Monthly Archives: October 2012

Angelo Mathews Sri Lanka’s Only Choice

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Angelo Mathews Sri Lanka’s Only Choice

Sri Lanka’s appointment of Angelo Mathews as their new T20 captain has confirmed that the time for the changing of the guard is upon us. A new generation of Sri Lankan cricketers has emerged and they will slowly take the reins in all formats of the game starting with the T20. The question is can this new generation of cricketers hope to match the quality of their predecessors? Well no matter what the pundits say or whatever anyones predictions are, the truth is only time will tell. Angelo Mathews has become the poster boy for this new generation and in him we see both the strengths and weaknesses of this new team.

Angelo Mathews has undeniable talent

The honest truth is Mathews was the only choice for captaincy given the resources the team have at their disposal, yet it might have very well been the case that in a stronger Sri Lankan team such as the 2007 one, he might not have even made the team sheet. This is not because of the lack of his talent, there is no doubting his first class record or his technique, what is in doubt is his consistency. He really could be the best player in the world as evidenced by his immense temperament and superhuman will to win when he rescued Sri Lanka from an impossible situation versus Australia in Melbourne back in 2010. However, at the same time when called upon to give even a modest showing to win the T20 World Cup versus the West Indies he faltered in a far less than superhuman manner. In these two performances we see the two sides of this immensely talented but highly fragile player.

Angelo Mathews is a new breed of Sri Lankan cricketer, one who did not grow up ever thinking that his side were minnows. In fact he would only have been nine years old when Sri Lanka won the 1996 World Cup and began their ascent to being one of the best teams in the game. It is this fact more than any other that both strengthens and weakens Mathews cricketing pedigree. Having grown up with a highly regarded team of world beaters as his idols he probably feels no inferiority complex when playing the game against the other big guns. This is shown by his extensive range of flamboyant shots and his willingness to take on bowlers with towering reputations. Much like Jayawardene and Sangakkara, he plays with a little bit of a swagger and a great deal of self-confidence.

However, he wasn’t there for, and did not play with any of Sri Lanka’s pioneers of the game. The 1996 team might not have had the supreme talents or flamboyance of the current team, but they did have a great deal more mental strength. Players like De Silva and Ranatunga had long been treated as inferiors by the rest of the cricketing world and so it took a lot from them to finally break this way of thinking and make Sri Lanka into a team of world beaters. The immediate beneficiaries of this were the next generation, players like Jayawardene learned his trade in a team filled with these personalities making him an all round cricketer one with both immense talent but a great deal of mental strength. Yet, the current crop, including Mathews did not have this opportunity and in some cases have been found wanting when the going has gotten tough. Sri Lankan culture makes it difficult to promote this steel needed to win the important games. Unlike Australia and South Africa who put their youth through a Spartan method of playing sports,  Sri Lankans are a far more gentle people.

Mathews will have the safety net of the big three to fall back on for the next two years at least but he has to start planning for a team without them. So the time for turning his talent into application has arrived, the idea that he is a still in development and is too young for this kind of pressure can no longer be used. He has had three years at the highest level of the game and is now a recognised member of the squad.

He will not be solely responsible for the teams fortunes on the field because no matter how important the captain is, cricket is a team game. The team he inherits is full of holes, winning a test match may be very unlikely because he doesn’t posses the bowlers to bowl a team out twice and his younger batsman have still to prove themselves in the longer format of the game, Mathews himself only has one century from forty-one test innings. In the shorter formats of the game he has a little to smile about in the undeniable talents of Thisara Perera and Dinesh Chandimal and he would hope that the eventual retirement of the big three would give them the opportunity to shine.

The Changing of the Guard

The Sri Lankan team is now in a stage of change and rebuilding. As a new team and leader start to walk in the shoes of their illustrious predecessors it will take them some time to get the balance right. In this time it won’t be unusual for them to lose some games and maybe have a slight to moderate bad patch. What matters is how they come up from that, whether they fix their problems in a way that leads to a long-term period of success or if they plaster over them hoping for short-term fixes while sacrificing their long-term ambitions. One thing is for sure, whether we like it or not Mathews is our only choice in getting the team to where we want it to be.

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My Favourite Bizzare Cricket Moments

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My Favourite Bizzare Cricket Moments

I don’t think too many people will argue with me when I say cricket is a complicated game. Cricket’s rules are ancient and unyielding just like the law in the real world and at time’s you find that things get really complicated out there on the field. Some of the things I’m going to discuss with you are part of cricket folk-lore and will probably never be seen on the field of cricket ever again. Thanks to YouTube we can all witness these moments again and again and so I’ve attached videos for your viewing pleasure as well.

1) The new super bat!

Dennis Lillee will always be remembered as one of the world’s most feared fast bowlers, so it is surprising that he was the one who decided to try to reinvent the age-old wooden bat. His new super bat of the future which he claimed would hit the ball further was made of aluminum. The only problem with his idea was that he didn’t invent a new ball, because the aluminum bat served to damage the traditional leather ball thus making the game unplayable.

