Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category

Pakistan are built to fail in T20..

April 1, 2016

Nice analysis of Pakistan Cricket’s recent exit from World T20 by Hassan Cheema. For an Indian cricket fan growing up in 1980s and 1990s one was always awed by might of Pakistan cricket team. The way they regularly beat India was something which frustrated and angered most. But one could also not help but admire the craft especially of swing bowling.

Now most of it is just getting disintegrated. Pakistan is barely a threat to India now in either ODIs or T20s. The media can keep creating the hype over the contest but in reality there is none. The odds of a Pakistan win against India is the same as an Indian win against Pakistan in the past.  This obviously means really low odds.

Cheema says we should not be surprised by the recent exit. Pakistan is completely clueless about the various forms of cricket matches being played today. They think all three – Tests, One dayers and T20 can be played with similar players/teams:

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The tough story of Suresh Raina’s rise in Cricket world..

March 16, 2016

Earlier Indian cricket team mostly comprised of people from top cities (mainly Mumbai). Yes there was struggle but there were atleast some opportunities for them to play in big cities and be counted.

In recent times, one is seeing cricketers emerge from all kinds of places. There have been some poignant stories of such cricketers  – Ravindra Jadeja, Munaf Patel, Ajinkya Rahane (from Mumbai though but lot of struggle) etc.

Here is another one on Suresh Raina. A stirring tale of how he managed to survive all those attacks in UP and rise to play cricket for India..

A Maritn Crowe moment for NZ cricket..

March 16, 2016

The inaugaral match of World T20 2016 between India and NZ started with paying a tribute to the former NZ captain who passed away recently.

And there could not have been a better way to pay tribute to the New Zealand great Martin Crowe. For those who remember the 1992 WC, the first match was between NZ and Australia. Australia was a brimming favorite to win the tournament and lost the first match to its neighbour. In that match, Crowe the captain opened the bowling with Dipak Patel which was such an innovation back then.

In a sublime rhyming of history, NZ sprang the same surprises on India. It chose three spinners and left out all its premier fast bowlers. The three spinners were also relatively unknown faces like Dipak Patel.

This one is even better. Beating India on a spinning Indian track is like crazy. Moreover, it is spin which has actually been the weakness of NZ for a long time. India has struggled against spin in test matches recently but to see this in T20 was a surprise.

Good stuff from NZ. The spunk remains after McCullum’s retirement. Crowe would be really proud to see this..

RIP Martin Crowe..

March 3, 2016

Martic Crowe just passed away after his long fight with Cancer. His piece in World Cup 2015 when NZ entered finals was a really painful one even for non-followers.

For my generation of cricket followers, the WC 1992 and Martin Crowe’s innovations will always be deeply etched in memory. Getting up early to watch the matches in Australia and New Zealand is always a delight and to NZ team competing so well was a delight and shock for most.

Here is a tribute by Gideon Haigh..

The birth of Sri Lanka as a test playing nation..

February 17, 2016

This piece was written by Martin Williamson in March 2012.

It still makes for a good read for cricket (and history) buffs:

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Is it time for franchise-based Test cricket? Well this is how cricket was actually started..

February 12, 2016

Michael Jeh has a food for thought piece on reviving/continuing interest in test match cricket.

He says as there is little interest in test matches but interest has picked up hugely in club/franchise based T-20s. So, should we move test matches to the club format as well? He reflects on this while watching this movie – Death of a Gentleman (test match) – which should be a great watch.

 

However tempting it is to lampoon the ruthless chieftains who often treat the sport as if it were their private property, I’d like instead to put forth a bizarre idea that emerged from thinking about the future of Test cricket in the shadow of the T20 beast – the Franchise Frankenstein monster. Can Test cricket find salvation in the franchise model? Do acronyms like the IPL, BBL and CPL offer some hope of CPR for this elderly gentleman?

Think about it: if we can move so far from the traditions of cricket as to have third umpires, pink balls, day-night Tests, free hits and miked-up players in an international match, can Test cricket be saved by adopting a franchise model, even if it means “selling” the national flag? A controversial thought, I know, but is Test cricket ready to move from patriotism to pragmatism? Are we ready for the long-form game where teams are made up of players from different nations, perhaps each based in a particular country, with x number of international players per franchise, like in the IPL or Big Bash? With clever selection and marketing, some sense of national identity can be retained, but with international flavour. The ODI and T20 World Cups can still satisfy our need for patriotism and the sheer poetic genius of chants like “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.”

