31 October 2007

Captain Tendulkar

Some snippets from Tendulkar's previous stint as captain.

29 July 1999
News Roundup: Tendulkar takes over
Peter Deeley
India have sacked Mohammad Azharuddin as captain and replaced him with Sachin Tendulkar for the forthcoming limited-overs matches in Sri Lanka and Singapore.
Tendulkar was the unanimous choice of the Indian selectors and is expected to be named captain for the rest of the season in September.
This will be Tendulkar's second stint as captain. The 26-year-old was first given the job in similar circumstances when Azharuddin was sacked in 1996.
But a collapse in his form led to Azharuddin taking over again a year later.

30 July 1999
Captain Tendulkar meets the Press
Anand Vasu
Sachin Tendulkar ended all speculation by confirming his acceptance to Raj Singh Dungarpur, the president of BCCI.
Mr JY Lele had earlier telephoned Sachin's house, and the good tidings were recorded by Tendulkar's answering machine. The little genius first heard of his appointment when the recorded message duly informed him that, "You have been named captain, congratulations!"

Tendulkar will be back in action soon
Partab Ramchand
September 15, 1999
Surely no part of any cricketer's anatomy has been so analysed, discussed and disected as Sachin Tendulkar's back. Cricket fans have expressed anxiety over how acute the problem is. One national newsmagazine has carried an extensive cover story asking whether Tendulkar's career is finished. Another has a lengthy analytical report.
Ever since the problem first cropped up during his gallant century in a losing cause in the Chennai Test against Pakistan in January, there has been much speculation to the cause and the effect it will have on Tendulkar and Indian cricket itself in the long run. When the problem resurfaced during the camp at Chennai prior to the team's departure for the competitions in Sri Lanka and Singapore, the Indian captain consulted doctors. When the back pain persisted and affected his batting in the two tournaments, Tendulkar, realising the gravity of the situation, lost no time in dropping out of the series in Toronto and hastened to Australia to seek the advice of doctors there. The Chennai based MRF Pace Foundation which has a tie up with the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide helped him make the trip and Tendulkar took along with him Ajit Agarkar for treatment to his hamstring problem. 5

Tendulkar Junior born yesterday
Anand Vasu
September 24, 1999
Amidst all the changes that are happening in the Indian cricket organisational hierarchy and the excitement of India's packed schedule there was some good news for Sachin Tendulkar. The Indian batting genius has become a father for the second time. Anjali, Tendulkar's wife, delivered a healthy baby boy yesterday at the Breach Candy Hospital, in Mumbai.
Anjali was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital yesterday. Tendulkar's first child Sarah, was born in October 1997. Details about what the boy will be named are not yet known. The Tendulkars and the Mehtas, (Tendulkar's in-laws) have been lowkey about all personal matters, and continue to be the same about the birth of Tendulkar's second child.

Tendulkar - confident captain, undisputed leader
Partab Ramchand
October 27, 1999
In the last chapter of my recent book on Indian cricket captains, I have said that Sachin Tendulkar's best could lie ahead. The book was released early this year when Md Azharuddin was still firmly entrenched as India's captain. In analysing Tendulkar's first stint as captain during the period 1996-97, I had said that he was not yet ready for the captaincy and when given a second chance, he could do much better.
The victory at Kanpur gave Tendulkar his first victory in his second stint as captain and his fourth overall, his other three victories having come over Australia at New Delhi in his first match as captain and South Africa (twice) later that season. There is little doubt that this victory will give Tendulkar immense confidence. Already he has many of the qualities that go into the making of a successful captain and all he needed was a result in his favour. Having obtained that, he could go from strength to strength and indeed in future, he could look back on the Green Park triumph as a major turning point in his leadership.
If Tendulkar the batsmen has his critics, Tendulkar the captain also has had his detractors who feel that he is not captaincy material, that he would be better off if left to concentrate on his batting. Tendulkar for one has never lacked confidence in himself. Particularly now when he is older, more mature, more aware of what is going on and when he has been given a greater say in team selection, and matters of strategy. Also, a close relationship between the captain and the coach is very important and he and Kapil Dev, who enjoyed cordial ties as players, have been able to maintain the bond.

Rebuilding process must start in real earnest
Partab Ramchand
January 31, 2000
Even in the long, chequered history of Indian cricket, it is difficult to come across a more disastrous tour made by a team from this country than the just completed trip `Down Under'. Losing all three Tests by margins that brook no argument and winning only one of eight one day games in the Cartlon & United Series was the dismal record of the Indian team that simply went from one humiliating failure to another.

