They had a field day.

Some of us have to give the argument about where India performed worse at Wankhede a rest. Everybody has had a wild swing at both the batsmen and the bowlers. Cool off a bit. You can all continue that debate next test, depending on whether or not the team changed (if at all) according to your views.

Join me. Focus all your outrageous energy on a common focal point- fielding.

Atleast 10 of the 12 sessions of play I attended of the first and second test matches had England batting. Which meant I had a lot of time looking at Indian fielders. The more I did, the less I wanted to.

There was exactly one fielder in either test who would field well. In the Ahmedabad test, it was Umesh Yadav. In the Mumbai test, it was Ajinkya Rahane. It was such a joy to watch those two field like they never wanted to let the ball go past them.

Umesh Yadav, at Ahmedabad, was rarely given the ball. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni also had spinners bowling with the new ball. So, Yadav was mostly fielding at mid on/off or deep point (left hander) / fine leg (right hander) region. He would cover a lot of ground if the ball went his way. He would dive. His thrown came in like a bullet. Flat, right over the stumps, into Dhoni’s gloves, after which Dhoni would make a fancy movement with his arm, ball inside the glove(s), like all keepers do. It was fun watching him. When the wickets didn’t fall, Yadav’s energy spilled into the spectators. We stood up to clap for his efforts. Neither 3rd session I watched there had an English wicket fall. Yadav helped soften that pain a bit.

Yadav moved like a Komodo Dragon that has just spotted a prey. It wasn’t  a beautiful run, but it was assuring that he would reach the prey.

In the Mumbai test, Ajinkya Rahane came in as a substitute fielder. I don’t remember for whom. Cheteshwar Pujara? Nevertheless. Rahane was stationed at forward short leg. He was the most entertaining forward short leg fielder I’ve seen in a long time. It wasn’t the normal squat and wait. It seemed a bit different. Like how wrestlers squat, slightly flexing up and down at their knee so they can move once they know when to strike. Rahane was that tiny creature perched right under Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen (and others too, later) who wasn’t afraid of what the batsman hit at him.

There was this one effort from Rahane when he was standing up to Alastair Cook. I don’t remember the bowler. Cook went forward to kneel and positioned his bat to swivel and sweep the ball. Rahane sat up a bit in a quick jerk, and moved his left leg behind and more to his left, and as soon as the ball made contact with the bat, Rahane dived left and was able to reach the ball with a full length effort. That was anticipation at its best. I was left gaping. People I was talking to me were clapping, shouting praises. Some (at North Stands) had stood up. Dhoni and Virender Sehwag were patting Rahane’s back. It was beautiful.

It wasn’t the only occasion. Rahane went on to prevent more runs in that region. His bravery there eventually ended up in a bruise. But, all the while he as there, he looked as threatening as a Frilled Lizard.Small, but dangerous. Guarded the territory well. You don’t want to go near an angry Frilled Lizard which is on the attack.

That’s the only joy I got while watching the Indians on the field. Kohli’s presence  at slips or other stationary positions, and his athleticism couldn’t be utilized much. Most of the rest were plain eye sore.

When Sehwag goes chasing after a ball, I thought he must’ve decided at breakfast itself to let the ball win the race. When Sachin Tendulkar goes to field a ball, it is like he is dancing a weird version of a slow Western dance. He would jog to the ball, lazily bend and scoop the ball, turn around and lob is back to the keeper/bowler. Yuvraj Singh was so not the Yuvraj Singh I like to remember. He was parked at the boundary for the whole time, much like how Samit Patel was for the English side. When Zaheer Khan moved, jokes moved faster. The best one was – “Zaheer is waiting for an autorickshaw to give him a lift to where the ball is headed.” Ojha is not a great fielder by any means. It was a very awkward dive that caused him an injury in the Ahmedabad test. (I’m happy it wasn’t a severe injury) Ashwin, well, I’ve seen Shaquille O’Neal run better, and more enthusiastically.

