Monthly Archives: October 2007

Rahul Dravid for “player coach” anyone?

As confusion continues to surround India’s coach-search, here is a left-field solution for Team India “coach”.

What do we know?

  • Rahul Dravid is in the last few years of his tenure as Team India player.
  • He is a deep thinker and a student of the game.
  • He is also perhaps a bit unsuer of his team-role after his captaincy relinquishment — and that reflected in his uncharacterestically lackadaisical ODI batting in the series against Australia.
  • The Team India players respect him as a thorough gentleman.

Why not appoint him as “player coach” and even a “coach in waiting” with Venkatesh Prasad (bowling coach) and Robin Singh (fielding coach) as his assistants?

Why him? And why not any of the others in the Big 3 of Big 4 or Big 5 as player-coach?

A couple of reasons spring to mind (although I need to think this through some more).

But before I develop this further, any comments/views on this left-field idea?

— Mohan

The India ODI team I’d like to see for the games against Pakistan

As I mentioned in an earlier post, keeping in mind the hectic schedule that is on the cards for Team India over the next 6 months and given the importance of the flagship series against Pakistan and Australia coming up, it would be best if the selectors rested Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from ODI duties for the series against Pakistan. That is probably the best thing that can happen for Indian cricket right now provided the alternative is sensible — and this could be tested out somewhat in the Challenger Series that starts tomorrow (25th Oct 2007) at Ahmedabad.

By skipping the Pakistan ODIs that go from 5 November to 18 November, Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly would be fresh for the Tests against Pakistan that commence 22 Nov. Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar should turn out Karnataka, West Bengal and Mumbai (respectively). Mumbai plays Karnataka and Bengal plays Hyderabad in the first games of the Ranjis this year! They would be handy matches for the Big-3! In the second round that starts 15 November, although Karnataka has an easy outing against Himachal Pradesh, Bengal plays Baroda and Mumbai plays Tamil Nadu.

Provided the Big-3 get asked to play the Ranji games, following is the ODI team I’d like to see for Team India against Pakistan:

Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Robin Uthappa
Yuvraj Singh (vice-captain)
Rohit Sharma / S. Badrinath / Suresh Raina / Manoj Tiwary / Mohammed Kaif [2 of these 5]
M. S. Dhoni
Praveen Kumar / Yusuf Pathan / Joginder Sharma [2 of these 3]
Irfan Pathan
Harbhajan Singh / Murali Kartik / Piyush Chawla [2 of these 3]
Sreesanth
Zaheer Khan / R. P. Singh

Views/comments?

— Mohan

Challenger Series…

The Challenger Series starts tomorrow (October 25 2007) in Ahmedabad. It will run for 4 days with the Final to be played on October 28th at the same venue.

It is a flagship ODI tournament for the N. K. P. Salve Cup and, coming on the heels of the Irani Trophy, signifies the curtain raiser for the domestic season. It has also been the platform for many an impressive showing. Suresh Raina and Piyush Chawla were already good young players when they played the Challengers in the last few years. But their performances in the Challengers shot them into the national conscience — and national team selection.

Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan talks of some strange exclusions and inclusions in this years’ episode in his Cricinfo piece.

Big-name players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, R. P. Singh, Irfan Pathan, are not playing. And now, with Piyush Chawla having recovered, Murali Kartik has also been rested! Why? He has only played a handful of games in the last few weeks. Why should Kartik not play on in the Challengers? I just don’t get it. I’d have thought that more time in the middle merely serves to augment match-fitness and match-readiness, especially for a spinner!

I have already mentioned in an earlier post that I find it strange that R. P. Singh, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan are not playing. Yes, the road ahead is littered with matches, but it is not likely that R. P. Singh and Sreesanth will play all of those games and Irfan Pathan is only now getting into a solid rhythm and momentum. In my view, they should have played this series. It is also strange, albeit understandable, that V. V. S. Laxman does not figure. Another strange exclusion is V. R. V. Singh.

As Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan says, the galling feature is the dominance of the West Zone players. Simultanesouly, the absence of players from Rajasthan (finalists in the Ranji ODI Championship last year) apart from Pankaj Singh and Karnataka (quarter-finalists in the Ranji ODI Championship) is quite galling. I’d have thought that at least Shailender Gehlot (Rajasthan) and Barrington Rowland (Karnataka) would have had a look in. This is particularly so in light of some strange inclusions, like Siddharth Trivedi. The case of Satyajit Sathbai’s inclusion makes good comic material even by BCCI standards! Initially, it seems Satyajit Parab’s name was announced. A day later, it was retracted and another Satyajit’s name was included — this time, the right one… Sathbai. But even his inclusion reads silly. I can’t see what Sathbai has done to warrant inclusion in the team! Tanmay Srivatsa, Pradeep Sangwan, M. Vijay, C. Raghu, B. Akhil and J. Arunkumar are others that can feel quite miffed at being left out.

And the name Yadav is apparently worth quite a bit in Indian cricket these days! Young lans will not be blamed for queueing up at magistrates courts across the land to change their surname to Yadav!!

With a growing expectation that the Big 3 will be rested for the Pakistan ODIs, the time is ripe for the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Mohammed Kaif, S. Badrinath, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, and Manoj Tiwary to make a strong statement or two.

It will also present an opportunity for Munaf Patel to redeem himself in the eyes of the selectors. Yo Mahesh should grab this opportunity too.

I expect Yusuf Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Joginder Sharma and Pankaj Singh to emerge strongly from this though. This is a wonderful opportunity for these players to make their cases and emerge to give confidence to the selectors that they can address team-balance with these sorts of players. Having said that, Pankaj Singh is less of a batsman than Pathan, Kumar or Sharma. A dark horse in the team-balance stakes with bits-and-pieces players could be Abhishek Nayar. He is a first-change media-fast bowler for Mumbai and is in terrific form for Mumbai (back-to-back centuries against Karachi Blues and RoI).

I know I have been talking up Praveen Kumar quite a bit over the last year or so. I really do expect this lad to be a part of India’s ODI plans for the future. A strong showing here may even propel him into the Pakistan ODI series. It is a chance that he has to grab with both hands.

India Red:
Mohammad Kaif (capt), Karan Goel, Gautam Gambhir, Subramaniam Badrinath, Virat Kohli, Ravneet Ricky, Praveen Kumar, Mahesh Rawat (wk), Pragyan Ojha, Siddharth Trivedi, Ishant Sharma, Pinal Shah, Shrikant Munde, Paresh Patel.
Coach: Lalchand Rajput

India Blue:
Virender Sehwag (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Suresh Raina, Niraj Patel, Arjun Yadav, Joginder Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Amit Mishra, Yo Mahesh, Ranadeb Bose, Swapnil Asnodkar, Rakesh Dhurv, Saurabh Bandekar
Coach: Venkatesh Prasad

India Green:
Parthiv Patel (capt/wk), Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Murali Kartik, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Abhishek Nayar, Niranjan Behera, Iqbal Abdulla, Pankaj Singh, Munaf Patel, Gagandeep Singh, Srikkanth Anirudha, Satyajit Satbhai.
Coach: Praveen Amre

The series schedule is:
Oct 25: India Red v/s India Blue
Oct 26: India Green v/s India Red
Oct 27: India Green v/s India Blue
Oct 28: Final

— Mohan

Big Three or Big Two and the third?

We keep reading and writing about the Big Three of Indian cricket. Are all the 3 equally big enough to warrant being clubbed together or is it really the Big Two (SRT & RD) and the third (SG) – Comments invited.

— Sanjay

Coach appointment news update

The news is that nothing is happening. We will keep updating on a regular basis that nothing is happening until something happens.

Meanwhile here is a link for you to read about this issue.

