Saturday, January 19, 2008

India perk up at Perth

Life is all about ups and downs, twists and turns. To me life is about cricket. If Sydney was the nadir, Perth certainly has to be the zenith. This is is not just an example of how things can go high and low but also how fast it can go. Best thing is that the victory is in the recent memory and will help a long way in forgetting the Sydney defeat. To put things into perspective, India couldn't bat the last 2 sessions at Sydney and lost the Test after loosing heavily at Melbourne. Scoreline read 2-0, with next Test at Perth. Perth is branded as having the bounciest Pitch in the world. Australia thought they could comfortably trouble India with their pace batteries of Shuan Tait and Brett Lee. Thanks to the acrimonious Sydney Test, it was not just Cricket that had to be handled, Harbhajan Singh's case, Brad Hogg's case, patch up meeting with Ponting but also decision on continuing the tour itself. Everybody(includes me) had written India off, Kumble was expected to return to India after the Test Series getting whitewashed 4-0. So, no ordinary human being or Team can get away from this situation unscathed let alone bouncing back to win it. Anil Kumble and his Indian Team has done exactly that. Beating Australia at Perth to end their 16 match winning streak 'yet again'. Also ending their 4 year unbeaten streak at home ground. Incedentally India beat them at Adelaide on 16th December 2003. Now the series is still alive, Australia leading 2-1 and India having a chance to draw it if they win the final test at Adelaide. Border-Gavaskar Trophy is already with Australia even if India manages to draw the series because they had snatched it from India in the previous series played in India in 2004 by winning 2-1.

Sunil Gavaskar has rated this Indian win as the best of wins he has seen or was part of India in the last 40 years. The beauty of this victory was that everybody contributed and it was perfect team effort. Teams do get united in the face of crisis. Not one batsmen scored a hundred, not one bowler took 5 wickets in an innings. It was all about partnerships Dravid-Tendulkar, Jaffer-Sehwag, Laxman-Dhoni and Laxman-RP Singh. Bowling-wise it was all contribution from rookies and not much from dependable Kumble. Pathan's spell with new ball to dismiss both openers on both the innings, Inshanth Sharma's hostile spell to Ricky Ponting, RP Singh's swing were the stand out performances. We can say India has not just defeated Australia but out-swung Australia. Dravid who was struggling overall ended up being the topscorer for the match. Laxman continued his love for Australian attack and scored his 1000th test run in Australia too.

I had vowed to not follow cricket again. But it is never easy to get rid of an decade old addiction in a few days. I gave it my best attempt by not checking the scorecard on internet for the first 3 days (of Perth Test). But my friends used to keep pricking me with score updates. Today afternoon, after completing our 2nd Trimister MBA Exams. People (other than me) got desperate to know the scores. Somebody said Australia are 7 down at Tea. What?I couldn't believe it. By the time I could digest the score and situation, Australia lost the last recognised batsmen Micheal Clarke soon after Tea Break. I could now sense an Indian win. So badly wanted to witness the winning moment live. Had lunch quickly and went with my classmate to his house. Australians by then made sure that I could watch something by the time I reached his house by surviving for about an hour as they call "delaying the inevitable". I reached his home expecting to see the post match ceremony. But what I could see was Australia needed just under 100 runs to win with 2 wickets still in hand, Stuart Clarke was comfortably piercing the wide spread out field set by Indians or Kumble. Fast bowlers were bowling short length with the new ball. Now I was tempted to curse Kumble on his captaincy, also lack of help from former captains like Dravid, Ganguly and Sachin. Indians were definitely panicking at that moment. But when you have played under 40 + degree celsius for the whole day and just one spinner to take up the work load. Also the mental pressure of being in an unusual situation of winning a Test in Australia. Out of tiredness, I must realise that the bowling length is bound to get shorter.

