Friday, May 29, 2009

Unmodernized JEE system...

I was amazed to find that JEE counselling is an archiac system whose only place in modern India is a museum.

Highlights of their 2009 rules for counselling:
  •  The main purpose of asking the qualified candidates to appear in person for the counselling is to verify their identity
  • After checking their identity and documents, the candidates will be asked to submit their choice sheets of courses and institutes.
  • After the qualified candidates have exercised their choices as per the counselling schedule, seat allocation will be done centrally, at a later date on the basis of the AIR-cum-choices exercised by the candidates.
Why is it so difficult to implement an online seat allocation system for JEE? For AIEEE, it might get difficult, but JEE with 15 colleges & 8000 seats, it should be much easier. Let me take a stab at creating a system.
  • At the time of result announcement, succesful candidates will get the link to register to a website where they can provide their preference institute & course.
  • The candidate can change his data any number of time till 5 days before commencement of counselling.
  • 3 days before commencement of counselling, the data on candidate preference is published to all succesful candidates, thus enabling them to gain an idea of which course & institute they might get.
  • On the day of counselling, candidates will gather 2 hours before their allocated time to the center. Their documents are checked and allowed within the "green room"
  • The "green room" is the location where the allocation is made. The green room will display real time vacancy positions across all open colleges to candidates.
  • 15 minutes each is allocated for every batch of 100 to make their decision and confirm their seat preference. Each candidate will be allowed to bring in 2 people to help him make his decision. 
  • Each candidate will be seated in the green room for at least 30 mins before he has to make the decision. Since he gets visibility of the information for at least 30 mins, he gets adequate time to make the correct decision. Also, the mock excercise before the start of counselling would also enable him to picture a close enough view on his allocation. 
I am sure there are much brighter ideas than mine for real-time seat allocation in JEE. The time has come for the JEE committee to open up to the 21st century reality rather than remain in the time wrapped cocoons of seat counselling.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

IPL 2009 - Glory to the oldies ...

As i posted earlier (closer to the midway mark), i made a quick framework to measure batting & bowling success in the IPL. 
  • For batting, i considered: Runs, Average, Strike rate 
  • For bowling, i considered: Wickets, Average, Run per over, Strike rate
I worked around the formulas and finally came across a measure that i felt gave equal weightage to batting & bowling and applied it across IPL 2008 & 2009. I didn't take fielding stats into consideration. Also, i didn't give weightages to 50s, 100s, 4Ws, 5Ws. I shall try and work something out later.

But as it stands today, IPL 2009's best batsmen & bowlers don't play any cricket outside IPL & probably backyard cricket - M Hayden & Anil Kumble. The contrast with which they reached the pinnacle is huge: Hayden, post match 4/5 dominated batting in IPL 2009. Kumble had a great first match and then lagged in the ratings (never dropping out of Top 10 though) and his final performance enabled him to pip RP Singh (who was Top 2 from the time i started tracking)

Some notes:
  • To me, 40 is the score of a good performer. There were 24 in 2008 & 21 in 2009 with scores above 40. There are six players who scored 40+ in both IPLs: Rohit Sharma, Gilly, Irfan Pathan (that surprised me!), Symonds, Raina, Amit Mishra (another supriser). MS Dhoni just missed it for this year (38.8 compared to 59.4 last year) and Hayden played too few matches (4, i think) last year to get to 40 (he finished with 36 still!)
  • Last year's top 10 included 5 batsmen, 2 all-rounders (Watson & Yusuf) and 3 bowlers. This year, the tide shifted to the bowlers - 7 bowlers, 1 all-rounder (Rohit Sharma) and 2 batsmen (Hayden & de Villiers)
2009 Top performers:

2008 Top performers:

Monday, May 25, 2009

No country for young men ...

31% of Indian population is below 15 years. Another 30% is below 40 years. While the representation of the former is not expected in the Union Cabinet, the lack of representation of the latter is really surprising. After the hundreds of hours spent by media and Congress leaders talking about youth, there isn't a single representative below 40 in the list of Cabinet ministers announced on 22nd May. In fact, there isn't one below 50!
  • Gang of 70s: 77 - SM Krishna, 76 - Manmohan Singh, 74 - BK Handique, 73 - Pranab Mukherjee, 72 - Murli Deora, 71 - Vayalar Ravi
  • Early retirees (60s): 69 - Veerappa Moily, 68 - Sharad Pawar, AK Anthony, 67 - Jaipal Reddy, Sushilkumar Shinde, 65 - Ambika Soni, 64 - P Chidambaram, Meira Kumar, 62 - Kamal Nath, 60 - Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal
  • "Young Blood" (50s): 58 - CP Joshi, 56 - Anand Sharma, 54 - Mamta Banerjee
That's a grand total of 3 folks below 60; 11 in the 60s and 6 in the 70s. Congress really needs to search and understand the meaning of youth in the dictionary. 

