Saturday, November 22, 2008

Technology and results in tests

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Good Cricket Wicket[tm]

In case you hadn't noticed, 26 wickets fell in a test match in two days. But this didn't happen on a raging minefield, a dustbowl, a cracked, vicious, spitting, subcontinental hellhole, where crows shat on your head, and ferrets nibbled at your shoelaces, while one-armed beggars beseeched you for alms, and last night's meal made its way down to your nether regions, as sightscreens were adjusted and people with bad accents and brown skins scurried around. No, you see, this happened in Australia. In Brisbane. Therefore, its a good wicket. Good for test cricket. Good for spectators. It tests skills. It makes for a fair contest. It makes for cricket as it should be played, before greasy subcontinentals with curry-stained rupee notes showed up to spoil the party. Its the Mother Teresa of cricket, the Vatican, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Red Cross, and Doctors without Frontiers all rolled into one. Yes, this is salvation. This is da Bomb. This is a Good Cricket Wicket. Take that, you heathens, you spinners, you wily, crafty, devious, under-handed, cheating, formerly subjugated (now loud and insistent) fools. Take this strip and roll it. This is, in case you hadn't heard, a Good Cricket Wicket.

PS: Peter English over at Cricinfo tells us just how wonderful this 22-yard Garden of Eden is. Oh, Lord, I'm just quivering, thinking of how much faster my soul will ascend to heaven if my ashes were to be scattered over the Gabba.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Got it, had enough

I tend to think Peter Roebuck is an entertaining, but over-rated, cricket writer. He is very fond of his verbal cleverness of course, but I'm not sure that it directly translates to an ability to dispense cricketing wisdom. In any event, all those linguistic pyrotechnics can let him down, as in this piece where he works a decent idea to death, all to make the point that Ponting should captain differently. Did you really have to go on and on and on with the "Its a country where.." locution? I got the point pretty early - didn't really need to beaten over the head with it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lots wrong here

Long, bad, run-on sentence, describing a sad state of affairs:
No-one can seriously argue either that the decline has been pretty much the result of our indifference and incompetence at all levels, even if we often lean on issues like restrictions in English county cricket and the modification of playing conditions and financial arrangements by the International Cricket Council in the hope of deflecting some of the responsibility for what essentially amounts to complacency and negligence on the part of the people of the Caribbean.
Pretty bad, I agree. The game is down and out, and the malaise has spread to the journalists.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ranji or tests?

I quite liked the Gambhir c Shah b Patel scoreline from the Rajkot one-day international; I felt like I was reading a Ranji Trophy scoreboard. It reminded me of a commentary line from England's 1998 tour of the West Indies. It went something like this: "Ramprakash plays Ramnarine out to cover where Chanderpaul fields."

Back in the game

Once the test series against Australia ended, I should have written a wrap-up and post-mortem quickly. I didn't. For when I finally got around to it, I realized I should be working on a preview of the England tour. I was a bit too late for that. Then the first one-day international came and went. Since I slept through most of it (my fault, not England's and certainly not Yuvraj's), I couldn't even write a decent match report. All in all, I'm a pretty useless blogger.

Readers of this blog will be familiar with this situation: I miss a few days of blogging and then I come back, shame-faced, apologetic, with a variety of excuses to explain my absence. Sometimes I claim work as a distraction, sometimes its just poor laziness. This time, I can also blame the schedule (can I blame the BCCI?): for after all, wouldn't I have written my brilliant post-series analysis had the English not showed up so damn quickly and started playing cricket (well, whatever it is that they did in Rajkot)?

Readers of this blog will also be familiar with what comes next: a promise that I will try and be more diligent, and not be so distracted by things that have nothing to do with cricket (like everything else that is happening in the world). Heck, I might even do something truly radical and try and blog on vacation (when I go to India in December). Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What is the spirit of cricket?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Jonty Mishra!

You freaking beauty, you!

Why not talk about it?

Why is no one talking about a tie? Fine, its unlikely, but why not mention it as a possibility? Are we trying to not jinx it? But now, finally, Alan Border and Sunil Gavaskar start talking about it. Got me reminiscing about it, I'll tell you.

Over at Different Strokes

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Looking back and ahead

The 8-1 field employed yesterday by India was not so surprising in the end. As pointed out by one and all, Australia had neatly positioned themselves to put some pressure on India if they could continue at the same rate of scoring they had maintained on the second day. Both batsmen were set, and both are very hard to dislodge. If they had stuck around till lunch, India would have been sweating hard. Given that, a new captain suddenly facing the burden of heightened expectations (its all very fine captaining India as a substitute, things change quickly when the post is yours), and a dead pitch (sigh, double-sigh), India had to go on the defensive. What that defensive strategy was going to be wasn't clear but it turned out to be the most extreme one of all: a packed offside field, and an outside-offstump line. I detest this sort of stuff, as it doesn't make for good watching and more often that not, the side employing that tactic is resigned to drawing the match. But, somehow it turned out well in the end (India did after all, in the end, take eight wickets and a lead of 86 runs) largely because Australia got suckered in by a couple of things. For one, Australia didn't try and shake anything up by unconventional batting; some pressure from that end, and India might have panicked a bit. Secondly, once a couple of wickets has fallen, and the fields had become more conventional, Australia stuck to a meandering sort of strategy, not going on the attack even when it had become clear that their best chance of coming back into this match would have been to get stuck into the Indian batting (Australia could have landed up giving up the same lead and a few more awkward overs at the Indian openers).

