Monthly Archives: December 2010

Team India are poor travelers?

In the last few days, two very interesting victories have made cricket interesting once again. India won at Kingsmead, Durban and England clinched The Ashes with a famous victory at the MCG.

For sometime now, I have been maintaining a list of some of the most thrilling Indian Test Cricket victories in recent times. I have added to this list, India’s victory on 29 December 2010 at Kingsmead, Durban, South Africa. The addition of “Durban 2010 v South Africa” to this impressive list is because it was once again a come-from-behind victory after a terrible loss in the 1st Test of the series (at Super Sport Park). The Durban victory is an important victory for Team India because it goes a long way towards debunking a myth — yet again! — that India plays badly overseas.

Is it important for India to debunk myths about her ability to play overseas?

No. Not really.

I think it is enough if India plays well every time she takes the field — regardless of where it is. And that is exactly what Team India has been doing in the last decade.

There are trash-talkers who wish to talk with their mouths and then play, sometimes simultaneously and almost always, to their own detriment — as Graeme Smith found out quite rudely in the Durban Test match! Greame Smith can believe the myths he creates to make himself happy about his lot in life. These myths have a strange way of enveloping the myth-creators. When that happens, the inevitable outcome is a simple pin-prick that results in a painful deflation of the balloon of arrogance. The myth-creators are often blind-sided by the myths that they create!

In the last decade, India has won 22 and lost 20 of her 61 overseas Tests for a win/loss ratio of 1.1 and a draw/loss ratio of 0.95. In the same period, when compared with the performance of South Africa, Australia, England and Sri Lanka, the corresponding figures for Australia (for Wins, Losses, Total Overseas Tests, W/L and D/L) are clearly the best at 34, 16, 59, 2.12, 0.56. The figures for South Africa are: 21, 18, 56, 1.16, 0.95. The figures for England are 19, 23, 62, 0.82, 0.86 and those for Sri Lanka are 11, 19, 39, 0.57, 0.47.

Clearly, Australia has the best win-loss ratio, thanks to Australia’s stunning performances when Steve Waugh (and then Ricky Ponting) captained an excellent team with Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Waugh, Martyn, Waugh, Gilchrist, Warne, McGrath, Gillespie et al. India’s win-loss ratio in the same period compares favorably with that of South Africa and puts into shade, the win-loss performances of Sri Lanka and England.

The draw/loss ratio is not a metric that is often used in comparative analyses of this sort. It is, in my view, as important as the more obvious win-loss ratio that is used almost always. It is a pointer to a teams’ grit and resolve — especially when it plays in unfamiliar conditions. A draw might not be a pretty sight. But it is a pointer to a teams’ grit in tough situations. The above figures might show Australia in poor light as a team that has an inability to grit it out. But this might be more due to the rather refreshing “win at all costs” attitude Australia used to employ in the early part of this decade. But India has drawn almost as many Tests as she has lost in overseas Tests!

Team India has an impressive draw-loss ratio and an acceptable win-loss ratio that is constantly improving.

For example, if we take just the last 5 years, the win-loss and draw-loss ratios are 1.44 and 1.33 for India, 1.66 and 0.89 for Australia, 1.62 and 0.875 for South Africa, 0.6 and 0.86 for England, and, 0.7 and 0.6 for Sri Lanka.

Overall, apart from the impressive Australia team — and that too, in the first half of this decade gone by — India stacks up really well with other top teams in terms of her “overseas” performances. So, in my view, it is time we start debunking these myths about Team India being poor travelers.

To me, with the addition of the latest victory at Kingsmead, this big-list list of recent Indian Test victories reads: Kolkata 2001 (v Australia), Leeds 2002 (v England), Adelaide 2003 (v Australia), Multan 2004 (v Pakistan), Sabina Park 2006 (v West Indies), Johannesburg 2006 (v South Africa), Perth 2008 (v Australia), Mohali 2008 (v Australia), Chennai 2008 (v England), Colombo, P. Sara 2010 (v Sri Lanka), Kingsmead Durban 2010 (v South Africa).

