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Posts Tagged ‘Australia

Religious Nuttery Down Under (re: Australian bush fires)

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Even before the last embers have died on the worst bush (forest) fires in the history of Australia, a fire that is predicted to claim more than 300 lives [1], some religious nut-job here is trying to relate it to abortion laws:

The Catch the Fire Ministries has tried to blame the bushfires disaster on laws decriminalising abortion in Victoria.

The Pentecostal church’s leader, Pastor Danny Nalliah, claimed he had a dream about raging fires on October 21 last year and that he woke with “a flash from the Spirit of God: that His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb”. (link)

Oh yeah – god’s message against the “slaughter of innocent children” (high debatable anyway)….is killing of more people!

Aussies are actually too  laid-back to be deeply absorbed in religion like the Americans,  and I hardly ever hear about religion being spoken about openly, so I assume this guy is really quite a fringe element of the society. But it is really deplorable how someone would try to take advantage of such a tragedy to further an agenda, especially from someone who is supposedly aiding with the disaster relief efforts. What a sad, pathetic excuse for a human being.

However, as I always say, extremists are bad on either side  – here is a climate campaigner from Greenpeace linking the severity of the fire with global warming (not saying there isn’t any effect, but now is not the time to talk about it).

[1]: Regarding the fire itself,  while any disasters that claim large human and animal tolls are always sad, but the fact that this was started by an arsonist, makes it tougher to digest.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 10, 2009 at 7:04 am

Aussie cricketer defies the laws of physics

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During a crucial period of an embarrassing [1] loss to the Kiwis last Sunday at the WACA, the Australian side effected the following controversial dismissal:

If you watch the replay, you will find that the New Zeland batsman Broome was given out bowled, but it looks like it was Haddin’s gloves and not the ball that clips the bails.

There is little controversy that the ‘bowled’ verdict was quite wrong. Not only did the umpires miss out on the fact that it was Haddin’s gloves that displaced the bails, they failed to enforce a law that states if a wicket-keeper has his gloves in front of the wicket, a no-balled should be called.

What is debatable is how much Haddin knew about what was going on i.e. did he know that it was not out and deliberately suppress the knowledge while keeping up the celebrations? This would be a clear-cut case of cheating and Haddin should face a censure. Alternately, he was  not sure if it was the gloves or the balls that hit the wicket. In this case, popular opinion is that he should have said something to the umpires about the doubt,  although I personally he was not obligated to do the umpire’s job.

The incident has kicked up a storm of accusations between the trans-Tasman rivals.  New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori definitely believes that Haddin knew something and was suppressed it:

“I think you saw from Haddin’s reaction that he knew something was wrong so he probably should have made more noise about it,” Vettori said

As expected this barb mightily upset Aussie captain Prickly Ponting, who rushed to defend his player, and without even the benefit of a second look at the incident, took up the role of a judge and jury to declare Haddin innocent of any wrong-doing (not too surprising coming from a captain who regularly takes up the mantle of umpiring while on the field).

“[Haddin] obviously didn’t know, because if he knew then he wouldn’t have claimed it. Whatever we’re saying about Brad Haddin here, you can’t say that knowingly happened, that is for sure.”

(also brings to mind the denialisms of a certain recent ex-President of a large country)

I would have been inclined to give Haddin some benefit of doubt and not call him an outright cheater (perhaps just a bad sport), but that was before he came up with this clanger today. Miffed at Vettori’s accusation, Haddin claimed to have done nothing wrong, but let slip this gem:

After looking at the replay my hands were in front of the stumps, but the ball I am 100 per cent sure hit the bails first then came up into my gloves,” he said. (link)

So according to him, the ball hit the bails and then lodged in his gloves which were in front of the bails ! That would require the ball to hit the wicket and then travel back towards the bowler before landing in his gloves. There must have been one hell of a spin on that ball.

Reminds me of this Seinfeld episode:

[1] It was an embarrasing game all around: Australia put up a pathetic batting display and the Kiwis were hell-bent on wanting to lose the match in a miserable manner.

(Btw, it is possible for the balls to hit the bails and come upto into the gloves even if they are in front of the wickets – if his gloves are pointed with open face down. However, from the replay it is obvious that Haddin’s gloves are cupped upwards. Ergo, Haddin is lying)

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 3, 2009 at 12:19 am

In which I am Conn-ed

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Gautam Gambhir apparently purposefully elbowed  Shane Watson yesterday in the third test between India and Australia. The Aussies are furious. How dare Indians turn cricket into a physical sport ! It should have been an innovation coming from them.

I reckon they have a fair enough complain, banging into opponent players has no place in cricket. However, reading most of the reports from the Australian media, you would have no idea about all the sledging being indulged by the Aussies all through the day. Or the fact that just before Gambhir’s elbowling, Watson had in a very unsporting manner stuck his hand out to block Gambhir’s running.

