Monthly Archives: September 2007

Rohit Brijnath on Dhoni

Nice article in The Hindu about Dhoni. One of the paragraph reflects my own thoughts on the subject –

Dhoni has earned his million love letters, and a period where India should suspend judgement and let him grow. He had better be as tough as he looks for the BCCI’s job is simply to make his harder. Giving one crore to Yuvraj Singh for hitting six shots, however beautiful, is not just vulgar in a poor country, it is a celebration of individualism when Indian captains are valiantly trying to sell the idea of ‘team’. But then officials, who pushed themselves into the team photograph in South Africa, thrive on playing to the gallery.

-Mahesh-

No deadline for Coach!

After Greg Chappell’s resignation in March, the BCCI initially said that it would have a Team India Coach ready and appointed by the time the team left for England in late-June. That deadline passed. Then it said it would have a coach ready by the time the Twenty20 Championship came around. That deadline slipped. Then it indicated that the coach would be ready for the home series against Australia and Pakistan. That deadline came and went. Then as recently as last week, the BCCI said that the coach would be ready before the away series to Australia in December.

Now, in a thoroughly distasteful development, the BCCI postponed todays’ coach-selection meeting at Bangalore and, furthermore, issued a statement that it was not going to fix any deadline on the appointment of a coach!

Initially, the reason provided for the delay was the non-availability of Messers Gavaskar and Shastri, who were both busy on commentary duty! And yet, it is Ravi Shastri who has been approached to Chair the National Cricket Academy, post Kapil Dev’s sacking! One does wonder if Gavaskar and Shastri were the only two cricketers to ever play for India! No one can and will deny that these two fine gentlemen did play for India — and with distinction too — but surely there are a few hundred other honest ex-cricketers in search of a plum job!

Why was the recent coach-selection meeting postponed? Well, because, “Our president (Sharad Pawar) was not available for the meeting. We have not met yet and gone through any applications for the job that have been received by us,” BCCI Treasurer, N. Srinivasan said.

So rather than embarass themselves once again — surely, they must be used to it by now after a string of repeat performances on-demand and at will — the BCCI refused to put any further deadline on the coach-appointment. Aaah! Smart thinking 99. However, N. Srinivasan did commit to the appointment being, “done in reasonably quick time“.

But the real pearl from the media release was this one, “There has been little time. Players have just come back from England and then from the World Twenty20 Cup. We have back-to-back matches against Australia,” he added.

Hang on a minute! Are the players playing these matches or are Srinivasan, Pandove, Pawar, Shastri, Gavaskar, Venkatraghavan and Shetty playing for India? Haven’t these dills understood that their role is to select the coach and not to either play the game or indeed, watch it! There is a job to be done guys. The players will play. You guys need to administer the game!

— Mohan

Indian Team for the first India V Australia ODI

The selectors announced a few days back that Rohit Sharma would replace the injured Piyush Chawla in the team for the first ODI. Ho hum! Team India may surprise us by winning the T20 World Championship trophy. But the selectors will continue along their merry ways. Some things just do not change, I guess! A bowler for a batsman? Only in India…

Here was a captain who, by throwing the ball to Joginder Sharma in the last over of two consecutive crunch-matches, had made an important statement about a young medium-pace-bowling allrounder itching to make it to the world stage. And here, through a freak training injury to a bowler, was an opportunity to strengthen both the bowlers’ confidence as well as the captains’ hand! And the selectors went for a batsman instead!

But that’s the hand Dhoni has been dealt with. It will now be interesting to see if Dhoni plays all three former-captains in his team. I do not believe he should. I feel Ganguly should be sat down in this match.

My ideal team for todays’ match would be:

Sachin Tendulkar
Gautam Gambhir
Robin Uthappa
Rahul Dravid
Yuvraj Singh
MS Dhoni
Irfan Pathan
Harbhajan Singh
S Sreesanth
Zaheer Khan
Rudra Pratap Singh

I’d go for Harbhajan Singh over Romesh Powar for this game merely because Harbhajan’s confidence and rhythm will probably be higher after the T20 matches he has played.

— Mohan

Australian Humility: The Symonds way…

This was prompted by Mahesh’s excellent earlier post on the comments of Andrew Symonds over the post-Twenty20 victory-celebrations in India. It is quite clear that the celebrations have gotten under the skins of the Australian team and it is clear that the Aussies are totally cheesed-off at the loss. It perhaps did not help that they landed in India when the celebrations were on. So it must have been “in their faces” a bit — like rubbing salt on the wounds of a wounded tiger, if I am allowed to mix my metaphors!

It is fine for them to be fired up about it. This somewhat uncharacteristically lethargic Australian team probably needed something to fire it up. And this may have been just the tonic that they were looking for. And India must be wary of the wounded tiger.

But humility? I can understand strong, powerful, aggressive, class, excellent, robust, indefatigable, relentless, remorseless, unfaltering, overwhelming, overpowering, etc as adjectives to describe this superb outfit. They are good, no doubt. But I have always held the view that they are probably one of the most hated team in world cricket. They are a terrific outfit. But humble?

