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Monday, January 29, 2007

Jacob Oram & Newzealand: Poor end-cricket or God's victims?

Why does it always happen to the weak and the meek?

Why do the underdogs lose most of the close matches? Isn’t it enough that they lose almost all the other matches. What was God doing yesterday when Jacob Oram was shining brilliantly at Perth? BusyJacob Oram, Newzealand Cricketer trying to dampen the spirits with some unneeded rain!! If the almighty had stepped in for the underdog, even if for a measly few minutes, Newzealand could have finally turned the tide. They had done everything else chasing Australia’s mammoth 344 and they deserved to win. Just that they needed a bit of God, and he was unfortunately missing from action.

Oram’s chase reminded me of a similar performance by Sachin Tendulkar against Pakistan in an unofficial 20 over match just before his debut. Both began with the odds stacked heavily against them but with some absolute breathtaking batting they brought their teams within smelling distance of a victory. But just when they needed a bit of outside support, it was not to be and both ended up losing.
(what I call outside support or God is what the expert cricket commentators refer to in a more scientific way as the rub of the green!)

And it’s not about just two instances - scratch your memory cells and try to remember some closely fought matches and you will know what I mean. Of the two matches between India and Australia that were decided by the thinnest margin of a solitary run, the laws of mathematical probability would say that both teams should have won one each. Unfortunately, both were won by Australia. Remember the famous tied test at Chennai? The test could have been won by India, but an Indian umpire erred in favour of the Australians.

Yesterday at the WACA, Jacob Oram smashed six sixes to complete a 71 ball hundred, the fastest ever by a Kiwi batsman. For around 10 overs, they were chasing an impossible asking rate of over 10 and they had almost pulled off the improbable. God had two ways of helping the weaker team – Hayden could have been not dropped on 0 or the almighty could have stepped in towards the end. He failed twice yesterday, and that was bad enough.

Don't miss a most interesting Cricket Quiz posted tomorrow(!!) on The Cricket Quiz

Saturday, January 27, 2007

India vs West Indies: Live Cricket through streaming video/audio on the internet

I don't get Neo-sports at my place and the first match of the current India-West Indies series was not live on Doordarshan. Since the matter is still sub-judice and you miss out on the live action or are working in an office without TV, you can do what i did...

Searching for streaming cricket video on the internet, i ended up with something less but still good enough. You may catch live audio of the India-West Indies cricket action on this Tamil Audio-Video site.
Click here. Enjoy!

Friday, January 26, 2007

India vs West Indies, 27 Jan, Chennai

This will be in all likelihood be the compositon of the Indian Cricket Team for the next ODI against West Indies at Chennai on 27 Jan 2007:

Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid,
Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Ajit Agarkar,
Ramesh Powar, Anil Kumble & Sreesanth

and we are just 2 months away from the biggest cricket show on the planet, and the deadline for announcing the Indian team for the Cricket World Cup is 13th February, just eighteen days away.
Is Dilip Vengsarkar and his selector's team really serious about the possibility of Tendulkar/Sehwag/Ganguly possibly not opening the Indian innings? Does a just-returned-to-the-team Saurav Ganguly really need a break? His being a certainty for the World Cup has less to do with his form than others being out of form. Why does Dravid not need a rest? Shouldn't he be the most fatigued of the lot? Do the Indian selectors have the guts or the gumption to drop Harbhajan and go for Powar? Will VVS Laxman miss the bus again, why?
Surprisingly it's the team which is 0-2 down that looks more settled. Let's hope that we don't let go of the confidence that has come with the wins at Cuttack & Nagpur. Indian cricket needs that, and for god's sake, some stability too. The time for experiments is up, long back actually.
Tune into Neo Sports at 0930 hrs GMT for the live coverage of the match ( or Doordarshan for a 7 minute dealyed coverage) : India vs West Indies, 27th January 2007, M A Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
Likely West Indies Team: ( as per Cricinfo)
1 Chris Gayle, 2 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 3 Brian Lara (if fit), 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Runako Morton, 7 Dwayne Smith, 8 Dinesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Ian Bradshaw, 10 Daren Powell, 11 Jerome Taylor.
A suprising tidbit: Till date, India has played just 5 one-day matches at Chepauk. That seems too few for an important centre like Chennai!! For the record, India has won and lost 2 apiece, while one game ended without a result. It's a high scoring ground, so you can expect a run-feast on the morrow. India's lowest team score at Chennai has been 269 and the Indian batsmen have a very healthy average of 32 plus.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Letter From a Cricket Fan exiled in Kuala Lumpur...

