Monday, March 18, 2013

My Favorite Players - Stephen Fleming

Stephen Fleming - New Zealand

Stephen Fleming became the captain of New Zealand at a tender age of around 23 years. From the beginning it became clear to everyone who saw him that he was a born leader. New Zealand prospered under his astute captaincy. He was aggressive and was a brilliant tactician. A shrewd mind, he made optimum use of the resources available to him. He led the Kiwi team for a record number of times and is their most successful captain of all time.

His batting though, always left a lot to be desired and he never achieved what he could have with his abundant talent. Perhaps it was the added burden of captaining an ordinary team, we will never know. He was particularly strong off his pads but I mostly remember the shots he played straight down the ground with great joy. He played the ball so straight that when he played the shot I would get the feeling that it would crash into the stumps at the bowlers end but the ball would, almost miraculously, miss them and then bisect the mid-on/mid-off fielders and race away to the boundary. He was also a fabulous timer of the cricket ball, on most occasions he would just time the ball never trying to hit it hard.

My favorite Stephen Fleming moment came on the occasion of my 18th birthday when he scored a sublime 134* to down a rampaging South African side in the 2003 World Cup which was being played in South Africa. Chasing a revised target of 229 to win in 39 overs the Black caps won comfortably by 9 wickets!! I remember watching the full game even though my 12th standard board exams were going on at that time!

Stephen Fleming - New Zealand
Stephen Fleming on the right after the memorable captains
 innings which defeated South Africa

He played 111 tests and scored over 7000 runs at an average of just over 40. He scored just 9 centuries even though he passed 50 55 number of times!! In ODI cricket he scored over 8000 runs in 280 matches. He made 8 tons but passed 50 57 number of times. Thus he passed 50 112 times (Test Matches and ODI's combined) but could only convert 17 of them into a 100 plus innings. That has to be the worst conversion rate for someone who played over a 100 tests and who opened the batting for his team for most of his career.

A captain is a man who can get the best out of each and every team-mate, who not only has the respect of his own team mates but also the adulation of opponents, who cops the flak when the team loses but lets the team bask in glory when it wins and stays humble, someone who is happy even in a loss knowing that his team gave all they had in the tank, someone who has a charismatic personality, one who is media friendly... Stephen Fleming was one such captain who had all these qualities in abundance.

PS - To Read Other Posts From The Segment 'My Favorite Players', Click On The Following Link - My Favorite Players

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Incredible Cricket Story

The Following guest post is by Ratika Chauhan who is a Doctor by profession, a Writer by passion and a Cricket Lover by obsession! You can read more of her beautiful writings at her blog - Asteria's Canvass

Read the following account of her coming face to face with an external examiner during her Medical Vivas who was, like her, a die hard cricket fan too!!


Most of you would be wondering, "What the hell is a girl doing on a cricket dominated blog?" Well let me clear the air and burst the mythical bubble that cricket is for guys, girls (and I have seen many) equally crazy after this so called gentleman's game. To be honest I think majority of them are just crazy after cricketers which makes them sit patiently to watch them unleash the primal fury, even if its hitting the ball.

Well my love for cricket originates from World Cup 1996 (I know my timing to fall in love with the game was just impeccable.) when my Mom finally relented and got  a cable connection. I have been a fan since then, I howl, I whistle, I abuse, I cry and like every other Indian forget my woes during those 50 overs (20 now a days) and live the game. There have been many instances when my love for cricket landed me in hot soup (hooting and whistling for my batch's team in ragging time and getting thoroughly ragged , organizing an unauthorized rain dance party in hostel after India won first ever T-20 World Cup and other 1000 such instances.) but those stories are for some other day. As I always say truth is stranger than fiction similarly cricket saved me in my final year viva. Yes you heard me right cricket, the game responsible for many students failing actually saved me in my viva.

But first let me burst another golden bubble that medical vivas are exciting and adrenaline based, they are so not, they are as scary and as mundane as any other field. Our final year exam was no different than yours, after a grueling session of theory exams we were ready to be thrown in the lions' cage (errr, I hope none of my professors is reading!!) We were royally exhausted, thoroughly starved and disgustingly scared just short of crapping our pants. My A batch or the sub-batch was the first to face our medicine practical, and adding to the already scary scenario was the fact that our external examiner was known as "The Terminator" owing to his previous record of deliberately failing 49 out of 100 students.. well the shit had already hit the fan and we were just waiting for the poop to fall.