Another interesting analysis reveals the ministry by states and the actual no. of seats received by Congress in these states (LS only): AP - 1 of 33; Assam - 1 of 7; Bihar - 1 of 2; Delhi - 1 of 7; Karnataka - 1 of 6; MP - 1 of 12; Rajasthan - 1 of 20; Tamil Nadu - 1 of 8; WB - 1 of 6. Rest - 0 of 106 including UP (21), Maharastra (17), Kerala (13) and Gujarat (11). In fact, of the 18 Congress ministers (incl PM), 9 come from Rajya Sabha and were not elected by the people in the recent polls. Dr. Singh, Deora, V Ravi, Anthony, Shinde, Soni, Azad, Anand Sharma and Krishna. 

So, can the Congress stop harping about "Youth" and "People's mandate". Political parties have very little respect with the general public because of deceptions like this.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The real analysis on Indian Elections 2009

The TV talking heads have cooled off a bit on their instant analysis of Elections 2009. Several winners were announced by the TV heads and several losers. I intend to spend some time over the next month to analyze if the TV folks got it right or wrong.

But, one person whom they got it all wrong was Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar, and God knows how much i like him, didn't lead the NDA in Bihar because of good governance. He swept Bihar because of the split between Congress(I) and RJD. I analyzed the results of each of the 40 seats and this the summary table:

So, if you see this simple analysis - INC & RJD are losers because the monkey ate the cake while the cats fought over it. Even when you take only 80% of translation of INC votes to the RJD combine, the results is at least 2.5 times better than today. There's a lesson for Congress in this result table. Ignore Laloo if you want to write-off any chance of becoming big in Bihar.

Another trend that i noticed and that isn't obvious here, is the fact that BSP is nearing the 50,000 votes in 9 constituencies. That should worry the Congree, RJD and LJP.

In short, what do i recommend for the Congress in Bihar? I ask them to give Laloo a chance of joining Congress and becoming it's party chief in Bihar as well a cabinet minister in the current government. And why shouldn't that happen? Ideology-wise, there isn't a lot that seperates the Congress and RJD and Congress needs to spend more than a decade to become relevant again in Bihar. The easier route is to leverage the current result and add weight in states where it isn't strong. Also, inviting RJD to merge with Congress will also result in reverse-regionalization of political parties. Post-Congress, NCP and SP are the other candidates that will see a clear writing on the wall and they might want to join the re-join Congress. The public has clearly given it's mandate - national parties over regional parties and Congress has the golden opportunity of using this leverage. My sincere advise to Sonia & team - ask Laloo to join Congress before the feel-good feeling from election success evaporates! You won't regret taking my advise.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The dying breed of Television journalist

Mahesh Vijapurkar, former Deputy Editor of The Hindu wrote a brilliant article; hit the bull's eye with his piece.
The anchor, anyway, is going to have the last word because it is his show. The talking heads alias the spokespersons are merely actors of the moment, seeking to drive the network's TRPs.
While his article was focused on the spokespersons of various political parties, i saw a well-deserved criticism on Television anchors. I have long stopped watching TV channels like CNN-IBN and Headlines Today as they engage in sensationalism.

NDTV had been my favorite channels since my childhood. I remember the days when i used to awake late on weekends to catch, The World this Week by Prannoy and his team. How the mighty have fallen! I was watching a show hosted by Vikram Chandra (CEO of NDTV Networks and one of their main anchors  He was also one of my favorites) and was disgusted with the way he carried himself.

Rule no. 1 in journalism is to cover the News and not become the News themselves. And here was Vikram Chandra who was taking pot-shots at Varun Gandhi not once in a while, but every minute of the 40 minutes that i watched. Even Narendra Modi, who is treated by NDTV as Satan himself, did not get as much venom yesterday as Varun did. Varun Gandhi's name was incited & connected to everything on this good earth save Global Warming. Now, don't get me wrong here. I am not a fan of Varun Gandhi & haven't heard his hate-speech. But, isn't that for the courts to decide if he did something wrong. Who is Vikram to judge the actions of Varun Gandhi? Isn't he erring by his actions?