I don’t know how, but Indian fielders have perfected the art of diving after the ball goes past them. And the ball would’ve gone from under the belly. Every run saved counts, even in test cricket. Fielders in the circle, if sharp, can keep the batsman stagnated, can induce foolish strokes out of them. If they hit a ball for four, so be it. I’d prefer them to hit a 4 rather than give them fours singles. Right now, a dab 5 yards away from the fielders gives enough room for the batsmen to cross over. It reminds me of the old tactic some would apply while playing Australia – Hayden was slow (is he flat footed? I remember reading so somewhere.), and people would dab the ball just away from him at gully and steal a single. The Indian team has more than a handful of those slow-pokes.

The fielding has to get its act together, so any pressure from the bowlers does not go waste and there is no extra burden on the batsmen to mop up when they bat.

-Bagrat

Cricket at Motera and Wankhede

Living in Baroda paid off a little more when I recently got the opportunity to travel to Ahmedabad and Mumbai for weekends’ play of test matches against England. It was my first trip to the cricket grounds in either cities. In this post, I’ll share my experience of watching cricket at these arenas.

 

India vs England, 1st Test Match, Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera/Ahmedabad.

It was a 3 hour trip by bus, or a two hour trip by car to the stadium. There were no online ticket sales. So, I had to get those tickets at the stadium ticket counters. There was car parking inside the stadium premises, but the day I went there in my colleague’s car, the police said we couldn’t take the car on the street leading to the stadium unless we had a ticket. Funny, because we can buy the ticket only when we reach the stadium. We had to hence park the car elsewhere and pay people living nearby to guard the car.

Anyway, we could get tickets for some good seats at the Adani Pavilion, for seats right over the dressing room and just behind the cameramen. The Gujarat Cricket Association has a rooster as its logo. You will laugh at that till you reach the security checks. There were 4 layers of security checks, and you will feel violated every time. And you will have to chuck away all the coins you carried on you before entering.

Motera. Adani Pavilion (Upper)

(this view costs Rs 250 per day)

The seats didn’t seem new, and they surely weren’t cleaned every evening. The crowd built itself up and before the first session ended, the Pavilion stands would be more than 80% full. The ones on square were less than 50% full. That seemed odd, because I could see a huge queue of people waiting for those tickets. The stands above the commentary box were less than 30% full because the sun shone on them almost all day.

The fans would cheer loud the wickets that Indians picked and applaud English boundaries. But the stupid thing was the way it “booed” almost everything not worth cheering. It was like showing a neutral reaction would be illegal. And that was not one portion of the ground. That was the whole stadium. At first I thought they went “ooooh (that was close)!” But that didn’t make sense. I don’t think they would go “oooooh” every time an English batsman got out. And they booed every English supporter who would get up to cheer an English spark. So, the crowd there was meh

In my stands, we had to climb down to a walkway for food and drinks. Can’t have a great meal out of samosas, popcorns, sandwiches, burgers, puffs, bhel puri, icecream, soft-drink and water, though. But it was fine. Jamtha/Nagpur served biryani and stuffs, which was more filling. I didn’t find that here, so was a bit disappointed. You will land in a bit of trouble if you had too much to drink. The toilets were poorly maintained there.

The stadium had only one exit. So, at the end of a day’s play, you would have to walk atleast 1 km along dusty pathways to exit the stadium from a single 5 m wide gate. And then, the hundred autowalas will refuse to go to the exact one place you want to go. (the foreigners would pay him much more, why would he take you on board?) So, I had to walk another km before getting hold of a tuk tuk.

It was nice to be able to easily get entry (tickets and all) to the stadium, but it wasn’t quite great an experience inside it.

 

India vs England, 2nd test, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

I had made a weekend trip to Mumbai for the 2nd test at Wankhede. It was an overnight train journey away from Baroda. You could get the tickets to the game online or at the MCA windows near the stadium (which had long queues). Even if you bought it online, you had to come to the stadium to collect the tickets though, and I heard from my friend that even that was a long queue, which was later sorted out to make it shorter.

