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Sunday, 26 December 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 14: Chatteshwara Temple, Chatachattahalli

Chatachattahalli, a village situated about 5 kilometers away from Halebidu, boasts of an old Hoysala temple, believed to be constructed by Chattaiah Perumale, who held a notable position in the Hoysala kingdom. The temple, which is a Trikuta architecture, has Chatteshwara as its main deity, and also contains Suryanarayana and Harihara in other two sanctum sanctorums.

The temple though, is currently in deplorable condition, and with no care being taken, this piece of history is slowly collapsing to obscurity.

EDIT: The temple was restored around 2013, with efforts from Shri Haranahalli Nagendra and others, striving to ensure that the historical monuments and temples in and around Hassan district survive for the upcoming generations.

Here is the video compilation:

Chatteshwara Temple, Chatachattahalli from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 13: Parshwanatha, Adinatha and Shantinatha Jinalayas, Basadihalli

Basadihalli, which now appears as a separate village on the outskirts of Halebidu, was very much part of the capital city "Dwaravati" or "Dwarasamudra" of the Hoysala dynasty. Devout Jains right from the beginning, Hoysalas had constructed and nurtured hundreds of Jinalayas during their reign. Very few of them have stood the test of time.

The three temples in the Basadihalli Jain temple complex date back to 12th Centiry AD, with the construction beginning during the reign of Vishnuvardhana. The Parshwanatha Basadi, also known as "Vijaya Parshwanatha Jinalaya" due to the fact that Vishnuvardhana's victory in Bankapura coincided with the inauguration of the temple, was constructed in the honour of the much respected Hoysala commander in chief Ganga Raja. His son Boppadeva was instrumental in getting this built. The statue of Parshwanatha, about 18 feet tall, looks stunning even today, with a seven headed serpent carved in such a way that it is providing shelter to the 23rd tirthankara.

The Adinatha and Shantinatha Basadis have been built a few years later. The Shantinatha statue is also around 15 feet tall, and has a mesmerizing smile on his face. There is a Manastambha, about 30 feet tall, right in front of the Jinalaya in the middle, that of Adinatha. Elaborate inscription, which are in surprisingly good state, tell the stories of the golden age of Jainism in Karnataka.

Here are a few photos from the Jinalaya complex:

Parshwanatha, Adinatha and Shantinatha Jinalayas, Basadihalli from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 12: Varadaraja Temple, Kondajji

Kondajji, a little village situated about 17 kms from Hassan, is home to a 14th century temple of Varadaraja Swamy, also called Allalanatha. Legend has it that this extraordinarily beautiful 11 feet tall image of Varadaraja, a form of Vishnu's Janardana aspect, was on its way to Belur, for it to be enshrined at the Channakeshava temple complex. But for some reason, it could not make it all the way, and was apparently running the risk of being deserted. An old lady (Ajji, which means grand mother in Kannada) decided to buy the statue and establish it in a temple at that place, and hence, it is believed that the village got the name "Kondajji" (Konda + Ajji).

Although the story stated above is linked to the times of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana and Shantala, the fact that it is a statue of 14th century would mean that this might have occurred during the reign of Ballala the Third. The statue itself is mesmarizingly beautiful, and the temple, as expected, does not have any of the signature Hoysala architecture. The Varadaraja statue alone is the center of attraction here.

Varadaraja Temple, Kondajji from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 11: Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Javagal

Although well known as the native place of former India cricketer Javagal Srinath, the village of Javagal in the Arasikere taluk of Hassan district, Karnataka has managed to remain out of limelight. Even the presence of a 1250 AD Hoysala architectural masterpiece in the form of a Lakshmi Narasimha Temple has not managed to draw the attention of tourists. This trikuta temple is home to Lakshmi Narasimha, Veera Narayana and Venugopala in its three sanctum sanctorums, and on the outer walls, carvings of the ten incarnations of Vishnu, Dancing Saraswati, Lakshmi, Indra, and others can be seen.

Mallitamma, the genius sculptor of this era, is believed to be the the chief architect of the temple. Here are some pictures of the temple:

Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Javagal from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 10: Lakshmi Narayana Temple, Adagur

This grossly neglected trikuta temple built circa 1100 AD at Adagur village of Hassan district houses Lakshmi Narayana as the main deity, and also contains Venugopala and Saraswati in the other two sanctum sanctorums. The temple bears similarity to many early Hoysala period temples, like the one in Doddagaddavalli. There is also a statue of Ramanujacharya and an incomplete inscription in the temple premises.

