Till Death Do Us Part – Arsene Wenger Edition

wenger

(This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental)

For as long as I can remember, ANA has been the only one I needed. She came to my life on a glorious mid-summer day in 2001, and at first glance I knew she was the one for me.
Every time I was with her I felt complete. I often regretted that I had not met her sooner, and felt like the previous years of my life was wasted.  I thought about her everyday. Time spend together became an addiction. It was only when with her that I felt like nothing was missing. Before love seemed like a fairytale, the only proof of it being through films and music. Now, all of a sudden Life made sense afterall.

I had planted myself for the long haul. She made me feel ‘Invincible.’ It was everything I could ask for. We travelled a lot, made unforgettable memories and perfection became realisation. We had our ups and downs, they all do, but the deeper understanding and the loyalty towards each other always meant we would stand the test of time.

wenger-invincible

We married with the blessings of everyone known to us. We knew we were in for a challenge, but we were ready for it. The time felt right. I have never been a man who can settle though. Everytime something good was achieved, I was waiting for the next challenge to further enhance my life. Thankfully, she shared that same competitive spirit.

She had to give up her job because we moved houses and the financial restrictions slowly started to have an effect on us. Suddenly we were facing our biggest test yet. Her smile still made me assured because it never lost its verve, it was a bridge to the golden days. Not that there wasn’t any distractions.

I would readily admit I am human. When RACHEL joined as an new employee, I nearly fell to the trap. She was everything that Ana wasn’t. She had a wild side and more importantly, during initial flirtations she was very keen to pass on the message that it was finally about me again. It was exciting, it was new and she made it perfectly clear how much she needed me.

It was hard. Work meant I had to spend more and more time with Rachel as the months went on. The temptation was running high, but her desperation became ever so apparent. It was spilling beyond control and novelty value quickly wore off. Her obsession competing with Ana became too much. The fact that I wouldn’t give in, unmasked her. Her weak points made me appreciate Ana for what she truly was. People often say you don’t know what you have until you have lost it. Not true. I realised what I had without losing Ana. It took mediocrity of somebody else to open my eyes.

wenger-young

Now, there’s JENNIFER. Jennifer is completely different to any woman I have ever been with before. She’s truly unique. In many ways, I feel as though what she offers me may be more suited to where I am in my life. I’m no longer an impressionable teenager like I was when I first met Ana. I’m a man of substance now.

The other thing is, my friends have never exactly taken to Ana. They look at Jennifer and say for a man of my age and maturity, she is the perfect partner. But they don’t know Ana like I do; she’s a weird case. They’re unable to see what I see. They don’t know what we have been through together; what we have shared. They weren’t there. She has been there for me when nobody else was. When I’ve felt as though I have nothing worth living for, she has changed that just by being there. It’s that kind of affiliation that Jennifer can never compete with, no matter how attractive she may be.

When it’s all said and done, I know who it is I want to be with. I know who it is that I want to spend the rest of my life. I try to remind you how valuable you are to me whenever I can but, Ana, I’m sorry if I haven’t done that often enough. However, I do need something from you.

wenger-smile

It’s time we turn our marriage into something beyond meaningful. It’s time I see your spark from a toddler’s eyes. Don’t ever think a new addition to our family would mean I would suddenly overlook you. You will always be the guardian of our family. The rock that would manage all finer things in our household. It’s just that the time has come for us to reinvent ourselves and look for the future.

You will always be the love of my life. The sole reason why I am what I am today. As long as you hold your end of the bargain, I promise to keep mine till the end of days.

Arsene, In You I Trust. And I Always Will.

one-arsene-wenger

Advertisements

Everybody’s got to disappear sometime – Realising the most obnoxious but obvious truth of Life

life-6

Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go when we die? What lies beyond? And what lay before? Is anything certain in life?

One of the universal truths that we have come embrace during our relatively short existence on this planet is that everything has a beginning to end. As much as many of us may wish it were so, nothing lasts forever. The moment any living creature on Earth draws its first breath, the countdown clock begins to tick away the seconds leading up to its last. It is the natural order of things, and though we may rail against it at times, there is nothing that we can do to stop it.

