Sunday, August 26, 2007

India's spinning strength

It was after a pretty long time that we got to watch two Indian spinners bowling in tandem in a one-day match playing outside the subcontinent. And as it turned out, the selection was a masterstroke. Infact it almost seemed to be the sanest thing to do. Maybe it did not happen much in recent times due to the lack of some good spinners. But now, I am pretty sure Romesh Powar and Piyush Chawla are going to feature in the Indian team for a long time to come.

Piyush Chawla was very successful in outwitting the batsman on more than a few occasions and Romesh Powar's control was absolutely awesome to watch. Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble have finally got competition. Whatever happens in the next match, one thing is for sure: India will once again go in with two spinners whatever the pitch report might be like.

So the India-England series is now level at 1-1. Still, though India got 329(and that is huge) and won the match by 9 runs, there is still that feeling of inadequacy.

For starters, the fact that we allowed England to get so close to the target of 330 even after having gotten them on the mat at 240-7 is a shame. Then there is the pathetic fielding and catching which still remains to be the haunting ghost for India. Wonder what Robin Singh, the fielding coach, is upto. As far as I can see there is no obvious improvement in the fielding at all. No diving stops in the outfield and no extra efforts to stop the extra run. And ofcourse catches continue to go down by the dozen.

There are 5 more matches to go and to beat this England team(as unpredictable as their Indian counterparts) and take the series is surely going to take a lot more than what the cricketers did in this match.

And surely Dhoni needs to be coming before Yuvraj Singh. He takes a lot more time to settle down than any other player and it would in India's best interests if he can get some balls to play off quietly, for, after that, he can be very explosive. He should be coming in at No.4 with Dravid at 3 and Yuvraj at 5. Some food for thought there for the think-tank.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Bizarre moments

Something very strange and uncharacteristic happens every now and then in cricket that makes us sit up and take notice. One such incident happened during the first one-dayer in the India-England series that is in progress right now.

Sachin Tendulkar was batting and I don't remember who was bowling but the bizarre part happened when the ball neatly hit his stumps yet the bails remained rooted to their spot. They did not budge an inch!

And since the cricketing rules say that the bails need to be dislodged for a batsman to be declared out, Sachin was not out. Damn lucky and damn bizarre!

Here's the video. You can clearly see the ball hitting the batsman's stumps. Thanks to Amit for having uploaded the video.

And while you are at it here is another video I managed to rummage from Youtube showing various previous instances where the bails fail to come off inspite of the ball actually hitting the wickets (look from the 30 seconds position to 1 minute 30 seconds of the video). On one occasion the bails even jump up in the air but manage to settle back onto the stumps. The batsman was declared not-out. But you can clearly hear the commentator asking 'Isn't that out?' since the bails were actually dislodged before they settled back.

Truly bizarre. There is just so much that can happen in cricket. It is a beautifully complicated game.


Couldn't agree more with Javed Miandad

Javed Miandad was a great player in his times. He can also talk some crazy stuff at times, but this time I think his observations on the 'ICL - National Cricket boards' rift are spot on when he says:
"I don't think this policy of banning players is going to work practically. Since the ICL is not something which the governments have objected to, I think any player can go to court and challenge any ban on him to play in and for his country.

The International Cricket Council and its member boards need to take the ICL seriously. Because it has the potential like the Kerry Packer series to snowball into something big.

Every player has to look to his future and security. In Pakistan there is no financial security for your retirement days."

The ICL does pay big money which the cricket boards cannot match and so it is only logical that most players will consider themselves fortunate to be even approached by the league.

Inzamam-ul Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Abdur Razzaq and Imran Farhat are players who have already given the nod to the ICL and more are sure to follow. Banning all of them would not be too practical, would it?

So, it should only be a matter of time before the boards should start considering shedding their confrontational attitude towards the ICL.

I am sure the boards realize it too. They are defeated. Only a matter of how long their ego will hold up now.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Just one of those days, hopefully

Everybody was pretty sure England would be no good in the one-day series and that India would run away with the trophy by a fat margin. While praise was being showered everywhere about the Indian team effort in the test series and the intense desire to win that India displayed these traits seemed to have gone on a sudden holiday in the first one-dayer of the series of seven.

Rahul Dravid's decision to bowl first against England will be subjected to much discussion and debate just like what happened when he decided not to impose the follow-on in the Oval Test. The wisdom of hindsight tells us there was absolutely no swing or any kind of assistance available to the bowlers from the pitch and hence the debate. However, the fact remains that England were just too good for India and India just too bad to merit a victory.

