Monday, December 23, 2013

The 'Draw' at the Wanderers

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When Faf Du Plessis was brilliantly run out by Ajinkya Rahane with 16 runs still to get at the Wanderers yesterday, I thought India had decisively inched ahead of South Africa. During the entire Test match, while South Africa kept coming back; India for the most part seemed ahead of South Africa. Having been in a position of advantage for a longer duration and having Faf Du Plessis run out with 16 still to get, I thought India would be more disappointed at not having won this Test. 

At the end of the ODI series, however, had anyone offered a draw to India at Wanderers, I am sure India would have gladly accepted. 

South Africa on the other hand after the ODI series, would be very disappointed with a draw at the Wanderers. However, Once India's bowlers, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara put India into a position of authority in this Test by the end of the 4th day; South Africa may be more relieved with escaping with a draw. Of course there must be a sense of disappointment at not having enough left to force a win. even while AB De Villiers and Faf Du Plessis put South Africa to striking distance of a win, at no point I felt South Africa could go for a win without taking risks.

Even after tea time when both Faf Du Plessis and AB De Villiers were batting so well, there was far too many runs and quite a bit of time still left for India to bowl South Africa out. South Africa could ill afford taking any risks. By the time the target had reached touching distance, they were just one wicket away from exposing Imran Tahir and a severely handicapped Morne Morkel to India's fast bowlers.

I can understand why South Africa did not go for the win and settled for a draw. Victory for them was never really possible without risking a loss.

Once South Africa started playing for the draw, what surprised me was that India too did not try to force a win. The last overs bowled at Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander didn't have any balls that looked like balls to take a wicket. The bouncers and short balls at Steyn were way too harmless and the intent was to go along with South Africa's desire to draw the game.

Perhaps, India reflected on how far they had come from the ODI series and assessed the draw positively given how heavily underrated they were to even put up a fight against South Africa. 

Ultimately the first Test of the series ended up being engaging affair and through out the Test I was wondering what Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, and Virendra Sehwag must be thinking. For far too long we were sold the story that only batsmen of that caliber can compete on foreign pitches. In England, Australia and South Africa. Gambhir had us believe that somehow career averages count for runs in matches in progress.

That a young team on their maiden "away" Test arrested the 8 consecutive away losses was in it self uplifting. A win at the Wanderers would have been one of India's greatest away wins. Bigger than Adelaide 2003. 

Why were we holding back these young players and why were we clinging on to players well past their prime who were delivering loss after loss?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fear of fast bowling

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Not that I can ever claim to know this for a fact but anyone who is in the path of a cricket ball hurled at 95, 100 miles per hour is bound to have a moment where questions regarding personal safety crop up. While the ball is coming at your head, these safety questions are being addressed in the mind and an appropriate response; whether to duck, fend, hook, etc is being formulated; for that brief micro second, (the period before a response is finalized) there is bound to be a bit of fear.

I don't care if the batsman is the great Sir Vivian Richards, Sunil Gavaskar or Monty Panesar.

In one of the most candid recollections of India's World Cup win in 1983, Sandip Patil openly talks of the 'fear' of having to face the great West Indian bowlers. So the fear is real, acknowledged by all. And Patil knows a thing or two about giving it back to the fast men. Ask Len Pascoe and Bob Willis.

That facing fast bowling requires overcoming of ones fears is a given. 

Hence, I find comments by David Warner and Dale Steyn openly suggesting that English and Indian batsmen respectively are 'scared' of fast, short pitched bowling extremely distasteful. Because their statements imply 'fear' not as something batsmen are willing to overcome, rather something less manly and cowardly is implied.

Its not like England and India have not played and won games in Australia and South Africa before. These are not teams of untested amateurs. England and India are accomplished teams of proven performers. England have been the best Test Team in the world and India are holders of the Champions Trophy. A trophy they won, not in India, but in England, beating teams like South Africa, England, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Many of these teams have world class fast bowlers who weren't bowling spin. This team that won the Champions Trophy is the exact same Indian team that is struggling in South Africa. Shekhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma Ishant Sharma, et al included 

The ongoing Ashes series has been absorbing to watch. Mitchell Johnson has provided the kind of exhilarating performances not witnessed since the glory days of Wasim Akram. Yes Mitchel Johnson has left the English batsmen gasping for breath. They don't seem to know how to respond to his pace and accuracy. 

However, when Australian batsmen come to India and dance to the tune of Indian spinners does anyone taunt them, suggesting they are "scared"? They are afforded the basic respect that they simply do not have the technical expertise and training to play spin in conditions alien to them. Similarly, lets not question the English team's professionalism. When a David Warner says that he saw "fear" in Trott's eyes, let me assure you the player who falls in people's estimation is not Johnathan Trott, its David Warner. What kind of a player taunts an opponent like that?

When a Steyn says "Indian batsmen are scared" its his standing as a fair competitor that takes a beating. For everyone knows that there is nothing embarrassing about this Indian team. Yes they will struggle against fast bowling. Yes, they will close their eyes, get hit with a ball headed for their skulls, but they have the heart, the smarts, the will, to win Test matches in South Africa. Like the generation before them, these guys will learn to win Test matches in South Africa.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Show some heart

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In an analysis of England's abject surrender at Adelaide, Cricinfo cited the very public loss of control. Batsman after English batsman openly showed their inability to counter Johnson and the rest of Australia's bowling. They just didn't seem to have a plan. As I watched the proceedings of both test matches, it seemed to me that England were just hoping that something would come off as opposed to a confident clear mind to pull or hook Johnson out of the attack. This attitude and batting seemed to me to be very strange, given that until recently Cook, Trott, Bell and others seemed to almost be mocking the Australian attack. They were in complete control. They would play the shots they had planned to play and block or leave everything else flung at them. How quickly did the English lose that plot? Did sheer pace do that to them? Did India's senior batsmen also succumb to sheer pace on their last trip down under? Or was it just mental fatigue? They just didn't have the reserves to stick with their plan. Did sledging and constant goading by Australia do it's part? It's very hard to say.

India's lowest moment against pace came not two or three years ago but way back in 1976 when Bedi virtually conceded a test match to the West Indies. He followed up on that act by conceding yet another game to Pakistan two years later. India's weird stance at the time was to claim a moral high ground by saying that intimidatory bowling was not cricket. That somehow it wasn't fair. The fact is that India just didn't have the leadership to cope with the pace. It had quality batsmen who eventually played pace with heart - Gavaskar, Gaekwad, Amarnath, Vishwanath and Vengsarkar. But in those two instances they didn't have the leadership or a plan to deal with what was thrown at them. Sports is also a type of battle. It's physical and it's mental. There are statements to be made, adversity to be overcome and hostility to be quelled many times.

India did very well on their last trip to South Africa. They had a superb plan for Steyn and company and executed it very well. They also unleashed Sreesanth on the South Africans. The tail-enders took some body blows and the team came back with its head held high. Gone was the crazy flailing that we routinely saw of the Azharuddin teams of the nineties against pace. As a fan of test cricket that's what we want to see. Whether the team shows heart. It may sometimes not have the ammo to fight the opposition but does it have the courage? Does it have the smarts? Does the team stay in the fight as long as it can? Sometimes it may know that it's going to lose, but does it still fight till the last ounce of energy?

