Tuesday, 21 February 2012



I have never liked Ricky Ponting.

As a kid who watched the 2003 World Cup Finals with excessive optimism and prayers, it is hard to like him. His 140 not out, which demolished India’s hopes of winning the Trophy, was probably one of the best ODI innings played by an Australian; but I still disliked him. He captained the World XI in 2005 for the Tsunami relief match, scored another century, defeated Asia XI captained by Ganguly and became Man of the Match. Even though it was all for a good cause, I did not like him one bit. In 2006 he led Australia to a Champions Trophy victory (and pushed Sharad Pawar off the podium) I disliked him to the core. He came back again in 2007 and defended the World Champions title, demolishing Sri Lanka in the finals this time. His third consecutive World Cup Title, second as captain, what a feat. I disliked him even more. Then came World Cup 2011, he was still captain but no longer on a pedestal, he was in patchy form and there were calls for his head, I rejoiced. As fate would have it, India met Australia in the quarter-finals, a do-or-die game and he rose up to score a fluent century, 104. India managed to win the match and eventually win the Cup, my dislike deepened.

However, the more my dislike grew, the more I felt another emotion toward Ponting, something like 'grudging admiration'. The sheer power and proficiency of his game forcibly turned me from a grudge-keeper to a grudging admirer. But Ponting is known to have that effect on people. The words obnoxious, stubborn, disagreeable, ruthless are all compliments to the man. But I guess after playing 375 matches and scoring 13,704 runs at average of 42.03 with 30 centuries and 82 half-centuries and after playing in five World Cups, winning three of those back-to-back and two of those as captain, Ponting can afford to be obnoxious, stubborn, disagreeable, ruthless and anything else he wishes to be.

Having watched the press conference video where Mr. Ponting announced his er... let's put it this, his ‘non-expectation to be playing in ODIs anymore’, it is obvious he was anything but announcing his retirement. He may have spoken something along the lines, but his body language spoke a thousand words. He was sullen, abrupt and unhappy; it was almost like an invisible hand was holding an invisible machine gun to his head, forcing him to say the words that drew the curtains over his illustrious 17-year old ODI career. It was clear, he does not want to give up, he will not leave, he is among those who prefer to overstay their visit. Point to be noted, he has NOT announced his retirement as yet, technically he is still available for selection. All he announced was that the selectors have shown him the door and he is just talking to the media to make it clear that he has seen the door, but has no intention of walking through it even though he stands on the threshold. 

In his own words, "It's a little bit hard to come here today and say I'm retiring when I've already been left out of the side, I don't expect to play one-day international cricket for Australia anymore and I'm pretty sure the selectors don't expect to pick me either."
He has said, in so many words, that this is not his decision, but the selectors, and that he has not retired as such, just complied with the selector's wishes.

Even in going out, Punter is obnoxious as ever. A white shirt beneath a black blazer has replaced his Australian Yellows (or Greens) but the attitude has not, will not, ever change. And therein lies the greatness of Ponting. His arrogance is a crown he wears on a high head, he is proud of his stubbornness because that has what has got him his plus 25,000 runs and every possible Trophy there is to be won as captain. Ponting doesn’t ask to be loved, or even liked, he merely demands grudging admiration. And as he attempts to walk in to the sunset, all I can say is, Love to hate you Ricky Ponting!

Sunday, 19 February 2012



What is with cricketers and ridiculously preposterous, laughably outlandish, badly made advertisements? We know cricketers are among the best ambassadors for brands such as health drinks, cars & bikes, shoes, clothes and fitness products because of their athletic background. But over the past one year, I have been noticing cricketers endorsing some of the most asinine products! From fairness cosmetics, to engine oil, to ball-point pens; products which have absolutely no relation with cricket. What is even more hilarious is the kind of adverts, from the cricketers being outsmarted by kids to dancing like maniacs, these ads seem to get from dumb to dumber.

The basic concept of a brand ambassador is a personality that embodies your brand values and whose face you associate with your product in order to maximize sales. But with the mass hysteria and blind fan-following of cricketers, especially in India, their faces are being used to sell even the most random things. We have seen some really heart-breaking TVCs starring cricketers in the past few years, so I decided o list down the best of the worst.
 Following is a list of the Top 5 WORST cricketer advertisements I have seen.

  1. Fair & Lovely – Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma

This takes the cake when it comes to absolutely nonsensical ads. Why would an international cricketer in his right mind say something like ‘par utna hi zaroori hain perform karna jab helmet off ho’; roughly translated ‘it is just as important to perform off the field’ in front of the camera! This ad which released during the World Cup last year prompted many a doubts on Kohli’s orientation and even more jokes on him. (But this writer has solemnly sworn NOT to tease Virat anymore, after his century in the Adelaide Test)
What makes it worse that another Indian youngster has followed Kohli’s footsteps. Fair & Lovely’s has now signed up Rohit Sharma as well. He has even appeared in a face wash commercial along similar lines. Another TVC with Kohli extolling an aspiring cricketer to use Fair & Lovely face wash to perform better on field is now making rounds on air these days.