Really, the only two batsmen who look capable of delivering very consistently are Dravid and Kaarthick. Though every other batsman in the Indian team too is worth his weight in gold, the haunting unpredictability is still a worrying factor.

That said, the English batting was simply superb. Cook and especially Ian Bell scripted truly beautiful innings. Totally, as Collingwood later said England played a 'perfect kind of game'. But then it is very rare that a day is 'perfect' in cricket. And so, I hope India can bounce back in this series in the second game. Atleast that will provide temporary relief if not for the more permanent alternative namely consistency.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The one-day series is here. Match on!

India tasted sweet victory in the test series which means that England will be looking for blood in the one-dayers. Meanwhile India have a lot to prove on the one-day front after that humiliating exit from the World-Cup. Freddie Flintoff, the all-powerful all rounder, is back into the England team and Yuvraj Singh, having proven his destructive abilities with the bat in past games, is back for India. All in all, one thing is clear. Both teams are desperate for victory and that, to me, seems like the perfect setting for a fiercely fought series of seven one-day games.

But surprisingly there are many out there who think England's chances are much too bleak. Infact I was shocked to read this article that says:
"India will expect to win the series by match five and perhaps as early as match four. Anything closer than a scoreline of 2-5 could be considered progress for the home side.

England remain moderate in limited-overs, and equally both their philosophy and strategy remain mysteries to many observers. It is a long way to the 2011 World Cup, and England will need every match and every minute. India, similarly hopeless in the recent World Cup, are no great shakes either, but an ageing team contains enough flair and nous to win comfortably."

I never realized England are so bad in limited overs cricket! Any team with names such as Flintoff, Pietersen and Vaughan can' t be that bad. As the article itself points out, India were no good at the World Cup. And if the Indian cricketers can shrug that debacle away and claim the series then why can't England do that too?

Remember, this is cricket. Every game is anybody's game till the last ball is bowled. So lets tune in to the action and find out what happens.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Indian Cricket League moves into overdrive

While the people at the BCCI continue to vigorously try and thwart the progress of the Indian Cricket League, the ICL chiefs themselves seem to be pretty busy going about gathering new recruits into their constantly increasing fold.

Hitherto, the recruits had mainly been retired players from around the world which made Sharad Pawar point out the 'futility' of the exercise because according to him people would not want to watch old players battling on a cricket field and would rather prefer watching some fresh blood doing the job. Well, Sharad Pawar better think up some other excuse to term the ICL as futile because the ICL has now shifted gears and seems to be going on an expansive recruitment drive covering not just young domestic cricket players in India but also players from Sri Lanka and Pakistan as well. As expected, this has caused quite a flutter among the respective cricket boards.

While the BCCI had already served a ban from playing any Ranji or International cricket matches on any player who chose to team up with the ICL, the Pakistan and Sri Lankan boards too have done the same with their players. Infact I am mildly surprised that so many from the Ranji arena have shown interest in the Indian Cricket League inspite of the ban. Clearly, that points to two things: there is big money on the cards and the pull of the Twenty20 format and just the thrill of being involved in something radically different is too much to resist.

To say more about the enforced ban, it doesn't seem very practical to me in the long term. Say, someone like Ambati Rayudu, who became the first Ranji player to sign up for the Indian Cricket League, blossoms impressively in the ICL games. Now, given that these games will involve high profile and high quality players a good performance will undoubtedly point towards some talent in Rayudu. In that case, can the selectors still resist selecting such a promising player into the International squad? After all the ultimate goal for the Indian team is victory, ban or not.

Infact, according to Subhash Chandra, the man behind the League, the main purpose of the ICL itself is to serve as a 'laboratory for innovation' wherein players can be tried and tested before throwing them into the international scene. So, will the BCCI ever start seeing the League as a laboratory rather than as mere competition? Only time should tell.

In any case, it will be very exciting to find out what the Indian Cricket League could offer to Indian Cricket. Go ICL!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Matt Prior's lesson

Matthew James Prior came into the India-England series as a shining prospect for England. What with him being the first English wicketkeeper to have scored a test century on debut and all that. Before Prior, England were desperate to find a proper wicketkeeper-batsman, a role which both Paul Nixon and Chris Read couldn't perform to the selectors' satisfaction. After the West Indies tour, where Prior prospered, England had found their answer.