— Sanjay

Peter Lalor and Charu Sharma head-to-head on racism…

Interesting read of a transcript of a program called Face The Nation on CNN-IBN, conducted by Vidya Shankar Aiyar. This has Charu Sharma and Peter Lalor, our friend from The Australian newspaper facing off on the racism issue.

— Mohan

Of Monkeys and Taxi Drivers…

A lot has been made of the monkey chants that have been heard in the last three ODIs of the recently concluded ODI series between India and Australia. We have written on this blogsite too and denounced the monkey chants and monkey signs. The goons who perpetrated these acts have to be dealt with severely. The racist taunts were despicable and Symonds is owed an apology by the BCCI. Of that, I have no doubt. Mukul Kesavan writes about this eloquently in his Cricinfo Blog.

But, having said that, I have been to games in Australia where I have endured racist taunts hurled at me. When I said this to a friend of mine of Anglo-Saxon origin, she said, “Serve you right for watching the game in Bay-13 of the G”! But that misses the point. Just as people who have been quick to point out that Symonds ‘brought it on himself’ by behaving as an arrogant guest have missed the point, my friend missed the point too.

A zero-tolerance policy of racism would suggest that the victim can never be blamed for flagrant acts of racism perpetrated against them. Period.

Now, I am not being precious. I can take racist taunts hurled at me on the chin. After all, who am I in the total scheme of things.

But what do you make of taunts being hurled at the Indian players? Have the Lalors of this world ever written about it — either in disgust or by way of an apology?

You’re going home on the back of an elephant” is a chant that one hears often when Indian players get out. Is that racist? Perhaps? Perhaps not.

But, is “You drive a taxi“, a racist chant? Indian players get it all the time. I do believe that this, and chants like “You are a curry muncher” are racist taunts. Players get it all the time when they travel to Australia. And if it happens in the Australian summer, it won’t be the first time that it happens.

I suspect that no one has said anything about these and other chants that one hears in grounds in Australia. I suspect that Indian fans and cricketers have often just shrugged their shoulders and moved on.

Indian players can expect to get a mouthful when they visit Australia later on this year. Meanwhile, I can expect Lalors’ passionate outpourings to turn solely to cricket and an occasional reference to a bad decision that Australia copped. Meanwhile, one can expect that bad decisions that India cops to be, of course, accompanied by the “Oh! It is such a tough job for the umpires” line!

Andrew Symonds already incited the Australian crowds — not that they needed any inciting — by saying that the Indians would “face a backlash” in Australia.

Ponting was a bit more polished on arriving back in Australia today. He has even perhaps indrectly requested the Australian crowds to target Sreesanth! He said, “I’m sure at different times Sree Santh and a couple of the guys will cop a hard time from the Australian public. That generally happens to most teams who tour here at some stage. I just hope, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that no racial stuff at all comes up during the summer.

Ponting needs to be told, perhaps, that if racial taunts come up this summer, it won’t be, in my books, the first time that it does!

Like Ponting, I too hope that there are no racist taunts when India tour Australia this summer. But this is, I am quite sure, a forlorn hope. I don’t believe that even John “I am the only true optimist in Australia” Howard, can eradicate racism away from Australian cricket crowds. It has existed for years. It will continue to exist.

Sajid Mahmood, the English cricket player, wrote in his blog about the “You can’t be English” racist taunts he heard when he toured Australia with the English team last year for The Ashes series. Other players have felt similarly. Ask the South Africans.

After all, what is a racist chant? I believe that it is a slogan that magnifies a persons’ unique difference (cultural, race, colour, ethnicity or any other distinctive feature) as a chant/slogan/gesture/gesticulation against the person with an intent to cause hurt and anguish. Now, I am not a social anthrpologist. So, someone more knowledgeable may want to comment on that definition. But, in my view, the above is a working definition that could be used as a test in most chants/gestures.