I reached the gates an hour before play with my friend. We had two layers of man handling security checks, and we were in. We were in level-2 of the North Stands (opposite end of the ground to where the dressing room was), and would later move to level-3 when the sun shone down upon us.

Wankhede, North Stand (Level-3)

(This view costs Rs 500 on a season pass)

Level-2 was near the press box, and Level-3 was right above the press box. Some of the liveliest people were crowded in the North Stands. Almost every cheer that ringed through the stadium emerged from the North Stands. The most noticeable one was the “PU-JA-RA” chant that echoed across the stadium. I was at Garware Pavilion (which was near the dressing room) for one session, and from there you could hear the “PU-JA-RA” chants from that North Stands section welcoming Pujara to the middle. That was one of the most amazing moments I’ve been a part of. The other stands had drums shooting out bhangra that had people around it dance.

The Barmy Army was larger in number at the Mumbai test than they were at the Motera test. So, the English team got some good support from them. Indian fans were quite respectful with them too. Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen got standing ovations from the entire ground after their tons. And a lot of those fans mingled along with people freely. I didn’t feel like talking to a single stranger at Motera (or Nagpur, for that matter). But, here I could talk to some.

The crowd also let the Indian bowlers know of their horrendous bowling when they had to. Harbhajan Singh got irritated once and complained against some fans, who (I heard) were evicted from the stadium. This, after Harbhajan was totally okay with fooling around with the Motera crowd which got him to happily wave at them, crack jokes with his teammates, kick stuffs like a pro footballer, etc, while he was a water-boy. The crowd there loved the performer that he was. Mumbai crowd did not like his performance at Wankhede, and he did not like that attitude.

Food was served at your seat. Samosas, rolls, cold-drinks, ice-creams, pizzas! Water was available in the walk-way. And what’s more – you can go out of the stadium and get back in any time. So, people could go out to a foodie street near Wankhede and have their fill. A couple of stationery shop owners on that street had the “Why did I not open a snack bar instead?” look on their faces during the lunch hour. And drink all you want, the toilets are fine at Wankhede. The foodie streets had some wonderful juice and soda shops!

There were multiple exits which would drop you are various points around the Churchgate station and Marine Drive. So, the crowd was able to disperse in multiple directions and spread away. Many went to Marine Drive, some went to food joints around the place. Others boarded trains at Churchgate or taxis and buses outside. There wasn’t the flood of exiting human beings that was seen at Motera.

I was exhausted after the two days at Wankhede, both of which were full of fun. It was a wonderful experience there. Even if India had a bad day, being with that crowd would help keep your spirits up.

Looking ahead to watching more games, at new places. Would love to be at Wankhede for many more test matches.

-Bagrat

MS Dhoni seeks bounce and spin

So, cricket returned to Indian TV screens. And how! Some of us will say that cricket never left our homes. However, the preceding three months had seen a ODI series against Sri Lanka — Yes! We needed those like Cherrpunjee needs rain, thanks — and a lengthy series of T20 games. To me, these were months of intense dullness, induced by games that lacked substance or context. Indolent indifference and unbearable ennui resulted. 

It was therefore refreshing to see a cricket match unfold like cricket should; the match told a story of aggression, calm maturity, deceit, courage, disintegration, foolishness, bravado, determination and perseverance.

It was also a story of one captain’s despair even in victory.

This was a story of Sehwag’s aggressive return to ‘form’, although in his case I am not sure what the word ‘form’ even means. His art defies form and sometimes, a consistent narrative. We can’t be certain that a lack of runs worries the man, just as it is hard to ascertain whether the accumulation of a substantial number of runs makes him any more content or confident than he already appears to be. He smiles benignly through pleasure and pain. We too must, perhaps.