I must admire Kumble for the way he has carried himself overall. He made some good team changes by dropping distracted Yuvraj, bringing in Sehwag thereby restoring the batting order. He won the toss, took a brave decision to bat trusting his batsmen to face the new ball from the fastest bowlers on a fresh Perth Wicket. He got his 600th wicket too during the course of the match. But what is more admirable is what he has done between Sydney and Perth. He has proved that he is definitely one of the few Gentlemen cricket is left with. Despite being at the receiving end from Australians sledging and cheating, he dropped the charges on Bard Hogg. The whole world including Australia has taken notice when he said "Only one team played with the true spirit of the game" after loosing at Sydney. Because if it has come from a man of stature of Anil Kumble, it has to be true. Fresh from reading on Leadership for HR Exams today, I can say that Kumble has demonstrated the characteristics of a Great Leader. He took personal responsibility for the defeats, didn't blame anybody. But to lift the spirits of the team that had just been battered was truly inspirational. As the saying goes "Tough times do not last, but tough men do".

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How to advertise my blog or webpage?

I am still writing these blogs for myself and very few of my few close friends who share same thoughts as me. So I am not intending to advertise it. Not that as soon as I intend to advertise, it will become popular. Still, it is not bad to just explore as to how to advertise my blog.

If the target audience are friends, then blog can be advertised by
1) Adding it in my orkut and facebook profile. People (including me) do keenly visit the profiles of others in orkut. They go through the profile, photos and scrapbook carefully. To help them explore further my web/blog homepage would be a very useful link. So, this should advertise the blog to most of the target audience.
2) Adding a link with the signature of every outgoing email. People add Name, Designation, Phone Number and Address as email signatures. Adding blog as signature will remind the receiver of my blog every time he receives the message. Then there are good chances that he will open the link. This will even cater to audience who are not in orkut but use emails. Only those who access internet can read my blog and everybody who access internet do check their email.
3) Write comments on my friends' blogs. This will drive my friends who are regular viewers of my friend's blogs into my blog. Even better would be to request my blogging friends to add my blog's links in their "Blogs I read" list. This will target the friends who write and read blogs.

Having said all these, these tactics will only get them to view my blog only for the first time. Ultimately, blog is just an image of me. If my friends like me, they will like my blog. If I am popular my blog will be popular. If they like to listen to what I say orally, they will read what I have written. If I have more number of friends, I will have more number of viewers. Not vice-versa.

If the target audience are the people who are interested in the topics I write.
1) Leave comments on websites that are already popular on those topics. If my blog specializes in Test cricket, then commenting on Mukul Kesavan's blogs would be the best idea.
2) Be part of some user groups, keep posting questions and answers there. Example - If I am an MBA aspirant or an MBA grad, then posting in pagalguy would help. If I post on product reviews in my blog, they it will good to become a member of mouthshut, write a few reviews there.
3) List the blog to a popular blog directory under an appropriate category like blogpane. There will be enough idle people like me who hunt for blogs.
4) The highest level is to go for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), to simply put, get my blog listed in the first page of Search Engine results when users searches for certain keywords. I have heard of this jargon or concept recently and still figuring out how to do this.

These are again the ways to get users to visit the site first time. To keep them hooked on to my site, the originality and exclusivity of contents, frequency of postings and clear way of communication would be very important. Then I need not work on advertising my site, others will do it for me by "word of mouth" or e-equivalent of it.

Cricket is Dead

Look who is saying this! Yes it is me. Keshava Ram. One who has followed each and every Test Match India has played over a decade since Rahul Dravid made his Debut. Cricket should have been dead during the turn of new millennium itself, but I was immature to give importance to match-fixing then. Cricket has reborn since then and there has been no instance of match-fixing (atleast hasn't come to light) since then. The timing of the post should make it obvious that it is the Sydney Test I am referring to. Yes, not only that, many more reasons too.

Overdose - Too much is too bad! This cannot fit to cricket better. There is an overdose of matches. Too many one-day matches - matches at neutral venues, triangular tournaments, quadrangular tournaments, asia cup, super-series, ICC champions trophy and even long world cup (super 8 not 6). Advent of Twenty20 as an international format. It has just begun and already it is making so much of noise. Within few years, I am afraid it is surely going to be big enough to kill cricket completely. Cricket is going to converge into baseball. ICC has a 6 year future tour program within which period all teams play against every other team both home and away. 30 years back we had just 1 form of the game and 7 teams now we have 3 forms and more than 10 teams. Simple Permutation and Combination should suggest by what proportion the number of matches played have increased. A regular player spends 30% of the days or 100 days in a year playing just international cricket. Let alone domestic cricket, tour matches, charity matches, practice sessions and traveling. Spare a through to the players, they would also like to lead a normal life for a few days with their loved ones. Commercial interests are killing the hen called cricket that used to lay them golden eggs everyday.

