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January 31, 2000


India Down Under

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Armchair Expert

Wanted: Captain and masochist
You will be reporting to a highly volatile conglomerate of over 1000 crore people constantly looking for someone who relishes challenges. Especially, seemingly insurmountable ones.

Job profile: Deal day in and day out with the media circus. Lead a team of unmotivated individuals that's more often than not thrust upon you. Communicate with people from various backgrounds. (Especially those who can't communicate.) Speak at least three languages. Perform under extreme pressure. Perform when all around you are not performing. Perform while trying to make all around you perform.

In addition, you must be willing to get your hands dirty. Should be able to step in and take charge whenever things get rough. In fact, should be able to step in at all times. And must willingly accept responsibility for all team failures. Also, you must never take the credit for your successes. You should be resilient enough to silently endure the ignominy of being stripped of all your powers at a day's notice. Oh, and before we forget, do note that your every move will be subject to intense public scrutiny. And specious comments from every Tom, Dick and Hari. Put simply, you must relish doing a thankless job.

Perks: Performance based incentives in the form of oodles of trenchant criticism and profound advice on how to do your job better. Enough people to tell you not just how you should be doing the job, but even why you shouldn't be doing the job. There will also be an unending supply of people who'll tell you who should be doing your job. And why he should be doing your job. In fact, they'll be the first to tell you things you never even knew about yourself. All in all, you'll have a team of backseat drivers and armchairexperts more than willing to give you free counsel.

If you are still keen to give it a go, contact the BCCI. Nothing is negotiable. Suckers -- excuse me, potential captains -- can also post their resumes at (Azhar and Sachin, please excuse.)

Wanted: Coach, friend, father figure, detective...

You will be in charge of a team of moderately talented individuals who don't take their jobs too seriously and are looking for a mentor who does. And while that might sound preposterous to the applicant, that's just the way it is. In short, lack of intensity is one of the 'givens' of the job.

Job profile: Getting inside the head of Brian Lara. Managing Brian Lara. Getting Lara to manage Lara. The rest will follow. Your ability to understand what goes on inside the head of, arguably, the most talented individual in world cricket, often when said most talented individual has no clue, will determine your success on the job.

Achievements in the recent past include whitewashes in South Africa and New Zealand. And resounding victories against Bangladesh. Though you might prefer to take inspiration from Brian Lara's (that man again) thrilling assault on McGrath and company in the home series. When he single-handedly showed the world the heights he can scale. If, and when, he feels like scaling those heights. It will be your job to ensure that he feels like scaling them more often.

Things you should consider before applying: your greatest resource will also be your greatest liability. Lara. A man who hates losing. A man with more talent than he knows what to do with. And a man who very easily slips into 'I don't care' mode. Because the genius that Lara is, he doesn't have to. Problem is, his team needs him to. Incidentally, you'll have great men like Clive Lloyd, Wes Hall, the late Malcolm Marshall and Viv Richards to help you with enough discouraging stories about their experiences.

By the way, in case you think the solution lies in scouting for better talent, you better keep in mind that cricket not such a big deal in the West Indies anymore. And the best athletic talent is going to basketball. And the beaches are full of young kids playing soccer rather than cricket. And pride is at a premium. And your heroes no longer come from cricket.

Perks: A once in a lifetime opportunity to see Lara back to his best. Only those truly in love with West Indian cricket should post their resumes at

Wanted: Neutral Commentators: For one of the most respected cricket channels in the world. (Well okay, if not the most respected at least the most colourful.)

Job profile: As a neutral commentator, you will be expected to exercise control over all jingoistic urges. And jingoistic counterparts. Most of all, you are expected to control yourself in the face of the plethora of technology at your disposal. It will be your job to ensure that channel resources like the snickometer, stumpcam. spincam, backcam, frontcam, anycam, nocam are not misused, abused and overused. It will be your job to ensure that these gizmos are not brandished only when it suits you. You must also repeatedly remind yourself that it's not okay to fall back on these toys while questioning/proving beyond a doubt that decisions given against your team were 'unfortunate.' (While the ones the opposition gets are 'close.')

