Archive for February, 2011

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World cup fever set to hit home

The much awaited Cricket World Cup 2011 is here and fans all over the globe are on edge with renewed passion for the game and pride as the Indian subcontinent hosts the best players from all over the world. Here is a look at the 14 teams contesting the 2011 cricket World Cup:

Australia is currently ranked No. 1 in the ODI standings and smashed through the 2007 World Cup undefeated. While Australia has the best current win-loss ratio in the tournament, many of Australia’s cricketing greats have retired and the new players do not have the skills or the experience to match. Ricky Ponting is back for his fifth World Cup and under scrutiny having failed to perform in the Ashes and sitting out the ODI series against England with a broken finger but whether or not he can lead this fledgling team to victory is yet to be seen. Australia’s first game is against Zimbabwe on 21 Feb. 

As a Bangladeshi I am an ardent supporter no matter what, but I do have to concede that Bangladesh is among the three teams I expect to depart from Group B. While Bangladesh has had some epic victories against the finest teams in previous World Cup matches, they face an uphill start against India and will need to draw on all the confidence their ODI ranking affords them if they are to proceed further than the preliminary rounds. Bangladesh needs to play with confidence more than anything else; they have beaten every full ICC member in the one-day format and need to keep their cool and play the game with youthful passion without falling like dominos at the first sign of stress. Bangladesh opens the World Cup, playing the formidable Indian team on home ground.

A lack of skills and experience has played a big part in Canada’s relative non-existence in the cricketing world. However they qualified well  and have a few talented players whose youth and flair could see them surprise the other teams. Notably, the player to watch will be Davison, who made the fastest century in the tournament in 2003. Canada first faces Sri Lanka on 20th February.

While England is riding the high of an Ashes win into this World Cup, they haven’t reached the knockout rounds  at the World Cup since 1996. England has a substantial line up with a potential match-winner in Pietersen, coupled with solid batting support from Strauss and Paul Collingwood, and an able off-spinner in Swann who will relish the slower pitches. While the Ashes were an easy win for England, they lost sorely in the ODI series to Australia so it remains to be seen if they can make the quick runs and put on the pressure required in the limited overs game. England won the World Twenty20 title last year and has five consecutive ODI series wins against South African, Bangladesh (twice), Australia and Pakistan from late 2009 to late 2010. Such a backdrop is encouraging for a team which has lost many fine players to injury in recent times. England plays the Netherlands on the 22nd of February.

Host, Passionate fans, extensive experience, knowledge of the pitches and the added advantage of having the world’s best batsman in Tendulkar make India the favourite this World cup. India has impressive names. Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and captain Dhoni add batting strength to what is India’s strongest suit, while Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh offer a mix of pace and spin with the ball which has been the undoing of the finest batsmen in the world. The only setback is India’s recent defeat to South Africa which raises questions regarding form for these impressive names which are nothing without impressive game.

Ireland scare me for one reason and one reason only – beating Pakistan in the group stage which caused a huge upset in 2007. The largely amateur side have grown up and professional players will be showing the world what Ireland has learnt in four years.  No big names in this lineup, even the promising Eoin Morgan moved to the England team only to be sidelined with an injury, which means Ireland, are battling big odds. So far they have lost all thee warm-ups games as well as their ODI series in September with Zimbabwe. Ireland plays Bangladesh on the 25th in Dhaka. 

Kenya isn’t looking very promising. Even though they have hired the energetic former South African Jonty Rhodes and have several players playing their fifth World Cup, an ageing squad is not going to cut the mustard against the likes of the more experienced and skilled world squads.  You can expect them to be going home after the Preliminaries. Kenya first plays New Zealand on the 20th.

The Netherlands can hold their head high on many sporting events but sadly cricket is not one of them. A crushing 156-run defeat by Sri Lanka in a warm-up on Saturday, along with a punishing 115-run loss to Zimbabwe last week, suggests they could well be accompanying Kenya to the Airport after the Preliminaries. 

New Zealand
New Zealand is flying under the radar this year. With John Wright at the helm and skipper Daniel Vettori controlling the onfield actions, I expect a lot from this team of solid all-rounders capable of pushing through to the finals if they play cohesively. The drawback is the severe losing streak they ride into this tournament which includes a 4-0 battering to Bangladesh and a 5-0 whipping by India. Let’s hope this run of losses doesn’t stop them from providing some of the competitive action they are very much capable of.

The most entertaining team in this tournament and definitely my wildcard, Pakistan has the hopes of thousands of fans riding on their shoulders after being denied the chance to host any games. A strong line up includes all-rounders Afridi and Razzaq, two extraordinary who can twist the direction of any game and are well suited to the subcontinental conditions. Despite the passionate fans and the strong experience and skill set, controversy clouds the Pakistani players with several bans for spot-fixing. The much anticipated return of Shoaib Akhter will be the focus of Pakistani fans hopes.