The film charts the rise and rise of the franchise model, where the IPL is the benchmark. Chris Gayle, not usually someone whose words I pay much attention to, was surprisingly eloquent when explaining why it was a no-brainer to choose the life of a T20 mercenary over being a relatively poorly paid Test cricketer. So it raises the question: if we are to save Test cricket, do we need to think outside the square and create a competition where there is enough money, for administrators and cricketers, to woo them to the long-form game? It is undeniable that for most stakeholders money remains the ultimate motivator, despite anything they might say in public about the pride of representing your country, Test cricket being the supreme challenge, and so on.

He talks about WI cricket:

I suppose the question is: do we value the format more than we value the notion of country v country? If you look at the case of West Indies, it isn’t even strictly country v country, comprised as they are of a band of disparate nations. That they have been able to play with pride for so long is a miracle in itself. So, is Test cricket only of interest because it pits countries against each other or is the actual format of the game worth saving?

International schedules are now planned around the IPL. Domestic cricket is being played overseas, Pakistan have home games in the Middle East, the IPL was played in South Africa and the UAE, Irishmen have played for England and then gone back to Ireland, umpires wear helmets. Australia hand out international caps to fringe players because the first team are on the plane to New Zealand. Players are rested because they might get injured (that worked!). Australia has always prided itself on how hard it is to get an international cap but it has now got to the stage where if you are a regular on the domestic circuit and don’t have a Test, ODI or T20 cap by the end of your career, you’ve almost underachieved.

All cricket boards still wax lyrical about the primacy of Test cricket but it is clearly now a hollow truth. If our love of the format and the unique skill sets that it brings to the game can transcend blind patriotism, perhaps, just perhaps, we can save the gentleman from death by neglect.

Interesting bit.

But then this is nothing new really. AS far as I have read, this is how cricket was originally played. For many years England Cricket team was actually the Marylebone Cricket Club team. Before we had IPL, BPL and so on we had BCCI, ACB and so on. These were nothing but private clubs/boards. Just that players were picked from within the country but even this was not strictly true. How these boards etc were eventually made to represent national teams is something worth knowing about. Infact, experts say one reason for lack of regulation and eventual problems in Indian cricket is the way BCCI has been organised.

I don’t know much about the topic though. But it is fascinating really.  Will people watch test matches if we go back to the franchise model?

What matters more the form or the substance?

One can immediately connect this to economics of organisations. We often debate in economics over which is a better model to provide a good/service? Should one make the product or just outsource the same?

Who is the best cricket commentator on TV?

February 2, 2016

Cricket Monthly’s latest edition (Feb-2016) asks this question to a panel of experts.

The answers range from Richie Benaud (but obvious) to Naseer Hussain (who expresses himself rather freely).

 

How lack of self-regulation made BCCI a mismanaged organisation..

February 1, 2016

Sharda Ugra has another notable column on how Lodha report is trying to fix the BCCI led misgovernance of Indian cricket. I mean how many sports journalists can write for EPW and do a great job.

The Lodha Committee report has been cataclysmic for the Board of Control for Cricket in India because of the precedent it has set. The highest court in the country has wrenched the BCCI’s door off its hinges and from now on, it cannot be fixed in the way the board would want it to be. The report has the power to become the lodestone through which India’s substandard sports governance can be reined in. It is also a case study of how a lack of self-regulation can lead to an independent, autonomous sports organisation mismanaging itself to within the reach of the law.

Her comments which I have emphasised are really interesting from economics point of view as well. After all, much of the discussion post 2008 crisis has been around these issues of regulation, self-regulation, mismanagement etc. It also tells you how there is no easy answer while trying to design organisations.

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Why South African test team did not get its laurels?

January 28, 2016

What a piece by Jarrod Kimber of espncricinfo.com. In these days when all kinds of journalism is getting mediocre and flashy one wonders what keeps the espncricinfo.com writers going. I  mean one piece after the other. This one by Kimber is couple of notches above their usual good standards as well.

This one is on the South African test team. This is a team which despite a terrific test record between 2006-15 (till India and recent Englad series which they lost badly) does not get any the same laurels. Leave laurels, they are not even mention anywhere. The One Day choker ghost sticks to them despite they performing much better in the gold standards of cricket – test matches. Even better is their performance away from home.

So what is special about the period 2006-15? Well, the team did not lose a single test series away from home in the same period:

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Fly Lara fly — The method behind the genius, the early-morning vision behind the epics

January 20, 2016

This is a brilliant piece by Rahul Bhattacharya on cricket writing and on the batsmanship of Brian Charles Lara.

It takes you to the mind games played by Lara while playing some pivotal knocks. Most of these knocks were played with West Indies in a slide which make them even more special. More than mind games it was more about conquering the mind.