Compilation of a few pics from the temple:

Lakshmi Narayana Temple, Adagur from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 9: Channakeshava Temple, Belur

One of the crowning glories of the Hoysala architecture is undoubtedly the world renowned Channakeshava Temple complex at Belur, Karnataka. The vast complex housing multiple temples has been built over centuries, beginning from the time of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana's reign. The temple was inaugurated in 1117 AD, and king Vishnuvardhana appears to have taken special interest in getting it built.

The complex is home to the extremely artistic Channakeshava temple, where daily prayers are offered even today, and two shrines for Keshava's ladies, Soumyanayaki and Ranganayaki, an additional Veera Narayana temple, and the legendary Kappe Channigaraya temple, where the idol for worship carved by Jakkanachari was found to be from a faulty stone and was rendered useless. The main deity is also known as Vijaya Narayana, as Hoysalas tasted success in a major war around the same time the temple got inaugurated. Also present in the complex are a beautiful Kalyani, the famous gravity tower, and multiple enclosures housing idols of Ramanujacharya, Vedanta Deshika, Krishna in different forms and many more.

The point of focus of the temple though, are the collection of beautifully and intricately carved Madanikas or Salabhanjikas, mostly depicting various song and dance forms. Legend has it that these images are inspired by the beauty and talent of Vishnuvardhana's wife and Hoysala queen Shantala. Another enticing feature of this temple complex is that of intricately carved pillars inside the Channakeshava temple. The complex can also be seen as a museum of historical inscriptions, as the entire history of the temple's development and enhancements during the Hoysala period and the periods that followed are neatly documented on dedicated wall spaces across the complex.

Here is a compilation of some of the photos I took at Belur:

Channakeshava Temple, Belur from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 8: Moole Shankara Temple, Turuvekere

Another Hoysala temple at Turuvekere that is contemporary to the Channakeshava temple is the Moole Shankara temple. This clearly brings out the religious harmony that existed during the Hoysala reign, with both the Vishnu and Shiva shrines built close to each other at pretty much the same period. "Moole" in Kannada means "corner", and the temple, as with many other Hoysala temples, is at a corner of the Turuvekere town.

Here is the photo compilation of the temple:

Moole Shankara Temple, Turuvekere from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 7: Channakeshava Temple, Turuvekere

I could resurrect my Hoysala expedition last weekend after a gap of almost 2 months, and this time, the town in focus was Turuvekere, a panchayat town in Tumkur district of Karnataka. The town has two temples clearly mapped to the Hoysala period, and one of them is the Channakeshava Temple that stands amongst the old Agrahara rows of houses at a corner of the fast developing town.

Construction of the temple is known to have begun in 1258 AD, during the reign of the Hoysala king Narasimha the 3rd. His well known Commander in Chief Somanna (most likely the same famous commander who built the Somanathapura temple) has played an instrumental role in the temple getting built. This ekakuta temple hosts the statue of Channakeshava, which, although not as big as the ones found inside the sanctum sanctorums of Somanathapura, Belur or Kaidala, boasts of its own beauty and perfection.

As usual, here is a video compilation of the photos I took at the temple:

Channakeshava Temple, Turuvekere from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 6: Gangadhareshwara Temple, Kaidala

Another temple of the Hoysala period standing adjacent to the Channakeshava temple at Kaidala is the Gangadhareshwara Temple. It looks as though this temple was never completed, and the grills and the doors have been installed afterwards, along with other enhancements. A possible recent land dispute has meant that the temple is closed for the visitors. From what is visible from outside, the temple has 4 beautifully carved pillars, and two inscriptions of great historical value, which are all gathering dust due to the neglect.

Here is a little video of the snaps I took at the temple:

Gangadhareshwara Temple, Kaidala from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Similar stories of Hoysala Expedition

Monday, 30 August 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 5: Channakeshava Temple, Kaidala

My quest of Hoysala temples took me to the district of Tumkur last weekend, to a village named Kaidala to be exact. The little temple of 1151 AD in this village is one of great heritage. Legendary sculptor of Hoysala period, Jakkanachari, is believed to have built this temple at a ripe old age of 86, with the help of his son Dankana. The beautiful statue of Channakeshava that is being worshiped even today, is supposedly his last work of art. The temple was built at his home town of Kreedapura, which is now known as Kaidala.

