Monthly Archives: June 2010

What is Suresh Raina doing in the Indian Test team?

The selection of Suresh Raina in the Indian Test team to tour Sri Lanka is a clear indication that the IPL and subsequent ODI performances are influencing the selectors much more than other more conventional parameters.

Nearly all international teams include a player in their Test team based on 2 important criteria:

  • Indications of a solid domestic record with a penchant for scoring centuries (an indication of temperament), or
  • Pointers to a prodigious talent that is capable of doing well at the highest level as evidenced by a few sparkling performances.

Around the world, these broad criteria apply. Michael Hussey got into the Australian Test Team after scoring a mountain of runs in the domestic circuit, while Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting got in because they showed glimpses of immense talent at a very young age.

This can be seen clearly in the well chronicled success stories of Indian cricket in the last 20 years — the Fab Four! Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman had scored tons of runs — including many centuries — in domestic cricket before moving on to Test team selection. They have since proved their mettle on the international stage.

We are not going to even mention the case of God in this context!

On the other hand we have had batsmen like Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag who have done well over the years because their talent was identified early. They were then given opportunities to hone their talent on the world stage.

The success and hype surrounding the IPL has given a sudden boost to the fortunes of many cricketers who have been suddenly pitchforked to the Indian ODI team and then, the Test team, strictly on the basis of their T20 performances.

A clear example of such hubris driven folly is the case of Suresh Raina, in our view.

There is no doubt in our mind that Raina is a talented cricketer. But what has he done in domestic cricket that sends shivers down the spine of opponents the world over? Nothing much. Nothing spectacular.

He has played 51 matches (86 innings) and scored 3684 runs (6 centuries and 25 fifties) with a high score of 203 at an average of 44.38 per game. His last big domestic season was 2005-06 when he scored 620 runs in six games and guided Uttar Pradesh to winning the Ranji Trophy.

In direct contrast, we have S. Badrinath who turns in solid performances year-in-year-out. He has played 85 matches (123 innings) and scored 6252 (22 centuries and 27 fifties) with a high score of 250 and at an average of 57.35!

What? You don’t like the structure of Badrinath’s cheek bones and the colour of his eyelashes?

Look at Cheteshwar Pujara then. The man has played almost as many games as Suresh Raina has and so, may be a more compelling comparison perhaps. Pujara has played 49 First Class matches (78 innings) and scored 3925 runs with a top score of 302 (not out), at an average of 60.38. He has made 14 hundreds and 13 fifties.

Ok. So you think anyone with the name Pujara shouldn’t be trusted?

So, let us look at Rohit Sharma then?

Rohit Sharma has played 36 First Class matches (52 innings), and scored 2641 runs with a top score of 309 not out at an average of 55.02 that includes 8 centuries and 11 fifties.

We can also have a look at other players like Ajinkya Rahane, Abhinav Mukund, et al.

We have no doubt that Suresh Raina is a good player. He has performed well in ODIs and T20s for India and has done well for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. He is an electric fielder and has tremendous commitment and nous.

But, the question remains: What is Suresh Raina doing in the Test team ahead of Badrinath, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Abhinav Mukund?

— Sanjay & Mohan

The ICC is heading towards bankruptcy

Well, the ICC is not bankrupt yet — and we all know that! But it is an organisation that is constantly at war… with itself!

Unlike FIFA or any other world sporting body that has taken (or attempts to take) total control of the game that it controls and the direction in which it is headed, the ICC seems to me to be content with being run around when strings are pulled by its members. People come and go in the organisation at regular intervals, but one thing that remains is that, in my view, the ICC seems to be heading towards bankruptcy (of ideas and power). It certainly resembles an organisation that is walking around with a gun pointed at its head.

Interestingly, however, the organisation that holds the gun to the ICC’s head is not always the same. The ICC appears to be so weak that any one of South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Zimbabwe, India, Australia, England, New Zealand, Bangladesh or Pakistan is able to be the owner of that hand that holds the gun.

We saw the existence of the gun but held by different hands when Bangladesh was admitted as a permanent member; when Muralitharan got banned and reinstated; when Shoaib Akhtar got banned and reinstated; when Harbhajan Singh almost got banned by a powerless Mike Procter and had his ban revoked by an Australian judge; when the IPL commenced; when Mike Denness banned Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar; when Hansie Cronje ought to have been banned; when the match-fixing controversy blew; when the ICL players were banned; when Shane Warne and Mark Waugh ought to have been banned but were protected by their host organisation; when Ramnaresh Sarawan asked about the health of Glenn McGrath’s wife; when Michael Slater enquired about the health of Rahul Dravid and Srinivas Venkataraghavan in a cricket pitch in Mumbai at a time when his own world was crumbling around him; when WADA wanted all cricketers to sign up to its anti-doping clause; and much more. A full compilation of a list of ICC-impotency moments will require a tome. Moreover, the ICC has made rabbits and headlights proud on the issue of Zimbabwe.