Hi Readers,
It's a good idea sometimes to generate a good output to input ratio. And who else to look for help but your friends. There is this bunch of us cricket fans who passed out together from this b-school in Ahmedabad, India called MICA in the spring of 2001. Time and Work may have separated us geographically, but CRICKET has held us together. Sankalp Mehrotra, who is now in KL, Malaysia misses being a part of cricket-crazy India and has now begun this on-mail series of cricket-trivia which he calls 5 ouncers. Reproducing a part of the first mail from my cricket buddy...

With nothing much to do at work today and with the world cup around the corner, I would like to rekindle the spirit of a challenge amongst all the estimated prophets of the “Armchair cricketer’s forum”.

There will be five questions that I will post on a daily basis. Reply to all…I will post the correct answers the next day with the five new questions. Pls avoid any inclination to look up the web for answers.
There are no rewards, only some additional nuggets of information that we might pick up along the way.

All of you are welcome to post questions as and when you like. An animated discussion when all of us can sit together seems like a remote possibility, but we might as well not lose the passion for a game which some of us “love to watch and analyze”.

Q – What is the Fremantle doctor?

Q – Sachin and Azhar played one of the best counterattacking innings by the Indian team in second test of 1996-97 series in Cape Town. Sachin was out to a blinder plucked off thin air. Who took that catch?

Q – What is an MBE and what was the context in which it was famously used recently on in a match?

Q – Who invented the flipper?

Q – Who is the only current international player to have been timed out in a first class game? He got is ostensibly

P.S. - No disparaging remarks are allowed from those who know all the answers. Suggestions to improve, the tone, format or whatever else is welcome.
The group has been prepared basis TOM recall. Pardon is sought for any notable omissions.
Pls do keep this forum going guys!!


If you love cricket trivia or cricket quizzes, do check out CRICKET QUIZ . Will keep adding my bouncers and Sankalp's ouncers there. Answers for the above can be checked at CRICKET QUIZ ANSWERS in a day. Happy quizzing.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Finding Players for the Indian Cricket Team for the World Cup 2007