The name Kaidala is due to the legend that says that Jakkana got back his hand ("Kai" in Kannada) that he had severed after a flaw had been found by his son Dankana in the Channakeshava statue he had sculpted at Belur. There is a little statue on the wall of the this temple of Kaidala, and it is believed to be depicting Jakkana and his son.

As usual, here is a compilation of some pictures I took at the temple premises:

Channakeshava Temple, Kaidala from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 4: Keshava Temple, Somanathapura

Last weekend marked a visit to Somanathapura, a village near Mysore, home to one of the most famous temples ever built under the reign of the Hoysalas. It is a prime example for the grandeur of the Hoysala style of architecture. The temple is known to have been built in 1268 AD, during the time of King Narasimha III, by his commander Soma. Mallithamma was the leading architect of the temple, which also had great contributions from Masanatamma, Bameya, Chameya, and other noted sculptors. This trikutachala temple is home to the deities of Keshava, Janardana and Venugopala, and the outer walls of the temple are adorned with tens of hundreds of neatly carved images.

With me on this trip was Karthik, who has been equally fascinated by the historical and the architectural aspects of the Hoysala temples, and the best part was that we did not know how to reach Somanathapura until we got down there! Now that we have been there, if you are relying on the public transport, the best route to reach Somanathapura from Bangalore would be to go to Mandya, from there to Bannur (around 30 kms) and from there take the buses that go towards Tirumakudalu Narasipura. Somanathapura is 7 kms on this route.

Well, here is a compilation of some of the pictures I could take during the visit:

Similar Stories:
1. Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli
2. Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli
3. Brahmeshwara Temple, Kikkeri

Saturday, 31 July 2010

In the spell of Charukeshi

The beauty of Raga Charukeshi has captivated me in the last couple months. This raga, which originated in Carnatic music, has made its way into Hindustani as well. The raga has been used to depict various moods, mainly the pinnacle of Bhakti. It also renders itself very well to both ecstasy and sorrow, which not many ragas can manage as seamlessly as Charukeshi. I have been digging into many of the songs and renditions of Charukeshi in carnatic music, hindustani, dhrupad as well as movie songs.

Here is a collection. The favorite being the fusion by Anoushka Shankar and Nitin Sawhney.

1. Carnatic: Adamodi Galade sung by Charulatha Mani, where the composer, Saint Tyagaraja, begs Lord Rama to speak to him:

2. Movie: Song Shyam Teri Bansi Pukare from the movie Geet Gata Chal (1975)

3. Movie: Kripaya Palaya Shoure composed by Swathi Thirunal, rendered by the legendary K. J. Yesudas, in the Malayalam movie "Swathi Thirunal".

4. Hindustani: Pandit Ravi Shankar on Sitar with Ustad Allah Rakha on tabla

5. Fusion: Anoushka Shankar on Sitar, with composer Nitin Sawhney
Nitin Sawhney - Charukeshi Rain Live at the Electric Proms from Band on The Wall on Vimeo.

6. Movie: Song Ahista Ahista from the movie Swades (2005), sung by Udit Narayan and Sadhana Sargam.

7. Carnatic: L. Subramaniam on violin, in a class of his own...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 3: Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli

On the same day as my Kikkeri Brahmeshwara Temple visit, I had visited this huge and attractive Panchalingeshwara Temple, situated just 5 kms away from the town of Kikkeri. The village that is host to this majestic temple is Govindanahalli, which also belongs to Mandya district, and seems to be lost from all the modernization that the rest of the world has seen. This 1237 AD Hoysala temple is built on the outskirts of this small village, surrounded by large paddy fields and coconut plantations, adding to its ageless beauty.

The temple is dedicated to the 5 aspects or facets of Lord Shiva, which are, Sadyojata (for the western direction), Vamadeva (for the northern direction), Aghora (for the southern direction), Tatpurusha (for the eastern direction), and Ishana (for the skywards direction). Each of these 5 aspects of Shiva have a separate sanctum sanctorum of their own, and each of them are connected through one enormously elongated Navaranga. Inside this large hall, one can see multiple sculptures of Ganesha, Nandi, Subrahmanya and Mahishasura Mardini, each of which are extremely beautiful. Outer walls of the temple have carvings of a number of deities including the 24 aspects and 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

It is probably a blessing in disguise that there is very little publicity about this temple, as a visit to this place would give you a few hours of guaranteed bliss.

