Tandoori Chicken Flames

The sport of cricket has avid followers in India and there has always been a lot of spirited give and take between fans about games and players. In the early 1990’s a BBS (Bulletin Board Service, for you youngsters out there) had a newsgroup, rec.sport.cricket, devoted to and populated by cricket fans. It later was transferred to Google, and is still active today. This particular post I saw back in ’94 shortly after it appeared. It was one of the early virally propagating pieces on the ‘net in those days and showed up in a lot of places.

In 1994 one of the cricket players of that era was interviewed by a reporter from the Deccan Times, and a parody of the interview was posted within the newsgroup, causing feathers to fly in much the same way they do now when slightly off-topic posts appear in response to posts and comments made on the web.

I found this parody hilarious. I was intrigued by the way the author combined the perils of both cricket and the sport of engaging in “flame wars” on the internet. I didn’t regard it as a “flame attack” upon the soccer player the original post was about, but some folks on the rsc BB did.

As a writer I thought that the parodist had found a sports story which lent itself well to a humorous re-telling from the viewpoint of an “athlete” on the web instead of the cricket pitch, and was a deft way of poking fun at the humorless, serious contingent which is always present in any group, anywhere. The parody was not taken very well by those folks on the cricket BBS rsc, and I don’t think the person who it was aimed at took it very well either. One of the serious ones.

I laughed out loud reading the interview of a cyber jock engaging in the internet sport of flame-war, and his allusions to his “sport” in cricket terms, much the same as a hacker might characterize their own skills in terms of Bruce Lee kung-fu metaphors. Obviously both cricket and web engagements have their perils…

For those of you who are curious, I will include the actual interview excerpt upon which the parody was based after the parody itself. Here’s the posted parody:

Date: 14 Mar 1994 02:04:58 GMT
Newsgroups: rec.sport.cricket
From: pvfafat@gsbphd.uchicago.edu (Vijay Fafat)
Subject: Re: Interview with Shyam Prasad Talluri
Interview by Joseph Hoover
Source: Deccan Herald
‘I want to come back as an all-rounder’  — Talluri

Q. It must have been a great feeling to be chosen as the Champion bozo on rsc (rec.sport.cricket)…
A. Surely, I was elated. It was a great honour.

Q. How does it feel now, especially when you have been ignored by the net?
A. I wouldn’t say that I have been left in the church. I am recovering from two serious injuries – a ligament tear caused by Shivanand Bhajekar when he called me a ‘tandoori chicken’ and a cartilage damage on the right middle finger I sustained during a flamewar with #$%#$% Fafat.

Q. When did the injury occur?
A. It happened after I wrote about the vintagely classy innings Gavaskar played in the backyard of his Mahim home when he was 3 years old. O, what a match, what style! In Bobby Tallyarkhan’s words, “simply graceless!” Even Neville Cardus was just as speechless as Tallyarkhan after watching the video I provided. But Bhajekar, nonsense fellow, only picked on my normal speeling mistakes and typos. He isn’t understanding my sentiments for Gavaskar. But I told him left and right, “you are not even a Ranji-reject like me to know the game so stop writing”. Put him in proper place. But hurt my ego badly. I was in peak form at that moment. From January to September 1993 there was absolutely no cricket for me. Naturally, I missed the net. And now that I have returned to the competitive atmosphere, I feel rusty.

Q. It must have been depressing? How did you take it?
A. I must admit the flames were frustrating. I was, however, glad that the injury did not occur much earlier than it did in my career. Had it been so, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to achieve so much writing on the net.

Q. Have you recovered from the brain damages?
A. I am really happy that I have recovered fully. I have lasted the whole domestic season (1993-94). That gives me confidence and I think I am now good enough to compete for a spot in the limelight. I will try harder to regain my place. I am glad that my thoughts have held together..together..duh..what was I saying?

Q. Do you, in retrospect, feel that you shouldn’t have returned to the net?
A. I came back too soon. Perhaps, had I not returned, my second injury would not have occurred. I regret it now.

Q. Isn’t it disappointing being flamed repeatedly?
A. Honestly, I am not worried about it. I believe in myself and the rest should not be a problem. Nevertheless, I am happy that I have gone through the current season without further flame damage to my kidneys.

Q. How have you shaped up over the season?
A. My writing and grammar form has not been satisfying, I need to work hard in that area. As far as exaggerations and superlatives are concerned, I know I can always do well. I have scored around 800 of them this season itself. I need to watch more fade-out videos. Play and replay more often. Watch things from different angles so that I can give my best analysis to rsc.

Q. How do you want to comeback as?
A.I want to comeback as an allrounder because I believe I am capable of doing both, gaffes and spills. I have tonnes of confidence in my gaffes. But if I turn out good performances with the spills, it should motivate me. I am confident of realising my potential.

