The Unknown Kimi Raikkonen

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The book written by Kari Hotakainen starts at the Malaysian Grand Prix and ends at Kimi’s home. This is an indicator that the author was given unfettered access into Kimi’s life. Anybody who follows Kimi knows that he is taciturn and likes keeping to himself. You have to wonder what made him open up about details that are not known to the wider public.

He talks about his early life and how his father being a mechanic helped the Raikkonen brothers rise in the world of driving. While Rami, the younger one, gave it up, Kimi kept at it. Kimi talks of his father fondly and the chapter where he talks about his father’s death and his regret is something that will have you rushing to mend fences with your father. 

Kimi’s beginnings have stayed with him as he values the mechanics in the team and he is generally on first-name basis with them. An incident that finds repeated mentions in the book is about the time he fixed the toilet in the Ferrari bus.

We can delve deep into his personality when he talks. Like the instance, when he says this 

I like being in the car; driving is the one good thing about the whole job. You’re left alone 

The love he has towards his family is more than the love he has for his profession. He is aware of the responsibilities that come with being an F1 driver and he doesn’t avoid them. 

Like the author says 

Kimi isn’t the first Finnish sportsman to shun the microphone, or to fear it. But he’s the first one whose reticence has become an international brand

We know him as a driver. As fans of Kimi/F1, we would be eager to know about the journey that got him here in the first place. The fact that he is talented shines through at more times than not in this phase of his life. He makes light of his struggles in foreign land, but that only made him stronger. 

His rise to F1 is unmatched; before and after. So, it is amusing when he says that he is scared – not of driving, but of failing. 

There is a wild side to Kimi. The detour to Iceland. The party with Bahrain prince, the parties on his yacht. All of them and more incidents find a mention.

He makes his contempt for mobile phones very clear. He doesn’t regard them as a part of his life. His phone is always on silent and he has thrown away his mobile phone on more occasions than one. 

He is fiercely loyal; to the people he grew up with, to the people he works with and to the values he grew up with. It is said that Ron Dennis tried to infiltrate him into the high society but failed.

With the pressure on his time and a growing family at home, he values time dearly and makes no bones about travelling in chartered flights. He wants to be home as soon as possible rather than wait for scheduled flights. 

The only disappointment in the book is that it ends too early and more than half of the book is devoted to statistics. 

Ben Foakes and playing spin

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Image Courtesy : gettyimages.com

It took Ben Foakes 44 balls to do what Rory Burns took 3 balls – score the first boundary in their debut Test. Coming in at 103/5, Foakes set about undoing the damage started by Burns chasing a ball down the leg stump line.
He was good while facing spinners – he looked assured of either foot. Today was a day every England batsman who came out to bat before Foakes came with the intention of imposing themselves on the match. What else can explain the shot that Moeen Ali wanted to play off the first ball that he faced? Result? The first golden duck in his career.

Ben Stokes in a similar manner wanted to fetch the ball and ended up stretching more than what was necessary. He was bowled by what could’ve been punched to mid-off for a single. At that stage, a total of 200 looked too far. Foakes walked in at this stage in the match, a situation far from ideal for a debutant. There have only been two centuries from a number 7 on debut for England – Prior walked in when the score was more than 350 and Thorpe had situation similar to what Foakes had today. While Thorpe had Gooch for company, Foakes had Buttler and Curran.

Batsmen have different strategies for batting on the pitches in sub-continent. Some hit their way out, some grind the bowlers out and some devise their plans on specific shots. Foakes, today, alternated between the second and third of the mentioned strategies. In the company of Buttler, he started slowly and picked up pace. After Curran’s wicket, he concentrated more on being there than scoring runs – Rashid did the latter job for him.

Facing spinners can be a tough task. During the IPL when Rashid Khan was wreaking havoc, Sangakkara, in the studio, was asked what would he do counter him. Sanga replied back saying that as a right hander, he would stand on the off stump to negate the power of Rashid’s googly and force him to alter the line. Root, in his brief stay at the crease, was doing the same before rush of blood saw him coming down the track and yorking himself.

Foakes must have seen the dismissal as he set about to be effective rather than pretty. For balls pitched on the stumps line, he went back comfortably and tapped it to the midwicket region. This was what he did till Tea. After tea, he started coming down the track, not in an attempt to force the bowler out of the attack, but to tell the bowler that if he changes the line, he could come down the track and play it to similar areas.

Sri Lankan bowlers would go back and check their line to him. While line didn’t seem to trouble him so much, it would be interesting to see what changes in pace, change in the angle and flight would do to his poise. Day 1 was won by Foakes when it seemed that Sri Lanka would walk away with the honours