Saturday, May 15, 2010

Some Random Cricket Thoughts

The ICC T20 World Cup started almost immediately after IPL 3 finished in a most anti-climatic way. The headlines by then had almost entirely shifted to off the field matters and while we are no nearer to clearing the mess the Indian cricket, the cricketing world has moved on with the finals of the World Cup to be played tomorrow. So here are a few random thoughts that I have had over the last few weeks, in no particular order:
1) The fast bowling cupboard for the Indian team is looking alarmingly bare. None of our fast bowlers - ranging from Zaheer, Nehra, Ishant, Praveen Kumar, RP Singh, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel etc seem to be able to sustain their pace, form and fitness for a sustained period of time. We don't have too many exciting talents coming along either - Umesh Yadav and Abhimanyu Mithun being perhaps two who just might make it at the international arena, but I am clutching at straws here. They have a long way to go before they become international class, so worrying times ahead in this area. Add to that, we have not even produced even one bowler of the class of the folks mentioned here, since IPL has started leads to me to believe that playing T20 cricket is proving to be detrimental for Indian fast bowlers. As of now, it is as Ravi Shastri says - Just a feeling, but I hope that we get lucky and find a couple of good quick bowlers soon.
2) On a slightly more positive note, there has been a resurgence of Indian spin bowling with Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin and Piyush Chawla, being more than capable of playing for India at the international level in my opinion. The key would be to pick the players in form to get the best out of them.
3) While India's batting woes on bouncy pitches in the T20 World Cups has caused great distress amongst cricket fans, I am sligthly more positive. I agree that this area needs a lot of improvement, but the talent is certainly there. Imagining a Test match batting line-up with Sachin, Rahul and Laxman - perhaps 3 years down the line as follows: Sehwag, Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Cheteswar Pujara, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina actually fills me with a lot of hope. And while I rate the numbers 3-6 higher, it is quite conceivable that folks like Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane will make the cut.
4) The size of the Indian grounds seem to shrinking or so it felt during the IPL. For instance - The Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengalure, while having a brilliant atmosphere, is just too small !!!! And then when we see a larger ground like the DY Patil Stadium or the new ground in Nagpur, it just improves the contest between the bat and bowl, making it a bit more even and interesting.
5) This current Australian pace attack, while lacking an all-time great bowler, is pretty damn exciting with Nannes, Tait and Johnson bowling really top speeds. And they have great depth there for all formats with Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris, Doug Bollinger etc being more than able backups.
6) We have not seen the emergence of even one truly great fast bowler in the last ten years. The only one who comes close to it Dale Steyn, but even he would struggle to be called an all-time great. And hence batting feats of the 2000s must be looked into with that perspective. A Sehwag for instance, never played an Ambrose or Walsh. And very little of Akram and Mcgrath. Sachin however started when Mcdermott and even Malcolm Marshall were around.
7) South Africa's continous stumbles in run chases in ICC event has become a sad joke that is now running  for a very long time. They really need to take a hard long look at their cricket. There just seems to be a lack of people who are willing to take risks. Playing risk free cricket all the time does not work any more, especially in limited overs cricket.
8) I had thought that the commentary and the pre/post match programming during the IPL had plummeted to all time lows on Set Max. Sadly, however, ESPN, Star out-set maxed them with their show cricket crazy. And commentary remains cliched and lazy irrespective of the channels. Which is why www.testmatchsofa.com is a refreshing new innovation. Try it out sometimes, you might just like it.
9) Michael Hussey's 60 of 24 balls against the Pakis last night is an all time great innings. Was a privelege to watch. The fact that he smashed someone with "Ajmal" in his name made it even sweeter for me, but that's besides the point.
10) MS Dhoni has been a very good captain for India. However, the time to question his selection of the final 11s that go out on the field (irrespective of the squad) is becoming extremely difficult to understand.
11) And finally - a few lines reserved for that man - Ravindra Jadeja - who it seems is in the Indian team based on some Reservation or Quota. Don't know what that is till now. Perhaps he has won some reality show that makes it mandatory to pick him in the final 11. A colleague of mine had said this about his selection some time back - The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. He has now effectively cost India 4 out the 6 super 8 matches that we have played in the last two World Cups. That is just unbelievable.