In a landmark ruling in 2003, a judge convicted a 21-year old Port Vale fan of a criminal offence under the 1991 Football (Offences) Act, for using a chant that contained the word “Paki” at Oldham Athletic supporters during a football league match. The term “Paki” is derogatory. So also, “You drive a taxi” or “You’re going home on the back of an elephant“.

The treatment that Symonds received in India is unquestionably deplorable. However, I hope the authorities in Australia take note of the fact that, if racial stuff happens this summer, it will not be revenge. It will merely be a continuation of an existing practice.

— Mohan

India win the Twenty20 tie convincingly…

India won the Twenty20 tie in Mumbai in convincing fashion. They played like the World Champions they are in this form of the game.

Peter I-may-be-one-eyed-but-at-times-I-am-also-blind Lalor, dismisses the game as a Bollywood drama, in his piece in The Australian. But I will persist with reading Lalors’ outpourings. I am, like John I-am-the-only-true-optimist-in-Australia Howard, an eternal optimist! My hope is that he will grow up one day to see that there is a world out there beyond the edge of his own nose!

Despite the best efforts of the Lalors to downplay and downgrade this Australian loss — afterall, the Lalors have to find succour in something when their team loses — this was an impressive win. Despite the utter lack of grace in defeat in their writings, this was a solid performance from India. When India batted, it seemed that they were in total control. Not for once did I think India would lose. Friends of mine switched off their TV sets of drifted off to sleep even as early as the 11th over of the Indian reply. It was that obvious that Australia had run out of ideas; it was that clear that India would win! Such was India’s dominance when batting.

Normally, Indian TV sets are turned off because of disgust at the teams’ performance! Not so on Saturday! One saw a totally relaxed and playful Indian dug out. The players seemed confident, cheerful and playful.

Lalor can continue to turn his nose at the Twenty20 game. I am confident that he would have filed a different report had Australia won and that is why I feel he needs to stop wearing nappies when he writes. Moreover, he sniggers at this victory and at this form of the game at his own peril. This form of the game is here to stay.

My view is that Australia hasn’t understood this game. It is not that this form of the game does not present a stage where skill could be demonstrated. It is not that teams with more muscle and no skill will win. Any such conclusions would be wrong — and would be in the growing dictionary of Lalorisms! It does, however, shorten the gap between the best and worst teams because intensity-levels need to be switched on for a relatively shorter period of time.

Australia, one felt, got it wrong by selecting the wrong team for this game. I could not quite understand why Brad Hogg sat this game out. It is somewhat known that the Indian players do not rate Hogg’s spin too highly. Most players are, apparently, able to read Hogg vry well and ascribe the wickets he has got mainly to the fact that Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson have often made the early inroads. Be that as it may, I do feel Hogg would have created more pressure on the Indians than the bowling complement that Australia had for this game.

Australia also lacked the intensity in this game — especially when India batted. Apart from Ricky Ponting, the other batsmen appeared to be trying too hard. They did not play with their customary swagger and confidence that one has got so accustomed to.

And who knows? Brad Hodge may have played his last game for Australia. He has had a nightmare of a month and will want to put this behind him. Age is not on his side either!

After Australia won the toss and elected to bat, the Indian bowling and fielded was what can best be described as an “Indian effort”. Apart from Harbhajan Singh and, to a lesser extent, Murali Kartik, the rest of the bowlers bowled too many “gimme” balls. The worst culprit in this department was Sreesanth. A different team or even a different Australia would have taken this ill-disciplined attack apart. However, the wrong Australia turned up to the park on the day and India got away with a highly gettable 167!

The Indian batting was clinical, controlled, fearless and purposeful. Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh batted with composure and calmness that meant that India did an Australia and won in a canter.

In fact, it looked like the players had exchanged clothing at the start of the game! While India played with flair, purpose and intensity, Australia played without a plan, with flagging spirits and displayed some ordinary fielding and bowling. The bowling was mostly off target and the number of wides and no-balls reflect that. The fielding was also somewhat ordinary.

