Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Only In India

And maybe, just maybe, Pakistan too. Curator of Fortress Feroz Shah Kotla, Radhey Shyam Sharma, has prepared a "parting gift" for Indian captain Anil Kumble. Celebrating his final Test in charge, as well as Kumble's many Herculean performances at Fortress Kotla, Sharma proudly boasted that he has "always made wickets that suit Kumble and this time it won't be any different."

Parochialism aside, this has to be considered home advantage in its most brazen and transparent form. Every country prepares wickets that suit its players. As cricket fan, and that too an Indian cricket fan, very little gives me more pleasure than to watch the odd Test where touring batsman grope, fiddle and play virtual twister in trying to combat the wiles of world class Indian spinners.

It has always intrigued (and sometimes angered) me that a turning wicket has ceased to be considered a fair wicket in modern day cricket. IMHO the Mumbai pitch during Australia's last Test tour was just as fair as the WACA wicket in its fast, bouncy heyday. A wicket only ceases to be fair when it is altered to advantage one team over another during the course of a match.

Publications today abound with stories of how Kumble has to prove himself, once again, after debutant Amit Mishra's impressive showing at Mohali. Kumble will only silence these cricket-illiterate journalists by leading Team India to a victory at Fortress Kotla, by becoming only the second international captain in a decade to lower Australian colours.

Radhey Shyam Sharma and his crew have done their due, now it is for Team India to honour such fine servants of Indian cricket.

PS. The man in the above image (source Daylife) is not Radhey Shyam Sharma.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

India v Australia: Ricky Ponting's Two Lemons

Bishan Singh Bedi has seldom been one to pull punches when it comes to the big issues. Bedi has remained true to form after accepting an invitation from Australian manager Steve Bernard to have a chinwag with Jason Krejza and calling for Krejza to replace Cameron White in the starting XI for the third Test. Question being, what did Bedi see in Krejza?

The spinner’s slot in the final XI must be one of the biggest headaches for Ricky Ponting in the current environment. He has effectively been asked to choose between two duds. One was hammered and humiliated by the next generation of Indian batsmen and the other was only selected because he wasn’t in the country to play a tour game and had been thus unscathed. Who says more warm up games are better?

Bedi is one prominent ex-player who generally has the best interests of cricket, and especially Indian cricket, at heart when he speaks. With this in mind I must admit to gaining some sadistic pleasure in seeing Bedi in a pink shirt emblazoned with a prominent BCCI logo trying to raise the stocks of a has-been team in varying levels of turmoil, depending on which media outlet you favour.

While Bedi recommended the specialist route for Ponting and his Aussies, it seems likely Bedi’s advice will fall on deaf ears. After all, Ponting doesn’t have the aggressive bent of Steve Waugh (nor the world class resources now) and it is highly unlikely that he will risk Krejza against the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar & Mahendra Singh Dhoni when any of them are 100 not out on a Kotla road. It speaks volumes of Australia's plight when Cameron White is considered the most dependable lemon for a marquee Test series.

One might opine that there is just cause for Ponting to shelve his ego and take up Shane Warne’s offer of a comeback. However, I think we all realise that a Warnie comeback is about as likely as serial pest offender Matthew Hayden turning down his hot air nozzles.

This is not to say that Team India may not be surprised by an Aussie resurgence in the next couple of Tests. However, an aggressive approach by Anil Kumble and co will go a long way to ensuring a clean sheet.

Update: Ponting now opines that he believes Krejza is "definitely in the running" for the third Test. Personally, I think Ponting is trying to play mind games with his two lemons, as well as the Indians and will prefer Cameron White over Krejza. I simply do not believe he has an attacking captaincy bone in his body.

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Continued >> >>

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Anil Kumble's Return: Much Ado About Nothing

Scribes of various descriptions and literary ability have been expending reams discussing whether Team India captain Anil Kumble should return to side after MS Dhoni's men smashed the Aussies in the second Test in Mohali. Among the said scribes is yesteryear's superstar, turned commentator, Ian Chappell. To put it bluntly, Chappell is disgracing his intelligence and talking absolute drivel by calling for the Indian captaincy to be permanently handed to MS Dhoni from the next Test.

These expert commentators often make me wonder whether they really have lost the plot or simply have hidden agendas when spurt such ill-considered claptrap. I might be more inclined to understand if a fan with absolutely no background in formal club or representative cricket had vociferously called for Dhoni to be permanently anointed captain from the third Test. Chappell should know better.

As a hypothetical, assume the following for the next Ashes series:
  • Ricky Ponting plays poorly in the drawn first Test, is injured and replaced by Shaun Marsh for the second Test;
  • Michael Clarke captains in the second Test and the Aussies win by a healthy margin;
  • Marsh blasts a century on the fourth day of the second Test to set the win up for the Aussies;
  • Ponting is fit and raring to go for the third Test.
Would Chappell seriously contend that Ponting now be stripped of the captaincy and play under Clarke for the remainder of the series and, possibly, his career? The likelihood of Australian selectors stripping Ponting of the captaincy is the same the BCCI ever becoming a professional and accountable organisation. For the uninitiated, this equates to a probability of zero.

Chappell and his ilk are employed to provide us, the fan, with justifiable, well reasoned and insightful analysis of events. Ian, do everyone a favour and spare us the amateurism. We already have to endure far too much of this class of nonsense.

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Continued >> >>

Thursday, October 09, 2008

India Cricket Live Video Feed

I have stumbled across a few websites that offer live video feed of this series. The picture quality is excellent for the live feed, although the actual video size could be said to be a tad small. Even then, who's complaining?