We burn wood and waste to create ash, which is then used to fertilize soils that are used to grow crops that feed a pregnant mother whose child will eventually be born containing some of the carbon from that ash.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end! Without such an end, there could be no beginning. This cycle is the crux of all life on earth. Without death there can be no rebirth.

While every life is infinite in length, the time spent in between those beginning and end points are what truly define it. What we do and say during our lives can have a profound impact on people long after we are no longer there to see it. Every one of us hopes to leave a mark on the world, no matter how small it may be, and to be fondly remembered by our friends and family when our time with them eventually comes to an end. It is simply a part of the human nature to want to leave a legacy behind that will live on after we have gone, and we all seek to somehow do so whether the effort is conscious or not.

The time that we are given to make that mark is limited, and we can never know exactly how or when it will end. Life is funny that way in that you can never anticipate exactly how it will all end up working out.

My grandmother still lives at the ripe old age of 87 after suffering many strokes for two decades, while my younger cousin brother who was in perfect health up until that hideous monster Leukemia loomed his large ugly head over him, died aged 6 years.

Both of those people, in very different ways made an indelible mark on my life, and in that way they continue to live on through me and the others who knew and loved them.

Truth is next Monday marks the 7th anniversary of my cousin brother’s demise due to Leukemia. He was not a just brother; he was a true friend to me. He gave me joy which would enable me to just forget the bitter experiences I was going through in life. And when the ruling creature of the world called for him to relinquish his stay here, if felt to me like how a person who lost his all bearings due to a natural disaster would feel-hopeless. I may have got over it by now, but the existence of my happy days with him still haunts me when the end of October arrives annually.

Now you should be wondering what the hell has happened to this fun loving, jet flying, limousine riding, kiss stealing, waterfall stalking, nature craving, and sports crazy sucker. What’s all this mentally deranged philosophical far cry preaching got to do with us? Point is this life we live in is short. Enjoy it with all the fibre of your body, whilst doing that do not forget to look back upon everything you do with an open mind. We all make mistakes, but be generous enough to rectify it. Do anything that doesn’t afford others to shed a tear. After all do care about everyone.

It is important to live each and every day the way you want to be remembered. Not just most days, but everyday, as you may never know which one may end up being your last.

Death is also but a beginning. When your life ends, the spirit of your life carries on. It is up to you how you will be remembered after you’re gone. Don’t wait until tomorrow, because tomorrow may be too late.

Say the words you want people to remember you saying. Do things you want them to remember you doing. Most importantly, be the person you want people to remember you being.

Because after all we have said and done, We are going to say good bye the same way!

P.S-Remember, everything happens for a reason always..:))))

An Ode to Nico Rosberg

rosberg-2

I haven’t voyaged this space too much in the past few months. But last Friday, suddenly everything changed. That desire, which had been lost somewhere in between the briskness in life and English rain, lit up in me again. Simply, I want to talk Nico Rosberg.

When the news broke out, the smell of ‘disbelief and surprise’ fragrance reached all over the world. For me, it reminded me one of my all time favourite songs, ‘Walkaway’ by Cast. The classic is all too easily spoken in the same wave length as the ultimate breakup song but for me, it always resembled a feeling of undeniable achievement, the vibe of reaching the top and saying good bye. Leaving someone to talk about the good things you have done when you were still loved. The song is a religious experience in it’s own right. Put into sporting context, in a nutshell, it oozes leaving as a champion.

Sport’s undeniable passion to carve out stratospheric moments would have suggested that after all oneday it would run out of steam. it would become predictable. Every script possible had been pre-owned that hop on a time machine and you would reach the original down the line. How further was I from the reality?

