Sunday, May 19, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 1

A picture containing grass, sky, outdoor, table

Description automatically generated“It’s that time of the year again, when all of India will be glued to the TV sets for more than a month.” No, this is not a delayed post, I am not referring to IPL. Maybe I should correct myself – “So it’s that time of ‘once in 4 years’ again, when all of India and millions around the world will be glued to the TV sets for more than a month.” Yes, you guessed it right! It’s Cricket World Cup 2019!!! With less than 2 weeks remaining till the start of the tournament, the excitement should be reaching high levels. But the usual frenzy, the mania doesn’t seem to be the same as seen in earlier editions. Maybe the people are still recovering from the nail-biter of an IPL final few days ago.
However, it provides me an opportunity to express my love for the game and rewind and relive the rich history of the World Cup Cricket. Who would have guessed that the very first One Day International match played on 5th January 1971 to compensate for the three days of a test match being washed away, will become one of the most popular formats of the game? Even with the advent of 20-20 cricket in the last decade or so, the charm and the significance of the 50 over World Cup is paramount.

In the first part of this journey of reliving the World Cups, I will share some of the important and historical facts and events, some interesting anecdotes and trivia for the uninitiated from the World Cups of 1975 and 1979.


World Cup 1975
England
Officially known as ‘Prudential Cup ‘75’, this was the first of the showcase events of cricket. It had only 8 teams – the test playing nations England, Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand as well as 2 associate nations in Sri Lanka and East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania & Zambia). India was drawn in Group A with England, New Zealand and East Africa. The interesting fact was – each innings was 60 overs, which continued till 1987, when the 50 over format was introduced.

Friday, May 17, 2019

World Beyond the Cup - Tete-a-Tete with Cricket Uganda

Image result for cricket ugandaThe Uganda national cricket team is nicknamed the Cricket Cranes - What does it stand for?

CU - Our national bird is the crested cranes so we borrow from that to have the Cricket Cranes!

Uganda has been shuttling between Division 2 and Division 3 for a while. How does it plan to conquer it?

CU - We are improving our cricket from amateur to semi pro and we know a more professional set up will help us improve. 

The Cricket Cranes are coached by arguably the greatest Kenyan cricketer, Steve Tikolo. 

Not many people know but Uganda has participated in World Cup under the East African team in the earliest edition. With Kenya no more a regional dominant team, is there a possibility of such a coalition, similar to West Indies?

CU - We came out of the East and Central African alliance over 20 years ago, we got associate membership in 1998 and since then each member has developed on their own. Maybe the thought crosses peoples' minds some times but for now we each compete on our own. 

What is the domestic cricket structure like in Uganda?

CU- Our structure is completely amateur, we have 3 divisions separated in 8/8/6 a total of 24 clubs for men and 2 divisions for women with 12 clubs. These clubs compete in a league with the men playing on Sunday and women on Saturday.

The league can be followed on http://www.ugcricket.com/

Sunday, April 28, 2019

World Cup 2019 - Contest #1


Introducing World Cup 2019 - Contest 1

The winner gets - Jersey of his/her favourite cricket team in WC

Rules are simple - 

  • Submit a cricket related article to us at diehardcricketfans@gmail.com 
  • We will publish the same on the website
  • Share it around in your network
  • The article which has the most traffic and likes/shares on the site will win the contest
  • The cutoff date is 19th May 2019. On 20th we will announce the results

    The sooner you submit, more time you have to increase your chances of winning.

    Cheers
    DHCF

My World Cup Predictions


Image result for cricket world cup 2019 bannerAccording to recent form, we can predict that the Final of 2019 World Cup will be played between Venomous England and Voracious India. ICC World Cup 2019 is the 12th edition of Cricket World Cup, hosted by England, from 30th May to 14th July 2019. The format of the tournament will be a single group of ten teams, with each team playing the other nine teams, and the top four teams reach the knockout stage.