And now, after a month of playing India, Prior is left looking like the dumbest of wicketkeepers. His batting in which the selectors placed so much faith was horrible throughout the series. Scores of 1, 42, 11, 7, 0, 12 is hardly what you expect from a wicketkeeper-batsman.

But his biggest sins were obviously those innumerable catches he managed to drop throughout the series. Dropping players like Tendulkar and Laxman can be very painful for the opposition. I doubt if he would have been able to make up for those dropped catches even if he had gotten a century with the bat.

Prior's story is one which would normally deserve some sympathy. Still young in international cricket, he could be easily pitied citing cliches such as 'burden of expectations on young shoulders' or 'he has time on his side and will improve with experience' and so on.

But then he has lost any claim to sympathy too, given his antics on the field. If he chooses not to realize that he is still a youngling when he resorts to hassling the batsmen from behind the stumps and if he chooses to put his own incompetence in the background while picking on the opposition players then the same excuses of being young and inexperienced cannot be brought up in his defence.

That lesson of giving respect in order to deserve any and of concentrating on one's own job rather than that of others might be the biggest lessons that Prior could take from this test series.

Something he could learn from Dhoni maybe. Dhoni was not exactly spectacular behind the stumps, but in contrast to Prior, he was atleast sensible enough to remain quiet there.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A forgettable match but a very memorable and famous series win

Victory! Sweet Victory! This is medicine for an Indian cricket fan after the totally disastrous and painful campaign at the World Cup(yeah, its difficult to put that out of your mind). The English will be cross that India have fouled their near perfect Test record at home by winning this series 1-0. A record that they have proudly held close to their hearts for a long time has been stealthily snatched away. But surely India deserved the series victory. This is what Rahul Dravid & co. set out to achieve and three cheers to the team for having completed the mission successfully!

Naturally, there will be talk of India having escaped defeat in the first match of the series at Lord's courtesy the rains which helped India procure this series win. And that is why I badly wanted India to win the third match so that the question of such talk could never come up.

But then Pietersen batted beautifully. So did Ian Bell. Infact England were so much better in the second innings that Dravid's decision to give them a target of 500 was almost justified. Some dropped catches helped too.

Still, it is disappointing that India could not secure a victory. I mean, when you have a first innings lead of 320 runs with almost two full days to go in the match anyone would expect victory, follow-on or not, late declaration or not.

The drawn match, however, should not be stopping us Indian fans from celebrating this historic series win. One that will be remembered for a long time and one that will take India that much further towards shedding that rather embarrassing tag of 'poor travellers'.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Sharad Pawar's claim

The Indian Cricket League is an "out and out commercial venture" says Pawar in a letter to Digvijay Singh, a member of the Congress party, who had earlier written to Pawar seeking to goad him into dropping the arms he has taken up against the ICL.

But with all due respect Mr.Pawar, just how, may we ask, non-commercial is the BCCI? You would only be fooling yourselves by proclaiming the BCCI to be a non-profit organization. We all know you are in it for the money. Could you please cut the nonsense and tell us the truth? Anyway, we already know it. Here it is.

The BCCI is disapproving of the ICL not because it is a commercial venture and surely not because it is only Twenty20 cricket they are promoting as Pawar wants us to believe. They see the ICL as a parallel organization that could prove a threat to BCCI's monopoly over the game. Simple.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Abdur Razzaq is unhappy...and why not?

Abdur Razzaq is easily one of the names in my list of favourite one-day international cricketers of all time and it is sad that he will not feature in the Twenty20 World Cup. He has so many times won matches for Pakistan coming in to bat in impossible situations and watching him smother the ball in Twenty20 cricket can only be a treat.

Now, the reason behind Razzaq's exclusion seems beyond logic to me and it does not help that the Pakistan selectors too have chosen not to divulge their reasons, if at all they do have any. Razzaq is, as expected, angry:

"If this is the way I am going to be treated after serving the country honestly and diligently, I should be the one now to decide when to make myself available for national selection. I don't know what the logic was. I am a senior player and deserve a phone call. When I was injured no one in the board bothered to call me up and find out how I was doing."
I think it would be correct to say that Razzaq has in no way over-reacted and his disappointment and anger is justified. The selectors and the PCB are caught on the wrong foot and I can only hope that they patch things up with the explosive batsman.

If things fail to calm down, Pakistan's loss might become the Indian Cricket Leagues's gain as Razzaq is apparently one of the players approached by the ICL and he is reportedly giving the offer some serious thought.

We'll have to wait and watch how this drama unfolds.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Anil Kumble steals the show!