Tendulkar to step down, mystery shrouds decision
Anand Vasu
February 20, 2000
In a move that rocked the Indian cricketing world, Sachin Tendulkar walked to the press box along with the chairman of the selection committee Chandu Borde and Jaywant Lele, Secretary, Board of Control for Cricket in India and before the board officials could announce the team for the first Test against South Africa, the Indian captain walked up to the microphone and began "I have an announcement to make..."
The press waited in anticipation as Tendulkar announced that he would be stepping down as captain of the Indian team after the two Test matches against South Africa.
The Indian captain read out a written statement to that effect. Tendulkar said that "in the beginning of the season when the then chairman of selectors Wadekar met me and offered me the captaincy, I hesitated as I was not mentally prepared at that time. In spite of that I accepted. I took it up as I was most experienced and the selectors thought I was best suited for the job. I went to Australia knowing fully well the difficulty, given their status as current World Champions. But I don't want to make any excuses for our performance in Australia."
In a sentence that was vintage Tendulkar, he went on to explain: "As captain, I accept moral responsibility for our failure and after a lot of thought I have decided to step down as captain after the two Tests against South Africa."

27 October 2007


Does Karthik know he's been dropped for the first two ODIs against Pak? He's piling on the runs, on the back of a good foundation built by Sehwag, Raina and Yadav. Fifty coming from 37 balls, Blues look set for a gigantic total.

Poor KDK. Won't do his confidence any good before he walks in to open the batting in Oz.

Racism - II

(From left) Andrew Symonds, Aussie ODI stud; Predator, pop-culture icon.

24 October 2007


Sanjay Bangar played 12 Tests for India. He took 7 wickets at 49, scored three fifties and made a hundred not out against Zimbabwe. His batting average ended at 29.37 - modest for a batsman who was asked to open the innings in England. As long as he was in the team, he was considered nothing more exciting than a lucky mascot. India won five and drew one of Bangar's first six Test. Yet, he had a massive impact on one of India's most celbrated victories of the last decade - Headingly '02. The following is an extract from Ralph Dellor at Cricinfo. It may sound like a Bor-a-thon, but as that match progressed, the value of that attritional first morning became quite obvious. Once again, India had to rely on Anil Kumble (6 wickets) and Rahul Dravid to wrestle an overseas victory. Sanjay Bangar took two wickets in England's second innings.

"In such conditions there was the traditional movement for the bowlers, leaving Sehwag and Bangar to perhaps question the wisdom of batting first. They coped well for half an hour before Sehwag got the opportunity to address his captain on the subject in person. He got a ball from Matthew Hoggard that drew him into the drive and he edged to Andrew Flintoff at second slip as it left him.
That was the only punishable indiscretion in the morning, despite the fact that both Hoggard, operating down the hill, and Andrew Caddick probed outside the off-stump with five catchers in an arc from the wicket-keeper. Hoggard bowled a long, controlled spell of ten overs that cost a mere 20 runs despite the attacking fields. Caddick and Alex Tudor maintained the pressure and it says much for the resolve of the batsmen that they were not beaten more often.
Their efforts were all the more valuable in that the ball was not always behaving as expected. After digging out a couple from Tudor that kept low, Dravid was forced to take evasive action as a vicious ball climbed past his gloves and over the wicket-keeper for four byes. That was one of only four occasions when the ball reached the boundary on a morning that would have been anathema to those wanting quick thrills but was fascinating for anyone with an appreciation of proper Test cricket.

A similar rate of progress was maintained after lunch as the England bowlers toiled and the Indian batsmen picked up the odd run, played and missed or simply left alone. Every over was a test of patience and, even when the sun came out, the ball still swung and the batsmen were still happy to concentrate on survival.
It could be said that the bowlers became intoxicated with the sight of the ball snaking towards the slips instead of risking a faster scoring rate and making the batsmen play more. The batsmen, however, were not to be drawn and were just as watchful against the left-arm spin of Ashley Giles as they had been against the quicker bowlers.
One of the few risks taken was as Bangar went to his fifty with a single into the covers off Tudor. Had Michael Vaughan hit, Bangar would have been some way short. As it was, he reached his personal milestone from 166 balls. Dravid was marginally quicker, taking 153 balls as India added 74 runs in the 32 overs of the afternoon session. "

18 October 2007


From the ICCs Anti-Racism Code:
"Spectators shall not engage in any conduct, act towards or speak to any player, umpire, referee or other official or other spectators in a manner which offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies that other person on the basis of that other person’s race, religion, colour, national or ethnic origin."