In the two ODIs that we have seen so far, India's batsmen may have failed, but they didn't surrender. They are wanting in their technique but they seem have the heart. Suresh Raina ducked into a few but also executed some really good pulls. It's clear he's trying harder to counter the short stuff. He's facing up to it. Dhawan still needs some work, but both Rohit and Kohli appear to want to get in there and counter punch. Sharma especially in the first ODI was impressive. He left a lot of balls alone despite the huge total to chase. He knew he couldn't mindlessly attack and had to wait his turn. Raina did panic somewhat and unfortunately ran him out, but then he came back in ODI number 2 and hung in there. The bottom line is that these guys seem to want to improve. They seem to want to be world beaters. They seem to have a desire to succeed against all comers. There is a West Indies of the late 70s feel to this team's batting attitude. It may not yet have all the skill.

And as a fan, I like that. I want to see a fight, not a surrender. I want to see Cook, Pietersen and Bell counter Johnson. Likewise, I want to see Rohit, Kohli and Pujara blunt Steyn and Morkel. I want them to figure out Philander. India may yet lose the series because the bowlers lack experience and quality but it would be nice to see the team show heart. They are also a watchable bunch. Kohli, Sharma, Pujara, Dhawan and Dhoni are eminently watchable.

I'm hoping that the batting continues to evolve in the third ODI and gets somewhat ready by test match number 1. Give the fans a watchable performance. Where they are not insulted by the lack of heart. And that would be good news for India's test match fans. And also good footing for the future overseas tours to come in the next 8 months.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Looking forward to the Test matches in South Africa

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The India v South Africa series about to get underway tomorrow is literally the crumbs BCCI has thrown at people who still care for Test Cricket.Its tough to view this series without feeling betrayed and insulted, knowing what happened before it.

One wonders what more levels India will stoop to with the power it has administratively. One wonders what the BCCI has to do for other boards and commentators to develop a voice. A Test series with the West Indies was created out of thin air to say Good Bye to Sachin Tendulkar and another with South Africa which everyone had looked forward to for almost a year was mauled for no apparent reason at all.

It is hard for me to see any positives in the way BCCI functions for the simple reason that given current market forces even a baniya on any street corner of India can run cricket in India and make money. BCCI cannot be judged by monetary yardstick alone. I would rather they be judged on what they are doing to protect the long term viability of Test cricket or say determining the role of technology in the sport or protecting the game from corruption.

On all those fronts the BCCI is failing miserably. With the Sachin Tendulkar retirement circus they showed that a Test Series can be arranged and covered as distastefully as the IPL and with the South African series they have shown they value the traditional format as much as Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar and Harsha Bhogle value expressing independent unrehearsed opinions. 

Firstly the series starts with the ODIs. The bilateral ODI model has been around since the 70s, but its stopped being exciting for me for a few years now. I would rather we reserve the ODI for ICC tournaments and make the Test phase of a tour longer. Of course this may be both wishful thinking and financially naive but honestly does any one remember the results of these ODI series?

The 2 Tests that follow will be interesting. India, after having lost all 8 away Tests by comfortable margins, none of the greats are going to be missed unless India manage to lose more Tests than scheduled.

Of immense interest to me is how India's batsmen and bowlers both young perform on the first tough assignment since their debuts. Cheteshwar Pujara has been to South Africa before and looked distinctly uncomfortable in the Tests he played. However this time he goes with the confidence of an established top order batsman.

It would be interesting to see what batting order India settle on. Something that brings relief to me is the absence of Suresh Raina from the Test Team. For some reason he seemed to be the chosen one. Marked by Greg Chappell for future greatness and leadership and then courted by Mahendra Singh Dhoni endlessly in Tests.

Both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma seem quite capable of batting at #4 but asking Rohit Sharma to bat at #4 makes more sense since it is less disruptive to the batting order. The #6 slot will be contested between Ambati Rayadu and Ajinkya Rahane. India even have an option of including neither and going in with Ravindra Jadeja. With Jadeja in the side, Mahendra Singh Dhoni can bat at #6 and Jadeja can play as a genuine all rounder - bat at #7 and afford India a 5th bowler. However Jadeja might lose out since playing 2 spinners in South Africa may not be wise.

On the bowling side, Zaheer Khan is sure to play in the starting XI. He is one of those selections that are made by the selectors to be in the playing XI. Mohammed Shami after the debut he has had and with his ability to get clean bowled dismissals thanks to his pace and movement, is also an automatic choice I think. It is the third seamer that will require some thinking. .

My vote would go to Bhuvansehwar Kumar but playing Ishant Sharma would also not be a bad move. My gut feel is that Bhuvi, if selected, will do a Sreesanth. Both India's Test wins in South Africa from the last 2 tours were possible because of Sreesanth; and Bhuvi seems to have the crispness, speed and seam positioning needed to get wickets in South Africa.

India has only gains to look forward to from this series. Hence it would have been good had this been a full series. Even if India lose all Tests which I think is the most likely result, it would be looked at as progress. Unless of course the losses are so hugely the one England experienced at Brisbane.

My team for the tests would be
Murali Vijay, Shikhar (twirler) Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma (#ThakYouSachin) , Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, R Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Mohammen Shami

Monday, November 25, 2013

Can India do a Gabba? Ever?

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Reading a piece by Ahmer Naqvi in Cricinfo made me chuckle. Some Pakistani critics "insulted" Bilawal Bhatti by saying that looked like an Indian quickie! But there is a deeper story guiding that thought process than meets the eye. Many an Indian fan yearns for a fast bowler with swagger that can send stumps cartwheeling and put fear into the opposition batsmen. When will India win a test match on the backs of a fast bowling performance like Mitchell Johnson delivered at the Gabba or the West Indian quicks did with regularity or Akram and Younis did in the nineties.

India's victories usually happen due to guile, cunning, skill and above all attritional batting. Very rarely has India tamed a fast bowling machine on fast pitches and dished out what it has got. There's not much disrespect in posting small totals in the face of hostile fast bowling. That's the normal outcome. What's annoying to an Indian fan is that India doesn't dish it out in kind. There was much joy when Sreesanth made Kallis hop and had him caught on the last tour to South Africa. But those feats were few and far between. Even the great Kapil Dev never terrorized batsmen. Srinath was India's best fast bowler in my time (and probably all time) and even he managed it only a couple of times.

Opposing teams and journalists only grudingly respect India's victories at home because they only project cunning, not courage. There is something to be said for bravery and courage in a sporting contest. Indians know this too. This is why they celebrate Gavaskar's thirteen hundreds against the pace battery of the West Indies. While modern Indian batsmen have got the aggression down and pretty much bat like the West Indies of the eighties or Aussies of the nineties, India has still not developed a fast bowling culture like our neighbors next door to the west. The old fashioned gladiatorial instincts still stimulate a lot of fan excitement. The experience of watching Mitchell Johnson and the Australian pace pack hunt down England at the Gabba was pulse pounding. Contrast that to Ashwin and Ojha plucking out Aussie wickets at Mohali. While victory is sweet, it's sweeter when it comes in a contest where there is a fierce exchange of blows. And such a contest can only be generated by hostile fast bowling.

Here's to Umesh Yadav. May he simply bowl fast at the rib cages and armpits of South African batsmen and terrorize them. Make them cry and wanna go home like Jonathon Trott. I have sympathy for Jonathon's illness, but it's clear that Mitchell Johnson hastened the advent of those symptoms. And let me point out that they did not show up when facing spin bowlers in India. If Yadav bowls anything like Johnson and Zaheer is truly back to his smartest, then India have a great chance to be exciting in South Africa. With Ishant Sharma to play the containment role, India can keep the pressure on South African batsmen. Accomplished as the South African batsmen are, good fast bowling tames even the best of the best.

