Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rankings and test cricket

A lot of people are calling it India's final frontier.
Ever since the Indian cricket team were ranked number 1 by the ICC, the expectations have obviously gone higher.
One thing that I have noticed about the present Indian side is that they are slow starters. Ever since they got the number 1 ranking, they have lost most of the first test matches of the series in the last one year. The one against Australia at Mohali was almost a loss, if it weren't for Laxman and Ishant's heroics at the end. They got rammed by South Africa last year at Ahmedabad and it was a similar case against Sri Lanka, when we toured earlier this year. The first two matches against New Zealand were boring draws, before the Nagpur match turned things around for them.
So where does this leave them in the series against South Africa?
South Africa themselves haven't been doing too great. They drew with a Pakistani team that is desperately hoping that they don't get banned from the international cricket arena; earlier in the year, they drew with an English side that seems to be getting better by the day and they drew with India in India. It's nothing to write home about, but funnily these two sides are ranked one and two by the International Cricket Council.
England on the other hand are actually playing like a number 1 side. They have been consistently good; have been playing competitive cricket and are no longer the whiners that they were. It's almost like role reversal when I see them in the Ashes today.
Cricket today is viewed in a different way. It's more about the T20, as Chris Gayle said, which is unfortunate. Thankfully, you still have packed stadiums during an England and Australia match and Indians have colonized the world, so even if India were playing Zimbabwe in a test match tomorrow, there would be a decent crowd present.
I'm looking forward to this test series. India's fast bowlers have always done well abroad. Hell, someone like Venkatesh Prasad managed a 10 wicket haul against South Africa in 1997, so it'll be no surprise (unless of course, they decide to bowl like shit) that these guys do well.
My only concern is about the batsmen. They've done well in Australia, England and NZ, but South Africa has always been a problem. Hopefully, they rectify this problem.
As for England, let's just hope that there is a time that they have a test tri series between England, India and South Africa before the rankings take a whole new turn.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Australian Phoenix

We're two test matches down in the Ashes and England has the psychological advantage going into the third test.
England have been playing really good cricket off late. They drew a series in South Africa; they did well against Pakistan at home and they even won their first international tournament in the form of the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.
Although this may be the end of Ponting's career, Australia
will be back to the top of the summit sooner than later
Australia on the other hand have been on a downward spiral. Several of their best players retired at the same time, making their shoes hard to fill. Their captain is woefully out of form and their vice captain is batting like a cunt. Even that 80 was a piece of shit innings. He has batted better than that and he knows it. Hussey is doing a good job in the middle, but he needs to convert those 50s into larger scores.
The bowling is rubbish.
Siddle is good in bursts; Harris is good, but very unlucky; Johnson and Bollinger are inconsistent; Watson is a bits and pieces bowler and batsman, come to think of it and there is nobody in the side as a specialist spinner.
I heard someone tell me today that this is like the decline of the great West Indies.
But I disagree.
Australia may be playing like crap now, but they've always been a side to rise from the Ashes. I still maintain that they have a chance of reaching the final four of the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent. I will not rule them out of anything.
Let's face it: I watch cricket because of this side and the way they've played the game over the years. They've played it tough. Yes, it's been dirty at times, but it's been tough cricket. They never say die and although they may lose this tournament and Ricky Ponting, in the process, they'll be back on the top of their game by 2015, if not earlier.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A cricket ramble

The India-NZ series has begun.
I had wanted to write a number of things between India-Australia getting over and this one beginning, but unfortunately time wasn't on my side.
New Zealand looks crap at the moment. They lost to Bangladesh, which is like getting a bamboo shoved up your posterior without any lubricant applied to it.
And on day one of the first test match at Ahmedabad, which has one of the shittiest pitches that I've see, they get raped by Sehwag and Dravid.
I love Dravid, but he's been playing rubbish off late, so getting a century was good for him and I'm happy that he did.
However, I was happier when he got that 70-odd against Australia.
Let's face it. We may all hate the Australians under Ponting and Clarke, but you have to accept the fact that they play tough cricket, whether they win or lose.
They're currently getting screwed by Sri Lanka at home, which probably makes England excited about their chances to regain the Ashes.
But KP, surprisingly KP, made what is perhaps the most intelligent sentence he's ever said about the Australian side
But the beauty of the whole thing is that test cricket is alive and well and the Ashes should be fun to watch, as well India-SA.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan Royals is screwed. (Sorry, Shoeb)
Kings XI Punjab is fucked.
Kochi looks like it is going before it arrives.
And Lalit Modi could die.
Somewhere in the middle, Sunil Gavaskar runs his mouth about how he has nothing to do with Kochi and Anil Kumble discusses a career in cricket administration.
If that happens, I see hope for the BCCI, unless Kumble succumbs to the dark side of the force and becomes another administrative stooge in the larger scheme of the Indian cricket body.

Oh yeah, before I sign out, I dedicate this piece to Abdul Rassaq, who played a brilliant innings that day and was honest about his and his teammates position in the Pakistani side. "We play every match as if it's our last," he said. He is quite right. Going by the spot fixing and the beauty of the CCTV camera, you never know what to expect from that team

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The ass-kissing Sachin fan

Sachin Tendulkar. I remember one time when India was touring South Africa under Rahul Dravid's captaincy and Sachin wasn't playing the best cricket at that time. His average had dipped a lot and people were questioning his role in the side, calling him a liability to a young Indian side. But there was this one cover drive that he played off Ntini. The ball wasn't that bad, but Sachin touched it and it went for four. My uncle was watching the match with me and said, "Even if you hate the way he's playing, you look at a shot like that and you forgive him for everything."


That was three years ago and today Sachin plays shots like that all the time. He's been Bradmanesque and remarkable. We all know what he's done over the years and he had nothing to prove to anyone, but nonetheless he just went on like a machine on overdrive and produced century after century and now he's just three away from 100 international centuries.


The Australian series was tough. It could have been two drawn test matches, but thankfully it wasn't. Now with NZ coming down, Sachin should ideally reach his 50th

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The many meanings to VVS Laxman

Laxman did it again against Australia
You can't ignore VVS Laxman.
He can't field in the deep, he plays the worst T20 game in the history of cricket and he can't run between wickets in the 50-over format of the game.
But give him a test match - add to that, a test match against Australia, the transformation from Very Very Shitty to Very Very Special is evident.
He did it again and this time with a backache.
What looked like it would be a boring draw ended up being one of the greatest test matches of all time.
Who would have thought that on day one, when the commentators said that the pitch is dry and has no response, that we would get a result?
Who would have assumed that those criticising the pitch on the first three days, when both Australia and India piled over 400 runs, that they would have this as a result?
We owe it to a lot of people for giving us a great test match. Laxman, for one. Ishant for bowling like a madman in the second innings and batting like a veteran in India's chase.
We owe it to Billy Bowden for his rubbish umpiring in a time of chaos. We can never say which was worse: his declaring Ishant out or his declaring Ojha not out. It'll always be a mystery that will elude us.
But we owe it to the game. Test cricket is still alive and kicking and hopefully, Bangalore will also see cricket chaos.
But this is about VVS. As my friend Ipsit says, "A penny for your thoughts on our old friend VVS's tendency to fart around scoring the odd 50 or 100 here and there...and then comprehensively gang-raping the Aussies every two years to ensure that he gets to fart around undisturbed until the next Aussie series."

