ICC Greatest Test Team of All Time: Get a life, critics!

Recently cricket fans worldwide voted for the greatest test team of all time on ICC’s website, http://www.icc-cricket.com. It consisted of 4 from India, 4 from Australia, 2 from West Indies, 1 from Pakistan. Ever since it was published, there has been tremendous criticism on how flawed the team is with the likes of Geoffrey Boycott, Alec Stewart criticizing it as a “joke”. Guys like Sidhu and Martin Crowe found fault with it on Twitter.

Hey, everyone seems to be forgetting that this is a “fan vote” – the fans were asked to vote for the team and every time you do that, you are putting it in the hands of the people. Any thing based on popular voting, like “American Idol”, “Indian Idol”, and heck, even the Government representatives getting elected — it is all about who the voters think are the best.

So people, stop complaining and accept that this is voter’s choice. If you are concerned that this is not the right selection, lobby with the ICC and select a team picked by the so-called experts!

Oh, and lastly, eulogizing the people of the past and comparing them with the present — not sure how correct that is! That generation had maybe one or two test series a year, no bouncer-limit rules, no helmets, no one-day internationals, no T20s and heck, they even had a “rest” day in a test match! And of course, they didn’t have this great technology advances that help the audience look at each ball/shot with a magnifying glass. So, comparing them with the present – not so apples to apples to me!

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iPhone Location Tracking – Preventive Measures One Can Take

I am sure you have all heard by now that iPhone keeps track of your location data. It was presented by Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden yesterday. They even published an application that neatly maps out where you’ve been. You can check it yourself but you need to have a Mac.

So, if you are a iPhone user and are worried about your location being tracked and logged, here are few measures you can take to prevent from someone else getting hold of it:

  • Encrypt your iPhone data backups. Every time you sync up the iPhone with your laptop/desktop, the phone data, including your location information, is backed up to your laptop. Normally it is in unencrypted, plain-text format which means any virus/spyware can read it and potentially transfer it elsewhere. To prevent this from happening, make sure you encrypt your backup files. This can be done in iTunes.
  • Make sure your anti-virus is up-to-date. When you encrypt your backups, you are essentially password-protecting them. A spyware can defeat that by “listening” to the keystrokes you type in for your password and then use it to decrypt your backup files. So, make sure your anti-virus has the latest virus definition files.
  • If you jailbroke your iPhone, change the default root password. People jailbreak for various reasons but sometimes leave the default root password unchanged. This is every dangerous as hackers can get in easily. Make sure you change it asap. Procedure is here.
  • If you jailbroke, use untrackerd to prevent location logging. This app runs in background and constantly removes any location data. Details here.
  • If you didn’t jailbreak, remove the location data before syncing. You can do so using iPhone Browser available here.
  • Lastly, protect your device. Don’t lose it and share only with trusted folks 🙂

Hope it helps the iPhone users out there!

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World Cup Triumph: A Few Positives — contributed by my friend T. Seshadri

There are some positives, India can take from this World Cup triumph, for it is considered to be the best possible thing that could have happened to India in the last one year particularly in the midst of scams that tormented its image at the international level.