This is wishful thinking probably. The reality is that Indian batting is inexperienced, though talented. This will probably be a repeat of the 1999 tour to Australia where India lost 3-0 and only Tendulkar and VVS Laxman emerged with some honors. A couple of daddy hundreds will be needed from Pujara, Sharma or Kohli to make a statement. India's batsmen will also need to be ready for hostile, angry and intimidating fast bowling. They can't whine or complain. They need to stand up, man up and punch back. Only then will they really win respect in the eyes of the opposition. Bring out the hooks and pulls occasionally and put the opposition bowlers on notice that India were not going to duck and weave all the time but were ready to take it on. Michael Clarke put Stuart Broad in his place early in the second innings by doing just that. Ganguly did that in Brisbane in 2003 in the first test by crashing a fantastic century that included some delightful pulls and crisp cuts.

Most of that is day dreaming.  In all honesty I see India losing 2-0.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rohit Sharma's debut 100

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What is common between Venkatapathi Raju, Sunil Joshi, Vijay Dahiya, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Vijay Bharadwaj and Rohit Sharma?

These batsmen along with 12 others are the entire set of batsmen who have made their debuts for India in the middle order; numbers 3 through 6; since Sachin Tendulkar's debut Test for India in November 1989.

India has traditionally has had very strong middle orders, so I was half expecting this list to be quite elite but its not quite. I was also expecting this list to be much shorter than 18. Sachin's career has spanned 18 new batsmen tried by India in the middle order. 

As expected however, the period between 2001 and 2010 saw only 2 debuts handed out in the middle order. Virendra Sehwag and Vuvraj Singh

For a while I had resigned myself to the possibility that the seniors carrying on for far too long and Rohit's ODI struggles would unnecessarily derail a promising Test career. Thankfully, Rohit Sharma waited patiently and when the opportunity arose, played one of the more memorable debut innings by a middle order batsman.

The best debut innings, certainly given the match situation, since Sachin Tendulkar's debut.

V Raju, who obviously was not selected to play the middle order appears in this list only because he was sent as a night watchman (presumably). This surely must be an exclusive club. To go out for your debut innings as a night watchman. If I am not mistaken, Mohammed Azharuddin was also making his debut as captain and that surely must be a unique occurrence. A rookie captain, sending a rookie as a nightwatchman! V Raju scored 31 in the match and none of the batsmen he was protecting reached double figures. This included Sachin who was out for a duck

This list has only 3 Bombay batsmen. Praveen Amre, Vinod Kambli and Rohit Sharma. Praveen Amre of course scored a 100 on debut and Vinod Kambli's debut knock was followed by a half century and a double hundred batting with Sachin Tendulkar as India humiliated Graham Gooch's team in 1993.

Notable debuts in the middle order since the emergence of Sachin Tendulkar, that can seriously challenge Rohit Sharma's innings includes only two in my opinion...

Virendra Sehwag's 105, coming in at number 6 with India at 68 for 4 at Bloemfontein in South Africa. Sachin Tendulkar also scored a 100 batting along with Sehwag

Cheteshwar Pujara's 72 in the second innings of the Mohali Test in 2010 as India beat Australia comfortably, chasing a tricky 207 in the 4th innings. In fact I would say it was one of the rarest feats by Pujara to score a half century on debut in a successful chase on the last day.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Do the West Indies know their part in Sachin's retirement party?

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I don't know if any one has made this clear to the West Indian cricket team. They are supposed to show up, go through the drills, occasionally show their skills, and generally play their parts as in the big fat Sachin Tendulkar retirement party.

In a way they are invited to the party just like one invites 2-bit magicians, tattoo artists, clowns, caricaturists and sketch artists, to a Christmas party or a child's birthday party. They are expected to be part of the noise and celebrations for a while. 

It isn't possible to play a Test match without an opposition and West Indies are invited simply to meet this very basic prerequisite that must be fulfilled to recognize a game of cricket between international teams as a Test Match so Sachin and all of India can have his 200th and then retire

As per the BCCI script, India is supposed to win the series, with Sachin getting his form back and preferably score a double hundred in his last and 200th. The West Indians are supposed to put up a spirited display and lend legitimacy to Sachin's farewell Test Series.

The ICC script had called for Sachin to visit South Africa.... enough said

If all the song and dance and made up excuses of protocols broken by the CSA and unethical behavior of Mr. Haroon Lorgat, was to get a retirement guarantee from Sachin by mutilating the South African tour, then I say its worth it. Its still hard to feel excited about it. 

West Indies however are in ominous form and the ghastly celebrations Indians are likely to indulge in, in the name of Sachin's retirement party, may just provoke the West Indians into giving their best.

India won't mind.

We have been buying the Sachin Tendulkar story for far too long and nothing suggests we won't stop buying it any time soon. 

West Indies A not long back gave an excellent account of themselves in drawing the unofficial Test Series after winning the first Test by a big margin at Bangalore. That series and the general familiarity with Indian conditions after the advent of the IPL, gives the West Indies a decent chance to give India fright.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni can be expected to help the team focus on the business of winning Tests but there is no denying that the series has already deteriorated into a circus that is Sachin's retirement. 

As for Sachin himself, I hope he finds some semblance of form and puts up decent scores. It is rather sad that he never had a voice in many of the events around him throughout his career. He has singularly focused on his performances and his pursuit of excellence as a batsman and no doubt India for a long time were a better team for that. 

Even in his retirement, with so much adulation from the fans, respect from his peers he has stood silent as BCCI severely mutilated the South African series to stage this retirement party. One will never officially know what the reasons were for that, but I cannot shrug off the feeling that Sachin has yet again let himself be used, happy to go along with his now increasingly petty bosses at the BCCI. Surely he has a thing or 2 to say about the way the series was born.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Man dies due to overdose of reading Sachin Tributes

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A 42 year old man, in otherwise good health, has died at a local Bombay hospital due to what medical experts agree was an overdose of reading "Sachin Tendulkar tributes"

The man, like 150% of all Indians, was a cricket fan and a one time admirer of Sachin Tendulkar.

Very little is known of this condition, but some experts have suggested that in certain rare conditions, men lack the immunity and are unable, to withstand the stress resulting from reading saccharine sweet articles of tribute about celebrities they have lost respect for. In such men, their sugar levels rise to amounts that can lead to stroke, temporary blindness and in some cases result in death. 

Health authorities fear that there will be an epidemic of sorts with the country preparing itself for life after Sachin Tendulkar's retirement by publishing article after article on Sachin Tendulkar's greatness. Research suggests most of the youngsters under 35 and older generation 50 and above are so far immune to this condition.

It is the 35 to 50 years olds who have been subjected to decades of Sachin worship that are most at risk. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, developing a liking for team sports, and limiting visits to cricket related sites are recommended by most doctors to dodge this condition.

The man who died, doctors say after extensive interviews with family members, first began to show signs of weakened immunity to Sachin praise around 2004. 

