Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rohit Sharma: Demand for a DNA Test !

After finding nothing interesting to write on Cricket for over 100 days, I return to write on Cricket because of the magnitude of the event that is happening right now.

I have always considered Dhoni as an extremely recalcitrant Captain who will play some of his favorites with the 'come what may' attitude and will keep some away with equal passion. He has done that with Ravindra Jadeja before and now it is Rohit [Nohit] Sharma. Everyone following Cricket in India must have felt dismayed to see the name of Rohit in the India list this afternoon and Rohit hasn't belied our belief in him ! 

So much so, even people not even remotely connected to Cricket have expressed anguish, anger and exasperation. Here are some of the reactions pouring in as India slide towards another defeat thanks to a middle order batsman who can't score a run but can't be dropped either.

Anna Hazare: I have decided to go on an indefinite fast till Rohit Sharma is dropped from the team. Cricket is sustained by the Aam Aadmi's money and not by the BCCI, Selectors or the Captain's whims. We need a strong Jan Team-Pal bill. This bill will ensure that the Indian team for every match will be selected by people's vote. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown

Following  international cricket through Twitter and Facebook is sometimes more entertaining than the action on the field. The battle on social media can match or even better the intensity displayed on-field by the 22 players. While the contest may be between two teams, the online interaction features participation from fans of non-playing teams as well. This makes for an all-inclusive forum where you get perspectives and opinions of all kinds and where debates can stretch for hours and days after the match has concluded. In this context, the reactions following England’s huge loss to South Africa at the Oval, made for interesting observation.
The South African fans were understandably overjoyed, but they were not alone. Indian and Australian supporters, who have bore the brunt of England’s dominance in recent times, were blessed with a host of topics to mock the English team – the ease with which the number 1 team lost to South Africa, the impotency of their bowlers, the ineptness of their batsmen on a flat track and a favorite target – the English media. Understandably, the English fans were more subdued, with reactions ranging from muted acknowledgments of South Africa’s dominance to frustrations over performances of certain players, and even anger over the celebratory reactions by the ‘neutral’ fans.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wait! Let's Give Ravi a Chance

"People try to put us down," rock band The Who used to wail in their 60's anthem, My Generation. Ravi Bopara must know what they meant, having surrendered his second innings wicket cheaply on day five at the Kia Oval, leading to more questions as to why he had been given another chance in England's middle order for this summers box office test series against South Africa. 

Day five at the Kia Oval this time around was a dismal place for England, despite previous high points, and what England required in order to save a game they had been thoroughly outplayed in was caution and restraint from their premier batsmen, particularly following the loss of their top four batsmen late on day four.

That Bopara chopped a wide delivery from the imperious Dale Steyn onto his own stumps was cavalier in the extreme given the context of the game, and is a mistake that Bopara will have to live with as he returned to Essex for T20 action this week. He scored only one for them by the way - bad week.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

England vs South Africa - The Batsmen To Watch

The series between England and South Africa that starts at the Kia Oval on Thursday, is the most eagerly awaited, non-Ashes series I can remember for quite a spell. And well it might be, for it pits the world’s best test team, England lest we forget, against the team ranked third. Further, it brings forth a battle between what are widely considered the best two bowling attacks in world cricket. The juices are flowing alright! 
England take on South Africa in this three match series having made light work of their summer warm-up act, the West Indies, beating them 2-0 in a three match series. The final match at Edgbaston was all but rained off, otherwise it would almost certainly have been a clean sweep.
Having also beaten Australia 4-0 in an ODI series this summer, England will be in buoyant mood right now, although South Africa will provide a much stiffer challenge than either of those two managed. 

With a bowling attack led by the imperious Dale Steyn, the world's best bowler, who is backed up superbly by the improved Morne Morkell, Vernon Philander, who performed so well for Somerset earlier this season and not forgetting the leg breaks of Hampshire old boy, Imran Tahir, South Africa have an attack that will give England's batting order a rigorous examination.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The SpeedFather – A tribute to Brett Lee

When Brett Lee announced his retirement from international cricket recently, it brought to end one of the finest careers a modern fast bowler could ever hope to have, taking into account all the injuries and breakdowns associated with it. A career which included being part of a World Cup win and three Ashes triumphs, and in one where he ended up with 718 international wickets, and leaving as international cricket’s tenth leading wicket taker of all time. Despite several injuries throughout his career, including some which kept him out of the 2007 World Cup and 2009 Ashes, he stayed resilient enough to trouble the best batsmen through a 13 year career. Most importantly, his retirement brought down the curtains on the career of one of that rare breed of sportsmen: a player who is respected by the opposition and loved by opposition fans.
There are lot of pace bowlers on the international circuit, but there are very few who put the ‘fast’ in fast bowling. Lee was one of the few bowlers who consistently bowled at the same frightening speeds throughout his career. He never compromised on pace, which made him a terrific player to watch when in full flow. Along with his signature high jumping and heel clicking celebrations after taking a wicket, he was a true entertainer who had the performances to match.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mark Boucher – He is Legend

Anything to do with Mark Boucher will never be straightforward.
He made his international debut thanks to a finger injury to incumbent keeper Dave Richardson.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

MCC Lecture - 2012 & Tony Greig's India Obsession

The annual Colin Cowdrey Spirit of Cricket Lecture was held on June 26. After a highly impressive oration by Kumara Sangakkara last year, I had begun to look forward to the annual Spirit of Cricket Lecture. On learning that Tony Greig had been asked to deliver the lecture, was certain that somehow BCCI and IPL would be mentioned in his speech as being responsible for all the evil in the world. And he certainly did not disappoint. Where did I get this surety? From following his twitter account. Mr. Greig never misses any chance to take potshots at the Indian board in the limited to 140 characters medium and to provoke caustic remarks from Indian followers. And he certainly wasn't going to miss this hour long opportunity.

To his credit, he has acknowledged the financial power of BCCI and the good use which has been put through it (e.g. the one-time benefit package to past cricketers, bonanza for boards hosting India, Indian TV viewership rights etc.). However at the same time he is saying that BCCI is taking the spirit out of cricket. Well, to be honest, BCCI is not the only wrong-doer in this regard. And for the "Spirit of Cricket" business, in my humble opinion, it is a concept without any actual basis, based purely on an individual's judgement and applied arbitrarily as and when required. So lets not tread into such waters.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

West Indian Cricket: Talent Abundant, Scarce Performance

Chris Gayle. Dwayne Smith. Marlon Samuels. Dwayne Bravo. Kieron Pollard. Sunil Narine. Andre Russell. Fidel Edwards.
These are some of the most talented cricketers to grace the short formats of the game. When you include the likes of Chanderpaul, Best, Roach, Darren Bravo and Rampual from Tests, what we have here is pretty much the nucleus of what should be one of the top teams in international cricket.
Instead, what we get is a team stumbling from one disaster to another. Be it Tests, ODIs or T20Is, the script follows the same pattern: A few numbing defeats followed by an inspiring performance promising a new dawn, but which inevitably is a false alarm as the never ending cycle of underwhelming performances continue.