Monday, November 4, 2013

Who wants to be a bowler in cricket?

Bowling in cricket seems to be the toughest job in the universe after the recently concluded series between India and Australia.

3274 runs,107 sixes and 345 fours in total for the series looks like the stats for a calendar year by some team collectively,these staggering stats have opened the debate against these rules in the cricketing fraternity.   Cricket is moving towards batsmen and if this goes on no body would like to be a bowler,adding to the misery are new Icc rules The bowling Power Play will have to be completed before the 40th over and more than four fielders will not be allowed outside the 30-yard circle at any stage of the innings. All the ODI's played post-ICC new rules have witnessed low-scoring matches with one extra fielder have to be inside the 30-yard circle throughout the match.  What has changed since the 90's ? It's not like the Chinnaswamy has magically gotten smaller all of a sudden. India has always produced flat decks for ODIs. So what has really brought about this change in batting results? The answer is multi-faceted:   The IPL and the freedom of strokeplay that it demands. James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh are all IPL veterans.    Batsmen are much much stronger these days e.g: M.S. Dhoni is easily as powerful as Sir Vivian Richards was in his pomp. Bowlers have not yet evolved to counter the above two points. People talk about Marshall,McGrath, Ambrose, Akram,Waqar and Lillee but even those gentlemen would've struggled against this new breed of champion batsmen.   We have complaints with the new format but are we not been following SA Vs PAK? Australia also got the same field placements, they also went through the same format. If Australia did not win, we have an issue with that? They lost it fair and square. Once the batsmen is set there is nothing you can do, but wait till he makes a mistake. No one complains when teams play in Australia, where the grounds are bigger. No one complains to ICC that the ground is big. Every team plays, so what's different here. Indians played on the same ground so did Australia, they also got the same ground. If they could not make use of the conditions is that India's fault, ICC's fault or BCCI's fault? What's wrong with the dead/flat pitches? Other teams too play in AUS where they do not prepare dead/flat pitches, they prepare green top pitches where AUS excel. Shouldn't they prepare dead/flat pitches? Does India complain at that time and don't they lose those matches.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sachin Tendulkar "The hottest talk of the town for nothing"

After India's defeat at Mumbai, the discussion is less about reasons for the loss and more about why Tendulkar is being so rigid in retirement and not in a mood to call it a day.
.This line of thought also implies that England won because Tendulkar failed, and as long as he is playing India would continue to lose. Presuming for a moment that Tendulkar is not in the team, will it change anything? Will India become a transformed side and give England the licking we wanted our team to inflict on them? Will it compensate for the way we are structuring our cricket, where the riches of IPL and the havoc it plays with the genuine skills of the game is resulting in our losing even our home advantage.
Post the 2011 World Cup win, the signs that our Test team would plummet to a new low were to be seen everywhere. Have we done anything to correct this self-created imbalance, because of which it might be impossible to have an archetypal Test cricketer anymore?

Agreed the last time Sachin Tendulkar scored a century in Tests was way back against South Africa in January 2011.

Little Master, as he is known popularly, has been battling form with the bat and his highest score of the year 2012 is 80 that he made against Australia in Sydney. Such has been the struggle that his batting average in the last 10 innings has been a dismal 15.3. During this period he has scored just 153 runs. The calls for his retirement have gained momentum after his failures in the home matches as well.

A sporting environment where a Cheteshwar Pujara will be an aberration and not a norm, has been thrust upon us, but we are unwilling to look into the mirror and see what even a blind man won't be able to ignore.
Imagine being led in Test cricket by a man who lacks even the basics of what a quintessential Test player should be. A one-day champion can be a pauper in the longer version of the game and MS Dhoni is a classic example of that. But no, we are not interested in confronting these serious issues that have led to where we stand today.
For us, it is all about one man. Even if that man happens to be Sachin Tendulkar, the most idolised figure in the nation's sporting history.
We create heroes in a second and villains out of the same people the moment they fail. If that failure coincides with India's defeat, then not even God can save that man from being lynched.
In our pathological desire for seeking an object that should never fail, we invest our idols with powers even Gods would envy. For the past two decades, Tendulkar was that figure, who mocked at mortality, broke all cricketing barriers and filled that void in our life which makes us feel inadequate and limited. When we looked in the mirror, what stared back at us was not our own face but Tendulkar's, rock solid, immortal, one of us, but above all failures. A God-like figure, who strode the sporting world like no one had ever done.

