Thursday, September 11, 2008

IT IS TIME

The decision of the management of the Indian team on the non-inclusion of Saurav Ganguly in the Rest of India for the forthcoming Irani Trophy has reignited an old debate.

Is it the right time for Ganguly to quit? I have always been a great fan of Ganguly the batsman and Ganguly the captain. But the left hander from Kolkata has to retire. Saurav Ganguly was failure in the entire series in Sri Lanka where he scored less than 100 runs in the six innings. Even during the Australian tour, Ganguly scored few runs and got out at the most crucial of times. It appeared that he lost the appetite to stay at the wicket.

In many respects, Ganguly is frank and forthright and that is one reason why I respect him. But when it comes to his retirement, Saurav is not able to take decision. To use a cliché, it is like clutching straws.

In this context, the comments of Amit Varma make a very interesting read.

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THAT IS NOT OUT

In recent times, I have found cricketers not appealing in the way it is meant to be. I was watching a match involving two county teams of England on the television. The wicketkeeper and the bowler appealed. What is surprising is that it was not the 'how is that' appeal. Rather, it was something that sounded like 'hee ya'. Now what to make of that sort of an appeal?

The Aussies have taken the appealing to a different level. Shane Warne was extremely aggressive and many umpires were in a way felt pressurised to give decisions in favour of the bowler when replays showed a different picture. Symonds with his huge frame looks like giving a hearty growl to the umpire in the name of appealing.

It does not matter that the game of cricket has witnessed many changes over the decades. But this is something I am not in agreement with as more players have dropped the habit of asking 'how is that'.

Knowing the ICC, a time may come when some rules can be changed to accommodate the new way of appealing.

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A GAIN TO CRICKET

There are unconfirmed reports of Andrew Symonds calling it quits the international game. This news should please a lot of Indians since he was regarded as the villian of the Sydney test match involving Harbhajan Singh.

Symonds has always loved the Indian bowling attacks. He scored runs as an English county player when India was on tour. The last time the Aussies toured India, Symonds scored a lot of runs in the one dayers. Besides, he is an excellent fielder and also a useful bowler. With his absence, the Indians can feel relieved. However, it should also be remembered that Symonds was a total failure when he faced the likes of Muralitharan in Sri Lanka.

If anything, the absence of Symonds will give precedence to cricket over allegations and counter-allegations.  

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

25 NOT OUT


We don't see batsmen on the field celebrating after scoring 25 runs-not even in the condensed format of 20-20 cricket.But this 25 is something to rejoice.

Harsha Bhogle has completed 25 years as a cricket commentator.I have never heard Harsha speak on the radio. The first time I saw Harsha was on a Sunday show on sports called 'Sportsmag' on Doordarshan. If my memory is not corrupted, I can remember that his co-host was Sanjana Kapoor.

He is one commentator who I feel has the right words for the right occasion.Rarely, he goes over the top. He does not say things like ' a fine driver of the cricket ball' to desribe a shot like many of his Indian contemporaries.I remember on one occasion when Harsha wanted the use of Variance-a statistical measure to compare the averages. As a student and a teacher of Statistics, I felt very happy.

But there are two write-ups by Harsha that make me remain devoted to the game of cricket even through the lean and mean times. The two write-ups appeared in the Cricinfo Magazine(now history). The first related to his experiences of playng cricket in a locality called Angad Basti of his native city of Hyderabad. The second one was an appreciation of Anil Kumble-one of my favourite cricketer.I shall provide the dates of the issues and if the people at Cricinfo allow, I shall post them on my blog.

I have read fine books on cricket-one by Gideon Haigh and the other by Peter Roebuck. The two write-ups of Harsha Bhogle stand there at the top of my all time favourite writings on cricket.
There is one little thing of Harsha that irritates me. Normally, a very composed person behind the microphone, Harsha seems to go over the top when the Indian team is the winner.

