mcgillianaire: (India Flag)
What I wrote on 25 April 2016:

"The Indians are playing a lot of shorter-format matches in the first half of this year, but they've got 14 Tests scheduled from June to December. Kohli is the only player who averages over 50 in ODIs and T20Is. My biggest hope for him is to become the first to average over 50 in all international formats. He currently averages 44 in Tests and if he can keep up this form and translate it into the longer-format, there's a chance of that happening."

After his latest marathon effort at the crease and with a match to spare, the Indian Test captain averages 50.53. In a year where the political and sporting outsider has challenged the orthodoxy, one legend-in-the-making has offered a constant reminder of all that is still well with the established order and the greatest iteration of its greatest sport. Thank you, sir, for the entertainment. Long may it continue!
mcgillianaire: (Sachin Tendulkar)
'Nuff said.
mcgillianaire: (Sachin Tendulkar)
[SOURCE]

The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 on this night in 1935 in Major League Baseball’s first-ever night game, played courtesy of recently installed lights at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

The first-ever night game in professional baseball took place May 2, 1930, when a Des Moines, Iowa, team hosted Wichita for a Western League game. The game drew 12,000 people at a time when Des Moines was averaging just 600 fans per game. Evening games soon became popular in the minors: As minor league ball clubs were routinely folding in the midst of the Great Depression, adaptable owners found the innovation a key to staying in business. The major leagues, though, took five years to catch up to their small-town counterparts.

The first big league night game on this day in 1935 drew 25,000 fans, who stood by as President Roosevelt symbolically switched on the lights from Washington, D.C. To capitalize on their new evening fan base, the Reds played a night game that year against every National League team–eight games in total–and despite their lousy record of 68-85, paid attendance rose 117 percent.

Though baseball owners had a well-deserved reputation for being old-fashioned, most teams soon followed suit, as they knew night games would benefit their bottom line. Teams upgraded their facilities to include lights throughout the 1930s and 40s, and before long, most of the league had night games on the schedule. Wrigley Field, on Chicago’s North Side–the second oldest major league park after Boston’s Fenway–was the last of the parks to begin hosting night games. Wrigley’s tradition of hosting only day games held for 74 seasons until August 8, 1988, when the Cubs hosted the Philadelphia Phillies. That game was rained out in the third inning, so Wrigley’s first night game is officially recorded as a 6-4 win over the New York Mets on August 9, 1988. The Cubs are the only major league team that still plays the majority of their home games during the day.
mcgillianaire: (Sachin Tendulkar)
A chronological list of his scores since the year started.

74   - T20   v West Aus
7    - ListA    "
91   - ODI   v Aus
59   - ODI      "
117  - ODI
106  - ODI
8    - ODI
90*  - T20I
59*  - T20I
50   - T20I
7    - T20I  v Bdesh
49   - T20I  v Pak
56*  - T20I  v SL
41*  - T20I  v Bdesh
23   - T20I  v NZ
55*  - T20I  v Pak
24   - T20I  v Bdesh
82*  - T20I  v Aus
89*  - T20I  v WI
75   - T20   v Hyd
79   - T20   v Del
33   - T20   v Mum
80   - T20   v Pun
100* - T20   v Guj

1454 runs @ 90.88 (24 innings, 8 not outs).

The Indians are playing a lot of shorter-format matches in the first half of this year, but they've got 14 Tests scheduled from June to December. Kohli is the only player who averages over 50 in ODIs and T20Is. My biggest hope for him is to become the first to average over 50 in all international formats. He currently averages 44 in Tests and if he can keep up this form and translate it into the longer-format, there's a chance of that happening. It would also help if he didn't burn himself out by the latter stages of the year, especially now that he's the Test captain as well. In 2014-15, Kohli became the first in history to score three hundreds in his first three innings as captain, all of them away in Australia. Later in the year he led India to its first away series win in four years against Sri Lanka, and then thrashed the Saffers 3-nil at home with only inclement weather preventing a probable whitewash. Kohli clearly models his game on the Ponting school of cricket and one trusts that this aggressive approach is exactly the tonic demanded of India in Tests. I'm also trying not to come across as all fangirly about VK but I can't help it. When Tendulkar retired (who btw turned 43 yesterday) there were a few candidates to usurp his mantle as India's best, but only one has slipped effortlessly into his shoes. To be sure, the boy Kohli has a long way to go before he can truly be compared with his idol, but if this year is anything to go by, the future looks promising. Long may the glut continue!
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)
TEST
26.95 - 1st match innings (HS: 119)
72.16 - 2nd match innings (169)
25.55 - 3rd match innings (96)
60.81 - 4th match innings (141)

