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Sight Screen

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sunday roundup (-worma)

World XI made a winning start against Victoria...and guess who were the key performers for them! Dravid made a typical anchoring 66(70b) when the WXI were wobbling in mid innings...with Gayle(batting at 8!) and Pollock providing the partnership. Shoaib and Murali then had good spells with the ball.

But the match turned out to be close..since Victoria also had some quality players, close on national fringes...and Hodge and White made it count. Harwood was their best bowler(dunno much about him).

Back to Indian news...and Sachin, who had earlier stated that there was still some pain in the elbow, has now confirmed further that his foray into the middle is just at the right time, and after the requisite expert consultations.
I am doing this after consulting the doctor who performed the corrective surgery in England. We decided that this is the right time to at least go and have a hit
And he has also been repeating that this, afterall, is his way of judging the status of the elbow and the whole situation...and not an outright confirmation of his return to international scene.
I would exactly know where I stand and basically that becomes my target. After the Challenger, I will be in a better position to figure out how it (left elbow) is

Kiran More, does say here that some of the names missing in the Challenger squad were still in contention and age has not been the criteria for ruling out players.

Which brings back the Kumble question, as I said yesterday. Now there is one report which does mention him being under rehab for four weeks...although no specific reasons mentioned.

Some more positive news....as mentioned in the review committee report (yes 'that' review committee)...there was discussion on doing away with the zonal selection system. Given the immense importance of this issue, it was surprising how little it was talked about in the media.... and even here. But this report again mentions(if you ignore the heading) that there are enough indications of the change being considered seriously. Maybe as soon as the next AGM (yes the postponed one).

I guess if the election issue is settled beforehand, then there are chances of this being brought up. Meanwhile...here is one reason why a delay of a couple of months on such a big change won't make too much of a difference(as long as it does come later)
A senior Indian cricketer told The Indian Express: "The current 16 players in the Indian team are the best available. So there is no need to change things for the time being."

Here is an interview with Sandeep Patil, touching on this issue among others. Also mentions this important bit
I would also be happy if the BCCI appoints a permanent manager. South Africa has had Ghoolam Rajah for several years and Australia has Steve Bernard and both have produced results. Continuity has to be maintained to avoid anomalies creeping into reports submitted by different managers

Meanwhile, read here(towards the end of the article) what Ian Frazer has to say about the fitness schedule of our team. Also...this bit was important
He also had another significant observation: seniors aren'’t passing on enough tips to the youngsters. "‘I'’d like to see the Sachins talk a lot more to the young boys, try and tell them about their experiences and how they handled a particular situation."’
Ofcourse he didn't actually mean Sachin, since he(and GC) haven't yet worked with him...but still this comes as a surprise to me.


  • Harman skips the 'filters' in blog on her visit to Iraq
    Copley News Service WASHINGTON -- Insurgent attacks in Iraq are "crippling the country's infrastructure and forcing the U.S. military into a defensive crouch." "One senior U.S. official confided that the ...
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    By Blogger Mary Morgan, at 06:52  

  • Read that 10000 spectors cramped up into the stadium to watch the Cricketing Heroes.... I am sure Enland and India will be bidding/lobbying for the next super series to be hosted at their home.

    I can see why kumble and Laxman Making sounds at not being in ODI squads... More than the perceived injustice to them it can be also the Contract Groupings...

    Not playing ODIs means there can be Tier 2...and 20 Lakh less money

    By Blogger P K, at 07:45  

  • worma / all,

    one more noteworthy story for the round up here : Murali Kartik the batsman seeking to catch selectors' eyes in light of Harbhajan "Big Mouth" Singh's travails:)

    By Blogger dna, at 08:55  

  • @all,
    i think the performances of the likes of karthik, powar and parida will be interesting ... with harbhajan in mediocre form (at least as far as ODIs are concerned) ... there cud be a vacancy for the spinner sometime in the season

    By Blogger GK, at 09:35  

  • yes I think we may see some new ODI spin/allround prospects coming up in this season...from Irani....Challenger etc..not necessarily as a replacement for bhajji..but still

    By Blogger worma, at 09:43  

  • Another "objective" Aussie piles up on SG. One should have no objection to what this guy, Blewett, says abouth Greg. But to say that GC's e-mail was spot on while being two continents away from the happenings is really idiotic. Well, at least for a day he gets some headlines.

    By Blogger bouncer, at 10:26  

  • Poor Sandeep Patil feeling left out? :)

    Here's a funny quote from the Hindu interview:

    "In 1996, not only was the Indian captain (Azharuddin) removed, but I was also removed after the tour of Toronto (Sahara Cup). I had explained the reasons and convinced the BCCI president I.S. Bindra and secretary Jagmohan Dalmiya to change the captain and had discussed the matter with the national selectors at Eden Gardens.

    "Thereafter it has been their decision. Fortunately, all this has not been leaked to the media.''

    And then he said, "oops."

    By Blogger idlivada, at 10:48  

  • Challenger teams

    So they have selected 39 players for the Challenger series, and considerable noise is being made over those who have missed out, like Kumble, Nehra, Harvinder, Rayudu, Munaf, et al. Perhaps I am being unduly optimistic, but this is a good thing, yes? Points to a robust bench strength, and from all indications, there are more in the pipeline.

    Regarding the team compositions, I have said before, and I will say again, I don't think putting all the seniors into one group will serve much purpose: (a) the seniors won't be tested particularly hard in match conditions, (b) there isn't much suspense about who will be the eventual winner, so why should anyone care to watch, and (c) this will prevent just the type of cross-generational passing-on of tips that Ian Frazer was talking about.

