India’s tour of England 2011 – Why the tours of England are special

July 31, 2011

I’ve almost always had a rush of nostalgia when India is about to tour England. The green grass, blue skies, the contrast between the “Surf-excel-white” clouds and the tourquise blue of the sky, the picturesque grounds, the lovely breeze and the occasional sweater worn by the spectator adds an element of other worldly magic to the drama that is about to enfold. India’s tours of England have brought back some lovely memories that run back to the summer of’96. There are several such occasions – the World Cup 99, the tour of 2002 and the Nat West final to name a few. The tour of 2007 seems so fresh, I can recall many of details – Zaheer Khan and the jelly gate, Dravid’s tired captaincy, his struggle with runs, Wasin Jaffer’s lazy elegance, Dinesh Karthik’s rise to consistent 45-50 opener, Kumble’s century, Micheal Vaughn’s batting, Tendulkar’s struggles in the 90s, and what not.

Part of what makes this special is a rather mundane aspect – the time of play for the Indian viewer. You can come back from work, either on a high, or tired and drained of energy, and let your mind take on something completely different and to be engrossed in it. There are days when the cricket energizes you and days when it lets you lament.

Another tour is upon us. And this tour, as in 2007, is touted to be last of the greats of India’s batting – Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman. Thus the need to savor it is greater than ever before. One hopes that there is, somewhere in India, a kid who yearns to emulate their techniques and deeds!

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Steely Dravid steals the show – series heading to a result

November 22, 2010

With a mammoth 191, which could have been a memorable double ton, Dravid stole the show today in a charecterestic fashion. On a day when people waited for Tendulkar’s 50th century and many other bizzarre statistics, Dravid played a watchful hand to take this game out of New Zealand’s reach.

Because I missed the first century of the series, I made sure I watched this one. Got a bit excited after the 50, and more so after the runs started to flow. Once the straight drive from circa 2003 showed up in the innings today, I started to feel that this might be a big one. The late-cut was played to perfection. The signature patience was there. Apart from a few moments of indiscretion which Dravid visibly chided himself over, the innings was one of perseverance. What is very heartening to see is that this wasn’t a scratchy ton like the one from 2008 against SA. It was one played with much deliberation, thoughtfulness and caution perpered with some of the most beautiful late-cuts. The high price he sets over his own wicket has returned; maybe it never disappeared, but the results he got made it seem so. Apparently, the NCA and Kirsten had a lot of do with the preparation, esp against the left armers, (McKay for the day). What was also nice to see was some shots from T20 which one seems him play so well in the IPL.  Pity to have missed out the double ton, though.

Despite all of what’s been said about how Dravid has played this series, and in the last year, I think a lot also has to do with this day when Pujara was sent in at #3. Even that very day, when Dravid came in to bat at 5 after Tendulkar, there was a little less of the visible desperation and a bit of determination rising.

Maybe it is second wind for Dravid! May Bhogle’s prophecy come true.

Congratulations Dravid. Wish you many many more such innings!


Dravid Scores!

November 7, 2010

After what seemed like an eternity for a close Dravid follower, it was mainly relief to see a century coming from him.

I must clarify, that “see” meant “read on Cricinfo”. That was the case primarily because I couldn’t watch another failure from him. Add work to that, and there’s a compelling reason, but mostly the first. When I checked the score, I braced my mind to see the fall of the second wicket, but was pleasantly surprized almost each time, happy to see the 50 and satisfied to the see the 60 turn into 100 in very short time (by any standard). The attacking shots, and the late cuts that I caught on highlights, were very reassuring.

Fellow blogger SB, puts the feeling in perspective in a more emotional way, that I could have. Read that here, as SB talks Dravid once again.

There will be the naysayers this time also. Yes, it is the Kiwis, and yes, once can glare at the strike rate, but look what happened today and look at the strike rates of Tendulkar and Laxman, in the first innings. That will tell a story. Spin it the way you like!


Finally, some truth: Dravid scores over Tendulkar

August 17, 2010

A new study by economists at University of Ulster and University of Queensland that has the India media whining, rates Dravid and Sehwag over Tendulkar. While many fans may express surpize over the results, close watchers of cricket would agree that mere averages do not truly reflect a value of a player and the study brings to light what many of us have been screaming about for years!