The curious case against Varun Gandhi isn't an exception in NDTV. It is the rule. God have mercy on you, if you fall in the bad books of Prannoy & team. They will indulge in character assasination and won't rest till they wreak the amount of havoc they have decided in punishment. Sad, that Prannoy, one of the best TV journalist India ever produced, has to resort to these unethical, cheap tricks in the name of TRPs. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SRK - Enough fooling around ...

Hi SRK.,

I know it is your money that you plonked on the table for the Kolkata team. However, what is happening with KKR is of concern to the entire cricketing fraternity. While you have the choice of appointing a candidate of your choice for coach, your current coach has no excuses for his excesses or his behavior. If i said that he has turned your team into Page 2 material, it is charitable at best.

And now, allegations of racism. Will you constitute an enquiry? How can someone say that against your fellow countryman and you remain silent in word and action? Have you forgotten that our independence is less than 62 years old? 

Tell me something, why does this team need more coaches that Indian national team. Since you claim that you don't know a lot about Cricket, let me tell you something. Ganguly was not only the best captain India ever had, he is also renowned for his eye for talent & grooming youngsters. Evidence include Zaheer, Yuvraj, Bhajji, Dhoni and M Vijay. In short, he is someone you aspire to have as coach - not Buchanan. Have you heard anything controversial from Gary Kirsten? Have you heard off-the-record comments from him ever? That's the sign of a good coach. Buchanan is repulsed by media as fish is repulsed from water.

Do us a favor and fire Buchanan & his team of 9 coaches. For crying out loud, there are just 11 Indians filling the 7 spots in the team. Don't you think 9 coaches is overkill. You would have heard of this - Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Make the changes today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why can't we have events like this in India?

Obama attended the Whitehouse Correspondent's dinner and gave a wonderful speech - full of self-deprecating humor lines and pulling the legs of his friends and foes alike. However, the star of the day wasn't Obama. The honor goes to Wanda Skyes. I haven't heard much about this lady before, but boy, was she funny! In fact, she went beyond funny, she was amazing. The way she took Dick Cheney to task was brilliant, not only because of the message, but the way she encapsulated it in humour. 

And it makes me wonder, imagine an event like this in India - where all our politicians get together for charity and crack jokes at each other. Laloo taking a dig at Mayawati in good humour; Modi chiding Prakash Karat; Karunanidhi going all-out against Advani. Wish that day comes sooner ...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Amazing Blogger

Trishani Doshi, you are an amazing writer.

Cricinfo - If i were you, i would give Trishani Doshi a multi-year contract after tearing the IPL-only contract. 

Sample of what readers get to enjoy:

What we're lacking is a bit of drama. KKR (the top source of drama so far) have sort of slunk into oblivion. Nothing new except the possible sacking of John Buchanan. Yawn. Preits and Shilps haven't got into a catfight, there have been no wardrobe malfunctions, and all that chaddi-buddy camaraderie with the players (very charming at first) now makes me want to vomit. How about a sledge now and then, a slap, something. We need a bit of masala to up the momentum, and a few injured fingers and thunderclouds (albeit dramatically beautiful ones), aren't going to cut it. Mr Modi, please could you orchestrate something? The battle of the cheerleaders, perhaps, or round two of the Bhajji-Sreesanth battle. Maybe even a stream of a thousand Bollywood dancers pouring onto the pitch during a strategic time-out to do an unexpected jhatak to "Jai Ho"? Make it as mad as you possibly can.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Piling on Buchanan

Let me the 178,453rd critic of John Buchanan.

While i had a lot of respect for him before the IPL started, it has quickly eroded. He was lucky to be where he was, as Aussie national coach lording over immense talent - Waugh twins, Ponting, Gillie, McGrath, Hayden, Martyn, Langer, Gillespie and Clark. Now that he doesn't have a billion-dollar roster, his true colors are out in the open for everyone to see.

Buchanan now wants to increase foreign players from 4 to god-knows how many more! Already, Lalit Modi has shot it down & Dileep Premachandran's (of Cricinfo) criticism has been even more direct - calling Buchanan a "whiner" and right fully so.