It is fair to say that, with a few days to go to the end of the current decade, the period from 2001 to 2010 has represented an exciting decade for Indian cricket. We have seen some exciting talent explode onto the scene — MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, to name a few. We are seeing a few young turks itching to have a crack on the big stage — Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, M. Vijay, Pragyan Ojha and Ishant Sharma, to name a few. And this entire march has been presided over by the “Famous Five” or the “Fab Five”; five of the best gentlemen to grace Indian cricket together in the same team.

One of this quintet — The Famous Five — was responsible for this sensational victory in Durban. The smiling assassin, V. V. S. Laxman, carefully scripted this impressive victory. And with this victory, the world might start accepting that a green-top is as useful to India as it is to the host.

As Dileep Premachandran says, “If one picture could tell you the story of how Indian cricket’s fortunes have changed in three years, it would be that taken at Kingsmead at 9.58am on Wednesday. Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who had tested his captain’s patience in the last game by taking an age to bowl his overs, pitched one just short of a length to Jacques Kallis. The ball spat up like an angry cobra and it said much about Kallis’s skill that he jackknifed and managed to get a glove to it before it rearranged his features. The ball lobbed up gently to Virender Sehwag at gully and four wickets down with another 180 to get, South Africa were out for the count. And, after years of their batsmen copping punishment from opposition quicks, an Indian pace bowler was dishing it out.”

That ball will become part of Indian cricket folklore. As Ayaz Memon said on his Twitter time-line (@cricketwallah), “Sreesanth’s snorter to dismiss Kallis will become as famous in cricket lore as Sandhu’s banana delivery that got Greenidge in 1983 World Cup.”

In conclusion, let us debunk two myths: One, that India are poor travelers. Two, that a lively pitch only assists the home team when Team India visits!

Ps:

While we are on the topic of green-tops, how is it ok for Graeme Smith or Dale Steyn to “request” for green-tops against India while a “request” for a spin-friendly wicket in India by an Indian captain or player is frowned upon when Australia or South Africa visit Indian shores?

I have never heard a visiting Indian captain whine about the state of pitches in Melbourne, Leeds or Durban? Isn’t it time that captains that visit the sub-continent lock their whine-vocal-chords at home before they board the plane?

PPs:

While I exist in this paranoid state, am I the only one to believe that if Ricky’s surname was not Ponting, but either Singh or Kumar or Khan, he would have been suspended for his totally over-the-top antics at the MCG? Had I been the umpire and had an on-field captain carried on like a pork chop the way Ricky Ponting did, I would have searched for a red card and thrown the man out of the park! The fact that Aleem Dar tolerated the Ponting “carry on” was a testament to the umpires’ patience. The fact that the match referee slapped a mere fine on Ponting means that, to me, the Match Referee’s office is, once again, shown up for the disgrace it is. The fact that Cricket Australia did not suspend Ricky Ponting immediately means that the “Spirt of Cricket” document that all Australian cricketers sign up when they get the Baggy Green needs to be torn up immediately and re-written in an environment of grace and humility.

— Mohan

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Ranji 34 – Last update

The quarter finals have begun today but for what its worth here is the update on our own ranji 34 palyer list.

Ranji Super League

Bengal

Wriddhiman Saha – 36 (Delhi) 11 (Mumbai) 178 no (Assam) DNP (Gujarat) DNP (Tn) DNP (Saurashtra) DNP (Railways)

Manoj Tewary – 69 (Delhi) 14 (Mumbai) 50 (Assam) 92 (Gujarat) DNB (TN) 233 no (Saurashtra) 42 & 17 (Railways)

A Dinda – 4/132 off 45 (Delhi) 1/130 (Mumbai) DNP (Assam) DNP (Gujarat) 3/35 (TN) 4/109 (Saurashtra) 1/87 (Railways)