"Around the time Sachin scored a double hundred in Sydney without a single cover drive, my husband started getting irritated every time someone unconditionally praised Sachin", said his wife. "It was the death of Sachin as an attacking batman, he would say" she added

His son said, "Before 2004, I loved my dad. All it took for him to be happy was that Sachin put up a good fight. After the Sydney 2004, something died in him. My dad was never the same man again"

One of his friends even recollected an incident at a pub where after reading a routine article on Sachin Tendulkar's greatness on his friends mobile phone, the now deceased man, complained of blindness. Sachin had just skipped the West Indies tour for the IPL and we now know that the lowered immunity led to a sudden increase of blood sugar levels that temporarily blinded the man.

Doctors suggest that the best way to handle symptoms of this disease is to sit the patient down and indulge in some realistic assessment of Sachin Tendulkar's career. Sadly there are very few people who can do that so its best, doctors add, to let the patient die.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BCCI wins!

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One of the most exciting administrative tussles between 2 cricket boards; one time close friends; has come to a pulsating end. 

The result?

A 2 Test and 3 ODI series when India tour South Africa in December 2013 and a 100% guarantee that Sachin will retire.

BCCI wins!! 

Highlights of the win
  • Sachin Tendulkar's 200th Test will be played in India with a guarantee that he will not pile on any more misery on us after that.
  • Haroon Lorgat will be sent on a long leave of absence. Heads of boards the world over now know precisely what their boundaries are if they want to keep their jobs. 

Whether it was because of the need for obscenities as a once great batsman prepares for life after cricket, or it was because Mr. Haroon Lorgat  said or did something that the BCCI did not approve of, who knows. My guess is Sachin and his retirement was just an excuse for the petty BCCI administrators to get back at CSA for disregarding their diktat over Mr. Lorgat .

Part of me says that, if it took this maneuvering to get Sachin to retire, its worth the trouble. One thing Sachin has inadvertently ended up doing, is make the life of his successor and selectors who pick that successor that much easier. One can throw darts and pic anyone who has played a bit a first class cricket in India and not go wrong. Averaging 20 odd and the ability to slow the run rate down to a trickle, is hard not to achieve. Even Maninder Singh can do it, without taking up any time batting at the nets. Plus we will be spared the tamasha of making a routine bowled appear that the ball stayed low. 

A much anticipated Test series between 2 good Test sides is now reduced to a 2 Tester.

The official line given is some misdeeds by Haroon Lorgat  who will be sent on a long leave for the series to go ahead.

I wonder sometimes. Why does the BCCI even bother to cook up some excuses to do what they want to do anyways.

For example if the BCCI wants to scrap the English tour of 2014 and extend the IPL by 10 weeks. What, who and why would anyone stop them? Is there any board, court, sponsor, government or people who can do anything if the BCCI says..."We will not tour England in 2014...because....well just because........"

What's stopping them from doing that?

That they feel the need to cook up excuses to make their decisions sound reasonable and bound by rules and protocols, shows that the BCCI is not yet willing to be an open bully.

That time will come in future

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar's Career

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Do you know the greatest cricketer of all time? Well it’s Tendulkar. He has been playing for 24 years on the Indian team. He will retire this year though .He had a lot of accomplishments as he went through cricket. It was an outstanding job by him to do this.

Tendulkar first got on the Indian team when he was 16 in 1989. He made his debut in Pakistan which was very hard back then.  He had scored his first test century in 1990. He currently has 51 test centuries which is the most in cricket history. He was respected by many cricket players across the world. He had scored centuries against 11 separate teams. Sachin has made 100 international centuries, which is the most in cricket history. I like how he plays. He is confident and wants to win every match. 

He has played some excellent innings that I remember. 

I first started watching cricket in December of 2010 when I was 7 years old. I was fortunate enough to see his 50th and 51st test centuries when he made 111 not out and 146 against South Africa. He also made 111 in the 2011 World cup against South Africa, but after Tendulkar went India collapsed and lost.

Tendulkar is the greatest player of all time!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Good Bye Sachin Tendulkar

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The one thing that all of us can agree on is that there will never be another phenomenon in our lifetime like Sachin Tendulkar. News of his retirement came in early yesterday and frankly it didn’t really make an impact at first. The slow motion movie started in 2011 with his labored gasp to a hundred international tons, eventual retirement from ODIs and the IPL with it now culminating in his retirement from tests after playing number 200. For a man that has consistently said that 100 is just a number, this seems a little hypocritical. But we understand that the modest little man must have bowed to pressure from the BCCI and others to delay his announcement until he got to the milestone. Nothing else explains the haste with which the West Indies tour was arranged and the crisis with CSA begun.

Our cricketing lives are forever intertwined with Sachin Tendulkar. As teenagers playing on Shivaji Park, we had the privilege and luck to know about him early in our lives and so track his growth through schools, domestic and international cricket for a better part of our lives. However, having witnessed Gavaskar’s non-descript retirement from test cricket as well as Kapil’s labored one, we had no doubt which way was the better way to go. Tendulkar, unfortunately, succumbed to the establishment and the fans vicarious need to turn a somber event into a spectacle. A meaningless test series that will serve no purpose other than create a needless tamasha for the great man to bow out with a little less dignity than would behoove his stature.

I guess that’s what we have criticized him about all these years. Not willing to stand up and be counted. Indian cricket is reeling from scandals and poor leadership. Unfortunately, the colossus that he is on the field, he is a mere aam aadmi  off it. The Rajya Sabha membership was probably a well –thought out way for him to speak out without fear of a BCCI backlash or to offer up ideas to clean up sports in general. This dream that we have of Sachin will probably remain unfulfilled.

However, many other dreams that we dreamt were fulfilled. Those of us who saw him early in his career feel he has underachieved. Yes, that’s right. Underachieved! But this rancor is misplaced perhaps. It only masks the disappointment of a generation of us who lived through regular humiliations meted out to Indian teams by Pakistan, West Indies, Australia, England and Sri Lanka. Throughout the nineties India really didn’t overcome those teams with any confidence despite Tendulkar’s frequent heroics. He gave us hope that we lacked in the decade before that.

His biggest contribution actually came in the 2000s with the advent of the new generation of cricketers starting with Virender Sehwag. A self-confessed emulator of Sachin Tendulkar, he epitomized the new kids who knew no fear. Dhoni, Yuvraj, Kohli, Gambhir and now Shikar Dhawan have followed this legion of kids who worshipped at the Tendulkar school of batsmanship. Fearless expression of talent! Unfortunately, the master himself became tempered and measured and a grim accumulator. Perhaps it was a response to age and the scarring suffered by being part of losing teams in the nineties.

Dravid and Laxman may have been better test batsmen when it counted. Ganguly may have been a better captain. Dhoni will be the most accomplished Indian captain and ODI cricketer when he retires. Sehwag will be the only one with two test triples for India. But the GOD of Indian cricket, the father of Indian batting expression will always be Sachin Tendulkar. Though he himself probably never overcame the nerves of a pressure-filled chase except on a few occasions, it’s clear that it’s his spirit that gives Kohli the temperament in an ODI chase. It’s his technique and discipline that fuels Cheteshwar Pujara’s desire to excel. It’s his entertaining shot-making that propels Yuvraj Singh. It’s his ability to stand-up to fast bowling that drove Sehwag. And it’s his wisdom that has built an Indian cricket team today that we are proud of.

