Saturday, September 30, 2006

Egg On Their Faces

And lots of it too. Why on God's dear Earth did the ICC think it had to create an absurd reason as to why Darryl Hair would not be umpiring in the Champions Trophy? This is one big mess that the ICC is going to need a lot of help in cleaning up.

The BCCI, having realised the negative repercussions that could result from the ICC's announcement that it could not guarantee Darryl Hair's security for the Champions Trophy, has categorically denied that there were any security fears/issues pertaining to Hair's presence in the tournament. Furthermore, supporting what I had opined in my previous post on this farce, the Indian Board official further clarified that the BCCI's request that Hair not officiate in the upcoming tournament was a direct result of the controversy surrounding his foolish actions during The Oval test match.

The BCCI is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the most efficient, effective or thoughtful administrative body in cricket. Its decisions are often quite illogical, sometimes bordering on downright inexplicable. However, in recent history it has always been comprised of proud and extremely egotistical gentlemen who do not think twice about biting back if they believe their abilities or reputations have been challenged, fairly or unfairly. The BCCI and the Government of India pride themselves on their ability to guarantee the security of all visiting dignitaries/sportspersons.

The ICC's decision to potentially jeopardise the BCCI's reputation, in trying to protect an errant and universally disliked umpire (some infamous Hair antics listed in this article), was akin to stepping out into a swarm of killer bees when your Mom had warned you against it.

We have only witnessed the first sting. If the ICC does not perform an immediate about-turn by issuing a clarification regarding the real reason for Hair's omission from the Champions Trophy, I expect many more such stings.

Don't get me wrong, the ICC is never going to tell you what everyone already knows. They will merely conjure up another feeble excuse to shoot themselves in the foot - yet again. What for, you ask? For an umpire who has connived to shatter his own integrity and whatever little was remaining of his tattered reputation.

This latest page in the ball tampering farce certainly increases the stakes as far as the looming showdown between the BCCI and the ICC over ambush marketing clauses in the new MPA is concerned. I have little doubt that we will not be waiting too long before the ICC treats us to yet another self-emasculation.

Read our earlier posts on the ball tampering controversy here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Tarrant headed to West Coast?

Word has come to ear that Chris Tarrant wants a trade to West Coast. Tarrant has been plagued by injury for the majority of the last two seasons, injuries which have been kept under wraps. Although it is common now days, Tarrant has been taking pain killing injections for hand and hip injuries which have severely affected his form over the last few years.

His poor form maybe acceptable when it is injury related, but when coupled with the various night club incidents involving him, his future at the club comes under scrutiny.

Contrary to much misguided public opinion, Tarrant’s form isn’t in a permanent downward spiral, but with a fresh start and an injury free pre season and normal season, we might once again see the Chris Tarrant of old. As I have said earlier, form is temporary but class is permanent. Maybe the West Coast Eagles can help bring that class back to the fore.

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Friday, September 29, 2006

AFL Grand Final 2006 Preview

Tomorrow’s AFL Grand Final is sure to go down to the wire. With both Sydney and West Coast in red hot form and all guns firing, its going to come down to the second tier players to see who will be crowned Premiers in 2006. Last year it was Lewis Roberts-Thompson and Leo Barry for Sydney, who will it be this year?

Obviously the key to Sydney is Barry Hall, as with no Barry Hall there is no Sydney. The tough job of shutting down the big power forward will go to the All Australian Full Back, Darren Glass. Clearly Glass is going to have a tough day at the office as Hall has a massive worth ethic through his aerobic endurance and is also one of the best power forwards in the game. What might give Glass some encouragement is that Hall has said in the past that he believes “Glass is the hardest opponent he has played on.”

The midfield will be an interesting battle with Eagles oozing class while Sydney have a hard working lot who get the job done most weeks. In my eyes the only way to shut down Judd is to let him go head to head with the two time Brownlow medallist, Adam Goodes has been the only midfielder in the past who has consistently been able to curb Judd’s influence on the game. Goodes isn’t a traditional tagger who has just got a defensive mindset, rather he has the ability to play as an attacking midfielder as well as doing a defensive job on a player when the opposition has the ball.

Goodes athleticism means he will be able to match Judd for not only endurance but also speed and in the air. With Goodes providing an attacking option for the Swans, it will also give Judd something else to think about and not allow him to play his free flowing attacking role which he normally does. Matching Goodes up with Judd means that the Swans number one tagger can take either Cousins or Kerr. I believe that captain Brett Kirk might get a job on either one of these two.

Last year, West Coast fell down as they had no big options up forward. To win a premiership you need at least two big forwards. (To test out my theory check all the past winners and you will see what I mean.) This year the Eagles have the man mountain in Quinten Lynch. He will most probably get Leo Barry with rising star, Lewis Robert-Thompson going to Ashley Hansen. Lynch is the one man who can win the flag for the Eagles off his own boot. Barry will be no match for him and is a very over-rated player who has become captain of his side due to one spectacular mark, (I’m sure you know which one I am talking about).

The last 4 encounters between these two sides have been decided by a cumulative 11 points, so this one is sure to go down to the wire. In the end I believe that West Coast just have too many stars and will be deserved winners at 4.30pm tomorrow.

Tags: The Match Referee
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Champions Trophy SWOT Analysis

Indiatimes has a brief SWOT analysis of the teams for the upcoming Champions Trophy.

The first page is titled: India - The Home Favourites, which puzzles me a tad. Are they the favourites because they are the home team or are they the favourites of the home fans?

I'll let y'all decide for yourselves.