Rosberg may not be the only champion who left on the top of Mount Everest of their respective sport but the age in which he did it certainly adds a tinge of wonderment to it. He would never be Bernie Ecclestone’s poster boy or the charmer of F-1 mavericks who persevere to smell the throttle of danger, but in his own indomitable way, he had reached the pinnacle of his life.

rosberg1

Rosberg’s lasting legacy will be his class, something that his compatriot at Mercedes and greatest rival never had. The grandeur in which he conducted himself in the roller-coaster that is the elapsing of the F-1 calendar. The calmness he displayed in the past two seasons at coming up short in the championship which mattered to him the most, the bane of his existence.

Those shortcomings render itself to a bigger picture. A picture where how he conjured all that pain and chill wind and turned it into a final assault. “For 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my ‘one thing’, to become Formula 1 world champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target. And now I’ve made it.”

rosberg3

It’s no wonder he must have entered this season resembling Damocles sitting under that sword, for the pressure was mounting. Another failed attempt would mean that he would have to prolong for one more year and when you put that into narrative, this title makes it even more special. The emotional stress of having to defend the title was obviously not a bullet he was willing to take, no one could hold that against him. No one can, either.

None of us have been lucky enough to reach that checkered flag with the realisation that you had just become the top man in this complex mixture of physics and driving. When Rosberg reached the finish line at moon lit Abu Dhabi he had just achieved that. And then he ‘walked away.’ For a man who had always planned his F-1 closure that way, this was a dream ending.

Rosberg leaves with a legacy hard to beat. A classy man, a new dictionorial example for ‘endurance’ and most of all a World Champion.

P.S- Nico, If you ever wanted to comeback, don’t look beyond this.

Damian D’Oliveira- A legacy seen through eyes of the young generation

Originally published 2 July, 2014 in DeepExtraCover

imgID30486126.jpg-pwrt3

Look across from the press box at New Road and the familiar letterings of ‘Basil D’Oliveira Stand’ hits you right away. Perhaps, it’s a symbolism of the legacy the South African has left on these shores. Such heights of recognition is hard to replicate and for someone to live in that venerable shadow for the length of his life must have been more than going through the mill. But that’s the expectancy that comes with being the son of Basil D’Oliveira. Damian, approached it in his own way, and if not world beating he leaves a legacy that’s in hindsight has the measure of coming full circle in years to come.

Popular among the cricketing delicacies of New Road, somewhat similar to his career, the materialisation of his success can be best seen by the Worcestershire Academy Director role he fulfilled with virtuosity. It doesn’t mean to demeanour his cricketing career in any way but what his protégés have managed to achieve this year is a sublime example of what’s in store for Worcestershire Cricket in years to come and that has the longevity to withstand the test of time.

Taking Worcestershire back to the golden ages, a period when he played where the county was ruling the roost precipitating in two County Championship titles must have been the idealism that drove him to present bright youngsters their dues along with County Director Steve Rhodes’ vision. The great encumbrance that stood in between was the lack of output in previous years, at least not at the same level to the promise shown by the players. It must have been compulsory to have lot of faith, when things were pointing for an uphill battle. ‘Bumpy’ (Rhodes) and ‘Dolly’, as he’s affectionately known, never lost the moral fibre and the by-product has been right in front of their eyes this season.

It must have been easier to build a rapport between the two, as Rhodes and D’Oliveira stood next to each other at slips for Pears in those halcyon days. A career expanding to almost 15 years, culminating in 9504 first-class runs in 234 matches and 55 wickets rolling the arm over, D’Oliveira was part of the major success the county had. Worcestershire’s family tradition meant he would go on to take over the Academy while Rhodes would be appointed the coach in 2005 and their team-mate David Leatherdale, is the current Chief-Executive.

His former skipper Phil Neale, former club chairman Duncan Fearnley and David Morgan, the president elect of MCC were some of the faces that graced the last Sunday morning in which he was reported as passed away and the stygian atmosphere that circulated the ground including the spectators was attestation that Cricket was saying goodbye to one of the good men. They would still get to strike a note of the man every time his son, Brett plays. Laidback in appearance, the lack of activity D’Oliveira undertook since the season began was a doomed clue that he was going through a critical phase in his two year battle against cancer.

