May 07, 2008

Winning Positions.



Win from any position.

A retired boxer told me this story over a beer.

That he could now beer certified retirement.

Previously, when he boxed he could only watch others beer.

Maybe that’s why he retired. But that’s not the story.

This is:

Some dirty dozen years back, a British middleweight boxer was desperate to win.

So desperate that he was prepared to do the unthinkable: he was ready to box a win into his head!

What’s that? How do you, eh, box a win, into your head, sir?

First, sit in a comfortable chair in a dimmed room.

Make sure you are not lying down as that increases the chances of falling asleep, which is not the goal of hypnosis.

Hypnosis did you say?

That’s right, the boxer had himself hypnotized.

He heard strange voices in his head. These strange voices went something like this: “I will have vengeance, I will be victorious”

Come to think of it, they can be monotonous when heard repeatedly, but not for this boxer.

Come boxing day (not December 26th in this case), our boxer was still under the spell.

Once into the fight, he was well out of it. Down for the count, but up again. And that went on and on. Round after round. Down, up. Up, down.

Clearly he was hearing that voice in his head. He was under the winning charm.

And then, out of nowhere, he swung one into his opponent’s head, and that was that.

Hypnosis had worked. He had won. From a highly unlikely position; or as Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals, he too believed, “win from all positions”.

It started as a joke when the Rajasthan franchise didn’t even use its allocated funds at the auction. Next, much retired Shane Warne as both captain and coach. Sounds familiar?

In a nation that picks poster-boy batsmen as captains, Anil Kumble was the last resort.

That Kumble could think was not a prerequisite. That Tendulkar wasn’t game, clinched it.

Coming from that history, it takes a lot for India to understand the almost hypnotic stranglehold Warnie has on his wards.

Ok, he can captain, so what? Possibly, Tendulkar being buddies with Warne creates bigger headlines here. Those “nightmares of Sachin’s Sharjah sixes” are Warne’s favourite bytes to the media, and how they lap it up. So, he knows what you want to hear. What else?

He’s a straight shooter –made no qualms about his less than amorous relationship with then Aussie Coach John Buchanan. Or for that matter, with Saurav Ganguly during their recent IPL encounter.

But still he’s a little thin on skipper-lore: Hampshire county captain, a ten odd ODI winning streak in Steve Waugh’s absence, and he becomes the best captain Australia never had?

Does that negate the pre-World Cup drugs fiasco that his mummy prescribed? Or is that non-cricketing too?

In many ways, Warne’s persona is beyond that of a mere cricketer. His stature, deeds, misdeeds, seeds sown, and what he has reaped, are in the realm of rock star royalty. When alleged romantic liaisons extend beyond a record wicket tally, the Rajasthan Royals and Hampshire lads must be in no less in awe of Warne than say, London’s lasses were of the Beatles and the Stones in the 60s (and not in their 60s)

It’s not just that Warne has this coolness about him, but he can still play top draw cricket. He can think, talk and walk that talk. He’s in the zone. But there is no zonal bias – he’s comfy arming around Paki keeper Akmal on the bench, with an aside, a joke, just one of the mates. At the same time, when he sits in the dugout, he’s assertive enough to tell his mates to vacate a seat to have two for you know who!

In a way, there’s a bit of Warne in M.S. Dhoni too. To realise that you’re not just a cricketing nerd, but there’s life beyond cricket. Look what that thinking did for Saurav Ganguly’s career.

Win from all positions – doesn’t matter if it’s Round 2 or 8, whether you’re down for the count or winning on a canter,

And when His Master’s Voice deigns to speak to his flock, are they are mesmerized? Hypnotized?

Do they stand up on their benches like school kids, reciting in unison, “O Captain! My Captain!”

Five wins on the trot, top of the League, does it even matter if they win or lose from here?

Regardless of what happens next, Warne has used his team’s Ninja like invisibility to its advantage.

You never know when, how or who will strike.

But strike they will.

Question is which team has the Samurais to take them on?