  • As far as the sports lovers of this nation, it was a stupendous & enthusing joy after a long long time, Cricket for that matter any sports is a joy of the nation. It revitalizes and  bring immense spirit to humans which other wise would be a dull, jaded life.
  • Not only entertainment, sport brings health to the nation and as such its well-being, since health is the wealth of any nation. India  should develop all kinds of sports and play grounds for each and every small town.
  • Cities like Hyderabad are concrete jungles and lack basic sporting infrastructure both for sportspersons and also common man. May be its time to  think that a win in sport gives more joy than a million pounds and thus hope, hyderabad be hereafter called a`sports city` than a `diabetic city’
  • The impact of the world cup was so profound that it is going to last for at least 10 more years or so in India. House wives who never watched cricket murmered “Gambhir deserved man of the match over Dhoni” and kids who held remote in their hands watching cartoons began saying  “Daddy put that Dhoni channel”
  • We Indians of late have come to conclusion that ‘ all is not well in India ‘ and that every one here are selfish and show little patriotism. India have many obstacles in the form of religion, caste, creed and social status. One wondered where these barriers have gone when every one rejoiced that emphatic victory in unison. It portrays that still people are good here and patriotic and one hopes these barriers are lost for ever.
  • In every individual society there will be 70% good and 30% bad, it all depends on which factor predominates. In recent times bad in the society is more exposed than good by the different agencies like media. Recent victory pulled out the factor good in humans.
  • I personally feel that the huge freebies offered to the players weigh nothing when compared to the sudden ,violent,  joy and pride that erupted in the hearts of every Indian

Jai Hind.

Dr. T. Seshadri

Commercial Tax Officer, Anantapur, AP, India.

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Cricket commentary on Radio & TV, some quotes!

I have been following cricket since time immemorial, or so it appears to me. For someone who started with reading the sports page of “The Hindu” newspaper, to listening to the radio commentary on All India Radio and BBC, the first “huge upgrade” was getting to watch live on Doordarshan, India’s first TV channel. It was really fascinating, in spite of the fact that there was only one camera on the grounds as a result which, in one over you view the batsman facing the ball and in the next you view the bowler delivering the ball. The power cuts, the broken satellite signal with “Sorry for the Interruption” or “Rukavat ke liye khed hai” added a lot of spice (read frustration) to the situation! But hey, you get to watch it live, isn’t that enough — so stop complaining, will you. Commentary used to alternate in English and Hindi with Narottam Puri and Sushil Joshi being the primary commentators (after landing in US, I realized that they are called “play callers” here!).

The broadcasts from Australia’s Channel 9 brought about a big change. Multiple camera angles, former players as commentators, major sponsors. Great things followed. Rupert Murdoch started STAR TV. Retired Indian cricketers started doing commentary with Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri being very prominent. The arrival of Harsha Bhogle, Henry Blofeld and his penchant of ear rings, the humor of Geoffrey Boycott, live transmission of Sharjah cricket, all brought us a lot of joy. Of course, now a days, with the TV taking over cricket, it’s a whole different story. We have tons of channels, commentators, in-studio analysis and discussions – hard to choose, isn’t it! Btw, what’s with this guy Navjot Sidhu! Geez!

Over the years, some quotes by the commentators and some things I read in the newspapers have been etched in my memory forever. Here is a short collection, not in any particular order. Some good, some hilarious, some ridiculous – I’ll let you decide what’s what! 🙂

Out hone ki koshish.. aur isee ke saath Ravi Shastri out!” – Sushil Joshi

Beautiful shot, brilliant stop, pickup, and throw — all this is happening at the SCG” – Ian Chappell

We didn’t bat well, didn’t field well, and didn’t bowl well. Other than that, we did OK” – Mohd Azharuddin, after a dismal performance against England.

I just want to get into the middle and get the right sort of runs” – Robin Smith, after suffering from stomach problems during a tour of India

Statistics are like bikinis… what they reveal is suggestive.. what they hide is essential” – Navjot Sidhu

Don’t bowl him bad balls. He hits the good ones for fours” – Michael Kasprowicz on Sachin Tendulkar.

The Queen’s Park Oval, exactly as the name suggests, absolutely round” – Tony Cozier

Every Lankan cricketer who comes up to the stage calls his teammates as ‘boys’ – I am confused, I thought only captains referred that way. Looks like everyone is a captain there” – Unknown, after the 1996 Sri Lanka world cup victory

The slow-motion replay doesn’t show how fast the ball was really travelling” – Richie Benaud

On the off-side, first there is God, and then there is Ganguly” – Rahul Dravid on Sourav Ganguly, whose off-side play is a treat to watch.