For the record here below is a clip of the unceremonoius Sharad Pawar shove-off-stage from the Champions Trophy winners’ dias which starts off with Ponting demanding that he be given the trophy. If I am not mistaken, Symonds is the last guy (of four perhaps?) to hustle Pawar off the stage. Yeah very humbly done Symo…

— Mohan

T20 match reviews from Sportstar

Here are the reviews for the matches in the Super8’s and knockout games –

And here is Rohit Brijnath’s feature article on T20 – It is excitable, unruly, unsubtle and fun.

-Mahesh-

Symonds says…

Symonds has criticized the way the Indians have celebrated. He has obviously been pissed off at the reception that the Indian team got at Mumbai and also the way the team celebrated soon after beating Pakistan in the final.

This is what he had to say –

Something has been sparked inside of me, watching them carry on over the last few days. We have had a very successful side and I think watching how we celebrate and how they celebrate, I think we have been pretty humble in the way we have gone about it.

And personally, I think they have got far too carried away with their celebrations. It has definitely sparked passion inside of us. It has certainly spiced it up as well

Yup. I’ve watched how you guys celebrate, Symonds – like shoving the President of an International Cricket Board out of the stage after winning. If you call that humble celebrations, I would like to know how you would celebrate when you are not.

For a country like India were cricket is the second religion and where the sport hasn’t seen much success, winning the World cup without big name players is a big deal and giving the team a 20km ticker tape welcome is a way of celebrating their success. Don’t tell me there are no ticker tape parades in Australia – I even remember being  in the crowd in this one .

Symonds has also said this –

Something gets triggered inside of you, something is burning inside of you – it is your will for success or your animal instinct that wants to bring another team down. We have been at the top for so long, it is like someone has taken the favourite thing you own from you and you want it back

Now, I can understand that. Australia have been the top side in World cricket and it ought to hurt when you get beaten and I am sure it will stir you up. I am also sure Australia will bounce back, for it has the players and the experience to do so – but I don’t quite understand why you need to bag the way other teams (or nations) celebrate…

-Mahesh-

Player contracts…

The BCCI appears to have sorted out the new contracts for 2007-08 for Team India players. They have also increased both the contract-amount payable for each Grade as well as the number of Grades.

In the previous round, the contracts raised a few eyebrows, especially with respect to Zaheer Khan who languished in Grade-C! Zaheer Khan now moves to Grade A! The graded players for the previous round were:

  • Grade-A (Rs 50 lakh/yr plus match fee): Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni.
  • Grade-B (Rs 35 lakh/yr plus match fee): V. V. S. Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar.
  • Grade-C (Rs 20 lakh/yr plus match fee): Gautam Gambhir, Wasim Jaffer, Sree Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Suresh Raina, Munaf Patel.

The new contracts issued yesterday has the following make up:

  • Grade-A (Rs 60 lakh/yr plus match fee): Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni, Zaheer Khan. [7 players]
  • Grade-B (Rs 40 lakh/yr plus match fee): V. V. S. Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Wasim Jaffer, S Sreesanth, Dinesh Karthik, R. P. Singh. [8 players]
  • Grade-C (Rs 25 lakh/yr plus match fee): Suresh Raina, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla. [7 players]
  • Grade-D: (Rs 15 lakh/yr plus match fee) Rohit Sharma, Joginder Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Ishant Sharma, Ranadeb Bose, Mohammad Kaif, Cheteshwar Pujara, Parthiv Patel, S Badrinath, Aakash Chopra and Yusuf Pathan. [11 players]

That represents a 33-player list split up into 4 different grades — the previous list had only 17 players! So this is already a step in the right direction by the BCCI contracts committee.

Zaheer Khan moved two grades up to Grade-A which offers a retainer of Rs 60 lakhs pa.

Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar drop to Grade-C from Grade-B while Gautam Gambhir, Wasim Jaffer, Sreesanth, Dinesh Karthik and R. P. Singh step up a grade. Grade-B @ Rs 40 lakhs pa, sees a pay hike of 5 lakhs pa.

Ramesh Powar, Robin Uthappa and Piyush Chawla are new entrants into Grade-C which, at Rs 25 lakhs pa, also sees a pay-hike of 5 lakhs!

Grade-D @ Rs 15 lakhs pa is a new grade and accommodates 11 new players in the ‘system’.

My view is that this is a fairer representation of the talent in India and is also, perhaps, a more fair gradation. Rathnakar Shetty, N. Srinivasan and their crew appear to have got it right. One can question the details, but the priniciples appear to be right.

In addition, any player who is not on the above contract/retainership list but was selected to play for India in Tests or ODIs, would be automatically placed in the Grade D for the rest of the year. Again, this appears to be fair. In addition, a Grade-D player who plays either 5 Tests or 15 ODIs in a year for India would automatically move to Grade-C.

Looks reasonably good to me.

— Mohan