Beyond Big 5 - This generation of Indian viewers are blessed with the Big 5. It is obvious who those big 5s are, still for the sake of completeness they are Sachin, Rahul, Sourav, Laxman and Anil in no particular order. All of them are around 35 and have only a couple of years at the maximum left for them. As of now there seem to be nobody to replace them. Likes of Yuvraj, Dhoni, Karthik, Sehwag, Gambhir and Uttappa may give us an odd T20 win but wouldn't challenge top teams over a sustained period. We don't seem to have any succession planning in place. With our present system, it is unlikely that we would be able to spot such prodigies let alone grooming players to become one of them. International players don't find time to play domestic matches, domestic matches are played anywhere but in Test Grounds. The pitches are anything but lively for fast bowlers. India 'A' tours aren't commercially viable and so there aren't many such tours happening. So, there is very little chance for future players to get exposure. And players who look promising in domestic level struggle when to come to international level as they find the level much higher.

Global Imbalance - The difference between the No. 1 team Australia and rest of the teams are getting wider. They won the 2007 world cup without any sweat. They whitewashed the No.2 team in the Ashes 5-0. They seem well on their way to whitewashing their toughest opponent of the Decade, India. We have England, India, South Africa and Pakistan alternatively claiming the No. 2 spot. New Zealand and West Indies have settled at No. 7 and No. 8 respectively. Unfortunately Zimbabwe and Bangladesh still play Test Cricket to keep the gap between top and bottom wide. Like India, the Teams vying for No. 2 spots have their share of problems. Srilanka won't have bowling resources to bowl oppositions twice after Murali. England struggle to keep their best players fit. Pakistan team is also struggling but their issues are highly complicated. Australians on the other hand are getting better and better. The replacements that they find perform better than their predecessors. Hussey for Bevan, Ponting for Steve Waugh, Stuart Clark for McGrath, Jacques for Langer and Gilchrist for Healy. Warne is the only person whom they wouldn't be able to replace. They have just won 16th successive Test match, only nature can stop that sequence.

Unwelcome changes proposed - The former greats are proposing some changes to even forms of games that aren't supposed to be changed. Boycott has said that Test Cricket is boring. Somebody shot-back saying who made it boring?, Pointing at Boycott who is known for his slow batting. The changes he likes to bring about are Day-night tests over 4 days instead of 5. Boycott just mentioned those changes probably when a journalist pestered him to suggest one. That is not the problem, actual problem is that Cricket Boards have taken his suggestions too seriously. And they are indeed planning to make those changes starting with Australian Domestic matches.

Anti-Asian - Asia has 4 strong teams out of 9. Asian countries have the biggest fan following considering that Cricket is religion there and also they are the most populous of nations. Their cricket boards are the richest and contribute the highest to the ICC revenues. Yet it is those cricketers who have been at the receiving end with umpires and match referees. Murali has been accused of chucking and critics still don't keep shut even after umpteen tests have proved it otherwise. Pakistan has been accused of ball-tampering during the infamous Oval Test. India has also been accused of ball tampering in South Africa. Umpires like Steve Bucknor, Billy Doctrove and Darryl Hair have given numerous decisions against Asian teams that changed the fortunes of the games. Match referees punish dissent shown (if at all) only by Asians and excuse the others. Mike Slater's incident in Mumbai went scot-free. Australians and Englishmen well known for sledging have been allowed to continue their ungentlemanly practice. Although the grounds in England and Australia look beautiful, orderly and modern, they still don't offer a "level playing field" to the oppositions.

Winning is everything - I don't believe in that. But competing fairly is. Australians might have won the Sydney Test match, but they lost their reputation. Their own countrymen to be honest aren't proud of what Ponting and his men did. This Australian team isn't going to get the goodwill that the Champion West Indian Team of 70s and 80s got. It is important to understand that it is after all just a game. For viewers it is just leisure and entertainment.

