Monthly Archives: February 2008

Public Enemies #1

In the comments section of an earlier post, I postulated a hypothesis around why players like Harbhajan Singh, Sourav Ganguly, Arjuna Ranatunga, et al, are hated in Australia.

What wrong did Sourav Ganguly do? He was in the face of the Australians constantly when he was Team India captain. He made Steve Waugh wait for the toss repeatedly! He slowly, but surely, “mentally disintegrated” the Australians! Ganguly merely won that round in the Mental Disintegration Battle (MDB) match. What was wrong with that? Yet, he was labelled Public Enemy #1 in Australia!

What did Arjuna Ranatunga do? He was constantly in the face of the Australians. He was one of the first players in the world to say he wasn’t frightened of Shane Warne’s bowling! He constantly stretched the envelope and became a most hated player in the Australian team! Surely, all he did was to win several rounds of MDB! Nothing more. Nothing less.

What is Harbhajan Singh doing now? He is constantly under the skin of the Australians! He has stretched Matthew Hayden to the extent that the Australian opener loses the plot totally, goes to air in a radio show and jumps arms and legs flailing into the gutter. Is it not a mere instantiation of a round to Harbhajan Singh in the MDB stakes? Surely, this is allowed in the rules of MDB, a game invented by the Australians! Except that this game is now also being played on the other side of the “white line”.

What did Sree Santh do? He mouthed off at Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden after securing their wickets. Surely, these are accepted! After all, if Matthew Hayden can stand in the slips cordon applauding Brad Williams giving a send-off to Sourav Ganguly, all bets are off!

I see that Robert Craddock has already written about this issue. He has added to the list Douglas Jardine, John Snow and Richard Hadlee.

So, the question then is: Why is it that Australia’s “most hated players” are Douglas Jardine, John Snow, Richard Hadlee, Arjuna Ranatunga, Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, and Sree Santh?

My hypothesis is that all of them employed an in-your-face approach to get under the skin of the Australians. They are as good at MDB as any Australian is. They play the game as hard and competitively as any Aussie that entered the field. Why is it that the Australians find it hard to digest?

Why is Sree Santh labelled (by Andrew Symonds no less) as “Public Enemy #1”? Interestingly, in this article, supposedly written while Symonds was perched on a tall pedestal at about 35,000 ft above sea-level, Symonds says: “It is fair to say there is not a lot of love between us and (Shanthakumaran) Sreesanth. His carry-on in this series has been way over the top. We don’t mind blokes having a go and standing up for themselves, but he has gone above and beyond what’s acceptable.”

Acceptable, to whom?

Why is it hard for Australians to stomach that there are a bunch of players who will stare the Australians in the face and give it back? My hypothesis is that if guys like Sree Santh, Harbhajan Singh, Sourav Ganguly and Ranatunga played for Australia, Australians would be celebrating them!

Hayden asks a wet-behind-the-ears Ishant Sharma to concentrate on his cricket and welcomes him to a boxing ring for a bout. Yet when Brad Williams indulged in a series of foul-mouthed send-offs, Hayden stood at first slip and celebrated. The whole of Australia celebrated. It is time to accept that there are other players in the world watching and aping (sorry for the marginal Darwininan pun to a taboo word in cricket circles) the Australians too! Time to be more accepting I think.

Time for a debate at least!

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IPL update: The BCCI is serious about this?

A quick update on a few things that have been happening on the IPL front. I will update the “Who’s Who in the IPL Zoo” and post a 3rd update on that shortly.

In a completely bizarre move, the BCCI has said that it sees the IPL coaching offers of Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh as a conflict of interest with their national team roles. Venkatesh Prasad is set to be associated with the Bangalore franchise and Robin Singh is associated with the Hyderabad franchise. The BCCI official is reported to have said, “There might be a conflict of interest later on and we want our coaches to be wholly dedicated to the national side.” You could replace the word “coaches” in the above sentence with any of the pillars of cricket in India and it would be equally applicable, would it not?

