Author Archives: harinee

Too much made out of a loss…

Yes India has been routed in the Test Series by England.All ex-cricketers and journalists have found a chance to air their opinions on same.For a change Englishmen are leading from the front on pointing what is wrong with the Indian team.The victory seems to have given them a louder voice than before.
Kapil Dev finds an excuse to blame batsmen even when bowlers fail.Rather original criticism coming from a man who lead his team to 0-6 and 0-3 post WC-83 triumph.

Ian Chappell  seems to be back at his favourite job of criticizing Indian cricket. If he had his way Sachin Tendulkar would have retired years ago.I would rather have him focus on Cricket Australia and his brother Greg Chappell’s exit.Oddly we are seeing some Australian players express same sentiments about Greg Chappell as Indians did under him.

The general babble in the press has got so foolish with a suggestion to drop the captain for a match for losing his wicket.

Did we play bad cricket? Yes. But should we denounce the entire team, the captain and establishment on the basis of one series. Absolutely not, let us not forget the same team under Mahendra Singh Dhoni had not lost a Test Series till this one.

We just won the World Cup 3-4 months back under the same establishment and captain with  many from the same team.We need to show more support and understanding to a team which is going through a lean patch than call for heads.Oddly a nation which shows such patience with irresponsible governance has little patience with sport.

IPL could definitely be a contributing factor to the fatigue. BCCI must take blame for planning IPL so soon after the World Cup. Yes we expect players to have a call of conscience and forgo IPL for keeping fit.But IPL has also started becoming a platform of selection for the good or bad to the national team. Players should be given the confidence to forgo the IPL if it is going to affect fitness. But with so many conflicts in roles involving the chief selector himself I cannot see this happening.

I think the wise thing for BCCI to do is to exempt players playing for the country from IPL.Playing for the nation is lucrative enough for players to skip IPL.And it also throws opens the tournament for more youngsters and will make it more economical for the team owners also.


IPL and leagues..

We are two weeks into IPL and there have been some interesting results. After India winning the World Cup, IPL somehow does not excite much this time. It does not help that most teams have gone for a complete changeover so its really a trying time for any fan to remember who is playing for whom.The only familiar looking teams are Chennai SuperKings and Mumbai Indians.

The points table also has a new look with Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI occupying unfamiliar positions at the top of the table and Chennai Super Kings at bottom.Think what’s worked out for the teams doing well is not having too many players from the World Cup teams. Most of the World Cup stars have been delivering jaded performances especially the batsmen and pacers.

Meanwhile there is talk of other player leagues similar to IPL by Pakistan and Sri Lanka. I highly doubt cricket can sustain league competitions across countries. Football leagues work because the sport is followed allover the world unlike cricket whose primary fan base is the subcontinent. And despite its international players IPL remains primarily a Indian tournament.Cricket needs to grow to much more internationally and have a more astute ICC to have successful international leagues like Soccer.

Also If IPL continues to affect schedules of international matches, BCCI may not be able to enforce its clout in pushing boards like SL for long. Cricket boards are not going to tolerate watching their key players choose  IPL  over their country or retiring early to prolong their IPL career. On the positive side IPL proves again to be a great platform to discover a talent like Valthaty.


ICC World Cup 2011 begins..

The World Cup warm-up matches have started and the country has also got into hype mode. If you watch the TV or read newspapers ,the general idea is the cup is at an arms length to the Indian Team.What goes up comes down so if the Indian cricket team fails, we will see every Tom, Dick and Harry on TV advising the team what it could have done.

India might have won its first warm-up game but it seems more due to Australia’s weak batting than India’s bowling. Michael Hussey could have made the difference in the result.

South Africa looks quite strong and I think has the best team for the tournament. A very good batting lineup led by captain Graeme Smith, with Hashim Amla in great form. Their bowling has the best pacer in the world today Dale Steyn, ably supported by Lonwabo Tsotsobe and for once, they also have good spinners in Robin Peterson and Johan Botha.

Australia may have lost its warm-up matches but cannot be discounted. The positives from the match against South Africa are Michael Clarke has started scoring and the finger injury has not deterred Ricky Ponting’s batting ability.

The other teams which have a good chance at the crown are Sri Lanka and England.

Sri Lanka has a good batting line up with players like Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara and a equally good bowling line-up led by Lasith Malinga and Muthiah Muralitharan .

England may have lost their last series against Australia but have the potential to reach finals. I see Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan as key players who can propel England to that stage.

West Indies to me is unpredictable, I really don’t know how Darren Sammy is going to lead this team.

Leaving the minnows apart I don’t see a chance this time for New Zealand and Pakistan. Daniel Vettori is a great bowler and captain but the team  does not seem to have match winners and is low on confidence with too many losses this year. Pakistan has always been like a wild card entry which surprises at crucial junctures but the present team is too fragmented and Shahid Afridi has not displayed any leadership potential and his own form is questionable.

It would be great if India won but the batsmen have to deliver as Indian bowling does not look so strong.

Would be glad to see surprise upsets to above!