Now, the organisation is looking like old rabbit in new lamb’s clothing but with sharper headlights when Australia stated her intention of starting a new 50-over-2-inning-format of the game.

Today at a time when FIFA is marching on confidently with a firm grip on the ‘World Game’, the ICC seems to me to be an organisation that gives new meaning to the phrase “rudderless ship”. ICC says it wants to watch the new 2-inning-50-over (or 40-over) experiment that Australia wants to conduct.

Agreed. One has to wait and watch and see and analyse and move forward. There is no point in rushing into something without a proper pilot that measures the effectiveness of any change. But is there a need to wait and watch this experiment for 6 years? What more is a 6-year wait-and-watch pilot of a new 2-inning-50-over format going to tell you that you do not already know about an existing 50-over format that looks tired today?

This wait-and-watch experiment resembles the history of ICC’s involvement in the Twenty20 format. There is a suggestion that a Perth-man, George Christos, claims to have proposed a Twenty20 to the ICC in 1997 — a claim that the ICC has dismissed. However, the format was definitely researched, designed, developed and implemented by England’s Stuart Robertson between 1999 and2001.

ICC watched as the format grew in popularity. ICC’s response was to reacquaint itself with rabbits and headlights! As the game became more and more popular and as the ICL bandwagon grew in its popularity, the ICC was compelled to conduct the first World Championship T20 Cup. That was when Lalit Modi was “waiting and watching”. He waited and watched publicly for precisely 3 months! The IPL juggernaut rolled out of the stables before the ICC could say either “rabbit” or “headlight”! The rug was once again pulled from under the ICC’s feet. They lost control of yet another round of shadow boxing in a game of power politics.

In those three months that ICC spent twiddling their thumbs, an impatient Lalit Modi made a hash of a rebel-league attempt and created 8 extremely rich owners and poured more money (and thereby, more control) into an already bulging BCCI money pot! Modi did this right under ICC’s nose. Five years ago, the ICC with some dynamism could have created its own property.

Of course, the 2-inning-50-over format has problems. But surely, by setting a exit-scenario for mothballing the current ODI format, the ICC could send a stronger signal that it wants control in the development of the game. It is, instead, reacquainting itself with rabbits and headlights; an art form that it has become adept at.

— Mohan

Asia cup Indian ODI squad – Team looks fitter!

Yuvraj has been dropped. Add the dropping of Amit Mishra and the average fitness of the team has already gone up. Kris Srikkanth has also said that a lot of stress has been on fitness. The selectors have also looked at the record over the last year and seen how matches have been lost because of poor fitness and fielding! A pity they did not do that a year ago! They have also apparently looked at the consistency of the players’ performance to pick the team. The only consistent player in the current India A team has been Saurabh Tiwary and he has been rewarded with a call up. After all did he not score 3 fifties in the IPL? In case people forgot he also scored 3 centuries at an average of 98 in 5 matches for Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy plate!!!!!! He might as well have scored 18 centuries in 20 matches for Alwarpet CC at the Chennai 1st Division League! Who cares about the Ranji Plate? BTW in case people missed it his last first class game was a Duleep Trophy match for East Zone and he scored 22. Forget those domestic giants like Pujara, Rahane, Badrinath, Manish Pandey, Abhinav Mukund etc etc. Did they perform in the IPL???? They only scored runs for their domestic teams! And that in the Ranji Elite or whatever that’s called. Of course Uthappa is injured and so was not considered. Yusuf Pathan has been dropped and rightly so. Ashwin has been retained because he is the only off spinner in the country at the moment who can keep Bhajji on his toes. Yuvraj can twitter about his daily visits to the gym but that’s not enough. He has to show off six packs in the next chewing gum ad before he will be considered fit. After all he is a proven performer and does not have to score runs anymore right? Jadeja has been retained because he can bowl the 5/6 overs that Yuvraj was bowling in the past. Cmon show me another left arm spinner in the country who can bat and field. And forget Iqbal Abdulla, he is only a domestic performer! So we minus Tendulkar we probably have the best team that has been selected. Except for my own personal opinions which are the following. Iqbal Abdulla for Jadeja and Badrinath/Pujara for Tiwary.

Sanjay