This was a story of a young man’s calm maturity. Like Rahul Dravid before him, Cheteshwar Pujara appears to be the sort of guy every girl would want to take home to meet her parents. One girl already has, and the parents have apparently approved. It is inevitable that Pujara, Che as he is referred to by his growing legion of fans, will be compared to Rahul Dravid. Pujara presents a compelling case against genetic cloning; it would seem that this is just not necessary! The score was 1-134 when Pujara started his innings, which meant that he was able to play freely and without much pressure; at least initially. His calm maturity was evident however, after four wickets had fallen for 283 runs. He held the innings together after that point and slowly accumulated his runs with Yuvraj and Ashwin. In the end, it was hard to believe that he had made as many runs as he had; he was surreptitiously effective.

The post match analysis seems to have omitted one significant point in the game when Jonathan Trott seemed to claim a catch after he had virtually slept on the ball. It is hard to believe that this professional cricketer didn’t know he had grassed the catch. It was as funny as it was, in my view, an atrocious piece of gamesmanship. I can’t imagine Harbhajan Singh, for example, getting away with a professional foul of that sort. The match referee, however, turned a blind eye to it.

This was also a story of Altastair Cook’s courage, Kevin Pietersen’s disintegration and Ian Bell’s foolishness. Cook showed tremendous application in both innings. The England captain would have watched in agony as Pietersen and Bell, his illustrious teammates, lost the plot through a combination of foolhardiness and needless bravado. In the absence of effective technique to combat the turning ball, instead of application and patience, we saw brain fuses from Bell and Pietersen. But in both innings, Cook played with enormous pride and resolve and this will have given the England camp some comfort. There is nothing worse than a disintegrating captain of a team that loses badly. He might be boring to watch, but Cook is certainly emerging as an extremely determined and effective a player.

This Test match wasn’t as bad for England as the scorecard will have us believe. With a better team balance and greater application, England can bounce back in this important series. And I feel they will.

And talking of bounce, much of the post-match commentary was around MS Dhoni’s call for different pitches. Dhoni has been on the case of Indian curators for well over a year now. He was disgusted by the pitch that was provided to the visiting New Zealand team in Hyderabad and Bangalore in July this year. Yesterday, of the Motera pitch, Dhoni said, “I don’t even want to see this wicket.”

He then went on to say, “There wasn’t enough turn and bounce for the spinners. Hopefully in the coming matches we’ll see the wicket turn, right from start, or as soon as possible so that the toss doesn’t become vital. What we want to see is two good sides competing against each other with the toss taken out of the equation.”

After the match, Dhoni was criticised for his statements against pitches. The Times of India, in its opinion section adjoining the piece on the pitch, inferred that Dhoni “seems to be letting the thirst for revenge get the better of his cricketing sense”. Right. ‘This criticism of pitches is becoming a pattern with Dhoni’, some people yelled on late-night TV chat shows. ‘We must prepare sporting tracks’ yelled someone else. On another TV show Maninder Singh just yelled.

What Dhoni has asked for seems perfectly reasonable to me. What we want to see is turn and bounce on a wicket. Further, his point is that it should be fine for a wicket to turn right from the toss so that the toss does not become as vital as it currently is. If the match then ends in three days as a result of this turn and bounce, it must be down to the incompetence of the players and nothing else.

There is a nuance to this argument too and that is that no one questions a pitch if it starts bouncing and seaming from the first ball. So why question a pitch just because it is bouncing and spinning from the first ball? I think this is a fair point that deserves a patient hearing. Further, what he seeks is consistent and true bounce. Dhoni says, “What you don’t want is ridges in the wicket and then one ball hits your head and next, your toe.”

Teams from England and Australia have come to expect car loans for single mothers and pitches that turn in India. My sense is that the words ‘dust bowl’ and ‘rank turners’ have become disparaging in our vocabulary because of the disdain imputed through their repeated usage. However, that is the nature of wickets in India. The soil conditions dictate that wickets will turn. To ask for anything else (or to artificially provide anything else to visiting teams) is akin to hating Paris because it does not have the Sydney Opera house.