Tags: The Match Referee
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Your Are Living In A Convict Colony

Doesn't that just make you wanna puff your chest out and walk around like a proud Australian? Well, get used to it because that is the chorus (if not the only line) of a new song that the Barmy Army will be singing during the Ashes series this year.

During a Today Show interview (on Channel 9) this morning, the Barmy Army representatives made no bones of the fact that they will be giving as good as they get, even if they don't get any. I'm not quite sure why they imagined that they wouldn't get any stick from the Aussie crowds, but that comment might just serve to embolden MCG Bay 13 faithfuls into producing some verses of their own. I'm willing to bet a pretty penny that the said verses will not be very kind at all.

If you want a taste of what we are all going to hear this summer, take a squiz at the Barmy Army's very own lyrics page. It might also give someone some inspiration to script their own heckle. Send us the words or, better still, a recording of a tune that you have invented for this summer and we'll publicise it right here.

I just can't wait for them whinging Poms to get here. Its on fellas, its on.

Tags: The Match Referee
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No Bad Hair Day At Champions Trophy

Let us all rejoice at the news that the revered Mr Darryl Hair will not be umpiring at the Champions Trophy. The official garble, masquerading as a reason for this decision by the ICC, is that he has been withdrawn "amid concerns over his safety and security and also the safety and security of those around him during the tournament."

Now a wonderful colleague of mine who sits less than five feet from my desk can talk a lot of sh*t, but this reasoning from the ICC tops anything she has been able to come up with in the past six months. I can think of no justification for the ICC to protect Darryl Hair when, 1) he made a downright fool of himself by accusing an innocent man/team of ball tampering and 2) they have already hung him out to dry after that ransom email.

The real reason Hair has not been appointed for the Champions Trophy is because the Pakistani Board played its pieces right, got into the ear of the men who matter at the BCCI and asked for a "we are all brothers so please help us" type favour. The BCCI duly agreed and would have told the ICC something to the effect of, "do not send him, or else". The ICC was then forced to create the feeble excuse of security threats, which couldn't be further from the truth as the BCCI has the ability to offer visiting teams and officials a level of security that is normally accorded to Heads of State. The chances of a security breach are zero to none, if you are under this protection.

I heartily commend the BCCI for telling the ICC where to stick it on this issue. Hair is the biggest blight on the game, since Trevor Chappell's underarm ball against New Zealand. There is no place in this game for an ignorant and foolish official like him.

Having said this, we should not expect much of the ICC. Mark my words, Hair will be back after the Champions Trophy. Only because the men at the ICC headquarters are a collection of hare-brained (no pun intended), illogical and gutless administrators who are not fit to oversee a multi-million dollar business.

Read our earlier posts on the ball tampering controversy here, here, here, here, here and here.

Tags: The Match Referee
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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Indian Fans, This Is Your Future

Hot on the heels of the announcement of the Challenger Trophy teams, The Telegraph has compiled a short bio on 5 of the younger/new faces selected in the teams.

What is it with this glut of talented youngsters from UP? Is it an indication of well oiled, cohesive and effective junior system and infrastructure or is it merely a result of a larger population? It would be interesting to do a case study on this phenomenon.

On a more important issue, why has Sourav Ganguly been selected? It is a blight on Kiran More's temperament that he did not have the courage to stick to his guns and call a spade for what it is, a spade. As much as I love Ganguly, he will never make it back to the national team. The additional spot could have proved an invaluable experience for another promising player, even if he was only to be a member of the squad.

PS. The teams are named Blue, Red and Green. An easy marketing ploy would have been to name them Saffron/Orange, Green and White. After all, these players are competing for spots to represent the tricolour, right?

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Theirry Henry Eat Your Heart Out

You reckon Alex Ferguson was glad that he kept Louis Saha? You would think so after this goal against Benefica in the first round of the Champions League:

I don't quite think he's justified his 12 million pound price tag yet, but if we get Saha and Rooney in top form, at the same time, a second treble is very much on the cards. Be scared Jose Mourinho, be very scared.

PS. You won't often find me writing this, but that Peter Crouch, he's an alright sort of a player, isn't he? That scissor kick against Galatasaray wasn't half bad.

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World War II About To Commence

Well between the BCCI and the ICC anyway. As posted on this blog earlier, the ICC has commenced negotiations to pen an eight year deal for broadcast and sponsorship rights to all its events.

Presumably, the ICC sent a contract (known as the Members' Participation Agreement) to all member Boards a few months ago in the hope that they would be returned before negotiations with potential sponsors were initiated. This would have enabled the ICC to sit at the negotiation table with a firm set of conditions that it can bargain with, knowing that member Boards have already signed on. It also provides the ICC with a point where they have to say to the sponsor, "Sorry mate, we just cannot give you any more."

It is evident that the ICC has learnt from its previous experience in 2003, where contracts were entered into with sponsors and then incorporated into the MPA, practically forcing member Boards to sign or else. We all know about the non-showdown that eventuated before the last World Cup between India and the ICC.

I am not sure whether or not the ICC foolishly presumed that the BCCI would sign the MPA and return it on time. In typical BCCI fashion, the MPA is still sitting on the President's desk. However, somebody in the BCCI must have examined the document, because Honorary Treasurer N Srinivasan has informed the media that the esteemed controller of all things cricket in India, simply cannot sign the agreement in its present form. He is not exactly generous with the reasons behind this reluctance, but he does mention certain "marketing issue".

I am willing to bet my rented apartment that the sticking point with the new agreement is centered around ambush marketing clauses and the ICC's desire to enforce stricter conditions that would potentially reduce the earning capacity of star players (read Indian stars, specifically), maybe even the Board.

