T20 World Cup 2010: The miracle called Hussey

May 15, 2010

When Australia were 58-3 chasing 190-odd, I gave up hope and went to catch up on some sleep. God, do I regret that! What I missed was an innings (raw or not) befitting a World Cup semi final. This is the same Hussey who was struggling for Chennai Super Kings. I don’t begrudge that, not one day! For these special innings are sweetest when saved for one’s own country.

Way to go, Hussey. It’s not without reason that they call you Mr. Cricket!

Are the India-floppers (a.k.a the India T20 team) reading the news? This is how it’s done!


T20 World Cup 2010: The plight of a South Africa fan

May 10, 2010

This T20 game frustrating more people than it should. Suddenly, 8 runs per over is do-able and 20 runs per over in the last few (even while chasing) should be possible.

If we India-supporters are disappointed abt India’s campaign, the South African supporter is angry. Take a look at some of their comments in the cricinfo commentary from today’s match:

Dale: “Why is Gibbs still playing for South Africa? He bring nothing to the team! No runs at all. Time to leave out the old-timer.”

Dale, have you watch him field for the Deccan Chargers? You guys should have a Ravindra Jadeja. Then you will know!

Mark Jaspan: “It’s amazing how regardless of the format T20 or ODI. SA only know how to play one way: go at 5 runs an over until the run rate is 10 or 12 then rely on Albie / Kemp / Boucher / Kluesener to get us out of it?”

Now this is pure frustration. I honestly feel sorry, but as a SA supporter (now that India is almost out), I feel your pain, Jaspan!

Simon: “how can we (South Africa) honestly be called contenders in a competition in which our side has no balance, no guts to play Rusty Theron who is a proven death bowler, and no character to fight out the tough moments? if we really wna be an international powerhouse like aus, we need to seriously look at our balance and stop playing 50/50 players like gibbs and van de merwe. i am an AVID south african supporter and this tournament has been blatantly disappointing, no matter where we end up.”

Seriously, it’s getter more and more bitter.

Faraz: “Why are teams even trying to make it to the Final? Just give the cup to Australia.They are unbeatable!”

Faraz may have a point this tournament. Maybe the bouce is helping the Aussies. But I’m curious about how this would have panned out, if the Aussies were left out of the tournament. Maybe Ireland would have taken the cup? 😉

Richard McEvoy: “Bouch has hit over a ton of international 6’s, may we have a few now matey!”
16.1 Mohammad Aamer to Boucher, 1 run, 137.5 kph, full delivery around off stump line, driven
Robert Brown: “well Rainbow nation! i think the sun has just gone out.bye bye “

If you were wondering what happened after that.

17.2 Saeed Ajmal to Boucher, FOUR, Crunchy. He goes for the sweep and connects well. The ball screams 
over the square-leg umpire!
17.3 Saeed Ajmal to Boucher, no run, goes for the slog sweep but doesn't connect
17.4 Saeed Ajmal to Boucher, OUT, Trapped in front! Bouch tried to work this one to the on side 
but played all around it. 
Pakistan inch close to the victory line

MV Boucher lbw b Saeed Ajmal 12 (14b 1×4 0x6) SR: 85.71

Sad isn’t it?


Dhoni gets Khel Ratna – How we treat our cricket heroes

August 4, 2008

I must thank SP and abisht, who commented on SP’s recent post, for egging me on to write this one (on a Monday evening) particularly on the way we treat our heroes.

MS Dhoni led the a young inexperienced T20 team to the T20 World Cup last September. The young turks won it and returned to a deservingly warm welcome. Cash prizes were showered, apartments promised and state governments competed with each other to confer their own honors and cash prized on their wards. Even that could be justified, but let me ask this question, while readying myself for the rotten eggs, tomatoes and what-not from the Dhoni fans. Does he deserve this? Tendulkar is the only other cricketer to receive the award.

Let us put the T20 World Cup victory in perspective, both the good and bad. While the lines between good and bad might be blurry as it involves the senior-junior debate, either way, something is either good or bad. The good, this allowed some young Indians who were inexperienced players yet promising to show case their talent. It allowed for us to see their performance as a whole, despite the limitations of the format, unencumbered by the so-called seniors and their think-tank. This gave us, the BCCI and the selectors the confidence to trust youth. It gave us fans hope that there might be a better-than-expected-life after the Holy Trinity of Tendulkar-Ganguly-Dravid. The bad, allow me to call it that, is that we are obsessed with the format and some of the players who brougt this home, primarily Dhoni, Yuvraj and Uthappa. Obsession with the format, gave rise to the massive mela that was the IPL. While I believe that the IPL can do more damage than good, especially for India with the glaring levels of mania about this format, time will give us the verdict.

Moving on, after the T20 victory, what happened (in the ODI scheme of things)? Indian lost a series to Australia, won against a weak Pakistan side, won a series in Australia (largely due to Tendulkar and the young bowlers), lost the Kitply cup and the Asia Cup. To me, this reads just as good or or bad as the early stages of Ganguly or Dravid’s captaincy. Mark my words, early stages. But is this enough to get the Khel Ratna? Shouldn’t the others have received it as well? Why are we obsessed with the T20 World Cup? I realize it’s not Dhoni’s fault that the others weren’t honored with it or that he is now. I’m just questioning the logic. To me it seems like a mass-media reaction. Don’t get me wrong, the T20 World Cup victory was special. To have witnessed it is a memory I will always cherish. It lifted our spirits as a cricketing nation. But does the T20 Victory alone justify Dhoni’s selection here? Given that cricket is a team sport, and that it wasn’t a couple of innings from Dhoni that brought us the cup (unlike the case of Tendulkar, who has single-handedly won us several matches in his early days), I find this a bit undeserving.

