Category Archives: Vaughan

What has luck got to do with it?

A lot of people have labeled Vaughan’s freak dismissal in the second innings as “unlucky”. Freak dismissal? Yes. Unlucky?? I don’t think so!

I can think of several ways you can get out where the term  unlucky could apply:

  • Umpire giving you out, while you actually are not
  • You got out because of a freakish bounce in the pitch (caused either by a strategically placed jelly bean or because of the general nature of the pitch)
  • The ball ricocheted from a fielder’s helmet and you were out caught
  • You are playing book cricket and you picked a page ending with a zero!

Unfortunately, Vaughan’s dismissal does not fall into any of these categories. It was caused by the fact that he did not play the shot properly or the ball was quicker than he expected. Or both.

-Mahesh-

England Vs India: Test 2 Day 5 — No coach but many oval beans?

This was a terrific team performance by India to win the 2nd Test match against England. It was a good win indeed. And this was achieved without a coach!

David Lloyd can whinge all he wants about it being a lucky toss to win, but if England continue to wallow in their self-pity and if they continue to be lured by excuse-mongering, they’ll be in a sorry frame of mind when they go into the 3rd and final Test match of this series at The Oval.

Yes, it was a good toss to win. However, by pinning England’s loss on that one event, as the one-eyed — or is he totally blind(ed) — David Lloyd was trying to do would be foolish. I thought both Andy Flower, Englands’ Assistant Coach, as well as Peter Moores, the England Coach, got it spot on when they dismissed the importance of the toss. Andy Flower said that it would be tempting but weak to pin the reasons for the loss on the toss.

The Indian bowlers bowled well in this match. They put the ball in the right spots and they asked searching questions. I certainly haven’t seen Zaheer Khan bowl with as much guile, intensity, purpose and energy as he did in this match. He was ably supported by R. P. Singh. And although Kumble merely polished off the tail in both innings, he did the job. He would be disappointed with his showing — especially in the 2nd innings — and I am sure he would use the 9-day break between games to work on his shortcomings. Sree Santh had a sorry outing in this match (more of that later). But

But overall, the bowling unit performed well. The core unit was supported well by Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar too.

The Indian batting came good. The openers batted in a truly special manner. That set the platform for the Fab Four to accumulate the runs.

This was a wonderful team performance. In the past, several of India’s overseas victories have been set up by only a few people. I can think of Dravid, Dravid and Dravid. Did I mention Dravid, by the way? Think back to Headingly, Rawalpindi, Adelaide and Jamaica. Agreed Laxman contributed big-time in Adelaide and so did Agrarkar with his magic spell of bowling, but without Dravid’s brilliant 70+ in the second innings, India may have lost that one.

However, this victory was different. This was a good, solid team performance. Almost everyone played a part. Zaheer Khan did. R. P. Singh did. I thought his balls to dismiss Pietersen and Prior were the balls of this series so far. Kumble contributed by polishing off the tail in both innings — someone has to do it! Jaffer and Karthik did, with their solid opening partnership which dealt the Indian middle-order with a solid platform. The England 1st Innings score had been all but wiped out when the Fab Four got their opportunity. One cannot underestimate the value of this opening partnership. The Fab Four came into their own in this match. Although Dravid did not make enough, he did continue the foundation that the openers had provided. I thought Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly played with much application and determination. I thought this may have been one of Ganguly’s best innings ever! VVS Laxman played well too…

The only players that missed out were Dhoni and Sree Santh.

From all of Dravid’s post match sound bytes, it does appear as though Sree Santh will be given a chop on the knuckles and a dreessing down. Ravi Shastri wanted an internal disciplinary action. I don’t know if the Indian team will go that far. But I do believe he will receive a dressing down. A visit to a shrink may be in order too.