ODI
41.23 - 1st match innings (138)
61.22 - 2nd match innings (183)

T20I
35.22 - 1st match innings (90*) [EDIT: After today's 89*, he now averages 40.16 in 1st match innings.]
91.80 - 2nd match innings (82*)

Those are his averages in each innings of a match. The figures in ODIs and T20Is did not surprise me as much as the 2nd and 4th match innings in Tests. And what a contrast with the figures in 1st and 3rd innings - how similar the averages are for those 2 innings. I'm yet to find a batsman who matches this trend across all three formats in 2nd innings (I compared with Root, Williamson, Smith, Amla and De Villiers). After Kohli's match-winning knock against Pakistan earlier in the tournament I wondered if we would see teams winning the toss and choosing to field against India. Then he went one step further against Australia. Does it seem as far-fetched? Kohli has over 900 runs in ODIs and T20Is this calendar year already.

Another stat to savour on: at exactly the same age (27y 147d), one Sachin Tendulkar also had 25 ODI centuries. However he needed 249 matches @ 42. Kohli's done it in 171 @ 51. Considering the Little Master is widely regarded as (one of) the greatest ODI batsmen, Kohli is well on his way to emulating the chap who inspired him. Which explains the rather fitting homage he paid to paaji (big brother) in the match against Pakistan.

Finally, here are the win percentages for the Test-playing nations in all T20Is so far:

62.67 - India
60.00 - South Africa
58.01 - Pakistan
56.02 - Sri Lanka
53.29 - New Zealand
51.82 - England
51.72 - Australia
51.36 - West Indies
33.33 - Bangladesh
24.50 - Zimbabwe

Given that Steve Smith averages 21.55 in T20Is, perhaps it is not all that surprising Australia have been a lot less successful in the shortest format. And perhaps the rankings don't lie either. Kohli and India top their respective categories. For now...
mcgillianaire: (Cricket Stumps)
          Mat   Inns    NO    Runs    HS     Ave    100   50
Tendulkar 114 	184 	19    9470   241*   57.39   33    37
Cook      125 	224 	12    9883   294    46.61   28    46
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
After 29 league games last season, Leicester City had just 19 points and marked nearly four months at the bottom of the Premier League table. If a new season had started immediately after that and included this season's matches, they would have 66 points from 31 matches. To put it in some perspective, this is a list of EPL teams since 1995/96* with the most points after 31 matches. The team in () was the eventual league champion, when different from the leader after 31 matches:

2014/15 - Chelsea            - 73 pts
2013/14 - Chelsea            - 69 pts (Manchester City)
2012/13 - Manchester United  - 77 pts
2011/12 - Manchester United  - 76 pts (Manchester City)
2010/11 - Manchester United  - 66 pts
2009/10 - Manchester United  - 69 pts (Chelsea)
2008/09 - Manchester United  - 71 pts
2007/08 - Manchester United  - 73 pts
2006/07 - Manchester United  - 78 pts
2005/06 - Chelsea            - 78 pts
2004/05 - Chelsea            - 80 pts
2003/04 - Arsenal            - 77 pts
2002/03 - Arsenal            - 66 pts (Manchester United)
2001/02 - Manchester United  - 64 pts (Arsenal)
2000/01 - Manchester United  - 70 pts
1999/00 - Manchester United  - 70 pts
1998/99 - Manchester United  - 64 pts
1997/98 - Arsenal            - 63 pts
1996/97 - Manchester United  - 63 pts
1995/96 - Manchester United**- 64 pts