–Mohan (@mohank)

Don’t break what is not broken.

I am in my mid-twenties, but I can’t hide my love for a bunch of cartoons that I grew up watching. Some of my favourites are Tom & Jerry, The Scooby Doo Where Are You? Show and The Popeye Show. There was a stretch in my childhood, when my whole family would not miss a single weeknight of Scooby and Popeye on TV sets. To be frank, my parents also took advantage of this addiction and would make me and my little sister eat greens (lots of spinach of course) before watching the show. It was all good. They were classics! Kids of all age loved it.

The one thing common among them all is that after many years of the classic version somebody felt the need to bring out more episodes. New episodes with new ideas. I did not enjoy any of the new ones. It was just not the same. Jerry did not have the wily-ness, Popeye wasn’t inspiring and Scooby Doo and his gang didn’t work the same. People wanted to make something better, but ruined something good.

Don’t break what is not broken.

I have recently been lamenting about various things in cricket only because there are many things to lament about as a fan of the game. Only yesterday, I had a little conversation with Mr. Nitin Sundar, and we went back about how we liked to watch One Day cricket in the ’90s. We talked about television, coloured-clothing, media, advertising and all. It was all nostalgic.

Nitin reminded us of the anticipation we had to have a look at the jerseys that teams wore in those days, noting that today it is a uniform. The ESPN introductory music before/after play/session is something that still lingers in our memory. The new ones may be good, I’m not to judge. But, the old one was what we grew up with, and we loved it.

Cricket has been a minting ground for advertisers. Advertisers were in cricket before, they are here now. Only, more in numbers. And in many more ways.

Long ago, I remember games at Sharjah having rope boundary, long lengths of the ground being cordoned with “Khaleej Times” advertisement boards, and a tall tower holding the sponsor of the current tournament, and also displaying the schedule and participating team of the next tournament at Sharjah.

Today, advertisers have taken every inch of space and speech available. Ropes are dressed with advertisers’ name on them, brand names fight for advertisement boards near the boundary, the stadia are pasted with additional posters, the what is supposed to look lush green square is painted with multiple advertisers’ names stretching more than 20 yards in any direction, the stumps, umpires’ shirts, the sight screen, the bats… The advertisers are everywhere you see. And then there are the worst layers of commentators even parrots would disown who would senselessly repeat the name of sponsors for boundaries, catches, wickets, drops, hit wickets, no balls, body blows and whatever else you can imagine.

And there there are advertisement breaks that cut in before the last ball is fielded in the deep. There are advertisements that shrink the screen and prop up. There are advertisements than prop up on the screen like a brilliant Telugu movie graphic so it appears like the brand’s motor bike is actually on ground and then it disappears, putting me in awe one moment and in anger the next.

Then, there is this sea of statistics that were invented. What is one going to do with the knowledge of speed off the bat, or distance of a six is beyond me. Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to. And in test matches, I don’t even want to know how many balls the batsman has faced. I actually don’t even care about replays being shown hot-spot. I can see the batsman middle the ball, I don’t have to ogle over a hot-spot replay of it. I don’t even want to see the hawk-eye replay of the last over as frequently as it is shown.

I would love to save this time to show some spectators on TV. They long for such moments. The old man snoring wakes up and wears a sheepish grin. The young woman blushes behind her boy-friend’s shoulders, the ball boys frantically wave their hands at the screen while turning their heads the other way to see it on the big screen, two girls tap each other and point at the camera and you can lip read them shout “I Love Sachin”… You can actually give the crowd some air-time.  They take some time thinking over their chart/placard, the face art, the wig, the slogans. It will not hurt to give the people who sustain it something back.