The Oz press has quite rightly exposed Indian double standards when it comes to racism. But the ICC, and the Oz media need to bear in mind that the language of 'race' is quite new in India. Very rarely has a dispute broken out on clearly determinable racial lines. Religion, language and caste and tribal loyalties have been the major drivers of identity politics.

This however, should not be an excuse to stick our collective heads deep in the soil. People in Delhi are not very kind to African students at the Delhi University, and chronic police suspicion of the Nigerian community would shame most Indians. The rest of the country treats their own countrymen and women from the North-East region (who usually have Mongol features) like trash. Forget about caste violence for now. At least we have a law to deal with that.

The problem does not stop with the BCCI. The government needs to legislate (or at least think about) an anti-racism law. Until then, there will be no public debate or awareness about the problem of racism. Whatever the BCCI and the ICC do until then will only be a stop-gap measure. And when the ICC demands that its anti-racism code be enforced, it would do well to realize that the code is quite useless in such a vacuum, and the best it can do is to ensure that its Anti-Racism officers have a good understanding of such local conditions.

16 October 2007

Why's everyone taking aim at Dravid?

Many television (and random) commentators still make the mistake of seeing Dravid as a one-dimensional batsman. Perhaps they're still stuck with the image of Dravid as an accumulator, fooled by his nickname into underestimating his run-scoring abilities. Bad form cannot be the reason to spread all kinds of misinformation and lies about players. I am so glad that Sanjay Jagdale decided to stand up for Dravid, reminding everyone of the explosive 92* at Bristol. Coming at three or four down in England, he averaged 37.16 - which is not too bad. The only problem is that Dravid did not play in the T20 World Cup, and now there is a clamour for his removal, forced resignation blah. Dravid, along with Yuvraj and Tendulkar are still India's best ODI batsmen. Uthappa and Gambhir have scarcely promised more than Dravid has delivered.
Patience, is all I can say.

13 October 2007

Stating the obvious.

Peter Roebuck is either wrong or states the obvious, and very rarely makes any sense. Sample this. India needs to find a balance between the old and the new, apparently. Ahem. And?

His highly original suggestion, for which he gets paid, is:

"Either put Sachin Tendulkar in charge of everything. Or ask Anil Kumble to serve as Test captain and allow his gloveman to lead young T20 and ODI outfits."

And he ends with the classic:

"Dhoni, Sreesanth and company are not the problem. They are the solution, and with a little help from Sachin and, yes, Sehwag, the future must be built around them."


12 October 2007

Zaheer needs a rest

Zaheer Khan has been bowling non-stop ever since he started on his comeback mission. Some time during the England tour, he admitted that the rigour of Worcestershir county cricket, where he bowled over after over, practically every day for several months, helped him get his rhythm back. In South Africa and in England, he finally became the spearhead that he had promised so often but had delivered only for a brief period prior to the 2003 World Cup - in West Indies, England and New Zealand.

But for a shocking first morning at Lords this year, Zaheer constantly troubled the English batsmen with some high quality swing bowling with balls old and new. Starting with Grame Smith, and then Andrew Strauss, he has been a handful for a few left hand opening batsmen over the past year.

Take a look at his ODI figures over the last eleven ODIs that he has played in:

- Vadodara (0/23 from 3)
- Chandigarh (0/68 from 9)
- Hyderabad (2/61 from 10)
- Kochi (1/55 from 10)
- Bangalore (1/64 from 10)
- Lords (0/40 from 9)
- Oval (1/43 from 10)
- Leeds (1/44 from 8)
- Manchester (1/45 from 9)
- Birmingham (0/49 from 10)
- Southampton (1/49 from 10)

From absolutely brilliant in England, he was downright mediocre in Chandigarh and Vadodara. It may be a reflection of the quality of the opposition and the pitches, but it needs to be remembered that the ODI series in England was pretty high-scoring.

With a long season ahead including Tests against Pakistan and Australia, India needs its pace spearhead fresh and thinking clear. It is unnecessary that India play him in the last two matches of this series. The Colonel had an opportunity to do more than lip service to the rotation mantra-and this was a case where it might have had some merit.

09 October 2007

Left arm seamers

Yesterday, India played three left arm seamers. I don't know when the same three last played for India, but they did play in Karachi in 2006, when Pakistan rose from 39 for 6 on the first day to inflict one of the heaviest defeats on India. Arpy wasn't first choice then, and there were murmurs about how there was a 'sameness' to the attack, that made it easier for the Y Khan blade. Is the same true now? Both Zaheer and Arpy are now adept at coming around the stumps and firing it in, or shaping it away, but in ODIs, variety for variety's sake is occasionally a compelling argument.