Friday, September 17, 2010

In the 'Spot'light

I don’t know why I never wrote about the spot fixing issue. I had accepted the fact that throwing away a match for the sake of a few million dollars was something that the game had to accept – perhaps even legalize. So when I was asked on Twitter why I hadn’t written about the Champion’s League T20, I didn’t know what to say. I told the guy that I’d probably club spot fixing with the tournament and make it some a crazy rant of a frustrated cricket fan.
I remember my brother and I discussing Mohammed Aamir when he played the series in Australia. He was a tall, lanky, teenage kid who could bowl consistently at 90 mph – a sight that is regular in Pakistan cricket. He said that the kid looked excellent. And both of us said that he’ll probably throw some matches away. What we didn’t know was that he’d do it so early in his career.
You look at the Pakistani side and wonder why these guys are a bunch of talented, but directionless kids. They had an Imran, who is probably Pakistan’s greatest captain. But after that, they’ve had nobody. There have been busts of brilliance like they showed in the 1999 World Cup, a few Sharjah tournaments and whenever they’ve played India, but what is the other good that has come out of the side? If there isn’t match fixing, there is division within the team over religious differences.
Now if I drew parallels with the current Indian side, I wouldn’t call most of the players our team the best of role models, but I know one thing is certain: they won’t throw away a match. Not for anything else. Like Sunil Gavaskar said in an article recently, the stakes are too high for an Indian player in case he’s caught. The media will destroy him before the court does; the advertisers will take away his endorsements and his IPL contract will get terminated. The last two, of course, is more money than what the Pakistani cricketer would ever dream of even in a spot fixing case. There could be a one-off player who may be involved, like the recent report suggests, but I wouldn’t think it’s one of the bigger names in the country. It sounds more like a Grade C-level player.
Pakistan’s role in this spot fixing controversy has ‘tarnished the nation’, according to Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani. But still there seems to be no improvement in the situation. Asif is seeking asylum in the United Kingdom; Aamir is being pitied and labeled as the kid who was in wrong company. Initially, I came from that school of thought, but now I feel that if he’s 19 years old, he is an adult and is free to know the difference between who is a good friend and who is not. Bottom like, if he’s guilty, he should be banned. I’d feel sorry that a great talent went to waste.

What I find incredible is that these investigations have brought out a lot of murk about the IPL. It already looked shady when you’d see all the players going for after-match parties. And now, you have this.
So I find it ridiculous that the CL-T20 is even happening. Funnily, unlike the IPL, which I would watch at my old office with other colleagues, I don’t know or care what’s happening here. I’m not reacting to a Mumbai Indians loss or a Chennai Win. I don’t know who is in the XI of each side and only look up things because of a client we operate for at work, which wants Champion’s League quizzes and player profiles.
However, I think I’ll start watching the test series against SA whenever it begins. It should be fun, I hope. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rankings and rants

The Dambulla stadium is Sri Lanka's Sharjah
Before the Asia Cup began, Aakash Chopra said that India will be playing Sri Lanka for the millionth time this year. It was casually mentioned on Twitter, but I think it was retweeted several times. And why not?
Right now, I'm bored of watching the Tri-Series. I follow the game on CricInfo, but that is also limited. I'd rather follow the score for the England-Pakistan test match, which looks to be another good game of cricket.
Dambulla has become the Sharjah of Sri Lankan cricket. Every limited over or T20 game played in Sri Lanka seems to be in Dambulla. Again...it's understandable, as it is probably the only sporty wicket Sri Lanka has, considering their rubbish test match wickets.
So how do two teams deal with strategy when they meet each other so often in a year? It eventually comes down to luck on who wins the toss in the shorter version of the game. In the longer version, especially in the subcontinent, you need to bat first, put up a total of 600-plus and play out a draw. Unless of course, you're Virender Sehwag, who decides to make 288 in a day.
The boards need to be criticized for this. They schedule so many matches with the same side during the year, that most of the players find it hard to adjust to alien conditions when they play in countries like Australia and South Africa. India's record abroad has improved over the last few years, but it's still a long way from giving us the Number 1 test ranking. We're good, I agree, but we need to be more consistent.
I tend to agree with Kumara Sangakkara about the ICC rankings. If we play in subcontinent-like conditions throughout the year, barring a series abroad, then on what basis are we judged? India has been doing well in tests, but its ODI and T-20 (which I don't even count as proper cricket), haven't been the best in a while. Yet we're number 2 in the ODI rankings. The biggest tournament that we won in the last three years is the VB Series in Australia, which was three years ago. We haven't reached the semi-final of any major tournament involving all the cricket playing nations in the last two years.
My only theory is that since we play so much cricket, the probability of us winning more matches is greater. It's probably why the BCCI decided to work on the test itinerary for 2010, fearing that India would lose the Number 1 ranking. More matches played means the probability of more wins. Thus the ranking. If that is the case, then the ICC has some serious rethinking and restructuring to do.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why is Pakistan playing test cricket?

I can picture a scenario where Salman Butt tells his batsman, "Come soon. I'll see you before lunch!"
Right now, the Pakistani batsmen are playing shit.
I don't think there's anything else to describe their game right now.
And the funny thing is that people were after Bangladesh's throats when they would consistently lose to sides all over the world.
Pakistan is doing pretty much the same thing. In fact, they're playing worse than Bangladesh right now. It's ridiculous because James Anderson is taking 10-wicket hauls. That's just wrong.
I'd understand if Graham Swann or Graham Onions did something like that, but Anderson?
Even Broad seems to be bowling well.
For England's sake, I hope they don't take this victory as overconfidence during the Ashes. Although Australia isn't playing their best cricket, it's a home series for them and that will always work in their favour.
But Pakistan? They need a lot of work to do.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pakistan needs help

Like the Joker, the Pakistani team doesn't
have a plan. It's just plain chaos!
Currently Pakistan is playing like we did in the 90s.
Test cricket is about playing in sessions, they say. Pakistan plays like a team possessed in one session. They have a pace attack which I believe is the best in the world right now. Their bowling today is what Ambrose and Walsh were when West Indies started declining as a side.
But the batting is rubbish. It's even worse than the West Indies batting. At least they had Lara, who could do awesome things sometimes.
But these guys need a lot of working to do. They nearly killed the match against Australia and managed to win by three wickets at the end.
I thought that they would repeat a Sydney or a Sri Lanka in that test match, but they managed to survive.
Not in this one though.
It's sad because you have a side that bowls brilliantly and the batsmen throw their wickets away and make a mess of themselves.
What's different from the way we played and the way Pakistan plays now? At that time, we would play badly in all the sessions of a test match, so the whole world knew that we would invariably lose. Here, there is a shimmer of hope for Pakistan when their bowlers bowl like that. Unfortunately for them, the batting is too weak. Quite the opposite of the present Indian team that has a very impotent bowling lineup.
My brother and I were having a discussion when England collapsed in their first inning. He asked me, "How much do you think Pakistan will make?"
"77!" I said.
He laughed and said that they'll make less than 200
"We were laughing today about how they made less than 250 in the entire match!"
They're in need of help. Maybe Inzy should come out of retirement and take over the middle order.
Pakistani cricket is in shambles. It's crazy and it's retarded.
It's probably why I like watching them play.
They're like the Joker. There is no plan. Only Chaos!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Murali strikes back

"If Murali doesn't chuck, then show me how to bowl"
"Murali will complete 1000 Test wickets, but they would count as mere run-outs in my eyes"
"He is a Sri Lankan bandit closing in on a dream artist called Shane Warne"
- Bishan Singh Bedi on Muttiah Muralitharan.