Sitting at home, I want to drink this beauty while watching cricket

If the cheerleaders are to attract people to the ground, don’t show them on TV. I can see gyrating people on many other channels on my television. But anyway, I don’t think cheerleaders are ones who should attract people to the grounds. It should be Hashim Amla’s cover drives, Virat Kohli’s leg flicks, Saeed Ajmal’s doosras, Ross Taylor’s wave of hands to the spectators… One has to want to see it live.

I have very little experience of live match viewing, none of limited over cricket. But, I tell you, to watch somebody like Ambati Rayudu bat all day, go through different gears was much better to watch at the beautiful Motibaug Stadium here in Baroda, than on the TV sets. Same with Irfan Pathan’s swing.

The television should try to bring as much of the in-stadia experience to the people back home as possible. If the commentators stopped talking during the deliveries, one could sometimes hear (the silence of) the spectators holding their breath, or slowly pumping their voices up when the bowler runs in at a crucial juncture. The commentators should know when to be silent, instead of advertising on air.

I don’t want to know what feature the new Micromax mobile has whenever the cricket takes a break. There are enough mobile stores nearby. Heck, I don’t even want to buy your memorabilia. I want to see the batsmen talk in the middle, the keeper talk to slips, the square leg fielder share a joke with the umpire, the crater on the moon (they showed a lot of that when day/night games started at Sharjah).

Not all of us get to travel to these grounds. But all of want to know how good London is. What Sydney looks like. Where people in Auckland go when free. Except for games in Sri Lanka and West Indies, you would have no clue what is around the stadium.

Come on, bring on the good old days. On TV, I want to watch cricket and things around it, not advertisements.

(photo credit : http://bensix.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/most-beautiful-view-in-the-world/ )

- Bagrat

May I Celebrate?

I’m just past my college days which, I guess, added something good to my brain. There is this final phase of college where students would get recruited into companies, “Campus Recruitment”. I still remember my classmates and friends getting placed into their wonderful companies. Some got into their “dream company”. I had seen that twice, too. It is a happy occasion. They (me too) go through a tough time before that – their track record is scanned through, they sit tests and interviews, get shortlisted and scrutinized and at the end of a long, long day (maybe more), few of them are selected. From the moment the result is announced, it is just about celebration; celebration of success. And there is nobody to stop that, why would anyone want to?

While a majority of the cricket fans don’t like the aspect of bowling, they do know that it is one where the player toils a lot for success. A bowler has to bowl 10 or 15 or 20 overs a day in tests, and probably just the max of 10 in an ODI. There may be millions of plans on how to get a batsman out, but the plan needs the bowler to execute it with the help of precise field placement (maybe a bit of sledging too). The efforts made are for just the one thing – the wicket of the batsman. That is what every bowler wants, and it is no secret.

The moment a bowler bags a wicket, (s)he is all smiles (or expletives) over his success. Emotions flow out. They may be very happy ones, or just relieved ones. Some celebrate it with just a wide grin (Christopher Gayle), while some prefer to jog the length of the stadium (Imran Tahir).

The Airplane celebration, Shoaib Akhtar

It is so beautiful to watch. Those emotions are directly linked to the wicket claimed and the efforts put in to claim it. It won’t come again, even if paid to repeat so.

Just like you don’t like to hear “You got the job” and the next day “Please wait, we will go through your documents and confirm if you did get your job.”, no bowler likes to hear “That looks out, but please wait while we confirm if you were over-stepping.” Or, “Oh, stop celebrating. The decision has been reviewed.”

Bowlers are half-way through their celebration when the umpire asks the batsman to wait, while the umpire goes to the TV umpire to check if the bowler landed his foot right. This is not a one-off occasion where the umpire may have missed out on noticing the foot, but has become a rather frequent issue recently.

There is technology for support, but that has made the umpires very lethargic. If they can’t check the bowlers’ feet and the ball thereafter, I don’t know why they are suited up and standing out there.