The shot that really rang out for us was THAT six of Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 World Cup. With that one shot, Tendulkar exorcised the ghosts of eighties and nineties forever. Indian batsmen had now stepped out of the stereotype of talented spinelessness. And the credit goes to one man and one man alone. Sachin Tendulkar. It’s time for him to let his baby go. It had already grown up when it won the 2011 World Cup. Good bye Sachin!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What should Haroon Logart apologize for?

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A fresh row has erupted between the BCCI and CSA. This time its over what Haroon Logart should apologize about.

To give our worldwide readers some background...

It has been reported over the course of the year that the BCCI has been proactively attempting to block the appointment of Haroon Logart as CEO of CSA. The public was given to understand that in his previous role as CEO of the ICC, Mr. Logart had rubbed the BCCI thugs the wrong way and given that vindictiveness runs in the blood of even the peons that work in fool proof BCCI offices, a retaliation was expected. And retaliate they did. When CSA ignored BCCI's objections and appointed Mr. Logart as their CEO anyways, the BCCI gave the FTP suggested Indian tour of South Africa a cold shoulder

While accepting his new job as CSA CEO, Mr. Logart had offered to apologize to the BCCI; an offer that BCCI stand-in president Mr. Jagmohan Dalmiya said, would be nice if actually executed.

Following this exchange in the media, the less unreasonable elements in the BCCI had reached out to the less lethargic group of administrators over at CSA to broker a peace and attempt to salvage the tour...

This is when things went out of hand when neither group could agree on what Mr. Haroon Logart should apologize about.

According to our BCCI sources, the BCCI wanted Haroon Logart to apologize for once driving by and having the audacity to peek into a stadium where an ICL game was in progress.

On the other hand CSA wants to offer an apology for the one time Haroon Logart constructed an English sentence that included the words Sachin and retirement. 

In an attempt to come to a common middle, representatives from the England and Wales Cricket club had offered to conjure up a situation that never happened, make Mr Logart apologize for that and end the cold war. It is understood that the ECB suggested that Mr. Haroon Logart apologize for urinating on the Wankhede pitch.

The BCCI representatives failed to agree to this. Urinating in public does not merit an apology they said.

Even when negotiations were seemingly going no where. The BCCI announced that Sri Lanka will be visiting India for a series of 5 T20s right in the middle of December. When prompted, if this meant the South Africa tour was off, N. Srinivasan said, "With the rupee in nose dive and movies ridiculing Tamils making 200 crore, all you are worried about is where Sachin will play his 200th Test?"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kumar Sangakara: Wants his cake and eat it too

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I don't understand why it is important for cricket to feign 'nation's interest' when everything about the game seems business focused and justifiable for cash.

Over the issue of whether Kumar Sangakara should play for his IPL franchise or his home province (Kandurata Maroons), in the upcoming Champions League 2013, last week he was incensed that his board tried to 'frame the argument' in a way that made him appear 'disloyal to his country'. Kumar Sangakara and cricketers even greater than him in stature have always put country second when it comes to financials.

No one should grudge them for that and indeed it would be unreasonable, especially in today's environment, to expect cricketers to forgo their financial future to 'play for national interests' when the national boards themselves are chasing cash at the expense of everything that once was deemed sacred in cricket.

So if Kumar Sangakara stands to lose $140K USD, I think it is quite hypocritical of the Sri Lankan Cricket board to make him play for Kandurata in the name of 'national interest'.

Sri Lankan cricketers have routinely showed up late on foreign tours and padded up in Test Matches with hardly any practice just so they can earn a few more dollars playing late into the IPL. So why these pangs of wanting to appear 'loyal to the nation'?

It seems to me that cricketers want to have their money and want to appear patriotic at the same time. Cricket administrators have outsourced their jobs to Television executives in the need for cash but don't want their nation's cricketers to follow the same principle of cash by allowing them to choose their franchises.

Why cover the blatant dash for cash with a sham of a veil of national interest?

People (the common fan) have moved on. They have already seen the writing and are willing to recognize players for what they have to offer in terms of skill and entertainment value. Kevin Pietersen, Lasith Malinga, Sachin Tendulkar have fans all over the world even when they have, at one time or the other, compromised their nations interests over those of the franchises that offer them more cash.

Its time for cricketers to stop pretending, to stop hiding under the artificial veil of ..... "oh! country!".

Monday, August 26, 2013

New rules for bad light

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Yet again Test cricket had an opportunity to end a Test match with an actual winner and it had stage fright. Too many people in Test cricket have the power to simply call off a game, without much justification at all.

Its like Test cricket exists so that its rules can be exercised rather than for the cricket itself. Cricket is constantly looking for situations where it can apply one of its myriad rules to stop a game rather than looking for reasons why the game must continue in the interest of not looking completely stupid in front of the spectators.

So here we propose a more tolerant set of rules when the game must stop.

When a Test match result is on the line, everything must done within every one's power; or power to stop a game must be taken away from everyone; to ensure that a result is achieved.

Add to that; presence of flood lights and a full stadium; then while calling off the Test as a draw the umpires must ensure that one of the following circumstances exist. That too beyond reasonable doubt...

  1. There is an earthquake. The existence of which should be verifiable using snick-o-meter. After the earthquake has passed and no damage is visible to the stadium, and the floodlights are still operational and standing, play shall continue as if nothing is amiss. 
  2. Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar take turns speaking 'less than profusely' about the IPL and BCCI respectively. All cricket must stop to witness such an event. 
  3. There is a terrorist attack and someone directly involved with the game is at risk.
  4. It is raining so heavily that there are visible puddles on the pitch and it can be verified by spectators that they weren't caused by English players urinating on the pitch. Monty Panesar pissing while dealing with a bouncer does not count. 
  5. Sachin Tendulkar is cutting a cake somewhere in this world. At which point, the game will stop at once so that everyone can get a chance to witness the great event on TV.
Cricket must stop only when getting on with the game involves serious risk to human life. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Ashes: Analysis by a 10 Year Old

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Hello! I am a 10 year old budding sports writer who is going to tell about what’s going on in the Ashes.

In the last four tests, England has dominated. In the first test, they won a nail biter.  Australia’s batting wasn’t too impressive. England should have bowled better but they allowed Australia to have a last wicket partnership of 65 runs. They almost blew it after Australia was 231-9.

In the second test, England was up 1-0 in the series. Australia’s batting failed in the match as they were behind by 233 runs. They lost the test later on. England did very good bowling at Lord’s.

In the third test, England was a step away from retaining the Ashes, but Australia spoiled that by making 527-7 in the 1st innings. England responded with 368. Australia packed on the lead with a fast knock from David Warner. They made 172-7. But bad light came and finished the day. Australia declared the next day straight away and set a target of 331. England started poorly. They were 37-3 at lunch. But rain fell and abandoned the day. 

And England retained the ashes. 

In the fourth test, England started well, but collapsed to 238 all out. Australia started poorly at 76-4, but made their way to 270. England set a target of 299 by making 330. Australia was coasting, but Stuart Broad sparked a comeback which made England win the series.

I think in the next test England will win. They have been playing good. They still need to work on their batting. Australia will have some tough time winning. I think Harris and Lyon will be key because they’ve been bowling well. England’s key players are Bell and Swann. Bell has saved England in the series. Swann is also taking a lot of wickets. This might be another close match.

In the next series, Australia might win. Their batting will be very important in the series to deliver. England’s batting will also be key. Australia’s fielding and bowling is good. England has good batting and bowling. This will be a tough Ashes. Australia has the capability of doing this.