This is surely nothing short of a stunning comment from the BCCI! Using that yardstick, the following people/organisations are also, in that case, likely to be in conflict with their national team roles: BCCI, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, M. S. Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly, V. V. S. Laxman, Anil Kumble… you get the drift, don’t you! Going by that simplistic in-conflict rule perhaps the only person-in-cricket in India that is perhaps not-in-conflict is Gary Kirsten, Team India coach — Kirsten does not have any IPL role… yet!

The BCCI spokesperson goes on to say (clearly a case of foot-in-mouth disease here), “We need to consider future possibilities. What if Hyderabad want Robin Singh when India are playing a series? It’s ok if coaches have a consulting role in the IPL but to be full-time with a team may be a problem. We need to discuss. Nothing is finalised yet.

Good point 99! But then, if Team India are playing a series and Hyderabad wants the services of Robin Singh, then Team India will have to play the games that the BCCI has scheduled for it without the services of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, R. P. Singh, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumable, V. V. S. Laaxman, et al, who will be busy playing IPL games that the BCCI has scheduled! Surely this is a left-hand-right-hand problem? It may be hard for the BCCI left hand to know what its right hand is doing. But surely, the time to start fixing this lack of ambidexterity is now!

All IPL teams have been asked to have their agents stop approaching India U19 players currently on national duty in Malaysia. The BCCI has said that each franchise would have their say in picking U19 players from their own catchment area before the players are available for “poaching” by other franchises.

The Delhi Daredevils team has secured the services of Mithun Manhas, Shikar Dhawan and Rajat Bhatia and signed them up.

The Bangalore Royal Challengers is close to signing up Martin Crowe as Coach. Local bangalorean, Venkatesh Prasad, current Team India Bowling Coach is also set to be associated with the Bangalore team.

The Bangalore Royal Challengers has also signed up Praveen Kumar, hero of India’s last CB Series win against Sri Lanka. Now, given that Praveen Kumar is not in Bangalore’s Catchment Area, would Praveen Kumar not have to go through the “auction process”? I am a bit unclear on this one.

The Hyderabad team (that Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist have signed up for) are close to signing up Robin Singh, Team India Fielding Coach, as their Coach. Former Hyderabad off-spinner and domestic veteran Kanwaljit Singh will assist Robin Singh, perhaps as Bowling Coach!

Current Team India Manager/Coach, Lalchand Rajput, is the hot contender to take over as the Mumbai Team coach.

Shane Warne is set to captain and coach the Jaipur team.

— Mohan

Just shuddap and play

Is it just me or are others getting tired of the sledge-fest that is happening between India and Australia, too?

I have reached a point where I don’t care if  Harbhajan really called Symonds a monkey. Nor do I care if Symonds (who earlier said that a cricket field is no place to be friendly) gave Ishant a friendly compliment on his bowling when he got out. I am really tired of the Australian players’ comments about Indian players and I am also tired of the Indian players’ poor attempt at trying to out-sledge the Aussies.

Just get on with the game, will ya? And I mean both teams…

All this is just proving too much of a distraction – not just for the players – but to us Cricket fans too.What would you rather read about in the press – Gilchrist’s final innings in International Cricket or Gilchrist defending Hayden for his stupid comments? Would you rather watch a young Ishant Sharma troubling Ponting and Ponting picking up the challenge or watch Ishant Sharma giving Symonds a send off by pointing the way to the pavillion?

Well, frankly I’ve had enough.  There are just 2-3 games remaining in the tournament and I know it must be hard for players who earn millions to shut their mouth and just play cricket – but can you guys please do just that?

Thank you!

-Mahesh-

Australian cricket… an interesting read

Read this article in The Mid Day by Michael Jeh, a coloured player who has played club cricket for Mathew Hayden’s Valley Cricket Club in Brisbane. It might be of interest to you and adds more colour (pardon the pun) to recent goings on.

