most humble. Otherwise we may as well just send out a bunch of 11 beard-toting, God-fearing mullahs and see how they do.

Oh, wait... we already did...

cross-posted at

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

eleven is too many

Pakistan needn't worry about silly things like having an 11 man team.

When we started the series I was ecstatic that four specialist bowlers were playing, instead of the Razzaq/Afridi/Malik types that Woolmer seems to love from so deep within the most sensitive parts of his cock. Alas, my joy was unjustified after all. It appears that even if we had sported a team of 11 bowlers, only two of them (Kaneria and Asif) would have bowled. Asif may be our best option for taking wickets, but after his having bowled 40 overs in an innings even I'd fancy my chances of lasting a couple of his overs. At this rate, he may suffer a heart attack before the end of the series. Let's just hope that Nandrolone doesn't wear off anytime soon.

This is bad not only for Asif, but also for the other bowlers. Sure, in the second match it was justified, given Shoaib's "injury," (more on this later) but the way he was overbowled in the first test was retarded. Pakistan started the innings needing to bowl out South Africa for under 199, on a 5th day track that wasn't unplayable but not exactly flat either. The 60.5 overs that ensued were distributed as follows: Kaneria - 24.5, Asif - 14, Hafeez - 12, Rana - 7, Nazir - 3.

Why did Rana and Nazir even play? Just to fill up spaces in the team? What is this going to do to their egos? "You guys are good, but, er, right now we need wickets, so hang back and let Asif the maestro handle it."

About batsmen. Why have so many? It's not as if they score any runs. Seems to me the (two) bowlers do a pretty decent job of getting runs. In fact, if they were to replace Yousuf, Younis, Inzi, and all the tail-enders with a bunch of Imran Farhats, I doubt our team would make it past 100 anywhere but in Pakistan. So why bother with all of them? Play the only 3 batsmen that matter.

What about wicketkeepers? Who needs one? If Akmal's performance is any guide, it doesn't really matter if we have someone back there at all. We could do with a little wall the size of Akmal just fixed behind the stumps, just to stop things from going to the boundary. Catches are overrated anyway.

So 3 batsmen, 2 bowlers. Then they should pick 6 random people from among the spectators to come and play. Who knows, they might score 8 runs each, and that's 48 bonus runs that all the Yasir Hameeds in the world couldn't get you. They say Pakistan is unpredictable anyway. Why try and dispel the stereotype?

cross-posted at