Does anybody remember the fiasco with Sahara (India's principal sponsor) being asked to trim the tricolour from its logo because the ICC believed that it looked like wings and represented Air Sahara, a subsidiary of the Sahara Group? This resulted in India playing without a sponsors logo during the last edition of the Champions Trophy and sporting the Amby Valley brand during the last world cup. I get a sneaking suspicion that certain clauses in the new ICC agreement may somehow conflict with the BCCI's commercial interests in respect to its two principal sponsors, the Sahara Group and Nike.

We can always rely on obscure details (or non-details) to emanate from the BCCI, in order to entertain our speculative minds. It will be interesting to see what comes of this potential storm. I get the strage feeling it won't be fizzling out any time soon.

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Lets Not Get Carried Away

Now lets not all get carried away with Dinesh Mongia’s performance against Australia in the DFL Cup. It wasn’t a match winning performance and if anything he threw the match away for India by not farming the strike.

I find it quite hard to believe that one half century has got Mongia into the middle order of every Indian’s dream national side. Have we all forgotten the likes of Kaif who for so long has been the unsung hero of Indian cricket. Since the inception of Chappell as coach, Kaif hasn’t been able to find a permanent fixed position in the One Day side, he has been shuffled up the order, down the order and out of the order.

Now some might say that he has failed to take his chances, but how is one expected to perform at his peak when he is constantly under pressure to retain his spot. Maybe they should give him an extended run for a whole series and see what he can conjure up then. As we all know, the selectors have persisted with Sehwag for nearly a couple of seasons now, so why can’t they persist with Kaif for a mere one or two series.

Kaif’s ability in the field is at a parallel to Mongia’s bowling abilities and to classify Mongia as an all rounder is absolutely absurd. Team India has enough batsmen man who can bowl spin in, Yuvraj, Sehwag, Tendulkar and Raina.

Mongia deserves his chance but only after proven performers like Kaif have been given theirs and I am sure that all of you wouldn’t want to see the likes of Mongia take over the places of young guns like Raina. But the way mere mortals have quick rises to hero status in India, anything is possible.

Continued >> >>

Brownlow Medal Red Carpet Pics - By Popular Demand

You've been craving them, so you 've got 'em. X and I have received numerous emails over the last few days exhorting us to post pictures or links of the red carpet arrivals for the Brownlow Medal on Monday night.

I couldn't simply post a link for y'all to go visit without proffering some analysis, could I now? So here goes (all photos and a whole lot more courtesy of the Fox Sports Website):

<-- Best Dressed Male
is an absolute no contest and is duly awarded to Shane Crawford. How could you go past the dashing suit perfectly complimented with the white Zu's.

--> Best Dressed Female (Overall), quite obviously, was the most difficult choice. Since I had to make a decision, I settled on the stylish, breezy and demure look of Luke Ball's "partner", Amy Pollard:

<-- The Best Dressed Female (Wife) Award, was another difficult choice, with many contenders. Once again, since I had to settle on one, and only one, this gong is awarded to former Brownlow Medalist James Hird's wife, Tania.

--> The Bjork Award for the most tacky outfit of the night was a relatively easy choice. Question being, what in the world got into Rachel McLeod's head when she decided on this "statement"?

The Nick Reiwoldt Award for biggest Momma's Boy could not be awarded this year as we could not find a photo of a single player who brought their Mom along to the footy's night of nights. Just to jog your memory this award is given to the player who a) couldn't find a date for the night or b) fulfilled a life-long promise to his Mom and took her as his date to footy's big night. Pick up your game boys.

PS. Your emails and comments (via the links below) are heartily welcomed and enjoyed. We will eventually respond to all emails that require a response. Please do not be put off by our late responses. Email us if with your future requests and we will do our best to make your day/rock your jocks. Keep 'em coming folks.

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Continued >> >>

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sorry Ravi, Your're Wrong

Ravi Shastri has his belated take on the disappointment of Kuala Lumpur. Seems like pretty much what every Tom, Dick and Cricket Blogger has been saying for the past few days/week.

Shastri opines that Chappell's experimentation should have stopped 5-6 months into this tenure. On this point, Shastri makes it clear that Dravid needs to rest control of the team, specifically the batting order, back from Chappell. I vehemently disagree with him on both points:
  1. Experimentation is a process of trial and error that continues until certain aims have been accomplished. I do not pretent to know Chappell and Dravid, but I presume their initial goal was to give their top players exposure to different match/general conditions/situations at different places in the order as well as giving fringe players a taste of the big time and an opportunity to shine. Some experiments will fail, as did the one with Dravid at the top of the order, but, we would not have known the end result had the ploy not been given a chance to work. Successful experiments have given us hope that we have players in the team who can win us matches from any position. Experiments must continue until we find the best middle order combo from Yuvraj, Kaif, Raina and Mongia.
  2. Dravid is an intelligent and proud man. I get the feeling his polite and reserved attitude is taken for a weakness by many people, Shastri being one of them on this occaison. I get the feeling that Dravid does not see Team India as his team. I firmly believe that Dravid sees this Team India as a collaborative effort between he and Chappell. Of all cricket commentators, Shastri should know Dravid better than most. I am not sure if Shastri actually believes in what he wrote. If he does, I think he is sorely mistaken.
Sorry Ravi, I am not sure that you really have a clue here.

Read my previous post on the experimentation issue here.
Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Pawar-ful Again?

Another corny headline, but the end result remains unchanged. Reigning BCCI President Sharad Pawar has been emphatically re-elected unopposed to the top job in Indian cricket (and probably the top democratic, if it could be purely described as such, job outside that of the Prime Ministership and various Chief Ministerships).