— Mohan

India in under 19 WC final

India reached the under 19 World Cup final yesterday with a win over New Zealand. For the first time they were chasing a target in excess of 150 and almost made a hash of it. Cruising at a 150 odd for 3 they suddenly lost 4 wickets before a few bold hits settled the issue. I have been watching a few of the games off and on and here are some positives from the way the team has played.

  • The batting looks very solid. Batsmen have a good technique and they are also not averse to walking down the pitch and taking a shot at regular intervels. They seem to be very much in tune with modern methods of batsmanship.
  • The fielding is a revelation. The cricketers are really fit, agile and athletic. There was one particluar pickup and run out attempt by Tanmay Srivastav that just blew me away.
  • The bowling looks ok. Sangwan continues the tradition of Indian swing bowling and is a real threat when he can get the ball to move. Sidharth Kaul and Ajitesh Argal are extremely accurate and do not give much away. I am not too impressed with Ravindra Jadeja. At this level he is a very good spinner and opponents do not have much experience tackling quality spin. But he looks more like a conventional left arm spinner from Western India in the Nadkarni/Shastri mould who is flatter and quicker through the air rather than the Bedi/Maninder mould of North India.
  • All round skills seem to be the focus for most of the cricketers. Virat Kohli, the captain, bowled a splendid spell of “poi” (deceipt) bowling as they call it here in Chennai cricket circles. You generally vary the pace and deceive the batsman. His slow leg cutter resembles Chris Harris and he is very accurate. Similarly Tanmay Srivastav bowls off spin and can keep the batsmen guessing.This is just the kind of additional bowling skills that will help these batsmen in the modern game. I did not see much about the batting capabilities of the bowlers but a few lusty blows by Sangwan at the end of yesterday’s game gives me hope that the next generation may not bat like Munaf Patel!
  • The wicket keeper Srivats Goswami also was impressive with an excellent stumping and consistent batting performances at the top of the order.
  • The batsmen also perform well under pressure. Last year in a triangular final chasing 200 odd, Saurabh Tiwary and Manish Pandey added 140 plus after India were 50 for 4 to win the match. I saw 3 boundaries by Pandey yesterday and he just oozes class!
  • In the reserves there is still the local boy Abhinav  Mukund who sadly has not yet got a game. But I have seen him bat when he made 2 hundreds for TN in the Ranji Trophy including one on debut and he has an excellent temperament.

Now coming to the blot on the performance. Yesterday Corey anderson the New Zealander hit a fine knock to get his team to 200. Ultimately he was bowled by Tanmay. But it was very sad to see Tanmay imitating Ishanth Sharma and signalling the batsman to walk to the pavilion. The sad part was that there was hardly any provocation from the batsman a la Symonds. Afterall he had played a great knock and deserved a “well played” rather than that disgraceful gesture Tanmay is one of the stars in this team and this kind of behaviour does not augur well for the future. Of coruse the umpire Hartley immediately called Tanmay and let him know that this was not on. But I really think India should worry more about cricketing skills and instill those in the youngsters and ‘weed’ out such unnecessary and unwarranted gestures and actions.

— Sanjay

Hayden unrepentant but cops wrist slap…

In a stunning slap on the faces of Cricket Australia officials, Matthew Hayden, who called India’s Harbhajan Singh a “little obnoxious weed” in a radio interview, has maintained his innocence!

Australian opener, Matthew Hayden, was in hot waters after the spray he gave Harbhajan Singh. In the same radio interview the 37-year-old veteran of the game even invited an Indian player — almost half his age! — to the boxing ring for a fight.

The BCCI left the matter in the hands of Cricket Australia. Cricket Australia had to be seen to be doing something. So they hauled Matthew Hayden in front of a “code of conduct” hearing in Melbourne, after which commissioner, Ron Beazley, let Hayden off with a reprimand! One can only assume that Hayden was let off with a mere slap on the wrist because he pleaded guilty to the “code of conduct” charge!