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.

Does it matter

The match fixing controversy is back again and the paramount question is how serious are the boards in rooting out the issue.The reason certain crimes are less in society is the fear of punishment.And the punishment is not clearly defined here.

None of the boards have put in any measures to prevent fixing of matches and ICC itself has not taken any proactive action in checking this evil. Do any of the boards or even ICC monitor suspected bookies, and the interactions players have with them. Unless there is a direct charge as of now, mere suspicions are never actioned upon.We are yet to see a full blown investigation of the infamous Sydney test match by ICC despite many questions  being raised on the outcome.

On the other side if we were to look at the subcontinental players who were found guilty, their current lives, status in society and the game, will no way detract future offenders.BCCI office bearers have no problems being seen with these offenders during matches nor have TV channels in hiring them as expert commentators. And they also get hired as coaches to budding cricketers.

The minute you start taking money to underperform your love for money has overtaken the love for the game.The risk you will get caught is low and unlikely to be at the beginning stage of your career(Amir being an exception). The possibility that you will be severely punished even lower in the subcontinent. The word “banned for life” has a completely new connotation here.Bans are issued only to be revoked.

So unless you have some integrity and play for the love of the game, there is nothing to stop you from making the quick buck.What does it matter if the poor cricket fan keeps seeing his hopes of a fair game no-balled again and again.

The World Cup is round the corner and if the subcontinent boards and ICC want to have a shred of integrity in the results, they better act fast and now.

Party is over now the hangover..

The IPL party got over and our players experienced the hangover in West Indies.

The basics to passing any exam or winning any tournament are very simple: Preparation and practice. BCCI thinks IPL is a practice and preparation tournament for WC.Rajiv Shukla from BCCI already knows  that the IPL was no reason for the team’s collective failure ! I beg to disagree.

 Have you ever prepared for an exam where you had to pass all your practice tests else your eligibility for the actual exam comes under question? IPL is not a practice tournament its much bigger than that. You cannot expect to play a demanding tournament mentally and physically for 2 months and expect to perform in the next one within a span of week. Especially when the quality of competition and the environment is completely different.

 People are quick to question Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy when the same guy was the toast of the town for winning the IPL.Such a drastic change in assessment of someone’s capability in such a short time needs to be analysed.The coach also has a role here.

 Gary Kirsten mentioned that IPL was the reason for his team’ s poor performance in last years WC. What stopped him from raising this concern before this year’s IPL? Is he not responsible for the Indian team’s mental and physical ability also for such a tournament? If there was a weakness against a particular bowling style what did the coach do about it? Especially after losing one match.I know you cannot overcome a weakness overnight but would you not try to work around your batting order to nullify the weakness a bit.

While the team selection was questionable and Krishnamachari Srikkanth will probably face the axe.The real question is does BCCI want to run a successful business venture or nurture a world-class cricket team? There is clearly a conflict of interest here.


My T20 WC lineup…

ICC world T20 2010 has started and we have 12 teams in fray.The minnows in T20 are also capable of major upsets and Bangladesh and Afghanistan have showed in their first match that they are no pushovers.
This the semifinal line-up I anticipate to see. And I base this on the team constitution and quality of captaincy.

They have a captain who can be rated among the best T20 players in the world. And he is lucky to have a team which will allow him to focus solely on cricket not on other unnecessary politics usually associated with Pakistan teams.Unlike his predecessors he has no egos to deal with in his team either.The youngsters will be keen to perform and Pakistanis usually seem to deliver when it matters most when there are no power struggles in the team.

South Africa:
I will not be suprised to see them make it to the final. They have a good batting and bowling line up with allrounders. Kallis is a match winner in good form. Graeme smith and Duminy’s form could be of concern here.But Smith’s captaincy complements his lack of form.

New Zealand:
I am expecting Mccullum, vettori and ross taylor to contribute mainly to take this team to semis.Jesse Ryder again is capable of winning matches single-handedly for NZ. Return of Shane bond should help the bowling line-up .Again Vettori is a shrewd captain and that greatly augments NZ chances.
India/West Indies:
There is also slightly wishful thinking that it is India which makes it. India and WI both seem to have a weak top order at present with Gayle missing and Gambhir struggling.For WI, return of Gayle and Pollard could make a difference and there is the home advantage.India also don’t have the best bowling lineup.
For India if Yuvraj strikes form  he could more than make up for the weak top order and solid batting order could overcome the bowling inconsistency.Again Dhoni is a way much better captain than Gayle.

Srilanka does not look very strong this time.Jayasuraiya and muralitharan are not very clever choices for T20 at world level. Also dilshan,mathews and sangakkara are not in very good form. And the most important factor for T20 is captaincy which is a big minus for SL.

Australia somehow have never been good in this format and I dont expect any change in their performance.Watson is the only bright spot here and I dont understand the exclusion of Bollinger in this squad.

I could be completely off the mark here as there are lot of new players in the fray and T20 can be quite unpredictable.Would love to see the predictions from others.

– Harinee