Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category

How the idea to revamp Global Cricket Governance model came from UN..

March 19, 2014

When the proposal to revamp cricket governance came out, it was hugely controversial. The proposal suggested that cricket in future shall be governed by three major powers- India, Eng and Aus. This led to troubles amidst other members who were unhappy being marginalised.

Even then, there were thoughts how the structure looked like a mini-UN kind with a permanent member security council.

Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards in this excellent and frank interview explains the need for these changes. Whether you like it or not, idea was to keep India happy.

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Impact of digital media on cricket broadcasting and rights..

March 4, 2014

There are interesting battles happening in the digital space with respect to cricket coverage. Earlier we could just sit and log into any of the websites and just follow the live coverage ball by ball without bothering to be disturbed by TV. And cricinfo.com team written commentary was as good as any.

All this has changed recently in the recently held India-NZ 2014 series. Sony was broadcasting the series but the websites were not allowed to do a live coverage. There was a delay on the website just to thwart competition from the websites. This case has excellent lessons on finance, microeconomics and law.

Gouri Shah of Mint covered the issue:

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IPL as a sport vs IPL as an auction platform…

February 12, 2014

In today’s auction covered really well by cricinfo.com, someone asked – Is IPL Auction better than IPL game? Indeed it is. IPL as a sport keeps finding new lows with all kinds of stories, IPL as an auction platform keeps becoming more interesting .

There is so much to learn here in terms of auction theory, overbidding/underbidding, managing resources, team strategies, balancing team (as in balancing a portfolio of a mutual fund), valuation of players going up and down (from previous auctions) etc etc.n

The impact of Ashes was really strong as barring Kevin Pietersen no English player got any favors. And then Eng even plays Sri Lanka during IPL time this year. So, No bidding even for Sri Lanka players. On the other hand Aus players continue to command a premium.

Some players like Yuvraj, Dinesh Kartik seem to have been bid aggressively and  most people said they were overbid. Others like Ross Taylor who seem to be in great form got no bid. The hyped Corey Anderson got a lower than expected bid as by then most had run out of cash. Indian pacers (if one can call them that) were not much in demand barring Shami who seems to be the only hope.

I can go on and on..

Fascinating to see and learn..

Sach was a special player!!

October 12, 2013

This is a longish post with ME paying tribute to Sachin Tendulkar.  This blog was started to cover a bit on cricket/sports too hence was called Mostly Economics and not just economics or something. The posts on cricket have been way too few and let’s see whether there can be posts on cricket etc.

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Who got LBW in IPL?

June 20, 2013

Another piece from  Shashi Tharoor and I cannot stop but commenting. It is good when he writes pieces like this where he draws on his experience from UN days.It is completely another case when he defends things for the sake of defending them just because he is an Indian politician from the ruling party. Sad to see how politics is so damaging.

So this piece is on guess what? IPL. The same IPL which made him lose his Cabinet position. He points how the media attention has shifted from corruption to IPL:

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Why IPL keeps failing people (Just like Why nations fail?)

May 23, 2013

It is amazing how IPL bandwagon keeps rolling despite new crisis every year. IPL itself leads to many interesting economic lessons (like auctions, game theory, portfolio management etc. I have written few pieces on both – previous crisis in IPL and applying economic lessons to IPL (and vice-versa).

However time has come now to set things really right. The recent spot fixing crisis is just a microcosm of things happening in IPL. Overall, it once again shows the importance of getting the institutional framework right. Without proper institutional checks and balances, IPL is likely to continue to disappoint people.

Drawing from the book Why nations fail, one can ask why does IPL remain in crisis/controversy? The reason in both cases is same – politics..

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Australia’s test captains and central bankers…similarities?

March 30, 2013

My earlier post drew linked Australian cricket with Minsky theorem of instability and Minsky moment. This was based on Ian Chappel’s article.

Well in his yesterday’s article (29-Mar-13), Chappel laments on lack of options for captaining Australia’s test team. If Clarke is unfit as in 4th test against India, there is a problem. Amazing really to see the decline in Aus team. At one time there were so many of them in Ponting’s team and now nonw.