    By Blogger idlivada, at 11:10  

  • It would be great to see seniors ass being kicked by other two teams.

    btw who is coaching the other two teams?

    By Blogger J, at 12:14  

  • idlivada, IMO the purpose of the Challenger is not to give the seniors a good workout..which used to happen earlier..now they would be facing a real match situation with non of their everyday colleagues on the other side....and more importantly the newcomers...the ones who really need to be tested in best possible domestic condition to know how good they are before thrusting them onto international scene....would be playing a game against a near top quality opposition in the seniors...probably the best way to know how e.g. a piyush chawla would fare against an international batting lineup...get him to bowl at Indian top order...etc

    ..regarding the winner...am not so sure....there can be a few surprises....ODI games is so much about playing good on a single day....and nothing more.....and on that day a b'desh can surprise an Aus side...

    that cross-generational thing that frazer mentioned is for the newcomers in the actual Indian team....let some of these yougsters qualify for that first...and anyway in a 4-5 day competition you dont expect them to sit with the Indian international players for a tution lesson for tips....happens over a period of time...when they have long term working relationship...

    By Blogger worma, at 12:18  

  • Sandeep Patil for India A and Robin Singh for India B

    By Blogger P K, at 12:19  

  • What ever happend to Munaf Patel - remember this speedster who was pulled up as the next bolt of lightning ?
    ..and Kumble is "injured" ? I smell a consipiracy theory here ;) - comeon guys someone can come up with a nice "explanation" for this ;)

    By Blogger cafemonster, at 12:43  

  • cross-generational tips

    Worma, I agree that a 4 day tournament is not the ideal setting for a "tuition"(!) by the seniors.

    However, I have to say that limiting it to just the people that make it to the senior team would be highly limiting and shortsighted. Because, we have to remember here, the knowledge we are talking about is not the standard things one gets coached on, but rather little things that one knows only from long experience. Take for example, body language. I bet nobody coaches it, but the Australians are fantastic at using it to motivate themselves as well as put pressure on the opposition. The more people learn of it, at earlier and earlier times, the better. After all, isn't this why we want the Seniors to go play in the Ranji matches?

    Another point is that this is not really an efficient process, though it is robust and works to raise everybody's level. I have played plenty of sports (not at the pro level), and have been on both sides of a passed tip, and I have to say, it is bloody difficult to pass it on unless the recipient is fully receptive to the idea. And the best way to have the young 'uns be receptive is to put them in the same team as the big guys and have them practice and play together. And the more people that are involved, the better. Admittedly, having the crap beaten out of you also makes you humble and receptive to tips, but only if you "socialize" afterwards and know the right questions to ask.

    By Blogger idlivada, at 13:16  

  • Kumble's words in Deccan Herald

    “It’s nothing serious, just a minor niggle that needs a bit of rest, some stretching and other exercises,” India’s highest wicket-taker said. “I consulted with John (Gloster), and he too was of the opinion that, given the amount of cricket we are to play over the next few months, it will be in the best interests of all concerned that I skip the Challenger as a precaution.”

    I dont see any conspiracies :)

    By Blogger P K, at 13:27  

  • I read in another interview that Munaf Patel himself wants another season in First class before performing in big stage. Looks like a very matured lad and am sure getting good advice.

    By Blogger P K, at 13:30  

  • cross-generational tips

    btw: Greg Chappell seems to have done a quite a bit of work codifying much of these uncoachable tips. When he was appointed coach, I went and looked at what he was saying on his chappellway website, and it makes a LOT of sense. If only someone had told me that bit about (paraphrasing) "what happens is not what caused it to happen" a few decades ago, would've prevented a whole lot of heartburn.

    By Blogger idlivada, at 13:34  

  • http://www.hindu.com/2005/10/02/stories/2005100203271900.htm

    Patil glad his reports were kept confidential

    G. Viswanath

    Anything written about the captain becomes a national story, says the former India coach

    # Patil has reported on captains of three countries
    # Recommended replacement of Azharuddin in 1996
    # Suggested Tikolo take over from Odumbe for World Cup 2007

    Sandeep Patil

    Mumbai: Sandeep Patil, former India coach, expressing surprise at Greg Chappell's confidential report to the BCCI on Sourav Ganguly being leaked to the media, said he was happy that his report on the captain of the Indian team for the 1996 tour of England is still classified information.

    Patil, who was India `A' coach ten years ago, was on Thursday named coach of India `A' for the Challenger Series.

    He was coach of the national team for five months and on tours to Singapore, Sharjah, England, Sri Lanka and Toronto. Mohammad Azharuddin was the Indian captain on the English tour in 1996.

    Speaking to The Hindu on Saturday, Patil said: "Chappell's report on Ganguly is not the first instance of a coach making observations about the captain. I have reported on captains of three countries. First it was the Indian captain after returning from England, then Kenya and more recently Oman.

    "In 1996, not only was the Indian captain (Azharuddin) removed, but I was also removed after the tour of Toronto (Sahara Cup). I had explained the reasons and convinced the BCCI president I.S. Bindra and secretary Jagmohan Dalmiya to change the captain and had discussed the matter with the national selectors at Eden Gardens.

    Thereafter it has been their decision. Fortunately, all this has not been leaked to the media.''

    In 2003, Patil was the coach of the Kenya team for the World Cup in South Africa.

    "I recommended to the Kenyan Cricket Board that it should replace Maurice Odumbe with Steve Tikolo as captain for the World Cup.

    Then recently, the Oman Cricket Board, on my recommendation, replaced the long-standing captain Ali Akbar with Azar Ali. But all the reports and discussions have not been leaked. I'm very happy about it. I'm surprised Chappell's report on Ganguly has been leaked. Anything written about the captain becomes a national story,'' said Patil.