But then this is how we treat our cricket heroes. In this context “we” is the BCCI and the Indian media. One day, we go gaga over them, shower praise, prizes, money, titles and the next they are in the doldrums for the same people who buoyed a cricketer to the pinnacle, will push him from that spot only for him to careen downwards at breakneck speed. We are wrong with both the buoy to and the shove from the peak. The current seniors who come to mind are Ganguly and Dravid. Many times I think we don’t deserve good cricketers. Why are we like this? One bad series, heck, two bad innings, and we seek to sack the folks who have served Indian cricket with distinction. I have already written about the slack that we have been cutting for Yuvraj Singh. This isn’t about the fact that for some seniors the time to say goodbye may have come, this is about the fact that we don’t have the grace to allow them a decent passage into retirement. We want instant amends: the batsman scored a duck and a 5; sack him, he is 35/36 anyway and has had his time. It shouldn’t matter whether he is old or young, we need uniform yardsticks applied to all cricketers. Even if that yardstick is two innings, one dropped catch, two instances of lax fielding fielding, or one match without wickets, let it be uniform. As abisht points out (in the link above), we need to go the Aussie way with this. The way they handled Steve Waugh, at least outwardly, was graceful, respectful and fitting for his deeds as one of Australia’s best captains. We may not like some things that Australia’s cricket team or board does, but this we need to learn from them.

Perhaps it’s Dhoni’s day today. But one fears for tomorrow. If the BCCI and the media don’t alter their ways, Dhoni will be the next victim of mass scorn. And given some of the youngster’s skill level at the moment, that embarrassing tomorrow may not be too far.

Rant done. Ducks a bucket of rotten tomatoes from Dhoni’s female fans!


Hindustan Times interviews Dravid

June 22, 2008

Given his style of handling the media makes you think he would have succeeded in Hollywood, where elusiveness is a key ingredient to success. Yes, this is our very own Rahul Dravid.

Somehow I’ve always had a sense of awe about this man. Perhaps it’s his enigmatic nature, maybe it’s his penchant for orthodoxy, I can’t tell. What is so endearing about Dravid, at least for me, is that he is testament to the fact that introverted-ness and success are not mutually exclusive. Understandably, that is only when accompanied with grinding hard work, determination and talent.

There are things he does that seem to momentarily defy logic – his relinquishment of captaincy being a prime example – but make a lot of sense with time. Consider that after the disastrous World Cup 2007 campaign, he had not stepped down from captaincy. India go on a win an inconsequential, mostly relief-inducing series in Bangladesh and follow that up with a history-making Test series victory in England. Then the ODI-series loss in England and then Dhoni & Co. go and win the T20 World Cup. With the loss at the hands of the Aussies in the ODI series at home, shortly after the T20 World Cup, he would have gotten sacked as captain. In retrospect, a wise decision!

In this interview, he is characteristically Dravid, or Dravid as we know him. He speaks of the rather tumultuous year he has had: relinquishment of captaincy; having made his peace with losing a place in ODI side; reaching 10,000 runs in Test cricket,which he downplays while shedding light on his unbroken attendance record in Tests; and his criticism laden stint in the IPL. There is nothing new on the stepping-down-from-captaincy front. “I just felt the time had come to move on, and I just knew it”, synonymous with his earlier “ captaincy has a sell-by-date” reasoning. On the IPL, says Dravid, “..playing T20 cricket was new to me and I wanted to see how I’d go in that form of the game.” When asked about his run in the IPL and mud and slush that Mallya turned out to be, he stays with the safe “..there were other things that could have gone a bit better as well both on and off the field”. He doesn’t say much despite the bitterness that he would have felt. The slightest indication comes only when he talks of his young son and says that he “nothing to live up to” when spending time with him. There are hints of retirement too, but not anything we wouldn’t expect. “I won’t be playing after five years”, is something that is almost obvious. The only unexpected part of the interview is his denial of adhering to “copybook style” cricket, for which he is a poster-boy.

Mostly a very predictable interview, yet worth a read. Check it out here.


Kirsten signs on as India cricket coach

December 4, 2007

Cricinfo confirms the end of India bizarre search for a coach. Personally, I think this is an insult to the 20 odd folks who applied and more so to Lalchand Rajput. Considering his record which includes a World Cup victory (come on, lets not brush the T20 tournament which set the tone for an aggressively fought ODI series against Australia), a fairly good run against the mighty Aussies and an impressive series against Pakistan, any sane board would have at least given him some sort of a contract. Perhaps Rajput would have been considered for coach was if he wasn’t Indian. Meanwhile, the question hangs as to what will become of Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad, the fielding and bowling coaches respectively, who till now don’t have any contract from BCCI. In my opinion, the Rajput-Singh-Prasad trio have done better than some of the previous coaches India has had.

The rationale for hiring Kirsten for the job seems to me to be something along these lines.
– We are going to Australia. It would be embarrassing to go there without a coach.
– We are going to Australia, so get a South African
– We need a big name (Shah Rukh Khan, Micheal Jackson, Bill Gates and many others fit the bill here)
– We need a puppet, so get a mild-mannered guy without too much experience
To the BCCI, Kirsten fit this bill.

Maybe if he had refused, they would have gone with Bill Gates; if Gates turned it down, Shah Rukh Khan would have been a front-runner (the minor BCCI-Shah Rukh issue notwithstanding). 🙂

Good luck Team India!