Friday, April 13, 2007

World Cup: Money Makes The World Go Round

While the loosing Indian team suffer at the hands of the BCCI, I happened across a report out of New Zealand detailing exactly what each player has earned thus and what they stand to gain if they progress to the next stage. Obviously, after a listless and uninspired display that was utterly unbecoming of their stature as genuine championship candidates, the players may need to issue a earnings downgrade to their various bank managers.

Jonathan Millmow reports that the Black Caps already have NZ$42,000 in their kitty, just for progressing to the Super 8's. This is only the small fry, each squad member of the losing finalist (irrespective of whether they are the flight-less Kiwis, or not) stands to pocket NZ$210,000 - for that one match alone. Not a half bad pay day, if I may say so myself.

It goes without saying that the Kiwi team management is playing down any talk of motivation being derived or any semblance of lip smacking at the prospect of big pay days. If the Manager of an Indian team had offered this clarification he would, undoubtedly, have been ridiculed by all and sundry for covering up the real issue.

On a similar note of relentless extravagance, Will over at The Corridor found that official car supplier to the extremely important and busy ICC officials is none other than vehicle supplier for the common man - BMW:

Makes the mind boggle at what their accommodation facilities must be like, especially since the people responsible for spreading the good word are being treated like Gods.

Continued >> >>

Indian Cricket: BCCI Doles Out Charity

One can be nothing, if not amused by the contrasting fates of those heavyweights that have managed to keep their place in the Cricket World Cup, and those that have unceremoniously been sent packing. For all of Rahul Dravid's conciliatory press conferences, his "boys" are up against a monstrous organisation that will not think twice before mercilessly running them over.

We all know the sorry state of affairs in the Indian camp. The Saddam-esque BCCI never requires a second invitation to take care of its own commercial interests and try and score brownie points in the process. The initial announcement of a cap on the number of endorsements a contracted player may enter into was unnecessary, draconian and irrational - at best.

Just like the opportunistic politicians who "run" it, the BCCI has backtracked from its original announcement and is now willing to "talk" to the players, but not their agents. Rather strange because one would think the "agents" are in fact managers charged with the responsibility of negotiating the players' commercial arrangements.

IMHO, this discussion is very a commercial one. I also do not, for one moment, think that the players are well enough equipped to convincingly argue their case against the conniving fools that represent the BCCI. It is at this very moment that the players need trained and professional representation to ensure their commercial interests are not conveniently eaten up the Lalit Modi, and his like.

This is very much a "told you so" moment. Remember the Players Association that I have been harking on about? Also remember how Ravi Shastri was the head of the said body during the contractual disagreements before the 2003 World Cup?

What happened Ravi? The issue not getting enough publicity for you to take up the cause?

Continued >> >>

Thursday, April 12, 2007

India Cricket: BCCI Post World Cup Report Card Pt 2

In Part 1 of this series we covered five areas that the BCCI believes need to be improved if Indian cricket is to crawl out of today's darkness. In this version of the two-part series we discuss the remainder of the BCCI's proposals and determine whether the high-powered meetings (read Kangaroo Court) of April 6 and 7 produced anything of substance, or if it is just plain and simple hogwash.

Increased Under-19 Activity

An excellent idea, on face value. Increased exposure of overseas conditions and environments can only serve to better prepare and toughen the next generation. However, the fact remains that we have done reasonably well in age-group tournaments to date. Whether it be Under-15 or Under-19 World Cups, Indian teams have nearly always made it to the final and actually have gone all the way on some occasions too.

Where Indian cricketers fall over is after this stage, when they get drafted into the Ranji fold and mediocrity earns them statistically spectacular results. The solution is to undertake more A-team tours, so that players progressing from the Under-19 level have a steady stream of stiff competition.

This is not to say quantity is better than quality in this case. Sending teams to Zimbabwe and Bangladesh is a waste of money, as the same level of competition could be found at home. These tourists need to be sent to Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa. Therein lies the real competition - for now.

Grade: Getting There

State Academies

Forgive me for being so utterly cynical, but the original proposition for the National Cricket Academy was for it to be supported by other state/feeder institutions. As is India's wont, we love the icing taste delightful, but deem it unimportant to do likewise with the sponge.