Are India poor travellers? Dileep Premachandran and Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan from Cricinfo explode this myth. Suddenly, India’s away record is second to Australia’s! So much for the “stamp the visa and stamp out the team” tag that Team India has had to live with. In the last 10 years or so, ever since Ganguly took over the captaincy reigns, India have won in South Africa, Australia, West Indies, England (twice), Pakistan and Sri Lanka. If we discount the shocking series in New Zealand in 2003, India has won important games in all Test playing countries. Of course, I have not considered Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in this analysis.

Indeed, since 2000-01, India has won more matches overseas than it has lost! In that period, India has played 36 overseas matches, won 13 and lost 10! If we ignore the New Zealand series of 2002-2003 and all wins in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the results read: 28 matches, won 8, lost 8. This is better than any other team barring Australia!

The problem with India has been consistency, continued-focus and retained-intensity. As Dileep Premachandran argues, almost every good overseas win has been followed by a loss! What India needs is to put her foot on the pedal and leave it there.

The fact that the team bounced back from the near-defeat at Lords’ to a win at Trent Bridge augurs well for India. The determination to win was there and it was evident. Hopefully India will retain that hunger when they step onto The Oval. There is a chance — a brilliant opportunity — to create history here. I don’t believe the Fab Four and Kumble — all on their last visits to England, surely — won’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

I mentioned earlier on that England would be foolish to pin the reasons for their loss on the toss-loss. The reason I say this is because it takes the focus completely away from the ordinary performance of Alistair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior. Yes, the England bowlers bowled well. They bowled under worse conditions than India did. And yet they stuck to their task manfully. However, to ignore the problems that Struass and Cook are having would be foolish. To ignore the impetuosity of Collingwood and Bell in the first dig would be silly. They played atrocious shots when the situation demanded that they respect the conditions as well as the bowlers a lot more. And Collingwood, after getting a start in the 2nd Innings could not keep going. Ian Bell, like Alistair Cook and Andrew Strauss, is in all sorts. Matt Prior should really focus on his game and not on his next sledge. He, like his co-conspirator in the India Team — Sree Santh — appears to have lost the plot. A visit to a shrink would be needed to get him to focus on the next ball rather than the next sledge!

Which is why I think David Lloyd is being one-eyed! He needs to open the other eye and realise that there are some real problems that need to be solved; some questions that need to be answered.

So, let us head to The Oval. Hopefully we well see some more of those oval sugary beans there too so that Zaheer Khan can get fired up once again.

England Vs India: Test 2 Day 4 — England turn to jelly…

Zaheer Khan’s excellent bowling put India firmly in the drivers’ seat at the end of day-4 of the 2nd England Vs India Test. He had a terrific first session in which he got Alistar Cook out with a beauty. But his best balls of the session weren’t rewarded. He bowled some peaches to Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss that went unrewarded. He said that he had been spurred by a few pink jelly beans!

zaheer.jpg

Zaheer Khan was referring to his exchange of pleasantries with Kevin Pietersen when Zaheer was batting on day-3. This had apparently been sparked by the presence of jelly beans on the pitch. Zaheer Khan flicked the offending beans away from the pitch only to find a few more on the pitch the very next ball! He apparent used that as a spur to bowl, on day-4, what was the best spell of his career so far, thereby turning the jelly-throwers into jelly themselves!

This has been a series marred by on-field pranks and verbals. I do believe Vaughan and Dravid have a responsibility to get their players to focus on the game instead. A bit of lip is perhaps good for the game. Matt Prior seems to think so anyway. But a continuous carry-on takes the sheen away from what has been a terrific contest between bat and ball. The worst offenders have been Sree Santh and Matt Prior. In my view, they should be given a hair cut, thrown into a cold shower, clipped behind their ears and asked to focus on their games instead.

But to be brutally frank about it, it was a slice of luck that brought India back into the game. Dravid took the 2nd new ball as soon as it was due. At that point, the game appeared to be slipping away from India’s control. England had squared off the deficit and were moving ahead with alacrity. Vaughan was batting well and Collingwood was steady at the other end. After having bowled Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar for a few overs to usher in the new ball, Dravid took it as soon as it was due.