As the 2nd day of the 3rd test drew to a close there would not have been one Indian player disappointed with his performance during the match. Infact, the day was such that it seemed like the Gods had decided that any Indian who decided to walk on the Oval ground would suddenly turn into a near faultless man. The English players must be very staunch Christians as they generously helped God's cause by doing their bit on the field by spilling catches, missing stumping chances, conceding an astonishingly high number of byes and generally being poor fielders.

The poor fielding only served to further frustrate the already hassled English bowlers on an unresponsive pitch against in-form batsmen. And all the Indian batsmen cashed in. Kaarthick did well yesterday. Laxman was pure finesse in human form and played some absolutely delectable shots before nicking Tremlett to Prior who shocked everyone by holding on to the offering. Tendulkar too got runs, though at a very slow rate compared to the others. And then there was Dhoni who came in, looked jittery in the beginning, tried to play some orthodox cricket before deciding enough was enough and lashing out murderously at Panesar & co. 92 runs was his contribution to the Indian total in lightning quick time.

But all those who thought Dhoni would be the top scorer for the Indians and there was another record that would be set with no century involved in a high scoring innings, were proved wrong. For, the star of the day, Anil Kumble, walked in inconspicuously and conquered the English bowling with some superbly crafted shots endlessly coming one after the other from his willow and effectively stunned the Oval crowd with his century making effort. Almost a flawless innings enhanced in stature by the unexpectedness. And when the fine, lion-hearted man with an eternally child-like enthusiasm for the game celebrated his century everybody who was a witness couldn't help joining him in earnest joy. What a moment!

Thanks to that effort the Indian total is now at 664. I was hoping for atleast 550 and this total goes beyond all expectations.

With Zaheer Khan removing Strauss early when the English 1st innings began, it is obviously advantage India. But a wary eye is still necessary. England do have some hard hitting quality batsmen and once the ball gets older, the going will get tough for India.

The 3rd day is bound to be a hard day for the bowlers and it will be interesting to find out how they respond. Will Kumble strike gold again?


Friday, August 10, 2007

Making the bowlers sweat

I must say Rahul Dravid won a great toss at The Oval just like he did at Trent Bridge. And now, just like the Indian bowlers responded impressively in the previous match it is upto the batsmen to come up with the goods and make an imposing first innings score. So far so good. You can't complain too much against the batsmen when the score reads 316/4 at the end of first day's play. But while its is nice to see all the batsmen batting with comfort, the lack of really outstanding individual performances is still a worrying factor.

It happened at Trent Bridge too where India scored 481 without a century. But that was in difficult conditions where 481 was huge. Here a first innings score atleast 550 is necessary to be able to exert any pressure on the English batting (the English line up of Strauss, Cook, Vaughan, Pietersen, Collingwood, Bell and Prior seem formidable enough to me on this pitch). And that means either of Sachin, Laxman or Dhoni need to stay put at the crease and get a big one.

Meanwhile, Kaarthick continues to inspire awe and hope in equal measures. The world seems to have forgotten his original profession as a specialist wicket-keeper and his flowing transformation into the opener India were looking for is baffling and at the same time a tribute to his dedication and unquestionable talent. He seems bent on fulfilling Greg Chappel's prophecy stating him to be a captain of the Indian side in the making. Good for him and for the Indian side. Whatever Javed Miandad might opine and however well Gautam Gambhir might perform in the tour games, this opening pair of Jaffer-Kaarthick should be kept intact.

And as Kaarthick's dream run continues, poor umpiring decisions continue to haunt Ganguly.
From cricinfo commentary:
79.5 Collingwood to Ganguly, OUT, well, the part-time bowler has made the breakthrough. The ball again nips back at Ganguly who is taken on the pad and a loud appeal is upheld by Ian Howell...but, oh dear, the replays show a big inside edge and Ganguly is unlucky. Collingwood gets his second scalp of the series, and both have owed plenty to the umpires.
That umpiring blunder not only cost India a wicket but probably a few runs too as Ganguly and Tendulkar were building up a nice partnership at the time. It is a shame that such incidents should occur that take the spotlight away from the action on the field. Maybe it is time the ICC started making some changes. Like tennis, we could have the batsmen appealing against umpiring decisions with a maximum quota of appeals per team in a match. Because, Ganguly was, I am sure, pretty aware of the edge and in such cases where the batsman has seen more than the umpire an appeal system could greatly help.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Preparations on for the Twenty20 Cup

The first ever Twenty20 World Cup is fast approaching. Not knowing what to expect at an international level from this radically new format of the game, I guess the players should be as excited as us fans.

