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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Dave Whatmore vs Graham Ford

Dave Whatmore and Graham Ford, contenders for India cricket coach
I have this sneaking feeling that Graham Ford is going to make it. If there is a celebrity management or a PR agency handling the Ford show, they are making an excellent job of 'unleashing' him in just the optimum amount. Refreshingly different from the chief contender, Dave Whatmore's approach.

The current Bangladesh coach had all the right credentials, but his approach has been wrong, time and again. First, the Indian board was not impressed when he announced his interest in the plum assignment, a bit pre-maturedly. Neither was his own team, which genuinely felt betrayed. Imagine your team's coach announcing his interest in taking up another assignment in the middle of a most important series, this one being the World Cup. Recently too, he made a case for himself even while his team was battling it out against the very team Whatmore was so keen to coach.

Indians, by their very nature have an affinity for a gentler approach compared to a more aggressive one. More so when we just had a successful example set by the gentle Wright immediately followed by the disaster called Greg Chappell. Mr. Ford seems to have taken a cue from there.

As the Indian players seem to be advocating the idea of a foreign coach ( four senior members of the Indian team met the BCCI President apprising him of their views on the matter of the coach), it's likely that the final battle will be between Ford and Whatmore. Though the Aussie looks ahead at the moment, Ford is sneaking in through the back door. Whatmore, who was trying to barge in through the front gate may be in for a late surprise !

Friday, May 25, 2007

Retiring Twins

I'm not exactly very old, but can safely claim to have been following the game of cricket for about 15 years now. But this is the first occasion where I have seen both openers retiring hurt - In the current second test against Bangladesh, at the end of first day's play, India are well placed at 326/0 with both openers, Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer retired hurt. On crease are no.3 and no.4, captain and vice-captain, Dravid and Tendulkar. Does anyone else remember any precedent?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Former Cricketer Maninder Singh arrested with 1.5 kg Cocaine

Maninder Singh, former India test cricketer
In a shocking and surprising incident, ex-India test cricketer, Maninder Singh was arrested in Preet Vihar, Delhi on charges of storing cocaine. About 1.5 kilograms of the banned substance was found at his Preet Vihar place. Maninder Singh is being currently interrogated at the Shakarpur Police station, near Preet Vihar. The former cricketer stays in a small colony called Mausam Vihar, in the Preet Vihar area, alongwith his mother. He was caught when a person of Nigerian nationality had come to deliver the banned stuff to his place.

Since i first wrote, the news channels have made quite a few changes in their story. For one, the quantity of cocaine has dropped by 1/1000th - now it's just 1.5 grams. To go with the new weight, Maninder is no more being accused of storing the substance, but of drug abuse himself. Sorry.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Blame the fans

Pratik Patel, an Indian cricket fan, residing in the United States has written a very sensible letter to the Cricinfo Editor. I am reproducing this mail, which appeared in the magazine's May issue. I particulary liked the comparison of a demigod with god himself. Here goes...

And so ends another Indian World Cup dream, the dream of the "blue billion". Alas! Tomorrow, I will hunt down the nearest Indian cricketer's house and paint all kinds of not-so-nice artwork on the walls outside.

Late last year, the low turnouts at the Champions Trophy proved that Indians only love Indian cricket, not cricket as a whole. And the World Cup has proved that they only love the Indian team that wins, not the one that plays.
Indian cricket is in need of unconditional, unemotional supporters. Supporters who'll have a beer while watching the game, another after it ends, then go to sleep and get on with their lives thereafter. Not supporters who turn up every centurion or five-for-earning bowler into a demigod; not supporters who resort to burning effigies of those demigods after a World Cup defeat. We never reserve such disrespect for our gods when natural disaster strikes; there's no reason why the players should be subjected to it. Just because we have the power to create demigods doesn't mean we can un-create them when they fail to live up to our expectations. Amid all the media hoopla, it's easy to forget that cricket is just a game.

In another section of the same issue of Cricinfo, Sanjay Manjrekar writes:
In a nation of passionate cricket watchers like India, bold cricketing decisions are not made without public support. When India were knocked out in the first round of the World Cup, the BCCI knew it had the support of the public to take the bull by the horns, and in the process even take on some of the heavyweights of the team.
What the fear of a backlash from the public can do is evident from the BCCI's reactions to comments made by Sachin Tendulkar at two different times in his career. An understandable, human reaction by Tendulkar on Greg Chappell's views on himself earned him a show-cause notice from the board. But a more serious violation - a public display of disappointment after India declared at Multan in 2004 when he was just short of a double century - was ignored. This was because India were playing well then, and Tendulkar himself was in good form. The public was with the players.
Whether public sentiment should become such an important factor in the board's decision-making is debatable. It may be the fans who make the game special in India, but they now seem to have been promoted to the status of shareholders in the company that is Indian cricket.
I am tempted to think, like Churchill was, about 60 years back, that Indian cricket is not yet ready for (Westminster style) democracy. Neither is it the time for the BCCI to go public!! Even if it does, management control needs to be in the firm hands of a sane minority. This country has often been witness to the crossing of the fine line between democracy and mobocracy. India, the nation was strong enough to prove Churchill wrong. Indian cricket may not be that resilient.

