Saturday, March 20, 2010


My Frustrations in Supporting Bangladesh!


Following the Bangladeshi cricket side can be one challenging experience...

Being an Australian, I fall into the extreme minority of my fellow people to have a strong interest in the progress of the Bangladesh national cricket team. Ever since they reached test status, I've always seemed to keep my eye on the performance of a team that was new to playing on the biggest stage of all.

Over the past couple of years, I've developed a confidence that the Tigers will prevail in the Test arena against a major team. Sure they beat Zimbabwe and a second string West Indies side, but that win against an India, England or New Zealand still eludes them.

The three sides I just mentioned have been their three most recent opponents, and against each of these sides they have flirted with taking the game apart. But just when you have followed the live scorecard for three hours and seen a Rubel Hossain blitz through a top order or Tamim Iqbal blaze up the arena, the opposing side will put together a 250 run fifth wicket stand or take four quick wickets to move the score from 2/170 to 6/201.

It happens every time. If you go back each game for virtually the past two or three years, this pattern will happen almost without fail at numerous points in a match.

Despite such frustrations, I must say I still have quite a strong level of positivity about the Tigers in their quest to make it on the big stage. Almost every player in the batting line up has scored a hundred in either a test or one-dayer in the recent months. Even when the score is 6/180, they seem to find a way to make another hundred runs. Mushfiqur Rahim has been brilliant and so has Mahmudullah.

Shakib Al Hasan is a very astute leader of such a young side who although haven't found a consistency of winning, have certainly found a consistency of competing with the best sides in the world.

If Bangaldesh can just be a bit more solid with their batting (particularly their middle order) and gain another strike bowler, I am confident they can do what the Sri Lankans did in the 1990s.

At this current point, Bangladesh are 6/292 in 75 overs in their first innings of the second test against England. If they can score over 400, who knows, maybe a major victory could occur sooner than we think.

Continued >> >>

Monday, March 15, 2010


The IPL Will Not Kill Test Cricket


It's a well known fact that the English believe themselves to be the rightful keepers of all things good and moral on this planet. The colonialists know best because, well, they did rule the world for centuries on end, no? Is it then any surprise that the loudest anti-IPL / India voices in cricketing circles originate from the old empire? Once in a while these ol' chaps are supported with gusto by their Antipodean castaways. To these lads I say, take my advice and jump off a bridge!

Mike Marqusee somehow manages to fool himself into believing that the a combination of the IPL-loving public, Lalit Modi and his franchisee mates are colluding to nail shut Test cricket's coffin and incinerate it for good measure, all so that their nest eggs can be zealously protected.

Seriously, who is Marqusee kidding? Modi might be crass, egotistical, nouveau riche, power hungry and [add your choice of derogatory term here], but contrary to his assertions and popular mythology, Lalit Modi is not omnipotent. Poor journalism and over-eager PR spin may result in Modi believing his own hype, but the nefarious workings of Indian cricket politics will ensure that no one man becomes bigger than the system. I'm not naive enough to believe that certain bones in Modi's body don't want a year-long IPL, but I have full faith that the system will never let fulfil his oft-rumoured evil ambitions.

For where I stand the real threats to Test cricket emanate from those in the establishment who publish results from poorly structured and statistically insignificant surveys or those who believe that the very essence of Test cricket must be mutilated to ensure its survival. Any guesses as to which passports these fine, upstanding gentlemen travel on?

Why do Marqusee's types insist on flagrantly bandying about their various inferiority complexes? Is it not high time that Marqusee's and Haigh's of this world "cut the hypocrisy" and accepted that the IPL is here to stay and that cricket is better for it?

Continued >> >>

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Michael Clarke - From Vice Captain To Australia's Second Most Powerful Man


I've done my best to resist the temptation to write about this, but I can hold out no more. With all the hypocritical, holier-than-thou and utterly irrelevant commentary doing the rounds of Australia's tabloids and broadsheets on this issue, everyone is missing the point that Michael Clarke's split with Lara Bingle is his version of Ricky Ponting's final pub brawl black eye moment. Clarke has confirmed his position as Australia's second most powerful man in-waiting after jettisoning the tawdry and dubious ways of Lara Bingle from the empire that is Brand Michael Clarke.

