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Sight Screen

Friday, September 30, 2005

TGIF Round Up

1. Amitabh Chaudhary's 'exclusive interview' is the centerpiece of the IE content. There was a deal, the manager says, per which the question of the coach wanting Ganguly to sit out for the Test was scotched, and in return Saurav would agree that the whole imbroglio be kept confined to the dressing room. 'He broke the deal,' is the tenor of Chaudhary's interview. (More on that in this Mid-Day story)
I'm frankly underwhelmed. There is no debate that the recent spate of leaks and counter-leaks have caused immense harm to an already fractured outfit; there is hopefully no debate that the BCCI could have, if so inclined, done something constructive to bring cohesion and order back to the dressing room. The BCCI abdicated its responsibility -- given that, I don't see how all these endless arguments about who leaked what to when and where is going to get us any place.
I am, though, tempted into a tangential question: Ranbir Singh Mahindra at the end of the review committee meeting said the committee members, captain, coach, manager and players had all been told not to talk of the incident, and that transgressions would be viewed seriously.
So how seriously is 'seriously'? Within 24 hours, an unnamed committee member spoke. Within the same time frame, Mumbai Mirror outed the precis of Ganguly's written response to the board. Ravi Shastri, a committee member, spoke on record. Now the manager has spoken, also on record. Seriously, Mr Mahindra, what do you propose to do?
2. Interesting out-take on the whole incident, from Darren Lehmann who suggests that the Chappell-Ganguly pairing actually has a chance to work. I wonder, meanwhile, which enterprising reporter will remember that Lehmann played for SA while Chappell was coach, and sit him down for an in-depth q&a into the coach's methods, his man management skills, etc?
3. Sachin Tendulkar is finally fit again -- or more accurately, fit enough so he feels comfortable about risking his elbow in competition. Good thing, too, that he will be able to test match fitness in domestic competition -- the selectors in a moment of temporary (temporary?) insanity planned, if you remember, to have him play the Test series in Zimbabwe if he was fit enough to walk.
4. Peter Roebuck weighs in on the ongoing controversy in his Hindu column. While much of what he has to say is predictable, this bit intrigues me, makes me wonder who he has been talking to, and what he has heard:
Talk has spread of a renewal of the supposed north/south divide. These are flames fanned only by the self-serving. True patriots understand their danger. Kerala and Bengal count amongst the finest parts of this great country. It is not necessary to take sides. Men must think beyond tribal loyalties. Ganguly's allies have served Indian cricket ill by raising these matters.

5. This unsigned editorial in the Telegraph had me wondering, if only because it takes a tack different from the one preferred by its cricket desk led by LP Sahi.
6. And finally, like it wasn't enough that the Ganguly-Chappell brouhaha was causing such angst in India, we now have people around the world taking sides. He sucks, Freddy Flintoff said yesterday; he is an angel, Glamorgan chief Paul Russell says today.
That's precisely the thing about Saurav -- sort of like Hillary Clinton in US politics, he is a polarizing figure; he forces you to take sides pro or con, but does not permit you the luxury of sitting on the fence.
In passing, had to write a column on this whole thing for India Abroad's currently-under-production issue (and no, the paper does not have a net presence). Writing for a weekly is an interesting exercise. The net is about immediacy -- something happens, you process it and spit it out in so many words; often, there is no time to really line up your logical ducks, make your points seriatim, dovetail it all into a conclusion that can withstand the stress-test of reason.
This way, though? You can sit back, sift through the stuff floating in your head, excorcise emotion, and write with a cold, dispassionate logic that hopefully stands the test of time better.
Can't, here, publish what I wrote since India Abroad hasn't even gone to press yet. But the more time I spend on this, the more I incline to the thought that it is beside the point to debate whether Ganguly ducked out of the kitchen when it got hot, or Chappell forgot he was appointed coach of an adult cricket side and not a particularly unruly kindergarten.
The thing is, Ganguly will head off to pasture, sooner or later. Chappell will likely not last beyond WC'07, if he lasts that long. And even the most impatient of us can wait two years, if the exits of SG or GC or both would solve the problem.
But it won't, will it? They will go -- but we are left with an administrative body that, in the 10 years or so I've covered this game, has constantly astonished us new levels of incompetence and venality. The BCCI -- the Board of Confusion and Chaos in Indian cricket -- will remain; and that is probably the best epitaph to carve on our cricketing tombstone.
Sir Winston Churchill famously said, during the dark early days of World War II, ‘Never have so many owed so much to so few.’ In this week just ending, that line assumes a particular poignance.
Never have so many (so many of us who follow this game, and this team with a passion that, channelled into any other endeavor, would propel us to the top of the heap) owed so much to so few – so much heartburn, so much despair, so pervasive a sense of wasted time spent following the fortunes of a team of indisciplined slackers led by an out of form captain and overseen by a loose cannon of a coach. All this, and more, courtesy your friendly neighborhood BCCI.
What can you say, except TGIF? Chill, you guys -- unless something majorly cataclysmic happens in the interim, see you Monday.