Did I mention that in my whole freaking batch I was supposed to be the first girl to face the terminator??? Well the wait finally ended and I saw the terminator, he was a 6 feet tall turban clad Sikh, with a heavy moustache and an equally heavy built..."God save me" was my first prayer as I entered the room.
The cases or the patients were decided by a chit system and there was one case we all were praying not to get, it was the mother of all neurology cases we had ever seen, with the most unusual complications. But as God was busy somewhere else, I was the inglorious student who landed that case. That was the moment I apologized mentally to my Mom and Dad for failing in advance.

I know that all my batch-mates were praying for me rather than their ownself as they knew I had the monster of all cases. When my turn for bed side viva (the viva is taken in the ward itself in front of everyone ) both the professors , my internal HOD and the terminator sat in front of me and stood behind them all my senior interns ready to prompt me the answer if I faltered. God bless the seniors.

As my viva was proceeding smoothly, I realized they haven't left any possible question on the case, but I guess the support of my seniors, my HOD's faith and my batch-mates prayers all joined together and I was able to flow through the viva without drowning. The moment my professor Dr.Gopal Shreshtha got up with a smile on his face I knew I will not flunk at least but my momentary joy was about to crash and burn because we were still to face the terminator alone for short cases.

I don't need to describe the scenario for short viva, the hallway is strewn with nervous students, the person ahead of us becomes a God as he tells us what was asked to him, our brain attains some super power and we remember every word we lay our eyes on in those few minutes, we become extra polite to the guard sitting outside for he is the one who rings that dreadful bell...

As I went inside the cabin, I suddenly developed never-existing claustrophobia as the walls seemed to close in on me.

"Yes Dr. Ratika, how are we doing today?" boomed his gruff voice. I wanted to say you might be enjoying the torture but I am about to faint with fear.

"Sir, I am doing well, thanks for asking." I managed to croak.

"Well, what was your long case, Dr. Ratika.?"

"Sir, the neurology one with aphasia."

"Of course, of course how could I forget?? Even I have not seen such a twisted case"

And that moment my empty stomach decided to play games with my already ill-fated viva, and it rumbled, not those inaudible light ones, but a deep one loud enough to reach the terminators razor sharp ears.

"Have you not had your breakfast?"

" No sir, I did not have the time to go to the canteen."

"Never mind, here share my biscuits, they are hide and seek, the best biscuits, your college did not want to upset me in any way." and he laughed heartily.

If there ever was a moment of disbelief it was that moment where that hulk of a professor, having a reputation of terminator was offering me biscuits...his own biscuits. I definitely had tears. That defining moment allayed my fears just a touch and I felt a bit more comfortable about the whole situation.

But little did I know I was about to tumble in that pretentious whirlpool.

"So Dr. Ratika , since you have already given your long viva very well, I will not ask more questions. So tell me what is your favorite sport??"

"Cricket." I chirped, without even thinking about the scary consequences of such a question, the slight eyebrow raise indicating I have hit the proverbial axe.

"Its my favorite too...well along with most of fellow Indians. And who is your favorite cricketer?"

Now my glucose deprived brain decides to play smart-aleck and I start over thinking, why was he asking me this? Whats his agenda? Will he fail me if I say Yuvraj Singh because he is good looking.

"Sachin Tendulkar." I finally replied

"Playing safe? Are we? Ok I'll give you a gamble, if you can tell me 7 different ways how a batsman can get himself out I'll give you the highest marks in practical, If you don't ...well we will come to that later."

I did not like the sound of 'well we will come to that later' and as such Dr. Bedi was making no sense whatsoever, I mean I was there for a medicine viva and not a cricket viva.

But I had already put my big foot in my mouth so I started straining my mind.

"Caught, Leg before wicket, run out, hit wicket, stumped, bowled...."

"Yes, you are doing well just 2 more..."

I had mentally cursed him in every possible language, despite him sharing his hide and seek biscuits with me. I was scanning every nook and corner of my brain for those last 2 ways.

Suddenly out of nowhere, God himself made a grand entry in my on-the-verge-of-getting-a-stroke brain and I remembered a newspaper headline "Michael Vaughan - controversial dismissal."

"Sir, handling the ball.....and time out."

"Well done Dr. Ratika, you have gained those marks and you will see I will abide by my promise."

I was half expecting one of my batch-mate to wake me up from the dream and shove me in the viva room, but all I saw was Dr. Bedi smiling ear to ear and making some joke about himself, I was either too dazed to be happy or shocked as my mugging up those mnemonics just went to a waste. But somehow I mumbled a tiny "Thank you." and came out, as expected the other students who still had to face the terminator jumped on me like a pack of hyenas, but I knew they would not believe that I was not asked any study based questions, so I cooked up some tough random questions. Later after our results were announced, when I told them the incident, still they did not and said my extra creative brain is imagining things. What can I say truth is stranger than fiction.

That is the story when cricket gained me marks and that is the story from where I started believing in miracles!!