"I saw some (of his) bowling of his playing days. He would have been hammered every ball had he played in the modern era." - Muttiah Muralitharan's comeback

Off-the-field battles are interesting sometimes. The football world cup had Maradona and Pele trading insults and nobody actually winning the argument because Brazil and Argentina didn't reach the semis.
The Bedi-Murali fight is going to fizzle out in a couple of days, unless Bedi says something so stupid (which he is perfectly capable of), that it may last a week longer than it should
What I find funny is that everyone is calling Murali immature for saying what he did about Bedi.
Going by that, everyone secretly thinks that Bedi is senile, which I'm sure he is.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Consistency in the time of chaos

It's been a while since I've written anything.
During this period, Murali took his 800th, Pakistan managed to finally beat Australia, Sachin and Uncle J-Rod have plans to release books filled with blood and semen and Mohammad Azharuddin is reportedly banging some badminton player who is half his age.
Suddenly cricket seems more interesting than the football world cup
Now, I wrote my last piece a few days before the first test match and since then, so much has happened, which makes the cricketing world chaotic once again.
In two weeks of cricket, despite having so much chaos, there is one thing that has been consistent.
That is India's fast bowling problem.
We have two guys: one a relatively new guy and the other, who is bowling shit. The rest of the crop are injured or learning how to bowl.
How on earth can a country, whose general population multiply like rabbits, not produce a single fast bowler, who can consistently bowl fast without getting injured?
The fastest bowler we've had till date is Srinath and he has bowled at 90 mph on a consistent basis.
The guys today find it difficult to touch 85 mph.
Okay, speed isn't everything, but these guys are bowling like a bunch of retards. It's like Intakab Alam's comments should be used on the Indian bowlers, now that Pakistan has beaten Australia
And we're the number 1 side in the world?
I agree with Sangakkara and Harsha Bhogle. What do we have to show to be the best side in the world. For a better part of the 90s, we depended on one guy. In the early part of the 21st century we depended on 2 guys batting well abroad and one guy bowling well at home.
If we win this match, it'll be a miracle. The best we can do is draw it, unless Sehwag does something maniacal like he did in the Mumbai test match and win it for us.
That will bring some chaos to a pretty consistent performance by India.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Muralitharan End of an era

My parents tell me an interesting tale. When I was a kid, my father worked for the State Trading Corporation (STC). During his stint with STC, he (which means him and the family) were transferred to the UK. We stayed there between 1986 and 1989. We came back when I was six years old.
We stayed in an area called Corinium Close in London. From what I remember, there were seven large houses and each of them was occupied by someone from the subcontinent. We had these immediate neighbours, who were from Sri Lanka. But at that time, I didn’t even know what Sri Lanka was. Only recently, when I was having a chat with my father, did he tell me that they were from Eelam.
Recently I read an essay by historian and cricket lover Ramachandra Guha about the Eelam struggle going to western Europe and how several refugees over there had played an important role in trying to attain ‘freedom’ from Sri Lanka. Guha then spoke about V Prabhakaran the founder of the LTTE and the reasons why several Sri Lankan Tamils joined his cause, which at the end of the day, after nearly 25-30 years of rebelling, has proved to be futile. Prabhakaran died last year and Sri Lanka can only worry about local leaders and the opposition for the time being.
In the late 90s and for the much of the earlier part of the 21st century another Sri Lankan Tamil gained a lot of fame. Unlike Prabhakaran, who resorted to killing and blasting people, this man destroyed batsmen with his guile. He never spoke much, but let his talent and hard work do most of the talking. It is this dedication to the game of cricket that has made Muttaiah Muralitharan the greatest off-spinner in the modern era. People will question his action and whether it was legitimate or not, but there’s no question that Sri Lanka will never find a better ambassador than Murali.
Murali is a once in a lifetime cricketer. Never again, I believe, will you find a guy who uses his wrist to bowl off-spin. As Harsha Bhogle put it in his tribute to Murali, “If it was the action alone, a clone would have produced at least 300 by now, there would have been kids in the streets bowling like him. Surely they must have tried; that they couldn't is a tribute to his uniqueness.”
I do a parallel comparison between Prabhakaran and Muralitharan and when you read this piece you’ll understand why. Both Sri Lankan Tamils, but one’s choice made his country proud and the other’s made him a wanted man.  Murali never spoke of the Tamil Tigers and what his opinion was about the liberation. He just went on doing what he was supposed to do and that was take wickets for his country. He never said anything when people questioned his action. He just went through a biomechanic test to prove that it wasn’t illegal.
He’ll be playing his last test match against India soon and the tributes have come from all over. And at the end of the day, whether you like him or hate him, you can’t question his commitment to the game. He probably has a better average than Shane Warne because of the number of test matches he’s played against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, but they’re wickets nonetheless. He’s taken criticism well (except when Bishan Singh Bedi called him a dacoit, which was completely uncalled for). Most of all, he’s taken Sri Lankan cricket to an all-new high. Without him, the side will miss a match winner.
For someone, who has loved watching the game, irrespective of the opposition, Murali is one guy I will miss. The action, the wide eyes and the smile of a silent assassin will slowly go away from the cricketing world. And nobody like him will appear for the next 100 years


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What does the ICC give us for its 10 years of match fixing anniversary? Sharad Pawar