Ballebaaj ne stroke ke liye jagah banaaya aur gend ko wicketkeeper ke paas jaane diya” — Kapil Dev, during his short stint as a commentator.

If you guys remember any other funny or great quotes, please mention them in the comments. I’ll post a consolidated collection along with submitter’s name.

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Epsilon data breach: What it means to customers

Whether you follow technology news or not, most likely you’d have heard of the data breach at Epsilon. After all, it even made it NPR. So, what does it mean to customers and what should we do.

Be extra careful – that’s the answer. Here is the reason why. What Epsilon really lost is the e-mail addresses and contact data of the customers. And since Epsilon is an e-mail marketing company (much like telemarketers that make those unwanted calls at home), it had the data of customers of many major banks, credit card companies, vacation providers, online stores, etc — look at the ever-growling list here. Since the spammers (or bad guys) have this entire set of information, they know MOST OF THE PLACES you’ve shopped at, you bank with, and cards you use/own. They can now send a carefully crafted e-mail to trap you – something on the lines of “We noticed some fraudulent activity when you made a purchase on Disney Cruise and Hilton Hotels in Los Angeles using your Chase credit card. Please click here to check and verify.” Since multiple transactions could be tied together, it’s likely we’ll fall for it.

Here are some tips:

  • Never click on the links in the e-mail. Always open a new browser window, and visit the site that you know is from your bank or credit card.
  • Just “cut and paste” part of the received e-mail on Google. More likely than not, someone else faced this problem already
  • Be on extra guard for anything that relates to the ones listed here. The “spam filters” might not help as the attacks are going to be targeted.

No Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as SSN, credit card numbers has been lost and that is really comforting.

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My Journey With Indian Cricket – Part II

In part I of this series, I wrote about my experience with India’s world cup campaign and ended on a note that Indian cricket was going through very positive changes in the late 1990s. 

After Azharuddin was left out because of match fixing charges and Sachin Tendulkar resigned from captaincy, Sourav Ganguly was made the captain of the Indian team in 2001. He took a lot of young players under his wing, backed them to the hilt and instilled confidence in them. He returned the “mental disintegration” tactics of the Aussies in the same coin, and India won a historical test series in 2001 over the world-conquering Australians. Steve Waugh could not conquer the “Last Frontier” and Ian Chappel coined two phrases that have since become very famous: VVS Laxman was “Very Very Special” Laxman, and Harbhajan was “The Turbanator”. The 21st century was treating Indian cricket very well!

2003: Hello Africa
For the first time ever, the world cup was held in Africa. And by this time, I had moved to United States and finding a way to watch the cricket matches wasn’t easy but I still managed somehow! I don’t remember a great lot of details here except for few things. India did very well during the league stage. They lost only match – did so very badly – to Australia. I think India were bowled out for less than 150. Their match against Pakistan was awesome! I remember watching it at a friend’s place. Pakistan batted first and made around 270-280. Saeed Anwar played very well, as he usually does against India, and scored a century. Pre-match predictions pitted Sachin Tendulkar against the Shoiab Akhtar who was at his peak at that time. This time Tendulkar didn’t disappoint. He attacked Akhtar so well that the world fastest bowler appeared dejected and clueless. When the captain Waqar took him out of the attack, the match was won mentally. I remember there were some hiccups along the way when Tendulkar was dismissed for 98 but Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid took India to safety. When Tendulkar is on song, it is a treat to watch him!

I remember something about weird mathematical calculations and South Africa’s really defensive approach keeping them out of knockout stage. Disappointment continued for very-strong-on-paper South Africa. In the semi-finals it was India playing Kenya, a surprise semifinalist, and Australia against SL. India won easily but I believe Australia had a tough time against SL before winning it on D/L method. Everything was set for India vs Australia final.