70 Comments:

  • Have a pleasant weekend! Prem.

    By Blogger EvilTiger, at 18:26  

  • more funny stuff:

    http://www.expressindia.com/messages.php?newsid=55632#100431

    By Blogger mip_co, at 18:41  

  • ...."so much heartburn, so much despair, so pervasive a sense of wasted time spent following the fortunes of a team of indisciplined slackers led by an out of form captain and overseen by a loose cannon of a coach. All this, and more, courtesy your friendly neighborhood BCCI."

    Well said, time to think of something constructive...tired of Indian cricket.

    By Blogger Rajg, at 18:42  

  • Is Rahul Mehra's PIL the only way out of this rut? Seems like all eggs in one basket. Obvious there are bad apples in each group but surely there should be some collection of ex-cricketers, journalists, thinking men from the private and government sector who can institute change. I don't know why the public worships cricketers, movie stars and politicians -- Don't we have enough gods and idols already.

    By Blogger mip_co, at 19:03  

  • Prem..."The BCCI -- the Board of Confusion and Chaos in Indian cricket -- "...well said..

    By Blogger greg2rescue, at 19:07  

  • well there is nothing to say really..after the GC-Ganguly saga with the incompetence of the committee to come up with the right solution has made me realise that its just a waste of time. cricket will go on and am not sure if i have the patience to watch an indian game for 8 hrs anymore. Indian cricket is in decline.

    personally i would want two questions answered in the future

    i) who leaked the email GC sent to BCCI and stern action to be taken

    ii) if BCCI has the balls to sack ganguly if his performance on the field goes down. since the criteria now is PERFORMANCE.

    By Blogger jgohil, at 19:11  

  • "criteria now is PERFORMANCE."

    Could the BCCI be more ridiculous? Pray, what has been the criterion thus far then?

    By Blogger Parth, at 20:02  

  • Prem - The board, GC, SG etc all can be replaced but it still doesnt solve the main problem.

    Blood hell where are the players? Without good pace bowlers, spinners, all rounder and wicket-keeper batsmen, we still will never have a winning run.

    Agreed board is a problem but again, where are the players. Invariably leave aside one or two players ( read SG and SG), they have been selecting best side and they have tried all the bench strength, the problem is we just dont have world class players.

    By Blogger J, at 21:08  

  • Prem,
    meant to ask you for a long time. Do you know where Faisal Sheriff is ? He is seemingly very close to few Indian players But never heard from him a single line during this entire saga. Is he still reporting cricket ?

    By Blogger Amit, at 23:42  

  • He writes for Indian Express now.

    By Blogger J, at 00:28  

  • >>>Prem Says - That's precisely the thing about Saurav -- sort of like Hillary Clinton in US politics, he is a polarizing figure; he forces you to take sides pro or con, but does not permit you the luxury of sitting on the fence. <<<

    Prem, Am I the only one who notices a contradiction here ? So which side are you on, with him or against him ??

    Anywas, On the Flintoff issue - Just wanted you to know that Flintoff didn't really say all that recently, it was there in his book, its just that media picked it up from his book and making it as if Freddie said all that after the controversy.

    Also It is funny that Freddie(of 2000) made this claim about Ganguly of 2000 especialy since Everyone knows that Freddie himself was a punk back then and was the laughing stock of English Cricket.

    By Blogger Oracle Guy, at 00:52  

  • Hey Prem,

    Can understand you trying to be objective about the whole Ganguly-Chappell mess and trying to give a clear,balanced picture of the isssue, but you've got to accept, that no matter what, what Chappell did was long overdue, how long can we carry a non-preformer? I think Chappell decided to do what nobody in the selectors had the cojones to do, and say "Look Ganguly, your free ride stops here, either ship up or ship out".

    Whats with this obesssion with Ganguly's past record? It doesnt mean squat. The only time a player's record matters is when he's retired. It's a malaise of Indian Cricket that everyone involved lives in the past, whether it's Tendulkar or Ganguly or Gavaskar or Vishwanath. Past records mean nothing if the player isnt performing in the now. Its time the people involved gave up on this obsession to rely on past performances to judge a player. And that's not just the administrators but John Q. Public as well.

    By Blogger TheChowmeinWarrior, at 01:07  

  • btw the latest issue of India Today has the best and most authentic details of the meeting. All never before heard or read.
    Some snippets

    RAVI SHASTRI

    The former India captain and allrounder was the most aggressive of the interrogators and chose to be particularly tough on Ganguly. The only moment the temperature in the room rose a little was when he asked Ganguly, "Do you realise now that this entire chain of events has been started by you?"