It’s been a crazy month in the cricketing world. It’s been 10 years since Hansie Cronje confessed to the world about his role in throwing matches away. Heroes became villains and the cricketing world was in turmoil. Ten years on, with T20 cricket gaining popularity and the IPL’s success, there have been allegations of match fixing once again.I’ll be na├»ve if I’ll say ball-by-ball betting never went, but it’s done in a smarter way today. Paul Condon, the outgoing head of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit himself told Andrew Miller in a CricInfo interview that match fixing would never be eradicated. “Fixing needs really two things: a cricket match and the ability to bet on it. It is the most bet-upon sport in the world - no other sport gets close, not even horse-racing. The sums of money are phenomenal. You can have up to a billion dollars being bet on a single match, and in that respect, it's no surprise that a tiny number of players get lured into malpractice. The challenges that world sport now face around gambling, in a way, are similar to those involving performance-enhancing drugs in the 1970s and 1980s. In a way, it was never entirely overcome but it was certainly controlled.”
And in the middle of this madness, Sharad Pawar takes over as ICC chief.
Considering that India is such a cricket crazy nation, I’m surprised that very few newspapers highlighted the fact that Sharad Pawar is going to be the next ICC president. I read it on CricInfo myself and most of the newspapers the next day were going gung-ho about Wimbledon and the Fifa World Cup.
Now I have serious problems about Sharad Pawar taking over the ICC. I’m sure that the guy is an astute politician and a brilliant administrator, but his alleged links with Dawood Ibrahim isn’t what the game needs, considering that there are new allegations of match fixing with respect to the Pakistan side. Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has in fact gone on record to say that there could have been instances where players were paid to lose the series against Australia. We’ll never know the truth, of course unless someone’s phone is tapped like they did for Hansie Cronje.
There are allegations against Pawar and some may say that he is innocent until proven guilty, but I don’t see that working here. In 1995, a report filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs alleges that there was a definite nexus between underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's associates and Pawar. According to the report, Mool Chand Shah alias Choksi—a hawala racketeer also involved in the Jain case and "close to Dawood Ibrahim and gang"—had, on various occasions between December 1979 and October 1992,transferred or paid Rs 72 crore to Pawar.
Cricket is still the most popular game in India, but fans are more cynical. They love Tendulkar, but question whether the opposition was paid to bowl badly when he made all those centuries. They see India lose a final and question the integrity of the players.
A friend of mine, who was an ex-student of the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai did a report on the match-fixing situation in cricket today. She spoke to several people, including bookies and C Sridhar, the DCP, Crime Branch Chennai police, who all agreed that betting was still huge in India. Sridhar actually went on record to tell her that, the minimum betting amount starts from Rs. 500 and runs into crores. Most of those, who invest large amounts, are the businessmen. “As opposed to belief, it’s not the anti-social elements that place money,” he states.
But here, we don’t know the businessman’s history. We don’t know the kind of links he has. We don’t know why he’s betting so much. There are a million questions that we have, but there are no answers. Even the Bombay police, which has been busy targeting betters, can’t find anyone guilty today.
But we’re back at Pawar. There are a number of things that we have to take into consideration here, even if we don’t look at his alleged underworld links. Will his being president help Lalit Modi in any way? Will there be a new twist in the Lalit Modi-BCCI drama? These are questions that will be answered in the next few weeks.
But my biggest concern is whether his alleged connections will the underworld see their role in the game once again? I’m sure that they never left, but they’ve not been in the spotlight since Sharjah was scrapped as a playing venue.
Are there any good things that will come out of his becoming ICC president? In my opinion there is one and it’s a big one. He has asked the Prime Minister to reshuffle the cabinet so that he can balance his work. Hopefully, we’ll get a new agriculture minister, who can do some work.


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Monday, July 5, 2010

A new batting god

Sachin is the greatest batsman I have ever seen.
Even when I see him bat today, it's like poetry in motion. He looks solid. His footwork is impeccable. His timing majestic.
He is the role model for any cricketer in the world aspiring to be a batsman.
Umar Akmal looks like he's hero-worships Sachin.
I don't think that they have interacted with each other, but I'm sure if Sachin watches this kid, he'll be interested.
Going by current form today, Umar is the best batsman in the world.
I was going to give it to Hashim Amla, but he played like dog shit in the test series in the Caribbean. I could have even gone with Tamim Iqbal, but he's more like Sehwag, which is an entertainer.
So I'm going to say it's Umar.
He batted beautifully in his first series in New Zealand.
He bettered that in Australia by giving it right back to the opposition.
He did okay in the T20 World Cup.
And today, he proved that he can play anywhere by making that 60-odd score in England.
What I love about his batting is that he doesn't slog. It's brilliant, good, clean hitting.
And the kid's 20, so he's got a lot of years ahead of him, unless the PCB (and this is a huge possibility) fucks him over and leaves him holding a sticky wicket, if you know what I mean.
But hopefully, that won't happen and we get to see more of him.
He's probably the Sachin of the 21st century. He makes the runs while the rest of his team bats like shit, but it's too unfair to make that comparison. Yet I do, because in that way, he can fuck up against India.


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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wrong time for cricket to be played?

I've never been a soccer fan, but I've followed this World Cup. It's a first for me, but I've enjoyed the 22 men plus one referee running brainlessly around a football field chasing a ball.
I've also understood (or have I?) what an offside is in football.
In cricket, the offside is, according to Indian fans, what Ganguly is a master of. Personally, I think that's all he could play, apart from slow left arm bowlers, except for the end of his career where he proved that he can actually bat.
But this piece is not about Ganguly. It's not even about the World Cup.
It's about cricket boards from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, West Indies, Australia and England putting cricket schedules in the middle of the world's biggest sporting tournament. I hate to say it, but it's true. Football's popularity will always exceed that of cricket. It's probably because the game is brainless and the fans can create riot-like situations. Those have been seen in cricket as well (think Calcutta semifinals of the 1996 World Cup) or read the Wildest Tests by Ray Robinson, if you find it that is.
Asia I can understand, particularly Pakistan and Sri Lanka, playing cricket in this time. Urban India and most of Bangladesh (mainly because of their Bengali roots) are football crazy, but cricket still rules in terms of viewership in India. While Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad may sit for an evening drink and watch the match on a plasma screen, the smaller towns will probably follow the Asia Cup.
What I don't get is South Africa, England and Australia playing cricket now. South Africa is hosting the World Cup and the people rather blow the vuvuzala than see their cricket team annihilate the West Indies in the Caribbean.
It wouldn't matter if England beat Australia 5-0 in the Ashes now, thumping them by an innings in each test match. The Englishman likes his football and would rather watch Wayne Rooney slap a referee than Collingwood become the leading run scorer for England in one-day internationals.
The Australians don't care about soccer, as they prefer their Australian Rules Football, which looks quite similar to what the guys in the NFL play.
The ECB, SACB and ACB need to get their heads examined. As for Asia, who cares anyway? They can't play football to save their fucking lives.


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Monday, June 21, 2010

The unsung hero


When I was a kid, I have never had an opinion of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, except when he'd bat against India. 
At that time, I was a frantic Indian cricket fan. Not that I am not now; I prefer being a lot more objective about the game.
But after yesterday, I feel Chanderpaul is the best modern day batsman produced by the West Indies. 
Lara is overrated, in my opinion and Gayle is too flamboyant. 
Chanderpaul has stayed in the side since 1994 and has been a good servant to the game. 
He has no great technique. In fact, CricInfo's biography opens with 
'The possessor of the crabbiest technique in world cricket, Shivnarine Chanderpaul proves there is life beyond the coaching handbook.'
 But yet, again and again, the guy doesn't disappoint. He's still unbeaten on 153 and I don't know how much he'll make. 
He's been making runs consistently against all nations, but has always been overshadowed by Lara, Hooper and now Chris Gayle. But he's always delivered and that makes him great. Let's not forget that he nearly averages 50 in test matches.
Also, the fact that if he didn't sport West Indies colours, he'd look like a runtier version of my brother, has made him one of my favorite cricketers today.