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Straight Point said...

it certainly helps when you have almost anonymous players (ninjas as you said) coming in with no pre-conceived notions...just a will to prove ones worth and find a guiding hand as good as warne's...

the test of warne's captaincy and collective temperament of team will come when they will loose couple of warne will re-group them...eradicate the doubts that comes with defeat and so on...

much like dhoni who is feeling the heat...

it will be very interesting to see his next few moves...

BTW...another 'cracker' seems to be in good form NC!!

Naked Cricket said...

cheers SP!
- the RR dream run is not unlike India's T20 WC joyride, the invisible pack and MSD's inspired leadership. No fear is a big yes in t20 cricket - guys like Gilli, Viru, McCullun have it in spades.And see how it's working for them.
Could today be the Ind vs NZL t20 WC game for RR? the one blemish

Som said...

I'll reserve my verdict till the 2nd leg is over...BTW it would be just facts by then.

Naked Cricket said...

som, aren't facts boring -why wait for them

trideep said...

Warne has been a good captain. His team consisits of relatively unknown players. They are all young and see Warne as an idol. They are all there to show to their worth to the world(read BCCI). No one had come across these players much and hence had no idea about their potential.
However, now that Royals have lost one match to MI's, it would be interesting to see how Warne picks his team up. Though I don't think yesterdays lose will demoralise them much. But a defeat is a defeat and Warne has to lift his team up for their coming matches.
As of now I see that RR will definitely make the semis.

Straight Point said...


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Naked Cricket said...

looks likely right now with RR at 10 points, another defeat, and we'll be talking about momentum shifts. Even then, can't take anything from Warne - exudes more energy than all the other skippers combined.

Naked Cricket said...

SP, you've got mail.

Soulberry said...

The thing is Gaurav, Warney can play and think and put his arm around teammates while entirely capable of vacating a seat or two. With all that he produces results with a not-so-hot line-up. That is leadereship material...the ability to find a winning position which others cannot see.

Like they say..."Jo Jeeta Woh Sikander."


Naked Cricket said...

Jo hara woh bandar

Trideep said...

Well... Warne has shown that one loss doesn't deter his team. They thoroughly defeated DC.

Naked Cricket said...

DC expects too much from 2 players - depend too much on gilli and sharma.

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scorpicity said...

I echo SP... since it is a long tourno... must also see how he reacts to a string of loses... surprisingly, he's got good local talent that have performed.

Can I buy that Tee :)

Naked Cricket said...

Ok Hitesh!

Naked Cricket said...

a string of losses would be inconsequential, they're in the semis, aren't they?
for the t, i can get you the shop details in khajurao.

Soulberry said...

Wazzup today?

Will Gilly and Mamba make mincemeat of Delhi while RP cleans up after them?

I was tempted to purchase tickets while passing the Kotla area today...but I feared more mindless play from 3D and let it pass.

Naked Cricket said...

gibbs and afridi are due, may need a Caesarian to make them deliver though!
sb, I gave away my tickets. Think ddd will surprise us.

Soulberry said...

Gaurav, one hope, perhaps the proverbial straw, was that DC could surprise MI. That didn't happen. Now, even if 3D wins all matches, qualification to semis looks unlikely. MI are just a win away from qualification.

So in a must win all scenario, which doesn't guarantee a spot, what do you think about today's match?

I know disappointment is round the corner but what the heck, I'll support 3D through this and see where it goes from there.

Naked Cricket said...

Sehwag will come into his own in the last two games if RC knocks 3D out today.

The burden of thought will be removed. He will play and captain by instinct - maybe even bowl more!

Tough to say who should have been Delhi captain - McGrath? And Sehwag just Icon - separate captain from icon player should be an option.

On present form, if 3D is to make the semis, it'll be instead of Chennai. Or will MI self destruct

scorpicity said...

Whoa NC.,.. you have been rather quiet for a while... searching for inspiration eh?

Naked Cricket said...

scorpi, you asked for it.