  1. Pepsi – TM Dilshan

Another World Cup 2011 special. Pepsi has long been associated with cricket and cricketers have starred in Pepsi commercials as far as I can remember. From the Boys in Blue practicing in an African desert and encountering a mountain lion to all of them dancing to the famous ‘Oye bubbly’ jingle. But the 2011 CWC Pepsi campaign titled ‘Change the Game’ was the height. Dhoni learned his trademark helicopter shot from a farmer in Punjab, Sehwag learned the Upar or upper cut from Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor, Harbhajan Singh learned the doosra from a college kid, Malinga learned his toe-crusher Slinga from a traffic policeman, Kevin Pietersen learned the switch-hit from a water-melon vendor. But most epic advet was Dilshan learning his ‘dilscoop’ or pallu scoop from an Indian lady! I can never forget Dilshan’s face as he draped himself in, wait for it, a saree!! A French-bearded-ear-studded international cricketer learning to drape a saree from an Indian lady which will supposedly help him play his cricketing shots better! With the annoying ‘hai hai mera pallu’ jingle playing in the background! I am scarred for life!

  1. Birla Sun Life – Yuvraj Singh

 Before I start, I want to make one thing clear, I love Yuvraj Singh. I have been a huge fan of him ever since his debut in the ICC Knockout Trophy in 2000; and have loved right through the NatWest Trophy 2002, T20 Championship 2007 and World Cup 2011. Not just that, in the name of love, I have tolerated some of his worst ads, from Parachute hair gel to Revital. But what ticked me off was the Birla Sun Life commercial after his illness. ‘Jab tak balla chal raha hain tab tak thaat hain, jab balla ruka toh..’ claims a soaked Yuvi apparently trying to drench his sorrow in the pouring rain. When the whole world is sympathizing with you, making you a symbol of resistance to cancer, you do not act in commercials like this! This is a serious illness, not something that advertisers use to make money out of!  While Yuvstrong still has my full support, this ad has left me with a bad taste.

  1. Zandu balm – Sachin Tendulkar & Virender Sehwag

One of the favorite pass times of Indian cricket fans is to discuss the evils of IPL and how it has degraded domestic cricket, morality, family values et al… but another lesser-talked about evil of IPL is the endorsements. In what other scenario would you have a cricketer like Sachin Tendulkar endorsing a brand like Zandu balm! When the makers of the pain-reliever made famous by Mallaika Arora-Khan’s item number in Dabanng signed up with Mumbai Indians as one of the sponsors, they got an entire team of brand ambassadors. Therefore we saw Sachin Tendulkar along with Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh lighting the torch of the mighty Zandu balm! They later signed up with the Delhi Daredevils and had Virender Sehwag & co do the same. Sigh, the evils of IPL…

  1. Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Wondering why I haven’t mentioned a brand or an ad before our beloved captain’s name? Because Dhoni is associated with so many foolishly ludicrous ads, I couldn’t choose one! In his 6-year long advertising career, Dhoni has endorsed almost every possible absurd product! Here is the list –
                                 i.            Mysore Sandal Soap
                               ii.            Orient PSPO fan
                              iii.            Brylcream
                             iv.            Siyaram
                               v.            Maha choco
                             vi.            Nova Scottia Premium Shirts
                            vii.            Amrapalli
                          viii.            Parle Milk Shakti
                             ix.            Gulf Engine oil
                               x.            Dabur Honey
                             xi.            Cello pens

(Now comes the more conventional)
                            xii.            Pepsi
                          xiii.            Reebok
                          xiv.            Videocon
                           xv.            Big Bazar fashion
                          xvi.            TVS Motors
                        xvii.            Exide
                       xviii.            Reliance
                          xix.            Aircel
                           xx.            Maxx Mobiles
                          xxi.            Boost
                        xxii.            Dainik Bhaskar
                       xxiii.            GE Money
                      xxiv.            Titan Sonata

Now that is what I call an enviable list! Who can forget Dhoni‘s ‘jhatak-matak’ dance with Raina & Kohli in the Pepsi ad where he is outsmarted by a youth after winning the World Cup last year. Or him being outwitted by a kid and a granny in the Milk Shakti ads, or him spelling out ‘air’ as P-S-P-O in the Oreint PSPO ad, or him going and styling everybody’s hair  in Ranchi or the ad where he erects a Raavan effigy on the behest of his wife, or when.. Forget it, I can go on and on and on!
My point is that the Indian captain could safely be crowned ‘The Worst Ad King’

1)      KFC – Muttiah Muralitharan
2)      Matrix sim card – Kolkata Kinghtriders team
3)      Royal Stag – Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh
4)      Mayur Fabrics – Virender Sehwag
5)      Cello pens – Suresh Raina, R.P. Singh