Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Flirting with greatness

Here I am.. After a one year hiatus almost.. Lots of singing blogs later, with my other true love.. :-)

Ironic it is, that my last cricket blog was on Sourav "Dada" Ganguly..And this one is on his "best buddy" Andrew 'Freddie" Flintoff...

Cut to the summer of 1998.. As a guy just into my teens, I was so-to-say waiting for a hero in Cricket.. To follow, to respect, to idolize....Against SouthAfrica at Nottingham, a 16 stone monster made his debut, with a tremendous reputation.. You are cursed if, you are touted as the next Ian Botham even before you wear your whites.. Flintoff surely was...

My first impression was that the "English tabloids are back to work"... Ruining a career, very much in its infancy.. It was an impression proved right.. Freddie showed flashes of brilliance, but was never consistent and was in-and-out of the side..

He played one scintillating knock against Pakistan at Karachi under lights, chasing 300 odd (with a ball as wet as soap, it must be said!), but then again it was more of an aberration than a regular phenomenon.

Freddie, really was born on the tour of India in late 2001.. Post 2001 attacks in New York City, Caddick, Gough and Croft declined to tour India. The skipper (one of my other heroes) Nasser Hussain, was left with a trundling attack with Hoggard at the helm... Hussain woke up Freddie from his slumber. He set 8-1 fields to the maestro, frustrated him... Giles surely was crucial, but it was Fred toiling away at the other end..Miserly, fearsome, awe inspiring... He really gained the respect of Indian batsmen on that tour and along with that mine too..

2002-2005 was more about the under-achiever Flintoff.. again with flashes of occasional genius...A genius that was eccentric, with an almost rebellious streak... He won games for England, but there were many days when he was oh-so-ordinary.. His bowling though had now taken shape and he was truly world class with the ball, almost becoming a bowling allrounder.. The fact that he had bucket hands in the slip cordon did not do him any harm...

The Ashes 2005 will be a part of folklore... It was Freddie Flintoff's Ashes.. He made runs, he took catches, he took wickets, he shook hands and comforted Lee at Edgbaston in an oh-so-touching moment...It really was stuff of dreams... The major plus during this time, was the advent of another rebel.. Almost like Freddie.. the gum chewing, chest thumping, hair coloring KP.. These two impact players really decided the Ashes, which England won despite 40 Shane Warne wickets and of course with help from that swollen leg of Glenn Mcgrath...

2006 was a big year for Freddie.. He inspired England to a come from behind win in Mumbai, levelling the series at the Wankhede, in the same match in which SRT was booed.. The sight of seeing Shaun Udal running amok, gives one a sick feeling in the stomach even till date.. But Freddie was brilliant as the outspoken captain.. He wasn't silent... He believed that deeds are what you do on the field, not dressing room talk...

2006, the Ashes..His best mate Steve Harmison started by delivering the first ball to him at first slip.. The Ashes were gone.. It was a humiliation.. Freddie looked disinterested in the middle of the campaign..He looked flat, uninspiring with"when-can-I-return-to-Lancashire" written all over him.. It was forgettable really... He bounced back to win the CB Series, but that wasn't any consolation..

2007, the World Cup.. again..England failed and Freddie faltered.. The Fredalo incident was a blot on his career... He turned up drunk, fell off a Pedalo and faced the wrath of the tabloids, rightly so.. He was apologetic about it though and determined to make amends...

2008, at home v SouthAfrica.. The moment that still gives me goosebumps.. Edgbaston it was.. Freddie Flintoff bowling to Jacques Kallis.. Talisman to talisman.... no one was giving an inch... Freddie being very tall, was coming from up above the sight screen..Kallis complained to umpire Aleem Dar, but was told the "its the same for both sides" crap... Flintoff got Kallis out twice really.. both times LBW... one of them was plumb.. Kallis of course dint see either, neither am sure did Aleem Dar... Freddie was pissed.. He then decided to eliminate the umpire altogether.. He got Kallis bowled with an absolute peach.. again one that JK dint see, but we the crowd did...
The roar, after that dismissal, makes me stand up and take notice even today.. It was theatrical, yes, but it was much needed to bring the dying test cricket to life..

Injuries plagued him since and he was on and off in English whites...But, ending as an Ashes winning member in Test cricket was something Fred deserved totally.. The run out of Punter on day 4 was ample proof of "Cometh the hour, cometh the champion"..

Yes, Freddie was theatrical, inconsistent and also a bad boy.. But that doesn't disturb what he achieved.. The unbridled joy he gave us over the past 10 years will remain a lasting memory...

Freddie. post retirement said "I am not a great".. He was a bit of a sledger on the field, but mostly humble off it...Apart from the modesty, there is some merit in his statement for sure.. He underachieved...that fact cannot be hidden..

But is being a great, only taking 5 wickets and making a 100? Freddie was an impact player, a game breaker... He brought people in to the ground, he made cricket a better place.. And he performed exceptionally on the cricket field...How many cricketers can bat at no 6, bowl at 90 miles an hour and take slip catches like plucking mangoes from a tree?

In my book, Freddie Flintoff flirted with greatness..Never fullyachieving/sustaining it.. But I will grant him greatness.. It may be open to debate, but I don't think we will grudge him greatness.

The next time I see an England team on the park, I will still look for that daunting, intimidating figure..We will all miss you Freddie.. Thank you for the memories....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Me singing Roobaroo

I absolutely love this song.. It has a v v special place in my heart.. So I wanted to be extra careful and get this rendition right.. :-)

This is the song that defines my generation.. That in-your-face thing..."We are here, we will conquer" attitude that most of us have... Confidence without treading into the pompous region..

First time I heard this song in 2005, I dint know what was happening...But its one of the few Rahman songs that I liked from say, the 3rd hearing, where as most of them take 7-8 serious hearings to get into your system (never to get out again!) ..

Challenges: Singing Naresh Iyer's part, then switching to the genius' part and then coming back to Iyer's "Dhuaan Chata khula gagan mera"... Wasn't easy at all...
video
When I started, I wanted this to be one of my best renditions.. Lets see if that is right.. :)

And finally, its my absolute dream that I should hear Rahman singing "Roobaroo" in a live concert... God willing, it will happen...Amen!

PS: This is my all time favorite cell phone ringtone as well ;)