In a few hours from now, the Indian and West Indies cricket teams will begin the first of the four match ODI series. With the Cricket World Cup just a couple of months away, both the coaches, Chappell and Benett King will have more than just the current series to worry about. While King & Lara would see the matches as good practise before the World Cup, Chappell and Dravid have bigger worries to worry about. With Indian cricket, especially the one-day team, in complete array, the Indo-Oz duo will be using these opportunities to sort out the team composition. February the 13th is the last date for submitting the final 15 team list for the World Cup and including tomorrow's game, they will have just 6 chances to get it right.
Sehwag is a notable omission from today's team, Pathan being the other. Yuvraj Singh is still to regain a sufficient level. Kumble has been rested. Chances are that each one of them would be on the all important March flight to the Caribbean - so 4 of the likely 15 will not be on show tomorrow. I'd also like to think that V.V.S Laxman should be there too, so you can actually make that 5. And this when we are just 23 days away from the ICC World Cup's team submission deadline.
Gambhir will be filling up Sehwag's slot - walking along with him will be ex-India captain Saurav Ganguly, back in favour after more than a year. The biggest enigma of Indian One-day Cricket, Suresh Raina is back - god knows why. So is the master of comebacks, Ajit Agarkar. I'm sure he has done enough now to wrest the crown from Mohinder Amarnath. Dinesh Karthick gets a much deserved place, though his biggest fans would know that even if he gets a nod for the 15, he may join the likes of Parthiv Patel who hold the dubious record for warming up the World Cup benches. Ramesh Pawar is also a part of the 12-member team announced yesterday. With Vengsarkar at the helm of things, and Mumbai back as the flavour of the season, he may get the nod over Harbhajan for tomorrow. It may be the right thing to do too.
Joginder Sharma, Robin Uthappa and Rudra Pratap Singh missed the cut for today's match - if the selectors are serious about them today, then they should each get a couple of matches. Of the others in the list of the 30 probables for the Cricket World Cup, Mohammad Kaif, Munaf Patel and Dinesh Mongia can also be expected to be given a look in. Unless the teams for each match are picked up from the World Cup point of view, I don't see how each one can be given a fair test. On the other hand, the Indian Cricket team's one-day confidence are at such a low that losing a series in India may be a fatal blow. Vengsarkar, Chappell and Dravid have more than a tough task at hand - for the sake of the blue billion, I hope they come out triumphs.
That picture on the top right is from the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground, Nagpur where the first match is going to be played. The Indian coach, Greg Chappell is carrying a board which conveys the morning's routine for the Indian cricket team.
Pre-breakfast: 1. Warm-up Game outside the square 2. The Problem to be solved 3. Batter/Bowler Specifics
After Breakfast: 1.Nets 2. The Colin Blands 3.Bobby Simpsons**
Meetings: Bowlers, Batters
**Colin Blands and Bobby Simpsons refer to fielding drills named after the Cricket legends.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

of Crickets & Bees

Cricket score-board with bee

News from the Cricket ground at Cuttack ( which is hosting a one-dayer against West Indies on 24th Jan)

One of the two priorities for the officials of the Orissa Cricket Association is to remove bees from the stadium!! The other one is more mundane - erecting up digital scoreboards before the cricket starts.

Source: Ashirbad Behera, Secretary - Orissa Cricket Association

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Michael Bevan calls it a day

Michael Bevan, Australian Cricketer in Indian Blues!I was quite fond of Ajay Jadeja & Robin Singh and Mohammad Kaif & Yuvraj Singh. They would never drive the crowds crazy with their superlative strokes, they just didn't have the repertoire of a Sachin Tendulkar or Rickey Ponting. But they pulled off something else, something far more important, far more romantic - a victory for your team. They got teams over the line . Like while chasing 245, Sachin would depart at a crucial juncture ( after making a well-crafted hundred for which he would be later given the MOM) leaving the match on the tenterhooks. And from there, it would be my pair which would each make a smallish 20 or 30, paltry enough to not win them the MOM, but big enough for the team to cross the line - towards a win.

If Michael Bevan had been playing for Mumbai and not for NSW, for India and not for Australia, chances are, I would have easily dismissed the above four gentlemen. Michael gwyl Bevan was a master at the game of crossing the line - he was a winner.

Bevan never bothered about the boundaries if the situation didn't need him to. If the chase demanded an asking rate of 7, Bevan would get the 7th one by converting a single into a two. Greater (or lesser, depending on how you think) men would have prerered playing the odd dot ball coupled with a boundary. You don't need to be an ex- test cricketer to figure out what worked better. Bevan showed it time and again - and his contribution to the current run of Australia's ODI success has been truly underplayed and underrecognised.

After a glittering career consisting of 232 one-dayers, 6912 runs at a phenomenal average of 53.38 and 2 World Cup triumphs, Michael Bevan announced his retirement today in Hobart. My salutations to this great cricketer.
In case Indian cricket fans are wondering, the man-in-blue is indeed Michael Bevan, and not Yuvraj Singh!!

Cricket Quote of the (yester)Day

"We've won a game of cricket"
- England captain Michael Vaughan after their three wicket victory over New Zealand in the Tri-series ODI in Hobart yesterday, 16th January 2007.

