A Realistic Point of View on Match Fixing

July 7, 2010

As cliched as it might sound and as much as we might want to deny it, most of us cricket lovers will admit that that the suspicion of fixing occasionally creeps up on us. Paul Condon, head of the Anti Corruption unit of ICC talks rather realistically about the threats. I found it refreshing that he accepts while it’s possible to deter fixing, it might be impossible to eradicate it completely. I found it equally surprizing to find that cricket is one of most fixed (and bet on) of all sport, including horse racing!

With Condon passing on the reigns, and other changes in ICC, one can only hope that whatever sanity that is left remains.

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India at the Compaq Cup 2009: yo yo so far

September 13, 2009

It’s been a while since since we’ve watched India play, so the Compaq cup was rather inviting. Though a  mostly inconsequential tournament, it seems to provide feed to the bored.

While India bowled and fielded well against New Zealand, given our reputation in those areas, but did not bat like the #1 ODI team they became following that victory. I have issues with the ICC ranking system which seems to be playing catch up rather than paint a picture. If you ask me, India were peaking as an ODI side,  just after IPL 2008 and started the downward trend perhaps just after IPL 2009. Australia, on the other hand, have been slumping since late 2007, following the World Cup. That the ratings have taken this long to reflect the fortunes of two teams – India and Australia – seems mocking.

As for the second ODI against, Sri Lanka, India played like a side not interested in the proceedings, barring Tendulkar, Dravid and Harbhajan. The bowlers were straying and spraying. Ashish Nehra’s first over set the tone. Though early in road were made with the wickets of Dilshan, Sangakkara and Jayawardena, Kandamby was allowed to cut loose and cause havoc. Batting woes were bound to follow. Dinesh Karthik promised, but perished and there was no real batting after Tendulkar and Dravid, both of whom looked resolute to prove that they were still as good as one can get. Perhaps it wasn’t a backward move after all to recall Dravid.

The only solace from the loss to Sri Lanka in the 2nd match is the statistics. More often than not, if India won the match leading up the finals (baring semi-finals), they went on to lose the finals. One cannot resist but hope that maybe this is a good omen.


Of Trescothick, Mint and Ball tampering

August 27, 2008

Ashes 2005 fame Marcus Trescothick reveals shortly before the release of his autobiography some seriously sensational stuff that is bound to boost the sales of his book. Check out the story here.

Of the little I’ve watched of Trescothick, I’ve been largely curious if not a fan. That he disappeared during that 2006 tour of India had me skeptic but after a repeated such incidents and rumors of a stress related condition, I got more sympathetic. So I would have gone on to buy his book, even if I didn’t know about the role Murray’s mint played in the famed Ashes victory. But now there’s more of an incentive. I’m not sure if we’ll get the book here in India on Sept 1st. Either way, I’ll be checking it out at my local Landmark.

Meanwhile on this whole ball tampering issue, while I feel there is an element of it not being fair, I’m more inclined to brush it off. But several questions remain. One of the most bothersome things is the continued preferential treatment some teams get. The ball tampering incident in the Ganguly-lead India with Dravid and with the lozenges laden spit comes to mind. Why should Trescothick go scot free when Dravid didn’t? Should we retroactively change the result, in line with the dangerous precedent of the infamous 2006 Oval Test where Pak were accused of ball tampering? Or should be we retroactively punish Trescothick or set right Dravid’s record? All of these are ridiculous propositions, but the ICC is to blame for this and some cricketing boards are crazy enough to actually ask these questions.

Another question is, just how much change can mint or lozenges induce to a cricket ball? My cricketing experiences are mostly limited to exploits in stick cricket, so I’ll let the learned folk answer this. Even if the effect is more than slightly significant, how we stop tampering through spit? Should chewing gums now be banned hours before play? Ponting is almost always chewing gum on the field. Shall we now suggest that Australia wins matches due to the spit from chewing a certain brand of chewing gum? Should cricketers take medical test to prove that they haven’t chewed gum, eaten mint, or taken dhal-chawal? Should we investigate the effects of Panner-Tikka masala lunch on a cricket ball? Should we have lie detector tests for cricketers? That’s what all this boils down. Any amendments or additions to the law on ball tampering would make it impossible to enforce and move the focus away from the game. We saw this happening in the umpire referral/review system in the recent Test series involving India in Sri Lanka.