Our 10 year old guest writer has been an avid cricket fan for the last 2-3 years. During the India v South Africa 2011 World Cup game, he came in to watch the game on TV with the rest of us; with India cruising at 260 odd for 1 with 11-12 overs still remaining. After a couple of balls, ignoring Ravi Shastri and projected scores, he said "India...290 odd all out". India finished with 296. He knows something, that we don't. The next generation usually does. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Fix for Indian Cricket

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Rahul Dravid recently suggested in a Cricinfo interview that spot fixing should be deemed a criminal offense. His premise being that jail time would be a deterrent to this scourge. He cited the example of cyclists cheating and being afraid of being caught by the cops. He also said that everyone knows about fixing being a bad thing. And in these statements lies the counter-argument.

Everyone knows fixing is bad – spot, match or other. Sportsmen that were afraid of the police were still cheating in cycling. If it didn’t serve as a deterrent to cyclists, would cricketers be any different? Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir went to jail for spot fixing. They committed their crimes in a country that has a much better track record of investigating crimes, following up on legal procedures and enforcing the laws. As such it didn’t appear to this "opinionator" that the laws or police were a deterrent to the Pakistani trio.

Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja paid for their follies with their careers being jettisoned. Clearly, past punishments meted out to cricketers didn’t deter the new trio of alleged IPL fixers. Whether it’s doping, fixing or other forms of cheating in sport, the driver in reality could be greed or some other form of selfish gain. However, criminalizing it could mean absolving the cricketing community of major responsibility and putting the onus on the law enforcement apparatus to clean up the sport. In our opinion, such anti-fixing laws may provide a mechanism to punish, but will likely not serve as much of a deterrent - the Pakistani trio and the cyclists being exhibits one and two.

We are not advocating turning a blind eye and letting it happen.So what can be done to control this menace? For one, we have to be realistic and accept that greed transcends all cultures. The integrity of many sports has been violated over the years. Recently cycling and baseball have been soiled by doping. Cricket and soccer have been assaulted by fixing. Despite strict anti-doping rules, athletes, including Olympians, continue to play the odds.

Education is definitely good. Paying players enough money is also good. However, Sreesanth is going to act in a movie soon. Salman Khan ran over a few people in his SUV and churned out Rs 100 cr plus movies. Unfortunately, in India purists are few and far between.  It appears that people are continually splitting hairs and separating the crime from the criminal and his profession. So long as there is no fan backlash, cricket will likely see this and other malfeasance occur. India is a ripe place for this because since the economic boom, money power has been married to loose morality with regards to integrity, honesty, commitment and other such “old-fashioned” virtues.

While we may be content to blame the system, lets understand that we constitute the system. Societies thrive when its leaders stick their neck out. The moral authority that people (fans in cricket’s case) confer on their leaders should be leveraged. However, we have seen that lack of courage is astounding in a country like India. Dravid is the latest case. At least one of his fans is suggesting that “pelting stones at the establishment that he owes a lot to will do no good”. In other words, discretion is the better part of valor. What's Dravid got to lose? Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and others have likewise not leveraged the moral authority vested in them by the fans either. Carefully chosen words and meticulously drafted statements and accusing no one in particular is a great way to appear to take a stance. But we want to see more Anil Kumbles out there because its not just fixing, it's not just the Srinivasan saga, it's not just the schedules and it's not just the "clean-chits".

Tennis and Golf are run by the players. We want the players to own the sport. In that lies the solution. When the sport is owned by the players, its integrity and its popularity rests on their shoulders. Vigilance by the players who are experts in the game is required. For those of us who have played team sports including cricket, we feel that an engaged captain and manager are the best deterrent to bad behavior including criminal behavior. Laws can be passed and rules can be changed, but if the leadership of the sport is not actively preaching and practicing the highest ideals of the sport, then the lesser players will never try.

The sanctity and credibility of sport rests on its best practitioners. They have a moral obligation to set the highest standard and take ownership of the sport and shape its future. Much like Sachin Tendulkar reshaped batsmanship in India, he and others (Dravid included) must take ownership and reshape India’s cricket culture. But is that asking for too much from these “gentlemen” of sport that are content to express anguish and act like helpless bystanders who can’t bite the hand that fed them? Who say they owe everything to this sport but will not try and rescue it?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dravid wants 'not walking' to be a criminal offense

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Rahul Dravid has said that the twin issues of batsmen 'not walking' and fielders 'claiming bump catches' must be outlawed by all countries. It is only the fear of going to jail that will prompt cricketers to play within the spirit of the game.

He has urged all time great fellow country man, scorer of a 100 100s, who will be approaching a media created milestone of 200 Tests later this year in South Africa, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar to draft and introduce a bill in the Rajya Sabha that will eventually be the law of the land.

Rahul Dravid said he is confident that once Sachin expresses his desire for the bill, it will become the law in 20 seconds. Then whenever Stuart Broad nicks one in India and does not walk the police can press charges and Stuart will be put in jail.

Steve Waugh, currently in the country to say nice things about Sachin Tendulkar, said that he would prefer lie detector tests and that while Dravid was a fine batsman, he sometimes did not agree with his views.

We did not seek out Jagmohan Dalmiya, the BCCI president for comments, because the BCCI had not been sent anything 'in writing'.

A spot poll of the IPS officers across the country revealed that the Indian Police community is eagerly waiting for this new law, so that they can immediately deploy their abundance of resources to enforce the law that Sachin passed.

Mr. Gaitonde, a hawaldar with the Mumbai Police said..."Sachin cha kaida ahe; mag toh enphorce karavach lagnar", (Its Sachin's law, so it has to be enforced). When reminded that it was Rahul Dravid's idea, Mr. Gaitonde said "Te yekach ho" (Its one and the same)

Meanwhile the BBC had Ian Botham quoted as saying "If India puts in place this law, Stuart Broad should send his mother-in-law to India"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mumbai Police have unnecessarily inconvenienced the BCCI

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The BCCI has given itself a clean chit, after a report from a inquiry committee that it itself set up to investigate its own potential links to the IPL fixing scandals.

The question now in my mind is how to we ensure fringe organizations like the Mumbai Police do not inconvenience the functioning of the BCCI and smear baseless allegations against the fine gentlemen that run the IPL for the BCCI.

If the BCCI's clean chit to it self has to be taken at face value, then one must question what the Mumbai Police were up to?

It is to the immense maturity and level headed nature of N. Srinivasan, that he isn't pressing charges against the Mumbai Police for unnecessarily dragging his name into the murky world of cricket betting. A lesser man would have turned vindictive and banned the Mumbai Police.

Its no laughing matter...

The BCCI can ban the Mumbai Police.

It is believed that N. Srinivasan has also declined to apply for unemployment benefits for the 60 odd days he was asked to step aside. Such sacrifice for the cause of the game is being hailed by one and all....mostly Sunil Gavaskar.

As the cricketing fraternity (mostly Sunil Gavaskar) is beginning to absorb the level of injustice done to N. Srinivasan, words of encouragement to N Srinivasan and scorn against the Mumbai Police are beginning to get louder.

Sunil Manohar Gavaskar speaking on Television said, "Cricket is an interrrrrnal matter of the BCCI, and the Mumbai Police should have known better".

