Archive for January 17th, 2008

Indian Cricket: pre and post Sunil Gavaskar

January 17, 2008

As the Perth test unfolds,  Indian team tries another attempt to have a new opening batting partnership that of Wasim Jaffer and Virender Sehwag. And as usual, it has not worked.

Since 1987, when Sunil Gavaskar retired India has had trouble with opening batsman. Numerous combinations have been tried- 2 specialist openers,  specialist opener with a middle order batsman, specialist opener with a wicketkeeper etc. But nothing has really worked except is short phases.

The problem has been acute especially when we travel overseas where ball swings and comes at a good pace. Hence, we have poor records overseas. The situation improved lately when our middle order sustained the pressure and Sehwag performed well at top.  But then, with the calibur of India’s middle order, we should have won or atleast drawn more matches.

Now, all this is pure hypothetical stuff based on viewing cricket for a long time. So I decided to check with facts. Here is the summary (Thanks to cricinfo for providing such a useful database):

Before Gavaskar

  % of played












During Gavaskar















After Gavaskar












My hypothesis is not really wrong and it shows that both number of draws and wins increased in Gavaskar’s time and since then things have detriorated quite a bit. This is actually not a bad thing at all. India did not have pace bowlers (except Kapil Dev, he bowled his heart out) and we needed batsman to save the tests. I don’t mean Gavaskar contributed entirely to the draws but in his time both the winning % and the number of draws increased.

The winning % has improved post Gavaskar but both % of draws and losses have increased. This is exactly what I mentioned above. Given the quality of our middle order, if not wins we should atleast see more draws. But that is not the case.

To win a test match you need to take 20 wickets and I would guess maximum contribution to the winning cause has been made by now Indian captain, Anil Kumble. This piece of statistic just proves my point. He has been an unsung hero for long and the day he retires the loss will be as big (if not less or more) than Gavaskar.

(I know most would be interested in comparing the home record with away record as well. Keep posted. I am working on it.)


Traffic management and financial crisis

January 17, 2008

While just walking after office for home yesterday I saw a huge traffic mess outside the historic CST railway station. This may not be new to people working in that area in Mumbai but a thought just struck me.

The place has traffic signals but because of some malfunctioning there was a problem. The outcome was everyone trying to jump signals and big confusion. As that road has fair share of traffic, one can imagine the scene.

The result was there weer traffic policemen who were trying to control the situation. However, the number of vehicles were so many that the traffic inspector was struggling to manage the situation. I believe it must have started with one traffic inspector but as situation got worse, more had to come and help the first person.

The situation is quite similar to what we see in financial markets. The traffic signals are like your various risk management techniques (VARs etc) and when things are going on well, all is ok.

However, in case of a disruption in traffic the signs are very similar to the ones in financial markets. (Note the similarity- when lights not working- someone’s risk exposures gone wrong, some vehicle having problems- some financial company having problems etc. )

And just like things become chaotic on a road in times of disruptions, similar is the scenario in financial markets.

And finally, just like when things become too chaotic, we need a traffic policeman to sort out things, similarly we need the central bankers/ policymakers to sort out problems in the financial markets.

This thought also helped me go back to a question I keep asking myself- why economists look at traffic, cars etc. to explain so many things? Answer is it just fits the entire spectrum of things in markets and economy so well.

Here is Bernanke explaining monetary policy and Jeff Frankel explaining financial globalization using very similar analogies.

Assorted Links

January 17, 2008

1. Econbrower says despite rising inflation, Fed looks more likely to cut rates


2. Lawrence Summers has been a big advocate for fiscal stimulus. He testified for the recent JEC hearing on the same. WSJ Blog summarizes Summers’ comments


3. MR points to a long article on Bernanke regime. WSJ Blog has a brief summary of the article


4. The latest beige book shows that only New York, Richmond and Dallas reported slower economies, compared to the previous survey period. Reason – the majority of districts had big increases in tourism, in part because the weak dollar is luring foreign visitors to the U.S.


5. WSJ Blog reviewsa paper by one of my favorite economists- Luigi Zingales. The paper says parents’ attitude effects children’s investment behavior.


6. Fin Prof points to an article on shareholders vs bondholders


7. EPSA blog covers cyclone affected areas in B’Desh


8. MR on congestion pricing. Also read how Indian cuisine is getting popular over the years.


9.  JRV onSEBI surveillance

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