With seven Academy graduates bearing the county’s fortunes, he couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate time in cricketing parlance to say good bye to New Road. Hence, probably it’s best to leave the last words to young Tom Fell who scored a hundred showing immense maturity, something which the late great would be proud of, on the day against Glamorgan.

 

“That was for Damian. Myself and Tom (Kohler-Cadmore) owe him so much. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. He initially put me on the Academy when I was 14-15, he’s coached me all through that and he’s been a fantastic influence not only for myself but everyone at the club. Credit to such a fantastic man.”

 

United With A Manchester Legend

Hardly could you believe the accommodating and warmness of a man who has accomplished accolades belying his down to earth attitude. My calls for a ten minute closure was answered and here i was speaking with a former Manchester United captain.

Cinnamon Grand was the location, while he’s in Sri Lanka as an ambassador for the club, as part of a historic deal signed between Airtel and Manchester United, to bring the local football and global football communities together. While the questions rang myself, my club loyalties couldnt be hidden. Is it time for Arsene Wenger to go?

Wenger’s position is at an all-time low after three straight defeats to Fulham, Swansea and Manchester United, but Robson believes the Arsenal board is right to stay with him because if there’s one who can right the ship, it’s the Frenchman.Asked whether it’s time for a new face at the Emirates, he was quick to praise one of the biggest adversaries of his club in the past. He said; “no, I think Wenger’s a great manager. I think Arsenal is right to stay with him at the moment, but in saying that, he’s not given them a trophy for seven years and that can only last so long, because with a club like Arsenal and the traditions they have they got to be win trophies to stay on. I do think Wenger’s coming under a quite a bit of pressure, but Arsenal should believe in him.”

The discontent stretched to its summit last week when Wenger replaced 18-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – who was the best player on the pitch for the Gunners by a country mile – with erratic Andrey Arshavin in the 73rd minute during the clash with Manchester United. The former had just assisted captain Robin Van Persie to equalize and the crowd responded to the decision with a deafening round of boos. They weren’t helped by the long term jittery future as Arsenal haven’t won a trophy for seven years and are in danger of not qualifying for the UEFA Champions league, next year.

About the decision, the man who was named the greatest Manchester United player ever last year said; “yeah, but it’s the manager’s choice. Managers make decisions for certain reasons which people don’t know. If one is carrying an injury or whatever, managers will take measures like that. For me, Arsene Wenger is a terrific manager and he’s done a great job at Arsenal.”

United won the game eventually thanks to a Danny Wellbeck goal in the final minutes and there’s quite a lot of conjecture about who should replace Sir Alex Ferguson too. The scot has declared he’ll relinquish the position in three years and already ‘generals’ like Jose Mourinho and Pep Gaurdiola are linked, but Robson asserts that someone within the club should be ideal rather than jetting one from outside. “You should ask them that (who will succeed) question (laughs). It’s a real difficult one to answer, because you know Sir Alex is such a great manager. He’s got a fantastic record with Manchester United. It would be very difficult to replace him. People can name whoever they want from around Europe and around the world.”

“I think it should be someone within the club. People like Mike Phelan, René Meulensteen are the two coaches who are working under Sir Alex at the moment and they are doing a magnificent job. Why look outside the club when you have talent inside.”

Last year has seen a few managers from outside the perennial forces put their hand up with sterling performances. Alan Pardew, who was an uncelebrated choice at St. James’ Park in early 2011, has garnered appraisal from Newcastle fans, newly promoted Norwich and Swansea have Paul Lambert and Brendan Rodgers, who have employed attractive passing football to great rewards and rave reviews and Steve Kean at Blackburn is trying to build a team seemingly without financial patronage from the owners, Venky’s. But Robson says the gaffer who deserves the accolade is Tottenham Hotspurs manager, Harry Redknapp.

“Sir Alex is of course the best manager in the league. But seriously looking at the past year and current situation, you got to say Harry Redknapp. He’s done a marvelous job at Spurs.”