Friday, May 18, 2007

In better days, it would have been a happy problem

Nayan Mongia, Rahul Dravid, Ajay Jadeja, VVS Laxman, Deep Dasgupta, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag.....
The list is long and illustrious - Indian cricket's opening jinx seems to have no end. Why is it that a nation which keeps producing high quality middle order batsmen struggles to come up with two good openers? Later today, Dinesh Karthik looks likely to join this unending list of make-shift Indian openers. We have specialised in this art of converting middle order batsmen now, so much so that some of them aren't so obvious anymore - Sachin Tendulkar in ODIs and Virender Sehwag in tests. Even Saurav Ganguly, for that matter.
Funnily enough - in the just concluded World Cup the problem was of exactly the other type: we had as many as four openers playing in a single one-dayer: Sehwag, Ganguly, Tendulkar and Uthappa.
Dravid's selection problems will be two-fold: while he will be struggling to promote one of the middle-order bats to top of the order, there is a problem of plenty in the middle order. For Sachin Tendulkar, yesterday's god, the fall has been disgraceful: Cricinfo goes on to say that "Were Karthik to open, the only other sureties for the match are Jaffer and Dravid." It will be unfortunate if Yuvraj is dropped to accomodate Laxman, Sachin and Ganguly. With the media abuzz with the news of "5 bowlers likely for 1st test against Bangladesh" and "3 spinners may me fielded", Dravid's selection problems will only increase, if that indeed turns out to be the case.
In an Indian team, divided into camps, Dravid will have to play his cards very carefully. There ain't much to be gained by a victory, but anything less, and the call for a change in captaincy may only gain momentum. Yet again, in a cricket match involving India, it's the activities outside the cricket field that seem to be looking more important. Unfortunately for Indian cricket, the current state of affairs don't look bright, and the future bleak. I'm just hoping that Indian cricket doesn't go the way Indian hockey has...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Two flights of future take wing in Bangla

"Look at that, for flight. Beautifully done."
"He has great armspeed. Much like Warnie."
"Another Kumble in the making for India."
"Unless Bollywood snaps him up, he should complete 400 wickets."
"..and he is just 18."
"I would like to see him bowl in a test..that curve..will be a perfect trap."
He has bowled just 37 deliveries yet, and Piyush Chawla has already bowled over the television commentators. Me too. So far, it has been a sheer delight watching the innocent looking Chawla beguiling bastman after batsman, bowl after bowl. There were the classic looped up deliveries and lots and lots of googlies: Ashraful, the finest of the Bangla batters has already been bowled with a ripping googly and young Chawla sure does look promising. Bhajji better watch out.
Not doing a bad job is the rockstar turning his arm at the other end. He's 20 kilos too many, and he insists on wearing those brigh red-rimmed shades even as he bowls, yet one can't but like Romesh Powar - he looks to me a mathematical average of Arjuna Ranatunga and Mark Waugh, in style, weight and substance! Not afraid to toss the bowl up, he has taken a wicket, beating a batsman beautifully in flight but has also been hit over the ropes.
These two, together with Dinesh Karthik have it in them to become a part of the Indian one-day cricket's future scheme of things. Le't just hope that the rest provided to Messers Tendulkar, Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh will be extended further.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Round and round the Indian cricket bush

"More than enough has been said before a series between a side that effectively finished seventh in the World Cup and one that exited in the first round itself. It's now time for action."
- Siddharth Monga on Cricinfo

Imagine India had won the World Cup! Everyone would have been crying hoarse over this series against Bangladesh then, a less than mediocre series in the heat of May, and too soon after the triumph. Fortunately for BCCI, there ain't no such crisis! Though there is one of a different kind - and that one has stung harder. So, can the now officially declared divided Indian team take on Bangladesh? What can be India's gains from this series? Even if they do win, as they are once again expected to be, there can't be much reason for rejoicing. Indian cricket's only gains would be were a youngster or two to shine, and show some hope for the future. But even before the first ball is bowled in this India-Bangladesh series, the brightest hope we had has already been frittered away. Manoj Tewari, definitely the most exciting of the selections, has not even made it to the XII. It's back to square one, with the same old questions - will Sehwag open or not? Will Dinesh Mongia make it to the final XI? For god's sake, when are we going to move ahead of this mess.

