07 August 2008

Slapper and slappee

The slapper has since prospered, the slappee (also known as the weeper) has seen his fortune go downhill.
Where Bhajji has seen a revival of fortunes, and wickets in the bag, Sree has been asked to "prove himself in domestic cricket after a fitness-enforced break. Ouch.

Spin of the dice

Is there any such thing as a pecking order for India's emerging spinners? Or is it a game of chance, the selectors picking names from a hat?

Not so long back, in fact a very short while ago, Piyush Chawla was the next big thing - successor to Anil himself. Today, he is a discard - no rhyme, no reason, but a certain Younus Khan might have had something to do with it.

Prgyan ojha watch his step, no saying when the dice will favour Mishra. Piyush will now learn how to deal with the slog sweep before he gets back.

Murali Kartik's been emerging for a decade, but it is certain now that he will only get a call when he least expects it.

06 August 2008

Be (Ti)wary

For the third Test, the only reason I'd think of dropping either Dravid or Ganguly is if Kumble would consider a fifth bowling option. Yeah, so Rohit Sharma has been warming the benches when he might as well have been perfecting his game at home. It's easy to look at Yuvraj and say see what years of being benched in the Test squad did to him, but the more critical ones will recognize the merits of travelling with the team and Yuvi's portion of the blame as well. More importantly, it would be bloody crazy to blood Rohit in a decider against Murali and Mendis - he might take forever to recover. Let's not repeat Manoj Tiwary's trial by fire-breathing-Lee.

04 August 2008

A change of guard?

Is this some kind of change of guard in Indian batting? When did India last win a Test match without fifties from any of Sachin, Saurav, Dravid or Laxman? I decided to find out, and looked back through victorious Indian scorecards. We came close to it in the infamous Mumbai Test match against the Aussies (Murali Kartik versus Michael Clarke), but barring that, there were none until I got bored of the whole exercise by 1996.

Retirements or not, Indian batting is moving beyond their tremendous influence.

Vaughan and Dravid

Which style do you prefer? Dravid's terse letter to the BCCI, communicating his reluctance to continue as captain, or Vaughan's teary press conference? Even though Dravid left me confused, and at the back of a series win, searching for answers, I am now, very happy that he spared us his emotions.

02 August 2008

Walking wickets talk

A 'walking wicket' is how Dravid and Collingwood have been described of late.

Collingwood walked into what might have been his last Test innings, and rescued a crumbling England in the company of Kevin 'Ego (isn't it refreshing to have Andre back?)' Pietersen.

The noise for Dravid's head is not that loud, but the irritation among the fans was clear. Ok, he hit a 90 there and a hundred here, but for a team challenging the top Test team, such a confused batsman at number 3 was a weight on the shoulders.

The subtext that King Cricket talks about, referring to Collingwood's repeated portrayal as a gritty, doughty one, is equally applicable to Dravid - who like Collingwood has broken the mould (or "the Wall") from time to time.

Dravid made some runs today, finally looking comfy against Mendis and Murali. His innings was pretty much a press release that he will only go kicking and screaming into retirement. Which is certainly good for Indian cricket, because the incumbent will have to keep doing well domestically and in ODIs. Gambhir is proof.

Rohit can wait. Owais must wait.

B-Texing a statistical itch

Among the criticism that Sehwag has had to swat away, a significant one is his dismal second innings average. At 28.91, it is easy to see how much it drags down his career average.

As I write this, he is batting at a run-a-ball 45 in an unbeaten opening stand, continuing on a year where he has set out correcting this statistical anomaly. Until 2008, his best second innings year was 2004, when he averaged 37. Since the beginning of 2008 (i.e the Perth Test), he averages 56.

01 August 2008

Sehwag's Holy War

The High Priest spat on the face of the heretics.

As he carried his bat, each shot reminded us of the doctrinal principles: no shot that he plays is 'irresponsible'. If they're within the realms of the possible, then they must be played - match situation, pitch and quality of the bowling are not important.

Slap-spit-slap-spit for those who dared to suggest that pulling from above his head and two feet outside off to get caught at square leg was irresponsible. Slap-spit-slap.

And a smack for you Sir Geoffrey.

The Flintoff concept

England made up for a lack of spine in the batting, with an injection of spunk in the bowling. I guess that's what Freddie allows England to do - with bat as well as ball, he permits the batsmen to relax a bit. Nasser Hussain might call for wholesale changes in the composition of the batting order. Truth is that with fit Freddie around, and even a slow wicket, each run scored counts for a bit more, making the batsmen a bit more than the sum of their dismal individual selves. With a bit more from the batsmen, England can be back to challenging some good teams.

P.S. Is it wrong, really wrong, to be a fan of James Anderson?