4 comments:

  1. As always, 'quality' post from you paul. my comments to each of your points
    1.while the fast bowling looks pathetic in LOI, i feel an attack of Khan, Sreesanth and Ishanth is still potent in test. LOI is anyway popcorn cricket. so its not all gloom. LOI begs for resurrection of a certain Mr Irfan pathan's career.
    2.R. Ashwin ahead of Harbhajan in LOI.Harbhajan is best when he attacks, but lacks the guts to attack in LOI and not as good defensively as Ashwin; and Mishra ahead of ojha/chawla in test.
    3.realli worried about test batting post the greats era. ur lineup doesnt inspire confidence overseas. Bounce would be easier to cope( leaving the ball) as compared to moving ball. as for LOIs, TV entertainment will require that we'll encounter bowler friendly pitches few and far in between - Our Bullies can continue to relish.
    4.Grounds around the world are smaller except Australia mebbe
    5.totally agree
    6.again agree - brett lee mebbe. the others have all flattered to decieve - ntini, bond, brett lee, Akhter and pollock come closest.
    7.Lol, never rated them high. Boucher is the only one with any teeth
    8.ridiculous is the word. they make football focus - shebby, reeves , macmahon appear Frost-esque!! imagine
    9.Mr Cricket!
    10.yes, need to question- but T20 is anyway a lottery, but the calls for his removal are rubbish! and i dont see any deserving replacement in sight.
    11. there is nothing left to say about this joker/clown/Cho**th.

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  2. "... IPL 3 finished in a most anti-climatic way"? - Really? I thought it was a most fitting end to an otherwise good tournament. IPL is all about money, glamour, celebrities and scandals and this one ended on a high!

    "The fast bowling cupboard for the Indian team is looking alarmingly bare." - Agreed, but even in the past with our repertoire of Srinath, Prasad & Prabhakar not too many teams quivered in their boots at our attack. And we managed to come till here. Fast bowling has never been our strength, and even if it continues to stay like that for sometime we shouldn't worry too much. I would rather worry about the lack of spinners, improving on strengths is what is the need of the hour.

    " We have not seen the emergence of even one truly great fast bowler in the last ten years. The only one who comes close to it Dale Steyn, but even he would struggle to be called an all-time great. And hence batting feats of the 2000s must be looked into with that perspective." - Brilliant point!

    "South Africa's continous stumbles in run chases in ICC event has become a sad joke that is now runnign for a very long time." - What started out with that 22 runs off 1 ball has remained the rule rather than the exception for 18 years now. If I ever faced a crisis situation I know one particular set of people I wouldn't be looking to for help.

    Regarding R Jadeja, you have to admit that single handedly losing two WCs is not a feat anyone else can claim to. Respect to the man. Somewhat like to Charles Shobhraj.

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  3. Thanks to both Shabeer and Suhel. Well reply to a few points made by you.
    1) All LOI cricket is not popcorn. 50 Over cricket has its own history and heritage.
    2) The South African team under Hansie which had Donald, Klusener etc is part of ODI folklore as one of the best.
    3)While Kapil and Srinath remain India's two best fast bowlers, we did much better in overseas test matches in the 2000s thanks to having an effective pace attack. They may not have been the world's best but were good enough in those conditions and better than what we had in the 80s and 90s. Right now, that group of bowlers are out of form and fitness and we don't seem to have good replacements.
    4) When I said IPL3 ended in an anti-climatic manner, I meant the latter part of the tournament petering out due to poor, low-slow pitches. The two one-sided semi-finals being particularly bad.

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