The idea of state-based academies is a sound one. However, after listening to the same rhetoric for the past five years, I am holding no hope that the ideas will be implemented any time in the next five years.

Grade: Action Please

A "Young" Team for Bangladesh

This one really baffled me. On one hand the BCCI informs us that it will appoint professional selectors who, one would hope, would be more accountable for their decisions. On the not so distant other hand the Board is telling the, as yet, unnamed panel how they should do their job.

Various reports have done the rounds as to which players the BCCI wants dropped. Names such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan have been touted in this regard. Undoubtedly, these names were "sourced" from a "source close to" or within the Board - elevating the rumours to 'fact' status.

Point is, if the Board has a disciplinary gripe against the said players, try and sentence them according to the relevant code of conduct. Do not tell your employees how to do their job; a job that you have no qualifications undertake - if you do, why not do it yourself?

Grade: Abysmal

The Management/Coaching Team

Venkatesh Prasad as bowling coach - good move. The guy has qualifications and experience, with a degree of success with the age-group teams he has coached. No harm letting him prove his credentials.

Robin Singh as fielding coach - good move. Same as above and he was an excellent fielder in the pre-Yuvraj and Kaif days.

Ravi Shastri as "Cricket Manager"? I seriously hope that this is only a temporary appointment to buy the BCCI time to find a quality alternative to Greg Chappell. I am not aware of any coaching qualifications that Shastri holds and he certainly has no worthwhile/relevant experience. It is my earnest prayer that his selection is only a temporary measure. If Shastri does see a coaching future for himself, he should get on the first flight to Australia to complete the relevant courses and try and become an understudy to one of the more successful coaches around the world.

In fact, another initiative the BCCI should seriously consider is a coaching structure where talented and capable coaches are identified, given the opportunity to gain the prerequisite qualifications and then placed as an understudy to a successful coach outside of India. After serving their apprenticeship, they can return to India and take charge of a Ranji team in order to show their wares. This, my friends, is a structure that will help Indian cricket immeasurably - in the long run.

Grade: Getting There

I did not touch on the show-cause notice to Tendulkar and Yuvraj because it is not an idea, merely the implementation of an existing policy.

There are many other initiatives that could form Part 3 of this series. Do write in (in the comments section or via email) of any of your own initiatives that you believe will reap rewards. In the meanwhile, be sure to read Part 1 and let your views be known.

Continued >> >>

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Will Lasith Malinga's Absence Hurt Sri Lanka?

No pun intended with the title, obviously. I have suffered a tear in my ankle, after stepping in a pot-hole while playing football no less, and I can inform you it is not a pleasant experience.

The point remains that Lasith Malinga is far more important to the Sri Lankan cricket team than I was to my lunch-time football team. After that devastating spell against the perennial chokers of the cricketing world, teams have started to sit up and take notice of the Cricket World Cup's "equal leading wicket taker".

With tournament statistics of 15 scalps at just over 14, Sri Lanka's competition would be foolish not to design specific plans to counter The Sheep Malinga. However, with the injury expected to take between seven days and a fortnight to heal, the task facing the Lankan's next few opponents has been made significantly easier.

On the difficult pitches of the Caribbean, Lasith Malinga's pace and unorthodox action is just as potent (probably more so if the stats are anything to go by) than Muttiah Muralitharan's hyper-extended elbow. After South Africa's shellacking of the West Indies overnight and depending on whether the English can manage to keep their pants on against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka might yet be fighting for a place in the semis.

In this context, it is vitally important for Sri Lankan's chances that Malinga is able to recover full health, well before the Australian match. He can thank the knob-heads that comprise the ICC's Scheduling Committee for giving plenty of time, and then some.

Let us all pray for The Sheep.

Continued >> >>

Jacques Kallis Listens... us, that is. Those of us who are still following the Cricket World Cup (yes, its still going) will remember the poison spewed by South African supporters as they watched Jacques Kallis dawdle through the Super 8 match against Australia. Accusations of selfishness and not playing for the team's benefit were flung at Kallis from all quarters.

Kallis even had a few words to say himself, in his defence. We joined the fun and proffered this for the man's own benefit.

