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?


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.


Rain gods! Show your might – Ind in SL 2008

August 10, 2008

The situation on Day 3 of the final Test at Colombo is dire indeed and the crow pepper fry that Scorpy promised to eat a very far cry. At 161-5 and leading only by 14 runs, the script is almost already written.

The very fine ray of hope lies in this and this. Allow me to magnify the hope. As for rain, the weather men have got it wrong as far as the past 3 days have gone, but it’s not without reason that we say that weather is unpredictable. With all the bad luck that India have been having with the referrals and injuries, the partisan in me thinks we deserve a shot of luck. Rain gods, show your might! As far as an 2001 Eden Gardens encore is concerned, while I don’t expect a double from Laxman who has been foxed by Mendis 5 out of 5 times this series or Dravid to make a 180, the hope lies in the fact that Dravid has seemed very positive this innings, from the very first over. Yes, there have been some circumspect moments, but the clouds seem to be lifting to reveal our good-old Dravid. Laxman doesn’t look very sure but there are no devils in the pitch.

For the folk who think much of the youngsters – Parthiv lasted two balls. Take that! Sehwag is by no means a youngster and Gambhir has been the best of the lot as far as playing spin is concerned. We’ve seen the Indian middle order (and that of the Delhi Daredevils) collapse after these two fall.

Join me in sending positive thoughts and invoking the Rain gods. Rain, rain come again!


India win Galle Test on Day 4 – India in Sri Lanka 2008

August 3, 2008

Where are the folk who wrote India off? Eat crow today!

Ishant’s inspired fiery spells saw India scalp three in-form Lankan batsmen in the first half-hour of play. So inspiring was that spell that it evoked emotions even from Dravid! Perhaps one of the best spells of Ishant till date, there were several overs where he tested batsmen, reminiscent of that spell against Ponting at Perth earlier this year. I had goose bumps to see this young Indian bowler give chin-music to batsmen. India have till date only been on the receiving end of such music. Ishant is a very good sign for India. Wonder what would have happened if he didn’t get that 5-for against Pak in Bangalore, that most probably helped book his seat on the plane for that famour tour of Australia late last year. While Ishant, titled things in India’s favor by getting key wickets of Sanga and Mahela, Bhajji (after one session of mediocrity and after Ishant struck again claiming Dilshan) wrapped it up for India.

There are many positives for India to take home from this:
1. Gautham Gambhir and Man-of-the-Match Virender Sehwag – India’s new Tendulkar-Ganguly
2. Ishant Sharma
3. Zaheer finding form
4. Dravid showing positive signs of finding form
5. Some collective spirit

That aside, we won fair and square today – not with the new form of umprie coaxing that the referral system has already become. Jayawardene’s use of the referral system, particularly for the lbws was downright irksome. I understand he might be within his right to do that, but none of the referrals went India’s way in the series so far (okay, maybe one did, but I’m not sure of that either). If Dravid and Ishant were given out to a type of dismissal then so should have Dilshan/Samaraweera (I can’t recall which one) today as it was a very similar one. The lack of consistency from the third-umpires was particularly irritating, which is perhaps why Kumble didn’t ask for too many.

But there are also concerns:
1. Dinesh Karthik – looks woeful behind the stumps. While many may suggest the place be given to Parthiv Patel, I’m not entirely for that, esp for the decider Test. Patel will have to begin from square one, which is not the best thing to have in an important Test. It would be nice if Dravid could keep, but then again, keeping and batting at #3, may not be the best thing, and is close to impossible given that Kumble argued with selectors to include second wicketkeeper Parthiv in the squad. I expect no changes here.
2. The famed middle order haven’t really lived up to their name. Tendulkar whose record seemed beckoning will most likely not get it here. While he definitely isn’t out of form, he seems a little impatient. Ganguly, again isn’t out of form, needs to find ways to get some runs. Laxman who looked solid against Mendis in the first innings at Colombo hasn’t been able to carry that forward. Dravid, who looked miserable in the first Test, put up a gritty fight scoring 44 in the second innings at Galle – proof that the spirit and skill are both still there. I thought he deserved a fifty for that desperate effort. While he seems to be finding his lost touch, it’s still a work in progress.
3. Fielding – as always, fielding especially saving the one-s and two-s is important irrespective of the score being defended.

Victory is the best pain-killer they say. Adages don’t come any truer!


The Umpire Review System – India in Sri Lanka 2008 1st Test Day 1,2

July 24, 2008

Two days have gone. Allright, really one day and a bunch of overs have gone and this battle seems to be lot less interesting that what it was touted to be. But maybe it’s too early to judge.

As for India, the intensity wasn’t there. After all the “we need more intensity” statement making by Zaheer Khan, he ended up being the more erratic bowler with the second new ball.Umpire Mark Benson wasn’t helping either. Is it just me or did he seem too harsh (to the point of getting his revenge from the Sydney Test fiasco) with the no-balling of Zaheer? I thought that c&b decision early on Day 2 no-balled by Benson wasn’t right. Kumble wasn’t amused either. Technically, if the foot lands on or before the line, that is what counts, not that it skid later. Remember that dismissal of Jaffer in the Sydney Test. Allright, I’ll move on ahead from here – back to the match. I only watched the highlights, so I won’t comment on the Sri Lankan batting or the teams’ use of the review system. While that is case, it was interesting that the young members of this squad – Gambhir and Kathik – dropped more catches than fielding howlers by the India seniors. But I’m pretty sure, if things go badly, the BCCI and Dhoni will have their way with branding the seniors. (Ok, couldn’t resist that taking at dig at MSD).

On the umpire review system, while it a step ahead, I’m afraid it will induce a new parameter to deal with, espcially with the three unsuccessful appeals. When to use/save these referrals will add a new needless dimension. What if you’ve used all the appeals, you are nine down on Day 5 of a Test match and a tail ender is given out off a delivery he didn’t nick? Isn’t that just as bad as not having the system at all. If you’re wonder if I’m going the Ian Chappel way with this, no, I’m not. If you ask me, why cap the number unsuccesful appeals. Also, why stop with only the decision of whether the batsmen is out or not. Any decision that seems wrong should be referred. Umpires are human and that is respected, but when help is available to enable the right team win, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be used.

Meanwhile a thing that has been bothering me for a while. Why isn’t there a better rating system for umpires? If a batsmen/bowler isn’t worth a spot in a squad, he is forced out of the door. When this is the case, why should the umpire survive after giving several howlers. Yes there is shortage of umpires, but that is perhaps for a reason too, which need addressing. There seems to be no way to tell the incompetent from the good ones, which is unfair to the good umpires. Perhaps incompetence and fear of that fact that might get hightlighted even more is why Benson feels the way he does about the review system.

As for the rest of this match, I see it inching towards a draw, unless India tumble to the spinners.