30 June 2007

An English Swansong?

This is where the world first sat up and took notice of a precocious tiny fifteen-year old with tight curly hair who had just saved his team the blushes with a superb hundred. And as he returns to the island nation of seam and bloody bad weather, one can be certain that thoughts of the karmic circle, mortality and retirement are not too far away. After all, his idol Viv Richards too walked into the sunset after an English summer.

Yesterday, Sachin scored the second of his consecutive nineties against the South African visitors. And what a knock it was, distinct from the touch n' feel nature of the first, and far removed from the trudging nature of his innings' in Bangladesh. Cut, pull, hook, crunching drive, quick single: all the elements that made him the pre-eminent batsman of the late nineties and early 00s. If this is to be his swansong, and he has given us no indication that it will be, then England better watch out.

25 June 2007


Seventy-five years of Test cricket. Here's to seven hundred more.

23 June 2007

Protecting a great Indian from Indians

Shashi Tharoor has written a particularly hard-hitting essay in the Times of India about the constructed "Bharatiya Sanskar" and the violence carried out in the name of all Indians. The focus is on M F Hussain. Read it while you take a break from the cricket.

21 June 2007

Void Contract?

Sreesanth, Zaheer and Laxman have reason to be disgusted. While Laxman has been demoted to Grade B, both Sreesanth and Zaheer are in Grade C. Of the two Test victories of consequence in the last 8 months, these three were largely responsible. The Jo'burg victory would not have been possible without their heroics. If I were Dravid, I would be very worried that there were three players in the squad to England who are seriously demoralized. Two of them are fast bowlers, whose bodies can find it very easy to give up on them if the mind is not willing.

19 June 2007


I used to be an irrational Chanderpaul hater, repeatedly lampooning him as talentless and undeserving of a spot in a batting line-up that included Lara. And for years, in the face of mounting evidence, I clutched at straws to push my argument. And now finally, I am admitting defeat: any batsman who can survive (yeah, just surviving will do) for eighteen hours at the crease in between dismissals is a good batsman. And in a lineup full of pretenders, he is the only hope. He might not represent the wizardry that the West Indian game symbolises, but right now, he means much more to the team that the more talented Gayle and Samuels.

13 June 2007

Now please, think again

Ha ha ha, is all I'd like to tell the BCCI. I guess the BCCI ethic was too far removed from the professionalism and vision of Kent, for Ford to care too much. At least now, contemplate a systematic, reasoned approach. But first, wipe that egg off your face.

09 June 2007

The Harbhajan tragedy

With nineteen five wicket hauls in 57 Test matches, his ability is hardly in doubt. A reading of his stats since 2005 does not make for very happy reading.
His average over this period (37.40) is significantly higher than his career bowling average (29.86). During this period, he has gone through three wicketless Test matches, and barring a sterling effort in the last home series against the Lankans, he has not had any significant impact on the outcome of a series. He also had a truly horrific series in Pakistan: no wickets at an economy rate of 4.38. This was followed by an unconvincing series against England at home, averaging 48. The tour of the Caribbean saw what could be a return to normal service: two five wicket hauls and a series average of 24.

Since then, he has not played in too many matches with Anil Kumble making a return as the spinner of choice where there is not enough room for two. Prior to the Bangladesh tour, it was made clear that Harbhajan was being dropped: not 'rested' like Sachin and Saurav.

Harbhajan's travails over the past few years are the true tragedy of the Chappell reign. The bright part is that he is still only 26, and just entering that phase of a spinner's life - as popular wisdom would have it, when he matures like fine wine, finding new subtleties where previously there were none. What he needs now is a truly supportive coach: someone who will permit him the freedom of the whole range of his artistry.

08 June 2007

What more?

The lack of transparency in cricket administration has been an almost permanent rant among the sensible fans of Indian cricket. Transparency, the right to information and voluntary disclosure are all part of the corporate governance brouhaha and even six year olds know they breed accountability.
Yesterday, when asked about why Whatmore was no longer in contention for the coach's job, Niranjan Shah refused an aswer. In an ideal world, the media should never have had to ask that question. But making a reasoned decision has never been the BCCI's forte.

07 June 2007

It'll have to be Ford, won't it?

A flawed selection process has ensured that the Indian team will most likely be coached by Ford. Actually flawed doesn't even begin to describe it. Try stupid, maybe archaic. To begin with, no one has any clue who wants the job. So instead of evaluating the merits of candidates, we went through a ridiculous foreigner versus Indian debate: something that our economic policy started discarding fifteen years back. And then there were random names picked out of a hat - John Emburey, Ranatunga: and no one, least of all the BCCI had any idea about their availability. In the same meeting, the former frontrunner Whatmore was discarded and the public still has no idea why - except rumours of how Gavaskar believes he lacked tactical acumen.
Anyway, the good thing is at least now we know there are two candidates for the job. The value of "player's opinion" though, means that its a one-horse race.

01 June 2007


"It's been a strange journey for Kaif, a man often dubbed a future India captain till recently — not just because of an ability to keep a steady head on his shoulders in pressure-cooker situations and win matches for India coming in at a difficult No. 7, but also because he showed none of the off-field quirks of character or unsteadiness that some of his contemporaries displayed. "

Read the full text of an interaction with Mohammed Kaif, that appeared in the Hindustan Times.