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Saturday, June 19, 2010

India vs Pakistan

Despite the madness surrounding the FIFA World Cup, today the televisions were tuned into Neo Sports for the India-Pakistan encounter.
There's something about India-Pakistan games that unleash something in the cricket fan. Something a football fan can never explain.
There is tension, but there are no riots.
There are verbal battles, but there are no deaths.
There are riot-like situations, but no riots.
And the games are usually nine out of ten times, really close encounters.
It's the only time, I see players from both sides showing the potential to be superlative sides.
Pakistan, which off late has been really crap, look brilliant. The last time I saw this brilliance, was during the semi-final with Australia in the World T20. If it weren't for Hussey, they could well have been holding the trophy yet again.
But this is about India and Pakistan.
Where else would you see Virender Sehwag make 10 in 31 balls? It's unheard off on a normal day.
Where else would you see Zaheer bowl first change in a match?
Where else would you see Harbhajan Singh play cool and collected cricket and hit a six as the winning run in the final over of a game?
I'm happy that India won, but this was a great game of cricket.
I feel bad for Shahid Afridi, because he looks like he's taking Pakistan in the right direction. He's led from the front in both games and he looks like he can make a bunch of directionless boys into a winning unit.
I hope that he doesn't prove me wrong and the next time we play, we have an even better game of cricket.


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Thursday, June 17, 2010

All time WI XI

So CricInfo has come out with the All-Time WI XI
It's simple actually. You have most of Clive Lloyd's side from 1983-1984
Just drop Gomes and put Sobers.
I'd do the same for Haynes and take Roy Fredricks instead. That way, you have a right and left hand combination as well.
I could replace Walcott for Jeff Dujon, but Dujon's a much better wicketkeeper and this side has all the batting that it needs.
So here they are
1) CG Grenidge
2) RC Fredricks
3) Everton Weeks
4) IVA Richards
5) Clive Lloyd
6) Gary Sobers
7) Jeff Dujon (wk)
8) Malcolm Marshall
9) Andy Roberts
10) Joel Garner
11) Michael Holding


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Monday, June 14, 2010

My all-time India XI

I've been following CricInfo's all-time XI feature since they started the column.
While they haven't started an Indian all-time XI yet, I decided that I'd bring to you what, I feel, would be India's greatest playing XI.
Like I have said before, this piece is welcome to argument and I'm fully responsible for defending my side
So here goes

1)Sunil Gavaskar: I've never seen Gavaskar live, except as a commentator, but the thought of one of your
opening batsmen wearing a skullcap and a summer hat over it, ready to face the West Indian quicks, or Dennis Lillee or Jeff Thomson and making runs off them, would fit into an international side, leave alone a national XI.
2) Virender Sehwag: The perfect balancing partner for Gavaskar. While Gavaskar is the epitome of technique and grafting runs, Sehwag, as Steve Waugh said, believes in the KISS theory, which is Keep It Simple, Stupid. But the KISS theory has worked and Sehwag is the third person, after Bradman and Lara to have two triple hundreds to his name. What I wonder though, is the expression on Gavaskar's face if he does something stupid to get out OR hit a six when he is on 294
3) Rahul Dravid: They don't call him the wall for nothing. He's scored more runs on faster and bouncy wickets than he has in India, which doesn't mean that he scores poorly at home. He just averages over 60 outside the subcontinent, which is a fantastic record by India's best number three ever.
4) Sachin Tendulkar: I don't have to say much about Sachin. He fits into any cricket lover and non-cricket lover's dream team, whether national or international. His record speaks for itself and it would be any cricket lover's dream to see him and Gavaskar bat together.  
5) Gundappa Vishwanath: I've never seen him bat, but I know he is great. While his average and statistics don't look all that great compared to the guys above, I've chosen him because of Sunil Gavaskar. Gavaskar gave us this statistic in his book Idols that whenever Vishy made a good score, India usually won or drew a test match
6) CK Nayudu: I'll admit that I was confused between choosing MAK Pataudi and CK Nayudu, but CK wins because of his ability to bowl as well. Let's not forget that he could dismantle any bowling attack and his position at number 6 is significant because he'd be able to play the old ball a lot better. He is also my captain for the side
7) N Kapil Dev: India's first and last great all-rounder. Could bowl fast, could bat like a dream and could field like a gazelle
8) Syed Kirmani: India's greatest wicketkeeper. Many may argue that he's right up there, along with Rod Marsh and Alan Knott. Kirmani is also a useful lower order batsman, who can hang around and frustrate the opposition
9) P Baloo: Ramachandra Guha may call CK the first great cricketer, but after reading A Corner of a Foreign Field, I'd rate Baloo slightly higher. CK had the charisma and was popular amongst the Hindu fan, but Baloo always got the job done. A bowling average of 15 also helps him find a way into this side. And yes, he could bat as well
10) J Srinath: India's fastest bowler in the modern era. Srinath had two things to his disadvantage. 1) He spent most of his time bowling on the subcontinent 2) He was overused and had that took a toll on his body. But he and Kapil would form the ideal bowling partnership
11) BS Chandrasekhar: The madman bowler. Didn't know what his next ball would be. He was the destroyer of batting attacks the world over. He just needed confidence in himself to bowl that well. While his average isn't the best around, we know that he'd fit into this Indian side
12) Eknath Solkar: 12th man


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Sunday, June 13, 2010

The bowling partnership the world needs to see

It breaks my heart to see the West Indies play cricket the way they do today.
They have become a lot like the Pakistani side. Brilliant on a day and faulty on others. 
There is no consistency and for those who have loved and follow the game, their downfall is one of the tragedies of modern-day cricket. 
Having said that, there is one thing that makes me happy from this.
World cricket finally has a really good fast bowling partnership.
After Wasim-Waqar and Ambrose-Walsh dominated players for many years in the 90s and early 2000, it is now the turn of Steyn and Morkel to become the next pair of new ball bowling greats.
Now, the cricketing purist will crucify me for not including McGrath-Gillespie and Donald-Pollock in this list of great fast bowlers, but while McGrath and Pollock were great bowlers, they were not express. They relied on line, length, bounce and accuracy, which made them so dangerous.
Steyn and Morkel demoralized the West Indies in the first innings of the test match, but I still maintain that the best spell I saw them bowl was against Australia to Michael Hussey a couple of years ago.
It was genuinely quick shit and I had my heart in my mouth.
If you guys don't believe me, check this spell out yours





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Friday, June 11, 2010

Bad players of spin? I don't think so

I see the scorecard of the West Indies-South Africa test match. On a rain-affected day, South Africa are 70/3, with all three wickets going to spinners.
South Africa has the same problem with spin like India does with pace, feel several people. But yeah, they like bringing India's problem up, because our players are a bunch of brats.
Again, I speak of test matches because that brings out the best in a player.
And I'm going to bring out the same argument that I did when I defended India when people said that they couldn't play fast bowling.
South Africa have never had a quality spinner, just like India has never had a tearaway fast bowler.
Paul Adams, Pat Symcox, Niky Boje and more recently J Botha have all played a role for South Africa in the shorter version of the game by bringing down the run rate, but in test matches, except for Adams, the others have contributed more with the bat and Botha is not a very experienced test player. I don't think that he's played a test match either.
They have had two crappy players of spin: Daryl Cullinan then and  JP Duminey today, but apart from that, the guys have done fairly well against spin even in India, as Hashim Amla so wonderfully displayed on South Africa's last tour.
A similar thing can be said about the Australians. Experts say that they suffer against quality off spin, but they have only produced great leg spinners in Bill 'O' Riley, Richie Benaud and Shane Warne. The off spinner has always been a in and out guy in their side.
But again, this is a theory. And like I've said before, theories can be cut into pieces and I can be sent to the gallows for writing this.