And talking of Sachin Tendulkar’s bowling, it must be that Dravid sees more in his bowling than most others. Or is it a case of the captain being in awe of his illustrious team-mates’ prowess? Who knows what the reason is, but it still was baffling to see Tendulkar fling leather for a few overs before lunch when the best man on the park had bowled a stirring spell of 6 overs in which he had taken 1 wicket for 9 runs. That apart, Dravids’ handling of his bowling resources was good. His field placings were good and he handled Sree Santh reasonably well too. He egged his players constantly. This was once more evident as soon as the new ball was taken.

Instead of getting on with the game as soon as the second new ball was taken, Dravid called for a mid-pitch huddle instead! This was certainly a first! Vaughan and Collingwood looked on in bemusement! Even the umpires looked. David Gover said with dripping sarcasm, “Hello, hello! The game will have to wait. We have a meeting going on”, or words to that effect. Dravid must have pleaded for some more intensity and focus. And that’s what he got. The Indians seemed hungry and desperate and altered the course of the match!

The first over with the new ball, bowled by Zaheer Khan, went for 14 runs and the second over, bowled by Sree Santh went for quite a few too. Dravid may have been wondering about his decision to claim the new ball. He may also have been wondering if his huddle-assemble-call had had any effect at all! However, a few overs into the new ball, Zaheer Khan thudded a fast ball into Vaughan. It clipped the bottom of Vaughan’s thigh pad and ricocheted onto the stumps.

India had prized the door open. And thanks to some smart cricket, India proceeded to smash the door open.

It was appropriate, in my view, that Zaheer Khan got Vaughan’s wicket. In the morning session, just as Sidebottom had made Tendulkar dance to his tunes on day-3, Zaheer Khan had Vaughan in all sorts of trouble. Vaughan had been extremely lucky to have survived that amazing spell of intense swing bowling from Zaheer Khan. Incidentally, Zaheer Khan is the 4th highest wicket taker in the list of left-arm-seamers. He is in illustrious company — Wasim Akram, Chaminda Vaas and Alan Davidson are the others. Zaheer Khan had bowled to Vaughan like a champ. Just as Tendulkar congratulated Sidebottom on day-3 after that left armer had completed his spell, Vaughan too seemed appreciative on more than one occasion!

Zaheer Khan was clearly the best bowler on view. He bowled with purpose and venom. While one could say that he was lucky with the Vaughan wicket and the Andrew Strauss wicket — a lazy, post-lunch waft — the deliveries that got Alistair Cook and Ian Bell was brutes. And the manner in which he set up Collingwoods’ wicket was smart.

I don’t believe Zaheer Khan was supported well. R. P. Singh was the only other India bowler who, in my view, bowled well. He is, in my view, a smart young bowler with maturity that defies his 22 years. Micheal Atherton claimed that the two left arm seamers, together, bowled the best spell of left-arm swing bowling that he had ever seen, apart from the spells bowled by the great Wasim Akram. I am quoting almost verbatim. David Gower’s response to that statement was, “High praise indeed.”

Although Kumble’s figures, at 3 wickets fro 104 runs, read reasonably well, he did have a poor day at the office. He did not pose too many threats and he did not ask too many questions.

But the worst culprit was Sree Santh. He started steadily but was mostly erratic. He nearly felled Pietersen with a terrible beamer. The fact that Pietersen got out a few balls later may have meant that Sree Santh had rattled him with the beamer. It just showed that Sree Santh wasn’t on top of his game. He once bumped into Michael Vaughan on his trudge back to his bowling mark. It may not have been a deliberate shoulder-contact. Nevertheless he has been fined for this transgression. Fair enough. He should concentrate on his game more.

Overall, Sree Santh had another ordinary day at the office. He bowled some good spells. But there was some tripe chucked in there for good measure too. On a day when Zaheer Khan was bowling probably the spell of his career so far, what one needed was a steadying support at the other end. Sree Santh definitely did not provide this support. He was erratic at worst and enigmatic at best. In amongst his beamers and over-stepped-by-2-feet no-balls, he even managed to deliver a ball from about a foot behind the bowling crease! This young lad needs to learn to channel his energies and his undoubted skills more effectively.