** Newcastle United also had 64 pts

Addendum

Jan. 14th, 2016 10:15 pm
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
In my excitement to evaluate Leicester City's potential achievement, I forgot to mention a couple other aspects of this season's Premier League that has equally confounded expectations and added to the merriment. The first is the almost mirror-like collapse by defending champions Chelsea and the other is the welcome return of unpredictable results for practically every match, including the ones involving the usual top teams (though perhaps excluding Aston Villa). Long may it continue!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
It's been a wee while since I made an entry about O Joga Bonito, but this season's English Premier League has earned it. I can't remember the last time when we were so far into a season (Gameweek 21 out of 38) and a team like Leicester City were still contending for the title. However unlikely it may still seem, the neutral in me wants them to go all the way. It would certainly surpass any achievement since the Premier League began (1992/93) and possibly eclipse the achievements of both Leeds United in 1991/92 and Aston Villa in 1980/81, because of their existing pedigree in English football. Of course, Blackburn Rovers won the title in 1994/95 under Dalglish, but they also had pedigree and their triumph was aided in no small part by owner Jack Walker's millions - the prescient precursor to the business model's successful replication by Chelsea and then Manchester City. No, we'd have to go back to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest - a fellow Midlands club - in 1977/78 to find the most recent equivalent accomplishment. Back then, The Reds won the league title immediately following promotion from the old Division Two - an extremely rare achievement in itself - and they remain the only club in Europe to have won more European Cups than league titles (2-to-1). I suppose even if The Foxes don't conquer the summit of English football, they'd take a place in the top four and entry into next season's Champions League. Even that would be an outstandingly incredible achievement. Goodness knows how excruciatingly frustrating it's been as a Liverpool fan aiming to achieve just that in the past half a dozen seasons. As another famous Scot might muse: Football, bloody hell!1

1 Bill Shankly quoted in the subject, Sir Alex Ferguson in the entry.
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same"

(Rudyard Kipling's "If")

Every year for two weeks, the British put on the greatest show on earth. I don't care what anybody else says, but there is nothing as good as The Championships at Wimbledon. It's the (only) highlight in the British tennis calendar and the pinnacle of the sport. At once the game's oldest tournament and arguably its most innovative. It aspires a lofty, secluded status. It oozes class, largely upper-middle. And the British are only eager to oblige with a spectacle that smoothly links the stiff upper-lipped past with the dynamic present, leaving you starry-eyed and hungry for more.

Everything about it is different. The name. The colours. The uniforms. The dress codes. The lack of advertisements. The surface. The traditions. Oh yes, the traditions. 1pm starts on show courts, except for the second weekend. No play on the middle Sunday. Strawberries, cream and Pimmsmania. Curtsies, bowed heads, royalty in their box. Inclement weather, early British wild card exits, ball boys and ball girls working like precision pulleys. But in truth it was not ever thus. Indeed the greatest trick the British ever pulled, was convincing the world that tradition could not be manufactured. And I'm not about to reveal our hand either.

That is the beauty of SW19. It transports you away from reality to a land conquered by a select few. The true legends. And this year's edition was no different. From Serena Williams, to Novak Djokovic, Martina Hingis and Leader Paes, this was another vintage crop. It's twenty-four years since my uncle introduced me to the wonder that is grass court tennis and my love for the game has never diminished. I have also never missed a men's singles final since then and although my man fell short again today, it is worth recalling the immortal words penned by Britain's own Kipling. It adorns the doorway onto Centre Court and rings true to the way we should approach life in general. As the sun sets on yet another magical experience, there remains only one thing to say: Game, set and match!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
When Roger Federer stepped onto Centre Court on Tuesday 30 June 2015, it marked his 63rd consecutive Grand Slam singles appearance, a record-breaking streak (for men and women) dating back to the 2000 Australian Open. If it wasn't for his losses as a qualifier in the preceding US and Australian Opens of 1999, he might easily have been playing his 67th consecutive Grand Slam tournament. Trailing him in second-place are Japan's Ai Sugiyama for the women with 62 and South Africa's Wayne Ferreira for the men on 56. Sugiyama and Ferreira never reached a Grand Slam final. In fact of all the players (men and women) who have made at least 45 consecutive appearances, only one other has played in more than two Grand Slam finals: the Swede Stefan Edberg, rather fittingly Federer's present-day coach.