In a 180 degree role reversal, Jacques Kallis has shown all of us that he really does have the ability to bang things other than pretty young women.

All who were watching the South Africa v West Indies match last night would have noticed how Kallis took a fancy to the West Indian bowlers, specifically Dwayne Bravo, during the second power play. It just goes to show what wonders an individual score in excess of 80, at almost a-run-a-ball, can do to the team's score.

Admittedly, the South Africans were facing bowlers that would amount to nothing more than pie-throwers, in comparison to the Australian attack. Even then, it was good to see that Jacques did take our words to heart and answered his critics with his bat - it's been almost six hours since the match ended and we still haven't heard about how good Kallis' memory is.

Well done Jacques, we're all very proud of you.

Continued >> >>

Marcus Trescothick: Still Alive

I was struck by fear and a sudden bout of, "what's happening to the world!?", last night. The reason for my uneasy state originated from my perusal of the websites that refer my readership (read you) to this blog. One such referral came from Google after the reader searched for "marcus trescothick suicide".

I immediately began searching all news sources for what would have been a most unfortunate and saddening loss. After Trescothick's withdrawal from The Ashes trip citing stress-related reasons, I was connecting the dots and my brain was forming a rather unhappy picture.

Thank god I didn't find anything remotely close to the said search term. However, this morning I happened across this short article confirming that Trescothick is well and truly fit and in fighting spirit. He has just hammered 200-odd in a County warm up game.

So to all my readers, before you go about searching Google willy nilly, come straight here and you will find the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. At the very least, you'll find my considered opinions on the the truth. :>

God bless.

Continued >> >>

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

India Cricket: BCCI Post World Cup Report Card Pt 1

After the Ganguly v Chappell bout 18 months ago, April 6 and 7 could easily be billed as the most strenuous and trying moments that the BCCI has had to endure since. It is not easy to coerce the BCCI into talking cricket and suggesting ways to improve its standard in India.

Thankfully, unlike the head-in-sand results of the Ganguly-Chappell hearings, the BCCI has actually conjured up policies that seem to have a little more substance. Admittedly, the suggestions are not its own, but that of former captains - but, it is a start.

However, beneath all the glitz and glamour of the recently announced measures lie more questions. Following is Part 1 of the discussion of the BCCI's ingenious ideas:

Internationals To Play Domestic Cricket

A very noble idea and if implemented will form a great platform for disseminating international know-how to the next generation. The problem lies in the execution. How much cricket do you expect national squad members to play when they are forced into playing meaningless matches in far-flung corners of the world? The BCCI needs to cut down on the junk and prop up its own system first.

Grade: Satisfactory

"Fast & Lively" Wickets

This issue has been an easy way out for administrators over a number of years now. What are fast and lively wickets going to achieve? They will result in fast bowlers who get results handed to them on a platter, batsman might get slightly better and the breed of twirlers will be fast driven to extinction. Spinners have been our traditional strength and now is not the time to ditch them.

Indian cricket does not need fast and lively wickets. It needs pitches that bounce more than they currently do and are a little harder than at present. It also needs conditions and facilities that help young spinners practice their art. It is at this stage in their career that they require more help than their faster peers.

How many WACA-style pitches are prepared in Pakistan? None. Yet they still churn out genuinely fast and skillful bowlers. We should caution against forgetting our core strengths and blindly following the leader. Put some thought in and get the balance right.

Grade: Needs to develop logical thinking ability

Restructure of Domestic Cricket

Another very useful idea, but why has it taken so long for it to escape from the BCCI's offices? A six team Pura Cup style competition is not feasible for India, only because of the population and logistics involved. However, a 10 team premier league on top of a second and third division, based on the English football structure, is the need of the hour.

A structure such as this will promote tough competition amongst similarly skilled opponents and will test the mental fortitude of younger players as they play with proven performers. This all assumes that politics and bribery will not play a role in the selection process for the various representative teams.

The zonal teams can then be selected to play in a short and limited competition, loosely based on the Australian NRL's "State of Origin" series.

I am not sure what the BCCI hopes to gain by reserving the power to allot the venues for the big games. It would be better for it to employ and retain qualified and knowledgeable curators at each of 10 "Premier League" grounds so that the surfaces are up to the mark for all games.