Delhi

V Kohli – 173 (Bengal) 139 & 7 (TN) 6 (Gujarat) DNP (Saurashtra) DNP (Assam) DNP (Railways) 5 & 9 (Mumbai)

S Dhawan – 42(Bengal) 41 & 88 (TN) 149 (Gujarat) 51 (Saurashtra) 13 & 3 (Assam) 39 & 14 (Railways) 32 & 14 (Mumbai)

P Sangwan – 23 no & 0/86 (Bengal) DNP (TN) 3/16 & 1/57 (Gujarat) DNP (Saurashtra) 2/53 & 0/51 (Assam) 2/52 & 1/41 (Railways) 4/88 & 4/114 (Mumbai)

Mumbai

Rohit Sharma – 93 & 74 no (Saurashtra) 200 no (Bengal) 1 & 31 no (Railways) DNP (Assam) 59 no (Gujarat) DNP (TN) 37 & 148 (Delhi)

Ajinkya Rahane – Did not play (Saurashtra) 110 (Bengal) 43 & 94 (Railways) 22 (Assam) 126 (Gujarat) 49 (TN) DNP (Delhi)

Iqbal Abdulla – 150 no & 1/33 (Saurashtra) 81 & Did not bowl (Bengal) 4/42 & 1/74 (Railways) 2/48 & 3/22 (Assam) 0/7 & 5/58 (Gujarat) 3/89 (TN) 5/25 & 1/94 (Delhi)

Saurashtra

Jaydev Unadkat – 0/116 (Mumbai) 3/46 & 2/55 (Gujarat) 0/46 (Delhi) 4/82 & 1/28 (Railways) DNP (Bengal) DNP (Assam)

Ravindra Jadeja – 40 & 4/189 off 56 (Mumbai) 13 & 0, 3/49 & 5/59 (Gujarat) 63 & 0/134 (Saurashtra) DNP (Delhi) DNP (Railways) DNP (Bengal) 22 & 84 and 5/43 & 3/25 (Assam)

Baroda

Ambati Rayudu (playing for Baroda) – 4 & 200 no (Orissa) 22 (Haryana) 91 & 0 (UP) 79 (Punjab) 13 & 33 no (Karnataka) 57 (HP)

Yusuf Pathan – 10 & 27 (Orissa) 195 (Haryana) 15 & 49 (UP) DNP (Punjab) DNP (Karnataka) 5 (HP)

Irfan Pathan – Did not play

Tamil Nadu

R Ashwin – 1/51 off 19 & 2/74 off 34 (Assam) 5/94 & 6/87 (Delhi) 2/118 (Saurashtra) DNP (Railways) DNP (Bengal) DNP (Mumbai) 5/57 & 1/24 (Gujarat)

Abhinav Mukund – 22 & 32 (Assam) 2 & 59 (Delhi) 232 (Saurashtra) 131 (Railways) 41 (Bengal) 13 (Mumbai) 7 (Gujarat)

Dinesh Karthik – 4 & 0 (Assam) 6 & 23 no (Delhi) 30 no (Saurashtra) 17 no (Railways) 0 (Bengal) 19 (Mumbai) 16 (Gujarat)

S Badrinath – 83 & 6 no (Assam) 104 & 25 no (Delhi) 195 (Saurashtra) 149 (Railways) 37 no (Bengal) 51 (Mumbai) 84 (Gujarat)

Punjab

Yuvraj Singh – 52 & 24 (UP) 39 & 79 (Karnataka) 27 & 92 (HP) DNP (Baroda) DNP (Orissa) DNP (Haryana)

Sarabjit Ladda – 1/55 (UP) DNP (Karnataka) 2/101 (HP) 5/118 (Baroda) 4/63 & 0/35) (Orissa) DNP (Haryana)

UP

Praveen Kumar – 5/72 & 1/51 (Punjab) DNP (Orissa) DNP (Baroda) DNP (HP) DNP (Haryana)

RP Singh – 2/82 & 1/71 (Punjab) 6/50 & 3/29 (Orissa) 1/73 & 0/14 (Baroda) 3/38 (HP) 1/93 & 0/23 (Haryana)

