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Finally made my second visit ever to the beautiful island nation of Barbados in April.

The eastern-most of the Caribbean islands – and one of the few coral islands in this archipelago of primarily volcanic islands – Barbados combines sophistication and commercialization with pristine beauty. A group of us went down there and the highlight was the companionship of 4 families that have come to know one another very very well over the past decade. The island itself provided the perfect backdrop for this reunion, with planned outings for a game of cricket – the Cricket World Cup 2007 was on then – and around the island.

Very few sports stadia around the world capture the history of the sport as well as the Kensington Oval in Barbados – from thoughtfully named stands (after legendary Barbadian cricketers of yore – Greenidge, Haynes, Worrell, Weekes, Wolcott, Sobers, Hall, Griffith,…) and actually naming the two bowling ends after Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner, an intimate setting for the game that has been retained even as the stadium was totally rebuilt for the World Cup, excellent concession stands and the live Bajan crowd made for a gripping experience.

The highlight for my two little girls was going out turtle feeding in the Caribbean Sea – I guess the turtles have been practically domesticated but still the experience of snorkeling amongst a large group of sea turtles is something quite unique.

Amongst the spots on the island, one that every visitor should take in is the Nicholas Abbey.  A restored sugar plantation, it is a great experience for kids and adults.  Another is the Flower Forest, with its spectacular vistas over the Scotland District of Barbados.  The Wild Animal Reserve is slightly overrated, but the sea at Bathsheba is not.

Great views, friendly people, varied experiences – Barbados is one memorable experience!


…this has been the story of my life…

I am not sure why, but especially on matters sporting, i have always been a die-hard fan of the second best (or second most visible…)

When the second-best one, through dint of hard work ends up becoming numero uno as well, as Rahul Dravid has done now and Stefan Edberg has done in the past, my cup runneth over…

Otherwise, even when I have been an aficionado of the undisputed numero uno (eg Michael Jordan) my loyalty has always been with the second gun (Scottie Pippen with the Bulls, VVS Laxman throughout his illustrious career that has delivered but only 10 splendid centuries, Leander Paes,…)

The sole exception I can think of is Steffi Graf…she came out of the gates strong, something about her hard-working no-nonsense clean and crew-cut style appealed to me and she remained a favorite till she called it a day several years later…for once, Gabriela Sabatini and Monica Seles never supplanted her in my eyes….

…perhaps this is the reason why I am rooting for the Portuguese soccer (or should we say real football?) team, Michael Schumacher, Vijay Singh and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (over his more heralded fellow-south-paw skipper)…


Jaunty Quicksand said…
Except for Laxman and Edberg, the common trait with all your favourites is that they lacked the talent the alpha-dogs of their sport did, but that did not deter them from carving a niche for themselves. If Laxman had been treated better by the selectors and management, he would have more than his 10 centuries. Though to be fair, many of his splendid innings have been 50’s, proving to be the difference between victory and defeat, like Dravid’s twins in the Kingston Test.

2:40 PM


Kaiser said…
why was Schumacher pushed to an underdog Status ? He never was and will never be so

2:04 AM


I read a great statistic today – that in the 9 test matches that VVS Laxman has played since Greg Chappell became the coach of the Indian side, he batted in 9 innings and has 2 centuries, 2 50s, a solitary duck of a suspect lbw decision in Pakistan, and is still not considered worthy of a place in the side. That Laxman in this timespan has the second highest average in the team (only after the resplendent Dravid) only adds to the intrigue. And the average is not a doddering number either but a splendid 65 or thereabouts!

Yuvraj Singh does command a place – because he alone scored runs in Karachi, and then had a wonderful ODI series in Pakistan. Also is supposedly a better fielder – but at cover point, not in the slips where dolly after dolly of a catch was dropped while India’s best slip fielder sat out the game. In the same way as we are picking horses for courses, should we not be picking fieldsmen by position in the field. So if we are picking a 1-day team, absolutely pick Yuvraj – but then performance in the one-dayers should not be used as a predictor of performances in the longer form.

Laxman should be the 2nd slip by default in the test team.

The irony is this. I think that when Laxman is sure of a place in the side, he bats better. And when he bats well, of course his position is not challenged. When India goes overseas, nobody questions the value of the second-best “wall” in the side, thus he is assured of a spot and seemingly does so much better than in home series on the dead wickets of the subcontinent.

I know he will be a fixture on the tour to South Africa – and will come back with at least one more century and one 50 if not more in the tests there.

and the very very interesting discussion that followed thereafter:

Jaunty Quicksand said…
Can you link to that article that talks about Laxman? The writer is doing VVS a disservice by glossing over the numbers, trying to make his look better than they are, opening himself to ridicule. In comparison to the others VVS is still quite favourable and your reasoning is quite good about the validity of his place in the side, ironically for his superior slip fielding.From CricInfo, I got the following batting stats since Chappell became the coach:
140 1st Test v Zim at Bulawayo
8 2nd Test v Zim at Harare
5-DNB 1st Test v SL at Chennai
69-11 2nd Test v SL at Delhi
104-5 3rd Test v SL at Ahmedabad
0* 1st Test v Pak at Lahore
90-8* 2nd Test v Pak at Faisalabad
19-21 3rd Test v Pak at Karachi 0-0* 1st Test v Eng at Nagpur

The writer used stats to suit his story. I am not sure where he got his numbers. Laxman has scored 480 runs @ 43.63, with 2 centuries, and 2 fifties in 11 completed innings. And, yes, he is tied with Dravid in the 100+ scores for the period. (In 50+ scores he loses second place to someone you would not guess immediately).