Local lad Gambhir and Watson continued their series-long feud and exchanged verbal barbs from the moment Gambhir charged the blonde fast bowler. This tension escalated when Gambhir appeared to purposely nudge Watson in the ribs when he completed a second run in the 51st over.

Nope, the Aussies were as pure as freshly fallen snow. Just watch this video and observe the Aussie bowlers indulging in ‘jaw exercises’ through the day.(you can see the elbowing incident here too) Now suppose the exact incident happened but with Matt Hayden elbowing Ishant Sharma. Here is how Australia’s leading cricket journalist Malcolm Conn would have seen it:

Having copped a verbal barrage all day from the frustrated Indian bowlers and close-in fielders, matters reached a boiling point when Sharma – in a blatant contravention of the spirit of the game – blocked Hayden on his way to the first of an easy two runs. In response, Hayden nudged Sharma with his elbow on his way back, a gentle reminder to the young speedster that it was the burly Queenslander who held the upper hand at that stage of the game.

(inspired by this post and my comment there).

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

October 29, 2008 at 8:22 pm

FCB: A non-religous Easter and a Scotch-based drink

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In which Friday Cocktail Blogging makes a (hopefully) stealthy return (just like a much too drunk husband enters the bedroom after a nite out with the blokes ? [1] ) Written while copiously consuming the drink mentioned below and the hi-fi belting out classic Ghazals such as Main Nashe Mein Hoon, Hungama Kyon Hai (Thodisi Jo Pee li Hain), (you get the drift) etc……..

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It’s a long weekend here down-under, with both Good Friday and Easter Monday being holidays (in Tasmania, they even take Easter Tuesday off)! What tickles me however, is the notion I gathered over the close-to-an-year I have been here; that the Aussies are really not that religious. At least not in the open, in your face, all too preachy manner of the US religious right. The Oz attitude towards religion is like most other things in their life: it is something that exists in the world, something to tolerate while getting on with the important stuff like cheap-beer chugging, bbq-ing and general partying.

Therefore, they make the best of it – by taking holidays and grabbing a chance to get pissed. Even as I type, I can hear shouts of drunken revelry in nearby apartments no doubt celebrating the crucification in some weird manner.

And in my mind, the current prevalent images of Easter are formed – not by resurrection, or even the colored eggs – but by the posters plastered all across the university: Enticements to attend weekend parties in which ‘Easter’ bunnies in their coquettish garbs are the focal point (for example see this).

Compare this state of affairs with the US, where during my first six years in New York state, we did not even get Good Friday holidays (a big surprise to us initially as it used to be holiday in ‘secular’ India as well).

Anyhow, I am attempting to make the best of the situation, even with the temporary pseudo-bachelorhood state [worthy of a separate post by itself].

Add to this, it is the colorful festival of Holi in India.

So really, little excuse not to drink. And overall, a good reason for the FCB to return.

In that spirit, recently we have been trying out cocktails with Scotch. Now, if it is a single-malt Scotch, then mixing a nip with anything other than a hint of H2O, is pure sacrilege. However, if it is blended malt that you have in the kitchen cupboard, then be a bit adventurous, and venture with some of those juices and liqueurs. In particular, I have realised that the orangy flavor of Triple-Sec/Cointreau goes well with Scotch. So here goes a recipe, which is sometimes referred to as the High Voltage, while I have named it as:

The Confused Scotsman

  • 2 parts Scotch (I used Ballantine’s 12-year old blend)
  • 1 part Triple-Sec (1.5 if you like it sweeter) [recommended you use regular Triple-sec rather than Cointreau, which will make it much too sweet)
  • 0.5-1 part lime fresh lime juice (depends on taste and tartness of the lime)
  • Soda water for topping

Mix all ingredients except Soda water in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously (and I mean vigorous). Strain into a old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Top with Soda water. Now I actually prefer it without the soda-water, especially if the lime if fresh enough and the mix has been shaken well enough, but the choice is yours.

Goes well with ghazals with a romantic/unrequited-love/pining theme or even an old film-noir [or, as in my case, reading hard-boiled police detective stories set in Edinburgh].

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[1]: Yes, my metaphors suck.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 21, 2008 at 9:37 am

Weeding Monkeys

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Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma.

Names I had not even heard of before this Aussie summer. But names that should come up frequently if this recently concluded series is any indication.

And if people had told me back in January that this combination was going to win India its first ODI tournament in Australia in a gazillion years of trying, I’d have asked for a puff on the obnoxious weed they were smoking.

But it was the youthful energy of these guys along with the likes of Gambhir, Uthappa, Sreesanth, Dhoni etc., and the prescence of just one ‘senior’, the evergreen Sachin Tendulkar that lifted the CB Series trophy at the Gabba last Tuesday. And in the process they have also made me (and a few other bloggers) eat a humble piece of my own words.