Q. You were captaincy material at one stage of your career. Everyone spoke so much about your astute observations. Suddenly this slump. How would you explain it?
A. Well, things don’t remain the same forever. Times change. The flames have turned the table around. What can one do with a flame injury? You miss out on a lot of things. It saps your image, your credibility.

Q. Which has been your best article?
A. The one in which I described how Chandra’s googly, bowled from 3 feet from the stumps during a Ranji match, didn’t turn at all. This would have fooled any ordinary batsman, who would actually expect a googly. But who was facing Chandra? None other than the greatest of great, Gavaskar! The little master, champion of this glorious game of uncertain cricket. The king of the willow, the knight with shining pads. He waited for the ball to zip thru and then sweetly cut it late from almost the wicketkeeper’s hand. How it (the ball, not the wicketkeeper) rocketed towards the fence! In Raj Singh Dungarpur’s words, “The fielders were left standing, O they were just left standing helplessly!”

Q. How do you see your future?
A. I won’t be upset if I get flamed again and again. I will not be frustrated either. All I want to do is realise my potential as an all-rounder. If I can gain satisfaction from my performance and contribute to whichever net I write on, I will be happy and contented man. I have been writing on soc.culture.indian.telugu also, and that’s very fulfilling also. If I train hard and lame duck smiles upon me things will be very different. My cricket is all about determination. I play hard and I give no quarters or ask for any. As long as I believe in my ability, I will never give up.
_____________________

That’s the parody. Here’s the original excerpt of the published interview upon which the parody was based:
Q. It must have been a great feeling to be chosen as the Champion of Champions?
A. Surely, I was elated. It was a great honour.

Q. How does it feel now, especially when you have been ignored by
the National Selection Committee?
A. I wouldn’t say that I have been left in the lurch. I am recovering from two serious injuries – a ligament tear and a cartilege damage on the right knee. Thus, without me being fit, there was no way the selectors could pick me.

Q. When did the injury occur?
A. It happened during my double hundred against Australia at Sydney.
I was in peak form at that moment. From January to September 1993 there was absolutely no cricket for me. Naturally, I missed the game. And when I returned to competitive cricket, I felt rusty.

Q. It must have been depressing? How did you take it?
A. I must admit it was frustrating. I was, however, glad that
the injury did not occur much earlier than it did in my career. Had it been so, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to achieve so much.

Q. Have you recovered from the surgeries?
A. I am really happy that I have recovered fully. I have lasted the whole domestic season (1993-94). That gives me confidence and
I think I am now good enough to compete for a spot in the national
side. I will try harder to regain my place. I am glad that my knees have held together. There have been many other cricketers whose careers were cut short due to injuries. Take the case of Jeff Thomson. He injured his shoulder while taking a catch and could never return to bowl again.

Q. Do you, in retrospect, feel that you shouldn’t have returned to Australia after the orthopedic surgery?
A. I went back too soon. Perhaps, had I not gone, my second injury would not have occurred. I regret it now. Had I taken time out, I could have recovered from the first injury.

Q. Isn’t it disappointing being out of the national side?
A. Honestly, I am not worried of not being in the Indian squad. Getting back one’s place depends on one’s own ability and mental toughness. I believe in myself and the rest should not be a problem. Nevertheless, I am happy that I have gone through the current season without further damage to my knees.

Q. How have you shaped up over the season?
A. My bowling form has not been satisfying, I need to work hard in that area. As far as batting is concerned, I know I can always do well. I have scored around 800 runs this season.

Q. On your comeback, do you want yourself to be considered as a specialist batsman or allrounder?
A. I want to comeback as an allrounder because I believe I am capable of doing both. I have tonnes of confidence in my batting. But if I turn out good performances with the ball, it should motivate me. I am confident of realising my potential.

Q. You were captaincy material at one stage of your career. Everyone spoke so much about your astute captaincy. Suddenly this slump. How would you explain it?
A. Well, things don’t remain the same forever. Times change. The injury has turned the table around. What can one do with an injury? You miss out on a lot of things.

Q. Which has been your best innings?
A. The ton(107) against the mighty West Indies at Barbados in 1989.

Q. Why do you rate it so high amongst the other knocks, especially
your 206 against the Aussies?
TA. he situation was bad. We were tottering at 60 for six when I stood
up against the pace battery. Moreover, the quality of the attack – Malcom Marshall, Ian Bishop, Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh – was fantastic.

Q. How do you see your future?
A. I won’t be upset if I don’t make it to the Indian squad. I will not be frustrated either. All I want to do is realise my potential as an all-rounder. If I can gain satisfaction from my performance and contribute to whichever team I am picked for, I will be happy and contented man. At the moment my aim is to bowl well. I believe in myslef. If I train hard and dame luck smiles upon me things will be very different. My cricket is all about determination. I play hard and I give no quarters or ask for any. As long as I believe in my ability, I will never give up.

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