Piyush Chawla – 2/51 & 2/78 (Punjab) 0/65 & 2/31 (Orissa) 0/71 & 0/40 (Baroda) Did not bowl (HP) 3/86 & 0/12 (Haryana)

Bhuvaneshwar Kumar – 0/54 & 2/52 and 35 (Punjab) DNP (Orissa) 47 & 55 and 4/51 & 4/37 (Baroda) 0 & 2 and 2/14 (HP) 23,8 & 6/77, 1/20 (Haryana)

Karnataka

Robin Uthappa – 149 (Punjab) 42 & 48 (Haryana) 9 (Orissa) 17 & 11 (HP) 53 & 7 (Baroda) 4 & 67 (UP)

Abhimanyu Mithun – 0/52 & 4/94 (Punjab) 2/61 (Haryana) 1/45 & 4/70 (Orissa) 1/33 & 5/82 (HP) 1/59 & 1/25 (Baroda) DNP (UP)

Manish Pandey – 49 (Punjab) 37 & 55 (Haryana) 171 (Orissa) 0 & 112 (HP) 4 & 42 (Baroda) 36 & 50 (UP)

Vinay Kumar – 5/61 & 3/64 (Punjab) 2/57 (Haryana) DNP (Orissa) DNP (HP) 2/16 & 0/15 (Baroda) 2/55 (UP)

Ranji Trophy Plate

MP

Naman Ojha – 88 (Goa) 73 (Rajasthan) 44 (Jharkhand) 59 (Hyderabad)

Monish Mishra – 71 (Goa) 8 (Rajasthan) 11 (Jharkhand) 214 (Hyderabad)

Rajasthan

Deepak Chahar – 8/10 & 4/54 (Hyderabad) 4/67 & 0/75 (Goa) 1/136 (MP) 2/36 & 1/20 (Tripura) 4/86 & 3/29 (Jharkhand)

Pankaj Singh – 2/11 & 4/45 (Hyderabad) 5/58 & 2/89 (Goa) 0/86 (MP) 8/32 & 6/20 (Tripura) 2/88 & 2/75 (Jharkhand)

Jharkhand

Saurabh Tiwary – 20 (Tripura), 45 & 32 (Hyderabad) 4 & 12 (Goa) DNP (MP) DNP (Rajasthan)

Vidarbha

Umesh Yadav – 2/73 (Andhra) 7/74 & 0/30 (Maharashtra) 1/22 (Kerala) 3/55 & 0/20 (Services) DNP (J&K)

 

God extends the realms of imagination!

Sachin Tendulkar was 30 odd not out at the first drinks break on the 4th day of the 1st test against Australia at Chennai in 1998. My Director, Mr. T.T. Srinivasaraghavan suggested that I use his pavilion pass to witness something special that day. It was a working day but he knew my passion for cricket and my almost God like worship of “God” was quite obvious. He had a hunch and there I was witnessing sheer magic. Mozart’s melody,  Beethoven’s drama, Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s majesty, everything and more was at display.

A year or so later, I was present again at Chepauk to witness an innings of a entirely different kind. Saqlain Mushtaq was turning the ball square. There were rumors that, then famous captain of India was busy arranging to have the game settled differently. Tendulkar had developed back spasms. He played like a superhuman and almost pulled the impossible.

Eleven years later, as I sat down to watch his innings today, I realized nothing had really changed. The hunger was still there, the belief to do the impossible still strong, and the shots all simply showing up at will. The near trivialization of the bowling at times, surprising but deserved respect to Paul Harris’s floaters, and taking on body blows, he played like a champion. Just around the same time, the King of Carnatic Music was delivering his majestic thodi I was told, God was busy turning fantasy into reality.

We bow to thee!!!!