On top of this injury-free consistency, can be added a record 17 Grand Slam titles (for men), a record 26 Grand Slam finals, a record 37 Grand Slam semi-finals and a record 45 Grand Slam quarter-finals. He also became the first man to reign supreme at the top of the rankings for more than 300 weeks, that included a record (for men and women) 237 consecutive weeks between February 2004 and August 2008. Even Novak Djokovic, with 154 weeks and who has dominated the men's game for the past four years, trails Federer by 148 weeks overall as world number one. While Rafael Nadal was number one for 141 weeks.

Supplant onto these: the record 10 consecutive Grand Slam final appearances between 2005 and 2007, followed by the second-best 8 consecutive appearances between 2008 and 2010 (Nadal is third-best with 5 consecutive finals); the 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances (Djokovic is second-best with 14); the 36 consecutive quarter-final appearances (Djokovic again second-best with 25, and counting); the first man to appear at least 5 times in each Grand Slam final (the next best is 3); one of four men in the Open Era to achieve the career Grand Slam (along with Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and Nadal); an Olympic singles silver-medalist and doubles gold-medalist; 86 ATP Tour titles, surpassed only by Jimmy Connors (105) and Ivan Lendl (94); 131 ATP tournament finals (surpased again only by Connors and Lendl); the only man to win at least one ATP Tour title for 15 consecutive years (one ahead of Lendl, two ahead of Connors). And you get the picture.

As if that wasn't enough, he has won the most prize money in the history of the sport (although Djokovic should surpass him soon enough), earned the most through endorsements (which few will ever surpass), is by far the most popular player in the world, is multi-lingual, has a beautiful supportive wife and two(!) sets of twins. All this before turning 34. And yet, when Federer stepped onto court yesterday afternoon to play Britain's Andy Murray for the umpteenth time, he delivered a performance that was at once clinical and majestic. One for the Gods to savour, and the mere mortals amongst us to cherish for all-time. Many others have written more eloquently about the aesthetic pleasure derived from watching the Swiss maestro in action, so let me end simply by saying, we are privileged to be living through a period when two of the greatest players ever to wield a racquet (Federer and Serena Williams) are still willing to put themselves through the grinder, in order to satisfy their own love for the game - and by extension, ours. Long may this continue!
mcgillianaire: (Cricket Stumps)
I've updated my entry from a couple years ago to reflect this week's episode with Freddie Flintoff. As with almost every episode of this awesome programme, it's worth a listen, not least for that gorgeous Lancastrian accent.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
For about the next four weeks, depending on the episode, five excerpts of this fine book read by the author himself, will be available to listen anywhere in the world. Each episode is a delightfully compact fourteen minutes, so there's no excuse to miss out on any of them. Apparently, it was originally broadcast in 2010, repeated in 2011 and again in 2012, but I seemed to have missed them all. I guess it doesn't help that all these broadcasts, including this one, have been on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

I've blogged one of my favourite quotes from the book. I bought it many years ago but unfortunately I never finished it. Then I lent it to an Irish lass who was just getting into the sport and had quite taken to the longer forms of the game. She kept it.
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
...I arrived in London to settle here permanently. The photos below were taken on the night and subsequent morning of that memorable journey. It was my first flight to Blighty in three years - and I only stayed a night on that occasion - so this was actually my first proper visit in nearly four years. I was over the moon, making childhood dreams come true and all that jazz.


