Category Archives: Ponting

Gavaskar V Ponting (revisited)

A few things have to be said: (a) Australian cricketers do behave badly on the field, (b) Sunil Gavaskar was wrong in commenting on David Hookes, (c) Gavaskar was right to talk about the behaviour of Australian cricketers, (d) This has nothing to do with India’s performance (or the lack of it).

We have talked about this quite a bit on this blogsite.

Rohit Brijnath writes very eloquently about this saga in The Hindu.

There are some significant cultural differences at play here. An Aussie would think that it is ok to bark at you on the field and then have a drink afterwards. They can live with that form of schizophrenic compartmentalisation. Subcontinental teams cannot seem to live with it. Gavaskar cannot. And Australians cannot expect other teams to be naturally comfortable with that schizophrenic compartmentalisation. And therein lies part of the problem.

Alan Border says that the Aussies play “hard but fair”. The rest of the world perhaps doesn’t’ see it that way! Perhaps the Australians are just misunderstood cricketers? Who knows.

Either way Gavaskar’s point is valid…

The Australian’s are the most penalised team in World Cricket.

So, either the rest of the World has to start to understand them more or the Australians need to learn to tone down.

The Australians aren’t the only grumpy team going around. The South Africans come close, but having watched the Aussies in action over a long period of time, I can safely say that the Australians are the ugliest team going around.

They are currently in a huge war-of-words with The South Africans.

The captain started that war of words. The captain should set a tone. Not drag it down. If the captain can’t control a malaise — and indeed, there is one, in my view — then, he shouldn’t be on the park.

But let us pause to think about the Australians. I’ve written earlier about how the Australians do not like to receive as well as they dish it out. Let us think about some of the most hated players in Australia. If one were asked to name the three most hated international cricketers in Australia, you won’t be wrong if you came up with (a) Arjuna Ranatunga, (b) Sourav Ganguly, (c) Greame Smith. Some cricketers that come close to the above list include Manoj Prabhakar, Sunil Gavaskar (post-retirement), Andre Nel, et al. I’d like to predict that Sree Sreesanth will be on this list soon.

Why?

These players give back as good as they receive. They use that 4th dimension (some legal and some not so legal) to get further ahead. They are as Aussie (or perhaps even more Aussie) than the Aussies themselves! Yet, they are the most hated! Isn’t this a strange hypocricy? Perhaps the Aussie cricketers hate themselves (and what they do) so much that they instinctively hate anyone who does it as well — or better — than themselves? I am not a psychologist. So I am not about to indulge in needless amateur psychology here.

Ponting says that often champions are hated. Wrong. The West Indies were not hated. Roger Federer is not hated. Tiger Woods is not hated.

In an earlier article, I wrote:

To be “a sport” is to be fair, even-handed, respectful and level-headed in things that you do in the sporting field — and these days, out of it too. Impact comes not merely from the number of cups that one has in ones trophy cabinet. History differentiates great sporting teams from good ones on the basis of how the team played and not merely on how many cups the team won. Long lasting success comes only if the ‘means’ and the ‘ends’ are balanced. The end rarely justifies the means.

A true champion (and almost everyones’ sporting hero), will be a Roger Federer or a Tiger Woods or a Sachin Tendulkar. They enjoy their sport. They play fair. They play hard. They play strong. They dig deep when their backs are to the wall. They query bad calls. But they get on with it. They have fun. They leave an impression. They are modest. They are level-headed. They are geniuses. They are also as good on the field as they are out of it. They are icons. They are role-models.

We like them not just because they win. That is a fact. They just do! We like them because of the way they win.

I will applaud when Federer or Tiger Woods or Tendulkar win (for they are true champions). I will also empathise with them when they lose.

However, I will continue to rejoice (along with the whole world, perhaps?) when Australia loses. The difference is that they are champions of the game (temporary). They are not champions of the sport (permanent).

So it does depend on ones outlook. Do we want temporary success or permanent glory?

May be it is time for the Aussies to ponder why almost the whole cricketing world dislikes them. If they believe the world hates them because they keep winning, they need to look at Federer and Tiger Woods (habitual winners who are loved) of the world and learn a bit.

Ponting and Cricket Australia need a re-think.

Does Gavaskar have a right to comment about all of this? In my view he does. He did play the game in the “right spirit”. So, he is not being “self righteous”. Ian Chappell commenting about the “spirit of cricket” would be self-righteous pontification. Gavaskar has earned his stripes, in my view.

Gavaskar’s method of retort — the mentioning of Hookes — was silly. He did cross the line there. But kudos to him for bringing Australian bad behaviour up — again!