    A positive step

    Patil supported the Review Committee's recommendation to the BCCI's Working Committee to discard the `one-from-each-zone' system for choosing national selectors.

    "It's an excellent idea and a positive step because for quality selection, you need quality selectors. With due respect to all past and present selectors who have done a fine job, I think the fresh proposal will only help the system. Karnataka has already taken the initiative.

    "I would also be happy if the BCCI appoints a permanent manager. South Africa has had Ghoolam Rajah for several years and Australia has Steve Bernard and both have produced results. Continuity has to be maintained to avoid anomalies creeping into reports submitted by different managers.''

    Accepts invitation

    Patil has accepted BCCI's invitation to be the coach of the India `A' team for the Challenger Series and wants to clear a misunderstanding. "I had informed both Mr. Ranbir Singh and Mr. S.K. Nair that I am available to serve Indian cricket at any level, provided I am told in advance, because I have commitments with the Complan Academy and also with Oman.

    "The BCCI has given me good time to prepare for the Challenger Series. Benefits from India `A' tours have been great over the last ten years and I would request BCCI to schedule a programme for the India `A' team, which has been a regular feeder line for the national team.

    "Chappell has been my idol since I was a schoolboy and I would like to continue in the same manner as I did when John Wright was in-charge.''

    Reacting to the proposal for a two-captain concept, Patil said: "The 12 one-day internationals against Sri Lanka and South Africa will be very important and provide an opportunity for the BCCI, coach and selectors to identify the captain for the 2007 World Cup. Thereafter India will be playing Pakistan and England, but it will be too late to make a change.

    The experiments may have failed in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, but India has the advantage of playing at home now and the selectors and coach will have the leverage to bring in fresh ideas.''

    By Blogger Kiran R, at 13:47  

  • idlivada, sure I am all for good interaction between seniors and freshers...and I believe most of our seniors are well into it (thats why i said I was surprised to read this coming from Frazer)...just meant to say that its probably not a good idea to design the Challenger tournament just to suit this need.

    By Blogger worma, at 13:56  

  • Like someone else commenting earlier, I would also like to see the seniors' arse being whipped. We might just do away with SG before the SL one-days.

    By Blogger Gardhabh, at 13:59  

  • anyone has any comments on the world xi just scraping through. these australians have great bench strength probably the reason why they r the best in the world.
    and why did gayle coming in the middle well tail really when sangakkara is probably morer suited to it. is it beause they think with flintoff gayle will not be in the team anyway and used the pair they think is going to open?

    By Blogger cricketkekhatir, at 14:31  

  • Sachin, the God

    Found an interesting article by M.J Akbar on SG and God, my two cents on it at my blog -

    Sachin-the God

    By Blogger Rakesh, at 14:33  

  • whats up with Suresh Raina not bowling at all in the Irani match??

    By Blogger Tiger, at 17:24  

  • Interesting thoughts by IM Chappell on GC Smith.

    Why is Smith captain?
    By: Ian Chappell
    October 2, 2005
    The subject of captains is currently a touchy one in world cricket; Sourav Ganguly is conducting a monumental battle of wills with coach Greg Chappell, some Australians are calling for Ricky Ponting’s head after the Ashes loss and Inzamam ul-Haq had to be dragged kicking and screaming to attend the Super Series Test match.

    However, there is one other contentious captaincy issue that is not being raised. Why is South Africa’s obdurate opener Graeme Smith captain of the World team?

    What makes Smith a terrific opening batsman is also what holds his captaincy back. He has tunnel vision when he bats and is able to concentrate purely on what he does well and avoid the shots he’s not so confident playing.

    However, he employs this same narrow vision to his captaincy and appears to lack any imagination when leading South Africa.

    To beat Australia the opposing captain has to be prepared to attack and use his initiative, as Michael Vaughan so expertly displayed in the recent Ashes series and on what I have seen so far, this is beyond Smith.

    For the sake of a good competitive match at the SCG it is to be hoped that Smith is another Superman; when he dons a different outfit he is suddenly galvanised into action.

    The current South African attack is a moderate one and hopefully when Smith is put in charge of a really good bowling side he will miraculously become a dynamic leader. I fear it is a vain hope.

    Traditionally South African captains lack understanding when it comes to the value of spin bowlers.

    They tend to rely heavily on fast and seam bowlers especially when the match is tight.

    At the SCG spin bowling could play a big part in deciding the Super Series Test and the World eleven have a destructive pair in Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori. However, both need to be employed as attacking weapons against Australia not just run as stoppers until the fast bowlers have recovered and are ready to let rip again.

    It is relatively easy to captain pace bowlers as they are by definition attacking weapons. There are currently few leaders who understand the value of attacking with spinners against a strong batting line-up and New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming is one such skipper.

    Under Fleming, Vettori has had great success against a dominant Australian batting line-up. Fleming is even better qualified in this aspect of captaincy than England’s successful skipper, as Vaughan’s only experience so far revolves around using Ashley Giles in a mainly defensive role.

    Nevertheless, either Fleming or Vaughan would have been a far better choice than Smith as captain of the World XI and I don’t buy the argument that neither could find a place as a player.

    Picking a team is about selecting the right combination not just gathering together all the best players. Without the right captain the World XI is vulnerable against an Australian side that will be hell-bent on revenge after losing The Ashes.

    A bunch of talented individuals not representing their country are going to be hard pushed to beat a skilful team playing under their own nations’ colours at the best of times.

    Unless the conglomerate has a strong leader who instills a sense of unity and a desperation to win, the team representing their country is always favoured.