Grade: Satisfactory


We all know that term is not commonly heard in the corridors of the BCCI. However, after decades of hearing that professionals will be appointed, the BCCI might finally be getting around to it. A professional manager for the team and a professional media manager for the Board. Exactly what the doctor ordered, especially so that the likes of Lalit Modi can be prevented from unleashing their stupidity on the rest of us.

The most exciting news in this segment was the possible appointment of professional selectors at all levels - "possible" because nothing is sure with the BCCI until it is actually accomplished. This decision might finally herald an era where player is selected on merit alone, and not not the basis of how much money he is able to transfer to a selector's bank account or how many parties his daddy throws.

Grade: Outstanding

Players' Endorsement Deals

It has been said many a time since the announcement, but true to form the dimwits within the BCCI have scaled their Everest. Stripping players of the right to sign as many endorsement contracts as their popularity will allow reeks of nothing but opportunism.

Sponsorship is the result of good performance. The most indisputable evidence of this is the blanket review of many players' deals in light of the World Cup debacle. It is not the BCCI's moral prerogative or legal right to restrict the amount of money an player can make outside of the game. Further, appearing in TV ads does not help or hinder a player's performance on the field.

Reviewing a contract to ensure clauses that will hinder the team's are not included is fine. However, limiting the number of sponsors or having a say on which products a player can endorse is infringing on an individual's right and leaves the BCCI open to many ugly and unnecessary lawsuits and distractions.

Here's hoping that Rahul Dravid's diplomatic noises bear fruit and the matter can be settled before it reaches boiling point.

Grade: Ridiculous

This is Part 1 of the BCCI's Report Card. Part 2 can be found here, be sure to check it out and leave your own comments on what you think of the BCCI's various ideas, or anything else that takes your fancy.

Continued >> >>

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Greg Chappell Saga: Pull No Punches

"Mr Chappell should pack his bag and quietly f***-off. He has ruined our cricket enough." Please note the quotation marks around the previous sentence. In this highly charged environment where any, and every, word has the potential to be taken out of contest, "one of the most senior" BCCI officials has left us in no mystery as to how he really feels.

The quote was taken after Chappell had sent off a mass email that also doubled as his express wish to not be considered for the post of Indian coach. Two things struck me about the quote:

  1. The speaker obviously thought highly enough of Greg Chappell to refer to him as "Mister"; yet
  2. He didn't realise that Chappell had effectively packed his bags and proverbially f'ed off - that is what the email was for, right?

Nobody knows what Greg Chappell did or didn't do to incite such impassioned reactions from people that he has been working with recently. Off the record quotes are doing the rounds about his "strange way" of working with the players and his lack of sensitivity for the Indian way (apparently the Chappell way was all he knew) of doing things. In another cowardly act, a member of the Indian "think tank" has offered that, in his opinion, Chappell had no man-management skills.

I am not always a believer of this phrase, but in this instance I can offer no alternative explanation; it seems that this must be another case of 'where there's smoke, there's fire'.

It seems blatantly obvious to me that the environment within the Indian camp was of many bulls with big horns trying to play a futile game of oneupmanship. Every superstar has his ego and Chappell undoubtedly had his too. It was an situation ripe for failure. True to Indian form, failure turned into a downright catastrophe. Let us not forget the generous hand of the immature and tactless Indian media in this whole fracas.

As far as the BCCI is concerned, there could not have been a more timely development. Its inept office bearers now have a mandate to blame the World Cup debacle on Chappell, and they will not think twice about doing so. After all, he resigned, giving us the clearest indication yet that he wishes to take full responsibility for the events that transpired, right?

Lets all prepare ourselves for the rubbish to be brushed under the carpet and the "popular" appointment of a former great as coach of India. Quite obviously, the said Former Great will have no relevant coaching experience nor will he be able explain the finer points of what it takes to successfully coach and strategise for a team to succeed in the modern international arena.

You think that this initial reliance on an expletive to explain one's emotion was a blip (no pun intended)? There's no need to keep your ears peeled to hear about the creativity with which India's deficiencies are attributed to its now former coach, for you'll be bombarded till you can find no shelter.