A list of websites that offer live streaming of cricket matches from around the world:
If you can't watch cricket on your TV, or simply need to watch it at work you've just hit entertainment nirvana.

Continued >> >>

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sourav Ganguly Retires

Indian cricket's most successful captain ever, a leader India had been in need of for generations and a batsman of the highest ability, class and elegance has decided to call it a day - on his own terms. Love him or loathe him, Sourav Ganguly is a man his enemies, of whom there were many, simply could not keep down. Throughout his career Ganguly made it his habit to defy the odds, and with the same resolve he has fought to for the right for one last hurray - defeat of his old foes, the might Australians.

Debate will rage as to whether his exit was scripted / planned in collusion with the powers-that-be of Indian cricket. In reality, this is a non-issue. Indian cricket owes this, and much more, to this revolutionary leader who was the catalyst for the its ascendancy in world cricket. It would be an utter shame if Ganguly did, in fact, have to fight for this very fitting end, for this swan song is a small thank you for years of persistent toil and jubilant successes.

Ganguly has confirmed that his retirement was directly affected by the previous selection panel's decision to drop him from the Irani Trophy side. It is a downright shame that players of such ilk are treat so disdainfully by a group of inept and vindictive jokers parading as selectors. A simple, honest chat to discuss their respective view of Ganguly's future would have ensured an alignment of key minds that would only have augured well for this series against Australia, and Indian cricket in general.

Alas, as the old adage goes - common sense is not very common at all in Indian cricket, and the average cricket fan could have expected nothing more from a thoughtless and greedy administration.

The "God of the off side" is a true legend of modern day sport, so much so that I could not have said it better than this from Ayaz Menon:

Though he has some scintillating innings to his credit, Ganguly was not quite in the same league as Tendulkar, Dravid or Laxman. But juxtapose his captaincy with his batting, and he emerges as much of a titan as any of the aforementioned, perhaps taller.

It is a big call, I know. But one that for mine is infinitely reasonable and valid. Sourav Ganguly will one day be given the recognition and honour that is his due. Unfortunately, and not that I believe it matters to him, it will come a lot later than it should otherwise have taken.

Until such time let us pray that that the great one recreates something close to that epic performance in Brisbane on the 2003/2004 tour of Australia. Such performances in this series will not only ensure an Indian series victory, but sweet revenge against those muppets that have been baying for his blood.

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Continued >> >>

Sunday, October 05, 2008

India v Australia: Shades Of 1998 For Australia

Remember this match when an unheralded Mumbai lineup demolished Mark Taylor's touring Australians by 10 wickets. Shane Warne had arrived in India after cleaning up batsmen the world over, only to be pummeled into insignificance by each and every Indian batsmen to whom he bowled. Jason Krejza, while not nearly within a stone's throw of the great one, in terms of ability or promiscuity, is facing the same music 10 years later, in 2008. Are these events a sign of future inglorious defeats for Ricky Ponting's Australians, as they were for Mark Taylor's band?

The Indian Board President's XI gave the Australians a tougher test than the visitors were likely anticipating. With Ponting's continuance of the sub-continental run drought, only another gallant rescue act by Mr Cricket, Michael Hussey, and Stuart Clark saved Australia from an egg-on-face moment of a magnitude they have not suffered since the loss to Bangladesh before the 2005 Ashes.

While it's heartening to see Yuvraj Singh score a century and rub salt in Australian wounds by making them slave away in the searing heat on the last day, I wonder if this mauling of Krejza has jolted the Australian think tank into considering the option of playing four quicks and Shane Watson? With figures of 31 overs for 199 runs (and not even a whiff of a wicket), is Krezja really going to do a better job than Michael Clarke's pies or even those of Matthew Hayden?

Mind, the only other fast bowler that could take Krezja place in the Test XI is Peter Siddle, and hasn't exactly covered himself in glory during this match. One can only imagine how Ponting must be cursing Andrew Symonds at this very moment! I wonder if any bookie is offering odds for an SOS call being placed to Symonds mid-trip?

With a fragile batting lineup, impotent bowling attack and a captain who can't buy a run, Australia really need to pull a rabbit in a hat trick if they are to have any chance of saving face during this Test series. Not sure about you, but I simply cannot wait for Thursday afternoon!

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Continued >> >>

Thursday, October 02, 2008

India v Australia: ICC Offers Some Hope

The announcement of match officials for a series of such enormity is always news to which I look forward. We, especially I, have been ultra critical of many characters posturing around the world as members of the ICC's Elite Panel of umpires. Much to my pleasure Sri Lankan umpire Ashoka de Silva has been permanently dumped from the Elite Panel. But what about the likes of Rudi Koertzen, Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson?

Well, unfortunately Koertzen has been appointed to stand in the first two Tests of the latest installment of the India v Australia franchise. He will be partnered by Pakistan's Asad Rauf, if he can detach himself from his hair curler. Billy Bowden and Aleem Dar will join forces to officiate in the final two Tests.

However, it must be noted that the ICC is showing some signs of progress in its quality of decision making. Steve Bucknor's name is thankfully missing from the list of officials, as are the likes of Benson and Billy Doctrove.

While I feel somewhat for the gents in white after the introduction of the ridiculous referral system, it seems obvious to me (and therefore my criticism of their performance is justified) that such a dubious idea would never have passed muster had it not been for umpires' ineptitude in the first place.

I wonder what the odds are for a conspiracy theory where Aleem Dar manages to contract osteitis pubis and is conveniently subbed off the dreaded Bucknor? Any takers?

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Continued >> >>
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