Wednesday, August 15, 2018

11 Solutions for India's Overseas Batting Woes

I believe we Indians are overtly emotional and a tad too harsh on our Cricket team that lost the Lords test. Cynics say, India would have been bowled out a third time if England had enforced a follow on again, allowing them to start the third test with a sizeable first innings lead before the toss. Keeping aside such malicious thoughts, we must find solutions to our overseas batting woes. Here are 11 Solutions that can help India to win overseas tests.
1. "Grass is for cows" believed Ivan Lendle and Mats Wilander. Cow is holy mother for Indians. How can we allow people to run over grassy pitches ? Isn't that an insult to our Mother's food ? Henceforth no grass should be allowed on any pitches.India vs West Indies, Ind vs WI, WI vs India, Virat Kohli, Kohli India, captain Kohli, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, sports news, sports, cricket news, Cricket
2. BCCI must force ICC to amend test rules and bring field restrictions in tests. The slips should be placed outside the 30 yard circle during the first 35 overs with new ball.
3. Any bowler who bowls above 130kmph consistently with significant swing must be reported for intimidating the batsmen. If they don't bowl at least 2 bad balls every over like Indians do, they should be disqualified for intimidation.
4. 140kmph and faster bowling can be injurious to batsmen. Hence such bowlers should be denied Visas.
5. The Kohli - Pujara running between wickets offers radiation hazard. BCCI should evict the fielders from the ground when Pujara and Kohli are batting together. Only a wicket keeper outside the 30 yard circle and the bowler can be allowed. The fielding captain can sit outside the boundary rope.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Cricket Opens Up

Cricket has always called itself a gentleman's game. And in order to ensure the gentility remains, there have strict regulations on who can play and which matches get "official" status and which don't. All of this reeking of colonial hangover and class segregation. Where every other sport is opening up to new markets, cricket had constrained itself to remain within its own little club. The club was expanded but very gradually. and new members could trickle in, say once is a decade or two! But once inside, no power could nudge them out, whatever their atrocities (looking at you Zimbabwe!) [except South Africa who got banned for over 20 years that too a decade after  they had been thrown out of the Olympic movement].

Once a member gets full status, they stayed in and tried to make life more difficult for the next ones in the queue (Bangladesh and Kenya). Ireland might have bloodied many a Full member nose over the last decade, and Afghanistan were creating an almost unimaginable fairy-tale across all sport. But the two of them couldn't play Test cricket. For a game which talks all about fair-play, the officialdom was making a mockery of fairness where South Africa beating Zimbabwe inside 2 days a 4-day match got the exalted Test status, while a keenly contested 5-day Intercontinental Cup Final between Afghanistan and Ireland is only a First-Class fixture! And to further elaborate the point, recently there was a 10-team qualifier for two spots in the 2019 World Cup. Matches involving Netherlands and Nepal had List A status while all others had ODI status. Different statistical rules for the game in the same tournament! Ironically both these teams "achieved" ODI status by the end of the tournament!

Its in the context of this class-ism and reduction in the World Cup teams came two recent announcements by ICC. One, taken last year to provide Afghanistan and Ireland, full member and Test playing status. And two, just last week to provide T20 International status to matches played between all its 104 members. What a drastic, unexpected and welcome change!

The expanded cricketing world - Hoping to see the coverage go and all in a single colour!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Little Bit on Ball Tampering

Ball Tampering – "unlawful alteration of the surface or seam of a ball on the field, to affect its motion when bowled."

Cricket is a batsman’s game. Over the course of last one and a half centuries, laws of the game have been tweaked to make it “swing” increasingly in the batsmen’s favour. Covered pitches, restrictions on bowling, restrictions on field placements, shortened boundaries, better safety equipment, bigger bats, and changes in the front-foot no-ball rule. Almost every single rule change tilting the balance further in the batsmen’s favour. 

Meanwhile, the bowlers have also lived up to the ask, with constant innovations, Bodyline, Swing, spin, chinaman, doosra, reverse swing, knuckle ball, carom ball et al. In due course some have even resorted to the dark arts as well. 

The cricket ball, like everything else on this planet, follows the laws of physics. Bernoulli’s principles regarding motion through a fluid holds especially true. Although, no one has worked out the exact calculations or made big differential equations on the subject, it can be safely said, the more the difference in the nature of the two halves of the ball, the more its tendency to swing. So ensure that one side stays as smooth as possible while other side stays as shiny as possible. Although keep in mind, that is one of the many variables affecting the swing. Others being speed of release, angle of the seam, ambient temperature, wind etc. However, while other variables are not exactly in control, the shape of the ball can be “managed” in multiple ways. Some legal, some illegal, and many falling in the grey area. It is certainly an art, although there are some who move into the darker arts. 

Below is a pictorial representation of the different techniques to manage the shape of the ball. 


Use of any visible agent to change the shape certainly falls in the definitely illegal category. And that is what Cameron Bancroft was caught doing against South Africa. Caught on the cameras with a piece of sandpaper in his pocket which he then tried to hide in his pants post instructions from dressing room, all of which caught by the South African cameramen who were specifically assigned to the task of catching any Australian transgressions. Post the day’s play, Steve Smith admitted to the leadership group’s involvement in the shenanigans. Next day, Tim Paine was leading the side with both Smith and David Warner having resigned in the middle of the Test! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Last Ball Six


Everyone who has played any form of cricket has had this dream. Playing for your country. Hitting a six off the very last ball to win the match. Heck, we have even made a movie of it. Bhuvan hitting the last ball over the boundary to save 3 years’ worth of tax for his village in the climactic scene of Lagaan. Cricket could never have had greater context, an increasingly elusive commodity in modern times. But I digress. 


Image result for last ball six18th March, 2018. India vs Bangladesh. Dinesh Karthik lofts the last ball over covers to win tournament for India. Bringing a sensational end for what had been a pretty insipid tournament. 

It was one of the moments to cherish. And a reminder to myself why I love this game so much. Don’t remember when I was last jumping up and down during or after a game. And I had only watched the last 3 overs of this game.

In an age of cricketing overdose and no “context” to keep the fans engaged, there came a T20 tri-series (!), in Sri Lanka (!!), with Bangladesh (!!!), where India rested their stars (!!!!) and still sailed through comfortably. At the start, the most interesting bit of the tournament was finding the channel telecasting the tournament– Discovery Sport & Rishtey Cineplex!!! 

But things got a bit spicy as the tournament progressed, mainly due to the antics of the Bangladeshi players during and after their last game with Sri Lanka. Their “naagin dance” celebrations managed to piss off the Sri Lankan fans to such an extent that they came out in vociferous support of India (!) in the Final. Indian teams over the years have had vocal support in all parts of the world, mainly from our expat population. (Benefits of having over 1.3 Billion of us!!!). But never ever have we had the local crowds supporting us in such a manner!

This could be the defining innings for Karthik in an era of abundant wicket-keeping talent. Having made his debut in 2004, has been in and around the Indian team for all this time. Many a times playing as a pure batsman and only on occasion getting to keep wickets in Dhoni’s absence. No one has ever doubted Karthik’s keeping talents. Good to see this unsung performer finally getting his share of the limelight.