Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category

Kane and Eoin: Could Jeffry Archer script a better World Cup Final match?

July 15, 2019

It is just quite unbelievable to run your mind through the scenes of last night. I mean what a match! It seemed to have taken inspiration from the semi-final of 1999 played between Aus and South Africa and take it couple of levels higher.

Hearts weep for NZ which fought and fought despite not being most people’s favorites. Before the match, most experts said heart says NZ but mind says England as latter is a better team. And what a shame that they lost in such a fashion despite being a better team on the day with limited resources and challenging England on all fronts which had superior resources.

In a way NZ did not lose to England but to ICC whose stupid rule that in case of a tie in Super over, the team that scores more boundaries wins?! One can say, no one imagined that any match could be stretched this far, but you cannot have a more stupid rule than this. It is like these two tennis players who tie the scores in the last set, and the rulebook says in such a case the player who hit more aces will win. Or two sprinters with same timing seperated based on someone taking less steps than the other. Incidentally, if tennis had such a rule, Federer would have won yesterday’s iconic match against Djokovic.

The rule was so unjust that is difficult to digest. Loss and win is part of sports and one always sulks for the team which loses despite playing like a champion. Think about South Africa all these years whoch loses as somehow it chokes when it comes to crunch matches. But there is no injustice there. So, if NZ had lost either in terms of runs or wickets one would be fine. This is how all cricket matches are won or lost.

But NZ lost because they scored 17 boundaries compared to England’s 25. I mean what kind of a rule is this? Is ICC saying that those who run all these runs did a worse job than those who just hit fours? How unfair is that for a rule?

I mean football, hockey, tennis etc all have tie-breakers to sort out the winner in such even matches. Cricket has a super-over but just like tie-breakers it should continue till we do not have a winner.

In the end, all one can say is NZ fought against all odds and even Gods. It is as if Gods had decided that come what may, England will win. NZ challenged this saying how can you decide this without playing and challenged this in all possible ways. So many things went against them: Ross Taylor given out when he was not, Jason Roy was out first ball but was not, Stokes was caught but Boult stepped on the line and finally that last over throw which deflected from Stokes bat to give additional four runs to England! In all of these, they could not do anything but just move on with the game.

In Super over, they were given a steep target of 16 runs. Even then, NZ did not give up, surprised by sending Neesham who almost pulled off scoring 14 of those (including 1 wide) runs.

If there was one thing ICC got right it was awarding NZ captain Kane Williamson, the player of the tournament. I mean what a player. To be he is the best captain I have seen, as he just marshaled his limited resources like no one else could. He scored most runs as a captain in all World Cups, he scored 30% of team totals which was again highest and never complained. His press conferences are a delight and he is such an amazing ambassador for both NZ and the game.

Kane defies the usual thing that captains should be aggressive and show it on the field. He always does things quietly but with lots of mental aggression and strategy. He made both India and England which had top batters earn ever run. Those who thought Semi Final was a fluke, Williamson made them chew their words.

Kane is even an economist’s delight as he shows how one can optimally utilise the limited resources, the definition most commonly used by economists to define economics.

The ending of the drama made me recall a novel written by Jeffry Archer: Kane and Abel. In the book, the two protagonists named Kane and Abel fight for the supremacy in the corporate world. Abel always thought Kane as a villain whose bank denied the early funds to Abel’s hotel leading to bitter frictions between the two. Abel was saved by an anonymous benefactor. In the end, Abel learns that Kane was that anonymous benefactor who seeing passion of Abel decided to fund the hotel from his own pockets. Abel wins the corporate battle at the end yet ends like a loser.

I had a similar feeling watching yesterday’s matches. Infact, the name of Kane in the novel was Kane Lovell Williams not very different from Kane Williamson of NZ. The WC Final mattered to both the captains but perhaps a bit more to Eoin Morgan, the English captain.

After being humiliated in 2015, English under Morgan completely changed plans and became the number one side. They wanted to play a game which brings English pride back in the game and inspire the nextgen of English cricketers. They started the World Cup as favorites only to come to a stage where they could be knocked off before semis, fought back like champions and thrashed Australia in a semi-final. Only to meet NZ in a final which just competed and competed and gave nothing.

Just like the novel, the gracious Kane Williamson like the gracious Kane Lovell William, was like an anonymous benefactor of the prized trophy to Eoin Morgan.

He saw how Eoin Morgan and his team have fought all kinds of demons to emerge as number one team. NZ will still pick up from here but England would have been more devastated with the loss given how much they have wanted this result. But then just like Abel, Eoin will know and remember the gracious Kane who saw life beyond cricket and gave Eion a chance without telling him about it! He owes as much to Kane as to anybody.

How else does one explain this result?

 

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England and NZ: trying to be best in ODI cricket and central banking

July 12, 2019

Reflecting on my recent piece in Business Standard where I argued how England is trying to revive fortunes in One Day International Cricket and Central banking.

I wrote the piece when England was struggling to make it to semi-finals having lost to Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka. Somehow, England figured a way out and won the next matches against India and NZ to qualify for Semifinals.They also beat their arch rivals Australia in semis, in a manner Australia will always remember. It was as if firtunes had reversed as Aussies gave that kind of treatment to Englisy be it Test matches or ODIs. England were tested and proved critics wrong and showed their reign to top was not a fluke but years of preparation.