His reaction to being denied Collingwoods’ wicket was shocking. Collingwood had just gloved a Sree Santh ball to Dhoni behind the stumps. This was Howell’s chance to get in on the getting-it-wrong act. Sree Santh reacted by going around the wicket and bowling two deliberate no-ball bouncers. In both, his front foot had over-stepped by about 2 feet! That could be nothing other than intentional and deliberate!

Dravid immediately removed him from the attack next over and brought on Ganguly instead. Good call.

The contrast with R. P. Singh was stark. Singh had just scored a Pietersen’s snick to Dhoni and was celebrating with the slips by the time he turned back to see Simon Taufel deny him his glory. The snick was so obvious Blind Freddie would have given it out. Taufel’s nightmare series was merely continuing. Singh, meanwhile, merely trudged back to the top of his run and proceeded to bowl what I thought was the ball of the series so far. The next ball was a viscious inswinger that swung at terrific pace from about a foot outside off to catch Pietersen plumb in front.

Singh produced a similar delivery later on to dismiss Matt Prior.

Aaah! MAtt Prior! I think this goof is another one that needs to spend more time in the nets and less time practicing his sledges. He gives the impression that he takes the verbal/aggression side of his game a bit too seriously. If he took his batting as seriously as the sharpening of his mental game, he’d probably be a better player for it. When he got in, he was understandably, given the verbal make over by the Indians — and in particular from Sree Santh, his professional counterpart in the Indian team. Instead of getting on with his game, Prior reacted to the sledges. He air-kissed, winked, smiled and said something himself. It wasn’t surprising that he was out soon and sent packing.

Despite the wickets of Cook, Strauss and Pietersen, in my view, England had taken the 1st two sessions of the day and my session-by-session scorecard read 5-4 when we got to the second new ball.

Vaughan had played delectably. His balance and his poise were amazing. His front foot drives and his cover drives were poetry. His reaction to the verbals — and the shoulder-to-shoulder from Sree Santh — were lessons in how to cop it — Matt Prior should take note. The England captain was on top of his game. He had played a captains’ knock with little support from the rest of the bats. Along the way, Vaughan had also survived a first ball scare from Kumble. Kumble had started his spell with a fast-low top-spinner that thudded onto Vaughan’s pads. I am not sure why that was given not out! The nightmare on umpire street merely continued! But Vaughan put all of that behind him and built a wonderful innings.

Alistair Cook has a balance problem that has been rudely exposed by the Indian seamers. He has been found out to the inswinger thudding into his pads and on 4 times out of 4 in this series, he has been out in the same manner. A few years ago, Justin Langer had a similar exaggerated head-lean-to-the-left to compensate for the ball sliding down his leg side. Agarkar had exposed this weakness in his batting. Cook is going through a similar phase and needs to address this weakness. Strauss had lent support to Vaughan but his lazy post-lunch waft at a wide ball was a stupid lapse in concentration, especially from one who is vice-captain of the team! Pietersen came and went. Only Collingwood was able to lend support to Vaughan. The two of them had a good partnership going. England were motoring at that stage. And that’s when, with the second new ball, the game turned on its head. Vaughan was out and Ian Bell came into play.

The Indians had been pre-warned that Bell had received a viscious knock to his head in the nets. Zaheer Khan greeted Bell with a bouncer. He then bowled a beauty to trap Bell adjacent. R.P.Singh produced a peach to get rid of Prior and Collingwood was snapped up by Karthik in 1st slip. This was a smart catch take inches off the ground. Kumble wiped off the tail, India were left with 73 to make. They had won the last session decisively and should go on to win the Test match.

The session-score reads 6-4 and that is an apt reflection of India’s dominance of this match.