The article is at pains to underscore Jagmohan Dalmiya's delcining stature and fortunes. Apparently, even his staunchest allies have fallen head over heals to line-up on Pawar's side of the fence. Former President Purshottam Rungta is quoted as saying:
"No dramas this year? "Why should there be? They (Pawar & Co) are doing a good job. There is no point in just objecting for the sake of it. Let them continue doing their job, you must read the writing on the wall"
The "news" article metamorphoses into a movie plot with the un-named author observing that Pawar is sceptical about accepting ex-Dalmiya backers, much like, Ajay Devgan's character, Malik would have been in Ram Gopal Verma's Company.

To be brutally honest, apart from significantly increasing its cashflow, thus earnings of players, the current BCCI administration has done very little to substantially improve the setup of the game in India. We have heard many reports of money destined for the improvement of stadia (this being the latest), establishment of zonal academies, improvement in umpiring standards, producing better pitches and even the sharing of the treasure chest with Olympic athletes/sports!!

To this day, there a no zonal academies, stadia (except the Jaipur stadium which happens to be in Lalit Modi's home association) remain in the same dilapidated state they were in a year ago and we still do not have a qualified professional entrusted with the responsibility of raising umpiring standards in the country.

I realise this only a very short list, after all, it is off the top of my head. I also realise Delhi was not built in a day. For some reason, I actually believe Pawar and his knights have their hearts in the right places, as much as the betterment of Indian cricket is concerned, but it is results I want to see. Results that improve the game at the lowest levels. Programs that provide opportunities for young talent to be unearthed and to prosper. Amenities and conditions that reward loyal fans for paying hard-earned money to go and watch their heroes in action. Most importantly, I want to see professionalism in the management and selection of domestic teams and the national squad that will allow us to genuinely proclaim that we support the number one team in the world.

It is a mighty challenge Mr Pawar. Show us what you are made of.

(Read our previous posts on the BCCI here, here, here and here)

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Special People

An amusing article, about the BCCI, I found while researching the ambush marketing post. The following quotes grabbed my attention:

They are the special people. They wield and enjoy considerable power and clout. They don't sell steel, cement or oil. The sell the high profile game of cricket. (emphasis added)


India's single richest sports body which has urged and negotiated hard with multinationals to sponsor home series and the national team, awarded broadcasting rights for a high sum, first to ESPN and then to Prasar Bharati and its administrators have cut a stylish impression (emphasis added)

I wonder how much arm-twisting Jagmohan Dalmiya had to do to procure the space in The Hindu? I further wonder which one of Dalmiya’s cronies wrote this piece. Maybe it was the same guy that was retained by the great man to write a historical account of Indian cricket, except, nobody has ever seen a single page of this mysterious work.

Tags: The Match Referee
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Indian Cricketers Banned From TV

I’m not entirely kidding. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, et al will not be plastered all over your TV screens and billboards during this festive season, to an extent that they would normally have been. You may want to thank, or admonish, (whatever your inclination) the ICC and the Global Cricket Corporation for enforcing ambush marketing clauses that prevent players from appearing in ads for rival companies of the ICC’s official sponsors, during an ICC tournament.

For cricket, the precedent was set before the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup. The event was almost jeopardised (in fact, it never really was, but the players needed to showboat a little – just understand na) as many sponsors were jittery over the possible non-participation of top Indian stars that pull in the crowds. It was the ambush marketing clause, inserted at the behest of the said sponsors, which irked the players at the time.

The clauses were draconian and exploitive, to say the least. The original contract prohibited contracted players from featuring in ad campaigns for their personal sponsors, if they were rivals of the official ICC sponsors, for a period six months after any ICC tournament. Moreover, the official sponsors reserved the right to use the players’ images in their own advertisements at any time during this period.

After frantic mediation and much pandering by all the high and mighty at ICC and BCCI headquarters, concessions were made by the sponsors and Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly agreed to sign the contracts and represent their country at the World Cup. The final terms prohibited any unofficial advertisements featuring contracted players for the duration of the tournament only and the official sponsors were not allowed to use players’ images after the event.

Click here for a blow-by-blow account of the events. Click here and scroll down for a layman’s definition of ambush marketing and intriguing examples of corporate one-upmanship from the history books.

Now that you are a guru on ambush marketing, back to the future. The ICC has announced the commencement of negotiations for the sale of media and sponsorship rights for the next eight years, basically up until the 2015 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.

It will be interesting to see how much the ICC manages to collect by selling its soul. For a number of reasons, among them being that Dalmiya and Co had previously done a shonky job of effectively valuing Indian cricket while they were in power (but that is another post altogether), I doubt we will see the same 10 fold increase we saw in the BCCI’s revenues when it recently sold its broadcast rights.

It will also be fascinating to note how Saddam-esque the new “partners” are likely to be with the ambush marketing conditions. Considering the bad publicity they and the ICC had to endure during the last show-down, we are unlikely to see anything much different to the current player conditions. Although, I have no doubt that Tim May and FICA will, as they should, do their utmost to minimise the restrictions on their members and non-members.

Interesting, and no doubt, prosperous times await us and the ICC, respectively. Let us wait and watch as to whether we will be allowed to enter the parking lot at a stadium on a dilapidated, 1970 vintage TVS moped if Hero Honda retain their membership of the inner sanctum.

PS. When are the Indian players going to band as one and join FICA? Arrrrggghhhh, so frustrating, no?