You must also at all times remember that a bad decision is a bad decision is a bad decision. It doesn't matter who gives it. The umpire may be the most 'courageous' umpire you have ever come across. He may be, in your opinion, ramrod straight. But if he's guilty of having given an obviously bad decision, you will not couch it in words like 'courageous,' 'close,' and 'interesting.' Your job will be to report what you see. Not what you choose to see.

Qualifications: The ability to imitate Richie Benaud (The man who knows just the right thing to say at just the right time by using just the right words.) You are also expected to possess unending reserves of patience while the less talented ones huff and puff their way through their ten minutes of fame, lamely trying to string together suitable adjectives to describe whatever it is that they're failing miserably at describing. Fluff and hyperbole that Richie has no need for. Because, in similar situations, all Richie would have said is -- err, I don't know. (After all, only Richie Benaud can say best what Richie Benaud says best. With perfect diction, understated wit and a gentle smile.)

Put simply, all you need for the job is a ready supply of impossibly interesting anecdotes. An ability to continually make insightful points on strategy. Provide valuable tips to budding players. And never fall out of favour with the notoriously fickle viewing public. For more information and tips on how to be Richie Benaud, just log-in to

Warning: Anyone with even a fleeting resemblance to Messrs. Sushil Doshi, Ravi Chaturvedi and Dr. Narrotam Puri will be prosecuted.

Wanted: Indian cricket fan

Do you have infinite reserves of tolerance, faith and belief in your heroes?

Do you have a stomach for black humour?

Can you handle being let down again and again and again?

Are you willing to back people who never seem to learn?

Are you willing to give up the joys of consistency for the ephemeral pleasures of infrequent brilliance?

Will you feel jealous when you see the your opposite number smiling more often than you?

Will you feel slighted when jingoistic elements call you and your team a bunch of losers?

When will you stop believing that your team can beat the pants of all comers?

When will you stop cheering your heroes?

When will they turn villains?

The minute the wheels begin to come off?

The minute the shoulders begin to droop?

Or will it be when the rats begin to jump ship?

Are you one of those who will desert them when they need you most?

Blame them for things beyond their control?

Poke holes in everything they do?

And not have the maturity or imagination to suggest solutions?

Ask yourself these questions

Ask yourself what it takes to be an Indian cricket fan

Can you stand tall and give them the support to fight another day?

Just do it. 'Cause god knows there aren't too many of us left.

Join us at : An experienced anti-hynotherapist who can break the spell on Indian cricket fans who still believe all Indian losses can be attributed to bad luck, bad umpiring or just a bad patch. The candidate will be expected to be well-versed in only one thing: the ability to make the Indian cricket fan, and hopefully the team, wake up and smell the coffee. The brief is: folks, disaster is just around the corner.

Wanted: New ball bowler

Assignment: India's tour to any country

Conditions: anything ranging from mildly bouncy to wildly bouncy wickets

Rewards: a guaranteed haul of wickets

Skill sets: The ability to bowl fast. More importantly, the ability to make your opponent think you're bowling fast. (Those who possess a face that can scare the batsman by making fearsome faces will be given preference.) The incumbent will be expected to make it very clear to all who are likely to be intimidated that the attack is going to be focussed around the midriff area. You must also have the most basic cricketing brain required to routinely sell your opponents 'the mild out-swinger that follows the short-pitched ball as a dummy.' And other similar tried and tested routines from the book. It doesn't matter how old the book is, the competition, in this case, will regularly fall for it.

Benefits: Many. Like a regular supply of compliments, pats on the backside and grateful smiles from your team-mates behind the wickets. After all, it's not often that they are provided with such an embarrassment of riches. Naturally, they attribute it to fabulous use of the new ball on your part. It's a different matter that you and I know that in real life things are never this easy. That you just happen to have lucked out. That most good bowlers will pretty much fancy their chances against Indian opening batsmen. Because the last time India had an opening batsman who gave his wicket dearly was a very, very, very long time ago.

The multitude of applicants should superscribe their application with the words 'I can't wait to open the bowling against India.' Hopefuls can also log on to exactly a month before India tours. And have no fear, those who don't get picked this time, can always come back later. (Now that Srikanth and his committee have promised us bouncy wickets, you can be sure there will be even more opportunities for fast bowlers around the world to take a crack against India.)

Postscript: For the job no one wants, log-in to, preferably with a recommendation letter from your Regional Head (backroom operations)

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