And, who is going to be the first Vice-captain in the world to be appointed by the touring committee?! That's the only interesting question i am looking forward to seeing answered tomorrow morning. I hope Dravid-Shastri-Prasad-Robin don't chicken out.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


So, the much delayed sting has finally happened. I had been wondering, and waiting for this for quite some time now - after all if our much active news channels have time for fringe actors like Aman Verma, then cricket surely deserved more glory and fame. And, who better to deliver it than India's no.1 news channel, Aaj Tak. Presenting the findings of India's (maybe, the world's) first CRICKET-STING !!

Who got stung?
Selectors Ranjib Biswal, Venkatpathy Raju, Bhupinder Singh Sr. and Indian Team Manger for the 2007 World Cup, Sanjay Jagdale and BCCI secretary, Niranjan Shah.

- Tendulkar doesn't like Rahul Dravid, because he wanted to be captain himself. Provided little support to the captain during the World Cup campaign.
- Ganguly wanted to be captain too, and he had his own camp of juniors rooting for him. Maybe also some seniors, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan are obvious names which pop up. Dravid may have managed to confuse Sehwag and wean away his loyalty after his nationally famous selection, at Dravid's behest.
- Yuvraj was a law unto himself. Hardly surprising, Yuvraj always reminded me of another Chandigarh mate of his Manu Sharma. Yup, of the Jessica Lal infamy. No good reason there, just that I once did see Yuvraj behaving pathetically outside a Delhi hotel.

Poor Dravid! It's a wonder India managed to beat Bermuda (and by a world record margin at that). Dravid surely needs to be sympathised with - so what if he couldn't manage the seniors or the juniors or the coach or anyone else, poor guy has been put through hell by Sachin & Saurav. Wasn't it enough that Saurav made India's most consistent batsman keep wickets for that long?

- Greg Chappell wasn't on talking terms with Sachin and Saurav. They didn't talk for as many as 5 days at a stretch. Wonder what that claim from Greg about getting Saurav back into the team was all about.

- Niranjan Shah revealed the over-riding importance of sponsors, and how they influenced the process so that their 'man' could be in.

Disgusting. And, the BCCI must have know about all these for long, and they don't seem to be bothered: Dravid is still captain, Greg has been offered a role at NCA, Saurav and Sachin have been just rested and Yuvraj is still around. So, i guess, all these doesn't matter to the BCCI.

Time for the Honourable Supreme Court to butt in into cricket too, i think. What say?

Wiki definition for a Sting Operation:
In law enforcement, a sting operation is an operation designed to catch a person committing a crime by means of deception/ A typical sting will have a law-enforcement officer or cooperative member of the public play a role as criminal partner or potential victim and go along with a suspect's actions to gather evidence of the suspect's wrongdoing

Thursday, May 03, 2007

India media missing Greg Chappell

former indian cricket coach, greg chappell at the netsThe Indian team, beaten and bruised, more by the board and fans than cricket is now stationed in Kolkata, where the conditioning camp and pre-tour practise for the Bangladesh trip is happening under the guidance of manager Ravi Shastri and new coaches Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad.

It's been a couple of days only, but you pick up any (Indian) newspaper or TV channel, and they are all ranting about the good old days, when the camps had more zing about them. These same guys, who could never stop blaming Chappell for every ill afflicting Indian cricket are suddenly getting nostalgic about the Aussie: How the camps were more lively under Chappell, the players more enthused and the nets looked more meaningful !!!

Cricket not really a team game, asserts Akhtar

shoaib akhtar, pakistan cricket playerTrust Shoaib Akhtar to come up with interesting tid-bits, now and again. Just a day after he had pulled up former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq for not fully utilising his abilities, Akhtar was on song again, in another television interview, to NDTV.

Akhtar asserted that though everyone kept harping on the fact that cricket is a team game, he doesn't think so. The world's fastest bowler thinks that cricket is ultimately a game of individuals, and a few matter more than the team. The point Akhtar was trying to make was about the importance of match winners in a team: obviously, he considers himself to be one. It may not be the most diplomatic comment to make, and Shoaib has never really known to be one, but one can't but help see a point there: didn't Gilchrist almost single-handedly win Australia the World Cup final? Weren't Hayden, Ponting, Mc Grath and Shane Tait more important than the other Aussies?