    This is why selecting the right captain for the World XI was more important than ensuring the two best openers strode out to face the Australian new ball bowlers.

    The World XI would have been a stronger side with Vaughan or Fleming opening the batting in place of Smith.

    There is little difference in actual batting skill, especially when you consider Vaughan’s highly successful last tour of Australia as an opener, but the team would be greatly enhanced by the enterprising leadership of either the Englishman or the New Zealander.

    The individual brilliance of Brian Lara or Virender Sehwag may produce a scintillating innings that will provide the World XI with a highly competitive total against Australia but unless the bowling resources are properly marshalled it won’t be enough to win the match.

    I’ll bet the Australians, smarting after their defeat in England, are quietly relieved they won’t have to face a talented World bowling line-up under the wily direction of either Fleming or Vaughan.

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 17:39  

  • tiger,
    There are five specialist bowlers playing for Rest of India. Therefore, not much opportunity for Raina. He is considered more of a containing option for the shorter version of the game rather than a wicket-taking option in the longer version. First-class bowling statistics of just 1 wicket for 118 runs in 15 matches would indicate this.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 17:40  

  • Roebuck also weighs in:

    Smith's myth

    In a fortnight Graeme Smith leads the World XI into battle against the Australians. It is an honour previously bestowed only upon giants of the game such as Sir Garfield Sobers. As it happens, Sobers was not much of a captain, because he thought mostly about racing and golf, besides which his nocturnal habits would not have impressed Oliver Cromwell. Basil Butcher, who emerged from the cane fields to play alongside both men, says that Frank Worrell was the heaviest drinker he knew but adds that Sobers ran him a close second. Of course he has not met my eldest boy!

    Sobers was appointed captain because he was the team's best player. Usually it is a mistake. South Australian batsmen once asked Greg Chappell, their coach, how to deal with bouncers at Perth and he replied "either smack 'em through point or crack 'em over square leg." By and large, blokes who have to think about their games make the best captains and coaches. Of course they also need fire in their bellies. Rodin's Thinker would not have been much use in the closing minutes of a 50-over match.

    Sobers had the stature to hold the side together, for a series anyhow. Before the Rest of the World's first Test match in 1971, he wandered over to the nets to see his players, said good morning and promptly announced that he was off to Ascot races. Eddie Barlow took charge of the practice. Next day Sobers scored 150 and took five wickets.

    Smith has been chosen because the selectors felt he was the right man for the job. Two points counted in his favour. Alone among the candidates he was captaining his country. Of course, Rahul Dravid ought to be captaining India but the incumbent seems to be willing to split the camp and even the nation - the old north and south divide has reared its foolish head - in order to preserve himself. Ganguly might be better off ordering some aspic.

    Had Inzamam-Ul-haq been chosen in the original squad, as he should have been because Sachin Tendulkar has hardly been able to hold a bat for months, he might have been considered. Unfortunately Inzamam, a benevolent soul easily imagined grazing happily in the veld, does not speak much English. Moreover he is inclined to thank his God after every match, which might provoke debate in the dressing-rooms. As Osman Saluiddin, his country's most brilliant cricket writer, has observed, Pakistani cricketers have lately become more religious, a development he put down to the number of players emerging from outstations (they used to be an urban and urbane lot), the complications over match-fixing, the war in Iraq and the influence of former opener Saeed Anwar.

    Apart from his credentials as a serving captain, Smith's other strong point was that he irritated the Australians the last time the sides met. Also he talked guilelessly about the helpful remarks made on the field by Matthew Hayden and accomplices, thereby breaking the cricketing code that anything occurring on the field is sorted out on the field. Manifestly the left-hander was not worried about a backlash. At times, South African teams have fallen at the final fence, especially against the Australians. Something has been missing. It is hard to imagine them faltering under Smith, a man unbound by his country's calvinistic past.

    Clearly the selectors tried to choose the best captain and team. Only two objections can be made. Now and then Shoaib Akhtar does produce a searing spell. Mostly he huffs and puffs without blowing anything down. He has become a liability in Pakistani cricket. Although he might take wickets, he does not deserve to play. Mark Boucher is the other question mark. Arguably he is not the best keeper/batsmen in his own country. At least, though, he has performed well over the years and merits recognition.

    Of course, South Africa has the extra honour of providing both captains. Next week Shaun Pollock leads the one-day side in three matches to be played at Melbourne's Telstra stadium - the MCG is not available as they have only just stopped playing Australian Rules across it (not that the game seems to have any rules). Although lacking his successor's bite, Pollock is a thoughtful leader and a fine cricketer.

    Naturally the idea of raising a World XI to play the highest ranked cricket side on the planet has been criticised, especially in England. The guiding principle in these matters is to suck it and see. Admittedly that does not apply in every case - pony tails, nouvelle cuisine, little league baseball and The Bold and the Restless count among the things that can be rejected without a trial run. Within a fortnight, though, followers of the game will be better placed to assess the value of matches of this sort. If this meeting of the mighty cannot carve a niche between exhibition matches and Test cricket then the idea will fade away. In truth it may be trying to find ground that does not and cannot exist.


    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 17:41  

  • Rakesh,

    MJ Akbar, a respected journalist? When it comes to dignity of Muslim women, he was always on the other side advocating for the laws of Sharia. He indeed is the best man to comment on dignity!

    By Blogger bouncer, at 17:45  

  • Chappell brothers ar eon a tear here. Ganguly, Ponting, G. Smith... who do you think will be next?