Peter Roebuck seems to cop more than his fair share of abuse ever since he wrote this highly accurate and pertinent, but now infamous, piece. Maybe it's because he isn't really Australian. Maybe it's because in his book a spade isn't a multi-purpose gardening implement, but just a simple, humble and honest spade.

Whatever the reason, Roebuck's thoroughly valid contention that an elite operator requires a highly understanding and supportive partner to reach and remain at the heights of their chosen profession, and not an attention seeking prima donna, has been lost amidst all the nitpicking about "restaurateurs" and "fashionistas". After all, did Hillary not take a back seat to President Bill? Did Victoria not look after the kids (admittedly with plenty of hired help) and leave her man to bend it like only he can for hours on end? When was the last time you heard Anjali Tendulkar's name in the press? How many people have heard of Sir Denis Thatcher or Brian Lynch?

It may come as a shock to the liberal and politically correct activists commentators of our day, but to be understanding and behind-the-scenes should not be confused with oppressed and subservient. The sooner we accept that relationships with two simultaneously high profile personalities seldom work personally or professionally, the sooner will we see this event for what it really is: a confirmation that Clarke has well and truly pulverised the proverbial fork in his way and has made a beeline for the throne that the establishment believes is his.

Ricky Ponting righted the course of his ship by admitting to alcoholism. Michael Clarke has followed in Ponting's footsteps by recognising that "beauty and danger have always been a potent combination" and ridding his life of both, at least for the present. In Michael Jackson's words, Clarke has clearly realised that "the girl is so dangerous".

More searching and tougher introspections and personal examinations from those on opposing teams will undoubtedly test his mental fortitude in the coming days and months. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to deduce that Clarke has probably dished out more than his fair share during his international career thus, now it's time to ensure that he does not partake in any ugly scenes unbecoming of his stature in the community and our game.

Whether Clarke is a better option than Cameron White as Ponting's successor is quite another debate, and one that will linger for a lot longer than any questions about the supposed morality or hard partying ways of an over-hyped, over-rated and out of work bikini model.

Can we get back to the cricket now, please?

Continued >> >>

Saturday, March 13, 2010


IPL3 - A Pleasant Surprise


The IPL Governing Council's Lalit Modi's decision to schedule the opening match of IPL3 in Mumbai, a home match for Hyderabad's Deccan Chargers, was potentially a bullet in foot move. Through the grace of god, or most probably a few thousand free tickets, the game was played in a stadium that was more full than empty. The question is, how long will the IPL continue to get away with such daftness?

Hyderabad, by all accounts, is still a peaceful place and far from the hotbed of tumult that 'forced' Modi and co to transfer the Chargers' home games to Mumbai. Would it not have made infinitely more sense to play the opener at the Kolkata Knight Riders' Eden Gardens, guarantee an authentic sell-out crowd and inject genuine passion back into the IPL after the concocted variety we saw in South Africa?

Is it simply an opportunity missed or merely the publicly visible symptom of another typically Modi-esque power play?

Credit must go where it is due (especially given the media barrage that most Indian cricketing crowds cop) for Mumbai (as always) played its part in providing what appeared to be great atmosphere for a great Indian innovation, as Gilly, Warnie and co have been at pains to point out recently. At least, that is how it appeared 10,000 km away on TV!

It didn't hurt that every impartial viewer's sentimental favourite, KKR, managed to pull off a seemingly improbable victory in a game that was as much about tactics, technique and mental strength as it was wham-bam-thank-you-mam. As Dileep Premachandran points out, if curators all over India could prepare tracks that provide a contest between bat and ball, IPL3 may just be able to prove that the IPL may just be a robust and bona fide entertainment vehicle full of genuine thrills and spills.

Finally, how heartening was it to see Sourav Ganguly back where he belongs, commanding the troops, showing the world how it's done and then celebrating like only he knows how? Just as it has been in previous post-retirement seasons with Warne, Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, my heart skipped an extra beat when the realisation struck that Dada's still got it.

KKR management may have been led astray during IPL2, but surely even they have realised that the franchise's immediate commercial success depends more on how effectively they can exploit Ganguly's polarising presence, than it does on how many matches the team actually wins.

Welcome to the new world order!

Continued >> >>
 
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