Category Archives: Brad Hogg

Hail to the Chief!

Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself here.

Nevertheless, is it in Anil Kumble’s destiny to be remembered as a transformational leader? 

For, his act in withdrawing the charge against Brad Hogg, among other things, demonstrates a generosity of spirit that will not be lost on Australia and indeed the Cricketing world. I hope it is the Tipping Point that stems the seemingly irreversible flow towards boorishness by all, including otherwise pacific cricketing nations like India and Sri Lanka.

Had Kumble been bloody-minded about it and pursued the charge, and as seems to be the consensus, Hogg had been rubbed out for four, you’d think the chances of the latter making it back would be severely diminished.

This gesture is, in part, considerate of the fact that a co-professional has just broken into the Aussie squad at age 36, thus precluding a long and distinguished career. Let’s let him live the dream for as long as it runs.

Predictably, those unable to see the larger picture have tended to be cynical. In other words, they’re accusing Kumble of engineering a quid pro quo; we’re withdrawing the Hogg charge, you drop the Harbhajan one.

I will take refuge in the time honoured mechanism of scorn by writing that I won’t dignify that with a response.

 Irrespective of the outcome of the Test Series, I foresee Kumble departing these shores to approbation and applause. He has brought true meaning to the term Captain, and just as GR Viswanath will always be remembered for recalling Bob Taylor despite being given out by the umpire, Kumble’s act of statesmanship will now be ingrained in the rich lore of the game.

On a flippant note, now that we are done naming traffic circles after him, what’s next? Ambassadorship to the UN?

 Soundar.

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India win the Twenty20 tie convincingly…

India won the Twenty20 tie in Mumbai in convincing fashion. They played like the World Champions they are in this form of the game.

Peter I-may-be-one-eyed-but-at-times-I-am-also-blind Lalor, dismisses the game as a Bollywood drama, in his piece in The Australian. But I will persist with reading Lalors’ outpourings. I am, like John I-am-the-only-true-optimist-in-Australia Howard, an eternal optimist! My hope is that he will grow up one day to see that there is a world out there beyond the edge of his own nose!

Despite the best efforts of the Lalors to downplay and downgrade this Australian loss — afterall, the Lalors have to find succour in something when their team loses — this was an impressive win. Despite the utter lack of grace in defeat in their writings, this was a solid performance from India. When India batted, it seemed that they were in total control. Not for once did I think India would lose. Friends of mine switched off their TV sets of drifted off to sleep even as early as the 11th over of the Indian reply. It was that obvious that Australia had run out of ideas; it was that clear that India would win! Such was India’s dominance when batting.

Normally, Indian TV sets are turned off because of disgust at the teams’ performance! Not so on Saturday! One saw a totally relaxed and playful Indian dug out. The players seemed confident, cheerful and playful.

Lalor can continue to turn his nose at the Twenty20 game. I am confident that he would have filed a different report had Australia won and that is why I feel he needs to stop wearing nappies when he writes. Moreover, he sniggers at this victory and at this form of the game at his own peril. This form of the game is here to stay.

My view is that Australia hasn’t understood this game. It is not that this form of the game does not present a stage where skill could be demonstrated. It is not that teams with more muscle and no skill will win. Any such conclusions would be wrong — and would be in the growing dictionary of Lalorisms! It does, however, shorten the gap between the best and worst teams because intensity-levels need to be switched on for a relatively shorter period of time.

Australia, one felt, got it wrong by selecting the wrong team for this game. I could not quite understand why Brad Hogg sat this game out. It is somewhat known that the Indian players do not rate Hogg’s spin too highly. Most players are, apparently, able to read Hogg vry well and ascribe the wickets he has got mainly to the fact that Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson have often made the early inroads. Be that as it may, I do feel Hogg would have created more pressure on the Indians than the bowling complement that Australia had for this game.

Australia also lacked the intensity in this game — especially when India batted. Apart from Ricky Ponting, the other batsmen appeared to be trying too hard. They did not play with their customary swagger and confidence that one has got so accustomed to.

And who knows? Brad Hodge may have played his last game for Australia. He has had a nightmare of a month and will want to put this behind him. Age is not on his side either!

