Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category

Is it reverse swing or contrast swing? Spotting the differences..

January 30, 2017

Ever since Pakistan bowlers showed the potential of Reverse swing, it has been a huge area of interest with cricketers and commentators alike.

However, there is a difference between reverse swing(when ball moves differently in the air) and contrast swing (when it moves differently due to surface differences).

Rabi Mehta and Garfield Robinson explain the differences:


Which players would make it to an all-time XI of Bombay/Mumbai cricket team?

January 5, 2017

Sankaran Krishna, professor of political science at the University of Hawaii chips in with his best Bombay eleven.


India’s best cricket players who never featured in the National Test team…

January 2, 2017

Ram Guha has an interesting piece on the topic.

…..a cricket fan in his thirties asked me; “Who was the best cricketer never to play for India?” He himself thought it must be Amol Muzumdar, the fine Mumbai batsman who was coached by Ramkant Achrekar, as were Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Pravin Amre and Anil Agarkar, all of whom were capped often for India. However, despite an outstanding Ranji Trophy record, Muzumdar never played for the country himself.

While conceding that Muzumdar was unlucky, I told my questioner that his preference betrayed a twin bias: On behalf of his own generation, and on behalf of batsmen. I have now been watching first-class cricket for close to 50 years. Based on this experience, my own candidate for the best player never to play for India would be a bowler. Among the cricketers I have myself watched, I would pick either Rajinder Goel or Padmakar Shivalkar.


A short history of cricket in Hindi cinema

October 17, 2016

There are three things which Indians are usually mad about- politics, cricket and movies.

Baradwaj Rangan a film critic and an associate editor with the Hindu in this piece mixes cricket with movies.

He tell you about several Hindi films which have had cricket as a plot. There is also a review of cricketers who tried the celluloid. He actually covers a lot of ground in this piece and hardly misses any movies:


Bank of England trying to draw parallels between finance and cricket..

September 14, 2016

Wow! Bank of England’s One Bank Seminar series has invited former West Indian ace Michael Holding to give a talk.

Michael Holding, former West Indies cricketer and current Sky Sports commentator, will join us for the next One Bank Flagship seminar on 14 September.  

The Bank’s Chief Economist, Andy Haldane, will join Michael to draw parallels between the world of cricket and finance – discussing issues of leadership, diversity and team-building.

Michael, nicknamed Whispering Death due to his silent yet fast bowling prowess, starred on the West Indies team from 1975-1987. During this time he earned 249 wickets in 60 tests, and played a further 102 one day internationals. Michael was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1977, and is also credited with bowling “the greatest over in Test history”, against English batsman Geoff Boycott in 1981. 

Since retiring from his sterling international career, Michael has released two books ‘Whispering Death’ and ‘No Holding Back’ and has moved on to become a popular TV commentator, working with Sky Sports in the UK since 1995.

The seminar starts in a little above 1 hr from the time of posting.

Will be interesting to see this for sure..

What cricket can learn from poker?

August 29, 2016

The just concluded weekend was full of cricket. It makes sense to start the week by posting something on cricket.

This is a wonderful article by Amit Varma. He moved from being a cricket writer to a poker player (wow, though wonder how I managed). Now he is trying to link cricket decisions on the field using lenses from game of Poker:


Pakistan rise to No. 1 in Cricket Test rankings is nothing short of a miracle..

August 23, 2016

It just happened as India could not win against the hapless West Indies due to rain and poor ground management. Pakistan edged India by 1 point to top the Test match rankings first time since these rankings were made in 2003.

I mean to see Pakistan top the rankings is just crazy and a miracle. The country does not anymore host test matches at home and the entire cricket structure is just reduced to a royal mess. Despite this they have been producing is a few talented individuals who spice the contest once a while. And now they have surged to top position drawing with England in England against all odds. They have done this with lot of discipline and dignity which makes it a super plus. These two attributes have missed Pakistan cricket for a long time.

Here is a wonderful tribute by Kamran Abbasi who shows how high these odds have been making the achievement even more amazing. (He also highlights that Hockey World Cup was actually an idea from Pakistan).


Learning/thinking about statistics using examples from cricket…

July 13, 2016

Anantha Narayanan of cricinfo is helping me think through statistics like very few have. His previous two articles trying to figure consistent batsmen and consistent bowlers were superb. The main idea behind both was to look for  measures other than the popularly used  average to measure performances of batsmen and bowlers.

In his third piece, he digs deeper to evaluate bowlers. There is always this criticism that some bowlers top averages by taking most wickets against weak opposition. This is usually targeted against Murali in particular . This is biased in many ways as even Warne took most wickets against English sides whose record against spin was always poor.

So, he tries to figure quality of wickets and even quotes economics:


Is Murali the Bradman of test match bowling?

June 13, 2016

Anantha Narayan has a second post looking at the bowlers this time. The first one was on batsman where the great Don obviously ruled.

Again he used Wickets per test as an alternative measure to averages (where again Murali tops) and comes up with following:


How does Karachi produce its jugaadu batters?

June 3, 2016

Superb piece by Ahmer Naqvi in June 2016 Cricket Monthly.

Jugaadu basically means Cheeky, tough and masters of improvisation. The question is how does Karachi produce the batsmen it does?

This type of batsman isn’t unique to Pakistan, but the Pakistanis who fit it are most likely to be from Karachi. Think of Moin Khan and, to some extent, Rashid Latif. Before them, Asif Mujtaba, and well before them Mushtaq Mohammad and Asif Iqbal, and between them the man who fleshed out the prototype himself, Javed Miandad.

What they had in common was a non-traditional, lateral approach to finding solutions. They looked to generate new ideas. The question was whether this capacity was in some way linked to the city they all hailed from – was there something about growing up in Karachi that conditioned their response? Perhaps this was romanticism – trying to find a reflection of the city I was born in within the game that I loved. But it seemed relevant that when one thought of, for example, the reverse sweep, the advent of proactive running, or counterintuitive strategies, there was always a someone from Karachi involved.

The key to all this is thinking about survival all the time whether in real life or on the pitch. Appeals especially to those fans who have seen their teams (mostly India of course) being outplayed by jugadus..

Great read..

Using runs per Test to measure consistency in Test matches?

June 2, 2016

It is a constant debate in cricket – who is the best batsman of all time/1990s/2000s etc? Similarly for bowlers as well. Given the question and the interest it generates, how do we measure performance> The standard measure is averages which experts believe is unfair as people sho stay not out tend to have higher averages. This measure is unfair especially to openers who face the most hostile bowling conditions and have much greater possibilities of getting out.  For an economics student, similarity to discussions on GDP is too obvious.

Anantha Narayana looks at the measures and suggests runs per test is a pretty useful indicator as well.


What is in a batsman’s stance? Perhaps everything..

May 30, 2016

Some people are not just gifted speakers but writers as well. It is a rare thing to have,

Mark Nicholas is one such person who does great cricket commentary and writes equally well. Here he writes about stance of current English top order batsmen. One can apply the different ways to other batters as well:


Cricket should become more responsible towards waste and environment..

May 25, 2016

A good article by Tanya Aldred. How much should a person consume is not just limited to daily life but extending to other aspects as well like sports matches.

The whole idea behind anything in modern economy is buy, buy, buy and consume, consume, consume. If you get tired doing these two, start all over again. Cricket hasn’t escapes this curse.

The author looks at how cricket matches have changed with simple things available to everything available.


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:


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:


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).