From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.34 :: Aug. 25, 2011

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CRICKET / ENGLAND DIARY

Talent and technology

What's got Ravi Bopara back in the England team after the injury to Jonathan Trott isn't his talent, but an electronic device that, from the sound of it, lives his life. By S. Ram Mahesh.

V. GANESAN

Astrology helps... A file photo of Sourav Ganguly and Sunil Gavaskar. The former cricketers who are part of the television commentary team in England are so polite to each other. They get along because they were both born under the sign of Cancer, says Gavaskar.

Not for the first time has the diary's lack of a happening social life saved it. Now, the diary has never seen the insides of a pub; nor has it gone clubbing or discoing, or whatever it is the cool kids do these days. But there are benefits of lying in your hotel-room bed, the comforter pulled to your double chin, the television showing a most intriguing game-show that promises to spot Britain's next amateur antiques expert. As it's swilling its fourth mug of hot chocolate (with an extra helping of the pinkest marshmallows — what's not to love?), it gets a text from a well-wisher. “Don't go out. Riots on.”

Here in Birmingham? It double-locks the door, puts up the guard chain, and gets under the bed. Where it discovers a slice of yesterday's pizza. These are serious times, but there's nothing like cold pizza and hot chocolate to boost the spirit. Some of the diary's friends in the media — the attractive, popular ones — are out. The restaurant they're in is attacked. Fortunately, they're safe. Their tales of survival grow progressively heroic in the retelling. The diary endures it, gasping at all the right moments until it can stand it no more.

Sure, the diary is as happy as the next person when its friends are well, but there's only so many times it can suspend disbelief.

Hard workers

This is the limit. There's taking care of the media so they aren't nasty to you: food critics who throw their considerable weight around get free meals for life, or so the diary is told (they certainly look like they've spent most of their lives eating them). And then there's plain spoiling the media, not merely massaging their egos but also their putty bodies. Which is what the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is doing. A masseuse at the press box? Please! Photographers deserve it, sure. They're hard workers. But cricket journalists whose idea of exertion is a visit to the room of beverages? The diary signs up everyday to ensure that everything is above board, that there's no propaganda, no hypnotic suggestions mid-massage. Someone needs to monitor the corrupt world we live in (and secretly reset the clock when the masseuse isn't looking). The diary is happy to report it cannot be bought. It's strong and independent like Giles Clarke, the magnificent chairman of the glorious ECB.

Speaking of the grand Mr. Clarke — and no, the diary still hasn't been bought — the chap paid his way through Oxford University by making enough from gambling. That's fact, or as close to fact as The Times, London, tolerates.

Helping hand

Ravi Bopara, ladies and gentlemen, is a remarkably talented ball-striker. But what's got him back in the England team after the injury to Jonathan Trott isn't his talent, but an electronic device that, from the sound of it, lives his life.

“I've invested in an iPad, which has been helping me a lot and I'm jotting little things in that that have helped me,” says Bopara, earnest as ever. “I receive my e-mails straight away now, just the touch of a button and I've got my emails. Whereas before I had to find a computer and log on, find some Wifi and all that rubbish, but now I've got 3G and everything. My life is certainly more organised now than it has ever been.

“As I've learnt, I didn't think it was a big issue... but it has crept up on me, sometimes being late here and there, forgetting the odd bit of kit and forgetting your passport and stuff, it's one of those things that happens but it can't keep happening and that's why I've made efforts to make myself more organised as a person. It sounds silly, but the iPad is really helping me.”

Kudos Rav, sounds like you've really turned it around, seen the light and all that jazz. So can we see this marvel of technology? “Yeah, it's dead right now in my car.”

Of former cricketers!

What's it about former cricketers that make them so polite to each other? The diary isn't talking Ian Botham and Ian Chappell, who are about as happy together as a hippo and a crocodile, but Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly (who might froth at the mouth at being called “former”, but get real, Your Highness). The two turn the stomach with their mutual admiration while getting a cup of tea at the media lounge. They get along, says Gavaskar, because they were both born under the sign of Cancer. The diary's psychic source whispers softly in its ear that Cancerians can be “changeable and moody, overemotional and touchy, clinging and unable to let go.” Now, the diary never put much stock in this astrology business, but damn! That's freakishly accurate. Now before all you Gavaskar and Ganguly fans turn incontinent with rage, and begin burning effigies of those fine men who bring out Sportstar (spare the diary please; it can't handle the heat), consider this: the psychic source also says Cancerians are “emotional and loving, intuitive and imaginative, protective and sympathetic.” In any case, the diary likes its crabs buttered and cooked in lemon-garlic sauce, not dripping with artificial sweetness.



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