Anyways Chappel points to this interesting statistic:

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Minsky moment for Australian cricket?

March 25, 2013

P0st 2008-crisis, many econs/ideas have risen from the ashes and many have been buried (or in the process of being buried). One such case of rise is Hyman Minsky whose Minsky moment has become one of the most quoted phrases.

Minsky turned the basic premise that we should not worry in good times. Infact it is in good and prosperous times (when ppl say this time is  different) that financial fragility/risk starts to build into the system. This euphoria then leads to excessive risks and then comes the Minsky moment when all the sand castles simply get washed away.

Well, I think Minsky and his moment could be applied to most walks of life. Just as you think, things are going well (in career, job, relationships etc.) you get a Minsky moment..

So this piece from Ian Chappel on Australian cricket stirred me a bit and took me to Minsky.

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Determining Player Wages in Indian Premier League (IPL)

July 3, 2012

IPL has emerged as one of the most controversial sporting contests in not just cricket but perhaps even sporting history. It has been successful as well but controversy and IPL seem to have become synonyms.

Keeping the cricket perspective aside, IPL has even generated huge interest amidst econs. Lalit Modi in his wildest dreams would not have imagined the impact of IPL on eco research. But then IPL was just a perfect setting for econ research. Things like player auctions, various auction rules, conflict of interest (BCCI official owning one of the IPL teams) etc. is just a very fertile  area for econ research.

I came across this paper by Liam Lenten, Wayne Geerling and László Kónya of La Trobe University. They estimate wage premiums (and discounts) for various players:

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Was India ever a No.1 Test team?

August 21, 2011

India may have become a No.1 test team but it just seems to be a statistical error. The current performance against England has been so so bad that one does not know where to look for answers.

The current India-England cricket series has produced far worse outcomes even for the most pessimistic Indian team critics. It may not be a black swan event but was a clearly a tail event with very low probability.  To imagine how Indian cricket team has been so thoroughly outplayed in all departments for four consecutive tests is something I have never seen. Each test has produced a defeat bigger than previous test. As I am writing this post, India is at 150/6 with England piling 590 odd runs in the first innings. Barring rain, the outcome is certain. A follow on and an innings defeat. The first two tests India lost by runs, third test by an innings and fourth follow-on innings defeat.

India has always been an domestic tigers and awful travelers losing tests easily travelling abroad. This changed in 2000s after England tour in 2001 (ironically) where we managed to draw the series followed by an amazing series of runs with wins in Pakistan (in 2003), draw against Australia in 2003-04 series, wins against England in 2007, New Zealand in 2009, draws against Sri Lanka and South Africa in 2010 and so on. We did not win in Australia, South Africa etc but atleast held our heads high with some stellar performances and winning atleast one match.

But this series in 2011 has been too much to handle and figure. We never really bowled so badly abroad as our gentle pacers managed some movement which was absent in Indian conditions. There have always been one-two memorable spells from someone which turned one match around in previous away series. But this time it looks like any college/club attack. There has been no memorable spell with each inning of bowling worse than previous inning.  If we did not accidentally discover Praveen Kumar (who could not turn around matches) England might have put 1000 runs as well..

Batters were always a pride but have failed so miserably (not one score of 300!) collectively that one does not know which way to look. First test match of the series was always bad, but to bat so badly in each test has never been seen before. Barring Dravid, it has only been shame.

Fielding has always been a case of embarrassment which was hidden in batting and some bowling performance. So, nothing to write on it. The so called youngsters are no better. Dravid himself  has spilled so many catches which shows the minds are elsewhere.

The ongoing series reminds me of two such series. SA in 1996-97 and Australia in 1999. We were just shocked by the pace and movement. Both bowlers and batters could not handle swing in 1996 and first test got over in 3 days (scores of 100 and 66). In second we saw a mighty fightback by Sachin and Azhar and managed to save the follow on. But SA was too good and we just could not fight in 2nd innings. However, in third there was a beiger fightback and India could have won the test if it was not for Cullinan and rains. Dravid batted superbly and we showed it was not lack of skill but for lack of preparation.