NZ: 205/9 in 50 overs ( Astle 45, Anderson 4/42)
Eng: 206/7 in 49.5 overs ( Flintoff 72, Bell 45)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cricket: From White Flannels to Coloured Pyjamas to Bikinis!!

Cricket Players in BikinisCan you guess what's common between these 2 lovely pictures?
Pictures from Australian Bikini
Besides the obvious connect between sex and cricket, and i think in that order!!, these are just 2 of the many wallpapers which gentlemen who also happen to be cricket lovers can download as wallpapers for their mobile phones!!
These is just one of the many initiatives of some very enterprising people at australianbikini.com.
Since yours truly happens to be just a free member, i couldn't explore the whole lot. You may upgrade yourself to become a gold member and enjoy the complete BIKINI CRICKET experience!
If you are in India, let me just point out this small fact for you - if you do want to stare at those lovely cricket players as you dial and receive calls from your cell, it will cost you a paltry 6 pound sterlings ( that's almost 500 indian bucks).

Sunday, January 07, 2007

India Team for the Cricket World Cup 2007

Cricket Australia has already announced the list of 30 probable for the World Cup which is now just 62 days and 5 hours away. India will follow suit in a couple of days - but the real questions will be answered only next month when the final team of 15 is announced. ( Feb 13th is the deadline) Meanwhile, India's tour of South Africa has come to a close and as we take stock of the future, I couldn't resist myself from picking a possible squad for the big show coming up in the Caribbean. So, here i go...

In batting order, this is my first XI:

1. Sachin Tendulkar
2. Saurav Ganguly
3. VVS Laxman
4. Yuvraj Singh
5. Rahul Dravid
6. M S Dhoni
7. Irfan Pathan
8. Harbhajan Singh
9. Anil Kumble
10. S. Sreesanth
11. Zaheer Khan

( the only real confusion i had was over the no.9 batter, whether Kumble or Sreesanth! Dravid's turnaround in One-day cricket happened when he started coming in at no.5, and that's where he should stay. Laxman would make for a good no.3, though it's a good idea to promote Pathan sometimes. But that should be a surprise weapon only and treated like one. Yes, i have chosen Pathan for his twin abilities - his inclusion provides the team with just the right balance, just what Dravid's did the last time round.)

12. Ajit Agarkar
13. Virender Sehwag ( only if he does something in between now and Feb 13th)
14. Ashish Nehra
15. Mohammad Kaif

It's the biggest stage in the world of cricket, and if performances in past World Cups are any indication, experience has mostly triumphed over rookiness. Among Indian players, Navjot Singh Siddhu is the only rookie i can remember who made his presence felt in a World Cup.
By this yardstick, Nehra and Kaif come in. Nehra was impressive recently, on a flat Kotla track in the capital, he took a fiver. He was one of India's stars in the previous World Cup and my vote goes for him over a very lazy Munaf Patel. ( Munaf should never be allowed to represent the country as he might be having a very bad influence on kids watching cricket - his running speed is just amazing.)
If Sehwag doesn't do anything of note by 13th February, Karthick could be a definite consideration. He was most impressive in the last test against the Proteas and the Indian selectors seem to prefer picking up an extra wicket-keeper. ( Parthiv Patel was in the team last time, though he never played a match)
Attempt a very interesting World Cup Cricket Quiz. Click here

Friday, January 05, 2007

Cricket's Time Out

Law 31. Timed Out

(a) Unless "Time" has been called, the incoming batsman must be in position to take guard or for his partner to be ready to receive the next ball within three minutes of the fall of the previous wicket. If this requirement is not met, the incoming batsman will be out, Timed out.