So could they still have a crack at the title? “I know it’s slim. But I wouldn’t dismiss Tottenham. They have got a lot of good players and they were a little bit unlucky against Manchester City; could have easily got a victory there. Had they won that match, they had a great chance but because of the reverse they have slipped so many points behind the Manchester clubs now. It would be very unusual now to slip up. But looking at the other clubs, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal I don’t think they have any chance of winning the league. Tottenham still have an outside chance.”

With neighbours Manchester City – breaking the bank at will with Sheik Mansour hell bent on conquering the EPL – leading the table, there’s no inkling that if not for United, Robson wouldn’t mind Tottenham for the title either.

References- Manchester United Legends Robson And Yorke In Sri Lanka Today
Airtel Uncovers Historic Partnership With Manchester United

Galle Chronicles Everything That’s Right About Test Cricket

Written for ‘The Island’ on March 29, 2012

An arrogant bouncer flying past a batsman’s helmet akin to a modern sexy F-1 car hustling past a grand marshal with the chequered flag or a teaser with loop and guide poetized from the hands of a tweaker hypnotize a bewildered batsman is like adoring the gorgeousness of Phryne-the woman who was used as the model for a statue of Aphrodite, the beauty of it is still the same. Loving it can be as classical as being hit flush on the helmet or foxed in the air.

Test Cricket at its finest and simplistic best can rival almost anything the world can turn up with. It’s in fact a testimony to a normal man’s life, the rigours and blissful moments collected in one exhibition. More than anything, it’s a test of character only the best of the best can break through the glass ceiling. Galle might not have bear witnessed a slam-bang festival or a more stretched version of it, but what it surely did was come up with a question paper of a surface to be answered and a unforgettable test match.

For every maximum, designated from the virus which spread like wild mushrooms around the world nearly three years ago, there was mental warfare-the game within the game. For every hit in anger, was the acquiescence of bat and pad. For every free hit, there were the powers of concentration. For every colour and glamour, there was the good old fashioned intestinal fortitude. In brief, a proper test match always puts a T20 or a one-dayer into ungodly oblivion.

Jonathan Trott maybe the traditional poem from the lips of a lovey-dovey grandmother in the night for a grandson or a granddaughter for some or Prasanna Jayawardena’s second innings vigil could be the catalyst for another world war, but for a set of followers-in a phenomenal sign, a following which is increasing day by day-it is the best herbal massage available. Whether one watches from the stands,-hard task considering the administrators vision in pricing of a ticket can equal the charisma of a rock- the ramparts-the best view a cricket ground in all of the world can brag about-or from the comforts of cushion at home, the feeling won’t be different.

While Mahela Jayawardena showed the class, Trott was the beacon of resilience. P. Jayawardena and Matt Prior-the flag bearers of grit. In a modern age of inflated averages and in direct correlation the egos, this kind of pitches should be revered. So does green tops. You don’t need meditation to relax your mind. A Test match full of drama and an absorbing contest could well be the cure. The diversity of pitches is literally the vessel that pumps blood into the brain.

And isn’t it pleasing to see the ‘Era of Flight’ in full steam? There were a lot who suspected spin bowling won’t retain its charm in world cricket after a generation of wizardry of Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne. This idea has already been pinned down but the best current spinner in the world and the best left-arm spinner in the world certainly put to bed this in the last few days. Swann and Herath represent a generation that ought to be appreciated. Along with Saeed Ajmal, Nathan Lyon, Imran Tahir, Suraj Randiv and friends, they are writing their own script in Cricket.

England has lot on its plate. They are scrutinized for the same offence as India when they were world no1. At least they are facing the problem head on by playing outside of home. As it stands, more than half their line-up hasn’t come to grips with combating spin. They can still be considered the no1 taking into account the form in a lengthy span of time but right now, one thing’s certain. These sub-continental excursions are only providing more questions than answers. Misses better put the coffee pots on.

In highsight, a stock of competitive countries is only going to swell the quality of contests. Pitches of quality are all that’s the need of the hour.