    SUNIL GAVASKAR

    The former India captain and legendary opener, seen to be on Ganguly's side, questioned Chappell about his decision to send a report on the incident in the middle of the tour, to which the coach replied that manager Amitabh Choudhury had said that BCCI chief Ranbir Singh Mahendra had asked for an e-mailed explanation

    By Blogger J, at 01:50  

  • Prem, nice article on Ganguly in the idependent by Angus Fraser.

    http://sport.independent.co.uk/cricket/article316037.ece

    Wonder if you left it out because it has nice things to say about the captain!

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 02:43  

  • J . I read some insightful articles from him on Indian express but haven't heard from him for a long time

    By Blogger Amit, at 02:47  

  • a good article in midday.

    http://ww1.mid-day.com/sports/national/2005/october/120015.htm

    wonder if these players will also be saying their coach is pushing them too hard and he needs to take indian culture into account.

    on the other hand thankfully we are not implementing the training methodes described here, as going by our recent record for team unity, few might just end up in a bodybag

    By Blogger Amit, at 02:51  

  • ppl,

    ever wondered how fickle this team unity thingy is ??

    She is a bed fellow of success.

    You win , you keep on winning and suddenly you are All for one and One for All.

    You lose, you keep on losing suddenly its I said, He Said.

    Was just reminded of a fight between Afridi and Inzy (not sure) at the last world cup. There were many reports then about how this team is united. But then it was doing well Now fortunes have reversed and we don't see any thing on Pak team (not by their standards anyway) and a never before public fight in the Indian team.

    How I wish This would also go away with the success of the team.
    But I guess some stains are too strong for even Tide Bleach

    By Blogger Amit, at 02:58  

  • Nobody in Lancs got along well with Gangs. Freddie was not alone in this.

    By Blogger Jiet, at 03:01  

  • Does anyone have the link to the original interview that Ganguly is supposed to have given to Deccan Herald? I have been trawling through the last few days' editions of the DH and haven't come across it.

    Also, none of the transcripts of RSM's interview seem to mention the manager in the gag order. Does anyone have any links to the contrary?

    By Blogger Ritu, at 04:05  

  • Prem says: "Ganguly is a polarizing figure. Doesn't afford the luxury of sitting on the fence."

    Then how, dear Prem, should we take your claims to impartiality seriously?

    Anyway, it is a common feature with strong leaders - they polarise. The wishy-washy kind don't do squat.

    By Blogger i, at 05:08  

  • i:

    "Then how, dear Prem, should we take your claims to impartiality seriously?"

    Impartiality means not being biased/prejudiced. It means being fair - not a vegetable with no opinion. You can be impartial and still take sides. His opinion is based on what he has seen.

    How does that make him partial? If Ganguly were hitting hundreds upon hundreds and winning matches for India - and Prem still continued to malign Ganguly, that would be partial.

    By Blogger Parth, at 09:15  

  • Prem: Amen! Enjoy the weekend

    By Blogger losing now, at 09:33  

  • Prem, well said. Really good piece there....

    By Blogger Toney, at 09:45  

  • Shouldn't the blame be on those who gets polarized ? Asides Ganguly case fairly simple, statistics is more than half of the job for an ordinary member. Being a captain we need to look at the strike, stability and few other things, again this stuff can be digged from the stats. Hillary is beautiful, she has her hubbie's lurid sex and moral scandals with her and the politics. We should have many people who would be neutral about Ganguly( doesn't mean that positive and negative opinions cancel out, means neutral observation). So it kind of reflects the polarized or hilarized state beyond ganguly:)

    Have a nice weekend.

    By Blogger biz0, at 10:13  

  • I think all this hubris will die down once the real cricket starts. Peform or perish should be the mantra. Ganguly did very well till March 2004. Last one year and a half, he has not done anything except that 51 in Srilanka, and a painstaking 101 in Zim last month. I think if he fails again, his time will be up. But do not hold any high hopes for Team India once he is gone. We will keep loosing no matter who takes charge. Ganguly's tenure, especially during 2002-2003 is an exception in Indian cricket history.

    By Blogger bouncer, at 10:31  

  • Hi Folks

    Pls do check out my blog @

    http://www.muddas238.blogspot.com

    Has my take on the Indo-Lankan series to take place

    By Blogger Morientez, at 10:56  

  • Prem, a question about this blog thing. Is it possible to have a "summary" option for people to select, or at least a subject line for each response? That way, anybody who wants to keep on keeping on about being anti-Ganguly, anti-Chappell, or whatever, can declare it up front and the rest of us can ignore them?

    Teams for the Challenger Series

    The teams for the Challenger series has been announced:
    http://www.rediff.com/cricket/2005/oct/01chall.htm

    I thought it was disappointing. It is a real demarcation of the Seniors, A, and B sides. Would have much preferred if the front-line batsmen had to face the front-line bowlers in match situations. Now, India Seniors are the full strength side, India-A will barely put up a fight, and India-B looks like a sacrificial lamb put there to make up the numbers.