Harsha Bholge said, "With this move the BCCI have not only done the right thing, but also I am sure the public will perceive this to be the right thing. By not using their might against the Mumbai Police for false accusations, the BCCI has shown the world that it is not the bully that foreigners wrongly perceive them to be. That they have forgiven the Mumbai Police is testament to their restraint"

Sensing the mood of the 'cricketing fraternity', the Mumbai Police have promised to hold their own internal probe into why innocent IPL owners from reputable businesses were unnecessarily accused of wrong doing.

The BCCI was right all along. It was a case of a few rotten eggs succumbing to the lure of cash.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sundry Thoughts

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India shrugged off the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar and won the Champion Trophy in style. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of limited overs fare, but cricket is cricket and you'll have to pry the remote out of my cold dead hands to switch the cricket channel. Dhoni attained mythic status with his assault on Eranga. If Eranga ever bowls another last over, it'll be a miracle. For the record, I don't recall Chetan Sharma ever bowling the last over again after Miandad launched him into the Sharjah stands.

The Ashes rocketed off the blocks like Usain Bolt. Five days of terrific cricket. Full houses every day, heroics every day and the icing on the cake with Agar smashing England to smithereens in his debut game. If there are any doubts that the English attack can be neutralized, Agar provided it first and Haddin next. Haddin's assault on Finn after a blockade against Anderson reminded me of Gambhir and Tendulkar's taming of Dale Steyn in South Africa in 2010. Those were the days before Tendulkar used to get routinely bowled for low scores. (Yes - This is Vidooshak and yes, I am knowingly commiting sacrilege).

A side note on Sachin. If there's anyone out there who still believes that India "needs" Sachin, they need to get their head examined. It's they who need Sachin because of the paucity of heroes in their lives probably, but the Indian team is doing just fine without Sachin. Hopefully, he too sees sense and quits before the team to South Africa is named.

The biggest story of the test match just concluded was DRS. We continue to believe that LBWs and doubtful caught behinds should be treated like run-outs and stumpings. The umpire can refer it to the TV umpire to decide. There is zero need to allow players to challenge an umpire's decision. Read Gilchrist's post on Cricinfo. We happen to share much of his angst about tampering with the spontaneity of test cricket.

In truth, England should have won the test match in a canter, but Australia's bowlers really took the fight to them. If any of the top order were to click at Lords, England will have to dig deep to pull out a victory. Watson has to take more responsibility and find a way to marry his shot-making to the match situation. I am a Watson believer and do think he'll come good in the games to come. I also believe Steve Smith has it in him to step up. However, if Australia go down in this test match without significant output from their top and middle orders, then the series could be a wipe out for them.

The revelations from Mickey Arthur only add to our impression that Clarke is a weak captain and is not in control of his team. We had written a post after the infamous Sydney test of 2008 that Clarke will be reduced to the same status as Kim Hughes was. While Hughes lost form and test matches, Clarke still can make runs, maybe.

On then to hopefully another rivetting test match.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Why is 'Stand Your Ground' acceptable behavior?

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It is considered acceptable behavior, in the modern game, for batsman to stay their ground even when they are clearly out.

The umpires are there to make the call. Let them do their jobs....Is the reasoning behind it. Some also go to the extent to suggest that overruling the umpire and "walking" amounts to "undermining the authority of the umpire"

Call me old fashioned, but I am increasingly uncomfortable with this line of thinking

Today, as one of the most intriguing of Tests unfolds at Nottingham, Stuart Broad stood his ground, almost embarrassed, as he edged a ball to slips and let the umpire figure out the multiple deflections.

If a fielder is reprimanded for claiming a catch that is on the bump, I think batsmen should be held to the same 'code of conduct'. To me there appears to be two differing codes that batsmen and bowlers are expected to adhere to

Cricket is increasingly moving towards an attitude that encourages "testing the umpire" by making their jobs more and more difficult. Even the DRS is not emerging to be an aid to the umpire, rather its becoming a tool that is often used to judge the performance of the on field umpire.

It is my belief that the biggest impact in correct decisions being delivered in a game of cricket will happen when players stop depending on the umpires to give them a life.

That however will require a strong departure from how things have evolved. It shouldn't be acceptable for the batsmen to stay their ground for obvious nicks.

It is as good as cheating. Just like claiming a bump catch is considered cheating.

It would be unfortunate if this classic Test match is remembered more for Broad's standing of his ground, than for the twists and turns that it has provided.

Its been one of the most absorbing Test matches I have watched in a long time.

Friday, May 31, 2013

With an Air of Resignation, Anger, Hopelessness and.....

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The last thing that seems to be on everyone’s mind is the cricket. Mumbai took home the IPL trophy, but there has been very little talk about that. All the talk has been about BCCI, corruption, spot-fixing, money, resignation and non-resignation. Swift constructive action eliminates rumor, innuendo and speculation. But why should anyone expect it out of the BCCI? What really surprises me the most is that Indians expect other Indians to do what they themselves would never do!
The BCCI is dominated by a rabble of politicians and their campaign contributors. It is a place to trade favors, jockey for influence and sweep dirt under the carpet. Why did politicians get elected to prestigious BCCI posts in the first place? The answer is probably very simple. The membership of state associations is dominated by the rich and powerful. From the erstwhile kings and nawabs that originally sponsored cricket, it moved into the hands of corporate scions that needed to indulge in some pass time with their money. They in turn confer these offices on the politicians who gladly return their favors in other ways. Politicians’ very existence depends on the perception of being powerful, administratively astute and organized. So the quid pro quo serves them very well.
These politicians appoint the judges, bureaucrats and officers to investigative agencies. Given the coalition politics in India, no politician is going to ever piss off another one completely unless he is devoid of all ambition. My theory is that any politician devoid of ambition would never get involved in cricket administration. He or she would be happy being politicians and managing their constituencies and their constituents’ expectations. So a mix of ambitious politicians and their influential, rich and powerful friends runs Indian cricket and now dominates world cricket.
As such any bad news is not good for any of these guys. So sweeping things under the rug is the best solution for all problems. Appointing three member panels with two Tamil Nadu judges to probe a Tamil Nadu industrialist whose son-in-law is in a Tamil Nadu jail reeks of just that - an attempt to sweep things under the rug. Any punishment meted out to Srinivasan will not be in the Dalmiya league. Dalmiya tried to keep out Pawar and got his wings clipped and his very life was made miserable. Srinivasan on the other hand gets a ‘he is an honorable man’ from the MCA president who is a proxy of Sharad Pawar.
Indian culture works such that quid pro quo conversations are probably happening daily to give Srinivasan an honorable exit or at worst a slap on the wrist. A few players will be banned. The most cynical one would say that Asad Rauf will likely be hung out to dry. He is a Pakistani and what better way to fool the Indian public than point the finger at a Pakistani. No one in India will stop watching the IPL or any other cricket game. If cricket descends to being a version of WWF, so be it. Indian fans will not care because they have no other forms of entertainment. Films, politics and cricket are all that binds Indians. Everything else is divisive.
So just as easily as Sanjay Dutt gets a bunch of sympathy votes though he has broken the law and Salman Khan breaks records at the box office despite being a drunk driver who killed someone, Srinivasan and his son-in-law may resurrect themselves because an alternate narrative will emerge sympathetic to their state, that will make enough excuses for enough Indians to start looking the other way or even supporting them because their livelihoods and their election depends on these guys.
And what about the cricket? The BCCI wallahs keep telling us that they are paying the first class cricketers more money than before and that they are spending more money than before on Indian cricket. But clearly, not enough is being spent on developing cricket in India and clearly they are not doing enough to maintain the sanctity of the sport. That’s because you can’t expect the fox to guard the hen-house. A majority of them are in it for themselves.
Cricketers also understand that sport is now a job. And pissing off your boss is the last thing you do to stay employed. Kapil’s humiliation is a classic example of how independent opinions are treated in “democratic” India. In the end, the feudal structures that operated for centuries continue to operate now and have made ethics and morality a convenient choice.
The cricketers are an underclass and those that criticize Dhoni for not speaking out don’t understand that speaking out will serve no purpose. Kumble’s silence makes that clear. So be prepared for a prolonged spell of gloom or simply tune out and find another sport to follow. India will infect every other nation’s cricket, due to its money and emigrant cricketers. And if you are looking for a clean sport, watch something else.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Patent Pending - A solution to fix Spot Fixing

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If the BCCI is serious about the existence of the IPL; we have a solution. A solution that turns fixing on its head.

