Tuesday, May 31, 2011

India-West Indies Preview

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India embark on yet another Carribbean tour without Sachin Tendulkar. The one day squad has a deep bench. When the regulars were unavailable, it was easy to find credible replacements. It's to India's credit that it has blooded a bench that can put a game face on anytime. However, the game plan for this time is going to be very different that what the first eleven would follow.

The routine that India has gotten into is that one of the top three always drops anchor and score big fifties or hundreds. Everyone else bats around them and scores the bulk of runs. In the world cup, Yuvraj Singh played a massive role and he balanced the team big time. The new look squad is going to rely on Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma or Suresh Raina to play that role. None of them by themselves can do what Yuvraj did. However, given that the West Indies too aren't a top notch team today, maybe they can pull it off.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cricket Professionals

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There has never been a better time to be an Indian cricketer. Annual contracts, a variety of formats to choose from and a board that's as capitalist (profit oriented) as they come. We have come a long way from an era where player power was meant to be squished with court cases. Vengsarkar couldn't write a column to generate a few extra bucks to ensure that his future was more secure.

The number of elite Indian cricketers has gone from four in my early days of watching cricket to at least 20 now. Gavaskar,Kapil Dev, Vengsarkar and Vishwanath were the only superstars. Compare that to today's situation where India can easily field at least two superb ODI teams. The number of opportunities for cricketers to show their wares has increased a thousand fold. Any domestic cricketer today who is a reasonable performer can expect recognition and visibility. Had poor KP Bhaskar played in this era, would he have been ignored?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Playing for Club is playing for Country

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At some point someone will realize that the same limited set of overworked players aren't going to be able to sustain our World Champion status in One Day Internationals, entertain us at IPL games and sustain our number one ranking in Tests.

We need a larger pool of players and we need players to specialize...not just as bowlers, batsmen and wicket keepers but specialize in formats too.

The alternative adopted by administrators the world over, which is largely push the players to make an illusionary club v country choice; is short sighted, self serving, mean, wicked and ultimately harmful to the game. Many talk about "a window"... but that too is a band-aid fix. India has a built-in IPL window and yet the next few weeks promises to unfold like a soap-opera starting with the Gautam Gambhir situation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The IPL Qualifier, Qadir on Qadir and Showing Cause

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First things first.... The IPL

Normally as most commentators would say; it doesn't matter how you get them; its the runs on the board that count.

Today the Chennai Super Kings disproved the theory.

If Gayle doesn't contribute then even a total of 175 can be chased. Perhaps its the way he gets those runs. Each time Gayle has got the runs the Royal Challengers from Bangalore have won and every time he hasn't they have lost. It almost does not matter what the others do.

Another reason Bangalore lost is because we @ Opinions are beginning to suspect that its not luck; its just that Mahendra Singh Dhoni might simply be "Un-lose-able". May be the games he does lose are the games he does not want to win.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

IPL playoffs explained

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Once the top 4 qualifiers for the playoffs are determined; how many games does it take to crown a winner.

3 is reasonable answer. But if its the IPL we are talking about; and indeed we are; then the answer is more like 6 games spread over 7 days.

Here is how it will work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

West Indies Revival

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Years ago when Walsh and Ambrose still played test cricket, Caribbean pride meant something. We are old enough to remember a time when a Joel Garner retirement for the West Indies meant the ability to replace him with a Patterson, Walsh or Bishop in quick succession and continue battering the opposition. None of us would have ventured to think that a military medium bowler would make the West Indies team, let alone captain them and win them a test match.

My fellow blogger has already pointed out the rarity of a bowling captain winning their teams test matches. It takes dedication, discipline and leadership. Darren Sammy may yet not be able to keep the flock together and instill pride in them to sustain their fighting ways. West Indies may not have yet risen from the ashes. But a test win against a credible Pakistani challenge is to be savored.

A Captain's Spell

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When Darren Sammy bowled West Indies to a win in the first Test against Pakistan; something about it felt special and rare. 

Yes, the West Indian last wicket pair showed some real pluck in adding those 48 runs that eventually was the difference between the 2 teams

Yes, Ravi Rampaul with his burst of top order wickets, pushed Pakistan to the brink before Darren Sammy finished them off.

Yes, Saeed Ajmal with 11/111, was perhaps the best bowler in the match.

But to us @ Opinions, this was Darren Sammy's Test and a pretty special one at that. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chris Gayle to plead not guilty to assault charges

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BANGALORE — The West Indian born opener of the IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore intends to plead not guilty to assault charges after the violent treatment of Brett Lee and Jaidev Unadkat, his attorney said Sunday.

Chris Gayle was taken off his team bus at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium by officers from the Bangalore Police Department  about 10 minutes before it was to depart for the team hotel. He was turned over to police for questioning later in the afternoon, said Babban Bholenath, Bangalore Police Department spokesman. Chris Gayle, 31, was arrested at 2:15 a.m. IST Sunday on charges of a criminal batting act, attempted rape of the reputation of international bowlers and unlawful treatment of bowlers, and was awaiting arraignment, police said.

Opinions On...Darren Sammy

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It does not matter when the appointment actually took place or when the announcement was made. It was heard only today.

Today Darren Sammy became the captain of the West Indies cricket team.