    By Blogger bouncer, at 17:45  

  • I somewhat agree with Ian Chappell's views on Graeme Smith's selection as captain. Stephen Fleming would be my preference. However, the criticism of Smith regarding his handling of spin bowlers is slightly unfair. The only spinner he consistently has at his disposal is Nicky Boje. No disrespect to Boje, who is a game trier, but he is no Muttiah Muralitharan or Daniel Vettori. I would expect much more aggressive field placings from Smith with world-class spinners at his disposal. An interesting sidenote, however, is Chappell's essential endoresement of selecting a captain first, and then selecting the rest of the team. In other words, he considers the captain's position one of enough responsibility and importance that it not matter if he merit selection on the basis of his on-field statistical performance as a player. Is that not un-Australian? I for one do not buy into that theory. I would select Fleming, not because he is a better captain, but because I prefer him as an opening batsman (not by much though). The other problem with selecting Fleming or Micahel Vaughn over Smith is that neither Fleming or Vaughn open for their national sides anymore, while Smith still does. Therefore, tough choice, and one that certainly does not deserve the criticism Chappell provides it.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 17:57  

  • Yeah....Ian chappell still has this impression of Smith as a sissy...when he complained of sledging and all that a few years ago.

    But I agree with his views. This world 11 side has never played together. Hence for gelling them into an unit, the role of the captain is of paramount importance. Also remember , its SCG and hence 2 spinners should play in this 6 day match. Never mind that both Vet and Mur are finger spinners. Hence Chappell is justfied in expressing his skepticism about Smith able to harness those two as attacking bowlers.

    I would also be interested to see if Mcgill plays with Warne at the SCG. Tait as the 3rd bowler agaist batters of such caliber is a big gamble. Watson can be included now that Martyn is no more there as a 3rd seamer option. But it would weaken the batting considering that ACG is not in the best of form.

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 18:25  

  • Katich contends for one-day opening job
    By Chloe Saltau and Michael Gleeson
    October 3, 2005

    AUSTRALIA will this week begin auditions for a new one-day opener to partner Adam Gilchrist through to the 2007 World Cup, with Simon Katich leading a list of contenders to replace Matthew Hayden against the World XI.

    Gilchrist, whose fruitful opening partnership with Hayden appeared to come to an end when the selectors axed the 33-year-old Queenslander for the one-day series against Shaun Pollock's team of all-stars at Telstra Dome, suggested Test discard Damien Martyn could be a surprise choice to open the batting from Wednesday.

    Katich yesterday declared he was ready to permanently inherit Hayden's role at the top of the order and his experience as a one-day opener for NSW suggests he is the more logical choice. The other contenders are Michael Clarke, who filled in admirably for Hayden in the triangular series last summer and eventually edged him out for the finals, Mike Hussey, who has become an expert finisher at the other end of the innings, and perhaps even young Queensland all-rounder James Hopes, who opened for Australia A in Pakistan recently.

    Neither Katich nor Clarke has yet discussed a promotion with the selectors, but Clarke backed his NSW teammate to join Gilchrist as an opener as the Australians seek to defend their No. 1 ranking against a fearsome gathering of international players.

    "I don't think I will open. That's probably up to the selectors and Ricky but I've had no indication so, to me, that probably means I'm not going to do it," said Clarke, who last summer pestered captain Ricky Ponting for a chance to open.

    "There's a couple of other guys in the team who could definitely do it. I think Simon's a fantastic batter and a great opener, so he, I would imagine, is probably their first choice," Clarke added. "I don't know where the team prefers me to bat. If I'm half a chance I'll be annoying the s--- out of Ricky because I would love to do it."

    Katich said he would relish the opportunity to build on his experience as an international opener, having filled in for Hayden in New Zealand and England this year and seeing it as a chance to cement his place in the one-day side.

    "Because I've done it for NSW for the last two or three years now it's a role I guess I feel comfortable in at that level and hopefully at the international level," Katich said.

    "I guess I've had a few opportunities in the past and haven't quite grabbed them because I've had a few starts here and there, so I've got to make sure I convert those 30s and 40s into better scores."

    Gilchrist's suggestion of Martyn, who has made two one-day international centuries as an opener, could save his faltering career.

    "The thing is we have several options, Simon Katich has a wonderful domestic one day opening record and the other one I think could definitely fill that position is Damien Martyn who, I think, has done it maybe half a dozen times," Gilchrist said. "So that might be a timely change for him. We will wait and see, again I am sure the selectors have got a theory in mind."

    Gilchrist feels he has some work to do on his own batting, saying yesterday he became too defensive at times during the Ashes series and needed to play his naturally attacking style. The three one-day matches this week will give him that chance.

    "I went a little bit negative through the middle of the series trying to survive a bit and maybe curbed my attacking instincts a bit too much. It's about getting the fine balance," he said.

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 18:26  

  • Hodge, Harwood put their case
    By Lyall Johnson
    October 3, 2005

    WITH places up for grabs in Australia's batting and bowling line-ups, two Victorians put up their hands yesterday against the ICC World XI as contenders to fill the breach.

    After almost not having his contract renewed by Cricket Victoria, Bushranger quick Shane Harwood took to the World XI's top order in a bowling spell that had the fancied visitors on their knees early in their innings, and in Brian Lara's case, sitting on his backside from a lovely bouncer.

    While Brad Hodge, after a disappointing campaign in Pakistan with the Australia A side and an Ashes series in which he could not crack it for selection, hammered a brilliant 92 to almost set the Bushrangers up for victory.

    Harwood's blistering initial eight-over spell netted him 4-17 runs, with the prized scalps of Virender Sehwag for 32, Kevin Pietersen (5), Jacques Kallis (6) and Lara (9).