This study rates a rough 60 in a total of 200-odd over 200 in total of 600.

There are several tables with rankings for different parameters . The “Top Fifty Batsmen in Test Cricket” rates Dravid, Ponting at 4, Kallis at 5, Tendulkar at 7 and Sehwag and Kambli at 8. This uses the Gini co-efficient to measure the “evenness of results”. We see similar ratings for “Home and Away Certainty Scores”, “The Relation between Individual and the Rest of Team”. In another table “Contributions to Their Team Score by the Top 50 Batsmen in Test Cricket”, Dravid ranks 5, while Sehwag and Tendulkar rank 6. It is noteworthy here to mention that Sehwag is at 6th position, having played in only72 innings; Dravid’s rank was from167 innings and Tendulkar’s was from 209. What is more reflective of this is the “Ranking by Average, Value-Adjusted Average, and Value-Added Adjustment” where Sehwag leads Indian batsmen with a value adjusted average of 79, Dravid with 71 and Tendulkar at 70.

While it can be argued that such studies have their biases (Laxman does not feature here) and uses the right set of parameters to crank out the right set of results, one cannot help but notice that if there is real value, it will shine beyond mere hyperbole.

This paper is a must read for the nerdy amonst cricket fans. It can be downloaded from the Berkeley Electronic Press.


India’s Tour of SL 2010: It starts with mysteries

July 10, 2010

Am I the only one to be surprized by Mendis’s exclusion?  He and Murali bowling from either ends gave the famed Tendulkar-Ganguly-Dravid-Laxman laden Indian lineup a run for their money in 2008. It would have been worth it to see how they rack up this time. One wonders if there was some under-the-table BCCI wrestling. One sure hopes not.

Why is Murali retiring after just one Test? Why not play the remaining two of the series?

If there’s one mystery, it’s that the umpire referral system is not be used in the India-SL series. No surprizes there?


IPL 3: Cometh the monster

March 12, 2010

Today is the day. The Monster returns to India and we can hear the crass jingle. Controversies apart, despite my  ambivalence towards T20 and the IPL itself, I must admit that I am a bit excited.

Teams I will be supporting this year :

Kolkata Knight Riders – KKR – Wishing Dada and SRK some luck
Delhi Daredevils – DD – A team with Sehwag in it deserves to win
Bangalore Royal Challengers – RCB – Gotta like Kumble, Dravid, et all

Indifferent about:

Chennai Super Kings – CSK – Flat track bullies
Mumbai Indians – MI – Really, if they don’t make it to the top 4 this time, there is no excuse
Kings XI Punjab – (what’s their acronym really?) – Snore…

Batsmen I will be watching for:

Virender Sehwag – Viru, show us the Say-Wah!g
Sourav Ganguly – a true Dada fan will not lose an opportunity to scream DA-DA!
Mathew Hayden – Mongoose bat or not, he will be one to watch out for
Adam Gilchrist – Too many blistering innings to not watch this man
Rahul Dravid – A from-the-heart Dravid fan will always be rooting for RD!
Others – Greame Smith, Virat Kohli, Shane Warne, Sangakkara, Jayasuriya, Tendulkar, JP Duminy.. this list will grow!


Sachin 200 – A jewel but…

March 11, 2010

Ten years ago, most of us would have thought, if there was one person who could reach 200 in an ODI, it was Sachin. However, five years ago, most of us would have agreed that he may not get there. Yet, on the day that he did, Sachin was blistering! It was the 28th over when Sachin reached 100 and the commentator said, perhaps jokingly that maybe if he’d bat another 28, he’d get to 200. And when he did, we went berserk.

However, amid the deja vu,  there was something bothering.  Maybe if the media were a little less boasting of Tendulkar, if we did a little less counting of the 50s, the twelve thousand-th run, the nth “over the slip” shot, this would have meant more. For the many who are “uninitiated” in this mad counting, this phenomenal landmark was “just another one”. This landmark of Sachin’s will remain a jewel, but maybe instead of the crass glare, it could have been a
shimmering diamond.