Lets talk about the teams which are capable of making into the Semi Finals.

1. INDIA

ODI Team Ranking : 2

Best Batsmen with ODI rankings : Virat Kohli (#1), Rohit Sharma (#4), Shikhar Dhawan (#10).
Best Bowlers with ODI rankings : Bumrah (#1), Kuldeep Yadav (#7), Chahal (#8).

There is no doubt that India will enter the World Cup 2019 as one of the favourites. In the past, the strength of India used to be batting, but these days Indian bowlers are also efficacious, meticulous and incorrigible. In recent times, India has been in miraculous form. Recently India vanquished over South Africa in their backyard. As a Cricket fan you might be aware of what it takes to achieve this.  If you have stupendous and enigmatic players like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Bumrah, Bhuvi, then how couldn't you have the strongest team? Indian players are capable of ravaging any team on their day.









Wednesday, April 24, 2019

T20 Innovations - Should a bowler be allowed to bowl consecutive overs?

Image result for bumrah
Consider this situation - 3 overs are left in the chase and the batting side requires 40 runs to win. The fielding captain is left with 2 overs of a good death bowler like Bumrah and 1 over from some other bowler who has leaked runs that day.

In such a situation, currently all that the fielding captain can do is give the 3rd last over to Bumrah, 2nd last to other to the other bowler and the last over to Bumrah and pray that the penultimate over doesn't go for too many runs.

What if Bumrah can bowl 2 overs in a row. It will open up a whole of new set of possibilities. Now the captain has 2 more options.

1. Let Bumrah bowl 3rd last and the 2nd last over and leave the last over to the other bowler.
2. Let the other bowler bowl the 3rd last over and then bank on Bumrah to defend the remaining runs in the last 2 overs.

This tweak will not only make the game even more interesting but also give the captains in the field more options in such situations.

DieHard Cricket Fans

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Tete-a-Tete with Thomas Odoyo : Star Allrounder of Kenya's Golden Generation

Image result for thomas odoyoHow was it to be an all rounder?

Being an all rounder was fun. It kept me involved through out. I could not relax at any given moment because I had to contribute in both departments. Having said that it requires a lot of sacrifice and time to work on all aspects of your game.

What was special about the 2003 World Cup campaign? Did the team prepare differently? Did the team expect to make it to the Semi Finals? 

The team did get a lot of practice matches before we went to South Africa. Plus I believe the conditions and the wickets suited us perfectly. Most of us had played together for over ten years so we understood each others strengths and weaknesses.

What is your favourite moment in the 2003 WC?

Favourite moment is being in the semifinals. It in itself is an achievement that can never be wished away and will remain in the history books forever.

What is your favourite moment in your career?

Being named the Associate player of the year in 2007.

Who do you rate as the best Kenyan Cricketer ever?

We were a team. Each and every player had his strength. So I don't rate any player as special

Do you have any regrets with respect to your cricketing career? 

Regret is that I did not fully utilise my batting abilities.

What does the future hold for you? 

I am taking a break from the game right now. But I hope to join and help with administration in the future.

What do you think led to Kenyan cricket's fortunes declining from the high of 2003 WC? What measures are being taken to revive it? Any particular upcoming talent to watch out for? 

Our cricket structures are poor and continue to be so. Unless we sort that out we will struggle. Age group cricket is key and clear pathways up to the national level.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Kohli's Blunderbus


Virat Kohli blamed his bowlers for failing to defend 75 in last 4 overs. It was 66 of 24 in reality. He is well within his rights to be upset and criticise his bowlers. But it was Virat Kohli who was the worst culprit in last night's debacle against KKR. Why ? Let's see.


Image result for virat kohli rcb vs kkrKKR bowling:

Fast bowlers: 6 overs - 89 runs - 0 wickets - 14.83 Runs per over
Spin bowlers: 14 overs - 115 runs - 3 wickets - 8.21 Runs per over

RCB bowling

Pacer Saini bowled pretty well for 4-0-34-2. He picked up 2 wickets including that of DK of his last ball of 17th over. But what did others do ?