But I hardly care, I will write down those words and eat the paper too; after a long, tumultuous summer, we gave it to the mighty Aussie – winning on the field and delivering a bitter taste of their own medicine off it. And that just warms the cockles of my heart.

Back in late January however, it had begun real badly – a total rout in the 20/20 at MCG. But then, slight flashes of brilliance in bowling and batting at the rain-soaked GABBA encounters, followed by a good win at the MCG, and then losses to Australia in games that could have been won, a trundling win against Sri Lanka, followed by an emphatic one. Still, it seemed we were consistently doing what we do best: being inconsistent.

And then something happened: Mathew Hayden, FSM’s gift to the foot-in-the-mouthers, came on a Brisbane radio show and graciously expressed his opinions on gardening, demonstrated his acute grasp of the Indian accent, and shared his pugilistic fantasies of beating up young kids. In the same breath, he also mentioned something like ‘Indians are always losing…..’.

The rest, as they say is history. After that interview, Australia promptly lost three in a row. Over the two finals, Harbhajan Singh, the bete noire of the Australian cricket team, public and particularly the media, took the wickets of Symonds twice, Hayden once and had a hand in the run-out in another.

Irony, divine justice, karma, call it what you will. And to top it all, Sachin Tendulkar, long castigated for never winning it for India ‘when it mattered’, joined the party and played two highly innovative innings.

All followed by wonderful celebrations; and especially, as I mentioned before, the wide eyed innocence of the small-town boy, Praveen Kumar, while accepting the MoM award. (the other great moment was in the first final at Sydney, where Yuvraj and Harbhajan started a bout of mock boxing after Hayden’s dismissal).

A special salute to Captain ‘Uber-Cool’ Dhoni.In situations where Dravid would have frowned deeply, Ganguly thrown fits, Dhoni calmly – with nary an expression on his face – handed the crucial last over to Pathan. It was a strange decision given Pathan was certainly the worst bowler on display through the day, but he repaid the confidence. Since being appointed 20/20 and ODI captain, it has been a good season for Dhoni. Most of his decisions regarding player selections, backing of youngsters (a point he did not forget to make during the presentation speech) paid off handsomely – they may not in future – but his unflappability under pressure has me impressed [1].

So once again, here is to the young lads in blue ! Cheers !

(Picture: Cricinfo)

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[1]: As if I required more reasons to like Dhoni, read about his departing words to the Aus media. Very cheeky 🙂

“There was a time when it seemed like he was like Michael Jackson, the way the media were following him,” Dhoni said before flying out of Australia with the Indian team.

“I think it would have been better if they (Australian media) stuck to cricket.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 5, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Yahooooooooooooooooooooo!

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We win the series. Who would have thunk ?

Possibly, the most touching moment:

Praveen Kumar is the Man of the Match for his four wickets and he looks a bit embarrassed, all beams he has to be taken on to the stage by his captain, Dhoni, a touching moment. He takes the cheque and runs back off the stage, grinning, still embarrassed.

UPDATE: 

Here is the video of the post-match ceremonies. The Praveen Kumar moment is about 1:40 into the video:

Here is another one:

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 4, 2008 at 7:42 am

Posted in Australia, Cricket

Tagged with , , ,

The Scratchy Itch…

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While the Sydney Morning Herald continues to embarrass itself by its near apoplectic harping on the ‘scartching’ non-issue (see the previous post), one of its writers, Greg Baum, cuts through the crap (via):

“There are a lot of young people sitting here, and it was inappropriate,” one spectator told The Age. “If he wants respect, he has to treat others with respect.” This spectator, who was so concerned about young people and so insistent on the need for respect, was sitting in a crowd that in chorus was calling Harbhajan a “wanker”.

Another spectator complained in the Herald Sun that Harbhajan spat in his direction, six or seven times. “Spitting is not on in my book,” he said. “That’s a bit out of line.” This spectator, who was so upset by Harbhajan’s demeanour, was wearing a fluorescent green T-shirt inscribed: “Monkey see … monkey do.” (link)

The clincher:

And the idea of a sporting crowd staking a claim to the high moral ground is absurd.

Make no mistake. Harbhajan has been here long enough, and seen and heard enough, to know better.

If he did make monkey gestures towards the crowd on Sunday, he knew what he was doing, and should be sent straight home and told to stay there

Well said !
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PS: At the same time, I find BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah’s retort “Let Australia come to us and see what the crowd might do.” in extremely bad taste. This is borderline hooliganism. But do we ever expect any sensible action from the BCCI ?

PS2: Inspiration for the title goes to Naked Cricket’s comment.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 3, 2008 at 6:24 pm