Thursday, November 30, 2006

Whats the point?

Poor Zaheer Khan. He hasn't yet figured out that Indian pace bowlers that get dramatic early breakthroughs condemn their side to defeat. Srinath took two wickets in the first over of the World Cup semi-final in 1996 (gee, we know what happened thereafter); Irfan Pathan took a hat-trick in his his first over at Karachi and India proceeded to lose by 341 runs. What a feeling it must be; you go on, getting the opponent's captain, game after game, for a duck (or one run), in the first overs of a game, and your team carries on losing. Not a good feeling for a bowler.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dada, is that you?

Wow, Dileep Premchandran manages to write about Ganguly's possible recall to the Indian test team in South Africa without gagging. Poor Dileep, no one was more triumphalist than him when India went on their usual at-home-we-thump-all rampage in the last cricket season with suggestions flying thick and fast that all that had been required was Ganguly's dumping for things to be set right. And now, this. What effect Ganguly will have on the dressing-room remains to be seen; what effect he will have on a captain like Sehwag, who might be pressed into duty if Dravid's finger doesn't heal, simply boggles the mind. (And wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall when Dada meets Greg in South Africa?)

Ganguly has had a glorious opportunity before, before he threw it away in the Karachi test with his ill-advised hook. He's wasted other opportunities since then, both in domestic cricket in India and in the county cricket season. He should count himself lucky. If he does do himself proud, it will be one of the most amazing comebacks of all time.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"Maybe the Indians should start eating boerwors"

So writes my friend from Durban, who went to see the one-day international in which India merely confirmed their reputation as bad tourists. Oh, they are polite and well-mannered all right with the locals; they don't haggle excessively; they are reasonably familiar with local customs. That last one is the problem I think. The local custom is to carve up Indian cricket teams on quick pitches with a battery of fast bowlers who swear, sweat and swing. The swearing puts the Indians off their game; the swing puts the bails off their stumps. Its a well-established pattern. The Indians don't feel like being rude and interfering with the programme thats been laid out. They could, but that would mean much disruption and soothing of ruffled feathers. Better to co-operate and go along for the ride. All these crowds showing up - they aren't showing up to watch the Indians bat. They're showing up to watch those sweating, swearing and swinging fast bowlers. It says so in the tour brochure "Come watch our bowlers make the Indian batsmen dance" - or something like that.

Back in the 19tn century, a young Indian lawyer taught the South Africans the meaning of non-violent resistance. The Indians are still non-violent; there just isn't any resistance to be found.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The illness that dare not speak its name

Marcus Trescothick is not the first international cricketer to be afflicted severely by stress. I think he has just reacted very differently to it. I'm sure cricketers on tour in days past, when tours were longer, when telephone communications were poorer, when players were stressed about lost job opportunities back home, when they were just as isolated from the countries they toured in as they sometimes are today, were just as stressed. They probably suffered in silence, took it on the chin, came back home and probably just "lost form" the next time they played cricket. Was it OK to talk about mental illness back in those days?

What Trescothick has done could only possibly have taken place in this day and age, where its OK for men to talk about things like stress-related illnesses. Note, of course, that no one has said the "D" word - depression. We aren't that enlightened yet. I would be very suprised if that were to become the stuff of cricket articles any time soon. But Trescothick being open about whats ailing him is certainly a good sign for more openess about this particular affliction in the future.

PS: Why does Geoffrey Boycott think that international crickters can't have a beer? Of course they can; what they can't do presumably is go on benders and stay drunk for days [I know that Boycott is alluding to tight control on their personal lives but the 'destressing drink' has never been banned in any team regime as far as I know]. But otherwise, Boycott is correct, the current international schedule has definitely gotten to be too hectic.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wheres my blazer?

Now, I ask you, (I mean, I really do), if this sloppy departure of the Indian team for South Africa isn't the sort of thing that gets tongues wagging about the BCCI, what else will? Good Lord, this mega-quintillion board, the one that wants to run cricket globally (sort of), can't even get its act together to the extent of sending its team off in uniform on an international tour? Groan. Much as folks will back the BCCI against the high-handedness and the incompetence (not to mention the false moralizing) of the ICC, this stuff won't make them any friends. This blogger, for one, is feeling decidedly less friendly today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The real business

Folks on this blog will have noticed that I've spent most of my time (well, the little that I've been able to devote to the blog), on kvetching about the ICC/BCCI spats. Well, the BCCI/ICC have 'made up' (at least till their next dispute, which will happen sooner rather than later). I've often said the BCCI will ultimately win out in its battles with the ICC just because of their monetary clout. Is this a good thing? Only if the BCCI takes one part of Malcolm Speed's acid response - to Lalit Modi's fulminations - seriously: they should concentrate on fixing cricketing infrastructure in India, grooming young cricketers, constructing sophisticated training facilities, spending money on pitch maintenance, repairing stadiums - the list goes on. The sooner the BCCI learns that a board is only as powerful as the team that plays for it, the better it will be. Otherwise, your board president will get shoved off presentation stands by champion teams. [After all, had the Indian team won, would that have happened?]

Friday, November 03, 2006

Firm and Fair

Truth functionally, "firm but fair" is the same as "firm and fair" but the two read very differently. In describing the ban on Akhtar and Asif as the former rather than the latter, Osman Samiuddin manages to sneak in a connotation that the two attributes are somehow opposed. Are they?

I had expressed skepticism about appropriate punishment being handed down by the PCB and while it might seem that the bans would take care of that, I note that appeals are underway. Lets see how they are handled.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Malcolm Speed's response to Lalit Modi's attacks on the ICC is not unexpected. For all of Modi's bluster regarding the BCCI's muscle, (of which there is plenty), he does occupy a slightly vulnerable position: he is speaking about a board that is associated with a pretty mediocre team. Speed's response is ultimately a red herring of course, for it does not address the issue that Modi is raising, which is the ICC's bungling of rights' marketing. And Speed raises a point which is inconvenient for the ICC itself: how well is cricket doing under the ICC's administration? Is cricket flourishing worldwide? Is the game improving, finding new fans and markets? How has it handled the Zimbabwe situation? The throwing business? And so on. But wait, those aren't connected to rights marketing, right? Or are they? In any case, why is the performance of the Indian team connected to the ability of the BCCI to market rights to cricket? If anything, the performance of the Indian team should be an indicator that the BCCI will do just fine. Despite the mediocrity of the Indian team in the years since 1983, the cricket market in India has only grown and grown (thanks to the successful marketing of the game by the BCCI?). In the ultimate analysis, all of Speed's and Sonn's splutterings won't change the ground realities: the BCCI controls the money and much like the ACB found out in the Packer years, thats what matters. Speed's own country, Australia, and the ACB will not back him if it affects the money they stand to make off the Indian market.