    Oh. Maybe this is their way to train them to figure out how to win finals.

    By Blogger idlivada, at 10:59  

  • Peter Roebuck on Bengal v/s Kerala

    Sounds like misdirection. We are not talking about football, so no doubt he actually means Karnataka. i.e., Dravid and Kumble, and possibly Srinath. At this point, we should all give thanks to Dravid for not throwing that log also onto the fire.

    By Blogger idlivada, at 11:39  

  • BCCI

    I dimly recall that many many years ago, decades perhaps, most of the administrators and selectors were regular laypeople, with only an amateur's connection to cricket. There were no former players in charge, none of the selectors had played Tests, etc. Come to think of it, this is not unlike how so many other sports associations currently work in India. Anyway, there was a big brouhaha, and much reform was instituted. If you notice now, all the selectors have Test playing experience, most of the middle management in most states is comprised of ex-players, and in fact the recently infamous review committee had _three_ former captains on it. And yet, all this angst. This means there is an institutional shortcoming that has not been addressed. I seriously doubt that it is simply a matter of hiring a professional to act as CEO, because we have to ask, who hires the CEO, who evaluates the CEO, who fires the CEO?

    Is it fair to expect a change, maybe we are like this only?

    By Blogger idlivada, at 11:52  

  • Guys,
    Very interesting Challenger Squads. The members of the first XI have not been split up to even out the three teams. Instead, they are all playing for India Seniors, with second and third string squads representing India A and B respectively. This certainly helps to partially solve the problem of the competition being a glorified workout emphasizing individual performances rather than team performances. Under this new format, there ought to be some pride on the line for the Senior squad as I'm sure they would not want to suffer the ignominy of losing to India A or B.

    There have been some very interesting selections made. Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan is part of the senior squad. Up until a couple of years ago, he was a specialist left arm orthodox spinner who liked to have a slog down the order at no.9. This past Ranji season, he converted himself into an aggressive opener for Tamil Nadu with quite a lot of success. Unfortunately, his bowling has been relied on less and less, partly due to the presence of domestic cricket's premier left arm orthodox spinner for the past two seasons, Ramakrishnan Ramkumar. Although first-class statistics do not always translate at the international level, Vidyut certainly seems like an allrounder when you consider these statistics: First-Class Batting Average- 35.15; List A Batting Average- 38.08 at a fantastic strike rate of 90.12; First-Class Bowling Average- 31.74 (67 wickets); List A Bowling Average- 30.12 with an economy rate of 4.56. It is surprising he has never been heard from as far as team selection is concerned in the past. And now all of a sudden, he is part of the senior squad. Unfortunately for him, Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik are also part of squad, likely leaving Vidyut with very little opportunity, if any, to display his abilities.

    Other interesting selections include several of the U-19 squad. Manoj Tiwari (the best fielder in India, according to many) has not even been the star batsman at the U-19 level. However, his fielding abilities combined with an ability to bowl more than handy legspin probably got him a place as a multi-dimensional one-day player. Piyush Chawla (legspin) and Shanbaaz Nadeem (left arm orthodox), the stand out performers form the U-19 squad, have both been selected. Both these spinners are only 16! Furthermore, Chawla is an allrounder, while Nadeem also has some ability with the bat.

    The player I am looking forward to watch the most is VRV Singh. Supposedly the quickest in the land, this young lad is said to have a great fast-bowler’s attitude (simply keeps charging in, no matter what the circumstances). He just returned from the Australian Cricket Academy. VVS Laxman rates the lad very highly and even went as far as saying he was surprised the young man is not already with the Indian squad. I was very disappointed to not see him in the Rest of India XI for the Irani Trophy. Why do we continually promote medium pace line and length bowlers, while holding back the quickies. There is no question that control is essential, but control can be taught, while RAW PACE cannot. The longer version of the game would be ideal for the youngster where a captain could encourage him to run in and bowl FAST.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 12:08  

  • Irani Trophy

    RoI 223ao on Day 1! Wasn't this supposed to be a batting track?

    btw, CricInfo lists Bangar as captain and Wankhede as wk. Didn't it used to be Pagnis and Yere Goud respectively?

    By Blogger idlivada, at 12:14  

  • Query about the Irani trophy,
    If Sachin is now fit to play, wouldn't it have been wise to get him a couple of innings in the longer version of the game for the Rest of India. Even though he was not part of the intitial squad, I'm sure they could have made him a last minute addition. Such additions have been made in the past.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 12:22  

  • Hi- What matches are included in the category LIST A? Thanks.

    By Blogger Vijay, at 12:24  

  • Sahir,

    There was a report (on CricInfo?) that Sachin still has pain in his elbow. So he is probably in the squad for the Challenger as the SuperSub, and will likely ease back into it slowly. Not something you can do in the Irani.