In 1999, we ran against one of the best test sides ever and barring some spark from T’kar and Laxman in last innings of the 3rd test, it was a complete whitewash. Laxman was awesome in that inning and went onto dominate Australia which no one else could.

However, in 2011 we had far bigger reputations. We were nowhere there in 1996 and 1999 but were no. 1  in 2011. To imagine performance like this between No 1 and No 3 (Eng was no. 3 before the series with SA at No. 2), was unthinkable. Barring the first two days of second test, India looked like the last ranked team. Even currently last ranked team like B’Desh, Zimbabwe etc would have put better performances in atleast one test.

I am not sure what is going on? People have come up with following answers:

  • Too much of cricket- Yes there is too much of cricket but that applies to all. Not an excuse really. People are free to choose whether to play or not. It all boils down to your preferences.
  • IPL and money – I don’t like to say this but this has been a real factor. It is connected to the first. Right after a week of WC victory, players moved on to IPL. It was sad to see some Indian players having double standards of first preferring IPL and then saying too much cricket is being played. Many nursed injury but still played IPL for pleasing their teamowners and BCCI anf ofcourse their bank balances. They say it is nobody’s right to question their playing as it is a personal choice. But we surely can question them for such shoddy performance playing for the country. It Is sad to see such tall players carrying injuries and not notifying things in advance. Well perhaps they also knew there is no replacement so wait and see if injury heals in time.IPL has opened a Pandora box like seen in football. Some players play really well at club level but fail to deliver for their country. Forlan/Suarez of Uruguay are not really known in club football but are different players when donning Uruguay colors. Whereas Messi can never perform for Argentina. Similar would happen and is happening for IPL as well. We need to choose players carefully. IPL success may not lead to similar success playing for country.
  • BCCI – Well, like Indian government is one of the biggest hindrances in India’s growth same is the case with BCCI. It is just interested in making money without any major initiatives to make money. We are being told that Indian batters cannot play swing/seam as no pitches. In India.  First such pitches are never really made or promoted in India. Second, what prevents the board from sending players a month early to get familiar with the pitches. This obviously will not happen as it has to make money from as many tours as possible with as limited time for another tour. It is amazing how little cricket teams play on coming to another country. Earlier 2-3 matches before the test match was a must. Now to get even one is a luxury. Even this is not an excuse as our middle order and openers have played so much outside. They know what to expect.

So it is all a mixed bag. A problem which was being seen by a few but ignored by others. Ian Chappel has long said India does not have the bowlers to help it remain at No. 1. It is so amazing to see how useless we are without Zaheer. How can we be no. 1 with just one bowler? Even in batting it was really a case of Sehwag firing in a couple of matches which allowed middle order to settle and pile runs later in the day. Now both openers out of form, we are usually one down by the first over itself.

How badly Indian cricket has been is indicated by spin department. We just have nothing there. We never had good pacers (barring Kapil Dev and now Zaheer) but spin was always a force. After Kumble went, we have just struggled. Harbhajan has declined sharply after Kumble departure and to not have any other spinner is baffling.

The tour also saw same glaring errors. We already saw what happens when you field a player in England without match practice. Sehwag became the third opener in history to score a golden duck (out first ball) in both test innings. And we again did the same with RP Singh who was never really a substitute and was asked to come to England and start bowling the new ball right away! The first over from RP turned out to be one of the worst first over bowling.

Having said all this, it is equally amazing how England has played. They would have been surprised by both how well they played and how poorly India played. This bunch of English players looks really solid and up for a fight. They have been building slowly since Ashes drubbing of 5-0 in 2007 by Aussies. They bounced back winning both Ashes continuously and last one in Aus was a true thrashing. India should have woken up then but was busy sleeping.