Anyway, wishing a very happy anniversary and expecting more from the man.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

DHONI HAS EXCELLENT TIMING

When M.S.Dhoni decided to skip the test series ostensibly to take rest, he received a lot of support. The media and the ex-players hailed the 'courageous' decision. Even the great Sachin Tendulkar did not enjoy the luxury of picking matches in his pomp. Would the cricket authorities in Australia allow a top player like Ponting to miss a whole test series?

Dhoni by all accounts is extremely street smart. He has not done well in the test matches. The way he batted in Australia was not expected of a future captain. He was not able to string a decent score. The spinners of Sri Lanka would have made a mockery of the batting ability of Dhoni. Excellent players of spin like Sachin, Laxman and Dravid were made to look like novices on the tour.

So Dhoni decided to give the test matches a miss and play the one day series instead. I wonder whether Dhoni would have missed the series if he were the captain?


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WILL FEDERER WIN?

Since the trashing at Roland Garros at the hands of Nadal, Roger Federer has looked like an ordinary player. The loss at Wimbledon was not expected even by the most ardent followers of Nadal. Of course, one should not forget the loss of Federer to Novak Djokovic the first Slam of the year at Melbourne. With the scrappy showing so far in the year and the US Open, things are not looking rosy for the Swiss.The players who lost the match even before stepping onto the court until a year ago, are now confident of standing upto the fight.

In case Murray reaches the finals, Federer has a great chance to win at least one Slam this year. That would also enable him to win five consecutive championships.But if Nadal manages to put it past Murray and goes to the finals, the Spaniard becomes the favourite.

While Nadal has gone from strength to strength, Federer seems like a player who is just playing from his memory. Occasionally there are the familiar Federer streaks of pure brilliance, but mostly they are overshadowed by misses.


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TOSS WAS IMPORTANT

In my humble opinion, much has been made out of the captaincy skills of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The win the T20 World Cup and the victories in Australia and Sri Lanka have been cited as instances of the acumen of Dhoni. But we should not forget the losses in Sri Lanka.

When the home team won the toss the Indian team floundered. Dhoni and his men appeared clueless and when Dhoni called correctly at the toss, the team won. So the toss became the crucial factor in deciding the final outcome of the one day series. The supporters of Dhoni have argued that the players were not motivated for the last game after having won the series in the fourth match.


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Saturday, September 06, 2008

LOYALTY POINTS

Loyalty has to be rewarded and who knows it better than the BCCI. A couple of days ago, Oriya news channels reported that Cuttack would host a one-day international between India and England. The Secreatry of the Orissa Cricket Association(OCA) was a person who seemed extremely happy with the favour doled out by the top cricket administrators of the country.He also added that Cuttack would also play host to the Challenger Trophy.

With the President of the Orissa Cricket Association, Ranjib Biswal also a national selector, things appear rosy for Orissa. However, the fortunes of the Orissa cricket team have been on the downhill and more so in the last couple of seasons. Biswal a cricketer of repute in his playing days might be associated with the good performances of the Indian team, but back home, his magic has failed.

Just as the BCCI grants matches to different affiliated units of the country as a reward for loyalty, the OCA also shows its generosity to the office bearers at the level of the various districts of the state. It is the players and the paying public who do not have any say.

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DON'T CROSS THE LAXMAN REKHA

The BCCI censured the coach of the Indian cricket team.The reason-poor Kirsten opined that Dhoni would be the right person to lead the team for the test matches.The BCCI argues that the decision is to be left to the selection panel. The coach should not interfere with the working of the selectors.

The message of the BCCI is loud and clear-Kirsten should not cross the 'laxman rekha'. It is a different matter that the officials of the BCCI can vent their views all across the media.

I think there is a mountain made of the captaincy issue. Sometime ago a player was asked of his desire to lead the team and the player replied in the affirmative. This led the media to make the public smell a coup.

Similarly, Gary Kirsten also made his views known on the captaincy after the departure of Kumble.

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