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"