Especially in the Asian countries where Twenty20 has not really caught on as it has elsewhere, the selectors are having a tough time stitching together a team that they feel would be optimal for the shortened version. Former players and cricket columnists are freely voicing their disappointment with the selections. Kamran Abbasi wonders here why Mohammad Yousuf and Abdur Razzaq have been left out of Pakistan's Twenty20 squad.

Pakistan's squad for the Twenty20 World Cup: Shoaib Malik(capt), Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar, Yasir Arafat, Abdul Rehman.

As far as the Indian team is concerned, though drenched and dripping in unwanted media-cooked controversy, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly could not have made a better decision than opting out of the Twenty20 World Cup. Twenty20 is obviously as much about aggression and some unorthodox badgering as about 'getting the basics right'. While Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar seem to have mellowed down with time, Rahul Dravid has never been of the explosive variety. And as such it would only be wise to have some exciting young blood in the Twenty20 squad. However, given the way the Indian selectors have always backed players by reputation than playing form, I doubt if they would have left out the trio had they not pulled out voluntarily.

Anyway, with the big three gone, Dhoni, not very unexpectedly, is the captain of the Twenty20 squad. Dilip Vengsarkar, the Chairman of selectors, thinks Dhoni is good 'captaincy material'. Captaincy material or not, it is going to be a tough job for him.

The Indian squad for the Twenty20 World Cup: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt), Yuvraj Singh (VC), Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Joginder Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Piyush Chawla, S. Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Rohit Sharma.

Sri Lanka meanwhile have their team ready too.

The Lankan squad for the Twenty20 World Cup:
Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chamara Silva, Chaminda Vaas, Farveez Maharoof, Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Hasantha Fernando, Gayan Wijekoon, Kaushal Lokuarachchi, Jehan Mubarak.

That is a very strong and well balanced looking team. Runners up at the ICC World-Cup, the Lankans seem to be worthy contenders for the Twenty20 cup too.

I hope Australia don't run away with it this time.


The finale is on

The 3rd and final Test encounter between India and England starts today and I can't wait to savour the intense action in store! Already there has been lots happening in this series with England almost winning the first match and India, amidst some controversial incidents, claiming the second one with some ease. The bowlers have rocked the party for most of the series so far and going by what is being said about the Oval pitch being less assisting to the seamers than Lord's and Trent Bridge, it ought to be time that we started seeing some serious runs being scored.

With confirmation of Kevin Pietersen's fitness, England will field the same side as in the second test and in all probability, inspite of many other options making themselves available, India too will do the same.

Vaughan and Dravid have their tasks cut out. Both have enjoyed some heavy scoring at the Oval in the past and both will be looking forward to repeating their earlier feats at the ground while hoping that the other doesn't. Vaughan looked superb at Trent Bridge and while I wouldn't mind watching him in full flow, I certainly would if it happened in this match.

Dravid's biggest task would be to try and keep his players' feet firmly rooted on the ground. We wouldn't want the players to get carried away by the success at Trent Bridge and end up losing this one as has so often happened in the past. Of course Dravid knows that and his comments in the press make it clear that he has already set his mind on doing just that. This is apparently what he said:
“I have challenged my boys to repeat what they did at Trent Bridge. It takes a lot to win Test matches and a lot more to win a Test series."
True. We know this Indian team has what it takes to win a test match playing against England in England. Lets see if this Indian team has what it takes to go further and bring home a series win. Sure, it will not be easy. The English are playing some good cricket. And that is exactly what makes the battle one to be looked forward to.

All eyes on the Television sets please.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A slew of options

A practice match is normally seen as an oppurtunity for the selectors to try out new players and do some mixing and matching to come out with the best combination. In other words practice matches are supposed to provide answers to selection issues. But then the irony lies in the fact that almost everytime practice matches end up throwing in more choices and hence causing more dilemma among the selectors. And this time is no different.

For starters, the India-Sri Lanka 'A' match has ensured that the Yuvraj-Laxman tussle will again surface. While Laxman is surely the finer player among the two, his case is not helped by some very ordinary batting (14 & 3) in the match. Add to that Yuvraj's comparatively better performance (15* & 33) and it becomes obvious that Yuvraj's case has gathered more muscle.