Fast bowlers: 8 overs - 125 runs - 0 wickets - 15.83 runs per over.
Spin bowlers: 7.1 overs - 45 runs - 3 wickets - 6.38 runs per over.

RCB spinners had put in a magnificent show and picked up 3 wickets too. Yet, they bowled only 7.1 overs of spin. Negi bowling last over was because Siraj and Southee had screwed up big time. Else, the last over would have been bowled by a pacer too. Kohli simply forgot Moeen Ali was alive and kicking. Kohli just doesn't fit as a captain when Dhoni isn't there on field in the shorter formats of Cricket.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Youth and Fame – A Deadly Concoction!

Image result for kl rahul pandyaIndia’s test series win in Australia is a moment in time, a piece of history, one of the most awaited and cherished wins in memory. This team has shown ruthlessness, consistency and superior performance – let it be the aggression of the pace battery, the run making prowess of Pujara, or the now-used-to consistency with which Kohli scores. But there are talks about how this was probably the weakest Australian side to take field; a team undergoing rebuilding phase – both on and off the field. The absence of Steve Smith and David Warner was no doubt a massive gain for India, but still, Australia managed to win the Perth test. However, what made this series spicy (don’t forget that this series started with no pre-series aggressive comments from the Aussies, and both teams showing mutual respect, which was unseen till now) was the banter behind the stumps. Tim Paine and Rishabh Pant hogged the limelight for their innovative, catchy and sometimes childish comments (can’t call it sledging, as Channel 9 was broadcasting it by asking the commentators on air to be quiet and let the wicket keepers do the talking, as perhaps, for some weird reason, it made good viewing). I wonder what the likes of Richie Benaud would have had to say for such antics!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Final Frontier

Image result for india vs australia7th January, 2019: Sydney –a rained out day and not a ball bowled. Yet, it would go down as a red letter day in the annals of Indian cricket. India had finally conquered Australia, the first ever Asian team to do so. It has taken 71 years of toil but we finally did it. 

Yes, this was the weakest Australian team that I can recall. But it still had a world-class bowling attack which needed a special blunting down by Pujara. And for their batting lineup, missing Warner & Smith, while not a single one of them would walk in to any of the other Test teams, they were a collective pest, scoring 20s & 30s, stitching together little partnerships down to the No. 11. Yet, we did beat them in their own backyard. Something none of the Indian (or Pakstani or Sri Lankan or Bangladeshi) teams had ever done. 

Our fast bowlers outgunned their counterparts, our batsmen were better at survival and blunting attacks and our wicket-keeper gave it back as good as he got on the sledging front. A 2-1 victory doesn’t really reflect the gulf between the two teams, thanks to the washed out last day in Sydney. 

While I do not believe in Ravi Shastri’s hyperbole about this being bigger than 1983 or 2011, it certainly is special. After all every India fan carries mental scars of multiple maulings received in Australia over the years. Personally, I recall horror details from the many tours of Australia. 
  • 1991-92 – when we were thrashed 4-Nil with a Ravi Shastri double century, which included walloping of the debutante Shane Warne, in Sydney nearly winning us the game. Then there was Sachin Tendulkar’s coming of the age kind 100 at Perth. But we were smashed in every other game. 
  • 1999-2000 – A 3-nil thrashing, which was the actual prediction of the Mr. Niranjan Shah, the then BCCI secretary. The highlight of the series was a VVS Laxman 163. It didn’t affect the result in one bit but it was the first sign of the torment that VVS would unleash on the Aussies. This became part of the 16-game winning streak for Australia, which ended in Eden Gardens at the bats of Laxman and Dravid. The tide had started to turn. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Missing Warner, Smith and Indian Lineup !