We met up at a friend’s place to watch the final together. Ganguly won the toss and decided to field to take care of seamer-friendly pitch. I didn’t know what was going on as the match started, and before I realized, Australia had scored 359 – in the final! If you want to show someone what  “breaking the opposition’s back” or “annihilation of the opposition” means, please show them Ricky Ponting’s innings! To me, the match was already lost and indeed it was. There was nothing significant in India’s chase. Tendulkar fell cheaply to McGrath with the exception of Sehwag and Dravid no one really played well. Very forgettable final!

2007: The Humiliation

This world cup was held in West Indies for the first time and the captain of India was Rahul Dravid. There were many rumors that there was no unity in the cricket team and the senior players were revolting against the coach, Greg Chappell of Australia. I don’t know how much of it is the real truth but India’s campaign resulted in them getting completely humiliated. In the 3 matches they played, they only won ONE match and that was against Bermuda! They lost to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and crashed out of World Cup! Imagine this – a team consisting of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Dhoni, Yuvraj, Sehwag, Harbhajan unable to win against the minnows of cricket. What a shame! Anyway, Australia beat Sri Lanka in the final for the their 3rd successive world cup! What a dynasty!

New captain, new coach, new beginnings, new style
Shortly after the disastrous world cup campaign, Dhoni was appointed India’s T20 captain for the T20 world cup which India won. Gary Kirsten took over as the coach replacing Greg Chappell. One thing Gary brought to the team was calmness. It wasn’t easy for India but there were many positives. India toured Australia under Anil Kumble, the new test captain and beat them and in the process ended their 16 consecutive test winning streak — they also kicked up few controversies along the way but ended up showing few Australians their place by beating them in their stronghold, Perth. When the achieved the No. 1 status in tests, people started really believing that India might have a chance this world cup. Given this world cup will most likely be Tendulkar’s last, people also started writing that the team might play with a strong motive this time around – to rally around Tendulkar to give him the cup!

Team India received a setback early on. Praveen Kumar got injured and Sreesanth came in for him. Anyway, the world cup campaign started.

2011: Mission Accomplished
I think you this best given the amount of media coverage. So, I won’t write much except saying that India played fairly well all-round even though their bowling was considered weak. I also think they had the toughest path to the final. Australia in quarters, Pakistan in semis, and Sri Lanka in the final! Dhoni and Kirsten managed the players effectively. Irrespective of the pressure, Dhoni also looked calm!

Give a thought to Tendulkar guys! In his 22-year career, he went thru everything and got everything. Back problems, toe issues, pulled hamstrings… The guy had everything in batting records: highest number of runs in both tests and one dayers, highest no of centuries in both tests and one days, 6 world cup appearances, quite a few wickets thrown in to the mix, IPL championship in the T20 format!

People always compare Tendulkar to Bradman and wonder who is better. Tendulkar himself reveres Bradman! Agreed Bradman’s average is untouchable 99.96 but let’s look at it from a different point of view. Tendulkar played and scored tons of runs in every major ground: fast, flat, bouncy, landmine pitches all over the world. He toured Pakistan, SL, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, England, Dubai, Sharjah, Singapore, Toronto, the list goes on. He has played tests, one days, T20s. He played 22 years under constant media scrutiny and has never had a finger raised against him. Bradman on the other hand, played in two countries: England and Australia. Apparently, he refused to get off the ship in Bombay, enroute to England, to meet the people waiting for him — I am sure he had his reasons! I’ll let you pick your choice!

I want to end on a note that the 28 years of watching and following cricket became worth the wait last Saturday, 2-April-2011. Thank you, Team India! Congratulations on the win, and you richly deserve it!

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My Journey With Indian Cricket – Part I

With India’s world cup win-induced adrenaline still flowing, I decided to my experiences and journey with Indian cricket’s world cup performances but I did so entirely based on my memory; no fact-checking, no references, just a plain walk down the memory lane. I am sure there are inaccuracies which I am confident my friends will point out! 

