Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Dravid's biography - the worst ever?

I'm in the middle of reading "The Nice Guy who finished first" - Devendra Prabhudesai's biography of Rahul Dravid. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a complete and utter waste of time. There is absolutely nothing in it that gives me any insight into the boy, the man, the cricketer, or even the game. The author has apparently gone through the scorecards of every game Dravid ever played, translated them into prose, and stuck in a few quotes from other published media sources. There is barely even an attempt to tie it all together, other than the mundane chronological procession that the reader is walked through. It ranks right down there with one of my greatest disappointments of all time - Viv Richards' autobiography.

Why is it that cricketers, and indeed most sportspeople, struggle to produce books worth reading? Their stories are at worst remarkable, and at best unbelievable, and yet so rarely does any of that come through, be it biography or autobiography. If I wanted to read the scorecards, I would do just that. Wisden has that one covered, both online (CricInfo) and offline (the almanack). I read these books to understand what made these men different. What made them tick. What is it that made them who they were. I know the facts. I want the story.

As I've often said, the best biography ever written, in my opinion, is Charles Williams' "Bradman" which tells the story of a man who united a nation, giving it hope and identity. The statistics are incidental. The man, and his story, are integral. And that's how it should be.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Stop the Presses! - Sachin Tendulkar sneezed!

As I write this, the major headline in the cricket section over at Rediff is "Tendulkar undergoes light workout."

Beneath this, in significantly smaller fonts, are headlines about TV coverage of the forthcoming India-West Indies series, the warning issued to Virender Sehwag by the BCCI, an interview with Farokh Engineer, one with Wasim Jaffer, and several other articles of cricketing interest.

All of that news, and yet the most important thing going on in the cricket world is apparently the fact that Sachin Tendulkar had a few throw downs with a tennis ball this morning.

I'm not surprised, and yet I am appalled. Little wonder that the vicious cycle of demand and expectation never lets up. How much is the media responsible for fuelling the demi-god worship that I wrote about a few weeks ago?

Headlines like this are probably worse than those that the "best" British tabloid can throw up. Even the News of the World's expose of Shane Warne's romp with two models and a blow up doll was of more importance to the cricketing world.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Evil Google - when it comes to cricket!

It has long been an Austen-esque truth, universally acknowledged, that when you search on the term "cricket" in any search engine, CricInfo appears at, or right near, the top of the list. Quite frankly, for it not to do so would betray either algorithmic ineptitude, or Machiavellian machinations on the part of the search engine. This has certainly been true historically of Google and Yahoo!, the two search engines I use (not neccessarily in that order).

A friend sent me a note this morning, suggesting that I try a search for "cricket" on Google. I did. And I'm still looking for a link to CricInfo. For a fleeting moment, I wondered how that could be. And then it dawned on me. Fairly recently, CricInfo and Yahoo! entered into a partnership, with CricInfo promoting the Yahoo! toolbar, and using Yahoo!'s search technology.

Surely the nice do-no-evil people at Google haven't factored this into their search results? The mind boggles.

I should point out that I do have some biases at play here, having been one of the group of five, albeit a truly lesser mortal, that got CricInfo started back in 92/93, and having worked at Yahoo! for a while - but I defy anyone to rationalize the notion of CricInfo not showing up in a search for cricket.

I suppose to be fair, it should be noted that CI is a triumphant #1 on the search listings over at Yahoo!, but whether or not there has been some convenient manipulation there as well, it can't be denied that that's exactly where it belongs.