What the hell was Vettori thinking?

I’m writing this post in anger. In disgust. At the sheer lack of strategic vision shown by Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Daniel Vettori. What the hell was he thinking when he threw the ball to Virat Kohli for the 19th over, with 43 required off two overs? Yes, there had been a miscalculation earlier which meant that one of the last five overs had to be bowled either by part-timer Kohli, or by Raju Bhatkal who had been torn apart in his earlier two overs. While it is hard to pardon miscalculation in a twenty over game, it is nothing compared to the strategic error of the 19th over.

When overs sixteen to eighteen were bowled by Zaheer, Vinay and Zaheer respectively, I thought it was a tactical masterstroke by Vettori to keep the one extra over to the end. Given the skyrocketing required run rate, I thought it was a great idea that he was trying to put the match beyond Chennai Super Kings by the 19th over itself. And it worked well. From 75 needed off 5 overs, the equation was brought down to 43 off the last two overs (now, it is reasonable to expect Zaheer and Vinay to go at around 10 an over in the slog overs). And then what happened?

You have two overs left, 43 runs to win. You have a reasonably experienced medium pacer who is generally good at bowling at death, but is also prone to buckling under pressure. And you know you can’t trust whoever the other bowler is going to be. What you want is to have your good bowler bowl without any pressure on him. Without any pressure, you can expect him to go for about 10-15 in the 19th, leaving the batsmen to score nearly 30 off the last over – which would tilt the odds significantly in favour of the part timer who would bowl that over, since the pressure would be on the batsmen.

Instead, what do you do? Give the part timer the 19th over. He has no answers for Morkel’s slogging and edging, and goes for 28, leaving Vinay to defend 15. Now, it is Vinay (who is vulnerable under pressure) who has to bowl under pressure, and the batsmen know that. It is a miracle that the match went down to the last ball.

Of course you might say that I wouldn’t have reacted so angrily had either RCB won or Kohli had gone for less in his over. That’s not true. The match was in RCB’s pocket, to be won. The probability of victory reduced significantly the moment the ball was thrown to Kohli (for the 19th over). The ultimate result doesn’t matter. I would have blasted Vettori even if we had won.

Now, there is another uncharitable explanation that comes to mind, and I’m not very proud that this comes to mind. Was it mere incompetence or some sense of malice on the part of Vettori to give the 19th over to Kohli? I’m not talking about bookmakers here, I respect him too much for that. But think about it. Just yesterday, both Mint and Cricinfo ran articles talking about IPL 5’s poor TV ratings so far. The BCCI Chairman N Srinivasan (who not so coincidentally owns CSK) said that the answer to increasing TRPs was to play on batting-friendly high-scoring pitches, and to have close games.

The first wish was answered, when RCB set a target of 206. I wonder if there were some kind of instructions from “big brother” instructing that the game go into the last over, as a means to increase flagging TRPs. If Vinay had bowled the 19th and gone for 10 (say), that would have left a near-impossible 33 off Kohli/Bhatkal’s over. Match over by over 19. One more match that is not “close”, which will do nothing to boost TRPs. But keep the contest alive till the last over, TRPs would be boosted?

As an RCB fan, I hereby call for the immediate sacking of Daniel Vettori as captain and his replacement at the helm by one of Kohli or AB De Villiers  (maybe even Vinay Kumar or Zaheer Khan). Maybe I should create an online signature campaign for this purpose, and use my contacts to get the results through to Anil Kumble and other powers-that-are at RCB.

 

Loos in India

Ok so this took a real long time coming. It might have been up to five years since I first thought of this post, but so far have never gotten down to writing it. The normal disgust warnings apply. So if you are either eating or have just eaten or feel remotely like throwing up, I request you to read no further. In this post, I want to talk about the culture of shitting (yeah I’ll use the shit word. Direct and disgusting it is) in India and effects of that on current culture and morality.

Before you read further, I would urge you to read about the Aryan Code of Toilets (1500 BC). Thanks to Amit Varma for the pointer. Quoting:

  • Before going for defecation it was prescribed that the sacred thread should be rolled to a smaller size and be put on the right ear.
  • The head was to be covered with a cloth. In the absence of cloth, the sacred thread was to be brought over the head and was to be hung on the left ear.
  • Then while observing silence and facing north in the day and south in the night one could defecate.
  • So one of my questions is now answered of course. I hope you read the article, it explains a lot more. So from this article it is clear that according to the great Indian tradition, shitting is a ritual no less. And though this document doesn’t mention it, it is generally understood that you shit once, early in the morning after you wake up. Shitting more often or at irregular times is a sign of illness or indiscipline.

    My hypothesis is that it is because of this “custom” or “cultural aspect” that we don’t have good public loos in India. Since shitting at irregular times is looked down upon, it wasn’t considered a good idea to encourage this “indisciplined” practice by providing good public loos. Ok it may not have been on purpose but since shitting at non-regular times (not early in the morning) wasn’t a done thing no one really talked about it and the results (abysmal public toilet infrastructure) are here to stay. It is only in modern offices where indisciplined foreignerrs visit regularly that you have good public loos!

    Then, in India, there was a major lag between urbanization and development of public sewerage system because of which loos had to be placed away from the rest of the house. Soon¬† this became a practice, and this further discouraged people from “going” at irregular times. And the delay in arrival of water closets and public sewerage kept the class of people called “night soil collectors” in business much longer than it needed to and this prolonged the incidence of untouchability (this is supposed to have been beautifully captured in Mulk Raj Anand’s The Untouchable).

    The other impact of shitting being a ritual is that it is not a done thing to go to the loo in other people’s houses. Some people plain get offended if you ask them if you can use their loo, and consequently it is a bit embarrassing for guests here to enquire if they can use the loo. Thankfully there have been no Tycho Brahes in India (wasn’t he the guy that died of a bladder burst because he thought it would be impolite to the queen if he excused himself? ), or if there have been they haven’t been reported thus!

    An unrelated (to the rest of the post) thought – steel and quality cement and elevators are all fine, but don’t you think one of the most important pre-requisites for the building of skyscrapers was the water closet? Just think about it.

  • Before going for defecation it was prescribed that the sacred thread should be rolled to a smaller size and be put on the right ear.
  • The head was to be covered with a cloth. In the absence of cloth, the sacred thread was to be brought over the head and was to be hung on the left ear.
  • Then while observing silence and facing north in the day and south in the night one could defecate.