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Bring Back Pathan

What is going on in the minds of Indian selectors? Irfan Pathan is one of India’s best bowlers who is just currently out of form. He is evidence that the Indian selectors either have fickle minds or suffering from the early stages dementia.

Yes, Pathan has not been performing up to standard with the ball in the past few One Day Internationals. But his input with the bat has given India many rollicking starts which can’t be ignored. He is the closest thing India has to an all rounder and if for some unknown reason, Greg Chappell wants to play 5 bowlers (more on that later), than Pathan has to be one of them, otherwise the batting line up looks too fragile.

Last season Pathan took 49 wickets and an outstanding average of just over 19, He scored 3 fifties with a batting average of 34. This average is better than some of the top order Indian batsman, like Virender Sehwag who only averaged a meagre 31 during last season. Why wasn’t he dropped?

In this day and age, versatility is the key to all forms of cricket. Pathan offers India that. He is a top class bowler who is a more than handy and a great fielder. He could make it into nearly any side in the world as an all rounder yet the country to which he belongs doesn’t want him.

I’m sure we don’t want Pathan to turn out like the long list of other Indian one hit wonders but the way things are heading with the selectors, this could scenario could eventuate, because the selectors don’t realize that form is temporary but class is permanent.

PS. Have a look at what he did to an inform Pakistani batting line up not so long ago.

Read our previous post on Irfan Pathan here and here.
Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Monday, September 25, 2006

Public Relations Advice For Darryl Hair

What is it with umpires exploding onto the international scene with a string of top notch performances and then coming back to the pack with an even longer string of horrendous decisions (read Asad Rauf, Mark Benson, Aleem Dar to an extent and do not get me started about Rudi Koertzen and Steve Bucknor)? Me thinks Mahendra Singh Dhoni may be able to identify with this phenomenon.

But I digress. Have you wondered why you haven't seen the crooked finger, aka Billy Bowden, on your TV screens lately? The man has been busy casting himself as the frontman for
Arthritis New Zealand's annual appeal. A very noble cause indeed, I hear you muttering.

Now this got me thinking. We all know our good friend Darryl Hair is in as much need of good publicity as Shane Warne is for the next blonde haired bimbo. On second thoughts, Mr Hair is probably that little bit more desperate.

Hair needs to find himself a feel-good charity that nobody would dare to speak against and offer to become its frontman. He would receive more good publicity than anyone could poke a stick at. Hair's public image would improve out of sight and he might even be able to dupe some rich corporate types into signing you up to front their commercials. Earnings from these gigs will offset the potential losses he incurred after the ICC decided not to pay out on the half million US dollars he demanded in that email.

From the bottom of my heart, good luck Darryl.

Read our earlier posts on the ball tampering controversy here, here, here, here and here.

Tags: The Match Referee
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Adam Gilchrist To Fight Climate Change

Well it is still a concept. Its not strictly cricket, I understand, but Rick Eyre posts a snippet from an Australian Labor Party spokesman's view of how the mighty Australian cricket team would handle the climate change debate:
"Climate change is real and the threat of dangerous climate change is also real. What Labor would do is cut Australia’s greenhouse pollution by 60 per cent by 2050. We know that, if you have a target, it is like a one-day cricket target: you do not bat out the first 30 overs; you send out Adam Gilchrist to get some runs on the board early because it makes it easy to get to the target later on. That is what the business council’s Global Roundtable on Climate Change has said." (original source here)
The world is indeed a strange place when politicians need to use cricketing examples to explain a simple and vitally important concept for our ever-more endangered planet. I hope "cricket tragic" Johnny Howard was listening, it seems the message is not getting through to him using conventional analogies.

I'm sorry. My digression from the real business of discussing life-changing cricketing issues has now ceased.

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

The New South Africans

The West Indies have been decimated by an awesome, fear-instilling, Australian bowling attack that knows how best to exploit advantageous conditions. I did not expect a significantly different result from the match, but I did wince at the collective brevity of gumption and skill displayed by the West Indian batsmen. The current Windies team are indeed the new South Africans.

Any side playing the mighty Australians must realise they are in trouble when Glen McGrath goes wicket-less but concedes only a run an over, for it customarily implies that wickets are falling or are about topple at the other end. Brett Lee provided the magic in this instance, showing he is in ominous form for the Champions Trophy and the brittle Poms.

Being an old Damien Martyn fan, it was heartening to see him play the same glorious shots that had the whole world marvelling at him not that long ago. Martyn manages to prove again and again, why he should be the first choice pick for the number four slot in the Aussie batting line-up. Australia do not possess the depth to jettison him from his rightful position, not just yet anyway.

Conversely, Simon Katich simply cannot be persisted with any longer. The entire cricketing world realises his clock is tick tocking into oblivion, it is about time the team management and selector’s woke up to this reality. Kato, sorry mate, but you’re in Haydos’ God-given position in the team.

Just as an aside, the Champions Trophy is shaping up to be a very interesting affair. The conditions will not be nearly-as bowler friendly and all is in readiness for the usual suspects to return to the slam-bang, thank you mam form of ODI cricket, not that this is a bad prospect at all.

This edition of the DLF Cup proved that the current Australian side, replete with a captain of dubious temperament (read more here and here), are a formidable machine and a victory against them remains a moment to be savoured. Top effort lads.

Continued >> >>

Grant Thomas Had To Go

With the players St Kilda has had on its list for the last few, a grand final if not a premiership should have been guaranteed. Yet this hasn’t happen and therefore the St Kilda Board had every right to sack its now ex coach, Grant Thomas.