    And his overall figures of 4-37 could have been a lot better had it not been for three misfortunes — his skipper Cameron White dropping Rahul Dravid when he was on 61, teammate Grant Lindsay stepping on to the boundary rope as he caught a lofted Shaun Pollock hook and 15 runs being belted off his final over.

    "It's obviously my best figures in this type of cricket, it's just a shame they don't actually count," Harwood said.

    The match was the 31-year-old's first proper hitout since returning from his stint with English side St Annes, which is the home team of England superstar all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

    While Flintoff was setting the Ashes alight, it was Harwood who was taking the competition by storm, capturing 100 wickets in the season.

    It was his performance for St Annes, which won the Northern Premier league competition and has renewed Harwood's contract for next year, that made his selection in the Victorian squad hard to deny.

    Hodge batted for 154 minutes, his 92 coming from 116 balls and included six fours and two sixes.

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 18:27  

  • No third chance for renaissance man Martyn
    By Chloe Saltau
    October 3, 2005

    Damien Martyn believes the chances of reviving his Test career a second time are "slim" as the national selectors begin to orchestrate generational change, and yesterday he spoke of the need for future batsmen to have the benefit of specialist coaching following Australia's Ashes defeat.

    The 33-year-old suspects his swift tumble from the top of the world - opener Justin Langer was the only Test batsman to make more runs than him in 2004 - will be permanent, and he will seek to discover this week whether he still has a future as a one-day international batsman.

    Despite the initial shock of being culled from the Test side after a bad tour of England, Martyn remains in the squad for three one-day matches against the Rest of the World at Melbourne's Telstra Dome from Wednesday.

    However, he does not view these games as an opportunity to press his case for a Test recall. "I don't think so. I think they will go with the side they've picked and give guys a go and that's the way it is. For me there is always a chance of playing again but I think it's a slim one, probably," he said.

    Though the feeling might have been familiar - Martyn spent six years out of the Test team after a loose shot as Australia failed to chase a small target against South Africa at the SCG in 1994 - this time he is sure to handle the huge disappointment differently.

    "That day you're disappointed but I don't want it to grow and go on where you're upset and bitter about it … If that's my last Test match, well, I've had a great time, I've played 60-odd Test matches and there was a stage in '98 where I only had seven games against my name, so I look at it in a positive way," Martyn said.

    "I'm looking forward to this week. Who knows what happens after these three games, so I'll just try and enjoy it and make the most of it."

    It was only last year that Martyn made 1353 Test runs at 56.37, including six centuries, and played a crucial role in Australia's series victories in Sri Lanka and India. But in England, after his important 65 in the first Test at Lord's, Martyn struggled and finished with a series average of 19.77.

    "You always think about the last 18 months, India and Sri Lanka and all the hard yards you did, so it's disappointing that the series ended that way," he said. "You think about that … but I suppose in a five-Test series my numbers stood out as not being great, we lost the series and changes get made."

    Martyn said there could be a role for specialist coaches in future, particularly when younger players were promoted to the national team.

    Cricket Australia is reviewing its operations and will decide whether to extend coach John Buchanan's contract, amid calls from critics for a more hands-on approach.

    "For batting and bowling it's such a hard game that unless you've got someone who can understand both I think you need both," said Martyn, who felt Buchanan alone should not be blamed for the Ashes loss.

    "The blame can't be solely on anyone because most of us didn't do well. As a group we just didn't hit our straps."

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 18:30  

  • Gilchrist vows to wrest balance of power from Flintoff
    By Michael Gleeson
    October 3, 2005

    Rediscovering the balance between attack and defence is the key to countering his new nemesis, Andrew Flintoff, and the round-the-wicket off-stump ploy, Adam Gilchrist said yesterday.

    After enduring the worst series with the bat of his stellar career, and being victim to a new and well-executed plan to bowl at him around the wicket and pepper his off stump, Gilchrist concedes he failed to find that balance for periods during the losing Ashes series. "I would like to think I have more than what I offered in that series to come in the future," he said yesterday. "I have proven that I can do it previously."

    The Australia vice-captain's form was one of the biggest disappointments of the tour as he managed only 181 runs at 22.62 with a top score of 49 not out. "I think the England bowling restricted what I was able to do," he said. "It was a tough tough series for all batsmen on both sides, but … they planned well, executed well and, in particular, Freddie was outstanding.

    "He obviously had a great plan for me and one he did really well … by the end of it I was getting myself past him but then maybe taking my eye off the ball a bit when I was facing Hoggy [Matthew Hoggard] and a few others.

    "They won that battle for sure and it has given me things to go away and think about. I didn't change too many things and I tried to make subtle changes in certain things to try to overcome what Flintoff was doing. I made the comment and still stand by it that I went a little bit negative through the middle of the series, trying to survive a bit and maybe culled my attacking instincts a bit too much. It's about getting the fine balance.

    "I will just keep trying the things I was working on. By the end of the series in England I was getting through Freddie … but the challenge is sustaining it against everyone."

    Gilchrist said Flintoff was deservedly acclaimed for the series which established him in cricket's elite.

    "Freddie is, I think, the most valuable cricketer in the world, along with Shane Warne, at the moment," he said.

    "Those two were the stand-out performers of that series and they have every reason at this moment in time to lay claim to being the two guys you would want in your team."

    Australia have returned from the series to rare criticism and calls for change, though with the next Ashes series in Australia just over a year away, Gilchrist believes the Australian squad will be substantively the same.

    He said: "It's human nature that you ask yourself an honest question of how did you do? If you can answer that honestly 'not as well as I would have hoped or probably could have done', you are going to be a bit prickly as to what someone else is going to say … but I certainly haven't been exposed to anything personally that's over the top."

