Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Not so good this time around

Rahul Bhattacharya tries to be funny, and can't quite manage it. And Alex Brown tries to convince us that Ponting is sledging Flintoff (admittedly, McGrath does sound like he is up to his usual "targeting" tactics). Sheesh. The Ashes hype is quite tiresome and even though I'm looking forward to seeing how things turn out, and thanks to the fact that I will be visiting India in that time-frame, even watching some of the cricket, this is getting to be too much. Enough already (I know; I'll say this a few more times in the next few weeks).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Here we go again

One sad little episode in Indian cricket continues as Saurav Ganguly is picked for the Challenger Trophy at home. While I'm glad to see Zaheer Khan playing as well (despite all his struggles over the years, Zaheer has managed to retain the original soft spot that he inspired thanks to his Nairobi debut in 2000), Ganguly's inclusion serves no purpose. He will not be picked for the national team, and all this ensures is that the Ganguly-Chappell wound remains open, festering away. I do not think for a second that Chappell is the savior of Indian cricket (nor, for that matter, is Dravid), but this issue needs to be put to rest, and much as I admired Ganguly (with some reservations) as a captain that did much to produce a new Indian team, his era, in this particular regime, seems done and dusted. But Zaheer, after a full season with Worcestershire, where he did well, and hopefully stayed fit and strong, and learned a few tricks, now has a chance to impress the management and make a serious attempt at a comeback. Zak is feisty; a decent bat, and on song, can be a high-quality swing bowler. On ya Zak. All yours to play for.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Indian Colts on a high

In a remarkable run of results, India's U-19 cricket team swept both the longer and shorter versions of the game in their Pakistan tour (2-0 in the four-day match series, and 4-0 in the one-day series). Check out the scorecard from the fourth one-day international; chase down other scores from the series, and note the names. One, Chawla, is already an international, but others might or might not make the cut some time down the line. Either way, its a promising result, for not only did the Indian Colts win, they won against Pakistan in Pakistan, and thats always hard to do.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Which direction?

In the latest episode of the Warne-Buchanan saga, Gilchrist and Langer show off their support for the thing that gets them to the ground and back. Sorry, couldn't help it. Gilchrist goes on to say:

"I understand that some people might be uncertain about his philosophies but my overriding perception is that as a cricket coach and man manager his overall goal is to better his players as people. With that will come being better cricketers."

Interesting approach to coaching cricket players. Make them into better people, and from that will flow the qualities required to be better cricketers. Perhaps Buchanan utilizes the virtue ethics approach - stress the cultivation of virtuous practices rather than the rigid following of moral rules. The unselfish player then, when confronted with the choice of going slow for his century or speeding up in order to facilitate the team's declaration for a possible win, will pick the latter option. Or so the theory goes. This is all tongue-in-cheek. I have no idea what Buchanan's cricketing philosophies are, and which smorgasbord of coaching techniques has emerged from his eclectic readings and opinions. I'm just glad that Gilchrist (or Buchanan) did not make the converse claim: that being better cricketers would also make you into better people. If Buchanan would ever say that, I would laugh out loud, and send Warne a card for Christmas, congratulating him for telling it like it is.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Harbhajan holds forth

I've often complained about how inarticulate cricketers (especially Indian ones) can be in interviews. Most of them dish out content-free cliches and inanities (this is especially the case after losses). But here is something refreshingly different. An interview with Harbhajan Singh, where he offers analysis of spin bowling in ODIs, his attitudes towards them, his preferences for field placings and so on. The unkind amongst us might have suggested that Harbhajan was incapable of this, but for my money, this is the best interview I've read with an Indian cricketer in a long time (yes, yes, that includes Dravid).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Monty and the Shrink

I missed responding this piece on Monty Panesar's consultation with a psychologist as preparation for the Ashes. And I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Monty will get it on the boundary, no doubt about that. Cracks about taxis, curry, Osama, 'whats under that rag', will flow thick and fast, and thats just what Monty will get to hear. The stuff going on late in the afternoon as the beer and the heat builds up will get worse, but luckily for Monty, he won't hear the worst of it. But what will Monty make of all of this? Depends on how things are going out in the middle. If he's getting plastered, he's going to suffer more. He'll be doubting himself, and the crowd will get on his back. If England is doing well, the crowds will slump into a drunken stupor, the Barmy Army will take over, and Monty will be fine again (Now, theres an idea, rather than talking to a sports psychologist, Monty should hold meetings with the Barmy Army to ensure that they have songs and support lined up for him; perhaps he should include Flintoff in these discussions to make sure he only gets sent down to where the Barmy Army is stationed?). Monty will grow on this tour, no doubt. Australia is great in that regard - the batsmen will go after him, the bowlers and fielders won't let him rest and neither will the crowds. If he comes out of this with his reputation and abilities intact, he'll have taken a huge step towards becoming a true world-class cricketer.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cricinfo's lame servers

Its 7:30 AM here in Brooklyn, and I'm trying to check scores over at Cricinfo. No luck. The site doesn't come up. Frankly, I'm puzzled. Is there any other sports website that claims so much for itself "the biggest, the best", that has so many corporate connections, schemes, collaborations, marketing schemes, and yet, which simply, always, fails to deliver whenever the biggest games show up? Once again, India is playing a one-day international (OK, not just any ODI, one that marks the return of SRT) and Cricinfo's servers (at least the US ones) cannot keep up with the traffic. They've known about this for a while now, and their failure to do something about it speaks of a bizarre indifference.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What a contrast

So, Mark Vermeulen is out of English cricket for 10 years. For what? Read on. Its worth pointing out that about nine years ago, a cricketer ran into a crowd of spectators with a bat, and assaulted a spectator. He was banned for....two games. The cricketer? Inzimam-ul-Haq. The cricket board that levied the penalty? Why, the Pakistan Cricket Board.

A toe in

Just when you think its safe to go back into the blogging waters, along comes the big wave and washes you right back on shore. Sorry, mixed metaphors but they're appropriate. I've been too busy to write because I've been too busy writing.

Fine. Let me start again. I just finished a book, handed it in to the publisher, and then was hit with the start of the semester. To make things worse, I almost feel like there was too much to comment on what with Ovalgate, and then some real cricket that followed. But no test cricket. And now, another triangular one-day competition is upon us and I don't have any way of accessing the feed (actually, I do, its just that I'm broke, so can't afford a broadband subscription and there aren't any bars around me that are showing the games). But its good to know that 8% of Malaysia's population (that part which is of ethnic Indian descent) will be enjoying themselves for the next week or so. And lets not forget all the Australians working as expats in Singapore, who will surely make the journey across the KL-Singapore expressway to watch the games. (No, please, don't bring up the G word)

Meanwhile the Ashes hype continues and I'm sad to say, this is the ultimate proof of the Americanization of the game. The hype is like that to an American presidential election, which starts way too early, and almost invariably culminates in a damp squib. Well, we do get scandals and elections being stolen, but really, after Ovalgate, is that what cricket needs?