    Vijay,

    List-A is to ODIs what First Class is to Test matches. So the Challenger series would count as List-A.

    By Blogger idlivada, at 12:28  

  • Idlivada,
    Cricinfo is right with its listings of Bangar and Wankhede as captain and keeper respectively. That's the way it was this past domestic season.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 12:43  

  • sahir,
    re SRT's Elbow not being fully pain free: http://inhome.rediff.com/cricket/2005/oct/01ten.htm

    btw, nice analysis of teams in the Challenger series. Do you think the U-19 players will give the Seniors a run for their money?

    By Blogger idlivada, at 13:26  

  • bouncer...

    I agree that we are not likely to turn around our start winning just by dismissing Ganguly. You can always hope that if the put in extra effort for long enough we will see changes. If Ricky Ponting can captain a team then why not Rahul Dravid?

    By Blogger Jiet, at 14:13  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Tiger, at 14:34  

  • Prem -I came across this.. Care to comment? !!!!

    By Blogger Tiger, at 14:39  

  • Here are the relevant words..
    "I remember Prem Panicker's review of Kill Bill: Volume One had several phrases copied verbatim from the New York Times review and a few other more obscure publications that I remembered reading on Metacritic."

    By Blogger Tiger, at 14:41  

  • OK guys.. time to forget Indian cricket and focus on the bigger picture. Check out my post on ICC World XI in my recent post. Have a good weekend, you all!!

    By Blogger Raju, at 14:46  

  • Great piece Sahir , this is the kind of publishing that one expects to see , rather than mindless ego-clashes! of who is bad or who is the worst ! , Just want to add that this is the first time I have seen the squad for the Challenger series being picked prudentially! ( earlier it used to be the team across the 3 sides , defeating the entire purpose of the tournament ) , looking forward to see some exciting talent emerging !

    By Blogger Deepakn, at 15:03  

  • I was looking at the squads for Challenger. I think, India-A squad is going to beat the cr** out of the seniors team. Here is a head-to-head comparison.

    Captain :-
    Senoirs: SG is on his way out..tentative & under whole lot of pressure. Will be thinking abt facing good fast bowlers like VRV Singh, RP Singh and Balaji as opposed to his team winning.
    A-team: VVS is desparate to come back to ODI. He will play out of skin. He will be facing juicy bowlers like zaheer, agarkar & yadav. He is also talked abt as captaincy material. Will prove himself.

    Batsman :-
    Seniors: Non-batsman SG will open, Sachin coming back to cricket, venugopal under pressure, Yuvraj struggling aqgainst spin, kaif finding it very difficult to accelerate.
    A team: has VVS, Gambhir, Raina, Badani, Jadav...all good batsman and all desparate to get into Indian ODI team..

    Fast Bowlers :-
    Seniors: Zaheer - juicy, pathan - struggles in India, JP yadav - military medium, agarkar - juicy
    A team: Balaji - out for revenge, VRV - fiery as hell, RP Singh - desparate

    Spinners :-
    Seniors: Harbajan - struggling, murali karthik - selected in this team so that he cannot play
    A team: Powar - out to prove something, Raina - out to prove he is an allrounder, dont-know-abt-other-guys.

    By Blogger greg2rescue, at 15:06  

  • Some regional bias showing itself , want to see how Sreekumaran Nair performs , he is picked for the India B team , It woudld be interesting 'cos I remember reading 'bout him as far back when he was playing for Kerala College sides

    By Blogger Deepakn, at 15:08  

  • idlivada , just responding to your post on the composition of the sides , i think earlier it used to be a no-contest with little incentive for anybody cos the team was distributed across the squads , with no reason being given as to why Player A was picked for India A (as opposed to the other squads ) , i remember Sehwag leading the India A squad last year .

    By Blogger Deepakn, at 15:14  

  • Some regional bias showing itself
    Why not say it? Tell us where is the bias.

    Players to watch out for: Piyush Chawla, VRV and for future ODI selection. I think Selectors are rightly looking for a spinning allrounder. Vidyut, Nair, Tiwari and Raina are fighting for that spot. Dont see too many good ODI guys in batting. Badani and Mongia may try to push Ganguly out.

    By Blogger Vick, at 15:26  

  • I meant bias from my side (me being from Kerala ) in seeing somebody from the state being picked and performing well (i hope he gets a chance to play!!)

    By Blogger Deepakn, at 15:30  

  • Greg do you think India A player have anything other than revenge in their kitty? I am pretty sure Bala is gonna bowl at 150KMPH and RP will swing the ball much more than Pathan. And VRV sure is next Rawalpindi express.
    Oh BTW VVSL needs to impress the coach a lot in all the areas of game to be picked in ODI's again. Should have been rested just like Kumble and Nehra.
    They all belong to same club as SG does.

    By Blogger Vick, at 15:30  

  • from SRC:

    Questionable selections in the challenger series.

