The cancelation of the tour to Pakistan may have benefited the domestic season more than any recent seasons that I can think of. The last two or three rounds of ranji games have seen all the top players involved actively. It is anticipated that all the Team India players will represent their respective zones in the Duleep Trophy. While the East Zone selectors seem to play stunt regarding MS Dhoni’s participation, they could have dealt it in a professional way and established contact with him way before he went on vacation. I am predicting that he will still lead the side and play. Whatever the outcome, the tournament has never been so exciting for a long time.
The Ranji trophy finals has been a drag so far. UP is trying to attempt a repeat performance from its semi-finals “win” and, as a result, has made the game extremely boring. I seriously think that they should consider changing the rules of the game atleast in the knock out stages, possibly using the Buchi Babu or Moin-Ud-Dowla rules of limiting the number of overs in the first and second innings. It was rather unfortunate to see TN exit in the semi-finals. While TN may not have had the bowling to restrict UP, they had more victories in the earlier stages of the tournament while UP sneaked through to the finals with only one outright victory if I am not mistaken. It was good to see Rohit Sharma hit form in a crucial game, while Suresh Raina threw away an opportunity by stupidly running himself out.
There have been several positives from this season’s ranji games. Wasim Jaffer continues to be a possible candidate to the opening/one down slot because of his consistency and his success abroad. His 301 in the semi-finals was a beautiful innings. While A. Rahane was consistent through the season, I can see his “playing away from the body” technique as a limitation when playing international attacks. Abhinav Mukund, for me, has been the biggest story of the season. He scores and scores big. All we can hope is that he continue playing the way he is now and success will come his way. I see him take over India’s opening slot within the next few years. I was disappointed, in general, with the bowling department. If Sunil Joshi continues to be a major force in the domestics, while good for him, it does not bode well for the future of Indian cricket. Apart from the current international bowling lineup, nothing much can be written about domestic talent. The re-emergence of L. Balaji, is a postive sign however.
English cricket cannot be in a more laughable situation than what it is going through in the last few months. Geoff Boycott, in his column for the Daily Telegraph, states that “We are not the best cricket team but we are the best at making ourselves a laughing stock”. Absolutely true. In my opinion, it all began with the way the ECB handled the IPL/EPL/Stanford saga. The disaster in the carribean and the subsequent handling of the Pietersen/Moores controversy will seriously affect the chances that England may have had to make it a fight during the Ashes series.