Chappell is not without blame in this situation, far from it. However, with his email goes any chance of the real culprits being awarded their sentences.

Continued >> >>

Jaques Kallis Feels The Heat

Jacques Kallis is undoubtedly one of the finest all-rounders to have played the modern game. He is an all-rounder in the true sense of the term, in that he can bat and bowl - with a high degree of success - against the best in the business. Chris Cairns and Andrew Flintoff are probably the only two players of Kallis' era who may come close to his abilities. However, even their records are not as impressive as Kallis.

Having said this, both Cairns and Flintoff had a certain X factor that afforded them the the "match winner" label. Their consistency might have been lacking at times, but it was (is - in Flintoff's case) their ability to pull off the unimaginable and inspire their team mates to over-achieve that gave them their aura.

It is this very lack of a "X factor" that prompts ex-players and supporters to question his real worth to the South African team. It is indeed a fair question, and similar to the type of interrogation that the Indian superstars are currently dealing with. What is a player's value to the team if he is unable to play according to the state of the game?

This is the question that Kallis is constantly being asked. It is also the question that he has not been able to categorically answer with consistent and sustained evidence against the stronger teams. The memory of South Africa's previous tour Downunder comes to mind, where Kallis seemingly adopted a go-slow (read: increase my average) approach when the need of the hour was to wallop the tired and jaded offerings from the Australian attack.

Recently, Kallis has been chastised for his lack of awareness of the game situation in South Africa's pummeling at the hands of Australia in the Super 8 World Cup clash. Instead of keeping quiet and letting his bat and his on-field attitude do the talking in a battle he is unlikely to win with words, Kallis has lambasted his critics after his half century in South Africa's latest victory - against Ireland.

Seriously, who is Kallis trying to fool? His half century against the Irish is on a similar level to India's record 400+ score against Bermuda. It holds no significance and is not an indicator of form or an indicator of his ability to adapt to different game situations.

Kallis would be better served practicing his stroke play in the nets rather than issuing feeble warnings about how he intends to "remember" the "guys" who have criticised his play.

Continued >> >>

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Indian Cricket: Tendulkar's Torture & Chappell's Chicanery

Wherever you look and whatever you read about Indian cricket, April 7 is being billed as D-Day. The day that will decide whether Team India will perish or prosper. The day that will decide whether another foreigner will be appointed coach of India.

From all the scoops and exclusives that the various media houses are entertaining us to, I am able to garner only one thing - that the spin doctors behind every move of the BCCI have performed an outstanding job, once again.

Anybody who has followed Indian cricket, for any length of time will understand that the BCCI does not take action. It does not deign it important enough to address key issues that have a material impact on the performance of its team. In this context, what is all the hoo-ha for? It does not matter whether Greg Chappell names any players in his report. The same goes for Sanjay Jagdale. Both reports are going to be locked away in a filing cabinet and the key fed to the starving tigers in our national parks.

Sachin Tendulkar, of all people, should know exactly how events will play out. He has been there and done that many times. In light of this, his "emotional" outburst against Greg Chappell is all the more perplexing. Why would a man who has maintained the steadfastly silent during many a previous scandal, suddenly develop the burning desire to unleash?

I wonder whether Tendulkar has been coerced into making these statements solely on the back of the unending media speculation (read: mud-slinging) that Indian cricket personalities have recently endured. Chappell has been quoted (in italics because I am not sure that many media outlets know the difference between a direct quote and creative word-smithing) by various outlets as having said that his report is not yet complete, and nobody but himself knows the exact contents of it. Assuming that there is a large element of truth to the comments attributed to Chappell, did Tendulkar call Chappell and ask him to separate fact from fiction? Has there been any communication between the players, especially Tendulkar since he was the first one to have spoken on the record, and the coach after the team's return from the Caribbean?

I like Tendulkar as a player and as a person. He has outwardly maintained his dignity and integrity whence others have found it extremely easy and satisfying to lose theirs. However, this act shows him in a bad light. From the criticisms that he offered during his press conference, it does not seem that there has been any contact between Chappell and Tendulkar.

Forget the fact that other players go the coward route and allow themselves to be quoted, off the record. IMHO, if you have something to say, if you are going to take pot-shots, be man enough to do it in your own name. Tendulkar has been strong enough to speak his mind on the record, and he might have very reasonable grievances against Chappell, but he should have waited to read the official report before making a spectacle of himself.