There is only muted celebration when the team forms a huddle with the man with drinks when the umpire confirms the fall of the wicket 2 minutes after the event. A couple of hi-5s, encouraging words from the captain and then they move on. That looked more like those businessmen shaking hands and posing for photographs after signing an MoU. No fun, just wide grins.

I understand that it is a different case with DRS, where the batsman would challenge the umpire’s decision that went against him. But, to check for no-balls otherwise when a wicket falls seems ridiculous. Also what is ridiculous- they check ONLY when a wicket falls. Many have noticed multiple times bowlers bowling back-foot no-balls, and the umpires not noticing that at all. And who knows how many boundaries were off a no-ball? Shouldn’t those be checked too? Well, yes. There is a word for why it should be checked – “JOB”.

“S.O.S., 3rd Umpire”

If the umpires are so incompetent, then the day is not far when a batsman would be caught at long on, and then the 11 fielders will appeal to the umpire  (who probably has popcorn in one hand, Reader’s Digest in the other) who would then signal to the 3rd umpire, who would then take 3 minutes to determine whether or not the catch is genuine. Or whether or not he has already read that edition of Reader’s Digest.

Dear umpire, when I bag a wicket, I want to celebrate. Don’t knock on my door.

- Bagrat

(image courtesy Yahoo! and Daily Mail)

Aye! Where are me yorkers?

The batsmen are becoming crafty, all forms of the game have seen faster scoring, and pitches are becoming easier to score on. The one thing I can’t see an effort in, is from the bowlers trying to help themselves stop the batsmen treat them as slaves.

In the last few years, the bowlers’ biggest development, or innovation, has only been the slower ball. Why,  it has been used so much that I can’t tell if a bowler is using the faster ‘un as a special delivery (Jade Dernbach). Or worse, the slow medium pace bowlers are banked upon for wickets, like Sammy or Pollard. My eyes go wide if I see an Indian bowler trespass the 85 mph mark. Even Ishant Sharma doesn’t bother trying. Anyway, it is not just about the pace when it comes to pace bowling. It helps if you have lateral movement, and you can cover-up for lack in pace. Asif used to be like that. Praveen Kumar too.

A bowler bowls to the batsman, he has the first right to enforce the theme of a delivery. They have a 6’x4′ board plane 20 yards away to hit, anywhere  in that zone, anywhere that can benefit them as much as possible. And it will be a wrapped X-mas gift to a batsman if you are telling him, “Don’t worry, it’s only going to be a 5’x4′ target map! Cheers!”

Where are the yorkers? Have they been banned? Are the bowlers afraid to use one of the most poisonous weapon they have? Has Malinga patented it? Is there nobody to coach you to bowl one? Do you like the batsman’s toe-nails? Are they marrying the batsman at the other end?

Or is it just too much to ask of a bowler who can bowl to anywhere between the second slip to leg slip and to anywhere from the knee to over the keeper’s head? Batsmen who don’t have three strokes in their book play “lap” or “ramp” or “scoop” shots and act like they are the kings of the world. Well, they will if you bend over like a slave and send them juicy half volleys and just pray they simply mis-hit one of them to the short fine leg fielder.

Eras of bowling units before and after my birth have feasted on batsmen with the yorker as one of their primary weapon. I watched Fire In Babylon, and it was exciting when I heard Andy Roberts say of Joel Garner, “He is either coming at your toes, or up at your neck.” With a wingspan like Garner’s, any batsman would be worried about that fact. Today, batsmen can wear flip-flops to the batting crease so their pink nail-polish can dry without the slightest worry of the ball coming anywhere within half-a-foot of those.

“Grovel Greig” getting his ‘poles knocked over’ by the resurgent West Indians

Australia, in the 2007 World Cup had a plan to bowl really full during the death overs. It is very hard to get under the ball if you are bowling very full, trying to york the batsmen as much as possible. If the batsmen charge, they are only yorking themselves at a ball that was otherwise going to be very full. Either way, it is going to be hard to get away with. Today, bowlers depend on slower balls, wide deliveries, slow bouncers, half-volleys… They try to think too much, try to over-think the batsmen. Why? Keep it simple, build and stick to a plan. A batsman is helpless until the ball comes out of the bowler’s hands. A bowler has got to dictate the line and length.