Debate has got fire after the retirement of Ponting and crictics believe that he should hang his boots as well.Let him play in peace the man who has  done so much for the game and the nation should be given the leverage to retire at his own terms.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


In Mumbai, at Wankhade Stadium, Indian pacers struggle to bowl and bowled the West Indians, who have been one struggling side in the recent past.

We cannot be like our neighbours who produce 1 new fast bowler every month. Few days back Zaheer Khan rightly quoted in an interview that our bodies are not designed to bowl fast.

Here is a player who came down to Mumbai from Shrirampur town near Nasik in Maharashtra. There was no cricket coaching that he received in his formative years. But the tall and well-built Zaheer Khan seemed a natural fast bowler when he played in Mumbai. He was lucky that his coach Sudhir (former Mumbai captain) didn’t tinker with his technique and approach.

In the ongoing series against West Indies as well, India is trying to nurture the upcoming bowlers like Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron. There are many questions that are haunting Indian ardent cricket lovers; are we moving in the right direction? Are we taking too many chances?

Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Tinu Yohannan, VRV Singh, L Balaji and many more to add in the ODI format of Indian bowling. India, like any other country has produced a battery of pacers – but surely they end up as medium fast bowlers on the field, but none seemed adept enough to carry forward a big responsibility. Every bowler India tried in this meanwhile has shown initial zest & promise but mysteriously fizzled out.

The West Indian pace quartet of the 70s & 80s, Walsh-Ambrose in the 90s; Thomson-Lillee & McGrath, Lee & Gillespie for Australia; Allan Donald-Shaun Pollock for South Africa; Wasim-Waqar and later Shoaib Akhtar for Pakistan have all been potent new ball handlers & partnerships. Oppositions have feared and been wary off and they have been instrumental in their team’s successes during their career.

India’s fiercest new ball combo, even though they lacked express pace had been of Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar. The duo operated together in the late eighties and early nineties. Kapil’s retirement put extra pressure on young Javagal Srinath; arguably India’s finest produce in the fast bowling department. He was quick, could swing both ways and was intimidating too. Prabhakar’s form dipped and the nip faded. He was an effective bowler once and turned out to be Miandad’s nemeses; later concentrated in a role as an opening batsman which has done all the damage, if we get into a bowler’s perspective.

The mysterious shell which Indian pacers take shelter into, once established has to be unearthed and a solution needed. It has become a perennial problem for Indian pacers that existed even two decades back in the 80s when exciting fast bowlers like Chetan Sharma, Vivek Razdan, Atul Wassan, Salil Ankola, Subroto Banerjee followed by the likes of Dodda Ganesh, Paras Mhambrey, Abey Kuruvilla, Debashis Mohanty, Harvinder Singh , David Johnson amongst others in the 90s showed promise but faded away soon in the haze of Delhi’s December.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

OH GOD! “I wll not call him GOD again please GOD please.”

The Kotla test is a passe now, Sachin Tendulkar missed his 100th ton in International Cricket, still stuck to 99th Hundred what is the battle which is consuming the GOD of Cricket


These lines must be on the lips of every cricket fan in India where cricket is next to religion and Sachin Tendulkar is homogenous GOD of many Indians. But now fans are thinking the other way, the God seems upset with the Indian fans because of the fans calling him God? The truth, only God must be knowing!

Anxiously thinking somewhere in the corners of their heart that 99, they don’t want one more Bradman. Almost every time a momentous milestone looms before him, Sachin also perceives the Devil and the Deep Sea; he just can’t seem to decide which is the lesser of the evil and ends up being consumed by one or the other, or both.
The first Test at the historic Kotla once again showcased this one aberration in his exceptional run over the years.

West Indies had sparred their way to 304, with Shivnarine Chanderpaul frustrating India’s bowlers with his hideous approach to batting. On a low and slow track, it seemed like a winning opening hand.

India began strongly with Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag showing their familiarity with the home track; but a fortuitous touch saw the former being run out at the non-striker’s end. Tendulkar, though, didn’t last long even as ticket prices shot up outside the stadium in the hope of his perfect century.

By the time West Indies were bundled out, the Test had reached an interesting corner: they had made only 180 to give India just 276 to overhaul; it wasn’t a huge target but the chase was always going to be tricky. More importantly, everybody sniffed another chance for Tendulkar.