Yes he did have a lot of injuries to deal with during his stint as coach, but lets not forget that most of those injuries were niggling soft tissue injuries which can be better managed through a different training regime. Also the best coaches shine through when faced with adversity, in this case injuries, Thomas didn’t. In fact Thomas cracked many times under pressure on game days, not knowing what to do when opposition teams got on top. Such a good list deserved a much better coach.

A midfield with the likes of Ball, Hayes, Dal Santo, Harvey and Goddard has the potential to be one of the best in the business and up their with bench marks in West Coast and Adelaide. Its forward line on paper is unstoppable. Riewoldt is one of the best players in the league, Gehrig is ever reliable and was recently the Coleman medalist. Throw in a fit Hamill and Koschitzke and this forward line could be one of the greatest ever. Their backline though not up there with the best is commendable and does the job as well as providing great drive.

Most of the time when a coach gets sacked, it’s because the players don’t support him or his game plan and hence don’t perform to their full potential. In St Kilda’s case, Thomas was a much loved coach and club man and had the full support of all his players. So much of the blame for the Saints not going all the way has to lie with the coach, in the end the buck stops with him.

St Kilda suffered for 6 long years but with a new coach they can look forward to a fresh start and hopefully many years of success ahead of them. In my eyes sacking Thomas was long overdue.

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Show Me The Money

For the BCCI, money grows off a tree. The recent splurging of cash in the DFL Cup in Malaysia just showed that millions of US dollars is just loose change for the BCCI. So much so that they are even willing to pay opposition teams one million dollars (US) just to play them.

Now either Mr. Sharad Powar has gone mad for authorizing this deal or world cricket is no longer competitive and giving your opponents a helping hand comes before becoming the best team in the world. Yes the BCCI has enough money to give to the poor, but that is what they should do if they feel so generous, give to the poor and not the relatively wealthy cricket boards of Australia and West Indies.

Not only does India not posses the cricket facilities that Australia has, most of its ground are well below international standards. Although one million dollars might seem a small amount in the scheme of things, why give a better cricketing nation a helping hand when your own nation needs upgrades in every facet of the game. Where is the logic in this?

Yes the BCCI has announced that it is spending 347 million dollars in upgrading ground facilities in all domestic grounds, but what is the primary extent of these upgrades? New flood lights at each ground. Maybe they should try and get better stands, equip every ground with better drainage system as to deal with early morning dew that hampers so many cricket games in India. Maybe they should spend more money on improving the facilities for spectators. Maybe they could spend the money on improving dressing rooms at every ground and getting it up to international standard by at the least installing an air conditioner.

With so much money India should not only posses the best cricket team in the world but also the best facilities in the world. Rather than throwing money away maybe the BCCI should concentrate on getting its own back yard up to scratch. But then again, maybe the big boys in the BCCI have already filled their own bank accounts with enough money for two lifetimes and don’t know what to do with the money that is left.

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Sunday, September 24, 2006

He's A Professional?

This is no spoof. An actual clip from what seems to be a professional league match. Even Mark Viduka could have put this one away:

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Continued >> >>

Deano On The Tied Test

Dean Jones interviewed about playing in India. This is hilarious quote and very indicative of the no-holds-barred/"be a man" Aussie approach that has made them the number one nation in many sports, not just cricket:
"When you reached 170, you were convinced you couldn't go on, but Border played some mind games with you, didn't he?
Yeah, he said: "If you can't hack it, let's get a tough Queenslander out here - get me Greg Ritchie!" And being very Victorian, I replied: "Yeah right, you've got no chance." So I stayed, and that moment forced me onto my 200. Looking back, it's great and I wouldn't change a thing, but back then I was a complete mess."
Nothing more needs to be said of Deano. The man is a legend of the cricket pitch (not the commentary box, even after discounting his "terrorist" comment) who's career was shamefully cut short by over-zealous selectors. Sure, the commentry box gaffe remark was a blight on this man's otherwise impecable character, but then again nobody is perfect.

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Will They Sack Him Now?

Only three months ago the Fremantle Dockers were playing a dysfunctional, laboured and thoughtless brand of football. They even managed to lose by a whopping 66 points to an even more inconsistent Geelong side. Rumours (even the hopes of some Freo fans) were alive that the situation would allow for a smooth handover from Chris Connolly to the 2006 season's new signing - assistant coach Mark Harvey.

Harvey was destined to be the saviour of a football club that had a more talented list than their more successful arch-rivals, the West Coast Eagles, according to Dennis Cometti. His public acceptance levels suffered no harm when he was forced to tow the club line and back his boss, Connolly, after Geelong's demolition job.

Then it all went pear-shaped. For Harvey's career progression prospects anyway. Connolly had the Dockers putting the points on the board by playing attacking, direct and entertaining football. All the stars were in the right positions, executing the game plan to perfection and winning game after with impressive ease. Even the most ardent Freo fans had red blotches all over their bodies from all the pinching they undertook in order to remind themselves that this was the real deal, not a cruel dream.

The Fremantle board now finds itself in a real quandry. Mark Harvey was appointed as the natural successor to Chris Connolly. One does not think it absurd to imagine a wink and and a nod from the Board to Harvey to confirm that he would be handed the top spot, sooner rather than later.

At least one decision has been taken out of the Board's hands. Connolly cannot be removed until, at the very least, his contract expires at the end of the 2007 season. However, what direction will the Board take if the Dockers continue to play their current brand of football in the 2007 season and do as well, if not one or two steps better, than they have managed this season?

Assuming the Dockers continue their winning ways in 2007, Connolly and the Fremantle faithful would consider it extremely unfair and highly suspicious if his contract was not renewed. Nevertheless, how would the Fremantle Board be able to reneg on their commitment to Harvey, as informal as it may have been. After all, we all know how many business deals are settled over a wink and a nod.