(b) In the event of protracted delay in which no batsman comes to the wicket, the umpires shall adopt the procedure of Law 21.3 (Umpires awarding a match). For the purpose of that Law the start of the action shall be taken as the expiry of the three minutes referred to above.
( source: The Laws of Cricket, Wisden Cricketers' Almanac 2006)
At 10:43 am local time, today in the 3rd cricket test between India and South Africa, Wassim Jaffer got out. India had just lost its other opener just a while back. Tendulkar, the official no.4 was all padded up with nowhere to go - because of yet another Law of Cricket ( Law 2.5, fielder absent or leaving the field) Tendulkar was eligible to bat only at a point of time after 10:48 am. Together, all these were sufficient to create pandemonium in the Indian dressing room.
If Graeme Smith had been as much a stickler of the rules as Stephen Fleming had been a while back in Newzealand, we could have seen international cricket's first case of Timed Out today. India's next batsman, Suarav Ganguly, came into bat only at 10:49 am - 3 minutes after the legal deadline. The Indian manager had however sent a message earlier and convinced Graeme Smith not to press for a Timed Out dismissal. Thank you, Mr. Smith for keeping the spirit of cricket alive.
A couple of interesting questions do come to mind:
- Cricket's Law 31 is not very clear about who would have been given out. Would it have been Sachin, the official number 4 or VVS Laxman/Ganguly, the next eligible batsman?
- For the above I have assumed that the umpires go by the official player list, given in order by the team management before start of play. In the current test, India's opening pair changed - does the captain give out a new list at the beginning of the second innings? Else, the batsman to be given timed out may have already been out!!
- Why did Saurav Ganguly step in? Where was VVS Laxman? The official version is that he was under the shower - in their post match remarks on Star Sports, Messers Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar rubbished the official position. The experience duo (they a combined experience of more than a 1000 days of international cricket) was pretty sure that VVS Laxman was not under the shower at all, though very, very close to it. What shit is that!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Did India get it right at Capetown?

I didn't see the match yesterday, so this late comment - now based on today's cricket stories in the morning's Hindustan Times...
Neil Manthorp, the newspaper's cricket correspondent reports from Cape Town - Bennet Hewe has prepared a pitched that might have been easily imported from Delhi. " Bone-dry and short of grass, it offered the home side's seamers nothing........but even worse for Grame Smith's team were the scuffed and worn patches at either end that will deteriorate quickly as the match progresses - to the delight of Anil Kumble."
India are comfortably placed at 254/3, but still a few questions cannot be completely stifled:
- If the wicket was a belter, and so similar to Delhi's, was this the right time to demote Virender Sehwag? With all due respect to Jaffer and Karthick, who have both done a wonderful job, if Sehwag had succeeded the scoreline could have been well in excess of 300. High scoring rates is a major weapon with which the Aussies have slaughtered opposition relentlessly now - we will know about the impact of this slow batting rate once the Proteas start batting.
- If the wicket is so very likely to crack, shouldn't Harbhajan Singh have been picked up ahead of Munaf Patel? ( and not the fittest either )
In my previous post, we had discussed the importance of one pre-match element: the toss. This one, one which happens before the toss, might be almost as crucial - it's called team selection!!

TAILs up: India aHEAD after day 1 at Capetown

Come to think of it - Rahuld Dravid could have as easily said HEADS, and the belter of a wicket that has been created for the India vs South Africa decider Test would have possibly resulted in day 1 ending with South Africa batting at 250/3. But at the all important toss, the Indian captain predicted correctly and when the coin completed its short U-journey back and came to rest on the Newlands surface, it was TAILS up for India. In both the previous Tests on this tour, the captains who has won the toss has gone on to win the match. And just like Dravid did today, both chose to bat first.
Come to think of it
- the most crucial event of the match may have actually happened before a
single ball is bowled!!
Come to think of it
- lots and lots of matches are actually decided not on day 4 or day 5, but on day 1.
Come to think of it
- Cricket is a funny game!! No wonder they keep saying it all the time.

If you are the kind who prefer statistical evidence to prose & poetry, you may check out this wonderful effort on the importance of the toss in cricket, by a Stephen Samuleson. Click here.