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Thursday, June 10, 2010

After Yuvraj, it's Sreesanth's turn

So Sreesanth has been stripped of the Kerala captaincy.
We don't know why, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
People from Kerala are a firebrand lot, but they seem docile in front of Sreesanth.
He could be the Chuck Norris of cricket, if he wasn't such a moron. Who goes on record to say,
Everybody knows I can dance well and I can bowl fast too. There are only a few bowlers who can do that
Sreesanth is as talented a bowler as Yuvraj Singh is a batsman. Yuvraj is the best timer of the cricket ball today, while nobody lands the ball so consistently on the seam like Sreesanth does. But what's the point? Both of them act like they are bigger than the game, which is a tragedy.
India has dropped Yuvraj and Kerala has stripped Sreesanth of captaincy. Hopefully, they will put their egos aside and think of how they can better their game in future


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Monday, June 7, 2010

The brat gets axed

Once a cunt, always a cunt.
That's the tale of Yuvraj Singh.
I saw him in the under-19 world cup for the first time.
He was gifted and strong, but very cocky even then.
His captain Mohammad Kaif, on the other hand, looked calm and composed.
Let's not forget the 84 he made in his first ODI. When Ravi Shastri asked him what he had for breakfast, he snorted and said, meh, vegetarian.
Cunt.
Since then, Yuvraj has been a permanent member of the Indian side, while Kaif is trying to make a comeback by being part of the India A team.
Hopefully, things are going to change now.
Yuvraj Singh has been dropped. The selectors say for disciplinary reasons, as this picture demonstrates.
But it is also for the fact that Yuvraj is currently an unfit, fat cunt, who has taken his position in the side for granted.
Hell, even Sachin has never done that and he's played for over 20 years now.
Hopefully, the selectors do this to other fat, indisciplined shits in the Indian side.
That way, people in the reserves who are really talented can find a way back in.
And yeah, when I think about it, I don't blame those guys for going to the ICL.


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Friday, June 4, 2010

The comeback kid

I could write about how badly India played today.
But that's something I write about all the time.
However, I'm glad that Zimbabwe is slowly finding its way back into the international cricket arena.
I just finished reading A Corner of A Foreign Field and in it, Ramachandra Guha, on more than one occasion, stressed that when sport and politics go together, it can tarnish the entire essence of a game. It was seen in the days of the Raj, during the quadrangular and pentagular cricket tournaments, where the players of different religions and opposing faiths would clash. They might have gotten along, but the crowds most certainly did not. It was also seen post-1947. India and Pakistan have never gotten along as neighbors in the political circuit, but the sportsmen and women have made up for it. True that there are altercations in the heat of the game, like we've seen in hockey or in cricket, but at the end of the day the players are friends off the field, or so they claim.
While there is still turmoil in Indo-Pak relationships and the cricketers are barely playing, I can say this in writing that despite everything, the fan would die to watch an Indo-Pak game. Hell, there will be a packed stadium in Siberia if they played.
Politics also came in the way of South Africa's cricket. Their policy of apartheid resulted in them getting debarred from all sporting activity for over 20 years. Great players like Barry Richards and Mike Proctor could only make a name for themselves on the county circuit, despite dominating Australia in the 1969 series, which was South Africa's last series for a while.
A similar thing happened when Robert Mugabe became president of Zimbabwe. Mugabe won the elections in 1980 and served as prime minister till 1987. After that, he decided to take law into his own hands and made himself the ruler of Zimbabwe in 1987. His rule, people say is tyranny; some have even called it reverse apartheid. Several players, particularly the Flower brothers, Heath Streak, Henry Olonga and Pommie Mbwanga, migrated to England for a better life. Flower and Olonga, during the 2003 World Cup released a statement saying,

In all the circumstances, we have decided that we will each wear a black armband for the duration of the World Cup. In doing so we are mourning the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe. In doing so we are making a silent plea to those responsible to stop the abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe. In doing so, we pray that our small action may help to restore sanity and dignity to our Nation.

The duo had to escape to England and since then, the Zimbabwean side lost its focus and a lot of burden was left on the young shoulders of 19-year-old Tatendra Taibu. And credit must go to him because he captained, led by example and kept wickets. Unfortunately for him, the team had a bunch of players selected purely on the basis of the color of their skin, rather than talent. Just for the sake of minority, a couple of white cricketers would be thrown in. The result was disastrous, with the ICC finally giving up and debarring Zimbabwe from playing test cricket.
This was four years ago and thankfully for the sake of cricket, the side is slowly getting back to playing good, competitive cricket. Sure, there is no Andy Flower or Heath Streak and Mugabe is still going strong, but the players are showing that they are no longer minnows and are working hard to be better with every game they play.. India figured it out in this tour. For all you know, this could be a Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe final. And for the love of the game, that makes me very happy.


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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

India says no to Asian Games

Now here's the surprise of the century.
The BCCI has said no to India playing the Asian games.
I think I have a fair idea why they have said no.
It's simple, actually. When cricket was introduced into the Commonwealth Games at the end of 1998-99 (correct me if I've gotten the year wrong), India had Sachin, Jadeja and a third guy I can't remember as part of the India XI.
The rest of the side was in Toronto losing to Pakistan. They lost 4-1, if my memory serves me right, with Sachin flying for the last game and making 77.
He batted awesome in that match.
But he played shit in the Commonwealth, like the rest of the Indian side.
Come to think of it, India lost everything in that tournament or the matches were abandoned due to rain.
So the BCCI, according to that logic, doesn't want to look like a bunch of cunts if India loses to Nepal, Japan or China.
It'll make the loss to Zimbabwe more believable.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The tragedy

After watching Tamim's heroics yesterday, I thought that Bangladesh might just save this one.
Then he got out, and then there was a sudden collapse.
Never mind, I thought to myself, the lower order has never let Bangladesh down.
They have a number eight, who averages 42 in a test match.
That's a brilliant statistic by itself.
But then he failed and Bangladesh have given England a target of 160.
Strauss seems to have gotten the balls of a Tamim and he's gone on a rampage.
It's not as brainlessly brilliant like Tamim's innings, but it's effective.
And yet again, Bangladesh would have lost a game that they had dominated for many sessions and beautifully fucked up in others.
That, my friends, is a tragedy


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Sunday, May 30, 2010

From the failed ballad to a rock concert

When India played Australia in the T20 Cup, they looked like they were going to die because of the fast bowling.
I don't blame the side. You have Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson bowling at 150 k at your head, despite a helmet most modern-day cricketers would be scared.
But then came Rohit Sharma and batted like it was net practice.
He made 79 awesome runs, which Uncle J-Rod calls the Ballad of Rohit Sharma.
The ballad continued the other day against Zimbabwe.
No offence to the Zimbabweans, but if Rohit's ballad against Australia was Bridge Over Troubled Water, then the ballad against Zimbabwe was as bad as Unbreak My Heart.
India should not have lost that match. It was cuntish, overconfident  behavior that cost us the game.
However, today, Sharma changed the ballad into a sizzling rock star performance.
I call the performance Shoot To Thrill  


