Monthly Archives: May 2007

My ramblings for the week

  • India won the Bangladesh series, but still lost! The heat and humidity took its toll. Playing against a lowly ranked nation ensured that the series had no impact on its test rankings. Issues before the series still remain issues after the series and people ended up criticizing the players/team no matter what.
  • Who is the new coach? It seemed like Whatmore was a clear favorite, but it appears not. Shastri (who would have been the ideal candidate) has his commitments, and doesn’t want to continue. Some players have asked for a foreign coach. Some, like Miandad think (who cares what he thinks anyway?) it is a bad idea. If we don’t pick a foreign coach, who would we pick – Jimmy Amarnath, Sandeep Patil, Madan Lal? Maybe we should think about someone like – Sanjay Manjrekar. He doesn’t have much coaching background, but neither did Shastri. The trouble is people who are capable don’t want the job.  If Whatmore gets the job, I would like to see Robin Singh being made the assistant coach. While Prasad continues on as the bowling coach, we should go hire separate batting and fielding coaches. While on this topic, how about getting a coach for the spinners? And with 2 wicket keepers in the team, we could do with a WK coach. At the rate at which I am going, we will have more coaches than players in the team 🙂 But the thing is some of these posts do not have to be full time permanent ones.
  • Around 30 players were selected for a camp for the England tour. Beating the second best test team in the world in their own backyard is not going to be easy and as the domestic season in India is over, players (like Sehwag, Pathan etc) would have had no way of proving themselves. Hopefully, the camp will provide them an opportunity. The England tour will be tough even without Flintoff
  • The South Africa/India ODI series in Belfast is now in doubt. Good! The schedule is still packed though and India will play just one tour game in Australia before the test series. Not an ideal preparation for a tough tour.

-Mahesh-

Harsha Bhogle on Tendulkar

This commentary on tendulkar is absolute gold. Harsha has the last word on the genius…

– Srikanth

Not just Whatmore!

The next 3 or 4 days, all cricket news in India will be centered around the new coach to be appointed. Already Dav Whatmore is being considered the top favorite for the post. Meanwhile Cricinfo reports that both Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev are keen that India have a home grown coach, while the players prefer a foreigner. But the most interesting piece of news is another name that has just cropped up.

It is that of Graham Ford a South African. Who is this guy? Some digging inside Cricinfo revealed this

“Unassuming and determinedly low key, Graham Ford ascended gradually to the position of South African coach, by-passing several bigger and more familiar names along the way. A competent all-round sportsman, Ford is a former provincial tennis champion, has provincial colours for football and is a qualified rugby union referee to go with his cricketing credentials. As a player, Ford had an eight-year first-class career in the Natal B team during the 1980s, but as a coach he moved steadily through the ranks, from the University of the Natal team, through the Natal Colts side to become senior Natal coach in 1992. He was the first to admit that he was fortunate with Natal in having Malcolm Marshall and Clive Rice on hand to help him guide a crop of outstanding young players which included Shaun Pollock, Jonty Rhodes, Lance Klusener, Neil Johnson, Dale Benkenstein and Errol Stewart. At the same time, his personalised approach proved not only popular, but effective as Natal astounded South Africa in the 1996-97 season by winning the domestic first-class and one-day competitions. He had already had a go at coaching the South African A team and in 1998 took the A side on tour to Sri Lanka. At the beginning of 1999, Ford was appointed assistant to Bob Woolmer in New Zealand, a role he carried through to the 1999 World Cup, before taking over the senior position when Woolmer’s contract ran out after the World Cup. In his time, they won nine of the 11 series under his guidance.. The Hansiegate Affair, however, has massively disrupted the South African side, and Ford was fired in 2001. Many believed he unfairly paid the price for internal power games within South African cricket. He moved to Kent as director of cricket in 2004, and while there oversaw an influx of South African players to the county. In 2006 he returned home to take charge of the Dolphins. ”

Of couse Cricinfo always has a way of coming with bits of info much before anybody else. The last time India chose a coach, there was a third candidate, Desmond Haynes, who I though was invited just to make up the numbers for the interview. Maybe it is the same this time and a new name has been dropped into the hat, especially after Whatmore’s statement in the press yesterday that he has not yet been offered a job in India.  I am sure another name or two will come up in the next few days before the BCCI meeting on June 4th. Meanwhile let the discussions begin.

– Sanjay

So India, Dravid and Tendulkar win a lose-lose series…

Rahul Dravid has kept his head on his shoulders and feet on the ground after the win against Bangladesh. He did acknowledge that this was always going to be a “lose-lose series” for India. “Had we not done well, people would have said, ‘What’s happening?’ Had we won, it’s not a big deal. So it was tough in that sense.”

I like the poise with which Dravid speaks. His words are measured and not much has been out of place ever — apart from that outburst against Chetan Desai, Manager of Team India to South Africa wherein he is reported to have said, “I have read cricketing history and Desai’s name does not figure anywhere“.

His recent post-win interview reflects a balanced individual with a clear sense of perspective. He called this a lose-lose series.

But this was not merely a lose-lose series for India. It was a lose-lose-lose series. If India had done well, the cynics would have been out with the “After all this was agaisnt the minnows. So what the heck are you celebrating for?” wisecracks. If they had lost, the couch-potatoes would have woken from their slumber to chuck the very same potatoes at the team. The third lose facet is the physical dimension. This was an energy-sapping series. And it came at a time when Team India is going to be busier than I have ever known it to be — a series in Ireland with Ireland and South Africa (from June 23); an ODI against Pakistan (July 3); a tour of England for Tests and ODIs (from July 3 to September 8); the ICC Twenty20 Cup (from September 11 to September 24); a tour to Pakistan (October and November); a tour to Australia (December 2007 to March 2008)…

So it came at a pretty intense time for Team India in the aftermath of a disastrous World Cup campaign.

