If you have been brain dead or just plain dead over the last decade, you’ll probably be somewhat startled to read the sports pages of the newspapers. First of all, while in the past, those pages were dedicated to various sports, now they are consumed by various varieties of one sport – cricket. But to help you catch up with what’s been doin’ the last 10 years, here’s Jaal’s handy reckoner:
1. Twenty20: No, it’s not what you wish for before you meet the ophthalmologist. This is the last incarnation of cricket. First, you had the five-day Test matches. Too long. Then, you had the ODIs. Too long. So, the 50-overs were sliced to 20 overs each. Given logical progression, we could well see tournaments in the future where every game is decided simply by a coin toss.
2. IPL: At first sight, you may just think this refers to an oil company – Indian Petroleum Limited, perhaps. This is actually the BCCI’s Twenty20 tournament. It has everything including cheerleaders. It has teams like the Delhi Daredevils and the Mumbai Indians. Expansion teams are likely to include squads such as the Ranchi Raving Lunatics. Owners of the existing teams include the likes of Preity Zinta and Juhi Chawla.
3. Power Play: Two bunches of overs during which there are fielding restrictions imposed which the batting side is expected to take advantage of. Also refers to the number of overs a viewer in any major Indian city can watch in a match while the rest is lost to load shedding or power failure of other nature.
4. Greg Chappell: Became the coach of the Indian cricket team and immediately led it to lofty lows, including elimination in the first round of the last World Cup, in a group which included Bangladesh and Bermuda. Chappell was dismissed because he appeared to be in grave danger of being the recipient of several thousand pairs of footwear bearing a phonetic resemblance to his name, being hurled at him by fans.
5. Mahendra Singh Dhoni: The captain of the Indian team. Is known for his swashbuckling style especially when it comes to confronting players from other teams. His greatest achievement as yet has been to secure more commercial appearances and endorsement contracts than Sachin Tendulkar.
6. Saurav Ganguly: Retired, fittingly, by scoring a duck in his last inning playing for India.
7. Zimbabwe: Once upon a time boasted of a cricket team that was actually competitive. Now appears on the international arena more as a case of affirmative action. Brings as much value to cricket as the Zimbabwe dollar, a billion of which could possibly buy you a glass of nimbu pani.
8. Bangladesh: Gained Test status in 2000. Since then has won exactly one Test match – against Zimbabwe. The value of the Bangladesh team is somewhat more than that of the Zimbabwe squad and could get you a nimbu pani and a pau bhaji.
9. Australia: Still the best team in cricket. Still the most obnoxious team in cricket.
10. Bookies: Still the most powerful force in cricket. The ICC is a poor second.
Two college students, Akshay and Sunil, are sititng in a taxi in Mumbai when a beggar approaches them asking for spare change. Akshay adamantly rejects the man in disgust. Sunil, on the other hand, whips out his wallet, pulls out a couples of notes and gladly hands them over to the beggar with a smile. The beggar thanks him kindly and then continues to other taxis. Akshay is outraged by his friend's act of generosity. "What on earth did you do that for?" yells Akshay. "You know he's only going to use it on cigarattes and alcohol."
Sunil replies, "And we weren't?"