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Sight Screen

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Behind the Times

Did I mention, yesterday, that the Times website doesn't load for me here? Was browsing the site last night from home, and chanced upon these:
1. An Eknath Solkar obit -- unsigned, but authored by the WSJ's Tunku Varadarajan.
All the top catchers in Test history bar Solkar have fielded in the slips, where catches are frequently of the regulation variety, made as much by the fast bowlers as by a fieldsman himself. Solkar, by contrast, made the catches himself at forward short leg — lunging, hurling his body about, grabbing at balls that fizzed off half-cock blades. He fielded close-in to spinners — bowlers who were unafraid to flight the ball, which meant that they were often hit very hard by batsmen.

2. A Christopher Martin-Jenkins story, on a rather inexplicable decision by England coach Duncan Fletcher to have his lead batsmen play one day cricket on the county circuit ahead of the second Test at Edgbaston.
DUNCAN FLETCHER made himself a hostage to fortune yesterday by ordering no first-class cricket for any of his players before a second Test at Edgbaston next week that England will have to win to keep in the series against Australia and preserve any realistic chance of regaining the Ashes. Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff, in particular, have looked in need of more batting time in the middle throughout the international season, but both will play one-day cricket only, Vaughan in a totesport League match for Yorkshire on Sunday alongside Matthew Hoggard, Flintoff in the Twenty20 finals on Saturday.

3. A Geoffrey Dean story that will make some of you -- the ones who have been following my occasional asides on Ashley Giles -- smile.
However, Houghton points to what he considers to be England's weakest link. "No disrespect to Ashley Giles, but what use is he in the side?" he said. "He's not going to get wickets against the Aussie batsmen and he's not going to make any runs against their bowlers. With him, England are effectively playing ten against 11. They should either include another specialist batsman and use the off spin of Vaughan and Pietersen or pick a spinner who can bat, like Gareth Batty, and or one who'll get wickets — Gary Keedy is the guy."

4. Simon Barnes analyses the first Test, and tells a story of England's abject capitulation.
Not that Australia weren't good. Glenn McGrath was again a thing of perfection. On the first day, he gave us a spell of five wickets for two runs in 31 balls; yesterday evening it was four for three in 23. He and Shane Warne put on a display of total psychological dominance. They expected capitulation, they demanded capitulation, and England found that they could not do anything but what was demanded.
England were overwhelmed by the outpouring of these two colossal personalities, these two natures which both demand submission. Pietersen's cheerful six-hitting at the end was like the V-sign you give the headmaster ten minutes after you've left school. It makes you feel a bit better, but it doesn't affect the balance of power.

5. Shane Warne's post-Test column, including an interesting aside on his interaction with Terry Jenner.
On the Monday before the game I bumped into Terry Jenner at a function for former players. T. J. has been a great help down the years and must be the best spin-bowling coach in the world. He is in England to help with an ECB spin- bowling programme at Loughborough, but he was around to work with me for a couple of days.
He felt that the ball was coming out of my hand beautifully, but the alignment of the action was not quite right. If I could get that sorted out, he thought I would be able to spin the ball more than ever. I was going slightly to fine leg in my delivery, which meant I was bowling around my body. I needed to get higher and straighter.
After a couple of good, long sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, I felt more confident and the results are there to see. Whatever you have achieved, there is always room to improve. You have to love the game, put in the hours and respect your team-mates. I still love being part of the camaraderie.

6. Finally, an absolute must read -- this interview/profile of the 'bus driver in an Aussie team of stars', Justin Langer -- for his easy, affable manners and his approachability, Rediff's favorite Aussie cricketer. The whole piece is worth reading (and saving), this excerpt is merely a sampling that tells you why:
Two years ago, when he informed Sue that he intended to build a place to train, she expected the usual accoutrements — some weights, a mirror, a stretching mat and a treadmill or rowing machine. He never mentioned that a former SAS soldier, covered in tattoos, would call every morning to supervise his work-outs.
He never mentioned the combat videos, the punchbag, the sparring sessions or the custom-built boxing ring. And he most certainly didn't mention his shocking plans to decorate; the walls were covered in scribbles from a black felt marker. And not just any scribbles ...
"When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the Creator." — Gandhi "You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival." — Winston Churchill
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." — Mark Twain.
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/ And treat those two impostors just the same." — Rudyard Kipling
Being an elite performer on the playing field of life is not about being perfect. Rather it is about cultivating a mental focus towards mastery in every area of your life. It is about committing yourself, from the core of your heart, to manifest and polish your highest talents and become the person you are destined to be." — Robin S Sharma
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." — Sir Edmund Hillary
Sue was horrified. After 10 years wearing a baggy green cap, her husband's obsession with playing for Australia had transformed him into a cross between Deepak Chopra and Rambo.

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