All Eng batters and bowlers look in ominous form where all players from India (barring Dravid and Pravin Kumar) look awful. We have not managed to bowl their side out barring one inning and have managed 600+ scores in most innings. People say that when India bowls, ball does nothing and when Eng bowls it starts moving around like crazy. Well, this is nothing but true. We are just clueless about bowling at the moment.

The coach Fletcher was appointed primarily for his knowhow of English conditions but says he has never seen the bowl swing that much in England. Really Sir! Do you think if the swing was lesser our batters would have handled it? He also says where does one practice swing batting/bowling in India as there are no pitches? Well what stopped him of telling the board this in plain English? If he did tell the board and it did not hear (which is a huge possibility) he should have chucked the job. We need some independence here otherwise what is the point.

Overall, the difference between the former no. 1 and current No. 1 was just too large. I don’t think even in form Zaheer and Sehwag could have avoided the rout. We just became No. 1 somehow and it is sad the way the ranking has been given away without any fight or even intent to fight.  Thanks to Anna Hazare as no one is really focused on cricket. People are also trying to ignore cricket preferring Anna.

The loss exposes many ills related to Indian cricket which has become too obsessed with making money without really doing anything much to improve the overall game. The skills of few select players bailed out the team earlier but they all were meant to fail one time which has happened in this series. It is not the losses but the way Indian team has lost the matches. This is easily the worst performance I have ever seen (and most would have seen). Even close losses to Pakistan in 1980s and 1990s were not as bad as it was a decent fight. Pakistan had something towards the end which gave the match to them. This one has been so bad that it should hurt us for a long time. Then only we will not try and repeat them. One also feels bad for guys like Dravid, Tendulkar. Laxman etc. They have to face such humiliation at fag end of their career. It will make their retirement (whenever it happens) even bitter.  But this is what happens when you delay it so long. You should retire at the top and not forced to.

The worst bit is one does not know where to seek improvement. Who do you fire and who do you keep? Where is the bench strength? One Eng players said “It is not very cold and to see Indian players putting hands in pockets while fielding, shows their disrespect for the game. If not interested please go home”. I wish Dhoni and the Indian cricket team fan had that option.

Update:

The forecast of India loosing after following on was bang on the target. I wish my economic forecasts were as good. There was some hope when Tendulkar and Mishra were batting but after Mishra, we lost 7 wickets for 21 runs! It is as if Mishra was the main batsman of the team. It made things even worse as it tells you how hollow the whole team is…

Anything that could go wrong has gone wrong in this series. If it was not for Dravid, we might have struggled to even post 100 runs in an inning with matches getting over in 2.5 days. I wish he was out of form as well.

He has been such a gentleman. The selectors keep picking him when they feel and drop him at will. So when you have seaming conditions in SA and England, they say hey Dravid come in the team and then drop him. It is a shame that a board which as so much money has still not been able to nurture youngsters who can face this kind of bowling. Dravid hined his talent in Indian conditions and others can do it as well. Dravid was very kind to agree to play ODIs in England on his selection. He should have refused and retired from ODIs on his announcement of selection. Someone needs to teach the board a lesson and should be run by professional cricketers who know what cricket is all about. But then that is how things are in India. Most sport administration bodies are run by people who have never played the sport.

We just had one sport to look forward to, now even that looks in such bad condition. Someone commented that B’desh might take offence that Indian test team being compared to them. Even their performance in England have not been as abysmal as India’s with just one inning of 300 score in 4 test matches…

How history matters in cricket: case of South Africa and Indo-Pak cricket matches

March 30, 2011

Just like we see in economics, sportsmen too forget/prefer to forget history really quickly. It is one of the least appreciated aspects of economics and sports as well.

Once again South Africa lost in a knock out match in World Cup Cricket. So now, we have 6 such occasions.

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Mistrust in financial markets, professional cycling and cricket

March 25, 2011

Antonio Fatas in his super blog has a nice post. He points to this article by Luigi Zingales who laments on the way the whole the insider-trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam has come up.

If you thought that America’s financial sector had gotten enough of bad publicity, think again. The insider-trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire hedge-fund manager, has now begun. It is likely to provide an especially lurid exposé of the corrupt underbelly of the financial world.