Lara is a beautiful name. Rhythmic, small and epic. It is a classic film theme, an animated heroine, and in cricket it is a poem that sings like a song. Like in Jean “Binta” Breeze’s “Song for Lara”:

if de bowler fine a reason
ah will answer wid a rhyme
any kine a riddim
in mi own time

The answers in any kind of riddim, the innings orchestral. They beat about the body, stay in the system. Like steel band resonation, like the Renegades doing “Pan in a Rage”, or “Four Lara Four” for that matter, batting that vibrates long after it is over, slowing perhaps but never coming to a stop.

That is one way (though only one) of thinking about the results of the Cricket Monthly exercise. It’s a list tingling with the Larasensation. Consider his rough contemporaries who have no entries in the 50: Sanga, Jayawardene, Inzamam, Chanderpaul, Hayden, Kirsten, Ponting, Kallis, Tendulkar. Lara? Four. For the 50 years in consideration, nobody has as many, batsman, bowler or allrounder. Four Lara Four! All four in the top 30, three in the top 20, one of those in the top five: 153 not out in Barbados.

This is an article about remembering Lara and what I remembered is something that he remembered when I interviewed him in 2002 and which I had been curious about ever since.

Does a lot of justice remembering the West Indian batting legend..

The top 50 test match performances in last 50 years..

January 4, 2016

Cricket Monthly has been running this series for a couple of weeks. It is ranking the top 50 test match performances in the last 50 years. There was a panel of 25 cricket experts who sat through ranking these performances.

As they started in the descending order with 41-50 and so on, I was pretty sure VVS Laxman’s Calcutta knock would top the list. And for a change, my one forecast has been right. VVS it is:

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Decline of West Indian cricket: A case of too much government intervention?

December 28, 2015

The West Indian cricket in many ways is like Japanese economy. Both peaked in mid-1980s and have just struggled ever since. Just that Japan has somehow maintained its stagnation levels but West Incies cricket keep finding new ways to decline further. One is waiting for a recovery which has become a perennial issue.

Tony Cosier has a piece on decline of WI cricket. He says that it was the govt which led to decline of the WI cricket and is also not allowing to recover (how often we hear and see that in economics too):

It is known that each of the three committees to review the board’s governance over the past eight years advised urgent change. The reports of the committees headed by former Jamaica prime minister PJ Patterson and St Kitts and Nevis Queen’s Counsel Charles Wilkin called for the reduction in the number of directors and the introduction of independents. The Barriteau report, the most recent, was presented in early November. It went further with its demand for the WICB’s dissolution and its eventual replacement by a significantly restructured board.

The WICB’s resistance was as predictable as Nanthan’s charge that the report was by “some CARICOM governments and their academic functionaries”, as he put it is his press interview. He accused governments of not supporting cricket in schools, ignoring the fact that the greats of West Indies cricket, from Headley to Sobers to Lara, needed no government funding to make them the players they became. The development of their vast talent came mainly through grounding at clubs. Since the 1960s, this has been augmented by the several state-appointed sports councils that provide coaches for schools.

Instead, Nanthan sought to place the WICB’s shortcomings at the feet of governments. In other words, the fall from glory to irrelevance was theirs, not the WICB’s.

He claimed it cost the WICB US$1 million to train a player from Under-15 to international level. If so, the question must be asked why so few have reached that standard over the past two decades while there has been a stream out of other countries, most recently Joe Root of England, Steve Smith of Australia, Virat Kohli of India and Kane Williamson of New Zealand.

Compare this to Aus and NZ openness to changing things:

The WICB’s approach is in direct contrast to the openness of Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket when confronted by comparable proposals for changes to their constitutions and their structures.

Australia, perennially a powerhouse of the international game, commissioned two independent assessors four years ago to review its board’s governance. It put the advice of the Crawford-Carter report into use, replacing state delegates with independent directors, who did not necessarily have strong cricket connections. It was a radical change, now generally regarded as a success.

Two years later New Zealand’s provincial associations unanimously approved a change to theirboard’s constitution, reducing its number of directors to eight, all independent. Since then, they have shot up from among the also-rans in the ICC rankings to mid-table. They are now a genuinely competitive force.

The difference is that Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket didn’t need governments to prompt them into action. They recognised the deficiencies of an outdated system and took action to change it. In spite of all the evidence, the WICB remains satisfied with the way it governs the game in a region of ten separate, independent governments, united only by a game that brought international recognition for excellence to the mini-states of the cricket Caribbean.

All this reads so similar to economics discussions..We see many simple economics ideas not moving as people are trying to protect their turfs and are hesitant to change..

What began as a technical tweak for one Aussie batsman is now a nationwide fad..