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A must read

I'm currently reading A Corner Of A Foreign Field by Ramachandra Guha. This is also the first time I'm incorporating an image into this blog and it's not a photo blog, which makes this post all the more significant, although the layout might look crap by the time I'm done with this.
But that's not the point.
While I'm not done with the book entirely, I'm not in a place to do an overall review of it, which is why I'm just raising a few issues regarding the way the game was played then and how it is now.
If you read the book, barring technology and the use of protective gear, the game hasn't changed. 
In fact, it has gone back to it's original form, with a few tweaks here and there. 
For example, the type of umpiring then. If a decision was given against an Englishman, he had the right to appeal against it. However, it wasn't the same for the local players, but despite that they wouldn't fare so badly. There was an instance of a match an English batsman, refusing to walk claiming that the wicketkeeper had dislodged the bails when he was actually bowled. Harris was declared out, but the media particularly the Times of India, which was owned by the English at that time criticized the local umpires and claimed that only the English could umpire the matches. 
Eventually in the quadrangular, there were neutral umpires for each game i.e. a Muslim would officiate a game between the English and the Hindus and the English and Parsis; Hindus would officiate games between the English and the Muslims and the English and Paris and so on. The ICC eventually changed the rule of one local umpires in a test match early this century, which is quite bizarre, considering that the Raj was okay with it in the early 20th century.
The book, however, mainly speaks on the Palwankars, probably the first great cricketing family led by Palwankar Baloo, India's first great cricketer. People of course speak of KS Ranjitsinhji as India's first great cricketer, but Ranji himself played for England and had always felt that the Indian style of playing the game was not the right way, in terms of technique. This is probably why Guha narrowed down on Baloo while writing the book.
The book on the whole is more caste and history that went around the game. There are no scorecards or statistics, except for Baloo's and probably CK Nayudu's. It's an evolution of the game to the religion it has become in India. Guha doesn't disappoint again, which is why I recommend the book to both cricket and non-cricket lovers



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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Good on Bangladesh

I like this English side.
Although they started poorly and are playing against bottom three lowest ranked test teams, they haven't taken their opposition for granted.
Unlike the Indian side, whose players deserve to be walloped.
They scored 505 on a fairly shitty wicket at Lords.
But Bangladesh fought back. And they've done a good job of fighting back.
I know it's day 3 of a test match and a lot can happen over a session.
I am also aware that the Bangladeshi side is known for batting collapses after showing that they are capable of playing with the best sides in the world.
But they need to convert these brilliant bursts of cricket to something more relevant, if they are to have results in their favour.
Right now, they are three wickets down, but I hope they reach a score where they don't follow-on.
England, of course, are living off their T20 high and have done the transition from T20 to test cricket quite well.
And yes, in Bangladesh's defense, they had a good home series against England, although they lost. They fought and could have won one of the test matches.
India, on the other hand, need to grow some balls and need to stop being aggressive.

Friday, May 28, 2010

India outclassed

So India lost to Zimbabwe.
As an Indian, I should be pissed and disappointed, but instead I am laughing.
This is the best thing that could happen to Indian cricket.
We know that our bench strength is full of shit, but losing to Zimbabwe is like a slap on the face.
Like Ayaz Memon tweeted, it's because of overconfidence.
I hope Gary Kirsten breaks their balls.
Freaking wankers

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why the Pakistan All-Time XI will fail


I read the Cricinfo piece on the Pakistan All-Time XI.
On paper, the side is fantastic.
But, in theory, the team will lose.
Here are my reasons why
Hanif Mohammad, Fazal Mohammad, Zaheer Abbas and Imran Khan will proudly don the Pakistan cap and play like their life depended on it.
But four players aren’t enough.
Rashid Latif will be blogging on RashidLatif.net on how his team players conspired to lose the match and will name Wasim Akram in the fixing scandal.
Javed Miandad will be speaking to Dawood Ibrahim to ensure that his name is cleared of all fixing charges that have been filed by Wasim.
Waqar Younis will get into a public altercation with Wasim when Wasim is acting captain, saying that he was captain after Wasim. So as a result, Waqar will bowl badly to show that he was a better captain than Wasim.
Qadir will try and bowl googlies, but get clobbered.
Inzamam and Saeed Anwar will be MIA and be timed out for praying too much.
So yeah, the team will be screwed.



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Friday, May 21, 2010

Dirty games

Before I begin this, J-Rod's piece on Pakistani players being mentally retarded is brilliant.
But after today's news, I tend to agree with what Alam said about the 'boys being mentally retarded'.
Since the match fixing scandal broke out in 2000, the cynic says that matches are fixed even today.
We don't know about player involvements because they've been smart since the scandal.
But then Pakistan plays awesomely bad cricket against Australia.
In the second test, they play brilliantly for the first four days and suddenly on the fifth day, Australia has won the damn thing.
You know that something isn't right and then suddenly Afridi comes out and says that he's heard of players fixing the matches, but doesn't have any proof that they did.
He even talks of some players checking women out during a game and then dropping catches.
While the world plays it safe, these guys go and fuck it up and get involved in another controversy.
It wasn't bad enough that nearly half the team is facing a ban for playing shit.
Now they'll be banned for life if they're proved guilty.
And yes, that takes an all-new level of retarded behavior to do something like that.
Suddenly getting genital warts and forgetting that you were married over the phone seem intelligent.
And let's face it: How the fuck can you lose this test match?
It makes India's chase of 120 and getting out for 81 look like intelligent cricket.


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The mother of ironies

There are ironies in the world.
And then there is Sreesanth speaking of seamers and focus.
In terms of talent, Sreesanth is right up there. I have never seen a guy let the ball land on the seam so consistently.
But then, with the talent is the additional baggage of attitude.
Prayers, folded hands, tears, break dances, slaps and other moronic acts are the things you associate with Sreesanth.
They overshadow his bowling performances in South Africa and Sri Lanka.
And here he is discussing focus and the importance of being disciplined.
"Focus is surely important, but again everyone lives their own personal life as well. As long as he knows the thin line between foolishness and bravery, that is very important," Sreesanth said. "If you have a mentor or someone is looking up to you, with so much of money and entertainment involved, if there is one coach or family member, who actually keeps an eye on the player and if the player is ready to listen to them, you are alright. If you are talented and hardworking, nothing should bother you," is what he has been quoted to be saying.
Now this the mother of all ironies.