Is it hard to practice? No. Do you need a coach? No. Lasith Malinga, who is probably the only person who can (well, I have no proof anybody else can) bowl the yorker, says he perfected it by keeping a pair of shoes at the batting crease in the nets and kept bowling at them until he was sure he could do that with his eyes closed; at any pace. Bowling a yorker is rocket science for other bowlers, bowling that at varying pace must be a world away from learning!

Pakistani bowlers were known to come at your toes. Even Umar Gul had good yorkers and was feared in the slog overs. Now, the Pakistani bowling depends more on their spinners than the pacers, even at the death.

I really don’t care about spinners bowling yorkers. It is less of a weapon, than a “I don’t know what to do, you keep hitting me no matter where I pitch the ball” delivery.

Will we get to see more yorkers in the future? I would love to see that. Do I think  so? No. I’ve lost all hopes. I thought of counting the number of deliveries between yorkers (across innings and games), but then I realised I’m barking at a tree that does not exist.

In case you find any yorkers lying around, do return them to cricket. However, if you want to mint money out of it, give it to Sports Online and they will sell it on Channel Nine as Memorabilia.

-Bagrat

Indian cricket Paes for its dilemma!

It has been brought to our notice that in the last few days, several new developments have occurred behind the scenes that will rock Indian cricket in the immediate future. In particular, news has emerged that India players have placed new and unusual demands to the board in response to the lack of publicity they have received in the last few weeks. Sources within 100km proximity of these players indicate that the players are frustrated that other sports of little value to India (meaning tennis, badminton, chess (is that even a sport?)) have hogged the limelight. We at i3j3 can with nearly 1% certainty say that there is a probability that some India may more than likely come out with the following individual demands:

1. Sachin Tendulkar will only one day internationals for India if he is allowed to practice with a bowler who is unlikely to play on the opposing side but knows the opposition’s bowling strengths.
2. Gautam Gambhir will only play if he is given the vice captaincy and Virat Kohli is only considered after Virender Sehwag is given a chance.
3. Virat Kohli will only play if he is referred to as a youngster and Rohit Sharma remains his idol without ver getting a chance to play test cricket.
4. Manoj Tiwary will only play if Laxmi Ratan Shukla is not given captaincy of Bengsl in his absence.
5. Harbhajan’s Singh will only play if R. Ashwin is dropped from the side.
6. Zaheer Khan will only play if his hairstyle is not commented on by Ravi Shastri but is okay if commented on by Harsha Bhogle.
7. Rohit Sharma will only play if Virat Kohli does not consider him his idol and he is allowed to throw his wicket away at least once every two games.
8. V.V.S. Laxman will only if Rahul Dravid will play so that he can discuss quality of modern constructions at first slip.
9. Rahul Dravid will only play until he retires.
10. Dhoni will only play if players place no demands and he can ride his motorcycle at night.

I3j3 is committed to only posting updates to this list as when it’s readers predict future unrealistic scenarios.

The BCCI is extremely concerned that no cricketer has yet written an earnest open letter criticizing it on its administrative capabilities. It has hired Institute of Mathematicsl Sciences in Chennai to solve this complex problem and provide a Mathematicsl solution that it can take to ICC to oppose Duckworth Lewis. Maybe they need a super beta prostate. Math Sciences has demanded that India Cement sponsor this study and that the results be only interpreted by N. Srinivasan. Mr. Srinivasan has requested K. Srikkanth to be his spokesperson.

Updates to follow at infrequent intervals as determined by the mathematical model developed by Duckworth Lewis.

- Srikanth (inspired by twitter posting by Sanjay Subrahmanyan)
9.