But immediately after the hearing, Hayden waltzed out and said, “I maintain my innocence; my intentions were never to denigrate cricket or anyone. But in the spirit of cricket I respect and accept the decision”

If I was surprised by CA’s mild wrist-tap, I am simply stunned by Hayden’s response!

So, Hayden’s intentions were never to denigrate cricket or anyone! So, what were his intentions then? If it was an unintended slip or an error in judgment, one would have thought that an apology was in order! But no! He has come out and maintained his innocence!

Rule 9 of the Cricket Australia Code of Behaviour (see page-10), prohibits “Detrimental Public Comment”. The rule guidelines clearly prohibit public denigration of other players against whom they have played or are likely to play!

Does this mean that Australian players can run amok calling other-country players f***wits or dimwits or d**k-heads or mother-f*****s or “little obnoxious weeds” in radio interviews and get away with it? What has the cricket world come to?

This sets a dangerous precedent in world cricket — one that we could do without.

For his part, Harbhajan Singh was cheeky in his riposte. He asked innocently, “What’s the meaning of the word, please tell me,” and added, “Seriously, who’s Matthew Hayden?”

It is likely that Australian players are peeved that Harbhajan Singh got away with his monkey slur against Andrew Symonds. But there was no tangible evidence in that case! It had to be thrown out, despite the incompetence of Mike Proctor initially. Here there was incontrovertible evidence of a slur! Hayden was caught with his pants down, so to speak — perhaps they were even “Mad Boy” pants! And for him to maintain his “innocence” even after a wrist-slap only suggests, in my view, that the man has a deep-rooted contempt for process, decency and for the opposition!

If Hayden can be unrepentant in the face of such evidence, one can only imagine how vile he must be on the field. That is not to suggest that the Indians are innocent victims or that they are saints. They are, I am sure, giving it back as good as they get!

The Indian team management appear to be sick of all the trash talk they get from the Australians. They wrote as much to match referee Jeff Crowe after last Sunday’s CB Series match. In that letter the Indians claimed that they have tried to pull back from sledging during the ODI series. The letter said, “Even if we have tried to play in the spirit of the game, some of the players from the Australian side have made a few comments that has brought disharmony to the game.” This point that was reiterated by M. S. Dhoni in subsequent interviews.

Indian cricket board secretary Niranjan Shah said the sledging issue had become “out of hand and is going too far”..

This summer has seen its fair share of controversies between Australia and India. No tour has seen as many unsavory incidents as this one has! And there are no signs that things will abate or settle down! The Indians are going to get stuck into the Australians on Sunday. One can expect Sydney fans to get stuck into Harbhajan Singh. One can expect Indian fans buying tickets already for October so that they can get stuck into the Australians when the Aussies visit India!

Is this what we want cricket to be all about?

The shame in all of this is that the cricket has been at its very best! Sadly all of that is being forgotten by the trash talk and gutter filth.

Time to tape the players’ mouths and give them bats and balls to play with instead.

— Mohan

Cricket Australia to reprimand Matthew Hayden?

Cricket Australia is reported to have said that it will make a “significant announcement about a current Australian player” at 5pm AEST (1130 IST).

It could be about the retirement of Brad Hogg. But then Hogg has already announced his retirement plans separately!

So speculation is rife that Matthew Hayden will receive a wrap (Edit: Sic! I meant to write “rap”) on his wrists from Cricket Australia — and so he should, in my view, for calling Harbhajan Singh an “obnoxious little weed”; a story that has received some discussion on this blogsite.

Matthew Hayden is also reported to have said that he would love to meet Indian pace bowler, Ishant Sharma, in a boxing ring!

Now, it is quite likely that Matthew Hayden will indeed receive his wish of being in a boxing ring soon! Unfortunately, he could well be facing off with his employers! Time will tell…

— Mohan

Edit: Matthew Hayden’s obnoxious comment is available here as an audio clip.