Here is a compilation of some of the pictures I took at the Panchalingeshwara Temple:

Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Similar Stories:
1. Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli
2. Brahmeshwara Temple, Kikkeri

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 2: Brahmeshwara Temple, Kikkeri

On the 3rd of this month, I had been on my second leg of the Hoysala Expedition, covering two places which are close to each other. One was Kikkeri, a town belonging to Krishnarajapete (K. R. Pet) Taluk of Mandya district. Although it is in Mandya district, it is easily accessible from Channarayapatna of Hassan district, for those who would be traveling from Bangalore. The second place was Govindanahalli, a village 5 kilometers away from Kikkeri.

The focus here is on the temple in Kikkeri, a place that is famous as the birthplace of the Kannada poet Dr. K. S. Narasimhaswamy. The town is home to the 1171 AD Brahmeshwara Temple built with the Hoysala style of architecture. The temple houses idols of Brahmeshwara, Venugopala, Ganesha, Suryanarayana, and Kala Bhairava among others, apart from the intricate carvings showcasing Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva, and the ten incarnations of Vishnu, and the trimurtis, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. The clinching feature of this temple for me was the huge Nandi statue in front of the main door, which has intricate stone carvings indicating the rope tied around its neck, and the garland of bells it is wearing. The amount of focus and concentration these carvings might have required would leave you stunned without a doubt.

Here is a compilation of the pictures taken there. Only regret on this trip was that I could not see the inside of this temple, as I got delayed at the Govindanahalli temple and they had closed this temple for the day by the time I returned. But the fact that the temple premises had so much historical, mythological and architectural marvels to offer, that it did not feel like I missed something.

Brahmeshwara Temple, Kikkeri from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Similar stories: Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli

Monday, 12 July 2010

"Dreams are those that don’t let you sleep"

ISRO today has successfully launched the indigenous PSLV C15 satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, overcoming the debacle of April. Every successful launch from ISRO brings to the fore, the technological advances the country is making in the field of space research. This also brings back memories of a personal experience shared by former president of India, Bharat Ratna Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

"Dreams are not what you get when you are in sleep, dreams are those that don’t let you sleep."

I have heard many people quote this over the last few years, and have read it as being attributed to at least half a dozen people, including Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. I don't know where this quote first originated, but I am one of those blessed few who have heard it direct from Dr. Kalam himself.

It was February 2007, convocation of the Visvesvaraya Technological University for the 2006 batch of engineering graduates, and having secured a rank in Computer Science and Engineering, I had got an invitation to attend the convocation at Jnana Sangama, Belgaum. Chief Guest was the then President of India, Dr. Kalam.

Post the convocation ceremony, while addressing us, the young engineers of India, Dr. Kalam recounted an inspiring story from his very early days at ISRO. Through the years 1975 to 1980 ISRO was building up to launch India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle, SLV-3. By 1979, Dr. Kalam was leading a team of six that was directly in charge of the SLV-3 project, and despite numerous roadblocks, the team was working relentlessly towards the target of launching the rocket in time.

When stage 2 of the SLV-3 became a failure after a successful execution of stage 1, pressure had mounted on the team to bring out their best to achieve successful completion of stages 2 and 3 to ensure India's entry into the elite league. Dr. Kalam and his colleagues worked without considering the time of the day, for endless hours, in their quest to succeed. During these days, he said that there were many days where they had left the work place at 12 at midnight and had come back at 2 in the morning, to resume action. Nobody in the team cared for a lunch break, a decent sleep, or even a sip of coffee or tea. They were all living their dreams. It is in this context, that Dr. Kalam made the remark highlighted above. Truly inspiring words, coming from an inspiring man.

To complete the story, thanks to all the hard work, on July 18, 1980, SLV-3 had a successful liftoff from SHAR, Sriharikota. Soon after, his colleagues lifted Kalam and carried him in a procession on their shoulders. This marked another stepping stone towards India's achievements in space research.