With mum at check-in in Muscat (then Seeb) International Airport. Dad had a separate flight that night to attend a conference in Italy. I think my sis was still in India. You can see bits of my Liverpool jersey that I was wearing in honour of the Champions League Final that was taking place as we were flying towards the Continent. The Mighty Reds were taking on The Rossoneri (AC Milan) in Athens. The pilot was kind enough to give us two score updates along the way. Unfortunately, we lost 2-1.

Read more... )
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)
In practice, the Irish president is a ceremonial figurehead, much like our Queen and the Indian president. But because of the notoriety attached to Sinn Fein's candidate, it has garnered far wider media coverage than it deserves. What intrigued me was how the current deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland could stand for the presidency of another sovereign state. The possibility of such an event reinforced the complex legal relationships shared by members of the British Isles.

The relevant starting point for the legal relationship between Ireland (as a whole) and Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) began with the merger of the two Kingdoms in 1801 to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following a fight for independence, the majority of Ireland seceded from the UK and formed the Irish Free State in 1922 (but retained the British monarch as Head of State and remained a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth). Northern Ireland (comprising six of the nine Ulster counties) remained a part of the UK. A new constitution introduced in 1937 declared (Southern) Ireland a sovereign state and in 1949, the Irish Free State proclaimed itself a republic and severed all remaining ties to the British monarchy and the British Commonwealth. And so it has remained till today. In 1973, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community (now known as the European Union) as separate members, while in 2002 the Republic adopted the Euro currency along with eleven other EU member states. Although the UK did not adopt the Euro, it's obvious that theirs is a shared but complicated history.

But unlike the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 which for all intents and purposes, resulted in both sovereign states pursuing agendas virtually independent of the other, the same cannot be said of the Republic and UK. And that's despite the acrimony that existed between the two countries, whether at a governmental level or by the average bald-headed chap on a Clapham omnibus. In fact it is somewhat surprising just how interconnected the two sovereign states are at every level.

In terms of trade, Ireland is the UK's fifth biggest trading partner, receiving around seven percent of British exports, while British trade with Ireland is still greater than its business with the emerging economies of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) combined! British retailers such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer have a high-profile presence in Dublin (probably attracted by the 12.5% corporation tax in the Republic compared to 27% back home) while Ireland is a crucial market for goods produced in Northern Ireland. So much so that some British MPs recently concluded that devolving the setting of corporation tax to the Northern Ireland Executive would help businesses in the region to compete with the Republic.

At a sporting level, one could argue there is an even greater degree of cooperation. In many sports such as hockey, cricket and rugby union, they are organised in an all-island basis, with a single team representing Ireland in international competitions. But in football, there are separate organising bodies and teams representing Northern Ireland and the Republic. And at the Olympics, a person from Northern Ireland can choose to represent either Ireland or Team GB.

But we return to politics and elections. Since 1949, when the Republic was proclaimed and Ireland left the Commonwealth, Irish citizens have retained full voting/candidature rights in the UK at all levels as they could before 1949 as British subjects. This includes general, EU and local elections. Similarly, British citizens have more voting rights in Ireland than other EU and non-EU citizens in that they can vote at Irish general elections but like the others, they cannot vote in presidential elections and referendums. Therefore we now have a situation in which a Northern Irish-born Irish national, MP at Westminster, MLA of the Northern Irish Assembly and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland is standing for the presidency of the Republic. But thanks to the current legal position, British citizens in Northern Ireland will not be allowed to vote in the presidential election unless the Irish constitution was changed, as one Sinn Fein MP (UK) has proposed. Still with me?