Matt Prior pits Karthik against Dhoni against Yuvraj…

Matt Prior was having a field day sledging the Indians in the recently concluded 1st Test. He continually chirped “Dhoni won’t have played that shot mate” when Karthik was batting. He clearly got to Karthik who reacted by complaining to the umpire. Karthik was subsequently calmed down by Ganguly. Prior then kept up with “Yuvraj is batting excellently in the nets mate” when Dhoni was out there in the middle. Clever.

Michael Vaughan wasn’t far behind either. He gave Sourav Ganguly a serve after Ganguly turned down an easy run on the penultimate ball of Day-4. He also gave Sree Santh the verbals for taking his time to get to the crease.

Indeed, many of the England players kept a constant chirp going against the Indians. Fair enough. I don’t particularly like it, but recognise that it is a part of the modern game. Everyone does it. It is just a question of who does it well and who to.

It also has the opposite effect on some players. Buchanan in his pre-tour notes would often ask Australian players not to sledge Dravid and Tendulkar because it toughened their resolve even more. Miandad is said to have engaged the fielding team in banter and would use that to pep himself up.

But it is all part of the modern game.

So, in a bid to assist Team India, what should the Indians be saying when they are out there?

Here are a few sledges that I could think of. Please add to this list. We can then provide a compilation for the team to use!

To Kevin Pietersen:

  • Heard you are totally fatigued mate.
  • Got over the brain fatigue you were talking of?
  • Want to take another holiday in the South of France to recover from your fatigue?
  • Still having problems with bouncers these days?
  • Are you really committed to England or would you rather be playing for South Africa?
  • But for the reservation system, you’d be playing for South Africa won’t you? Why play in such miserable weather all year round?

To Michael Vaughan:

  • You did use the term “Fredalo” in The Guardian interview did you not?
  • Flintoff was a better captain than you mate. If only he wasn’t injured, he’d be captaining the side. You know that don’t you?
  • Flintoff’s knee is getting better. He’ll be back in the side soon.
  • You are in the team only because you can bowl when bad light threatens to halt play… and even that is crap.

To Matt Prior:

  • Even Geriant Jones won’t have dropped as many catches as you did mate.
  • If you could ‘keep as well as you can talk, you’d have been in the team before Geriant Jones.
  • You need a hair cut or a real job!

Any suggestions?

— Mohan

India’s back in the game, Or are we?

A lot of people consider test cricket to be boring. Nothing really happens for overs and overs. Plus when it rains, there is nothing much either players or spectators can do. But for the connoisseur, test cricket is the real cricket. The game is fought over 5 days and fans know that something exciting can happen in just a matter of few overs that can turn the game upside down.

England went into the day with a slight edge over the Indians. England’s plans would have been to get the score well over the 400 run mark. After all, they had Pietersen, Bell and Prior – all accomplished batsmen, who had scored heavily in the recently concluded test series against the West Indies.

From India’s point of view, the dressing room talk would have centered around how they can restrict the English to less than 350.

England had started Day 1 really well and were cruising at 200 for the loss of just one wicket and even after Strauss fell, they were 250/2 at one stage, with both the captain and Pietersen in good flow. England at that stage were probably thinking of a score of around 500-550. Then the game turned on its head – two quick wickets to end the day, heavy rains the next day and some inspired bowling from India with the new ball meant that eight wickets fell for just 46 runs. England were all out for 298 and India were back in the game.

When India came out to bat, their first target would have been to see off the new ball without the loss of any wickets. That was not to be the case as Karthik and Dravid fell in the 9th and 12th over respectively. Tendulkar and Jaffer then started to build a partnership and just when things were starting to look up for India, Sachin fell for 37. India would have done well to have finished the day without the loss of any further wickets, but Jaffer got out for 58 with just 3 more overs remaining for the day. India finished the day with 145 for 4 (compare this to England’s 268/4 at the end of day 1) and have lost the ground that they gained earlier.

All is not lost yet. India now need a couple of good partnerships to take the lead. India need a lead of at least 75-100 runs to still be in the game and that is what they would be looking to do. But as I said earlier, it only takes a few overs to turn the game upside down…

-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