– Srikanth

Ranji 34 – Update 6

The most shocking news of the last round of matches was Delhi losing to Railways in a thrilling match. The league phase of the Plate is also over and Andhra, Rajasthan, MP and Maharashtra have qualified for the semi finals. It is a pity that Hyderabad one of Southern giants is really languishing even in the plate league.

Ranji Super League

Bengal
Wriddhiman Saha – 36 (Delhi) 11 (Mumbai) 178 no (Assam) DNP (Gujarat) DNP (Tn) DNP (Saurashtra)
Manoj Tewary – 69 (Delhi) 14 (Mumbai) 50 (Assam) 92 (Gujarat) DNB (TN) 233 no (Saurashtra)
A Dinda – 4/132 off 45 (Delhi) 1/130 (Mumbai) DNP (Assam) DNP (Gujarat) 3/35 (TN) 4/109 (Saurashtra)
Delhi
V Kohli – 173 (Bengal) 139 & 7 (TN) 6 (Gujarat) DNP (Saurashtra) DNP (Assam) DNP (Railways)
S Dhawan – 42(Bengal) 41 & 88 (TN) 149 (Gujarat) 51 (Saurashtra) 13 & 3 (Assam) 39 & 14 (Railways)
P Sangwan – 23 no & 0/86 (Bengal) DNP (TN) 3/16 & 1/57 (Gujarat) DNP (Saurashtra) 2/53 & 0/51 (Assam) 2/52 & 1/41 (Railways)
Mumbai
Rohit Sharma – 93 & 74 no (Saurashtra) 200 no (Bengal) 1 & 31 no (Railways) DNP (Assam) 59 no (Gujarat) DNP (TN)
Ajinkya Rahane – Did not play (Saurashtra) 110 (Bengal) 43 & 94 (Railways) 22 (Assam) 126 (Gujarat) 49 (TN)
Iqbal Abdulla – 150 no & 1/33 (Saurashtra) 81 & Did not bowl (Bengal) 4/42 & 1/74 (Railways) 2/48 & 3/22 (Assam) 0/7 & 5/58 (Gujarat) 3/89 (TN)
Saurashtra
Jaydev Unadkat – 0/116 (Mumbai) 3/46 & 2/55 (Gujarat) 0/46 (Delhi) 4/82 & 1/28 (Railways) DNP (Bengal)
Ravindra Jadeja – 40 & 4/189 off 56 (Mumbai) 13 & 0, 3/49 & 5/59 (Gujarat) 63 & 0/134 (Saurashtra) DNP (Delhi) DNP (Railways) DNP (Bengal)
Baroda
Ambati Rayudu (playing for Baroda) – 4 & 200 no (Orissa) 22 (Haryana) 91 & 0 (UP) 79 (Punjab) 13 & 33 no (Karnataka)
Yusuf Pathan – 10 & 27 (Orissa) 195 (Haryana) 15 & 49 (UP) DNP (Punjab) DNP (Karnataka)
Irfan Pathan – Did not play
Tamil Nadu
R Ashwin – 1/51 off 19 & 2/74 off 34 (Assam) 5/94 & 6/87 (Delhi) 2/118 (Saurashtra) DNP (Railways) DNP (Bengal) DNP (Mumbai)
Abhinav Mukund – 22 & 32 (Assam) 2 & 59 (Delhi) 232 (Saurashtra) 131 (Railways) 41 (Bengal) 13 (Mumbai)
Dinesh Karthik – 4 & 0 (Assam) 6 & 23 no (Delhi) 30 no (Saurashtra) 17 no (Railways) 0 (Bengal) 19 (Mumbai)
S Badrinath – 83 & 6 no (Assam) 104 & 25 no (Delhi) 195 (Saurashtra) 149 (Railways) 37 no (Bengal) 51 (Mumbai)
Punjab
Yuvraj Singh – 52 & 24 (UP) 39 & 79 (Karnataka) 27 & 92 (HP) DNP (Baroda) DNP (Orissa) DNP (Haryana)
Sarabjit Ladda – 1/55 (UP) DNP (Karnataka) 2/101 (HP) 5/118 (Baroda) 4/63 & 0/35) (Orissa) DNP (Haryana)
UP
Praveen Kumar – 5/72 & 1/51 (Punjab) DNP (Orissa) DNP (Baroda) DNP (HP) DNP (Haryana)
RP Singh – 2/82 & 1/71 (Punjab) 6/50 & 3/29 (Orissa) 1/73 & 0/14 (Baroda) 3/38 (HP) 1/93 & 0/23 (Haryana)
Piyush Chawla – 2/51 & 2/78 (Punjab) 0/65 & 2/31 (Orissa) 0/71 & 0/40 (Baroda) Did not bowl (HP) 3/86 & 0/12 (Haryana)
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar – 0/54 & 2/52 and 35 (Punjab) DNP (Orissa) 47 & 55 and 4/51 & 4/37 (Baroda) 0 & 2 and 2/14 (HP) 23,8 & 6/77, 1/20 (Haryana)
Karnataka
Robin Uthappa – 149 (Punjab) 42 & 48 (Haryana) 9 (Orissa) 17 & 11 (HP) 53 & 7 (Baroda))
Abhimanyu Mithun – 0/52 & 4/94 (Punjab) 2/61 (Haryana) 1/45 & 4/70 (Orissa) 1/33 & 5/82 (HP) 1/59 & 1/25 (Baroda)
Manish Pandey – 49 (Punjab) 37 & 55 (Haryana) 171 (Orissa) 0 & 112 (HP) 4 & 42 (Baroda)
Vinay Kumar – 5/61 & 3/64 (Punjab) 2/57 (Haryana) DNP (Orissa) DNP (HP) 2/16 & 0/15 (Baroda)
Ranji Trophy Plate