A few snaps from the VTU 2006 batch convocation, Belgaum (click for larger versions):

A stunning life size painting of Dr. Kalam that was presented to him on the occasion. We were not allowed to use cameras during the president's presence, so this was as close I got to getting his picture (It is another story that Dr. Kalam literally "escaped" from his security to spend time with us, shake hands and give little pep talks. The security personnel had a hard time keeping up with the mercurial genius):

Jnana Sangama all set to welcome the president:

On stage, with my rank certificate: :)

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 1: Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli

My Hoysala expedition hit the road running a week ago, with a visit to Doddagaddavalli. Doddagaddavalli, a small village in the district of Hassan, Karnataka, is home to the little known architectural marvel, a Lakshmi Devi temple of the Hoysala period. Inscriptions prove that the temple was constructed under the reign of King Vishnuvardhana, in the year 1114 AD, thus making the temple one of the oldest in the country. Vaishnavite, Shaivite and Jain influences are all in full display, and the temple houses shrines of Lakshmi, Bhoothanatha Linga, Kali and Vishnu. Also in display are rare and intricate carvings of Astadikpalakas (gods of eight directions), fiery Betalas (demons), and multiple inscriptions from the periods of different Hoysala kings.

Here is a compilation of some of the pictures I could take on a rather gloomy day. The "almost-about-to-rain" weather added to the countryside look and feel, complete with cool breeze throughout the time spent in the village.

I would like to thank my long-time friend and native of the village, Karthik D. P., and the families of his and his relatives, because of whom this trip to the ancient temple became possible and enjoyable.

Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Spring Blooms at Lalbagh

I had been to the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens last month a couple of times, primarily to capture on my camera, the blooming flowers of spring time and the re-energized little birds and animals there, and this is what I could manage (click on each of them for enlarged versions) :

Monday, 12 April 2010

A Telephonic Conversation with the Great LSR

After years of gap, I had the honour of talking to one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever come across till date, Shri. L. S. Raman (LSR). A well known Hindi Lecturer who taught at the Navodaya Composite College at Channarayapatna, has been for a long time, one of the best authorities on Hindi language and literature in Karnataka. After retiring in 1993, he kept himself among little kids, something that he enjoyed, by joining as an advisor and teacher at the Chaitanya Vidya Shala primary school. He was very deeply involved with the school till 2006, after which he moved to Chennai, where he is settled now, with his family.

What was striking with the conversations I had with him this week was that, although nearing 80, he still has the same levels of affection, memory, clarity of thoughts and expression, which made him the favorite among his students. I still remember him teaching Hindi, English and sometimes even Social Sciences to us at Chaitanya Vidya Shala. I don't remember him ever raising his voice to any of his students, let alone scolding them. His affectionate approach to teaching was such that he would have the most mischievous of the kids of the class captivated. That meant that he had, and still holds, the utmost respect from every one of his students as well.

What caught our attention as little kids was his simplicity, approachability, sense of humour and depth of knowledge. His affection to every kid in the school, irrespective of how good he or she was with studies or with co-curricular activities, was always on display. Below are a couple of pictures from my school days, where LSR is presiding over the annual school day functions (LSR is the one not distributing the prize in both pictures). What these wholehearted smiles of LSR brings to the fore are, how happy he felt for every little kid who came over to receive the awards for their "achievements". In his eyes, you could always see the innocence of a kid.

With that feeling of nostalgia, I'll end this post here, with a hope of meeting LSR sometime when he comes to Bangalore, and wishing him long life and good health.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Return of Andy Blignaut

Arnoldous Mauritius Blignaut, the superstar all-round genius, has returned to the Zimbabwe national cricket team after a gap of almost 5 years, and looks in great shape. If he can reproduce the brutal blitzkrieg he brought out a couple of months ago in the Zimbabwean national T20 league for Tuskers against the Mountaineers, then international teams beware!

Here's what he did that day:

Andy Blignaut turns it on for Tuskers from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Hoping for a couple of such sterling performances from him in the upcoming World T20 Championships in the West Indies...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Magic of Action Photography in Sports: A Moment Captured for Eternity

Photography from high adrenaline sports action sometimes brings out some of the most wonderful moments ever captured, thus immortalizing those moments for eternity. I stumbled upon one such photograph recently, from an IPL cricket match of 2009, when Royal Challengers Bangalore pacer R Vinay Kumar took the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, the iconic skipper of Mumbai Indians. Here is the photograph:

What you see here, is a single frame that captures deep dejection on one face, and pinnacle of ecstasy on the other. Pure magic. This brought to mind a Kagga verse from Dr. DVG, which is haunting me for a couple of weeks now, the one where he presumably describes a moment of deep meditation. What these photographs capture is nothing less than that, obviously if you just keep all other things involved in IPL - politics, money, power, etc. - aside.