The Fremantle Dockers and their supporters are eyeing exciting times ahead. Could the success of the football department and team metamorphose into a poisoned chalice for the high and mighty Board?

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Forgotten Already Ricky?

The 22nd September 2006 showed how short memories of some people can be, especially Ricky Ponting’s. Let me take your minds back exactly 2 years and 7 months.

Australia was playing Sri Lanka in a tight one day international. Chasing, Australia needed 56 more runs to win at a run a ball with 6 six wickets in hand. Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist had the task of steering Australia home in an enthralling ODI. Kumara Dharmasena bowled one of his darts, Symonds got a big inside edge back on to his pad, the Sri Lankans appealed loudly and Symonds was given out, much to the dismay of Gilchrist and the surprised Sri Lankans. Umpire Peter Emanuel realized the blunder he had just made and called Symonds back. But when he called him back, did we see the Sri Lankan captain Marvan Attapatu abuse the umpire and call the decision a “disgrace”?

No we didn’t. Attapatu fully knew that Symonds wasn’t out and accepted the reversal of the umpires decision with a smile on his face and gracefully. On the other hand when Sachin Tendulkar was called back yesterday after wrongfully be adjudged caught behind, Ponting stormed up to the umpire and showed considerable dissent. It was not only a blight on the game but also further enhanced the reputation of Ponting being hot tempered captain who is unable to control his on-field antics. The umpires’ position is one of respect, the umpires’ decision is final and no umpire should have to put up with such rubbish from a captain, even if that captain happens to be Ricky Ponting.

Maybe Ricky Ponting should learn to accept all decisions that umpires reverse, not just the ones that favour his side. Maybe he should also try and improve his on field behaviour.

Continued >> >>

Friday, September 22, 2006

DLF Cup Rant - India v Australia

I am not sure where umpires procure their spectacles from, but they need a new supplier and an accurate eye exam to boot.

How Mr Hill gave Brad Haddin not out, is beyond me. The ball was clearly in Harbhajan Singh's hand when he made contact with the stumps. The ball only dislodged from his hand once the stumps had been broken. Another abhorrent decision, by a not-so-abhorrent umpire.

It will be interesting to see what impact this let-off has on Australia's ultimate tally. However, the Indians are looking sharp in the field and the 2 and a half run-outs are a testament to this fact.

However, to say the least, Hill's decision (or non-decision) rather befuddles me at the minute.

Prediction: Although I do not rate Brad Hogg for an instant (actually thats an understatement, I put him in the Ashley Giles category - but that is another post), I have a sneaking suspicion that he may pose a huge threat to presently vulnerable Indian batting line-up. More so, if he manages to get his googlies on target.

This is shaping up to be an absolute cracka.

Continued >> >>

Waqar's Promises

Not one to shy away from controversies at the best of times, Waqar Younis lambasts the ICC for even pondering the issue of appointing Darryl Hair as an umpire during the Champions Trophy.

He also weighs in to the debate with his first-hand account of the condition of the ball that has caused such furore:

"There was nothing wrong with [the ball]," Waqar told the paper from his home in Sydney. "I went and told the boys that I thought it was totally wrong ... I promise you, nothing was wrong with it."

One could argue that a promise does not hold much credibility when it emanates from an individual who was part of the first Pakistan team that was accused, by the English, of ball tampering. Younis was also found guilty of ball tampering in the dying stages of his illustrious career.

His account does not really hold much weight with me. The hearing (read trial) is less than a week away now, I think I can hold out until then. After all we will have the expert opinion of forensic investigators to rely on.

Read our earlier posts on this controversy here, here, here and here.

Tags: The Match Referee
Continued >> >>

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Like The Kid

More on that later. A fantastic comeback by the Indian side to rescue a forlorn effort at 69/5 inside 15 overs to winning the match by 16 runs. Most of the plaudits have been awarded to Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, rightfully so too – to an extent.

Tendulkar stamped his unequivocal class all over the innings, once again, to prove he is far from over the hill. Bhajji showed us what he can do with help from the other end. One remembers Harbhajan bowling 10 overs for 20 to 25 runs in ODIs last season, without managing to pick up a bag. I had put it down to bad luck and I am sticking with that call. As Bejaan Daaruwala will rightfully lecture you, when the stars are misaligned, there is precious little a mere mortal can do.

However, the real hero of the night for me was my man Sreesanth. As Dileep Premachandran testifies here, Sreesanth was “bowling just about the quickest spell seen from an Indian since Ashish Nehra's heroics at the World Cup in 2003.” Whats more, is that he was bowling it in the right places.

Sreesanth is undoubtedly talented. Nevertheless, it is his attitude that has the capability to inspire his peers. It is his confidence that wins him half his battles. These qualities oozed from both, Harbhajan and Sreesanth last night and helped the team overcome a helpless situation. These are the very qualities that the team should thank the venerable Sourav Ganguly for, for it was he who opened their eyes to this state of mind.

It is for these very qualities that I believe the Indian selectors have erred horrendously in omitting Sreesanth from the Champions Trophy squad. He is a livewire. He is a match winner. He should be assisted in reaching every pedestal he can, in order to display his wondrous wares.

PS. I hope Irfan was watching him closely last night. He may have snuck a glimpse of how he was when he first wowed us with his mastery.

Continued >> >>

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Praise Be With Chappell's Experiments

I am all for experimentation. Greg Chappell's experiments have provided an invaluable insight into the capability of a number of players in the current Indian setup. Rahul Dravid opening with Sachin Tendulkar in the ongoing DLF Cup was a good attempt at trying to awaken Virender Sehwag from his ODI slumber.