This was what the curator and in a bigger slice the custodian of Galle Stadium, Jayananda Warnaweera had in store for ‘cricinfo’ with regards to his intentions in furnishing a surface. “You shouldn’t produce dead Test pitches just to get scores of 600, that’s my motto.”

As The Beatles nearly sang in ‘Blackbird’, “Take these gleaming eyes and learn to see.” Are you watching featherbedders?

The Island Link-Galle Chronicles Everything That’s Right About Test Cricket

Pallekele- Sri Lanka’s own Nefertiti to Cricket

316860_244517172260854_141340811_n

Originally published in ‘The Island’ on 7 August, 2011

Cricket is an avenue unlike other sports which leaves space for nature to fly its divine wings. While you will be blessed with the scope of the first choice -cricket, there’s always the added charm of escaping the action for an instant and be dazzled by the milieu. Sorrowfully, concrete jungles are noshing away the delights fast. It’s in this sphere that you detect nature’s heaven – Pallekele- you become instantly hooked.

 

One thing that sets you up for a congenial location is the adherence that Kandy is one of the more gorgeous daughters of mother Sri Lanka.

 

The razzmatazz, buzzing or the sonority of the sea of the crowd pumping into the stadium at the entrance ought not to welcome you to queen Nefertiti you are about to witness and you shall not have a particle of an idea about the siege that you are about to embrace. Modelled akin to the embroidery of Super Sport Park in Centurion by the State Engineering Cooperation of Sri Lanka, you wonder why they dumped the ‘park’ feature to the more urbanite ‘stadium’.

 

The smile of the female police officer greets you – in a vicious slap to perceived notion about the department in whole – as you enter the super fit media centre, where inside, the view is exemplary. The kind hearted faces inside the box welcome you with the utmost friendliness and the sighting of that ever spiritual and the pearl of the Indian ocean loving Tony Greig makes you blissful, while the other Aussie, Tom Moody reminds you of the emphatic transformation in Sri Lanka cricket that he piloted.

 

The gigantic broad main pavilion structure at the opposite side makes you tremble and all the same proud, but as you wind down the ground slowly what grasps you and pronto soothes it is the appearance of grass banks. Lo and behold, it’s a joy.

 

Although the darkness cloaks the mountain – which for a second gives permission for a Newlands in Cape Town reference – in his wiles, it is fitting that two ends titles -Hunnasgiriya End and Rikillagaskada End – which the nightfall can’t hide are famous for its own rendition of mountain ranges.

 

As 1960s Green Bay Packers head coach Vincent Lombardi so eloquently put it; “perfection is unattainable,” and even heavenly Pallekele hasn’t escaped that dictum either. This is the favourite place for rain gods to have their vacation and that too when cricket arrives. All four games before had listened to their orders in some form and the gloom that circulated and the spring of drops that fell at times shook the expectations, but thankfully, it stayed away. Maybe the glamour of this Nefertiti finally has hypnotized the last individuals remaining – the rain gods.

 

While entangled in all this, 7.00 pm gave set off for the rationale we were all here amidst the sightseeing. As it turned out, the overcast conditions hoodwinked Australian captain Cameron White to bowl, which even his counterpart admitted would have been the path he also would have taken. Brett Lee ran in like a Duracell bunny, but others lacked penetration and crucially, the proper length. No shortcomings of the Australians could degrade Dilshan’s superlative hundred though.

 

The patented scoop made a welcome return and as he would later cheekily express, it was the thumbs up by coach Rumesh Ratnayake that allowed Dilshan to release the cat from the bag again.

 

For Australia and captain White, the main concern would be the manner of the defeat. His own form could be a major headache for White more than anything.

 

This is a one venue that the Australians could find more to their liking and the others are going to test their ability to conquer the tweakers. Although a one-off isn’t the best judge and we all know the competitive never say die behemoths they are, the way they went down at the rate of a skier here, is an ominous sign. The clash today, will have a lot on its plate.