So, this Sydney Test Match is a turning point to me as a cricket follower. I am going to "hang up my boots" without Testing my patience and hoping things will get better. I will start concentrating on Chess both as a player and follower from now on.
I have good history of getting over addictions or bad habbits. I have successfully quit orkuting, biting nails, tracking stock prices, chewing gums and eating chocolates. Now I am hopeful of being able to get out of longest of addictions, cricket.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

Yet another year has passed so quickly and I am now into the first hour of the New Year 2008. I went to sleep but wasn't able to catch it. Thanks to my afternoon nap. So got up from the bed and am writing the resolutions (in random order) for the new year.

1) Socialize - In the first minute of the New Year, my hostel friend told me on a serious note "You need to be outgoing. Outgoing doesn't mean going to parties. It means pro-actively meeting people and establishing your identity with them positively. It is particularly important to you as you are taking up a career in Marketing". I agreed with him and assured him that I will more social with some conviction. This is not the first time somebody is telling me. But I haven't really taken a serious effort.

2) Get up get going - Do as many activities as possible. Participate in class discussions, contests and events. Don't just sit alone and browse in the hostel. Don't procrastinate. Others might do that but they can somehow do things well at the last moment. Laziness bug has bitten me and I need to find a quick yet permanent cure for that.

3) Acquire knowledge and skills by doing rather than reading. Reading anything that too only once does not help one in understanding it thoroughly or remembering things for long. Whatever expertise I have gained so far has always been by doing, analyzing, discussing and researching. I use my free time in reading newspapers, internet and books. Instead I could work on projects. Or after reading an article instead of quickly switching over to next one, I could spare a moment to ask questions like why or why not and find answers myself. Not only do I need to get a general knowledge on all I read but also in-depth knowledge on my areas of interest like E-commerce, ERP and Marketing.

4) Be health conscious - Practice Yoga daily. I have been practicing it over last one year. I am proud of this but has been irregular over last 3 months. I need to do the aasanas slowly while concentrating more on breathing. Continue the regular diet, avoid temptations to go out and eat spicy food or chocolates. Shouldn't eat snacks in place of Lunch and Dinner. Early to bed and early to rise. I have become weak and lost 5 kg last year. Need to get fitter and put on some weight not around my stomach though ;-)

5) Cricket - Neglect one-day and twenty20 cricket completely. I won't have time for them. If at all required restrict to Test Cricket. India plays a whopping 19 matches this year. There must be a match or two in Mumbai against South Africa or Australia or England and hope to go to the stadium to see that. Cricket should just be a hobby and not a priority. This will be the tougher resolution to follow than even socializing. Need to follow not just the matches played on the field and collect statistics but also need to understand the cricketing system. Find out the Australian and English domestic system and analyse how different are they from the Indian one.

6) Stocks - My keenness to earn, save and multiply money has declined since my easy earnings at Japan. So I have been sleeping on the stocks that I bought more than 2 years back. They have done well but a periodic review of the portfolio would have been better. Warren Buffet might say that you should buy a stock and be ready to hold it comfortably even if the stock is not traded in the exchange for 5 years. But I am no Warren Buffet to have a vision about my investment for 5 years. My analysis and forecasting is good enough for at the most one year. Having said about periodic review, the review has to be annual or when a major economic or industry or company news occurs. And it should never get to the extent of daily price monitoring.

7) Mumbai - There are so many places yet to explored in the city and hill station nearby. Haven't traveled much in Metro train or BEST buses. This year will give the best opportunity for this. Need to make good use of this opportunity.

8) MBA - Having dreamt of doing MBA during last 4 years and now that the dream has come true. The journey doesn't end there. That is just the beginning. I need to concentrate on lectures in the class atleast when I attend, anyway I don't sleep, no point in just being physically present there. Project work needs to be completed at least 1 week before the deadline. Start preparing for final placements right away. Decide carefully on the industry and profile to take up. Work on being salable to companies, Have learnt this lesson the hard way for summer placements.

Management education has taught me that goals should be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound. Management is not just about planning it also about Organising, Actuating and Controlling. Meaning don't just leave this after blogging. Need to execute this. Now it is time to stick to resolution no 4 by going to sleep.