Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Road To Tokyo: Episode 14

June 23rd – Olympics Day! Appropriate time to get this blog series back on track. 

“Coronavirus Stopped Play”. And the Games have been postponed to 2021 (will still be called Tokyo 2020 though!) exactly 52 weeks later. 

“Hope Lights Our Way” – that was the concept of the Olympic Torch relay. And in these uncertain times, the Olympic flame has come to symbolize the hopes of the entire world. After all, if we can have a “normal” Games in Tokyo next year, it would mean that humankind has emerged out of this Covid-19 crisis. After all, the Olympics are the greatest sporting spectacle and we are all in it together. 

Meanwhile all qualified athletes continue to remain qualified. However, for the remaining spots, the individual federations are trying to reschedule the Qualifying events/timelines. Given that sporting action has started resuming (albeit without spectators), we can hope for the Games to be held on track. 

A word for all the athletes. Keep safe, stay fit and stay focused on the big prize. The pandemic and the lockdowns have thrown their strict regimens off track. But not for nothing are they the crème de la crème of world sports. They will light up the competition and be a beacon of hope for the ailing world. 

Meanwhile, lets all stay home and stay safe and be there to celebrate the Games next year. 

And yes, since its Olympics Day, why not try this fitness regime as we stay home! 

P.S. Hope to have the "Road To Tokyo" series back on track with better visibility of the road itself!

Monday, June 22, 2020

BookMarks #69: 281 And Beyond

Title: 281 And Beyond
Authors: VVS Laxman & R. Kaushik
Genre: Autobiography, Cricket
Published: 2018

The book narrates VVS Laxman’s cricketing journey, in his own words, from his early days in Hyderabad to becoming one of India’s all-time great batsmen. However, it was not all smooth sailing and the journey is full of ups and downs.

The book gives us a glimpse into the goings on within the Indian dressing room as well as the struggles of cricketers in India. This is also a story of the change that has been brought from the semi-professional 1990s to now, how various aspects of the game have evolved – from fitness, money, communication aspects etc.

The book is a joy to read for the Indian fan, especially someone like yours truly. Flipping through the pages, you relive your cricket-following career. Every tour is discussed. The book goes chronologically from the haphazard mid-90s, match-fixing saga, John Wright’s arrival, new lows under Greg Chappell and the troubles he caused, the away victories, the Monkeygate series, the heights under Kirsten all unfold as a highlights reel. Have to say this, the Indian team was quite inconsistent throughout the era. Only now do we have a relatively consistent winning record!

I liked how VVS doesn’t mince words about his relationships within the team and how he reacted to different situations. Also, he has been quite honest about the disappointments of never getting a fixed spot, being dropped from Tests on and off and never really getting a chance in the white ball format. He also touches upon the mental issues of the game as well. The book particularly highlights the lack of communication in the setup where individual players are often left to fend for themselves.

I loved the bit where he talks about getting admitted to an MBBS course post-retirement and becoming a doctor. Imagine being motivated to study for 5 years after having lived a superstar life! However, he was talked out of this dream by his family and had to concentrate on cricket related activities only!

The book is titled aptly. Begins with THAT innings and then goes about telling the rest of the story!

In summary, a good read for the India cricket fan!

Previously on BookMarks: We Are The Champions