Daily Archives: 11 January 2008

Direct and hard-hitting article from Anil Kumble…

Anil Kumble has written this rather direct and hard-hitting article in his column in The Hindustan Times.

I’ll let you read it.

A strong start to the article is:

“I’d like to point out that someone clearly edged the ball to slips in the second innings of the Sydney Test, and stood there even when there was not an iota of doubt over the dismissal. He then claimed a catch that showed more than reasonable doubt and said he was 100 per cent certain it was clean”.

Apart from writing about the Harbhajan Singh racism issue, Anil Kumble provides an early indication that his pre-tour catch agreement with Ricky Ponting will be torn up. Kumble says, referring to the Michael Clarke catch-claim:

“At this point, a few days before the big Test at Perth, I can tell you that [the Michael Clarke catc-appeal] behaviour will play a big role in my decision on the continuation of the agreement that Ricky and I had made before the series began. We had decided that in the case of a disputed catch, we would take the word of the fielder concerned, if he was certain. But that agreement was based on the premise that come what may, whatever the situation, the fielder concerned would be completely straight on what happened. Now, there will obviously be a big question mark moving forward on that”.

Good read…

— Mohan

All things Grey!

Nothing is black and white when it comes to decision making in cricket.

For that matter nothing seems seems black and white in most forms of decision making – political, sport, or otherwise. A whole lot of grey is what appears in decision making. I think, for this very reason, it is imperative that the authorities of decision making regulate/self-regulate using as objective means as possible.

Unfortunately, the notion of cricket being a “gentlemen’s sport” has been constantly put to the test over the last several years. Not because players have turned ugly all of sudden, standards for morals and ethics have evolved, even pushed to the limit.

Even a most revered cricketer like Sachin Tendulkar does not walk but waits for a decision to be delivered. It is almost difficult to prove but easier to surmise that umpire, A. V. Jayaprakash, was caught in the frenzy of decision making when Kumble got his 10fer.  Are they cheats or liars? I do not think so. What I do know is that they are humans, and being humans that we are, we tend to bend and evolve and rationalize and change and all that…When decision making is left to human factors with guidelines that are far and in between, chaos seems a natural outcome. The question then becomes, do we accept it as all things human or sanitize the process. The more I see things left to being attributed to human factors (while I would like to have it that way and it requires a great deal of maturity), the more you are going to observe events like those in the last week or so. People are going to get hurt (emotionally and at times physically), groups are going to get marginalized, and politics takes over. Monetary lawsuits may not be too far in the distance. My suggestion therefore is the following:

1. Use technology to it maximum ability – Let the third umpire be replaced by technology. For example, a decision on a stumping (e.g., Symonds) is determined by some logic built in. Poor decision making resulting from technology limitations can be blamed on technology developers who are, in the current scheme of things, can never be traced and pinpointed (For all you know development centres in B’lore might be calling the shots).

Eventually eliminate the need for a human umpire if at all possible. When building and flying unmanned aircraft and dropping missiles is possible, this should be child’s play.

2. Mike the heck out of the game – Check out the sport of curling when you get a chance, you can hear people breathe leave alone discussing strategy…

3. Talk to local human rights commissions and obtain a list of unacceptable terms, communicate them to players prior to any series.

And so on.. The idea is to regulate through prescriptive codes and rules.

It might seem like the beauty of the game is being taken away, but no one wants to see beauty in the game anymore any way. Winning is all that matters!!!

Cheers,

– Srikanth

P.S: I wonder what Kumble meant when he said “it is only a game”, towards the end of his press interview. Do we really mean it when we use that phrase?

A Sense of Deja Vu

The Harbhajan Singh episode reminds me of an old Bollywood dialogue: “Moti choor ke Ladoo; khao to pashtao, na khao tho pashtao“. [“If I keep a plate of Ladoos (sweets) in front of you, you will undoubtedly experience regret, either by ignoring them or by gobbling a bunch“].

Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Karthik, Wasim Jaffer, Sree Santh (thankfully not in this team at present), led by the firebrand Harbhajan singh, more aptly teens than Twentys’ champions, are capable of providing the Las Vegas experience, without the associated cost at the roulette.

No one, including themselves, can predict what they might offer on a given day. Their contributions can see-saw between the magical and the pedestrian with a stochastic pattern that can drive a mathematician crazy, let alone a poor cricket fan. Added to that is the new brand of aggression that is very reflective of the Bollywood movie “Rang De Basanti”, with the foreigner’s role to be soon conferred upon the latest sensation “Padukone”.

The IPod generation, reflecting the optimism and confidence of a booming south east Asia, has not had the time to realize its identity. The heady success in the Twenty20 World Championship has for this class, erased the distinction between the popular and the classical. In pursuit of becoming the Ricky Martins, they have consciously chosen to ignore the needs of a Pavarotti.

The solitary reaper in this pack is the one man that the BCCI rightfully picked as captaincy material, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Coming from Jharkand, neighbour to arguably one of the most backward and rowdy states in India, he has been, in a sense the magical Laloo Prasad Yadav for cricket. His mannerism and methods are simple, fair and effective. He has this innate calmness that transcends his game beautifully from the aggression needed in the shorter form, to the grit and patience needed in the longer version.

For, I dread the day, when the likes of Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, V. V. S. Laxman, Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar retire from Test cricket. Let alone their cricketing skills, in their absence, there is all round concern.

Along the same lines, I have an intuitive bad feeling that the Indian team is soon to confront the possibility of a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the Australians. The Indian team is not in the right frame of mind presently, after all the frustrations, emotions and scrutiny they have had to experience in the last Test at Sydney. In addition, what confronts them is a pace packed all out attack by the aussies at Perth, which has historically been our most challenging venue in Australia. Adding to these is our internal confusion with respect to team selection. A very realistic assessment of Team India’s capabilities and Australia’s, rings a very uncomfortable tone. If the Perth Test goes the Australian way, the probability of which is high, there will be an increased vigour among them towards a whitewash. I am convinced that this will play into the minds of our players and affect their approach even more negatively.

Which begs the question – What do we do if we get beaten by 4-0?

Indian cricket faced a similar question, though a bit more shockingly, 12 months back in the West Indies. India has made a hasty exit from the World Cup.

Have we made any progress or are we in for more Deja Vu in the coming months?

— Bharath Sankaran