— Mohan

Advertisements

Gavaskar-Ponting war of words – Aussie views

Here is what the Aussie media and players think of the Gavaskar Ponting war of words

Chloe Saltau in the age writes

SUNIL Gavaskar’s increasingly puritanical tone reached new levels of ridiculousness…The former Indian captain and apparent moral guardian of the game made a second outburst about the behaviour of Ricky Ponting’s team….At best, the reference to Hookes’ death after he was punched outside a Melbourne pub was clumsy. At worst it was offensive….

In an article on Herald Sun, Tony Grieg, former England captain and close friend of Hookes,  is said to have been shocked by Gavaskar’s comment –

It’s inappropriate and I really don’t see any great value in this sort of sledging

Border and Lehman are not happy either. Lehman, who was with Hookes when the fatal incident at the bar took place, has this to say –

His outburst about David Hookes was totally out of order and in bad taste….He (Gavaskar) was a player I admired. Not anymore.

This is what Border has to say –

I consider Sunny a friend, but what he said about David Hookes and the behaviour of Australian cricketers was totally uncalled for. What Sunny said on television was totally inappropriate

Charles Happell on crickey.com.au sees the other side of the story as well –

But it should not be allowed to obscure his (Gavaskar’s) central point which is that the Australians are reviled wherever the game is played because of their uniformly appalling on-field behaviour

Although Gavaskar bringing up Hookes death to make a point about the Aussie behaviour  may not be right, the original point that he tried to make has completely been missed. According to Ponting –

I don’t mind if ‘Mr Perfect’ goes on about our team. We are not going to keep everyone happy. But for some of these guys that have done it all themselves, it’s pretty high and mighty for them to say that

If only Mr. Perfect can comment on the Aussie team, I think we might as well stop having editorial and opinion columns in the press altogether. Ponting has had his share of bad behaviour in a bar as well. Here is the article from the Guardian written last year that talks about it. Now as a captain, if one of his players misbehave, does he loose the right to pull them up? I guess Andrew Symonds doesn’t have to worry any more.

Sanjay had earlier written a piece about the Gavaskar-Ponting episode and we would like to hear your opinion as well.

-Mahesh-

C’mon Mr Ponting!

Ricky Ponting’s personal attack on Sunil Gavaskar is really too much to digest.

Gavaskar mentioned that Australia was not a popular champion. But for Ponting to take it out personally on Gavaskar is just plain immaturity. Gavaskar has now replied Ponting fittingly.

If Ponting thinks that most champion teams were unpopular, ask him to just think a bit about the great West Indian teams of the late seventies and early eighties. Just a simple image of a Viv Richards or a Michael Holding is enough to bring a nostalgic smile on our faces. They played the game with such elegance, spirit and cavalier enthusiasm that they really set an example for other champion teams to follow suit.

Yes of course Gavaskar should not have protested and threatened to walk out in that famous Test match in Melbourne when given out. Yes the Indians’ Test record in the last year is not something to write home about.

But is that the point?

Is this Gavaskar versus the Australian team? In case Michael Slater made a comment in commentary about the indifferent form of Virender Sehwag should he be reminded about his own reaction to a Dravid catch that he claimed being refused?

Does Ponting imply that a cricketer of Gavaskar’s stature, standing and record cannot comment on the Australian team and if he does do so, he should be subjected to this absolutely pointless virulent personal attack?

Dear Mr Ponting it is time you grew up and looked at the job on hand. Your time will come. In about 5 to 6 years time. You will be writing for some magazine and you will get your chance to say what you want. And a future India captain is going to get back at you for this particular attack. And then you will understand what you did today. Meanwhile let’s just get on with the World Cup.

Play!

Sanjay

Imran, Barry & Deano — predictions on NDTV

This morning I was watching a program on NDTV where Prannoy Roy was having a chat with Imran Khan, Barry Richards & Dean Jones about the World Cup. Here are their ratings of the top teams.

Top teams

Imran Khan – 1. Australia 2. India 3. Sri Lanka

Barry Richards – 1. Australia 2. India 3. Sri Lanka

Dean Jones – 1. Australia 2. South Africa 3. India

Top Batsmen

Imran Khan – Ricky Ponting & Yuvraj Singh

Barry Richards – Ricky Ponting & Jacques Kallis

Dean Jones – Adam Gilchrist & Ricky Ponting

Of course since the program was aired on an Indian channel, India featured prominently on everyone’s list! But I think this is an indication that the experts think. The wickets might just favor sub continental teams — Bangladesh’s recent win against NZ is also an early pointer.