My views are not a vindication or defence of Chappell's ways. All I know is what you know, that is what has been offered to us by the media. Chappell may indeed have created an atmosphere of distrust and behaved in an insensitive manner with some team members. If he has, then he should not be handed another contract. This, however, is not the issue.

The issue is the farcical state of Indian cricket that allows individuals the opportunity to pursue their own personal agendas to the detriment of the game and the individuals who play it. Starting from the top, the BCCI is infested with simpletons who have prospered due to their ability to undermine others and polticise every single issue.

It does not matter if Tendulkar was tortured with false or undeserved labels. It does not matter if Chappell chicanery "pushed" the team backwards. It does not even matter that Greg may have had a hand in Ian's call for Sachin's retirement. There are places and forums for these issues to be addressed. However, it does matter that public outbursts borne out of personal frustration, and a lack of respect for due process, hurt the chances of Indian cricket achieving the outcomes that are necessary for it to become a superpower on the field.

I expected more from Tendulkar. I hope this is just an aberration that can be put down to the extraordinary and heated prevailing climate. I hope that this is not an indication of Tendulkar's declining mental resolve - something that has been claimed by different media personalities.

Indian cricket needs a mentally and physically fit and strong Sachin Tendulkar. It also needs a clean and efficient process through which to find and evaluate the reasons for its history of magnificent failures. Anybody involved with the process will be doing the cause a massive disservice if they indulge in public mudslinging or trial by a highly irresponsible media.

Grow up kids.

Continued >> >>

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Shane Watson: Ripped & Torn

The Village Cricketer has posted his ODI XI of the most annoying international cricketers. If I were compiling such a list, I would be sure to include Shane "Watto/Swatson" Watson. Not because of his theatrics (or lack thereof) on the field, but for his frustrating proneness to soft tissue injuries that take an inordinate amount of time to fully heal.

Shane Watson has once again been sidelined with a soft-tissue injury, this time of the calf. Apparently, he has already torn the other calf a few months ago. I wonder if Swatson has that rather peculiar affliction where certain muscles and bones need to be broken before they reach their optimal strength. I think they call it Watto's Disease.

Apparently, so unique is the man that Australian Physiotherapist Alex Kountouris offered that SWatson does not even hit the gym. Those perfectly sculpted pecks, bi's and shoulders have been bestowed upon his fragile legs since birth - thats the rumour doing the rounds at present, anyway.

So while Merv Hughes consoles the young man after his most recent adventure to the sick bay, Australian team management must be wondering the same thing as the team's supporters: how long can we persist with such a fragile character?

Hughes is full of admiration for the young lad. Who wouldn't be for a man who can "bat in the top six and bowl pretty well at 140km/h." Point is, all that comes to nothing when he is continually forced to limp off the field with a rip or a tear every 10 matches. What if he returns for a semi-final against a rampaging Sanath Jayasuriya and his band of plucky Sri Lankans, only to break down again?

In a rather odd turn of events, questions are now being raised as to whether Swatson's "Adonis"-like frame is contributing to his ever-expanding list of injuries. It was not that long ago that the Aussies were talking about beefing up to avoid the said injuries. Has that strategy been unceremoniously ditched already?

Given Swatson's history, I am not overly optimistic about the "two week" theory. Either way, here's to wishing the poor kid and his mildly torn calf a quick and lasting recovery.

Continued >> >>

Should Sachin Tendulkar Retire?

A few days after the WC exit I wrote an article about why Sachin Tendulkar should not be made captain. A version of this piece was also published over at Desicritics. Unfortunately, in the comments of the DC post, the debate has veered towards whether Tendulkar should be in the team at all.

Lets address this question, then. Does Sachin Tendulkar warrant a place in Team India in the current climate?

IMHO, those that want Tendulkar out of Team India should be able to name a (or multiple) creditable and talented replacement. Most of the names that have been cropping up, to date, revolve around the likes of Mohammad Kaif and Suresh Raina.