In more ways than one, Sinn Fein is the political glue that binds the British Isles together. It is the only political party to still participate in elections at Westminster, within Northern Ireland and in the Republic. Its current leader (Gerry Adams) is a former member of the Northern Irish Assembly and British House of Commons, positions which he resigned from in order to become a member of the Irish parliament earlier this year. And like all former and current Sinn Fein MPs at the British House of Commons, he never took the oath of allegiance/affirmation which meant they could never attend or vote on proceedings in the House. As the political wing of the IRA, it should come as no surprise that there remains to this day a frosty relationship (to say the least) between the British monarchy and Irish republicans. In fact, even when the Queen visited the Republic earlier this year as the first British monarch to do so in a century, Sinn Fein did not take part in any of the main ceremonies. But Martin McGuinness has said he will be prepared to meet all heads of state "without exception", if he is elected President of Ireland. His victory in the forthcoming election would be worth it just for that historic handshake alone.
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
Now that was an incredible programme. I learnt a lot about the early decades of Formula One racing and I never realised how little consideration was given to safety in those days. We've come a long way. A must-see!

(One thing I love about Twitter is doing a real-time search to get a sense of what other people think of a TV programme. With most programmes there are strong opinions either in favour or against it, with at least a handful of critical tweets. But with this documentary I've not found a single critical tweet about the programme itself, merely some dissatisfaction with the title. It really was moving, esp the final scene involving David Purley).
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Today is 07-07-(20)07, whichever part of the world you come from! For Londoners, this date will forever be remembered for the bombings of 2005. 52 people died in those attacks. But today promises to be one of the busiest and happiest days on the British capital's calendar. The 94th Tour de France kicks off later this afternoon in Central London. It's the first time the mother of all professional cycling events comes to the EU's biggest city, and only the 4th time it is visiting the Isles. More than 500,000 visitors are expected to attend the event and there will be 4,500 policemen maintaining the peace. In many cities, this would be the only major event taking place during the course of a single day, but not London. As I type, the London edition of the Live Earth concert is underway at Wembley. Eight other cities around the world are being treated to a day of entertainment to raise awareness for global warming and man-induced climate change. Madonna, Duran Duran, Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Black Eyed Peas, Foo Fighers, Justin Timberlake, Keane, James Blunt, the Beastie Boys and Snow Patrol are some of the prominent acts taking centre-stage here in London. How often does one get a chance to see all these awesome artists get together on the same stage and at the same event? Multiply that by 8 and you've got the most awesome display of musical entertainment ever witnessed in the history of humankind. And all for a good cause. Not bad humanity, not bad. (Side note: Only 60,000 fans will be be to watch the Live Earth concert in person)

But before we get carried away )
mcgillianaire: (Curry Dialysis)
It struck me just now that the Montreal Canadiens are ice hockey's equivalent to Liverpool FC in the English Premier League. The most successful team in their respective leagues but serious underachievers in recent years, or just downright crap.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
You know it's been a long time since Britain produced a tennis star of reasonable quality when the Beeb glorifies the performance of a Scot. To be fair, Andrew Murray got into the Thailand Open thanks to a wild card (Henman pulled out) and must've played extremely well to reach the final of a tournament featuring Roger Federer. It still remains to be seen whether Murray is just another Jeremy Bates (remember him?) or an actual Fred Perry.

Gotta give it to the Beeb though for unearthing this golden nugget:

"Despite the loss, Murray will now be ranked inside the world's top 70. At the same age, Federer reached number 64."

Meanwhile, Federer wins his 24th straight final and is well on course to crush Thomas Muster's record of consective victories. What a player. If only he was born a few years earlier. Imagine a rivalry between him and Sampras...

I am curious though, what are your thoughts on who would've been better had they played together longer? Or who is better.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
"The rivalry in international cricket that counts at present is the one between Australia and India. If this were geopolitics, then Australia would be the United States, the one unquestioned superpower for over a decade, used to getting their own way ever since they saw off their rival superpower, the West Indies, in the early 1990s (the West Indian cricket team, like the Russian state, now seems to be in a condition of permanent and rather squalid decline).

India, meanwhile, would be China, the superpower of the future, with all the resources needed to beat the Australians at their own game – the manpower, the talent, the raw nationalist passion – so long as a way can be found by their often corrupt and incompetent administrators of harnessing these obvious advantages. And England? England would be the EU: once the centre of the world, but currently engaged in an urgent and not always pretty attempt to modernise in order not to get left behind."


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