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Mixing economics analysis with sports

February 11, 2011

Tobias Moskowitz of Chicago Univ and  L. Jon Wertheim have written this book Scorecasting. in this book, they mix economic analysis with sports.

Economix does an interview discussing the book. In short, there are two amazing findings:

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Can RBI predict World Cup cricket winner?

February 2, 2011

Alan Bollard, Governor of RBNZ in this speech says:

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IPL nudging!

February 2, 2011

The latest IPL player auctions generated huge media response and discussions. As the teams did not pick former India captain- Saurav Ganguly, it was only a given that it would be a major news item going forward. Since the Jan-11 auction, we keep getting newsbytes on teams approaching Ganguly, taking him as a mentor, fresh auction etc.

Latest is that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had sought teams’ views on allowing a team to buy one of the Indian players left unsold in the January auction. There are three unsold players: Saurav Ganguly, Wasim Jaffer and VRV Singh. The IPL rules say players not picked in auction can only be chosen as replacement players. So IPL wrote to teamowners seeking asking if the rules could be tweaked and unsold players bought at their reserve price.

HT reported that IPL chief operating officer, Sundar Raman, mailed all the 10 team owners. His last words are an interesting application of default strategy:

I would be grateful if you would respond by the close of play on 3 February. If we do not hear from you we will assume that you are OK with the request.

:-) So if team owners do not respond, the default is they are ok with the request. Default could have been they are not ok with the request as well. So one has to opt-out if not agreeable to the proposal. Has BCCI/IPL Body been reading nudge as well? 

To add on to the story, some teams have objected so chances of these players getting bought are remote as of now.

IPL Auctions and Economics….

January 11, 2011

Having watched the IPL auctions on the last weekend, the linkage to economics and auction theory could not be missed. One cannot call for a better cocktail than learning economics using cricket or interpreting cricket events to draw lessons from economics.

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Similarities between IPL Crisis and financial crisis

April 23, 2010

Watching this entire IPL crisis unfold, In was just thinking about the financial crisis. I could think of some similarities. Here they go:

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What Can International Cricket Teach Us About the Role of Luck in Labor Markets?

March 20, 2010

I came across this paper by IMF economists Shekhar Aiyar and Rodney Ramcharan on the same topic. I have not read the paper but has become top priority. Nothing could be better than to read about cricket and take economics lessons.

I came to know of this paper from this summary of the paper. The paper says:

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Economics lessons from Sports/Sportspersons

December 26, 2009

Charles Plosser, President of Philadelphia Fed gave a speech recently. He says Ice Hockey great, Wayne Gretzky provides lessons for Monetary Policy.

This realization was driven home to me here in Rochester. As my children were growing up, I found that there was a way to combine all three of these things into one event — “early morning hockey practice.” Driving through the cold and snow to a 6:00 a.m. hockey practice at Lake Shore was always an exhilarating way to start the morning. Yet, as I learned more about the game of hockey, I found that hockey players could teach us things that are relevant and useful in other disciplines, including, believe it or not, monetary policy.

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky was once asked about his success on the ice. He responded by saying, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” He didn’t chase the puck. Instead, Gretzky wanted his hockey stick to be where the puck would be going next. He scored many goals with that strategy, and I believe monetary policymakers can better achieve their goals, too, if they follow the Gretzky strategy.

Good monetary policymakers, like good hockey players, must be forward-looking in their actions. Setting policy that is appropriate for where the economy is today, or has recently been, is not likely to deliver the kind of economic outcomes we desire. Anticipating where the economy is headed is important because monetary policy actions affect the economy with long and variable lags. The major impact of policy often comes only after several quarters, or sometimes several years.

Wayne Gretzky emphasized that anticipation was important to being a successful hockey player. Failing to anticipate in hockey means that you always end up chasing the puck and never catching it. Since monetary policy works with a lag, policymakers must also anticipate and be forward-looking in their actions. Failing to do so would mean that policy would always be behind the curve — playing catch-up so to speak. The result would be greater instability in the economy and a failure to achieve our policy objectives.