Here is the verse:

ಹಿಂದಣದರುಳಿವಿರದು ಮುಂದಣದರುಸಿರಿರದು
ಒಂದರೆಕ್ಷಣ ತುಂಬಿ ತೋರುವುದನಂತ |
ಒಂದೆ ಕಣ್ಣೊಂದೆ ಗುರಿಯೊಂದೆ ಮೈಮನಮರೆತ
ಸುಂದರದ ಲೋಕವದು - ಮಂಕುತಿಮ್ಮ ||

My effort to translate it to English:

Past would have no existence, there would be no traces of the future,
As half a moment would fill up the senses, to appear like eternity.
One view, one goal, one body and one soul:
Those that mesmerize you in this beautiful world, O naïve one!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Cartoon: Farmer's Will

I Could not help but get these thoughts last week... (Click on the image to enlarge)

Monday, 4 January 2010

A-Z of Zimbabwe Cricket 2009: All Parts

Here are the links to all 8 parts of the alphabetical review of Zimbabwean Cricket in the year 2009:

A - Alistair and Co. Back in Business
B - Business as Usual for "Boom Boom" Chigumbura
C - Charles Coventry's Coveted Innings
Part 1 (A, B, C)

D - Dylon's Dream Domestic Debut
E - England's Ashes Win has Zimbabwean Flavour, Again
F - Franchise Cricket Brightens Future
Part 2 (D, E, F)

G - Graeme Cremer creams Kenya
H - Hamilton's Merry
I - Injury woes of Utseya and Co.
Part 3 (G, H, I)

J - Jarvis Junior Jumps in from Nowhere!
K - Kenya Marauded - Not Once, But Twice
L- Lock Locked Out
Part 4 (J, K, L)

M - Maruma Stakes Claim
N - No Sight, but Great Vision - du Plessis Continues to Impress and Inspire
O - Ozias Bvute becomes the Face of ZC
Part 5 (M, N, O)

P - Priceless Price Scales New Heights
Q - Queens Sports Club Roars Back to Life
R - Ripped Apart in Chittagong
Part 6 (P, Q, R)

S - Sibanda's Bradmanesque First Class Season
T - Tatenda Taibu's Troublesome Year has a Terrific End
U - Under-19 Performances
Part 7 (S, T, U)

V - Vermeulen is Back
W - World Records Galore
X - Xmas Break Xpectations
Y - Yet Another Controversy
Z - Zimbabwe Cricket is Back in Favour
Part 8 (V, W, X, Y, Z)

Here's wishing a very happy, fruitful and successful 2010 for Zimbabwean Cricket.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

A-Z of Zimbabwe Cricket 2009: Part 8 [V-Z]

V - Vermeulen is Back

With a history of unbelievable run ins against the establishment, including the burning down of the National Cricket Academy of Zimbabwe in 2006, former test cricketer Mark Vermeulen was all set for 25 years of imprisonment with hard labour. But in a curious turn of events, he was acqutted on the basis of the fact that he was suffering from a medical condition known as Partial Complex Epilepsy, which had led to the sudden surge of erratic behavior.

Given a chance against all odds to mend himself, Vermeulen showed that he had not lost any of his cricketing class, by piling up huge scores one after another in the 2008-09 first class season in Zimbabwe, and staked claim for a national team call up. One of the most unlikely comebacks of sport history was complete when Vermeulen scored a magnificient 92 in his comback to international arena, representing Zimbabwe against Bangladesh on 9th august, 2009. He did participate in many useful opening partnerships after that too, and formed a formidable pair at the top of the order with Hamilton Masakadza before form deserted him. Representing Matabeleland Tuskers in the 2009/10 domestic season, he got many starts, but could not convert many of them to big scores, much to his frustration. Vermeulen's ugly past briefly reared its head again when he threw tantrums after getting out early in a match against Midwest Rhinos. He was not picked for two rounds of matches after that incident by the franchise that was fed up of his behavior. It remains to be seen if Vermeulen can carry himself on in top notch cricket, with acceptable form, fitness and temper to make a better "mark" in Zimbabwean cricket.

