In the first part of this three-part in-depth interview with Prem Panicker, the noted commentator on Indian cricket, we talked about his views on racism in cricket in the wake of the Andrew Symonds incidents in India in the recently concluded India-Australia ODI series. In the second part of the interview, we talked about aggression, sledging, Indian cricket and more.
Prem Panicker is a respected writer on a wide rage of subjects for Rediff.
We carried out this interview with Prem Panicker to seek his views on a wide range of issues but also to strike a sense of balance with the views of Peter Lalor, a respected writer for “The Australian” newspaper. We asked both Peter Lalor and Prem Panicker the same set of questions. Our interview with Peter Lalor is available here (Part-1, Part-2, Part-3).
In this concluding, Part-3, of our interview with Prem Panicker, we talk about Australian cricket, Twenty20 and more.
Prem Panicker blogs here:
i3j3: Talking of Australian cricket, how do you feel Australia will cope with the absence of Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and Justin Langer? Will their absence make the Australian team more vulnerable?
PP: It would be naïve to imagine that any team can shrug off the exit of two such bowlers – especially considering they were still turning in match winning performances when they quit (it is not, for instance, like say a Kapil Dev, who had to be carried through the last leg of his career).
Even across just one ODI series, you could see the gap Warne and McGrath have left – their skill, both as enforcers and as bowlers who could when the going got tough could come in and reel it back – was clearly missed.
Australia will cope; it has in reserve players who would walk into the first XI in most international sides. What will serve as a litmus test of calibre is how quickly the team learns to live without two players who were at its core. Michael Clarke recently warned the public that the team would not be as totally dominant as in the past, and I think he might have got it right – there is an opportunity here for other teams, if they can rid themselves of the fear that the green and gold induces, to close a ridiculously big gap.
i3j3: There is daylight after Australia in the championship stakes. Is this good for the game?
PP: No – the greater the competition, the more the interest. Thing though is, Australia has nothing to do with the present situation – the onus is on the other sides to rethink the way they think of the game, the way they train, the way they play, even the way they plan for the longer term. For instance, and to my disgust, I read of Australia thinking of, and working towards, virtual reality practice and of India muffing up one more opportunity to select a good coach for its national side, on the same day.
i3j3: What is your take on the Twenty20 game? Is it a bit of hit and giggle? Or does it really have any capacity to (a) broaden its spectator base, (b) provide benefits to both the 50-over game as well as Test cricket in terms of strategy, control and robustness, (c) enforce and speed up innovation in all aspects of cricket.
PP: Theoretically, it has the potential to do all the things you have listed in seriatim, and more — but frankly, my experience with T20 is limited to following about half a dozen games, some of them not even fully, during the recent World Cup. You can pontificate on the basis of even less empirical evidence, but I’d prefer to wait and watch.
i3j3: You have been quite critical of Sree Santh. What do you think of this young and talented cricketer?
PP: Young, talented, and imbecilic, did you say?
His youth is a matter of fact and his talent is not going to be too hotly debated either – but the guy needs a swift kick where it will do most good.
He has, unfortunately, discovered the heady pleasures of playing to the gallery – but his play-acting is having a dampening effect on his performance. The trouble is if he goes on as he is now, he could lose coming and going – sooner or later his so-called “aggression” will lead him to do something that puts him beyond the pale (Of all the ridiculous things I have heard in recent times, his statement that he is testing to see how far he can go gets the biscuit); simultaneously, the focus that characterized his early days will get further eroded, to the detriment of his game.
i3j3: Your views on the 2007-2008 summer of international cricket in Australia? What would you be most looking forward to?
PP: The Tests. With due respect, I find the format of the triangular series too long-drawn-out.
i3j3: How do you rate the chances of Sri Lanka and India in the Tests?
PP: Early days, especially as both teams are to varying degrees in flux – how about you ask me this after we are done with the Pakistan Test series, at which point we might have a better idea of personnel?
i3j3: Would you be happy if we had another chat mid-series with you?
PP: Sure, whenever – hopefully the “question paper” won’t be quite as long, though; the last time I had to work this hard, I preferred to drop out of college!
We at i3j3Cricket are grateful to Prem Panicker for the time he took to answer the many questions we posed. Some of them were direct questions and some of them were curly. We respect Prem Panicker for his sincerity and applaud his patience.
I am sure we will all continue to read, appreciate and savour Prem Panicker’s interviews and articles in Rediff and elsewhere .
From All The i3j3Cricket Contributors