John Taylor in his blog has a nice anecdote on how Gretzky example would save some embarrassment in his monetary policy class.

There was a very interesting speech by Mervyn King on how monetary policy lessons can be drawn from Maradona

It is always interesting to draw lessons from sports arena. I r’ber Australian coach  John Buchanan giving lectures to company management on mentoring. Same is the case with Steve Waugh who gives leadership lectures once a while. Infact, we see quite a few sportsmen giving these kinds of lectures these days.

Though I think Plosser misses on not emphasizing importance of knowing history as well. Forward looking is all good and important but without a proper reference to history turns into a disaster. I am sure Gretzky goes for the puck based on his experience and lessons he has learnt from the past. Infact, the challenge for central banks is more backward looking right now as they have to figure out why they have been ignoring lessons from financial crisis for so long.

I was just wondering Ice Hockey is very popular in Philadelphia part of the world and Football/Soccer in UK. Hence the examples. Cricket is very popular in India. Say RBI official is giving a speech on similar lines drawing analogy from sports. Which cricketer helps draw some lessons for monetary policy? Here are some ideas:

  • Sunil Gavaskar for his excellent concentration, focus and new ball skills
  • Kapil Dev for his allround skills
  • Saurav Ganguly for his leadership
  • Anil Kumble for achieving most objectives and still keeping a low profile
  • Rahul Dravid for excellent technique, commitment and a team player
  • Sachin Tendulkar for being such a fine player for so many years and managing the expectations so well. I don’t really know how to describe Sachin.
  • VVS Laxman for making batting look an art
  • Virendra Sehwag for questioning the conventional and turning all cricketing theories on its heads.

I am sure the readers would have their own names. I have watched cricket only since 1985 so just named a few from this period onwards. Obviously, Indian central bankers would have their own favorites from cricket or other sports as well.

Fab Four- Fab no more

August 13, 2008

Mostly Economics has been discussing sports quite frequently recently. This does not imply that economics is taking a backstage but will continue to be at the centre.

Another test match, another failure of India’s middle order – Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. . It is called Fabulous Four (Fab 4) by the cricket experts as having such a batting line-up is enough to give any side headaches. They have been a part of some good Indian and a part of away victories (see this analysis of India’s test records at home and away; the record away has improved dramatically after 2000). However, their performances recently have been very disappointing and questions need to be asked.

With such a batting line up, the recent performances have been so bad that one only feels ashamed. I can understand India not winning test matches as we don’t have quality bowlers (that is a myth as bowlers have usually done a good job if batters have put up a decent score to defend) but the dramatic collapses have ensured we have only lost them. And this is not a one time issue but has been happening quite frequently.

After a spectacular failure at Melbourne in 2007, Sydney in 2008 (though the test was highly controversial, what was still unexplainable was they couldn’t last one session), Ahmedabadin 2008 (against South Africa where they made just 76 runs in Ist innings) and now the 2008 seriesagainst Sri Lanka. What has been common is the horrible performance of Fab 4. Time and time again it has been seen that there is nothing fab about them but should instead be called Brittle- 4, shaky – 4 , etc (even Krazzy – 4  as they don’t realise their true potential and keep committing harakiri on the cricket pitch)

Some might call my reaction as overreaction as they have won many a golden test matches for India. Agreed. But have they won enough? Having so much experience and given such a long run, we should have won many more matches especially in recent times and not lost is such humiliating fashion. The recent loss in Sri Lanks was the third worst defeat in India Test Cricket History and we could barely score half of runs scored by Sri Lanka in first inning.

Some have said BCCI does not learn its lessons and always makes the Indian team have a very tight schedule and less practice matches. Point taken but these guys should not take so much time to adjust. Nor are the three part of the one-day series and clearly have much more rest than the others.

All in all high team to infuse some fresh talent in Indian test cricket. At the most we will loose many and win some, which we are doing anyways.


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