Our "patent pending" solution for eliminating the evils of fixing, is easy to implement and benefits all...

What is fixing after all?

The way we see "fixing", it is when a bookie influences the outcome of a ball or a match. What if we turn it around? What if we let the players influence the outcome of balls and matches; like it supposed to be; but lets say we also offer the greedy bastards means to make a quick buck in the process?

How does it may ask.

Lets say you are Sachin Tendular.


And you wake up one day and feel that Harbhajan should open the bowling.

Now this is valuable information to bookies.

He (as in Sachin) auctions that decision. Not the actual decision of course but the fact that he has information to share...

With the highest bidder...

Bidders are among a network of BCCI approved, betting franchises.

Everyone's son-in-laws can own one!

Betting houses will pay millions for this kind of information.

Same with a lowly guy like R.P. Singh...Lets say in a team meeting his captain says...Greet Suresh Saina with a bouncer, I don't care if you bowl a wide or a no ball, as long as he is rattled.

Auction that...

Yes Bank, can facilitate secure payments between franchised betting houses and the players accounts.

Players pay a cut to the BCCI for the extra earnings.

The bookie who wins the bid, has presumably paid a lot of money to buy that information and you can be assured that he isn't going to share it with anyone.He simply uses it to set his odds accordingly.

What if the match situation changes and say Sachin decides its not wise to open with Harbhajan.

What then?

Well he can adjust some bandages in his fingers to signal, "The deal is off" and Yes Bank returns to the bookie the bid money.

What better way to preserve the sanctity of sport while allowing underpaid cricketers make a few bucks so that they can feed their wives and children.

What's in it for the bookies?

Guaranteed, cheap, high quality, reliable information without the costly operations...

We have submitted this to the BCCI. They have set up an independent committee to determine if they have received the proposal.

What about the may ask?

This breaks no laws. Bookies are not influencing anything. It can actually be positioned as a "welfare program" for the underpaid cricketers and the BCCI and the Betting houses can get tax exemption from this.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

IPL 6 - A Cynics Review

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Here we offer a complete review of the IPL season 6... 
Let the obscenities begin...
That's how we kicked off our cynical attempts at mocking the IPL (and Sachin). Neither disappointed. Sachin has truly reduced himself to a lovable comic hero and the IPL lived up to its promises of obscenities; although a murder or a drug charge would have really helped its image. Failing that; the scandals we got were juicy enough but pretty much in line with what the world expected the IPL to be.

The new controversies failed to break new ground.

However the promise is there. There is no limit to what one can expect to happen in the IPL a few years from now

CSK admit, they have made a strategic blunder. Its the West Indians and not the Sri Lankans who hurt their sentiments
While it may be true that the Sri Lankans have hurt the sentiments of the good people of the State of Tamil Nadu, West Indian Pollard, playing for the Mumbai Indians plucked a catch off Dhoni at deep mid-wicket to deny CSK a win in the early match up between the 2 sides.

To the immense maturity and restraint of N Srinivasan, he allowed West Indians to continue to visit and play in Tamil Nadu, even when there was conclusive proof that West Indians like Pollard are likely to help their teams win games against Chennai.

Opinions Predicts what Wasim-bhai will not say: Bowlers in the IPL are getting easy wickets because of Sachin
Wasim Akram as the Pakistani bowling coach commented that batsman are getting easy runs because they don't get to face the fearsome Pakistanis. Reality was bowlers were getting easy wickets because of Sachin and by the middle of the tournament they weren't even bothering to celebrate his wicket.

John Mooney clarifies: His 'slow and painful' tweet was meant for Sachin's trudge towards retirement.
John Mooney, the Irish cricketer observed on twitter that Sachin's trudge towards retirement was "slow and painful". The media misunderstood his comments entirely and twisted his words. They linked it to the death of Britan's Iron Lady. They said he was hoping her death was "slow and painful".

Things the media cooks up...

And the IPL meandered on...obsessed with it self and Sachin's 40th birthday. A 40 lb cake cutting ceremony to take the obscenities to the next level.

And then came the main event of the season.

The spot fixing scandal...

Have you heard of an actor charged for cheating because he spoke his lines from a different script?
 To prove that the IPL matches are unscripted games is a stretch. I have nothing against the format. T20 is a great format but the whole IPL setup is fishy. I don't worry too much about the 'conflict of interest' because firstly it is too obvious to be true and secondly there is no proof that that either the IPL or the BCCI have any interest in the game of cricket. 

Given the level of interest in the game across the country, given the existence of illegal betting in India and given how opaque the BCCI is in its operations, one cannot but assume; as extension; that the league is ripe for corruption. 

Many are worried about the "credibility of the IPL". I wouldn't bother. There are many things the IPL has gotten right about the IPL; like not bothering to establish any sort of credibility with its customer base. You can't lose something you never built. And you don't need to build something for the sake of building it, when you know the money will flow in anyhow
There is no onus on the BCCI to clean up anything. Why fix anything that ain't broke. From their perspective, nothing is broken. People still watch the IPL games. I do. Sponsors have not threatened to pull out because they know that you and me will watch anyhow. India's players have already resigned to their roles as entertainers, so they have virtually even less of a voice than I have on Indian cricket. They are trained from a young age to not speak their minds.

The IPL and the BCCI have proven that "credibility" is over rated. 

Of all the fishy things that have been allegedly happening in the IPL; the fishiest smelling is Vivian Richards saying Virat Kohli reminds him of himself. Investigate that I say...
Not for a minute I believe Richards feels that. A country obsessed with seeking validation of its cricketers from foreign greats is in search of the next Sachin. Richards is the new Bradman.

Then the IPL climaxed with the greatest joke of all..

Opinions Breaking News: N. Srinivasan to set up a committee to investigate who won the IPL
I mean how difficult is it to ascertain who is the owner of an asset? Any asset. Is the BCCI franchise operation so vague that to determine the owner of a franchise is not a routine exercise of pulling up the CSK file in a BCCI office and reading out whose name there is on the "owner" line? Why do you need a committee for that? 

And if; and this is a big if; the committee indeed has the freedom to report what is true and it does ascertain the Gurunath is the owner of CSK what is stopping N Srinivasan to propose another committee to investigate the findings of this committee.

I once laughed at the PCB and Ijaz Butt. I owe them an apology. I am sorry. Our guys are just as hilarious as yours.