The following are the errors in the way of Buchanan. There is an endless list, but this is just a start
  • Ganguly! The list starts with Ganguly. Ganguly was & is India's best captain, master tactician & has one of the best eye for talent. His latest talent-spot is M Vijay, who stood-in for Gambhir during the Indo-Aus series and has shown top-tier talent in the one match he got. Ganguly is getting up there in age but there is a better way of using him than discarding him like that. He could have been the operational face of the team for a long time (and will still be!) and mentor for Indian players. Instead, by antagonizing him, Buchanan has shown his immaturity.
  • Ishant Sharma is one of the best bowlers in the business. If Gary Kirsten & Dhoni can get the best out of him, why not you?
  • Support staff - Remember just one law. Support staff is named so, because they don't get onto the field and face the opposition. There is only so much they can do. They can never supersede players. Never ever!
  • Shah Rukh Khan: Seriously, how can this team spend $600k on Mortaza. His base price was $50k and would have been available for $150k max. The remaining $450k could have been used on local talent. Remember, 7 players must be Indian; Only 4 foreigners. Spend more on Indian talent
  • Ajit Agarkar: The biggest underperformer that Indian cricket has ever produced. He always dishes one if not two 'four-balls' every over. His current stat line shows that - 3 wickets @40 average, 10 RPO and 24 SR. Nearly the worst of any specialist bowler
Buchanan, i wouldn't be sorry to see you go. The best thing with your term in IPL is that your halo is burst & ruined.  And that's the way it should be ...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

IPL - Best Players in 2009 are ...

Raina, Hayden & Malinga ... the best-player, batsman & bowler of IPL 2008 till date.

I created a Value Index for batting & bowling. Batting VI = Product of (No. of runs, Strike Rate, Average)/20000 & Bowling VI = Product of (Wickets, (40-Average), (12-RPO), (30-SR)). Get in touch with me if you want to debate the formula. LVI indicates the VI for the previous year.

The following is the list of best performing bowlers & batsmen in IPL 2009:

Criteria: Min. of 100 runs. Missing this mark are Sehwag, Gambhir, Pieterson, Flintoff & McCullam.

Malinga has amazing stat line - 11 wickets at average shade below 10, RPO of 4.83 and SR of less than 12. Thus, he takes a wicket once every 2 overs giving less than 10 runs in those overs. Brilliant. If he continues his performance, he will most likely even overshadow the spectacular performance from Sohail Tanveer last year.

Spinners have done well too - Jakati, Ojha, Kumble, Hodge & Raina have done well. Overall, bowler's performance this year is likely to upstage last year. Isn't that expected - South African pitches aren't the featherbeds of the subcontinent.

To compare, find the tables for last year's performance - Shane Watson, Stuart Marsh and Sohail Tanveer were the best player, batsman & bowler from last year's edition.

PS: I edited the formula and hence re-wrote the entire article.

PS II: I changed the formula for batting - increased denominator from 20k to 30k. That bought the batting scores of last year to about par on bowling. Thus, last year's best performer was Sohail Tanveer & not Stuart Marsh, and that's the way it should be.

There is no point in re-doing all the graphs. I shall do another blog once the tournament is over. Will show the revised charts then.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Fake Disappointment - Rediff & IPL Indian Coaches

Rediff asks this provocative article - Why do all IPL teams have foreign coaches? Why not even one Indian coach. Let's see. I examined the list of most prominent Cricketers who played between 1980 & 2000 (at least 10 Test matches or 40 ODIs) and have retired. This is the classification of their status.
  • Coaching (6): Venkatesh Prasad, Robin Singh, Pravin Amre, WV Raman, Syed Kirmani, Kharsan Ghavri
  • TV Career (10): Nikhil Chopra, Saba Karim, Vinod Kambli, Sanjay  Manjrekar, Maninder Singh, Arun Lal, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Ajay Jadeja
  • Administration (11): Javagal Srinath (match referee), V Raju (selector), Kiran More (ex-selector), K Srikkanth (selector), Shivlal Yadav (Hyd Team Admin), Yashpal Sharma (selector), Dilip Vengsarkar (ex-selector), Brijesh Patel (ex-selector), G Viswanath (match referee), Chetan Chauhan (Team manager), Narendra Hirwani (selector)
  • ICL (5): Nayan Mongia, Sandeep Patil, Madan Lal, Roger Binny, Kapil Dev
  • Politics (2): Mohammad Azharuddin, Chetan Sharma, Kirti Azad
  • Not Known (4): Narendra Hirwani, Manoj Prabhakar, Surinder Amarnath, Mohinder Amarnath
  • Business (1): Dilip Doshi.
So, you see that most of the former players don't think Coaching is a great career option. Of these 7, i think at least the following are employed by current IPL coaches in various capacities - Prasad (Bowling Coach - CSK); Robin Singh (fielding coach - HDC); Pravin Amre (co-coach, MI). So, i don't see a reason for too much complaint here. India has a dearth of ex-cricketers who have turned to umpiring & coaching as their focus is mostly on administration.