November 18, 2015

Superb article by Sb Tang in Cricket Monthly. He looks at this habit of Aussie batsmen’s stance while facing the bowlers. Some batters tap the pitch as bowler steams in whereas others keep their bats up showing their stumps. The tapping bit is how it has been traditionally done. But recently the option to keep bats up has picked up leading to technical deficiency in batsmen.

And who was behind this bat-up stance? Ironically, Mr. Cricket Michael Hussey:

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Is cricket the greatest of all sports?

November 4, 2015

Ian McDonald (a poet, novelist and columnist who lives in Guyana) has a romantic piece in cricinfo.com (what will one do without this site, what terrific pieces one after the other!). He does not ask the question as posed in the post title but says it is the best game:

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Why Gandhi would have been appalled by the Gandhi-Mandela Trophy?

November 2, 2015

A nice historical piece by Ram Guha on the topic. He says given Gandhi’s dislike for sports, he would have been amazed by his name being given to a cricket series between India and South Africa.

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A brief profile of Javed Miandad..

September 22, 2015

Rajdeep Sardesai has a piece on Javed Miandad. He obviously starts with the match and the moment which causes so much anger amidst Indian cricket fans.

No matter how much we Indians like to hate him, nothing can take away from the cricketer he was particularly playing against India. Till he was around, no match could be considered as won. And what running between the wickets. You would not even realise when he has moved to 30s and 40s as most runs were made via running between the wickets.

Nostalgic stuff.

 

Are fast/greentop pitches in India the reason for poor spin show?

August 19, 2015

India’s recent losses in test matches has led to two stark revelations. One – our batters seem to be struggling big time against spin. Two – our spin cupboard is almost empty barring Ashwin whose performance outside sub-continent is still to be seen. Not too long ago, India seemed to be in surplus on both these factors and has suddenly become a deficit. I mean this is much like an economy which appears a tiger till the crisis exposes leads to all kinds of issues.

The recent loss to SL was outright shocking. SL which despite producing smashing cricketers hardly gets the attention. If Indian cricketers had done such a daylight heist, there would have been huge media coverage. It was all so shocking. The problem was not as much the second factor (as Ashwin bowled well) but the first one where we just could not chase a paltry 170 odd runs.

There are two articles which suggest it is the recent convert from spin pitches to fast pitches which is leading to the problem. First by the always briiliant Sharda Ugra and second by Karthik Krishnswamy.

India was losing regularly and badly to swinging and grassy pitches outside sub-continent. This led BCCI to make a rule in 2011 to leave 4 inch grass on the pitches which after an inning was always rolled. The result was spinners did not have a say in the game at all. As a result, even batters lost the patience etc needed to play spin.

First Ugra:

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Guess who offers Greece a bailout? International Cricket Council!!

July 6, 2015

James Marsh has a great piece in cricinfo.com on this proposed bailout package.

It is both funny and nasty. Mixes the Greece and ICC politics really well:

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The reasons for Bangladesh team’s recent success (and some history) in cricket…

June 22, 2015

Boria Majumdar, a cricket historian has an article on what explains Bangladesh’s surge in ODI cricket. This was written before the country registered its second emphatic win against India y’day:

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How English ODI Cricket has transformed itself overnight and why England pitches are becoming so flat?

June 18, 2015

One could watch any match in cricket but not a One Day International involving England. I don’t know but the team has never been exciting to watch. Infact why just the audience even the players seem to be disinterested. However, the team was different while playing in whites where atleast there was some intensity to fight. It was difficult to figure why Eng was so poor in shorter formats. They had a decent county cricket setup where ODIs were played as well. It may not have been test level quality but should not have been this poor in ODIs.

But boy, how things have changed. And that too in overnight. There were talks of English Cricket Board building a new team for ODI but those talks have been on for ages. Just that this time, they have  actually walked the talk. More than them, it is the players who have for a change delivered and that too with such gusto. It has surprised one and all.

The recent ongoing series between NZ and Eng is easily one of the most exciting series ever to be played. More so, coming from a team like England. We all thought NZ has set the bar really high in terms of attacking cricket. But this Eng team wants to prove a point and they are doing it really well. It has been one superlative performance after the other. It is one thing that admin gives you licence to kill (and thrill), completely another that the team actually takes the licence seriously and goes on a spree.

In the first ODI they fired a 400 plus total first time for England.  They followed this will three 300 plus scores in all the following three matches, another record. Y’day they chased 350 with such ease in just 44 overs. In the 3rd ODI they made 302 in 45 overs and were all out. If they batted all 50, they could have set NZ a much higher score to chase and perhaps won the match.

And guess what the Eng captain Eoin Morgan said post match yday (he was man of the match as well):

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