South Africa
A strong contender for the title, South Africa has outstanding individual performers such as Amla and AB de Villiers who lead the ODI batting rankings. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are a great fast bowling combination and Jacques Kallis is one of the finest players of his time. South Africa has the players, the game and the stamina and come into the tournament with a 2-1 win over India. South Africa’s main competition is itself, having consistently choked on the international stage in previous World Cups, they need to be firm in their game and take into consideration the slower pitches of the subcontinent.

Sri Lanka
With a strong history of excellent performance in the World Cup, Sri Lanka are in good stead to bring home another title. Sangakkara and Muralitharan are where the hopes lie with Muralitharan playing his last tournament and having a last chance at the title.

West Indies
Individually the West Indian line up has some experienced and stylish players like Gayle. Collectively this team fails to produce results time and time again. They come into the World Cup wish crushing defeats by Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia, their only reprieve being a 4-1 win over Zimbabwe. If they want to pass the Preliminaries and get a taste of their former glory days, they need to work together as a team and keep up consistently good form.

With no big names to support their line up, no big wins and no strong guidance (excepting the coaching assistance from Brian Lara), the Zimbabwe team don’t have much going for them this World Cup. Fans can look forward to the spin-oriented bowling attack led by Ray Price and Prosper Utseya but unless the Zimbabweans play confidently they don’t stand a chance against more seasoned squads.


The likes of Tendulkar, Kallis and Muralitharan may well be playing for their last chance at a taste of World Cup victory and this tournament certainly has renewed vigour and passion from the thousands of fans thrilled to be hosting the games on their home turf as well as the many spectators overseas. With no clear winner, no overly strong team and many underdogs who have wildcards in their line-up, this World Cup will certainly be great entertainment and great cricket.

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Valentines day Lamentines day

Yes. As you may have gleaned from the title, I am not a big fan of Valentines day. Now before you dismiss this as another rant from another disgruntled and envious single person let me tell you that this ‘rant’ is more a discussion of what Valentines Day is, was, and has become rather than a lament.

According to various legends it can be gleaned that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. At the time, Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families and so he outlawed marriage for young men who he deemed to be his crop of potential soldiers.

Enter our ‘hero’ Valentine who realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. While in prison waiting for his death, Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement.

Before his death, he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Now while this all sounds very well and good – I really do not understand why it would lead to an international kerfuffle.

While the legend is of an appealing, sympathetic, hero, the fact remains that this man was a Saint. A saint who was condemned to death. A saint who may or may not have played idly with the feelings of a much younger girl whilst awaiting his death.

So what about all this incurs any sort of excitement to tell your loved one that you love them? If you truly love someone, wouldn’t a hug everyday be more indicative and leave a lasting impression than a bunch of roses once a year?

Surely we as a society are not that blind as to accept the shameless promotions from the media who encourage us to consume and be consumed on this day with an overload of hearts frills and fluff? If you really love someone, you will realise that Valentines day is a disrespect of true emotion based on the delicate actions of a man that lived long long ago to make loads of money. Forego it. Give your loved one a hug every so often and that’ll do the trick!

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News.com.au reported today that  Liberal MPs warn of ‘Islam danger’. The article says that, ‘AUSTRALIA risks becoming a nation of “ethnic enclaves” that unknowingly buys livestock slaughtered “in the name of Allah”, senior Liberal MPs have warned.’

This article disappointed me and forced me to raise a few questions.  Firstly, what kind of MPs do we have in this country that will create baseless stories and use them to incite fear. What kind of media do we have in this country that will aid and abet such politicians? What kind of country do we live in where people are content to lap up such baseless crap without questioning it?

Come on people! In the age of Google where information is only a click away  – how can you spread, publish and believe such utter nonsense? Just googling halal will give you all the information you need to know that halal is a form of slaughtering that is humane and safe. Its not a age old barbaric practice. It doesn’t harm the animal and it doesn’t affect the meat or the consumer. So what is the problem? Why are MPs using this stupid issue to divide our society ONCE AGIAN?

And the toilet thing? What the? What in the world is a Muslim toilet? How is it different to a Non-Muslim toilet? This article sheds light on what’s behind the toilets thing –  New Muslim Prayer Room Opens.

From the article, ‘It may seem a bit anti-social if we were to wash our feet in the general students’ public bathroom’. So La Trobe built a new prayer room with attached washrooms so that non-Muslims wouldn’t be offended by people washing their feet in the regular sinks. But according to the attached PDF a keycode is required in order to gain access to the washroom and prayer room.