A question has to be asked: Why won’t this same team do for the ODIs against Pakistan?

In an interesting move, India rested Zaheer Khan. And that is the sort of courage that Team India needs in its selection as it moves forward into a brave new world.

Another topic for another day…

— Mohan

Monkey Chants

Andrew Symonds, the most valuable player in the recently concluded one day series between India and Australia, is quite upset by all the monkey chants that were directed at him by the crowds at Mumbai and Nagpur. Symonds was hurt by all this.

But Ricky Ponting, the Australian team captain, is quite impressed with the maturity that “Symmo” has shown. He hasn’t let the “monkey chants” get to him. He managed to remain focused and piled on the runs in the match at Nagpur, earning yet another man of the match of award. All very well.

But deep in the Byculla zoo, here in Mumbai, the monkey enclosure has gone silent. The monkeys are really upset. Visitors to the zoo are complaining that monkeys seemed subdued and extremely down. They aren’t swinging around from the fake branches with uncontrolled monkey zeal anymore, like they did last week. Very sad indeed. “Monkeys aren’t that bad” they say. “And you shouldn’t feel dejected if you are called one. What is wrong with us? Didn’t you once evolve from us?”, they ask.

Well, only Mr. Andrew Symonds and the Australian cricket team can answer that.

The monkeys have allegedly decided to ignore the human race from their scheme of things. They don’t feel it is appropriate to swing across branches and entertain hordes of people when humans find it disgraceful to be called a monkey. Itseems like this new cricketing controversy has taken planetary proportions.

The ICC has had more than a handful in the past few months. A certain Darell Hair took them on by suing them on racism grounds and few weeks later the ICC has split hairs by having to deal with racism threats in the grounds in Mumbai. I’m sure this monkey business will leave them tearing their hair out. 

The Australian blogging community has not taken to this new controversy lightly. The Australian fans are promising the Indian team similar treatment when they travel to Australia in December. But they, apparently, will do it in a far more subtle manner so as to avoid being evicted from the zoo… err… stadium.

Now, the Australian monkeys in the Sydney Zoo and the Melbourne Zoo aren’t particularly amused by this apparently! They want to be recognised as equally dangerous and offensive as their Indian counterparts. So, there was an international diplomacy effort afoot to soothe monkey nerves! At the end, this monkeying has been resolved peacefully between the monkey tribes. The Indian monkey-cousins have pledged their support to their brothers and sisters Down Under.

As ordinary cricket and mother-earth-loving human beings, we just hope this controversy dies down pretty soon and things get back to normal in our quiet little cricketing world!

— i3j3Guest — Sripathy Ramaswamy

 Contributors’ Comment:The above represents views of the writer and are not necessarily shared by the Contributors to i3j3Cricket.

Indian Team for Twenty20 tie against Australia

Can anyone point me to any announcement on the composition of Team India for the Twenty20 tie against Australia at the CCI Stadium in Mumbai (on Saturday 20 October 2007)?

I can’t remember seeing any team announced anywhere and I have been watching the channels and waiting for an announcement of sorts from the selectors over the last few days. Nothing seems to have emanated. So I am assuming I must have missed it completely!

Is the expectation that the current ODI Team will continue on in Mumbai.

Or is the expectation that Twenty20-World-Cup-winning Team India would be retained?

If it is the former, that would be an error of judgement, in my view. If it is the latter, then who replaces the injured Gautam Gambhir and Piyush Chawla in the squad?

Genuinely confused…

Either way, I’d suggest the following Team India for tomorrows’ tie against the Aussies:
Yusuf Pathan
Virender Sehwag
Irfan Pathan
Yuvraj Singh
Rohit Sharma
Robin Uthappa
M. S. Dhoni
Joginder Sharma
Harbhajan Singh
R. P. Singh
Sreesanth

— Mohan