MP
Naman Ojha – 88 (Goa) 73 (Rajasthan) 44 (Jharkhand) 59 (Hyderabad)
Monish Mishra – 71 (Goa) 8 (Rajasthan) 11 (Jharkhand) 214 (Hyderabad)
Rajasthan
Deepak Chahar – 8/10 & 4/54 (Hyderabad) 4/67 & 0/75 (Goa) 1/136 (MP) 2/36 & 1/20 (Tripura) 4/86 & 3/29 (Jharkhand)
Pankaj Singh – 2/11 & 4/45 (Hyderabad) 5/58 & 2/89 (Goa) 0/86 (MP) 8/32 & 6/20 (Tripura) 2/88 & 2/75 (Jharkhand)
Jharkhand
Saurabh Tiwary – 20 (Tripura), 45 & 32 (Hyderabad) 4 & 12 (Goa) DNP (MP) DNP (Rajasthan)
Vidarbha
Umesh Yadav – 2/73 (Andhra) 7/74 & 0/30 (Maharashtra) 1/22 (Kerala) 3/55 & 0/20 (Services) DNP (J&K)

Vale Australian Cricket?

Srikanth Mangalam wrote a brilliant piece on the disintegration of Australian Cricket yesterday. I loved his opening where he says, “If your resume states that you have spun a top atleast three times in your life, you would certainly qualify to play for Australia in the Ashes series.”

I abhor gloating, but I will take the bait — as Srikanth did — this one time. In the 1990s, I lost count of the number of times when I’ve not wanted to go in to work on a Monday (in Australia) for fear of being continually ridiculed by my Aussie colleagues for a(nother) pathetic show by Team India. When I said to one such colleague, “I don’t think it is acceptable to kick a guy when he is down”, his immediate reply was, “When else am I going to do it?”

Funny. But true!

The shoe is on the other foot. We can show a bit of grace, I suppose, but I am happy to stick it to the Aussies for a little while yet! Payback does feel good sometimes.

One aspect of the recent decline of Australian cricket that Srikanth Mangalam omitted is the fact that this entire period of slump has been presided by coach Tim Nielsen! And guess what? He has been awarded a 3-year extension until 2013! Why has he got this extension? Because he is the coach that took Australia from #1 in the ICC Test rankings to #5 — and the slide does not appear to have stopped! How is it possible that the coach gets a 3-year extension before even a single ball has been bowled in the all-important Ashes series? Well, I suppose Nielsen has consistency on his side — he has managed to string together a series of losses quite consistently!