All said and done, I still think the game will be a draw but Sehwag could change all that (how many times have we said that?). If India don't get bowled out on the 4th day, I'm not sure they will declare till after an hour on the 5th day.

One last point: just like Sehwag can move this innings, unfortunately, Dravid can bog it down (for as long as he is out there, which might not be very long). Still, whatever happens to the openers, I don't think we will see Dhoni come out at #3. But I'll be looking forward to Dada's last innings. Hopefully, he'll go out in style.

I'm calling it

Time for a prediction (I haven't done these in a while): that Johnson drop means this Nagpur test will be drawn. As always, glad to be proven wrong.


I never thought I'd see the day when Dravid and Laxman, both very good slip fielders, would drop vital catches. The one by Dravid in the morning of Katich did not hurt India so much in terms of runs as time. But the second one could hurt India even more. Johnson is a very dangerous #10 (as India have found both at Perth and Mohali, when he held up their victory charges with a mixture of firm defense and clean hitting). Sharma had him cleaned up with a fast bowler's dream: a quick short ball first up, followed by one that was nicked to slip, where none other than VVS put it down. Its at times like these that no one would want to be a bowler.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Another blog for you all

My little cuz, Megha, has started her cricket blog over at Silly M(a)idon. Her Dad was responsible for ensuring that my childlike fascination with cricket turned into a raging obsession. So, do the right thing, and check it out.

Could get tight

India's collapse from 422-5 to 441 all out on the second day could come back to haunt them. Anything less than 500 was always going to be a score that would leave the door open for Australia. As of now, with the score at 189-2 (scored off 49 overs) India need to break through and quick, before Australia bat their way into a position that could be awkward. Forget about taking a lead; even if Australia catch up, it will make India's second innings a stressful business. That is, even if India take all eight remaining wickets tomorrow and bowl out Australia for 450 tomorrow, they will be sweating from that point onwards. While Krejza's eight wicket haul might be thought of as flattering, given that he also gave away 215 runs, its worth noting he bowled well: he flighted the ball, did not wilt in the face of some battering, and obtained decent turn at all times. And I doubt he will be treated with the same disdain in the second innings. Still, Australia chasing 250 on the last day of this match would make for great drama. If India doesn't want it to get that close, they'll have to trigger a collapse tomorrow and then bat with great initiative (and fight their tendency to gift away wickets to a mediocre Aussie attack and a defensive captain)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Momma, he hit me!

Gautam Gambhir, who has appealed his one-Test ban for elbowing Shane Watson, is regularly on the lookout for a confrontation when he is batting, according to Michael Hussey. "He looks around for it [chat], to be honest," Hussey said. "It hasn't been a plan of ours to go at him and talk or whatever ... but I must admit he does go around the field looking to engage certain players and looking to get involved and that sort of thing.
That must be why Brett Lee, Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting began the verbals directed at Gambhir from the second ball of the second innings at Bangalore.
"So maybe that is part of his character, looking for a clash to try to pump himself up a bit more. He's always looking to engage, not so much 'g'day how are you going', but an intense look. It's quite funny really."
Yeah, it cracks me up too. But whats really funny is watching big, muscular, big-boy Born-Again-Christian, and even-bigger-I'll-scream-if-you-talk-back-to-me-cause-I'm-the-Hulk, complaining to umpires. Whatever happened to "leave it out on the paddock"?

Hussey said Gambhir reminded him of Justin Langer because he was a "small and punchy little character". "He's a very good player and probably someone who has exceeded our expectations about how well he has played," he said. "We're sort of hoping he'll miss the last Test but I think he'll still play pending his appeal."
Good one, that. Sort of like kneecapping the guy. Or like picking a fight, and then going running to Momma. Or the match ref.

Monday, November 03, 2008

How very interesting

I should start handing out awards for the Prizewinning Missive from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious. I've got a good candidate here. Step forward, Brett Lee. For this little gem:
We'll try and experiment with new things," Lee said. "What we've done in the first two Tests probably hasn't worked. If you're being critical about not taking wickets, we haven't achieved that goal. In the last Test we tried new things and watched what India did. Sometimes they bowled short stuff, then put the ball up and tried to get the nick or lbw.
Fancy that. Fast bowlers pitch it short, and then up to get the nick or LBW. That is a radical, bizarre, out-of-left-field secret tactic. Who would ever have thought? Unbelievable. Next thing you know, Lee will be telling us the Indian batsmen are making lots of runs because you know "they wait for the bad ones, and just block out the good ones". Man, that's radical.