2) But my arm’s straight ump!

A basic rule of cricket is that a bowler deliver the ball with a straight-arm action, otherwise we might as well be playing base-ball. Now, Lasith Malinga put a new twist on this by keeping his arm straight but horizontal, you might think he’s amazing for doing this but here’s someone who is more amazing, Trevor Chappell. Trevor you could say was the victim of peer pressure when he was asked by his two older brothers Ian and Greig to bowl an underarm delivery so New Zealand couldn’t score the six they needed of the last ball and win the game. Now, the odds of a New Zealander hitting a six in regular conditions is bad enough so in my opinion the New Zealand team should take it as a compliment that the Australians would stoop so low.

Although this incident was disgraceful it’s always good to see how this stuff is actually remembered after a great deal of time has past. More recently, Glenn McGrath thought it would be funny to do it again and Billy Bowden thought being a ballerina for a day would be his ticket out of the umpiring business.

3) Wait Sri Lankan’s can’t fly!

Whether Angelo Mathew’s ends his career as the greatest cricketer ever or as a guy who flopped worse than Courtney Walsh’s batting record at least he will always have his moment in the spotlight. I don’t know how many status updates Facebook had when he decided to do this but I remembered mine went something like, “is it a bird, is it a plane, No it’s Angey.” The way I see it he’s not just acrobatic in the way he pulls this off, but he’s intelligent too, because he probably only had a split second to come up with this plan as the ball was hurtling towards him. Then again he also has to be comfortable enough with looking like a fool in case he messes up!

4) Who’s out anyway?

The third umpire has a tough job, he has the ultimate ruling over whether a batsemen is out in the event that the naked eye fails to produce a decision. In this scenario you would think he had it relatively easy since it’s obvious that the guy is out because both batsmen are at one end, but who is the guy?

5) Let’s call in the lawyers!

Cricket needs its own lawyers, this incident with Mark Waugh proves it. It would probably go to far to ask them to stop the game and start a court case to see if Waugh is guilty but it shows that intentions and premeditation does matter in cricket. In this video Mark knocks of the bails of his wickets while facing pollock, out right! Don’t be so sure?

6) Match cancelled due to bees!

Speaks for itself….

Only in Sri Lanka….

Let’s Talk Cocktails

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Let’s Talk Cocktails

I love cocktails, I think they’re so enjoyable on so many levels. They’re creative and anyone can invent their own perfectly original cocktail, they’re pleasing on the eye and can be colourful and have many different kinds of garnishes. No matter what kind of mood you’re in or what the occasion or company you find yourself in, there is a cocktail with your name on it.

In this post I would like to teach you the basic science behind making a great cocktail and introduce you to a few of my favourite go to cocktails. Firstly let’s talk about what characteristics a basic cocktail should have:

– It should be made from good-quality, high-proof liquors.

– It should whet rather than dull the appetite. Thus, it should never be sweet or syrupy, or contain too much fruit juice, egg or cream.

– It should be dry, with sufficient alcoholic flavor, yet smooth and pleasing to the palate.

– It should be pleasing to the eye.

– It should be well-iced.

Probably the most important point is the first one, remember that a cocktail is only as good as the quality of its worst ingredient. Moving on, there are three basic components of a cocktail, and they are the base, the modifying agent and any special flavouring and colouring agents.

The base is the principal ingredient of the cocktail. It is typically a single spirituous liquor, such as rum, gin or whiskey, and typically makes up 75 percent or more of the total volume of the cocktail before icing.

The modifying agent is the ingredient that gives the cocktail its character. Its function is to soften the raw alcohol taste of the base, while at the same time to enhance its natural flavor. Typical modifying agents are aromatic wines (such as vermouth) and spirits (such as Fernet Branca or Amer Picon), bitters, fruit juices and “smoothing agents” such as sugar, eggs, and cream.

Special flavoring and colouring agents include liqueurs (such as Grand Marnier or Chartreuse), Cordials, and non-alcoholic flavored syrups (such as Grenadine or Orgeat syrup). These are typically used in place of simple syrup, and are to be used sparingly.

Any cocktail is made in a manner that uses these three components. The final two aspects of a good cocktail which I will touch on briefly are the garnish and the glassware. They are both very subjective and are more to suit the mood of the cocktail, tropical drinks such as the Pina Colada invariably are garnished with a umbrella and served in a tall glass. Most man drinks are served in short glasses and sparingly garnished with a lime wedge or a cherry such as in the case of an Old Fashioned.

The following are five of my favourite go to cocktails (click on their names for mixing instructions):

#1 Martini

This is the classic that epitomizes the standard for a good cocktail. It’s perfect for any time of the day and any occasion and if you like olives then you’re in for double the fun. I drink it all the time.