The Australian selectors are panicking. Stuart McGill has come down on the selection panel like a ton of bricks. Soon, others will follow suit. If Australian cricket fans think that there is good news around the corner, please take a look at who is lurking around the dressing rooms: Greg Chappell! And we all know what he did with/to Team India!

I believe the Australian slide started on that fateful day in early-January 2008, when the world of cricket adopted a Gate of its own: MonkeyGate!

Almost since then, the Australian selectors have stolen the revolving door that the Team India selection panel used so effectively in the 1990s! Michael Beer will be the 10th Australian Test spinner used since the retirement of Shane Warne! Krejza looked good and Hauritz has the stats (except in India). But they have been revolved out! The Australian selectors are panicking — much like the Team India selectors did up until the 1990s — and the world of cricket is loving every second of this soap opera that is spiraling downwards and out of control.

The level of panic is so high that the selectors have turned to Michael Beer! I do know that beer is a fine Australian tradition. I am confident that the brown liquid does help the average Aussie drive away most pains, but most Aussies will know that the hangover from beer can linger for quite a while!

I am certain that the world of cricket needs a strong and vibrant Australia. I have no doubt about that. Test cricket is currently going through a slump and that is, in my view, due to the state of Australian cricket.

Rahul Bhattacharya, in an article in the Mint Lounge says it all. His piece starts off brilliantly. The hypothesis is quite clearly stated and Bhattacharya commences his arguments purposefully. He and then slides into a strange cackle, produces an incoherent set of arguments towards the middle and then slides into an immature oblivion — much like the slide in Australian cricket that he so bemoans. I believe Rahul Bhattacharya loses the plot when, in an article on the global slump in Test cricket, he devotes an entire chunk of his article to Ricky Ponting’s predilection for fellow Tasmanian cricketers!

Be that as it may, I believe Test cricket needs a strong Australia. It certainly was exciting when Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Damien Martyn, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee and Glen McGrath played together.

Test cricket needs that kind of excitement! Today, instead of Marshall-Holding-Garner-Roberts or even McGrath-Lee-Gillespie, the best we have is Steyn-Morkel-Parnell! Instead of Prasanna-Bedi-Chandrashekar we have Harbhajan-Ojha or worse still Beer-North or Hauritz-Smith!

The Australian domestic system is too robust to see the situation slide to a point where Zimbabwe and Bangladesh start licking their lips in anticipation of a series against the Aussies! There is an abundance of talent in the Australian domestic scene. This needs to be, once again, harnessed, toughened and sharpened in a style similar to that which Alan Border adopted in the mid-80s. That fine tradition of tough Australian cricketers, so perfectly instilled by Border, was then carried on by Taylor and Waugh. Today, Ricky Ponting has lost it all. That is primarily because, in my view, Ponting is no Alan Border. Ponting is a good captain of a good team filled with good/strong individuals. The job now requires a tough, no-nonsense guy who is not given to existing in a prolonged and continual state of extreme denial. The job requires someone who has an internal mirror that offers nothing but uncompromisingly candid introspection. Ponting, unfortunately, does not possess mirrors. He is far too easily prone to denial-driven-operations — witness his reactions to criticism after his disastrous decision in the Nagpur Test against India in 2008!

Perhaps the answer is that Ponting has to go as captain. If he goes as captain, Australia may buck the trend and have him continue as a player. That is hard to say. However, what is needed is a no-nonsense captain who is uncompromisingly tough; a captain that can transform boys into men. Just as South Africa made an extremely bold decision in appointing Graeme Smith as captain a few years back, Australia needs to make a tough decision; a decision with tremendous foresight and far-reaching consequences.