The other question that will surely re-present itself is Dhoni's retention. One big argument in favour of persisting with Dhoni, inspite of his poor showing throughout this series, was that it would be taxing on Dinesh Kaarthick to double up as an opening batsman while also doing the job of a wicketkeeper. While it is still unlikely that Dhoni will be left out for the 3rd match, Gautam Gambhir's highly impressive performance (67 retired & a face-saving 53*) in the tour game will work towards bringing down the degree of unlikeliness because Gambhir is now a tempting choice for the slot of opening batsman thereby allowing Kaarthick to be pushed down.

Also, owing to the fiver that he managed to grab, Ranadeb Bose's candidature will also have to be taken seriously. Besides, Bose has now given the selectors the chance to consider leaving Sreesanth behind and giving him some time to think about his misdeeds in the last match and allow him to set his mind right.

The next toss up is between Romesh Powar and Anil Kumble. Kumble is the seasoned warhorse with an unimpressive away record while Powar is the exciting spinner who also happened to do well in the practice match. Tough choice this one. But I will root for Powar.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

BCCI vs. The Indian Cricket League

Sharad Pawar, the BCCI chief is out of his mind. His comments on the Indian Cricket League have, sadly, been in poor taste. Used to performing political antics and provoking his opponents in public during the course of his long tenure in Indian politics seem to have rendered him incapable of refined speech. Kapil Dev is, as usual, blatant with his views and will not mince any words when he is putting a point across. He will also not budge an inch from his stand and vigorously refuses to be intimidated. The final effect is a useless, not to mention dirty, war of words between the two men in responsible positions.

Pawar says: "I can't see any threat from the ICL. Not many people are interested in watching retired players in action. Everyone wants to see official cricket, not the oldies. I see no reason for young players going there. Only those who play official cricket can represent India."

In retort Kapil says: "If the board thinks that only the national XI can attract crowds, then it should stop conducting any domestic tournament".

And all this is happening through the media. So sweet!

Now, first of all Pawar should not have made that statement at all, whatever be the circumstances. Second, 'Oldies' is not a very nice word. Third, why should the BCCI worry about the ICL being a threat at all? Isn't the BCCI an organization that is supposed to ensure the continuous progress of cricketing standards in India, apart from the administrative jobs? Shouldn't the BCCI be basing their opinion of the ICL more on what it can or cannot offer to Indian cricket rather than whether it could or could not be a threat to the BCCI?

My inability to comprehend the logic behind Sharad Pawar's remarks could mean three things: Either I am missing something here or I do not understand the functioning of the BCCI or Sharad Pawar himself has no idea what he is talking about. I take the third option.


A virtual Murali!

The Australians are seem to be bent on taking the use of technology in cricket to a whole new level. They are coming up with a virtual reality studio where batsmen can pad up and face virtual bowlers bowling at them from a huge life-size screen. From Brisbane Times:

Australia's cricketers may soon be able to go into a virtual reality studio during a Test match and "shadow bat" against the bowlers they are about to face in the middle.

Cameras will be set up to capture as nearly as possible a batsman's-eye view of the opposition bowlers, and relay the feed to a studio near the Australian dressing room.

Players padded up and waiting to bat will be able to rehearse their innings using images gathered from the middle, and projected life-size back into the pavilion.

If the system works as hoped, it will mean that a player like Mike Hussey can go out to face Muttiah Muralitharan having already got his eye in against him in real time, with the ability to replay deliveries he found difficult.

He could, for instance, use the cameras to polish his technique against Murali's deadly "doosra", the apparent off-spinner that turns the other way.

This is either crazy or just genius. The concept does not seem all that bad at all. Every time a batsmen comes in a lot of deliveries go wasted in the period when the batsman is 'getting into the groove'. If this virtual reality batting can work as well as it sounds the oft quoted adage 'the best way of keeping the run rate down is to take wickets' might soon become history.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Jelly beans, beamers and shoulder barging

Sreesanth went horribly overboard with excitement and ended up shoulder-barging Micheal Vaughan. The jelly-beans incident between Zaheer and Pietersen was silly and ridiculous.

There was a lot of chattering, jeering and provoking going on. And then there was that beamer(unintentional is my guess) that Sreesanth gifted Pietersen with.

Looked at individually, these incidents are in bad taste and totally against the sportman's spirit. But looking at them collectively in the context of the match and the series, these incidents also seem to have electrified the whole match and the series into an exciting, gripping and interesting battle between India and England. I can see the makings of a nice little healthy rivalry here that will only make the quality of cricket all the better. Wasn't it obvious that the quality of Indian bowling went by a notch or two when Kevin Pietersen came in to bat during the second test?