For comparison:
Yuvraj has scored 375 runs @ 41.66 with 1 century and 2 fifties in 9 completed innings.
Tendulkar 431 runs @43.1 with 1 century in 10 completed innings (he missed the Zimbabwe tour).
Sehwag has scored 541 @45.08 with 1 century (a statistic-skewing 254) and 2 fifties in 12 completed innings.
Dravid has scored 1003 runs @ 77.15 in 13 completed innings with 5 fifties and 2 centuries (2 90+ scores in there!)
Pathan has scored 509 runs(!!) @ 39.15 in 13 completed innings with 5 fifties!

BUT statistically the second best batsman has been one with 698 runs @69.8 in 10 completed innings with 1 century and 1 fifty!! This mystery guy? MS Dhoni (who did not even have the chance to play Zimbabwe to bolster his numbers).

By the way, for the purposes of this exercise I disregarded the current Test at Bombay. But then only Dhoni and Dravid would improve, so maybe it is a good thing I did not include it!! 🙂

Maybe I should make a blog entry out of this, too, on my blog.


5:13 PM


Buck said…
Let me check on this. I picked up the stat in a new Mumbai based newspaper called DNA (perhaps our mutual friend Aruna can dig out this column from the March 20th edition if she can lay her hands on it) yesterday on a short trip to Mumbai.The exact stat the writer quoted was 9 matches, 9 innings for Laxman with 2 not outs and a 62.xx average.

And yes, the writer did refer to Irfan Pathan’s 50s – in fact the column was about how the tail wagging well has offset some of the failures of the top-order. Dhoni came in with a 50+ average but less than Laxman.

BTW, I am deriving a certain vicarious pleasure from India tumbling to 100 All Out in the Wankhede test!

4:20 AM


Jaunty Quicksand said…
I found the article in the March 21st edition of DNA. (The whole paper can be read online in an easy viewing format).The link is:

Mohandas Menon’s numbers are WRONG. He says he includes the Mumbai test (but only after the first innings at that point).

If you go back and see the article, one look at Jaffer’s stats (for instance) tells you that Mohandas Menon made a mistake. For Wasim Jaffer he has his stats listed as:
3 matches, 3 innings, 0 not out, 142 runs, 1 century, 1 fifty, no 0’s. How does one century and one fifty add up to 142 runs?? He made a blunder somewhere in his sorting/statistical filter and DNA took it and ran it without checking the numbers.

Jaffer’s numbers (including the completed Bombay Test are:
250 runs @41.67 in 6 innings, with 1 century and 1 fifty.

By the way, I made ONE mistake. Dravid’s correct numbers are as follows:
Dravid: 825 in 12 completed innings (3 not outs) @68.75
(I made a mistake the last time I added the numbers).

Do we call up DNA on this?

3:34 PM


Buck said…
if you had to recast Mohandas Menon’s table with correct data, how would the numbers bear out?

1:23 AM


Jaunty Quicksand said…
I have redone the table, carefully going over all the numbers. I made a few corrections to the totals I had earlier (also this time I included the Bombay Test so all the averages are down a little bit from earlier, except the ones that did not play). I used Statsguru on CriInfo for the numbers along with a calculator, so all errors are mine and mine alone.Virender Sehwag: 10 16 547 39.07 254 1 2
Wasim Jaffer: 3 6 250 41.67 100 1 1
Gautam Gambhir: 5 8 198 28.28 97 0 1
Rahul Dravid: 10 16 834 64.15 128* 2 6
Sachin Tendulkar: 9 13 335 27.9 109 1 0
VVS Laxman: 9 14 480 43.63 140 2 2
Yuvraj Singh: 9 12 424 38.55 122 1 2
MS Dhoni: 9 13 434 36.16 148 1 2
Irfan Pathan: 11 15 541 36.06 93 0 5
Sourav Ganguly: 6 7 272 38.85 101 1 0

6:58 PM


Jaunty Quicksand said…
Cleaning up the numbers to sort by Innings-Runs-Average-centuries-fifties, and also in decreasing order of aggregate runs the numbers look like this:Rahul Dravid: 16 834 64.15 2-6
Virender Sehwag: 16 547 39.07 1-2
Irfan Pathan: 15 541 36.06 0-5
VVS Laxman: 14 480 43.63 2-2
MS Dhoni: 13 434 36.16 1-2
Yuvraj Singh: 12 424 38.55 1-2
Sachin Tendulkar: 13 335 27.9 1-0
Sourav Ganguly: 7 272 38.85 1-0
Wasim Jaffer: 6 250 41.67 1-1
Gautam Gambhir: 8 198 28.28 0-1

7:05 PM


Buck said…
satisfying enough – so Laxman is still the second best in terms of average, has 2 centuries, and so on….Mr Chappell has some serious introspection to do.

11:58 PM