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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The older man syndrome in Indian cricket

I have a theory.
I could be perfectly wrong, but nonetheless it's a theory and theories are meant to be proved otherwise.
Why did Sachin Tendulkar fail as the captain of India?
I wouldn't call him a bad leader. He did quite well in the recently concluded IPL - both as a leader and as a batsman. When he led the Indian side, he led from the front. He scored 1,000 test runs in a calendar year during his first stint, despite critics saying that he was out of form.
He bowled a last over against Australia to secure India a place in the finals of the Titan Cup, thereby saving Robin Singh's career.
I don't blame his captaincy when India lost 3-0 against Australia. Even Wasim Akram, who captained Pakistan quite brilliantly in the series before, fell short.
We keep saying that India and Pakistan played crap. India probably did, but at that time, the Australians were invincible.
So why criticize Tendulkar's captaincy?
The same can be said of Dravid's captaincy.
He started off well, but then Greg Chappell came.
Now, I'm sure that Chappell is a great coach, but he would work for a team like Australia.
For India, it's a big no-no.
My thing about Tendulkar and Dravid's captaincy is that they are ahead of their times, when it comes to Indian cricket.
So was Anil Kumble.
All three players are thorough professionals, but what worked for Kumble that didn't work for Tendulkar and Dravid is that Kumble was the oldest member in the team.
The subcontinent has a tradition of 'respecting their elders.' Kumble was no exception, which is why making him captain late in his career is probably the smartest thing that the BCCI has ever done. Sri Lanka had that with Ranatunga and Pakistan had that with Imran Khan. India had it with Kumble
Had he been captain earlier, he would have never played for India again, had the team done badly.
It's what has happened to Rahul Dravid. And Dravid has always been a bigger role model than Kumble, although I believe that both are in the same slot when it comes to being professional.
During phase I as captain, Sachin was the youngest member in the team and during Phase II, India was a shit team, with players woefully out of form.
When Dravid was captain, he couldn't transfer his professional attitude to the rest of the players. Dravid that way is very Australian in his approach to the game. There is a lot of hard work put in and the results show.
I'm not discrediting MSD's captaincy here, don't get me wrong. Nor am I criticizing Ganguly's type of leadership. Dhoni is street smart, while Ganguly was so self-absorbed that the team doing badly meant that he was doing badly.
It's also the same reason why their team does well.
I'm not going to blame the IPL for India's poor performance. I'm going to blame it on overall lack of discipline
But again, that's the problem with us as a nation as a whole. We're okay with being mediocre. We have a very talented side, but they are inconsistent and not very hard working. Dravid and Kumble were probably less talented than most of the guys in our team, but their hard work and perseverance paid off and they are respected the world over. Vinod Kambli, people say was more talented than Tendulkar, but Tendulkar's hard work paid off. The talent was there, yes. But so was hard work.
It's the same reason why he's been in the team for 20 years and players come and go.
So, like I said in my previous blog post, if India needs to achieve the same level of proficiency and consistency like an Australia, South Africa or New Zealand (I mention NZ because despite them having a shitty side, they are always competitive), the BCCI and the players need to seriously rethink their sole purpose of being involved in the game.


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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

BCCI and PCB need to analyze

I was going to write about Mark Boucher today.
But I think the Pakistan team tape story is one of the funniest I've heard in a very long time.
Intikhab Alam calls them 'mentally retarded' and a board member calls Shoaib Malik 'a termite'
I say that it's funny because when I think that Team India and the BCCI act moronic and you think that nobody can fuck up anymore, the PCB comes and says, "Hey, you cunts. Beat this!"
I don't blame the players entirely. Most of them are a bunch of talented, but direction-less kids taken off the street and given a chance to represent their nation.
They become famous overnight and think that they can do anything.
Like Anil Kumble mentioned in his article in Hindustan Times the other day while referring to the BCCI's role in guiding youngsters, I feel that the PCB should do something similar.
That is, if they have a bunch of educated people in that unit.
Otherwise like my brother put it, Shoaib "Genital Warts" Akhtar has a new friend -- Shoaib "Termite" Malik. they both used to play for the Pakistan "mentally retarded" team.
And in the process, Boucher, despite his wonderful wicketkeeping has been forgotten in my thoughts as well.


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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Clean and competitive cricket is back, but we can't see it

So I just read that Bermuda will host the Americas Championship
I like Beyond the Test World as a blog. It shifts the focus off all the players and gives cricket some popularity.
When I read about non-test playing nations play, my initial feeling is that it will be stiff competition because the teams are all in the same league.
Sometimes of course, they do something miraculous and end up beating a test playing nation. The best examples of that are  the Netherlands against England in the World T20 last year or Ireland against Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup and of course, Kenya against the West Indies in the 1996 World Cup.
But yeah, if given an opportunity, I'd watch this series because it would be clean. Let's face it Bermuda, the United States, Canada, Cayman Islands, Argentina and the Bahamas. You can't play dirty cricket with that combination.
There will be no media coverage and now intense fan-following.
It will be clean cricket in its purest and most competitive form


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Monday, May 17, 2010

NDTV and the match fixing connection

While doing a search on Mohammad Azharuddin today, I discovered that apart from NDTV other news channels have also been interviewing him.
NDTV still asks him for his expert opinions on the game.
In the defense of the other channels, they only interviewed him about his political aspirations
Only last week on the Big Fight, they discuss India's poor performance at the T20 World Cup. Expert opinions are from Azhar and Mandira Bedi, along with two other cricket experts.
I just got home to see Azhar and Mandira, as the show went off air.
And yes, Mandira looks hot with her new haircut and to her credit, she can have a conversation with people about the game, which is awesome to see considering how she was during the 2003 World Cup.
But then coming back to the channel, NDTV has a tendency to hire guys who have been involved in the match fixing scandal. Ajay Jadeja and Nikhil Chopra were on their panel of cricketing experts for a very long time.
Am I the only one who has noticed this?
At one point when news and sport's channels wanted brainless entertainment, they hired Navjot Singh Sidhu.
But then again, Sidhu's jokes beyond a point get pissing off and he's hired on special occasions like the opening ceremony of the IPL where he dances while UB40 sings "I can't help falling in love with you".
The only thing left for NDTV to do is call Wasim Akram and Javed Miandad on their panel.
While they have great records to their name and I've loved watching them play, I have a lot of doubts regarding their credibility.
When more than one player accuses Wasim, you know that something is wrong.
In Javed's case, his son is married to Dawood Ibrahim's daughter. Need I say more?


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Clark and Watson win it for awesome England

So England are the World T20 champions.
I think they deserve it and I'm really happy that they won it.
But they owe the victory to Michael Clark for batting the way he did.
They owe Michael Clark for running out Dave Warner at the beginning of the innings. 
Clark was batting like an idiot and was woefully out of form. TestMatchSofa announced that he should have been renamed to Inzamam-Ul-Clarke. In Inzamam's defense, he can hit the ball and is an awesome batsman despite the fact that he's obese and was cult leader of Pakistan's religious sect in cricket. This sect for a time, insisted that only fanatics could play for the team.
Again it was left to a Hussey to save Australia.
This time, younger brother David took up the responsibility.
He was ably aided by Cameron White (again) and big brother Michael (Oh no! Not him again)  
I thought that the way Nannes and Tait bowled at the beginning, Australia might just win it.
Craig Keiswetter had other ideas and tried to smash everything he saw.
While he looked like a jackass in certain parts of the innings, he hit out and was effective. 
He looked like a jackass when he got out.
Pietersen continued his form.
And it was awesome that Collingwood finished it off. 
Oh yeah, along with Michael Clark, Shane Watson deserves some mention for bowling absolute shit.
But here's a question: if this is the first coalition since the World War, how long will it take England to win its next title?
And my condolences are with Uncle Jarrod. England probably read www.cricketwithballs.com before the match began.
Of course, more than the English, I see the Pakistanis, who have settled in the United Kingdom celebrating tonight's victory.
The English fans will probably be thinking of the next club game. Fucking soccer 


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