He walked in at 95 for two; by then, the danger had passed and the wicket too mysteriously looked friendlier. Yet, Tendulkar only saw the Devil (in the track): as he took his stance, you could sense his anxiety. India could have still lost from here; but he could also make a dash for it.

With the two thoughts weighing on him, he was visibly tentative. The body language itself was cautious and the eyes revealed the turmoil within; the footwork was not bold or precise and the bat came down slowly, in a defensive prod. It was a crucial phase; you could feel the bomb ticking there.

By close of play, he had crossed the 15,000-milestone and was just 67 runs from the milestone. He must have curled up in the bed peacefully, even if he is known to be a light sleeper during big matches; after all, Rahul Dravid was at the other end. It was reassuring on two counts: one, he could be relied upon to ward off any late onslaught from West Indies bowlers; two, he wouldn’t make a scramble for the remaining runs.

India, however, suffered a jolt early on the fourth morning; Dravid fell to a swinging delivery after adding only one; worse, VVS Laxman arrived and the scorecard started moving at an alarming pace. Surprisingly he denied a single on offer.

Sometimes, just like in life, such misses prove to be portentous: three deliveries later, he tries to pull Bishoo and fails to connect. The umpire hesitates but has no other choice. Tendulkar walks back on 76, leaving the stands and the expectant country in a daze; he had already done his bit for the team though. There will, of course, be another chance soon for Tendulkar; surely, he will figure out a way to tame the Devil and the Deep Sea.

A long time has passed since Sachin Tendulkar slammed his 99th ton against South Africa at the successful World Cup campaign earlier this year. A lot has happened in international cricket since then.

Karbo larbo, sachin jeetbo re is what whole Kolkata must be murmuring before the start of the second test at Eden gardens!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Is This The End of The Road for Turbonator??

Harbhajan Singh, THE TURBONATOR as called by his fellow teammates, was almost irreplaceable till few months back, since 2000 this was the first time when team India was on the field for a test match without “JUMBO “ and the “TURBONATOR”.

There was little doubt after Anil Kumble’s retirement in 2008 as to who will blow the trumpet of India’s spin prowess, with Harbhajan Singh’s wickets’ reserve resembling a healthy green belt. But little did India know three years later, it will play a Test with an untested spin battery while Harbhajan will be searching his long lost form in Ranji Trophy.

For almost a decade – from 1998 to 2008 – the Jumbo-Bhajji duo tied batsmen into knots that became part of a study. If one withered for a while, the other made sure the loop didn’t disappear totally.

Though his wickets tally since Kumble’s retirement leaves much to be desired, India’s success rate at home doesn’t suggest the same. Of the 13 home Tests in which Harbhajan played after Kumble quit, India won eight, lost one and drew four.

However, these figures suggest the pivotal role Harbhajan has played in home series, it would be wrong to conclude that selectors have erred by dropping him. Against a harmless West Indies team, even Ashwin, Sharma and Pragyan Ojha will be a handful. At the same time, it allows Harbhajan to iron out his flaws against better batsmen of spin in the domestic circuit. So it will be to India’s good that Harbhajan earns his return back to the Test folds rather than mincing spin-wary Caribbean batsmen.

Harbhajan, till recently a regular player in the national cricket team, appears destined to remain in the cold with debutant R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha doing exceedingly well in the opening cricket Test against the West Indies. Man-of-the-Match Ashwin took nine wickets in the game and Ojha claimed seven wickets to bowl India to an excellent five-wicket win at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi.

Harbhajan, with over 400 Test wickets, was left out of the team for the first Test due to indifferent performances in recent months. The team for the second Test starting in Kolkata on November 14 is yet to be announced but the veteran offie is unlikely to figure in it.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a known supporter of Harbhajan, indicated as much in the post-match press conference in Delhi. “Let’s see. Ojha did well and Ashwin won man of the match in his debut match,” Dhoni said on the chances of Harbhajan coming back into the team.

Harbhajan is playing Ranji for Punjab, can he web some magic with his off-spin and “DOOSRA” to make a strong statement to the selectors is remaining to be seen.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


When Ravichandran Ashwin got inkling about being handed a Test cap, one of the first phone calls he made was to his coach Sunil Subramaniam. The Chennai-based logistics manager in turn dialed the vice-president of his company and took a week off from work, climbing aboard the first-available flight to Delhi. Ashwin, on his part, had asked his teammate and Delhi boy Virat Kohli to ensure that Subramaniam got one of the best seats at the Kotla. It would also ensure a short class with the coach at the end of the day — if things didn’t go according to plan in the middle.