Back in 1983, when I was a 9 year old kid who had just started to play “gully” cricket, my father introduced me to the “formal” cricket. It also turned out to be my introduction to reading newspapers, a habit that hasn’t left me even today. I wonder if my father had this plan all worked out — you know, introduce him to newspapers in the guise of teaching cricket and see if he stays abreast of news in general — but I digress!

At that time, India already won the world cup – a shocker to everyone – beating the West Indies (WI) in June 1983, and WI were to coming to tour India. I later came to know that WI were treating this as a “revenge” tour! And revenge they had. Marshall, Holding, Roberts, Davis destroyed India but Gavaskar and Vengsarkar seemed unperturbed and scored tons of runs. Kapil Dev put on a show with the ball had recorded his career best figures 9-83 in that series. In spite of that drubbing, India did ok in the coming years: won the World Championship Series in Australia in 1985 beating Pak in the final (Ravi Shastri was the “Champion of the Champions”), and Rothman’s Cup in Sharjah, again beating Pak. Oh wait, not quite! There was that Sharjah match in 1986 when Javed Miandad hit a six of the last ball from Chetan Sharma to seal a victory — an event that affected India so much mentally that they lost the next 15 or so matches there.

1987: World Cup moves out of England but white uniforms remain
It was world cup time again. It was staged outside of England for the first time, and Reliance (not Prudential) was the main sponsor. All teams still played in white uniforms. India were heavily favored and Kapil Dev was the captain. They played well during the league stages: Chetan Sharma recorded the first hattrick in a world cup and heck, Sunil Gavaskar even managed his first and only one-day century. Stars were aligned in their favor and in the semi-finals it was India vs Eng and Pak vs Aus and everyone anticipated India-Pak final. It is important to note that WI couldn’t make it to the semis because of an amazing act of sportmanship by Courtney Walsh against Pak where he refused to “mankad” Salim Jaffar to end the match and Abdul Qadir went on to knock in the required runs. My entire family watched the Ind-Eng match in our tiny living room and the destruction started as soon as Eng started batting. Graham Gooch swept and swept Maninder Singh and India to a huge score. India started the chase disastrously when Gavaskar offered no stroke to an incoming ball from Phil DeFreitas and lost his off-stump – you know nothing is going right for you when Gavaskar misjudges ball’s trajectory! Just when everyone thought India recovered were well placed, they imploded. Kapil was doing fine but perished when trying a repeat shot of Hemmings and Gatting had just placed himself at the right place to take the catch. Heartbreaking! In the other semi-final, Steve Waugh and Craig McDermott worked their magic to beat Pak. In the Eng-Aus final, which I watched anyway, England slipped from a winning position when Gatting attempted a suicidal reverse-sweep and lost his wicket. Australia went on to win the cup.

Arise all ye people…
Circa 1988, the name of a young talented cricketer was popping up frequently – SACHIN TENDULKAR. He eventually made his debut in the tour of Pak in 1989 against the likes of Imran, Akram, Waqar, and Aaqib. I watched live when he was hit on the nose by a Waqar bouncer. He refused medical treatment, got up and continued to play. Seeing Tendulkar smash him around in an exhibition match, Pakistan spinner Abdul Qadir predicted that Sachin will reach great heights, and boy was he right!

1992: Uniforms turn colorful, balls white, and venue crosses the equator
By the 1992 world cup, Tendulkar was already famous. But somehow, I don’t remember anything good about it except for India beating Pakistan in a league match and Kiran More getting under the skin of India’s tormentor-in-chief, Javed Miandad. I think India won only one other match. This world cup was more known for the heroics of Martin Crowe, Mark Greatbatch (both NZ), Imran’s leadership, Akram’s brilliance, and the sheer raw talent and rise of Inzamam-ul-Haq. Pakistan beat England in the final, thanks to Akram and Imran. India’s performance was pathetic and forgetful in that world cup!