W - World Records Galore

Zimbabweans were creating world records left right and centre this year, which was very heartening to see. Charles Coventry broke the world record for the highest individual score in an ODI by notching up 194 not out against Bangladesh. He actually shares it with Pakistani opener Saeed Anwar, but sits on top of the pile by virtue of remaining not out. Leg spinner Graeme Cremer, who had taken a wicket with his first ball on his T20 International debut against Canada in 2008, took a wicket on the sixth ball of his first over on his ODI debut against Kenya, thus becoming the only bowler in the history of the game to pick up a wicket in his first over in two out of three international forms of the game.

Vice Captain Hamilton Masakadza made the home series against Kenya his own, by plundering 467 runs, a world record aggregate for a bilateral series of any length. He also made two scores of over 150 in the series, 156 and 178 not out, which again is the first time it has ever happened at the highest level.

X - Xmas Break Xpectations

For a lot of budding as well as former Zimbabwean cricketers who have left the country in recent years to ply their trade in countries like South Africa and England, Christmas break means going back home from wherever they are, and meeting their families. 2009 though, had the expectations of cricket fans at an all time high. The new franchise cricket meant that already a big number of cricketers had come back to Zimbabwe over the course of the year, and the holiday break could have brought more people back home, who could assess the situation in the country, politically and cricketwise, and could choose to stay back and play, provided a contract was available from one of the franchises. This meant that the names of the likes of Tinashe Panyangara, Gerald Aliseni, Bradley Staddon, Andy Blignaut, Anthony Ireland, Sean Ervine and many others were doing rounds in pure expectation and nothing else. Grant Flower's return with the top coaching job for the national team also gained momentum. It would be interesting to see how the franchise squads shape up post christmas break as teams go head to head again at the beginning of 2010 in the closing leg of Logan and Faithwear competitions. Domestic T20 championship and a potential berth for T20 world cup of 2010 could also act as catalyst in helping some of the past stars make their decision to stick around in Zimbabwe.

Y - Yet Another Controversy

Controversies involving ZC continued to break out of the closet ever so regularly even this year, but their frequency went down and the effect were reduced as a lot of good things happening in Zimbabwean cricket took centerstage. In addition to the controversies involving former skipper Tatenda Taibu regarding the assault case and the kit controversy, there were other instances where headlines were made for all the wrong reasons.

Annual ZC Awards ceremony was held in Bulawayo in August, and news broke of the Streaks family not being invited, despite Denis Streak, Heath's father, winning an ICC medal. This led to a lot of speculation, but all seemed well after Heath Streak finally took over as the bowling coach of the national team.

No sooner the franchise cricket was introduced, it looked like trouble was brewing at the Matabeleland Tuskers franchise, where Joshua Paul was sacked to make way for Vumi Moyo at administration level. Although ZC hand in this was suspected, not much details surfaced, and the controversy died down.

Sports minister of the new unity government in Zimbabwe, David Coltart, invited a lot of criticism by posting on his official website, a mistimed article on ZC administrators written by Peter Roebuck, where he had called them goons and thugs.

Z - Zimbabwe Cricket is Back in Favour

Even before ZC came up with its revamped domestic structure and franchise model to reignite cricketing passion in the country and begin its road to serious recovery post ICC Committee report, other boards like the BCCI and CSA became more open towards ZC, offering help on their road to recovery. BCCI invited Zimbabwean teams to the domestic tournaments like Deodhar Trophy and Buchchibabu Tournaments, and offered National Cricket Academy facilities at Bangalore to the budding cricketers from Zimbabwe. CSA too mended its relationship with ZC and agreed for better support. ICC invited a Zimbabwe XI to take part in the Intercontinental Cup, the primary first class tournament played between the top six associates. This gave an opportunity for ZC to test their bench strength against the fast improving associate sides like Ireland, Afghanistan, Kenya and others.

Cricket in Zimbabwe has seen tremendous improvements in 2009 due to various steps taken in the right direction, and has undoubtedly raised hopes and expectations of players, boards and fans alike. Here's wishing a great 2010 for cricket in Zimbabwe. Inspiring performances in the U-19 World Cup and in the T20 World Cup scheduled for 2010 would do a world of good for Zimbabwe's efforts to come back into test arena.