As the Indians are 8 down in their second match against the West Indies, I am of the firm opinion that Sehwag's role in the batting lineup is nowhere, but the top of the order. I am not naive enough to suggest he should return there for the Champions Trophy. In my view, like Pathan (my thoughts about him here), a stint back in domestic cricket would be extremely beneficial. A change of scenery, time to reflect and lower quality of opposition will provide the opportunity to get his head in order and feel the adrenalin of bludgeoning the ball off the middle of the bat again.

In the meanwhile, Robin Uthappa will gain invaluable exposure at the top of the order, against top quality opposition. I realise this experiment has already been tried, with mixed success. However, Uthappa did enough with those opportunities to grant him an extended look. Dravid would then shift back into the young and brittle middle order, lending much needed stability and a cool head.

What says you Chappelli?

Continued >> >>

You're Kidding, Right?

According to this article on Cricinfo, the infamous Mr Darryl Hair "expects to fulfil" an appointment to officiate in the Champions Trophy in India. The piece also quotes an unnamed source as saying that Hair is “still regarded as one of our best umpires” and “It’s a safe bet that he’ll be there”.

This leads me to three conclusions:
  1. The hearing to determine the fate of Inzimam ul Haq is a fa├žade as his fate has already been decided. The ICC has no plans to punish/make an example of Hair for his ill-judged and histrionic actions at The Oval test mach, thereby, laying all blame for the debacle at Inzi’s feet.
  2. By not condemning/sanctioning Hair the ICC is advocating his actions and implying that umpires have their full support irrespective of how inane or fallacious their future actions may be.
  3. The ICC is a feeble and incompetent organisation, inept at enforcing its own laws in order to effectively uphold the spirit of the game.
Someone please help me think of a single self-respecting organisation that would retain an employee after he/she held it to ransom over an event that was borne out of the employee’s foolishness. But then again, the subject in question is the admirable International Cricket Council and one would struggle to find gentlemen of the ilk that manage this praiseworthy entity.

Read our earlier posts on this controversy here, here and here.

Continued >> >>

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Batting On Two-Paced Roads

The following are game/innings high scores from the DLF Cup in Malaysia (courtesy of CricInfo):



Balls Faced

Match #

Ricky Ponting




Michael Clarke




Chris Gayle




Shivnarine Chanderpaul




Sachin Tendulkar




Chris Gayle




Shane Watson




Michael Hussey




Brian Lara




With three matches still remaining, you would not be inclined to read the aforementioned list and declare the surfaces as being “up and down”, “two-paced” or anything other than a batsman’s paradise. Sure, the ball has darted around with a large smattering of help from the heavens, but that could be expected of any surface.

Having briefly surveyed a few matches on the box, one would not be moved to pronounce the pitches, roads. However, I do maintain that the absence of other “batsman” from the list above can be blamed on their own failure to play themselves in and adapt to different conditions, rather than any gremlins inherent in the surface.

As an aside, it is interesting to note (with maybe one exception) how the names of the select few that are lauded on a global scale, always make such compilations.

Continued >> >>

Tick Tock Goes Katich's Clock

In a matter of a 9 days it has gone from this:

Damien Martyn has been muted as an outside possibility as Gilchrist's preferred opening partner in next month's showpiece event but Simon Katich is in the driving seat according to Ponting.

“(Last year) he probably put a bit more pressure on himself and went into his shell a little bit,” Ponting said of Katich.

“(But) the way he played in the VB series, and a couple of times in South Africa as well, and then again in Bangladesh, I think we started to see the real Simon Katich come out. (full text here)

to this:

It was a very impressive innings for everyone who saw that,” Ponting said.

“We know he’s got good technique against the new ball and we also saw he can play some very aggressive strokes.

“When a Champions Trophy or even World Cup comes around, it’s important you have really good balance, and Watson at the top could give us pretty good balance.”

“Shane’s game is probably better suited to the faster bowlers and the newer ball right at the moment. If you’re a batsman in one-day cricket, you’d want to be batting in the top three or four.(full text here)

Katich has never been an ODI opener. He certainly does not deserve an opener's berth ahead of the likes of Mathew Hayden and Phil Jaques. He lacks flair, a wide range of shots and the ability to improvise. These skills are vital if an opener is to consistently provide a dynamic and energised platform for the explosive middle order.

The entire strategy behind pairing an "anchor" with a blaster at the top of the order relies on the former acting as the rock that the latter can always rely upon to feed him the strike and to be with him through thick and thin. Katich has taken the term "rock" rather literally. He has struggled to feed his partner the strike by keeping the scoreboard ticking and in innings where the opposition have not sent him packing early, he has struggled to make use of his elongated settling-in period by playing a long, productive innings.

I am still not convinced that Shane Watson is the answer at the top of the order. Although he is slightly more aggresive than Katich, the odd match aside, he does not yet have the skill to be a regular success at the top of the order. What beats me is why would Australia commit the perennial sins of many Asian sides by play part-timers in specialist positions when they have tailor made experts sitting in the hutch?

Players are selected to win matches, not merely to provide balance to the team. Hayden or Jaques are a much better bet (for the team and spectators) than Watson or Katich. These two are the best one-day openers in Australia at present, even ahead of Adam Gilchrist. Learn from the other's mistakes and your own successes. Don't embarrass yourself by neglecting your embarrassment of riches.

(Read our previous "discussions" on Shane Watson here, here, here and here) Continued >> >>
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