Today, Darren Sammy became the first West Indian captain to take 5 wickets in the 4th innings and win a Test match...


how shall I say this....

Gary Sobers.

Quite surprisingly, Courtney Walsh never did it. So, next time you bump into him at St. Lucia and he says "I am Darren Sammy, captain of the West Indies cricket Team"... stand up and tip your hat.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

West Indies and Pakistan

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Back when I was in my college dorm in India, we used to joke about the food in the cafeteria. We contended that the cafeteria was like Doordarshan, the national TV channel. Every day we thought it could get no worse. Watching the West Indies administrators and players tango, I get the same feeling. They outdo themselves every day. Enough already!

What's clear is that West Indies have no where to go but up. And the first test match is proving that they are doing just that against Pakistan. West Indies have two experienced test match players to Paksitan's one. It appears that this alone is making the difference. In Sarwan and Chanderpaul, West Indies have a semblance of experience and stability. Despite Sammy's pedestrian performances, he appears to be a calm, non-controversial sorts that no one hates. The perfect compromise candidate.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

ICC to outlaw running

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The ICC today announced that they are seriously considering a proposal to do away with running. According to the proposal batsmen will not be allowed to run between the wickets "under any circumstances". 

The proposal also suggests that the non-striker should be provided adequate seating arrangements while he is at the non-striker's end. If the batsman taking strike is Rahul Dravid, then the non-striker should be allowed to order take out dinners, and stream entertainment on an attached digital screen.

For every shot that is not a 4 and a 6, there will be a predetermined number of runs added to the batsman's account based on where in the field the ball was stopped.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Opinions On... Saurav Ganguly

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His debut Test innings at Lords, where he scored a century was a comeback...sort of. He was clearly out of depth in that one ODI he played for India in Australia 4 years earlier. It was said that he refused to carry drinks and from what people could see on TV, could not bat nor run between the wickets.

He just didn't seem to belong.

If he would have been discarded for good, we wouldn't even have noticed it. But he persisted and 19 years later playing in his 4th IPL season he played an innings for Pune Warriors that had all the buzz of a debut.

That is Saurav Ganguly for you....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fake News Round up

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IPL games - they are all the same
Yesterday in a game between 2 IPL team, the production company faced with a staff on a total strike, decided to telecast a replay of a previous game; originally held a little less than a week back;  between the same two sides instead. According to the TVR ratings approximately 22 million viewers consumed the replays thinking it was a live event.

This was 5% higher than the ratings registered by the same match when it was originally telecast. 

Well into the game when absolutely no one had realized that they were watching a T20 game from just a week back, the production company thought that they had almost pulled off the heist. However, with a few overs still remaining in the game, executives at Sony got a call from Danny Morrison, claiming something was fishy.

I can't possibly be covering a live event when I am having a Viagara moment of intimacy at home; he thundered excitedly on the phone. 

Specialized captains
The ECB became the first board in the world to recognize that the various formats of the game represents the need to cultivate specialized skills, leadership and management techniques. What does not work for Tests may not necessarily not work for ODIs and whatever fails for ODIs may need some more specializing for T20s. 

In line with this thinking England named an army of captains to align each person to the specialized needs of the various formats, sessions, and match situations

  1. Andrew Strauss will lead England in tests for the pre-lunch and post-tea sessions on days 2 and 4 of a test match
  2. Kevin Pietersen will be captain on all other days; except when the match situation requires declaration decisions, in which case Alastair Cook will take over.
  3. Stuart Broad will be T20 captain for all games when England is not setting a target
  4. Paul Collingwood will be T20 captain for all games when England is setting a target 
  5. Alastair Cook will be captain of the ODI team for all sessions and situations except during Ashes years when James Anderson will take over when Cook will be rested.
Dial 'C' for Clean Cricket
Sports Illustrated - Timbaktoo in a cover story for an issue that will be out on the stands on May 14th claims that cricket may be far cleaner than people think. The story is based on 4000 minutes of taped conversations between fans, commentators, ex and current cricketers, bookies, politicians corporate executives and celebrities. The conversations where people talk endlessly about the excitement of coming World Cup games and predict outcomes and specific individual performances is proof that there is no match fixing because 9 out of the 10 predictions never come true. 

The 1 in 10 that do are being investigated by Sports Illustrated - India. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blonde Power

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Remind me again. How did they get from here...

Captains of England and Australia - The way they used to be

to here....

The Pretty Men of England and Australia

Are they sleeping their way to the top? What else should we conclude? I mean Stuart Broad just became the first cricketer in the world do be appointed captain of an International Team after having conceded 6 sixes in an over. Now he is good enough to captain his country?



Come on ECB selectors, is he that good in bed?

Its like England looked long and hard into the future and picked the best man who will not win them a World Cup

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Announcing Australia's tour of South Africa

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Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia, today held a joint press conference; to announce the itinerary for Australia's full tour of South Africa. A rivalry running over a 100 years of Test Cricket always draws attention.

We bring you the details of the announcement...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Five Rebuilding Tips

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Several teams have gone into rebuild mode. A lot of commentary has surfaced about what's wrong with the rebuild process. The big emphasis on team discipline starts at the onset of rebuilding. Administrators and selectors take center stage and begin setting new foundations for the future. Usually, veteran players get the axe and a lot of unpleasantness comes to the fore. Here are some tips to the rebuilders.