1996: More teams, more expectations, more controversies

The 1996 world cup was held in the sub continent again. By that time, I had finished college and moved out of my hometown. Tendulkar was in supreme form but then so was Lara, and the entire South African team. There was some security related controversies, and Sri Lanka and South Africa topped their respective groups, the latter by performance but the former by some forfeited games. India met Pakistan in the quarterfinals in Bangalore. There was a great build up for the match with the press going crazy. And boy, what a match it was! Akram pulled out because of injury. Ajay Jadeja unloaded on Waqar Younis, something that was never done until that stage and India scored 280+. Pakistan started strongly with Anwar and Sohail going great guns. Memory of the match — Sohail hitting Prasad for a boundary thru extra cover and arrogantly asking him to “go fetch the ball”, and Prasad getting rid of him the next ball, clean bowled and sending him off. That image still gives me goose bumps! India went on to beat Pak and met Sri Lanka in the semi-finals. And what happens in the semi-finals? Heartbreak, again! India won the toss, elected to field, restricted SL to 250 odd but when India started the chase, the pitch deteriorated, and India unfolded to Jayasuriya’s spin! It was a horrible watch and I switched off the TV and went for a walk. I later learnt that the Eden Garden fans disrupted the match anyway — not that India had any chance to win — and match was awarded to SL. In the final, SL went on to defeat Australia for the cup. Well deserved win for them and proving a point against Aus.

1999: Chokers, mental disintegration, and the beginning of a dynasty
Circa 1997, match fixing allegations were made and all that crap turned me off from cricket but when the 1999 world cup again, I was back at watching it. Work had taken me to Melbourne, Australia and with the matches happening in England, watching at odd hours started again! In the build up to the world cup, pundits said how this world cup was tailor-made for India, the swinging conditions best fit for our bowlers, etc, etc. Our media never lets go of an opportunity to write something, isn’t it! India’s campaign started disastrously again with Zimbabwe beating them! Then Tendulkar lost his father, flew to India, did the final rites, and flew back immediately to play against Kenya. And what did he do? Go bonkers! He scored a big century and India won. I don’t remember the chronological order but Ganguly and Dravid destroyed Sri Lanka, and India beat England square and fair. In the match against Pakistan — seemingly the only thing India seemed to be worried about in the world cups — India batted first and didn’t score too well. Staying awake thru the night, I remember Indians unable to touch Akram but making Akhtar and Saqlain look listless. When Pakistan started the chase, Azharuddin seemed to have the magic touch. He rotated the bowlers very well and turned to Prasad whenever India needed a breakthrough and Prasad obliged. After beating Pak, India seemed to have thought they’d won the world cup already and relaxed a bit too much. I don’t remember anything good or bad after that — just the fact that they didn’t make it to the semis while Pak, NZ, Aus, and South Africa did. I was back in New Delhi watched the semis and finals with friends. It is that world cup where Steve Waugh famously said to Gibbs “Mate, you just dropped the world cup” when the latter dropped Waugh. The Aus-SA semifinal ended in a tie due to Klusener/Donald blunder and Aus advanced on the virtue of having beaten SA earlier. In the final match, or a mis-match rather, Aus easily beat Pak for the world cup and the Aussie dynasty had just begun and it would dominate for the next two world cups! Steve Waugh’s Australians would sledge the opposition incessantly and call it mental disintegration, and South Africans could not get over the choker tag!

Winds of change in Indian cricket
This world cup ended up being Mohd. Azharuddin’s last. Late 1990s saw the arrival of new promising players like Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, and Harbhajan Singh. These players were nurtured by the soon-to-be captain Sourav Ganguly. This new breed were not tied by traditions and customs, had cut their teeth in a cricketing world that was beginning to see India’s financial power and Ganguly no nonsense, give-it-back-to-them approach on sledging really saw the new beginnings and 20th century indeed ended on a positive note for Indian cricket!

Continued… part II

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