I ask only for fair and equal treatment for all cricket playing nations. Other than that I say, case closed and move on.


Cricket: Crying bloody murder at Sydney

January 7, 2008

Cricket was murdered in Syndey on Sunday, 6 January 2008. May it rest in peace, says a fellow blogger. Evidence gathered dates back to 2 January, 5 days prior to the date of the crime. While sources hold that the Australian cricket team and umpires Steve Bucknor, Mark Benson and Bruce Oxenford, it remains to be seen if they will be held responsible.

Ok, enough with the formal tone. What happened in the 2nd Test at Sydney can be called nothing other than cheating! The chronology of events is roughly as follows:

  • Day 1: Australia win toss, opt to bat first. The post-lunch session saw the Aussies down to 140-odd runs with the loss of 6 top-order prize wickets. It would have been lesser if Ricky Ponting was given out when on 17, rather than when he wasn’t out when on 50-odd runs.
  • Day 1-2: Symonds walks in to bat and gets three reprieves (starting from when he was on 30) courtesy the umpires Bucknor, Benson and Oxenford. Symonds went on to score an unbeaten 162.
  • Day 3: India bat after bowling Australia out of 463; end innings with a lead of over 60 runs. When one thought it seemed like a rather peaceful day, given that Days 1 and 2 had seen a rush of umpiring errors, Andrew “insecure” Symonds alleges racial abuse by Harbhajan Singh.  A clear case of the pot calling the kettle black, but perhaps that adage is racist as well.
  • Day 3, 4 and 5: More cheating. Jaffer given out off Lee’s no-ball. Dravid gets a shocker of a decision from Bucknor, given caught behind when the bat was no where near the ball. Even Dravid couldn’t take it. He mouther “Aye yaar” and walked off in mock-laughing-disbelief . Shortly afterwards, Ganguly was given out  by Benson, after having a word with 5th umpire-cum-Aussie-skipper Ricky Ponting on a catch that definitely was not cleanly taken. Then the Aussies took over with the excessive appealing. R P Singh was another victim of dubious umpiring.  Shortly thereafter, it was all over. The game was murdered by shams in the baggy-green and conspirators in white coats.  

 After being of the receiving end of all the cheating, I though Anil Kumble conducted himself and the team in a exceptional manner. All he had to say was that “….only one team was playing with the spirit of the game, that’s all I can say.…”

What was even more atrocious was the proceedings following Harbhajan’s hearing on alleged racism. The claim was made by Ponting and Symonds on Day 3 with the hearing scheduled for Day 4. Shortly thereafter, Match Refree Mike Proctor goes on record saying that wasn’t enough evidence against Harbhajan. Later on Day 4, media reports confirm that the Aussie team at the hearing will be represented by Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Mathew Hayden and Micheal Clarke (undoubtedly being “groomed” for captaincy). Sunday’s hearing goes on for hours on into the early hours of Monday with Proctor issuing a 3 match ban on Harbhajan Singh purely on the words on members from the Aussie team.

What a sham! What disgrace! On man being charged with racism, a serious charge, on the word of another.  When did Tendulkar, Kumble and the Indian team management become liars and Ponting and co become upholders of truth?

What is heartening to see is the BCCI’s strong (and rather unprecedented) stand on this issue. I think India must cancel the rest of the tour and demand for damages in protest of an unfair game and unfair treatment of Indian players.

Perhaps the largest threat to Harbhajan Singh after he returns to India, as many India-supporters point out, will be from the monkeys in India for allegedly calling Symonds one of their prided pack!