Image result for shaw and pandyaSome Australian Commentators are lamenting the absence of Warner and Smith and claiming the series defeat is because Australia were weakened, thus trying to take the sheen off a brilliant series win achieved by India. Let us take a look at Indian team too.
India played the entire series without their first choice opener Prithvi Shaw. Their best all rounder Hardik Pandya too was missing, significantly upsetting the balance of the team. India's first choice spinner Ashwin missed all but first test. India's second choice spinner (Jadeja) was forgotten till the second test ended.
India played first two tests with an opener under probationary training before retirement (Murali Vijay) and a specialist slip fielder (Rahul). Third test had one and a half openers and fourth test had one opener in Mayank Agarwal, who was imported as an afterthought.
India's problems didn't end there. While Coach Shastri was expected to deliver overseas, it was Rohit Sharma's wife who delivered at home and even he took off during final test, bringing the specialist slip fielder back.
India's middle order had Rahane making guest appearances as if he weren't paid his remuneration and then Rishab Pant was enjoying his Australian holiday with baby sitting tips, till the final test.
India's tail forgot what it means to wag in the first half of the series while the second half didn't necessitate the tail at all.
Australia just missed two of their best batters. With one Pujara, two thirds of Kohli, less than half Rahane, full Pant, imported opener and 3 deadly fast bowlers, India have won their first series down under. Imagine what a full strength Indian team would have done !

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

On Top of the World, Down Under


There was Sunil Gavaskar and he scored runs in tonnes. He was the first Non-Australian batsman to record centuries in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, all the test playing grounds in Australia, though on different tours. He toiled hard and India managed to pull back a test from Lillie and Co in 1978, thanks to Kapil Dev bowling with a 102F fever.

There was Sachin Tendulkar, the best batsman of his era with Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Saurav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag forming the greatest Indian batting line up of all times. They toiled to achieve a drawn series before they went down under in 2012, a cruel 4-0 drubbing. An era ended there.
Half Captain Virat Kohli scored 4 centuries and more runs than any overseas batsman in Australia on that 2014 tour. Yet, victory was elusive. 72 years, countless series, magnificent batting shows, then those "We just missed out an opportunity" moments galore and depressing heart burn moments for fans, Indian Cricket fans like me.
He was down but not 'out' with 201 runs from 6 innings during the 2014 series. He was getting those starts, grinding the bowlers down and then getting out, to an extremely good ball or a bad decision or just a freak unlucky mishap. And then he was out of the series in the final test. Cheteshwar Pujara has lived the last 4 years, branded as a flat track bully with serious technical shortcomings against moving ball outside India.
Nice guys don't finish last, always. They too can finish first. Dravid did that many a times but a series win Down under eluded him, even after his best ever efforts. If India had their best chances to win a test series in England and Australia, it was this time, everyone believed. But Pujara wasn't part of that belief. Kohli it had to be.

The Twenty18 Lineup


Image result for 2018The calendar changes to 2019 and we have Jimmy Neesham & Cheteshwar Pujara starting the cricketing year in contrasting yet effective styles. Before the year runs away any further, time to look back and present the 2018’s Slipstream XI – a collection of interesting & not-so-interesting events to remember the cricketing year 2018 by. 


0. Let’s begin at the beginning. 
All these years we were sending a coin up in the air for the all-important task of finding who bats first. But the smart fellows at the Big bash League decided that sending a coin up in the air doesn’t seem exciting, so let’s throw a specially designed bat! Which lead to an amusing incident where the bat landed on its side!!! 

1. Debutante(s) of the Year 
Ireland & Afghanistan became the 11th & 12th Test playing nations respectively. While Ireland ran Pakistan close, Afghanistan were overwhelmed by India. Meanwhile Nepal made their ODI debut with a narrow win against Netherlands. It was reported in Nepalese newspaper as “Nepal hammer Netherlands by one run”. 2019 is going to be a bumper debut season as all Associates get international status for T20s.