Don't get me wrong, these two players have potential that they need help in realising. However, that help should not come at the expense of SRT. One could argue that Kaif has had all the help in the world, and then some. Yet, he still has not been able to flourish and cement his place in the ODI team - unlike his good friend Yuvraj Singh.

For all his dips in form and changes in mental approach, I would still bank on Tendulkar playing consistently better over the next few years than any new cricketer coming into the side. Anybody who suggests that Indian cricket is ready to forge ahead without Tendulkar (and apparently that is 60% of India, as well as Ian Chappell) is seriously deluded or has an axe to grind.

A Question of Age

People like Jabberwock and Ruchir Joshi have vastly differing reasons for asking for Tendulkar to be shunted out of the team. Although, I do understand Jabberwock's angle (not because, like me, he is a self-proclaimed Tendulkar loyalist), I fail to understand what Ruchir was on about. Sample this:

For a person born and brought up in India, age *does* matter. Most indians are indoor-people, by nature. They don't have the physical build to be in tip-top shape, as age advances. Compared to a normal adult of 33 years age, Sachin may be in great shape, but that does not mean he is in a great shape to play cricket. Add to that all the injuries he had to suffer. Sachin is definetly one of the better physically fit players, but it doesn't mean he will be able to play till 40. Most western country people have thick bones. Even if they are skinny, they look healthy. They are mostly outdoor people too. They indulge in lot of physical activities on weekend, at all ages. So, they have better physical structure to support them in sports, even at advancing age.

To anybody living outside of India it is quite obvious that Ruchir's sense of a Western lifestyle is quite misguided, as is his contention that Indians cannot remain as fit as their Caucasian counterparts. Most Western people do not indulge in physical activities, that is why obesity is rampant. Secondly, a person's bone structure has nothing to do with how well he/she can play cricket - they call it skill.

It is also highly irresponsible to suggest that Tendulkar's injuries are a result of him being unfit or under-prepared. His injuries have undoubtedly been a major cause in his lack of form over the past two years. It is hope that with a bit of luck the injuries will stay away, allowing him to play as freely as we all know he can. Nobody is suggesting that he play till 40, for that is a long way off. Do not forget he is only 33 - hardly the geriatric period for a specialist batsman.

Quantitative v Qualitative

No, I do not intend to deliver a mathematics lecture here. But, I would like to refer to a certain Chandra who produce some rather interesting statistics pertaining to the performance of Tendulkar and Kaif, in the comments section of the article I mentioned earlier.

I do not intend to dispute Chandra's statistical data, nor his analysis. However, I would like to refer you to Jabberwock's contention - and one that I wholly support - that every (sane) Tendulkar fan understands that the man "hasn’t been the world’s leading batsman for at least six years now; he hasn’t even been India’s best batsman for at least four years, going back to roughly the time when Rahul Dravid had those great series in England and Australia." You do not require statistics to prove this.

It is important to give statistics their due. Having said that, I also believe statistics should not represent the be all and end all of a case for the in/exclusion of a cricketer from a particular team. Our over-reliance on statistics has led to many a situation where a Ranji star has been picked for the national team based on a stunning average, when honest subjective analysis would have highlighted that he clearly lacked the gumption to put in what international cricket demands.

Quantitative objectivity has its merits, but in a game that so heavily relies on touch and timing, too often we conveniently forget the insights that our very own eyes and brains can afford us.

Here's to hoping that common sense prevails and SRT can remain injury-free and be allowed to play like we all know he can over the next few years. I am all for introducing new blood, but, the kids will simply have to find another road into Team India - for now.

Continued >> >>

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cricket Contest: Predict & Win

Mohit over at "Best Blog Basket" is running a competition in the wake of India's shock exit from the Cricket World Cup.

The competition ends on April 8 and Mohit promises many prizes. Here's what he has to say:

There are a lot of prizes (click to go to the article) all aimed at
increasing traffic for your blog and your technorati rank; best of all
your relations in the blogging community.

How To Participate?

Step 1: Write the prediction post
Step 2: Inform me about the post
Step 3: The links you get
Step 4: Link Link Link
Step 5: The chosen entries will be announced on the 8th April

The link for the contest is :

NB This contest is not being run by us here at The Match Referee. Please contact Mohit if you require further details.

Continued >> >>
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