– Sanjay

Current Worlds’ Best ODI Team

At the outset, let me confess that I am not a great fan of retrosptective Best-Of lists. I say this although I have participated in some such lists in the past and also on this blog. As I have mentioned in some of my comments here, it is really hard — and somewhat pointless, in my view — to compare across eras and time-periods. Having said that, I applaud previous attempts at list construction on this blogsite, such as:

People say that Bradman was the best batsman ever. Sure, given what the great batsman had achieved, it would be extremely hard to argue against that. I would find it hard to agree against a hypothesis that he was probably the best batsmen ever! But how do we know whether or not Joel Garner (or Michael Holding or Malcolm Marshall or Richard Hadlee or Bishen Bedi) would have torn Bradman’s technique apart? At best, we could say that, given the way he played against his esteemed contemporary bowlers such as Jardine and Larwood, it is likely that he would have coped well against and combatted everything that the wily Garner, Holding, et al had to offer!

Then again, he may have been much better than what he was had he played against Joel Garner (or Michael Holding or Malcolm Marshall or Richard Hadlee or Bishen Bedi)!

Therefore, my preference is to compile best-current player lists. I much rather prefer to compile “best of the current lot” — BOCL — lists. If the BOCL for a country is not its national team, then that team is in trouble! So necessarily (and by definition) BOCL is a worlds’ best sort of thing.

So what is the Worlds’ Best ODI Team at the moment — based on performances over the last year or so?

One way of constructing such a list would be to take the current best batsmen and bowlers from the ICC ODI player rankings and see what comes out of the wash!

I decided to have a look at the top-8 batsmen, the top-8 bowlers and the top-5 allrounders.

The top-8 batsmen are:

Mike Hussey
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Ricky Ponting
Kevin Pietersen
Chris Gayle
Andrew Symonds
Kumar Sangakkara
Mohammad Yousuf

The top-8 bowlers are:

Shaun Pollock
Glenn McGrath
Makhaya Ntini
Daniel Vettori
Chamindaa Vaas
Brett Lee
Shane Bond
Nathan Bracken

The top-5 allrounders are:

Shaun Pollock
Chris Gayle
Andrew Flintoff
Jacques Kallis
Sanath Jayasuriya

It is interesting to note that Pollock and Gayle are the only allrounders who are on the top-bowling-list and the top-batting-list respectively.

The union of these three sets is a list with a total of 19 players. Of these, it is somewhat interesting to see that Muthiah Muralitharan, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara are absent. Just because they are proven match winners, I will add them to the list to give a total of 22 players. Given Glenn McGrath is retiring from all forms of cricket after the World Cup, it makes little sense to have him in this ODI team-compilation. So, out he goes! I know I will get into trouble with my Australian friends for this, but I just don’t rate Nathan Bracken. So, although he is 8th on the top-bowling list, he goes too!

So, the combined list of 20 players (in suggested batting order) is:

01. Chris Gayle
02. Sanath Jayasuriya / Sachin Tendulkar
03. Ricky Ponting (captain)
04. Jacques Kallis
05. Mike Hussey / Mohammad Yousuf / Kevin Pietersen / Brian Lara
06. Andrew Symonds / Andrew Flintoff
07. Mahendra Singh Dhoni / Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper)
08. Shaun Pollock
09. Brett Lee / Shane Bond
10. Makhaya Ntini / Chamindaa Vaas
11. Daniel Vettori / Muthiah Muralitharan

This seems to me to be a reasonable team that perhaps represents the best collection of current ODI players.

— Mohan

Should the minnows be in the World cup?

Different captains have different opinions. Dravid thinks they should play. Ponting says they should not:

“I’ve always felt there are probably places and times for minnow nations to be playing. I’m not sure if the World Cup and the Champions Trophy is one of those times”

which is completely different to what he said four years ago, when asked if they should play in the World cup:

“They definitely have a place. The game has to be strong worldwide. The developing countries such as Holland, Kenya, Bangladesh and Canada, you play against them in other tournaments as well, not only in world cups. It’s good for cricket when you see them improving over time”

Speaking to a Bermuda newspaper, Michael Holding has even said that they diminish the World Cup. Do they really? Kenya was/is considered a minnow, but they made it to the semi-finals last time. South Africa, the current No. 1 ranked team and host didn’t. Zimbabwe is considered to be one of the minnows, but in the ’99 World Cup, they made it to the Super 6s. England didn’t.

The World cup has always had the minor nations participating and it gives them the chance to rub shoulders with the big boys and even pull a few upsets. Bangladesh have beaten Pakistan. Zimbabwe have beaten South Africa. Kenya have beaten the West Indies, and so on. One similar upset in this World cup could actually see ICC’s well orchestrated Super 8 schedule thrown into disarray. This can only be good for the game.

The argument for not having the minnows is that we may have mismatches where the minnows get beaten so badly that it has the potential to demoralize and damage the team. The other big argument is that the tournament now takes too long as we have too many teams. Both are valid reasons.