    India Senior team:

    1. Venugopal Rao - has already proved not a good ODI player; why not
    try
    someone else.

    India A:
    1. Dheeraj Jadhav - strokeless master;

    India B:
    1. Dinesh Mongia - tried horse (and has a testing failed seal)
    2. Sridharan Sriram - makes Veni Rao look like Sehwag
    3. Bhandari - too old to knock on the ODI team as a non-slow bowler
    4. Parab - already 30
    (they wanted a few oldies with U19 guys in the B team - a few are 16
    and 17!)

    Good selections:
    1. Piyush Chawla : just 16, but hugely talented bowling allrounder.
    http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/india/content/player/32966.html

    2. Manoj Tiwari - talented/accompished U-19 batting allrounder;

    3. Shikhar Dhawan - excellent batting prospect;

    4. Robin Utthappa - U-19 accomplishments with the bat.

    5. Ravikant Shukla - U-19 captain; very good batting prospect;

    6. VRV Singh - the Indian Bond - Shane Bond that is :)

    7. Sunny Singh - another to emerge from U-19 scene; not a bad batting
    prospect

    Surprising ommissions:
    Rayudu; Munaf Patel;

    Intresting selections:

    1. SR Nair - is he SK Nair's nephew?

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 15:34  

  • Hope Nehra is dropped for good - he is such a joker; can't last 2 balls with the bat and bowling is not
    that great and consistent...

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 15:36  

  • Challenger teams

    greg2rescue, I don't agree with your analysis. It is all well and good to have revenge on your mind, but the reason most of them have been shabbily treated is because they haven't cut it. Laxman in one-days is a dragging anchor, while Raina and Badani haven't come good despite numerous opportunities. As for the bowlers, Agarkar has always been a terror on the domestic scene, and now that Pathan appears to have rediscovered his form, I'd back him against any of the B bats. Zaheer and Powar are the X-factors.

    deepakn: I think, as set up, it is a no contest. Admittedly, how Ganguly copes with VRV Singh could make for a nice subplot, but otherwise I don't think it will say anything about emerging talent, unless said talent is exceptional. Now, the A and B teams have no chance, so actually it will just encourage all the borderline players to just play for individual stats, to at least "get theirs" and who cares about the doomed team's requirements. Would be glad to see myself proved wrong.

    By Blogger idlivada, at 15:52  

  • To answer your question idlivada, I doubt the U-19 cricketers will pose a serious to challenge. You simply cannot expect a 16 or 17 year old to come in perform immediately. However, that said, what I hope to see is potential. "Potential" is a word thrown around too loosely when discussing young Indian cricketers. Simply because their statistics may look good at the underage level does not mean they have tremendous potential. The reverse is often true as well, you do not have to be the best at the underage level to succeed at the highest level. Take a look at NBA or NFL drafts. The best college players, statistically at the college level, aren't always selected. You need to look at whether a player has the raw skills to succeed at the highest level. What I mean by potential are the unmistakables- raw pace, natural swinger of the cricket ball, big turner of the ball (especially wrist spinners), pure athleticism in the field. These are building blocks that cannot be acquired. You either have them or you don't. Control, work ethic, and discipline are things individuals with these abilities need to be taught. I believe too often we expect youngsters to act as if they are a 10-year veteran. We remember what we were like when we were 17. I dare say most of us were hardly what we call disciplined or mature, because we did not have to be. Additional responsibility, hopefully, brings the maturity required to place a high pricetag on your wicket, bowl a disciplines line and length, and maintain concentration throughout the day. Often coaches will take a genuine quick bowler aside at a young age and tell him not to leak so many runs and such nonsense. The coach will advise the player to concentrate on line and length instead of pace. I would prefer encouraging a young quickie to bowl FAST. Control will come with practice and experience over time.
    Case in point, take a look at a vastly improved England outfit. When Steve Harmison and Simon Jones were selected, their first-class statistics were rather poor. In fact, to this day both bowlers have a better bowling average in international cricket than in first-class cricket. Simon Jones first-class bowling average is around 32, which is well worse than many medium pacers on the county circuit. Despite these statistics, Duncan Fletcher saw the promise, namely raw pace, steepling bounce from Harmison, and ability to reverse swing at pace from Jones. Fletcher persisted with both players despite well-documented teething troubles in international cricket. Harmison even completely lost his run-up during the tour down under. At the time most Australian fans laughed at the prospect of him being a great future prospect. There's also a couple of great examples amongst the batsman. Fletcher selected Vaughn and Trescothick when both were averaging aroung 30 in first-class cricket. In fact, Somerset was trying to concert Trescothick into an all-rounder batting at no.7. Fletcher noticed Vaughn's uncomplicated, yet positive, technique as well as Trescothick's brute power to biff both spinners and pacers to the boundary. Sample these mind-boggling statistics. Trescothick's current first-class batting average: 36.18! International batting average: 45.26
    Vaughn's current first-class batting average: 38.46! International batting average: 43.81. Mind you, the international statistics also count within the first-class average. If it weren't so, the disparity would be much greater.