After Australia won the toss and elected to bat, the Indian bowling and fielded was what can best be described as an “Indian effort”. Apart from Harbhajan Singh and, to a lesser extent, Murali Kartik, the rest of the bowlers bowled too many “gimme” balls. The worst culprit in this department was Sreesanth. A different team or even a different Australia would have taken this ill-disciplined attack apart. However, the wrong Australia turned up to the park on the day and India got away with a highly gettable 167!

The Indian batting was clinical, controlled, fearless and purposeful. Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh batted with composure and calmness that meant that India did an Australia and won in a canter.

In fact, it looked like the players had exchanged clothing at the start of the game! While India played with flair, purpose and intensity, Australia played without a plan, with flagging spirits and displayed some ordinary fielding and bowling. The bowling was mostly off target and the number of wides and no-balls reflect that. The fielding was also somewhat ordinary.

A question has to be asked: Why won’t this same team do for the ODIs against Pakistan?

In an interesting move, India rested Zaheer Khan. And that is the sort of courage that Team India needs in its selection as it moves forward into a brave new world.

Another topic for another day…

— Mohan

Harbhajan retorts at ‘vulgar’ Australians

And now Harbhajan Singh, while commenting on his bat-pointing-antics after he got out stumped to Michael Clarke in the Kochi ODI, calls the Australian cricketers “vulgar”. In a telling comment on their game, he said, “They say they play the game in the right spirit, but they don’t in reality. There is nothing gentlemanly about the way they play.

This comment does not come as as surprise to me. It is something most cricket fans know. But I do believe the time has come for Cricket Australia to tear up that “Spirt of Cricket” document that all Australian team players signed up to. I sincerely believe that some words written in a portable loo on toilet paper would have more commitement to it from the players than that “Spirt of Cricket” eyewash!

Harbhajan Singh goes on to say: “I don’t have any problem with chitchat on the field, so long as it is about the game. But when it is very personal and vulgar, that is not on. They think you cannot fight back and they do not like it when you do.

And therein lies Andrew Symonds’ — and perhaps even the Australian teams’ — problem, in my view. Symonds and the Australian cricket team must think that an Australian passport and a baggy-green are the only two possessions that give anyone the automatic right of passage for chit-chat on the field.

In talking about the run-out incident Andrew Symonds, that veritable Zen Master of good behaviour pontificates sanctimoniously from a pedestal placed at 30,000 ft above sea-level, “I didn’t see the need for him to be at Brad [Haddin] like [Sreesanth] was. When I go to another sport I like to see confrontation, I’ll admit that, but you don’t want to see ugly confrontation and you don’t want to see confrontation that degrades your sport.

I saw that interaction and that was not in the least bit ugly as confrontations go. What Brad Hogg did to Gautam Gambhir off the very first over of the Indian innings was ugly — Symonds was at gully! What Matt Hayden said to Harbhajan Singh just a ball before the spinner got out was ugly. Symonds was at point. What Michael Clarke said by way of a send-off to Harbhajan Singh — any lip-reader on probation could make out what was said — was ugly. Symonds laughed and giggled like a 5-year-old who had heard his very first fart-joke!

In my view Symonds and Sreesanth should both check into the same shrink and get their heads cleared. They should take Matt Prior and Andre Nel with them — taking due care to book Matt Prior for an extended buy-one-stint-and-get-five-free-stints period of stay!

The Harbhajan Singh article which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age goes on to say, in the words of the Indian spinner, “Ask any team. They will tell you that when [the Australians] get beaten, they react badly. In this game, you win some and you lose some, but regardless of the result, there is no excuse for their kind of behaviour.

Oh well. If the cricket-contest needed any more chillie and spice, it has just been delivered a generous dose of it.

Shaun Tait has also come out against Sreesanth, asking for some respect towards Andrew Symonds from the young Indian pacer! The usual customary, bland and meaningless threats were made about Sreesanth getting his skull cracked when he visits Australia in the summer! Tait said, “But I think he got a bit carried away with that wicket of Symonds. There’s got to be some respect there.

Hmmmm! Let’s see. Would the same sort of respect that Brad Williams showed to Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar do Tait? Or perhaps Tait prefers to go blind when the Aussies continue to carry-on in ugly way?

I just do not see the need for artificial “lines in the sand” and “respect”. Once you throw a stone in an open-drain and once you determine that that is kosher, for heavens’ sake acquire the maturity to accept the random splash back that comes with it. In other words, if you sledge be mature enough to accept crap in return!

Period.

— Mohan