#2 Old Fashioned

They call it this probably because people have been drinking its main ingrediant whiskey for a long, long time. The cherry in it makes it more of an evening drink and one I usually order when surrounded by friends. It’s very smooth and the cherry at the end provides for a sweet finish.

#3 French 75

A champagne cocktail at long last. This is a perfect drink for when you’re on a date with that special someone. It’s very luxurious and the cherry in the glass makes sure your date knows where you hope the night will lead.

#4 Mojito

A very green cocktail which always makes me think I’m in Cuba because it was my Cuban spanish teacher who introduced it to me. It’s a great party drink and good for lounging on a hot day by the beach.

#5 Screwdriver

A citrus blast. A perfect wake up in the morning cocktail for all us alcoholics. No matter what people say, I’m not an alcoholic but I guess denial is the first symptom.

A final piece of wisdom before I end this post. REAL MEN DON’T DRINK PINK DRINKS!

Me & Bollywood (A story of 2nd Chances)

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Me & Bollywood (A story of 2nd Chances)

Growing up I can’t remember exactly when I first heard the term “Bollywood”, all I know is that I found it funny because it seemed to sound like a cheap rip off of Hollywood. So in my mind it was natural to assume their movies were similarly sub-par, after all how could a developing country with its lack of cinematic history compete against the mature American film industry. I considered this assumption justified when I watched my first few Bollywood films, they were so bad that I can’t even bother to remember their names. The stories were always invariably tragic, the plot straight as an arrow with few twists if any, the director must have been a monkey because all he ever did was use a sudden burst of background thunder before zooming in on an actor’s face and finally they all seemed to be musicals. Now, I have nothing against musicals some of my favourite films are musicals such as “The Sound of Music” or “My Fair Lady” but for every film produced to be a musical, that’s just boring, sometimes you need a good action film or psychological thriller like”Charade”. So needless to say I decided never to watch a Bollywood film again.

Some years went by and I was fortunate enough to stumble onto an interview on CNN with an Indian actress, Preity Zinta. I had no idea who she was but just as I was about to change the channel the interviewer asked a question that I found myself very interested in, “So what’s with all the Musicals in Bollywood?” I decided to let her reply before changing the channel, and what she said made me give Bollywood a second chance. She spoke about how many indians actually live a hard life, filled with poverty and disillusionment and that’s why Indian films are filled with so much song, dance and colour, to provide them with a momentary escape from their tough existence.

Preity Zinta claims the colour, song and dance is meant to provide a momentary relief from a tough existence

This took me completely by surprise because I found myself having committed a great mistake when watching those indian films many years a ago. I had tried to evaluate them from a western standpoint, when in fact these films were not meant to be evaluated in such a fashion. The issues they centred upon which I found mundane and overused were actually things that they in india were grappling with but the western world had moved on from. Issues like arranged marriages, poverty and patriotism. So I decided to give Bollywood one last try.

I scurried to my local video store and began to browse the Bollywood section. I knew that this might well be my last chance to try and appreciate Indian film so it was important that I picked a good movie, because if I didn’t then all was lost. As I spent several minutes looking through the videos one suddenly caught my eye. It was titled,”LAGAAN” and though I had little idea what that meant by reading the back of the case I discovered it centred around a game of cricket. I reasoned that since I loved cricket this would probably be my best bet and so scampered home to watch it. (See Trailer Below)

In a nutshell, I loved it. The story was wonderful and epitomized India’s desire to be seen as equals with its colonial master. The use of cricket which has come to illustrate India’s global emergence really tied into the story, in fact I could hear in the background of the movie one of the British officers saying, “this country has a great future in this game.” The director’s use of camera angles and choice of shots were more than a match for his Hollywood counterparts. I was also largely pleased with the use of musical numbers. They were used to highlight key moments in the film and they added to the films charm and made the audience feel part of the adventure and did not take away from the plot at all. The actors were also very good, the lead, Aamir Khan reminded me a little of Leonardo Di Caprio. In hindsight now, having watched some of his other works, “Three Idiots”and “Fanaa” for instance, I would say he definitely has the versatility and energy that Di Caprio has.

After my experience with “Lagaan” I have since watched a few other Bollywood films, some good, some bad and some ugly but I have come to the opinion that poor films regularly occur in Hollywood as well so I’m not holding it against them. It goes without saying that the future of Indian cinema is very bright, they not only have a strong home audience which is blessed with a rising standard of living but the export of Indian culture through global migration has made Indian films more appealing to western movie goers. This has even led to hybrid East/West films such as “Bend it Like Beckham”, “On the other end of the line” and “Bride and Prejudice” becoming increasingly popular.

Indian film has grown up very quickly and their directors are fast learners, they don’t have the long history that Hollywood has as a result of great directors like Sir David Lean or Alfred Hitchcock which means they are still building their legacy and what it means to produce a truly Indian film. The old Bollywood films that I first watched and despised are from a bygone era and boy am I glad they are.