That’s no different to having computer labs that only IT students can use or a Biology lab that only biology students can use. Or a Medical Science library that only students studying a particular degree can use… or a disabled bathroom that only disabled students and teachers are allowed to use.

All of these facilities would have key code controlled access and students would be given access and/or would have to apply for access based on their special need. You have a legit reason for wanting to use the special bathroom then ask for permission!

I am a bit disheartened to see just how dumb the ‘average Aussie’ is…Do people who accept such stories without questioning their validity understand the meaning of the term ‘society’? Are Muslims not doing enough to help them understand our ways? Like the fact that our slaughtering method doesn’t harm those who eat non-halal food. There aren’t enough shows or news articles explaining the actual matters of concern from an Islamic point of view. If you turn on the tv or read the news you either see or read about ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘extremists’ or Muslims that don’t know the first thing about Islam. Where are the rest of us? The majority of us? The ones living our daily lives in harmony with Australian society, Our society!

If  you don’t want to eat halal meat, then make a point to research your food and look at the ingredients and source of the food. Heck it’s what all God-fearing, halal eating Muslims do! I don’t want to eat pork or any non-halal meat products therefore i check ingredients and shop where I know meat is halal. If you DONT want halal meat then don’t shop at a halal butcher! If you don’t want halal gelatine then buy a different brand of ice cream.

It’s not that hard.

No Muslim is going around saying let’s abolish all haram products from our supermarket shelves. So why are these guys saying get rid of halal food? I reckon, if u don’t like it, don’t eat it (or make your own). What’s wrong with choice?

Some people complain about existing products “going halal” like Vegemite or Bega cheese for example. Now I know for a fact that Vegemite has a big K right there next to the AFIC symbol. No one kicks up a fuss and starts pointing fingers at Jews do they? No, because bashing Islam is the flavour of the month thanks to the Australian media (and US media and European media…let’s be fair here ok this is not an Australian problem, it’s happening across the globe)

I absolutely believe that 85-90% of non-Muslim Australians couldn’t care less whether their Vegemite is halal or not. It’s the vocal minority who are the type to eat up news stories such as this and ban the burqa and whatever they come up with next.

Not to mention the economic benefits of having halal products in the market. You really think Cadbury decided to use halal gelatine because of its love of Muslims? Yeah right! You can bet your bottom dollar that using halal gelatine is more profitable for them and THAT’S why they’re doing it. NOT because maybe over the last 40 years a few hundred odd muslims (if that) have called up and asked.

The media is engaged in a war of fear mongering and sensationalism, Islam is their latest target. Our media is NOT concerned with bringing us the news and current affairs, they’re interested in ratings plain and simple and rationality doesn’t win ratings…extremism wins ratings.

Which of these stories are you likely to hear on the news tonight?

  • Crazed Muslims are slaughtering our cattle in bizarre, bloodthirsty rituals!
  • Islamic Group XYZ rationally explain halal slaughtering methods

All we can do is ask you dear reader to use your brain. Don’t believe everything you see/read/ and hear in the media. Use the resources available to you and find out the truth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Article idea and main points by – Israel and Fatin.

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Eating Halal

Seen the adverts for Today Tonight? This evening they will be airing a story about halal chicken being sold in supermarkets. In a ten second advert we heard such phrases as “bizarre religious rituals” and “the Islam-isation of Australia”.

Didn’t they run a similar story last year? Yes. What did they say? “ordinary Australians” are being fed halal products without even knowing it. Oh My! Really? Did you ever wonder what Halal even means? Why is it such a ‘bad’ thing? Or , if you really want to know what you’re eating then check the ingredients!

According to our ‘lovely’ and ‘objective’ and ‘morally upstanding’ media, this is a symptom of the on-going “Islam-isation of Australia” (whatever that actually means) BUT don’t you think that the main reason companies such as Baida have worked to get halal certification is purely because of the EXPORT possibilities that this opens up? Muslims in Australia are a minority and not exactly high on the list of priorities for most food producers…but the $$$ they can earn exporting their product to UAE, etc must be very tempting.

Last year Mrs Macs and Four & Twenty announced their new halal pies and sausage rolls? Has anyone actually seen these for sale in your local Woolies? Nope, because they’re being exported. Seems to me that the main driver for companies such as these guys to go halal is NOT Islam and it’s not Muslims in Australia….it’s export dollars that drives them.

We get the side benefit of having more halal products more easily accessible to us and while that means Australian Muslims are happy, it doesn’t mean Non-muslims are forced to eat halal meat or that halal meat is in any way offensive or harmful. But the today tonight types will never mention that aspect. They’ll just say that aussies are being forced to eat halal food and that Australia is being islam-acised – 100% fear-mongering and 0% actual facts.

                       – Article idea and main points courtesy of Is

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