And the fact that it is an all left-arm opening attack bowling at two left-arm opening batsmen may make it even more so.

05 October 2007

Kartik is back.

Murali Kartik has been picked in place of Romesh Powar for the next few ODIs. This is what the Cricinfo Player Profile has to say:

A left-arm spinner in the classical mould, Murali Kartik has long been on the fringes of the national team. He has a high-arm action straight from the coaching manual, and possesses all the weapons in his armoury - the tantalising loop, the ability to extract sharp turn and bounce, and the subtle variations. But he hasn't always had the breaks, and has regularly played the understudy to Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. Kartik forced his way into the Indian team in 1999-2000 after impressive performances in the domestic games, but didn't seem to enjoy his captain's confidence and was either used as a defensive option or underbowled. He made his mark as a one-day bowler against West Indies in 2002-03, consistently keeping the batsmen in check on pitches where every other bowler got tonked for plenty. However, his best moment clearly came at Mumbai, against Australia in 2004-05. Enjoying the confidence reposed in him by Rahul Dravid, the captain, Kartik ran through the Australian batting on a dustbowl, taking seven wickets in the match to bowl India to a famous win.

Kaushik on dailycric has this to say in a post on India's Test captaincy:

I have seen Laxman captain, in the Challenger series a few years ago, and he was simply outstanding (amongst other things, bringing out the best in the temperamental Murali Kartik through the setting of some wonderful fields, allowing Kartik to emerge as one of the most successful bowlers of that tournament).

04 October 2007

Bhajji the prude

Bhajji has complained about 'vulgar' Australians. That's surprising considering it doesn't take a trained lip-reader to figure that the Punjabi equivalent of 'sisterfucker' is always on his lips. Perhaps he could have been more specific. After all, common law has developed for centuries without adequate resolution of the problem of 'obscenity', and detail always helps.

For a minute there, he had me thinking of Priyaranjan Dasmunshi. Apparently our Hon'ble Minister for Information and Broadcasting stays up late at night to make sure no 'obscene' content is being broadcast.

03 October 2007


Why were Harbhajan-Powar not half as good as Hogg-Clarke? Going by talent and pedigree, the Indian duo should have performed better. But they did not. Or did inept Indian batting make the Aussie twinsome look much better than they actually were?

In B'lore and in Kochi, India had Australia in trouble but could not keep them down because our spinners were ineffective. Against the Aussies, it is no good trying to limit the damage. The spinners need to be able to hunt and gather wickets. Yesterday, Powar was only allowed five overs and did not get any wickets. Harbhajan also had barren returns and was almost as expensive. Unlike the English, who were tied down by Powar's subtelty, the Aussies look extremely comfortable. He had an amazing first over maiden at B'lore, but as soon as the batsmen started using their feet, he came under some serious pressure. And like yesterday, did not finish his quota. Harbhajan on the other hand, gives the impression of having kept things tight, but if you look at his figures, the word that springs to mind is "toothless". Quite apparently, there were always singles on offer. All the great spinners will agree that wicket-taking spin bowling is all about the gradual application of pressure, and that can come only with the complete confidence of the captain.

So what next for Harbhajan, Powar and Dhoni? And the injured Piyush Chawla? Powar is returning from a succesful tour of England, and he is immediately saddled with thoroughbred competition for the possibly lone spot for a genuine spinner. Qutie clearly he is not the same bowler. Dhoni should seriously consider the option of picking only one spinner, and perhaps strengthening the batting lineup. If he needs to pick two spinners, he might want to give Pathan the new ball, and rest Zaheer/Sree. Whoever he chooses as spinner must have the freedom to ply his trade. As if Clarke, Symonds and Hayden weren't enough, Powar has to worry about his spot in the side. Similarly, Bhajji needs to worry about cementing a place in the side.

In the long run however, things seem to look fairly rosy. In Bhajji, Powar and Chawla India have three seriously good spinners to pick from when Kumble decides to call it a day. Hopefully the decision will be made on the basis of genuine wicket-taking ability.

Dhoni also needs to think long and hard strategically. Four bowlers or five? Has Pathan done enough with the bat to qualify as an all-rounder? Two spinners or one? If he decides to go with the lone spinner, do we have the resources in Tendulkar, Yuvraj and Sehwag (I hope it is only a question of when he gets picked.) to back him up?