    CHALLENGER TROPHY:
    Personally, I expect a comfortable victory by the Seniors. Call me stupid, but after all the criticism surrounding Team India, I expect a clinical and efficient performance by the Indian as they seriously prepare for the 12 ODIs to come against Sri Lanka and South Africa respectively.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 16:06  

  • Prem,

    I know you did not have much to elaboarate on what John Wright had to say about Chappel.

    Now, would you post Angus Fraser's take on Ganguly?

    Just to BALANCE things out!

    Thanks

    By Blogger CrickTip, at 16:16  

  • Just wondering loud.

    Will any of the pace bowlers of the 'A' and 'B' teams dare to bowl to SG in a full-fledged hostile manner ?
    Don't think so . After all , the guy just demonstrated how much clout he has .If they value their careers , the tearaway pace bowlers are better advised
    to go easy on SG and show their talent against the other batsmen of the Seniors team.

    By Blogger wonderloud, at 16:21  

  • Having said my peace about "potential," I am rather disappointed with the surprising omissions Yacrik pointed out, Munaf Patel and Ambati Rayudu. According to Robin Singh, the former coach of the Indian U-19 team, Ambati Rayudu is the most talented amongst his peers (played alongside Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, and Dinesh Karthik). Rayudu has the ability to completely tear an attack apart. He has done so on U-19 tours abroad as well as in his rookie season in domestic cricket. Granted, his performances have fallen by the wayside, but wouldn't it be better to help such a talented youngster figure out the solution to those porblems under the supervision of the senior team and coaches, rather than leaving him to figure everything out himself. The man is going through his struggles, as so many of us did at a young age, and those in the know (selectors) seem oblivious to it. Much the same can be said about Munaf Patel. Steve Waugh was surprised by Patel's pace in the nets of the MRF pace academy. Waugh rated him the fastest Indian bowler he'd faced, while Lillee called him the quickest in the land at the time. He performed admirably against the Kiwis on a flat track during a paratice tour match (took the valued wickets of Mark Richardson and Stephen Fleming cheaply, if I remeber correctly). After taht match the Kiwi batsman rated him as a bowler that bowled a "heavy ball." This is player lingo for someone that hits the splice of the bat harder than expected, pften cause by extra, unexpected bounce ala Harmison. This would not be surprising considering, according to Cricinfo reports, Patel is 6'4. A bowler of that height would ceratinly add an extra dimension to a realtively short Indian attack. Patel was convinced to come play for Mumbai, instead of Gujurat, and now he sits on the bench watching Avishkar Salvi and Ajit Agarkar primarily occupy the pace bowlers' spots. Patel has suffered injuried that hampered his cricket, but now that he is back and trained under Chappell's eyes during the fast bowlers' camp at the start of the season, he should have been selected, not only for this Challeger Trophy, but for the Irani trophy as well.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 16:25  

  • wonderloud, wish you could wonder in silence

    By Blogger bouncer, at 17:06  

  • From Deccan Chronicle:

    Royal Blush
    By M.J. Akbar

    It would require a government to fall to get the kind of newspaper attention that the minor brawl between Indian cricket coach Greg Chappell and captain Sourav Ganguly received. Or not. Falling governments are not such big news anymore. Even when they don’t fall, they slip each day, and how often can you ruin the front page, or the television screen, with a stumble over Iran, or a twisted ankle over Lalu Yadav? The public is hungry for real conspiracy: press conferences that rip a gut with poisoned sabres, and emails that slice through an artificial reputation like hot tongs on a gas balloon.

    They want the principal actors on the public stage to wear designer shirts even if they don’t have style, and our political life is a trifle short on such niceties. I mean Praful Patel can claim a seat at any high table in the world of beau monde, but he is not in charge of conspiracies in his party. So could Jyoti Scindia, but he is not in the Cabinet, yet. Dr Manmohan Singh’s sartorial qualities have improved considerably ever since his tailors were put on the government budget, but he is not in charge of conspiracies in his party either.

    Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee’s tailor, alas, still lives in Bolpur. Home minister Shivraj Patil does his best, but someone should tell him that while white shoes with white trousers and white jacket may be de rigueur for a meeting of the Cabinet Committee On Security, it is not going to make the cover of the Cosmopolitan.

    Actually one of the best-dressed politicians is Lalu Yadav, if only he could do something about his ear-hair, but only when he is not pretending to be poor. The khaddar of his kurta-pyjama is spun from the finest cotton, and starched with an aesthete’s precision. But Lalu can’t send email so he can’t really be the kind of conspirator that modern media thirsts for. There are of course those who have been able to bridge the two worlds.