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 18:30  

  • All-round view may invigorate team
    By Brendan McArdle
    October 1, 2005

    THINGS have changed dramatically since Australia won the past World Cup with a Test-class pace attack. The next tournament in the West Indies in 2007 could feature as few as two specialist bowlers in the starting XI, with the balance of the bowling done by all-rounders.

    The need to reinvigorate the one-day team was the first glaring issue apparent at the end of the recent Ashes tour. Already Matthew Hayden and Jason Gillespie have paid the price in this process.

    The other big issue — spreading the bowling load in the Test team — is also being tackled, as the reintroduction of the Shane Watson experiment for the coming meeting with the World XI in Sydney demonstrates.

    All-rounders may well become the flavour of the summer. We could see as many as four in the one-day team and, while Adam Gilchrist is still playing, there is the flexibility to try one in the Test XI.

    The bowling depth of the Test side will consume most interest over the coming months. Our days of being spoilt by Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, and relying on just four bowlers, appear to be numbered. As shown during the Ashes series, the back-up bowling is in disarray.

    The likes of Shaun Tait need time to find their feet, so the solution for now could lie in providing extra support from a Watson-type all-rounder. Certainly the strength of the World X1 batting will add weight to such thinking for Sydney.

    Of course, the victim of all this is Damien Martyn. His situation is remarkably similar to that of Michael Slater four years ago — a good player with a good record who simply refuses to acknowledge what he did wrong in the just-completed series.

    In truth, Martyn's predicament is his own doing. He was unwilling to adapt his game to England's tactics. He will be aggrieved by his punishment and wonder why others have been retained ahead of him. Brad Hodge is there, but is unlikely to play in Sydney given that Stuart MacGill is a virtual certainty. Simon Katich has earned more chances after many setbacks, while Michael Clarke is our future.

    Possibly the selectors are just giving him a jolt. Three Tests against the West Indies are coming up, and it may be decided that their poor results don't warrant extra bowling depth from the Australians. Whatever happens, Martyn must grit his teeth and compete with Katich and Hodge for a spot rather than engage in a slanging match with Merv Hughes.

    The restructuring of the one-day team is on in earnest. Every match between now and the 2007 World Cup is about getting game time into our best young one-day cricketers.

    Hayden's omission started last summer, but was handled sensitively because of the Ashes series that followed. Now Clarke, Katich or James Hopes will open the batting and provide opportunities for other young players in the middle order. Phil Jaques will also come into the equation.

    Andrew Symonds and Watson will be definite starters in 2007, along with Brett Lee, who qualifies as an all-rounder in this form of the game. Clarke's spinners could also be used.

    Hopes and project player Cameron White, who both recently made centuries in Pakistan for Australia A, will be given opportunities this summer. Their roles will involve bowling four or five overs in addition to some hard-hitting batting and lively fielding.

    White has been earmarked for some time. Brad Hogg has done nothing wrong since he replaced Warne in the one-day side, but one senses that the selectors will look for the slightest opportunity to replace the old with the new.

    Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns has played a vital role in the success of Australian cricket for a long time now. He has presided over some tough decisions and is an excellent visionary.

    We should have every confidence in him as Australian cricket goes through its transition over the next couple of years.

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 18:32  

  • Selectors' White flag an all-round failure
    By Darren Berry
    October 2, 2005

    Cameron White; can do, can't play.

    The International Cricket Council one-day super series kicks off in Melbourne on Wednesday under the roof of Telstra Dome, and the Australian team again has no representative from Victoria.

    Trevor Hohns, as chairman of selectors, has done an excellent job over a long period now and should be commended for his brave and bold decisions; however, this time, he and his fellow selectors have made a slight blunder. Hohns is constantly referring to rebuilding a team to defend the World Cup and with this in mind, the selection of Brad Hogg ahead of Cameron White is mind-boggling.

    Taking nothing away from Hogg, who is universally admired for squeezing every ounce out of his god-given talents, the time was perfect to move forward. At almost 35 years of age in an increasingly young man's environment, surely Hogg has a limited shelf life. It should not be forgotten that last year, he could not even get a game for his state side, yet the Australian selectors continued to pick him.

    In one breath, the selectors look progressive by picking James Hopes, then in the next almost farcical by persisting with Hogg. In White, they would lose perhaps a fraction with the ball but obtain a much more damaging batsman. In the most recent Australia A series in Pakistan, White at times was destructive with the bat in the middle order, which is often where games are won and lost. It is fair to say the young Victorian still has a fair way to go before we could call him a spinner of international quality, but then again, Hogg is not exactly world-class, either.

    With the future in mind, the selection of Stuart MacGill in the Test squad also puzzles me. Unquestionably, his record is outstanding and he should have been rewarded during the recent Ashes series, especially at Old Trafford and quite possibly even at the Oval in the deciding Test.

    The selectors chose to ignore him as they believed Shane Warne does enough bowling for two. But even the great Warne needs a rest at times, which was clearly evident during the Oval Test match. The English would have had a few more concerns if MacGill was on the ground instead of mixing cordial as he did for the entire trip. Shane Watson also has been included in the Test squad, which suggests he will occupy one of the middle-order batting positions and offer the balance to the attack to allow MacGill to play.

    The revelation of Andrew Flintoff as the world's premier all-rounder has the Australian selectors scratching their heads. Adam Gilchrist for years has performed this role, but his failure in front of the sticks during the Ashes exposed a problem that Australia has faced for many years. We simply do not have a world-class genuine all-rounder. The last one, if the truth be known, was the late Keith Miller.