But the counter argument is that the ICC have been trying to spread the game and to do it they need the money…and publicity – which the World cup provides. And this reason far outweighs the occasional big defeat or a long competition. Read this article which talks a bit more on this subject. It says :

In order to grow the game in any country, money is required. And the easiest way to gather money in sport is to put it on television. So Ireland, Scotland, Holland and Bermuda can offer their sponsors television coverage and, consequently, command a far greater sum of cash

I believe we need to come to a middle ground somewhere. My solution is to split the World cup into a preliminary round where the minnows fight it out with all teams ranked 7 and over. If we go by the current World rankings, it means England, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would have to play Kenya, Scotland, etc in the preliminary round. The top two or three teams then get into the main round with the top ranking teams.

This means that the World cup campaign will be longer for the low ranking teams, which I think is actually good – it gives them the opportunity to play more and improve. The higher ranked teams have a shorter tournament and everyone is happy.

This debate on whether the minnows should play or not has gone on far too long. I hope the ICC changes the format of future World cups and puts an end to it.

Let me finish off with a link to a BBC Sports article on the minnow’s realistic chances in the World cup. My opinion – they don’t have a chance beyond the group matches. But hey, Good luck to them and may they cause an upset or two!

-Mahesh-

A tale of captains…

I decided to have a look at the ODI and World Cup stats of the eight captains that are captaining the likely Super8 teams.

By the way, I have to acknowledge CricInfo for all the stats that I have compiled together — in this and previous articles. Where would we all be without this magnificent treasure-house of cricket data, information and knowledge?

First, their overall career ODI stats (organised in the decreasing order of batting average):


Name |M |Runs |HS |Avg |100s |50s |W |Best |BowlAv |
Ponting269985616442.48225831/1234.66
Lara2901013616940.54196242/515.25
Dravid3101004415340.01127742/4342.50
Inzamam37511665137*39.67108331/021.33
G_Smith1043683134*38.36622143/3057.07
Fleming2707684134*32.1574611/828.00
Jayawardene236618512831.7183472/5677.00
Vaughan77177390*27.70015124/2246.83

The first thing to note is that they are all batsmen. So comparing their bowling is hardly worth it. The only one from this list that does bowl — and that too, occassionally in ODIs — is Greame Smith. But it is hardly anything worthy of serious note. Smith and Vaughan are the relative fledgelings of the captains’ group — in terms of overall number of games played. It surprised me to see that Vaughan has only played 77 ODI games overall!

There appears to be a distinct clustering here. Ponting, Lara, Dravid and Inzamam belong to one cluster. They have batting averages around the 40s. Ponting and Lara have converted a lot more of their 50s into 100s. That could be explained by their position in the batting order as much as anything else. We observe that Dravid and Inzamam have a larger proportion of 50s against their names. However, their is not much between this group. With the exception of Ponting, whos is a mere 144 runs away, all of them have over 10,000 runs in the game! That is a sensational performance by any yardstick!

With an average close enough to 40, Greame Smith could claim that he belongs to this grouping. And perhaps he does. But I’d place him on his own. As far as I am concerned, the jury is out on him. This could be his World Cup. If it is, I would say that he belongs in the first grouping.

The remaining three captains (Fleming, Jayawardene and Vaughan) bring up the rear. In my view, Jayawardene has been a somewhat disappointing ODI player. He is a class act, but does not seem to have the wherewithal to convert his style and panache into high scores. He is one of the more frustrating players of our time. I thought Sri Lankan cricket missed a beat by not appointing Sangakkara as captain. How Jayawardene will turn out over the long run is anyones’ guess! But it sure is disappointing to see him in a clustering with Fleming and Vaughan. In my view, he is a better player than that and he is probably not as tactically-astute as Fleming or Vaughan.

Now for a look at the performance of the Super8 captains in World Cup games (again, organised in the decreasing order of batting average):


Name |M |Runs |HS |Avg |100s |50s |W |Best |BowlAv |
Dravid1977914564.9125
Lara2595611643.4526
Ponting28998140*41.5832
G_Smith31216340.3301
Fleming23722134*34.381211/88.00
Vaughan51395227.80020
Inzamam326438123.8104
Jayawardene131234511.180022/5665.50

Again, it is amazing how far ahead Dravid is from the rest! There is daylight between his performances (in terms of batting average) and the rest! One could conclude that the big match brings out the best in him. And that is not entirely surprising, given his mental strength, discipline, self-belief and sheer determination.

The disappointments in this list are surely Inzamam and Jayawardene. Maybe this will be their World Cup. Who knows?

— Mohan