Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rahul Dravid: India's unsung hero

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I wanted Sachin Tendulkar in my all-time XI.
Now, I've changed my mind.
I love Sachin, no doubt, but I cannot count on him to deliver all the time. After the Lord's test, I'd rather depend on Rahul Dravid.
I wrote this piece on him in a website that is a client of our company. They will go Live on Friday and I'll be a regular contributor here.
So here it is:

Fifteen years after making his debut, Rahul Dravid made his first century at Lords. In his first match, he made 95, which is a sensational debut at the Mecca of cricket. But then Saurav Ganguly went on to make 131. When India played Sri Lanka at Taunton during the 1999 World Cup, Rahul Dravid made 145 in a ODI match. The score is excellent, but Saurav Ganguly made 183. In a ODI played in Hyderabad against New Zealand, Rahul Dravid made 153, but Sachin Tendulkar made an unbeaten 186. And in what is probably the greatest test match played last decade, he made 180 against Australia at the Eden Gardens, but VVS Laxman made 281.
Despite being second best in the scorecards, Rahul Dravid is the best batsman we’ve had for a very long time. People speak of Sachin Tendulkar and his records and his greatness. I agree with all of that, but if I wanted an Indian batsman to save a test match, I’d turn to Dravid.
Dravid finally got his dues in the 2002 series against England, when he was unstoppable. He was making century after century and the English had nothing left in their armory to bowl to him. The form continued when he went to Australia and made a double century at the Adelaide Oval to ensure that India beat the then test champions in their home ground.
Why is Dravid such a valuable asset to the Indian side? Reason is simple: he has always been comfortable playing second fiddle. He has never changed his game by watching Sachin, Sehwag, Dhoni, Saurav or VVS bat. He has been the Wall for the Indian side. As a cricket fan wrote on Facebook after Dravid’s century, Sachin, VVS and Sehwag may be the Gods of Indian cricket, but there is always a wall to protect the Gods. That is Rahul Dravid: India’s unsung hero.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You got to be kidding me...

The next time the ICC decides to ask people to take an all-time XI test team, the people who submit their votes should be subjected to an IQ test before becoming selectors.
No wait. That sounds wrong. I'm sure that most selectors are a brainless bunch of idiots. So I take back what I said. I'm sure that experts cringed when they saw the all-time XI. Geoff Boycott said it's a 'joke' and I agree with him. I'm no expert, but this is an insult to cricket and cricketers and their achievements in general.
So I look at this 'All-Time XI' squad and put it up against Clive Lloyd's West Indies, Ian Chappell's Australia  or Steve Waugh's Australia and I know that they will lose. No disrespect to some of the players in the squad, but the names raise eyebrows, resulting in the players themselves questioning the authenticity of the way this team was selected.
I am sure that people reading this blog will either agree with me or flame me. The true cricket lover will agree, but the guy who thinks that T20 cricket is exciting will probably flame.
So here's what I'm going to do.
I'm going to do a swat analysis of players I believe should not be in this squad

Virender Sehwag
Sehwag is the best opener in world cricket today. He's exciting, carefree and can destroy a bowling attack from the first ball. His technique (or the lack of it), enables him to play on every wicket across the world. He has centuries on bouncy wickets, green tops and subcontinent turners. He has two triple centuries to his name, which is incredible. He could be in so many all-time test squads, but then there are Len Hutton, Jack Hobbes, who are the purists. And then there are Gordon Greenidge and Barry Richards, who are Sehwag's with technique. So yeah, along with Gavaskar, whose game is similar to Hutton and Hobbes, I'd go for Barry Richards. Another option I've always had is Len Hutton and Barry Richards, which was also chosen by Tom Graveny in his book The Ten Greatest Test Teams
Brian Lara 
Lara is a great batsman, but I'm not a fan. On his day, he's the greatest. Unfortunately, that day comes rarely. The 153 I saw him make against Australia is the greatest test innings that I have seen. He was the only guy to reach triple figures in a three-test match series against Sri Lanka, while the others struggled to reach double figures. However, Lara for all his greatness, is flashy and inconsistent. In my opinion, he could have averaged 60 in test matches, but his early susceptibility outside the off-stump and his initial shuffling across the crease always got him out  

Kapil Dev
When you have an all-rounder like Sir Gary Sobers at your disposal, the other all-rounders, despite their brilliant records, don't stand a chance. Kapil has the wickets and has made the runs. But sadly for him, he isn't Sir Gary and he will be gracious enough to admit that himself.
Shane Warne 
Shane Warne is great. The greatest legspinner that I have ever seen bowl. However, he could never taste success against India. He had only one five wicket haul against them in a test series. Each time he thought that he could make an impact, but ended up failing. It's a tragedy, but it's the fact of life as well.

 Glenn McGrath
I love McGrath. He was accurate and consistent. He could take wickets regularly, but he could also be belted. Sachin Tendulkar has done that to him. So has Brian Lara. So has Michael Vaughan and so has Herschelle Gibbs. Also, he's not express, which we need in an all-time great side.

I have reservations about Gavaskar and Ambrose as well. However, they could be in another cricket lover's world XI, which is why I'm not putting them down in the SWAT list.

So here's my final XI

Sir Len Hutton
Gordon Greenidge
Viv Richards
Sachin Tendulkar
Don Bradman (c)
Sir Gary Sobers
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
Wasim Akram*
Malcolm Marshall
Denniss Lillee
Bill O'Reilly

* I debated between Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, but since I needed a bit of variety in my attack, I chose Wasim
But as for the original All-Time-XI, I'll say this again: Are you kidding me?

PS: I'm sure that there are names that have been ignored. Ambrose, Holding, Steve Waugh, the Chappell brothers, Imran Khan, Ian Botham, Sunil Gavaskar, Sydney Barnes and other great names that I can't remember now will probably fit into the side that faces my all time-XI