Things actually went beautifully. Ashwin bettered his 3/81 in the first innings with a 6/47 in the second. His tally of 9 for 128, which also included a double-wicket maiden in the West Indies second innings, was the best by an Indian bowler on debut after Narendra Hirwani’s 16 for 136 against the same opponents in Chennai.

Former leg spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan said while doing commentary that he was part of the junior selection committee when Ashwin’s dream of becoming a batsman was cut short. The Chennai ‘School of Cricket’ has a tradition of giving budding cricketers a reality check — Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were keen fast bowlers before they were turned away by the MRF Pace Foundation. But young Ashwin’s career was revived by Subramaniam during a TNCA academy trial six years ago.

He could not have asked for a better debut as R Ashwin became only the third cricketer ever to get a Man of the Match in his first Test and as he prepares to get married in a few days, the off-spinner wondered if the nine-wicket haul against the West Indies is a wedding gift.
Ashwin scalped nine wickets, including a 6/47 in the second innings, in the opening Test, which India won by five wickets at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. Set to enter wedlock on November 13, Ashwin said he did not expect a debut so good.

It’s a pleasing effort. I expected to get a few wickets but not so many. I don’t know if its gift for me and my wife before the marriage but it is a very happy feeling to go into my wedding with such a performance,” Ashwin said at the post-match presentation ceremony

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fixed at the "SPOT"

The romantic in us would believe there is no spot fixing. But human greed knows no boundaries, is how Harsha Bhogle summed up the spot-fixing episode in which former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and seam bowler Mohammad Asif were found guilty.

and often raised its head, only for us to turn our faces. But the way spot-fixing has come to light and the way it has been dealt, it speaks a lot about the authorities that we don’t really want a scripted game.

The jury in the spot-fixing trial has found Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif guilty, by a unanimous verdict, on the charge of ‘conspiracy to cheat’ and on the count of ‘conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments’. Salman and Asif will be sentenced in the coming week.

On a historic day for cricket, the world also learnt that Mohammad Amir, the teenage Pakistani fast bowler, had pleaded guilty to the same two charges before the trial began; he will now be given a “Newton Hearing” to decide the quantum of punishment, during which there will be no jury officially present, although they have been given permission to sit in and watch if they wish.

There were no mixed reactions in the cricket fraternity. Experts like Rameez raja and Aamir Sohail termed it as a “LESSON’” for the coming cricketers.

Mean while there is no relief for teenager as well, Pakistan fast-bowler Mohammad Amir was involved in a conspiracy to fix elements of the Oval Test match as well as the notorious Lord’s Test, the spot-fixing officials said.
Appearing in court alongside former team-mates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif for the first time since he pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy relating to the Lord’s Test, Amir was told by Cooke that he did not accept the basis of his plea. Amir’s guilty plea only refers to the Lord’s Test, where he bowled two huge no-balls exactly as conspirator Mazhar Majeed predicted in covertly recorded conversations with undercover journalists from the News of the World.

But at the start of a sentencing hearing scheduled for two days Mr. Justice Cooke said that he could not accept that plea having heard evidences during the trial of Butt and Asif that Amir was involved in discussions about fixing the Oval Test.

Specifically the court heard evidence of text messages and calls between Amir and Majeed and suspected fixers in Pakistan referencing the Oval Test. In one message sent to bookie following his arrest, Amir wrote to Mazhar to delete his calls which he made to his cell because ICC has taken his cellphone.

The judge also said he was troubled by Amir’s claim that he had become involved only because he had come under pressure that could have negatively impacted on his career. Amir does not say who pressurized him, but the judge made it clear he believes he was referring to Butt and Asif, a fact that could negatively impact on Butt in particular. He told the officials that he was under pressure.

The judge’s concern over the plea arises from inconsistency between the charges leveled at all three players, which cover a conspiracy in the period of both the Oval and Lord’s Test, and the plea agreed with the Crown Prosecution Service, which is restricted to Lord’s.

Swann on Salman Butt:

The way Salman Butt carried himself rubbed me up the wrong way. Aloof and arrogant are the best descriptions of him. What made my dismissal of him in the Lord’s Test all the more satisfying was that he pompously refused to leave the field despite being bowled. We knew the TV replays would confirm his fate and I really enjoyed standing in our huddle taking the Mickey out of him.