And what has this got to do with India and Indian cricket? As I say, the world of cricket needs a tough Australia. To have India as #1 when Australia is weak means a hollow #1 for me.

That said, I am enjoying sticking the boot in right now and perhaps for the next few weeks.

— Mohan

Team India soars as the Aussies disintegrate!

If your resume states that you have spun a top atleast three times in your life, you would certainly qualify to play for Australia in the Ashes series. There has not been a better time for anyone on the streets of Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and other cities to play for the Australian cricket team. I personally am enjoying the complete disintegration of this team. Ricky Ponting is probably the worst captain of all test playing nations today. Even Darren Sammy managed to lead the West Indies team to a drawn series in Sri Lanka. Michael Clarke, the next possible alternative, drops sitters at slip, plays the odd big innings and in most circumstances looks lost in the middle. Marcus North was rumored as the next captaincy option. He does not even hold a place in the side. Australia is ready to move into the bottom half of all test playing nations and they seem to have absolutely no plans to change things around. While I am not necessarily a big fan of the English side, I have to admit that they are thoroughly destroying the Aussies physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have no sympathies for the Australian team and management at all. They chose to go this path and have suffered the consequences. Ricky Ponting has played one series too many. Andrew Hilditch makes Mohsin Khan and his team look good. Mitchell Johnson reminds me of his namesake, David Johnson, who played one test for India. To David’s credit, he did end Michael Slater’s career with a ball that was aimed at the fifth slip’s crotch.  This is so much fun.

On the other hand, Team India is peaking at the right team. There is absolutely nothing wrong that Indians can do at this point. India can put together three teams today and be prepared to take on the world. Despite previous criticisms from me, I have to concede that Krish Srikkanth and team have done a wonderful job. A contingent of 30 odd players currently playing for India are enjoying themselves, playing with surety and professionalism that we have never witnessed before. The clinical demolition of the New Zealand team was just as much as fun to watch as beating the Australians. It would indeed be a surprise if India does not make it all the way in the next World Cup. The series against South Africa has been billed as the final frontier and rightfully so. Once we conquer, and that we will, India would have achieved something that only the Aussies have been able to do so since Clive Lloyd’s team. The irony of it all!

Bring it on, South Africa!!

– Srikanth

Boring series and IPL

The NZ-India series has become a completely one-sided contest with one team, despite its major players benched, has totally decimated the other team. India can feel a bit of pride here but to give due credit to NZ they are not in their best of forms, having just lost a series to minnows Bangladesh.
While its great to see players like Gambhir, Virat and Yusuf perform well, claims for a place in World Cup XI based on same, seem a bit presumptuous.Teams in the top 5 as per ODI rankings are going to be the most difficult to play in the WC and players who have proven themselves against them should be given priority.
Overall the series has been very boring. The recently concluded Test Series with Australia had much more thrill and excitement to offer.
On the IPL side Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians not surprisingly, seem to be the only teams to retain four players allowed for the next IPL.
The Knight Riders definitely needed a complete revamp and did just that by just retaining Chris Gayle.But the choice of Albie Morkel by CSK ahead of Doug Bollinger, Michael Hussey comes as a surprise considering both played a significant part intheir last IPL win.
Again RCB dropping Robin Uthappa (the guy who took them all the way last year),Dale Steyn, Kevin Pietersen while retaining just Virat Kohli is puzzling.It pays to be friends with the boss.
Mumbai Indians seem to have got their four right with Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga.Hopefully CSK can get Zaheer Khan and make Mumbai’s loss their gain.
Delhi Daredevils have to rework their website, now that they have decided to stick only with Sehwag, Gambhir is allover the banner(no Sehwag seen).
Yet to see Deccan Chargers choices but think Herschelle Gibbs,VVS Laxman and Gilchrist will not be retained.
Hope to see a more interesting and competitive Ind-SA series!
Recent update to post even Gayle has not been retained by the Knight Riders.Rajasthan Royals have wisely kept Shane Warne and Shane Watson. Kings XI and Deccan Chargers have not retained any of their players.