    The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) has the same chef de mission as the BCCI (Board of Control for Congress in India), Rajiv Shukla. But when you have weighed the balance carefully, on objective scales, you have to conclude that the political class cannot really match the cricket class in terms of media coverage.

    The most reliable commentators on both cricket and politics are the bookies, but the bookies are kept as far outside media limelight as possible, because they compete directly with journalists for occupation of the punditry space. Once upon a time, the journalist was king.

    Anyone who wanted to know anything about the present and future of politics would ring up a Delhi journalist, possibly one smoking a pipe. Such a journalist’s word was the fatwa of fatwas. The journalist would be quoted at Mumbai parties in tones of hushed reverence. If his august presence was actually visible at any party, hostesses would order a waiter with an appropriately nourishing tray to hover permanently around him. Guests would hang onto the pundit’s every word, giving curvaceous babes a permanent inferiority complex.

    The luckier journalists can still maintain a foothold on the social circuit, but there are too many cynics around who have got far better information on the Bihar elections, and the fate of Rabri Devi, her eldest daughter and Lalu’s various brothers and brothers-in-law from the bookies. The big difference is that the journalist puts your whisky where his mouth is, while the bookie puts his money where his mouth is. Who would you rather trust? It’s a no-brainer.

    The bookies certainly knew the end of the Ganguly-Chappell story long before the end was officially written in some hallowed five-star hotel in Mumbai. They said that it would be draw, and took bets of at least Rs 500 crores on their convictions. Needless to add, this is precisely what happened. How did the bookies know? Wouldn’t we all like to know that?

    There is a term in Urdu called noori kushti, a wrestling match whose result has been predetermined by the sponsor, in which the wrestlers are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Was the Ganguly-Chappell encounter noori kushti?

    The sound was loud enough to be heard from Zimbabwe to India, and the fury burnt acres of newsprint, but wait. The plot thickens. A theory has been floated by an afternoon paper in Mumbai, artfully called the Afternoon Despatch and Courier, that two popes of Indian cricket, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, planted the story of Ganguly’s rift with Chappell (which was not a state secret on the Zimbabwe tour) on the talkometer-general of Indian cricket, Harsha Bhogle, who duly nudged and winked it onscreen, in order to improve the ratings of the dead series being televised by ESPN. Of all the reasons for this controversy this one seems the most cogent. If there is a conspiracy there must be a multinational around to blame, isn’t it? How else can we remain a socialist, secular republic?

    Second, multinationals are always keen to live up to their reputations, as long as they can find locals to be their patsies, so the pattern begins to form. Third, if there is no television, there is no cricket. And there will be no television if there are no ratings. So if you can’t get ratings by the game on the field, then you have to get ratings by playing some games off the field. This is logical. Pythagoras would have approved the symmetry of this construct.

    What impressed me most about this theory was its foundation. It was based on a highly believable cause. It tore the many layers of deception around the anger of the players and reached the heart of their woes: “Chappell is bullying them into an obsessive frenzied fitness regime”. Some of the greatest names in Indian cricket have traversed the green while fielding in the regal manner of an ocean liner; there is a strong tradition of stately majesty which some players consider part of their inheritance.

    The modern culture of lightning reactions and sprinting speed to save a single run could be slightly distasteful to anyone called a “Maharaja”, one who has prospered in the glow of smothering protection. A New Zealander like John Wright was bad enough.

    Now this manic Australian called Chappell comes along and demands total fitness. Absurd. It was only a matter of time before the unstoppable force met the immovable object. However, we will not know the full truth about this theory until the courts decide, for surely Gavaskar and Shastri will sue the newspaper for slander unless it prints a decent apology. You cannot sully the reputation of popes without inviting the wrath of God.

    I wonder if Sourav Ganguly, who has recovered the captaincy, quite realises what he has lost. Dignity. This has not happened suddenly. Decay is a slow process. It began with his silly and immature tantrums, done for television consumption: whenever he got out, it was someone else’s fault. Any player with self-respect would have announced his retirement the moment he stopped seeing the rising ball. Ganguly has become a public mockery with his spasmodic batting, jerking like a puppet out of control.

    He knows he is not fit to be in the side, but cannot keep his hands out of the till, for cricket is serious money. Popes who double up as commentators often remind us of his past brilliance to justify his present place. That is utter nonsense. Of course he used to be brilliant. That was why he was honoured with the captaincy. But as captain of India, he is more than an individual of the team. A captain is a symbol of the nation. A captain without dignity is an insult to the nation and the game. Sachin Tendulkar was and is a dignified genius.

    When he felt that captaincy limited his contribution to the team, he gave it up. The team was more important. When Sachin was injured, he remained out of the team and repaired the damage. Sachin Tendulkar is a god to us, precisely because he knows the limitations of men. Sourav Ganguly is a god that failed because the demons of self-indulgence destroyed his genius. Sourav Ganguly is playing a game. It is not cricket.

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