Friday, December 23, 2005


The marketing arm of BCCI led by Lalit Modi was proud to announce the fact that the Indian cricket team or rather the BCCI has overtaken the likes of Juventus, Manchester United etc. as the richest sporting body in the world. This announcement was made after the near Rs.200 crores deal with Nike.

But there is one thing amiss in all this. That is, the lack of any accountability. Manchester United is run with a professional approach. The same is the case with most of the big football clubs all over the world. It is interesting to note that all are privately owned and some like Manchester United are also listed on the stock exchange. But BCCI does not even have any permanent office address of its own. During the days of Dalmiya, everything was run from Kolkata. Now, with Pawar at the top, things are made or undone in Mumbai.

There is another thing that has come to my mind in the aftermath of the deal with Nike. None of the players have any endorsement deals with Nike. The biggest one, Sachin endorses Adidas; ditto with Sehwag. The others have contracts with Reebok. Does this deal with Nike not result in a conflict of interest? We may very well witness a row between the players and the Board as in the case involving the West Indies.


The wheel has turned a full circle; the transfer of power has been complete. I am talking about the appointment of Raj Singh Dungarpur as the Manager of the team to Pakistan. Until now, he was acting as the spokesperson for the anti-Jagmohan Dalmiya camp. Now his statements would carry the official sanction. It is persons of this kind that have damaged Indian cricket in the past and would continue to do the same for the years to come.

It is this gentleman who happened to find something in Azharuddin. No doubt, India with Azharuddin and Wadekar did win a couple of home series for India. But in general they took India at least a decade back vis-a-vis other teams. Everyone knows how the then captain found himself in the thick of the match-fixing scandal.

What has really upset me is the statement of Raj Singh on the possibility of Saurav Ganguly making a comeback. The newly appointed manager made some startling revelations to a news channel. On asked about the observations of Greg Chappell on the former Indian captain faking injuries, Raj Singh replied in the affirmative. He cited the 1999 World Cup match against Pakistan and the test matches at Nagpur and Mumbai against Australia as the evidence of Ganguly faking injuries.

Despite all this Raj Singh promised full backing if Ganguly was included in the touring party to Pakistan!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


The test match at Perth featuring Australia and South Africa finished in a draw. This is a rarity since in recent times test matches have been witnessing runs scored at a fast rate. There is another rarity that Australia could not finish off their rivals in a day and a bit, on arguably the fastest pitch. This is what separates the present Australian team from that under Steve Waugh. Despite having the likes of McGrath, Warne and Brett Lee the Aussies have lacked the cutting edge.

The South Africans were never in the hunt for the target of 491 runs despite all the big talk from their skipper, Graeme Smith. In the first innings, the two sides appeared to be evenly matched reminding one of the matches between the two teams when the Proteas just returned to the fold of international cricket.

The South Africans were surprisingly uninspiring in the fielding department, letting off a few of the Aussie batsmen. Brad Hodge was dropped on 13 and he went on to score a double hundred in his third test match.

The South Africans were able to save the match thanks to the marathon innings played by Jacques Rudolph. The left hander was at the crease for the entire 5th day. That is something of a novelty these days since batsmen are far more inclined to play the shots rather than occupy the crease. This innings was certainly something that batsmen of the past such as Boycott, Gavaskar would have been proud of.

Warne was once again in the headlines for the right reasons. He became the highest wickettaker in one calendar year going past his countryman Dennis Lillee. It is to be seen whether he can take 12 wickets in the boxing day test at Melbourne to score a century of a different kind.


By the end of the third day, the Indians are in a commanding position in the third test at Motera. Harbhajan finished the Lankan first innings with a haul of 7 wickets, incidentally, in his 50th test match.

The Indian top order failed to click the second time and the lower order came to the rescue once again giving India a lead of over 400 runs. Yuvraj has once again played a tremendous innings after not troubling the scorer in the first innings. Is that a record of sorts?

The real mystery is the inability of Muralitharan to pick wickets by the bagful as is his wont. Does it have something to do with the fact that SG balls are used in India and not the Kookaburra balls that Murali uses back home? Or does it have to do something with the team composition. There was a news item about how Sanath Jayasuriya destroyed his television after the win by India at Delhi.

Monday, December 19, 2005


The end of the second day at Motera saw India in a strong position with Sri Lanka losing 5 wickets for not many runs. This time Harbhajan was the tormentor with 4 wickets with the other going to Irfan Pathan.

On the first day a score of 398 looked impossible with 5 Indian batsmen back in the hut for less than 100 runs on the board. But thanks to Laxman, Dhoni and Pathan, India could recover to the present position. Laxman again underlined his class with a century. However, he could not carry on to post a big score. Pathan continues to impress with his temperament and class. Kumble and Agarkar also did their bit to frustrate the visitors.