    The selectors have now put their faith in Watson and their "Hopes" into James. Both men are worthy of an opportunity but they could have killed two birds with the one stone if they had included White in their squad for the one-off, six-day Test against the World XI.

    White has three strings to his bow that would still allow the team balance and potency. First and foremost, he would be the second spinner to Shane Warne, both very different bowlers, although of the same craft. What an opportunity for young White to work alongside Warne, his boyhood idol, on such a big stage.

    MacGill will never replace Warne and the only interest now lies with who retires first. If White had been selected, the team not only would have had a young man with a solid temperament, but a player for the next decade.

    I still vividly remember a similar young blond Victorian on debut at the same venue 15 years ago. He, too, was rushed in a little before his time and asked to sink or swim. History shows Warne has swum the length of the Atlantic and is still swimming. In fact, it looks like he has put some flippers on for his last few laps, even though he has taken them out of his repertoire.

    Secondly, White can fill the all-rounder's position by batting at No. 6 or No. 7, depending on where the wicketkeeper bats. He, like Flintoff, murders the ball when he gets going and in the long run may turn out a better bat than he is a bowler. This, then, allows the Australians to play their three best front-line quicks plus Warne with support from White, who could be a difficult proposition if the Test goes the distance. The side is still well balanced and gives flexibility to an attack that has looked rather mundane recently.

    The final string to the young Victorian's bow is his extremely safe hands in the slips. Since the retirements of Mark Taylor and then Mark Waugh, our slip cordon has been inconsistent. Warne has been very good but has grassed a few too many recently and standing alongside him, a variety of players have come and gone in the crucial catching positions. White would easily shore up one of the vacancies in our fumbling cordon.

    The Ashes have been lost and some casualties were always going to be the result. Damien Martyn was unlucky, perhaps, but with the closing of one door, another opens. The selectors have gone with Watson and stuck with MacGill to patch the holes, but don't be surprised in the very near future if it's not White and Hopes jostling for position as the search continues for the next great Australian all-rounder.

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 18:33  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Raju, at 18:56  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Raju, at 18:57  

  • For my view on the teams selected for the ICC XI, please visit here

    By Blogger Raju, at 19:03  

  • will someone PLEASE let me know which channel is showing the SuperSeries in the United Arab Emirates..thats DUBAI!..GODDAMN MORONS everywhere on the net seem to be unable to answer that question!..GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!

    By Blogger TheChowmeinWarrior, at 19:48  

  • probably tensports, thechowmeinwarrior.

    i checked the schedule and they only have 2 hr highlights scheduled now. quite sure they'll show it though.

    otherwise just subscribe to set max.

    By Blogger Dhruv Deepak, at 22:49  

  • One thing I have always noticed as a big difference between Eng/Aus and Our players. They always talk in a candid and honest manner. Remember Shane Warne on nightmares/ Tendulkar and Gilly above. In contrast we have complete nuts who compare there avg ( made agst zim/bang) with others. In fact there are very few Indian players who talk in a frank manner.

    By Blogger J, at 00:26  

  • Kartik has done extremely well in the ongoing Irani trophy. Picked 2-34 off 12 overs and hit 96 on a wicket with uneven bounce, which is the highest score from both sides. "On a surface where run-scoring was never easy, Kartik batted with a fluency that was beyond most batsmen on either side, smacking 13 fours and a six in his 135-ball effort", reported Cricinfo.

    Kartik has also played county cricket. Does anyone know how his record was there?

    By Blogger Deepak, at 02:06  

  • thanks dhruv deepak..dunno..do u get set max here?..hope ten sports shows it though...

    good stuff by Kartik eh?..pity he gets such a short shift at international level..i think he could easily be as good as harbhajan if not better..plus he bats much better than him..but anyway..

    laters..thanks again dhruv

    By Blogger TheChowmeinWarrior, at 03:33  

  • Karthik is a good fielder as well. He is better than Bhajji in all the depts, except in having a big mouth and a bloated ego :-)

    By Blogger Deepak, at 04:24  

  • Deepak,

    Karthik bowled really well in the few county games he played (getting 10 wickets in one of them).

    I also saw him bowl (very well) in the last limited overs game against Wostershire.

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 05:52  

  • thechowmein.... you know what, you're right. SET max isnt there in the UAE, only Sony is.
    Better hope Tensports connects to it live, or FOX sports shows it (they showed the Ashes I believe, if that helps any)!

    oooh, this is what I found on Khaleej Times:

    “Channel 9 Australia will be the host broadcaster for the series and provide a world feed service to Sony Entertainment Television (SET) in Asia and the Middle East, BSkyB in the UK, Super Sport in Africa, the Caribbean Media Corporation in the Caribbean, Sky New Zealand and Echostar in North America,” an ICC statement said.

    Maybe Sony will switch from its original programming

    By Blogger Dhruv Deepak, at 05:55  

  • Hi Saurabh,
    I believe Bhajji didn't even get 10 wickets in the entire county season 2005 :-) He took wickets at an avg of 70 runs per wicket. He was a miserable failure and had this to say after it was over - "Since the last time I was here (county cricket), the English have learnt to play spin well" !!!! What a loser and an embarassment.

    By Blogger Deepak, at 06:30  

  • Hi ChowmeinWarrior,

    heard that the games are on willow.tv for US$ 39.00

    And out of curiosity, how do you fight? With Chopsticks?

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 07:53  

  • lol saurabh wahi..yep..and occasionally use deadly dumplings too..:D..thanks for the info on willow.tv doubt if it'll work though..UAE's got a crappy net service..:p..
    guess i'll have to pin my hopes on TenSports..or else follow the score updates on cricinfo..

    By Blogger TheChowmeinWarrior, at 08:16  

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