Given all of that, it was a reasonable performance against the team.

Tendulkar had a lose-lose-lose campaign too. If he had done well the cynics would have questioned the strength of the opposition. If he had done reasonably, they would have asked why he hadn’t done better. If he had done terribly, they would have asked for his blood!

But Dravid puts things in perspective when he talks to the bigger challenge that awaits them in England and beyond. But then, as Dravid says, “the conditions, opponents will be different”.

— Mohan

Team India Dressing room rifts and “politicking”

Recently there has been talk of “politicking” in the Team India dressing room. This has also been drawn out in an extensive debate on this blogsite.

Today, Ravi Shastri, in a candid interview, dismisses any such conjectures and postulations.

He said,

“I thought that was nonsense. I know now that it is absolute nonsense. I don’t know what happens two months down the line. Right now it’s absolute nonsense.”

This is quite a big statement from Ravi Shastri who is, essentially, a journalist/media-commentator these days. So, a bold and incontrovertible statement of this sort is not easy. In the past I have observed that he has always been the sort that has left the door ajar to interpretation when it comes to tricky questions. On some questions, of course, he doesn’t leave much doubt. This statement above clearly leaves no doubt in anyones’ mind. Of course, he has brought himself a futures-option by saying he would not know “what happens two months down the line”. Even so, this is a clear statement (data/evidence) from an honourable man.

I like the way he says in the interview, “That’s dressing room stuff. We have discussed a lot, we have gone one-on-one with each individual.”

Sadly (in my view), Greg Chappell did not quite believe in “dressing room stuff” and let many a cat out of the bag to (perhaps) suit his own needs. There are times when one can be loose-mouthed (or trigger-fingered in these days of instant-messages and emails) and there are times when it is right to play your cards close to your chest.

It is a pity that Ravi Shastri is not available for a longer gig.

— Mohan

The opposition view

Here are a few links to the Bangladesh newspaper’s coverage of the action –

(Some of these links change on a daily basis, so if it takes you to another article, don’t blame me 🙂 )

-Mahesh-

What is Bhajji up to?

I came across this interesting video interview by Bhajji on what he is doing to make a come back and recapture his glory days!!

– Vish

Srinath’s words of wisdom

Srinath has made some very interesting comments and provided, what I think to be, valuable advice to the bowlers, in this article. His comments on Zaheer Khan are especially very interesting. I also tend to agree with his views on the two types of captaincy, a bowling captain seems to be a more practical option.

 – Srikanth

Leave Tendulkar Alone!!!!

The tirade against Tendulkar has reached new idiocy levels. It is one thing to expect volatile, immature, irrational followers of Indian cricket to make ludicrous charges against the great man, it it totally another for the so-called reporters of the game to write irresponsibly. The article by Siddharth Monga in cricinfo is a case in point. It seems that Sachin is in a damned if I do, damned if I don’t situation with these charlatans. He fails, and they are after his blood, he scores and they seek more blood, he scores slowly and he is compared with Ponting and on and on. Tendulkar should probably approach these buffoons on a daily basis and ask for a “to-do list” and perform like an assembly line cricketer. Mohan has repeatedly mentioned on this blog as to how Tendulkar of today is not the same one we may have seen even two years back, he has changed, he has become more human and he struggles like everybody else. But is there anyone, anywhere in the horizon of Indian cricket today who can do any better. For goodness sake, he has scored two centuries pretty much back to back and has put India in positions of winning on both occasions. As I have mentioned earlier, the ball is literally in the bowlers’ half, they did not perform in Chittagong, hopefully they will deliver here in Mirpur. What if he attempted to score quickly after Dravid got out and triggered a collapse? India have managed to reach a score which practically closes the door on them having to bat again, they have provided more than enough time for the bowlers to get even a more reputable side out twice. And Tendulkar has played a very crucial role in bringing India to this position. Give it a break guys, leave the fella alone, he has delivered in the past albeit differently, he continues to deliver in a more humanistic way. Why does he alone have to always prove himself to ridiculous levels of detail (thank god they have left his personal life alone, else, given a chance, they will start questioning his way of raising kids as well I suppose!!). He is a champion, will continue to be one, and will always remain the greatest player to have graced our generation for me….

– Srikanth

Team India Probables for England series

The selectors have chosen 29 players as “probables” for the England series. The team will be selected on June 12th after two “conditioning camps”; one for bowlers, in Mysore (June 4-8) and one for batsmen, in Bangalore (June 9-12). The selected team will then have a camp at the NCA in Bangalore on June 13-16.

The 14 Bowlers for the bowlers’ camp are:

Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh, V R V Singh, Ishant Sharma, S Sreesanth, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Ranadeb Bose, Munaf Patel, Anil Kumble, Ramesh Powar, Rajesh Pawar, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Oza.

Piyush Chawla and V Yo Mahesh will be at the Australian Cricket Academy from June 2 and so, have not been included.

The group of 16 bowlers (including the 2 who will be in Australia) perhaps represents the best bowlers in the land and seems to be fair. There are no real surprises there, I’d say — although one might say that Ajit Agrakar is always a surprise in any selection!

The 15 batsmen who have been chosen are:

Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Wasim Jaffer, V V S Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, M S Dhoni, Dinesh Kartik, Rohit Sharma, Mohd Kaif, S Badrinath and Yuvraj Singh.

Again, there are no surprises there. It is certainly nice to see Mohammed Kaif back in there. Tiwary misses out. Although his operation was successfully completed in London, he will not have recovered in time to make the cut! Suresh Raina is on the outer. He will have to work hard next season to come back into the minds of the selectors.

— Mohan