The main talking point in the college staff common room was the strange action of Lasith Malinga. The batsmen found it pretty difficult to judge the ball since the bowling arm came suddenly from the back of the umpire. I saw him earlier on a tour to Australia where he was more than impressive.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


As expected, Wasim Jaffer, the new hope of Indian cricket was made to sit on the bench. The team management or the think-tank need to be congratulated for their courage in making the Mumbai opener warm up the bench, especially in the aftermath of his controversial selection.

Coming to the test match at Ahmedabad, the Indians were in a deep hole, thanks to some lackadaisical batting, including from one Sachin Tendulkar. Gambhir did not deserve the extended run given his repeated failures. With this kind of scores behind him, it is scary to think of the team against the likes of Pakistan and England. The captain for this match, Sehwag is carrying his natural game a little too far in the interests of the team. Yuvraj is not known for his ability to play spin and this showed today. Kaif was not at all comfortable after the long lay-off from test cricket.

Laxman has done it again when more heralded batsmen bit the dust at Motera. There were some streaky shots interspersed with the trademark away from the body that guided the ball beyond the balls. In the morning I read somewhere about the knocks played by Laxman in low scoring innings. Dhoni seemed unfazed by the spin and went to play some meaty shots. Irfan Pathan has really shown wisdom beyond his years. Laxman and Pathan have to stay at the wicket long enough on the second day to dent the hopes of the Lankans.

My congratulations to Anil Kumble on achieving the landmark of 100 tests. Here is one cricketer who has always stuck to his job even when he was dropped unceremoniously. He was made to miss the World Cup and there were no protests in Bangalore.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Kiran More was not very reliable with the wicketkeeping gloves in his playing days. After all, he was the man who made Graham Gooch a great player. In that match, More grassed a chance and the English opener went to score the highest number of runs in a test match.

It came as no surprise that the Chairman of selectors went on to justify the selection of Saurav Ganguly on the ground that the former Indian captain was needed for his all-round ability. More than a few questions were raised considering the exclusion of Ganguly from the one day team where his all-round skills are more helpful for the team.

Now, when Saurav put up a good show in the second test, the selectors dropped him in favour of Wasim Jaffer who to nobody's surprise hails from the new power centre of Indian cricket, Mumbai. Of course, More can now claim that the selection of Ganguly for the first two test matches was beyond his control with pressure from some members of the selection panel. This time with a more friendly panel, More can be proud of having corrected the mistake. Talk about two wrongs making a right.

It is people like More backed by the likes of Raj Singh Dungarpur who give Indian cricket the bad name that it has. To my surprise the role of More was not investigated in the Abhijit Kale episode.

The exclusion of Ganguly and the inclusion of Jaffer in the team for the third test is something that is going to please people like Ravi Shastri. The former player had always expressed his dislike for Ganguly the captain. He always cited the case of Australia and tried to pretend like an Australian with borrowed phrases and accent.
If domestic performances are any yardstick for selection, then what about Zaheer Khan? Is the left arm paceman given ignored because he does not play for Mumbai? Does Ajit Agarkar continue in the squad for being a part of the Mumbai team?

A couple of months back, Saurav Ganguly was a hated figure and now he has become a martyr or even a saint. Kiran More and his backers deserve all the credit for this amazing transformation.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


It was not a surprise that the Chennai test ended in a draw after just four sessions of cricket. It was, of course, a surprise that the Lankans managed to put the Indians in a spot of bother. The Indians could put up only 167 runs, their lowest score against the Lankans so far.

Muralitharan was more than a handful on the pitch that had uneven bounce. All the Indian batsmen struggled including the likes of Sachin and Rahul. Only Sehwag was looking comfortable. Ganguly added another single digit to this career tally while Laxman got himself involved in a runout in the company of Ganguly. The right hander from Hyderabad is a poor runner between the wickets and Ganguly is always a reluctant runner.

On Monday the Lankans, especially, Mahela Jayawardene batted very fluently. Suddenly, the pitch did not show any devils. It can be argued that the sun did the favours for Sri Lanka. On the flip side, it can be pointed out that the Indian batsmen were not simply upto the task of test batting.

It is after eight long years that Sri Lanka are in India for test cricket. In all these years, Muralitharan has picked loads of wickets on similar pitches back home. And, in all these years Indian batsmen have not played a good spinner with the exception of Shane Warne and Saqlain Mushtaq. The off spinner from Pakistan took 5 wickets in consecutive innings of two test matches.

My take is that the Indians have got to take on Muralitharan to have any chance of denying the Lankans a test win on Indian soil. At the same time, the Indian spinners and more specifically, Kumble needs to get on to the wicket taking mode.