It is interesting that they will be playing the final against NZ which somehow puffed into semis and beat favorites India to enter the final. It has to be seen whether NZ which were favorites to win in 1992 and 2015 but lost both, win the cup without being favorites at all. They will take lot of inspiration from India’s own win against WI in 1983 final against all odds.

In the BS piece, I also argued how Bank of England is trying to regain its top position as well. For long, it was seen as a role model for central banks but stopped being one. Now it is trying to pick the tempo by ushering in several policy changes and innovations.

What is interesting is that Bank of England is also competing with its counterpart in NZ for becoming this “role model for other central banks” title. RBNZ was the first to start inflation targeting in 1989 and has pioneered quite a few things since 1989. I wrote about RBNZ here.

RBNZ no intends to become the best central bank. Its Governor Adrian Orr in a speech highlighted this statement of intent:

Over the recent period we have committed to our vision to be ‘a great team and the best central bank’, and we have embedded our new Monetary Policy Committee and policy mandate. In addition, we have reorganised our operating structure, and have been investing in our people, our stakeholder relationships home and abroad, our supervision capability and activities, our digital capability, and our payment systems and the future of cash.

Change is now business as usual for the Reserve Bank and I sincerely thank my colleagues for managing through this period of renewal. There is of course more change to come.

Just over two weeks ago, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance made some important announcements about progress with the government’s review of our statutory framework for financial system regulation. They announced some in-principle decisions – including introducing a deposit insurance scheme – and set out further questions for a consultation, which is going on now.

So this is a good time discuss the future of the Reserve Bank, and how the changes under consideration might promote the prosperity and wellbeing of New Zealanders and contribute to a sustainable and productive economy. Those phrases, by the way, are not my own. They come from the Reserve Bank Act and express the overarching purpose of the Reserve Bank’s many functions.

Hmm..

Interesting how the competition between the two is in both the fields, cricket and central banking!

How NZ just upset India..

July 11, 2019

It is something about World Cup (WC) Semi Finals and NZ (or Black Caps) that we get such matches. Whether it was 92 against Pak (which NZ lost) or 2015 against South Africa (NZ won) or the 2019 against India (NZ won), all these matches have been absolute classics. Though the one between Aus and  South Africa in 1999 is going to take something to beat.

NZ comes across as an interesting team, a team which usually punches above its weight. It had played 758 matches on the even of the 2019 World Cup and won 343 and lost 370 of them (6 ties and 40 no result). It has a win-loss ratio of 0.924 which is 9th in the list of countries that have played ODI cricket since 1971. Infact, it has lower Win/Loss ratio than Afghanistan! Even Nepal which has played 6 ODIs, has a better W/L ratio of 1 (3 won and 3 lost).

But come to WC, NZ is a different ball game.

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English Comeback: How England are trying to reclaim earlier status in ODI cricket and central banking

July 1, 2019

My new article in last Saturday’s Business Standard.

I look at how England is trying to reclaim their earlier status in ODI cricket and central banking.

A table (not in the article) which shows how English ODI team has done in recent years:

Record of English Cricket Team in ODIs
Total Won Lost Tied W/L Ave RPO HS LS
1971-92 World Cup 203 107 88 8 1.22 28.61 4.27 334 (60 overs) 93
1992 World Cup – 2015 457 210 226 6 0.93 30.32 4.97 408 86
2016 onwards 78 54 18 1 3 43.41 6.34 481 113
Source: ESPNcricinfo.com

They have nearly won 75% of the matches from 2016 onwards which is crazy. One never associates English ODI team doing this well. Even India which captures all limelight has a Win/Loss ratio of 2.27 (75 matches).

Apart from ODI cricket, English are also trying to capture the numero uno status in central banking. Bank of England was a pioneer in central banking activity but lost its way in the 20th century. Post-2008 crisis it is trying to reclaim the glorious past.

The article compares these two institutions which English created…

When did India first host the Cricket World Cup? Not in 1987 but 1978..

June 28, 2019

Well, India hosted the first Cricket World Cup in 1978 and not 1987 as most of us believe. How? Well, it was the World Cup for Women cricket!

Benita Fernando writes this wonderful poignant story in Mint newspaper:

It would be nearly a decade after 1978 before the country would host its first men’s Cricket World Cup. In many ways, the 1978 Women’s World Cup was ahead of its time, paving the way for better performances in international championships. In 1997, the next time that India hosted the Women’s World Cup, the team would make the semi-finals for the first time. They repeated this feat in the next edition, hosted by New Zealand. In South Africa, in 2005, they reached the final. It is worth remembering that the first cricket World Cup ever held was for the women’s teams. England inaugurated it in 1973 with seven teams—two years before the first edition of the men’s Cricket World Cup would be organized.

Senior sports writer Sharda Ugra says that because India hosted its first men’s World Cup in 1987, people don’t always remember that the Women’s World Cup was held earlier. “They were ahead of what the men were going to do. Women’s achievements in sports, like we see with female scientists, haven’t been recognized enough. There certainly needs to be a formal recognition, not financially alone, but an inclusion of their names in the history of the game. The men’s game has celebrated its oldest players, but the conversations around the women’s game are like this: Who are they to earn so much money?”

Phew.

It also tells us about the long struggle of women cricketers in India (and even other countries).

One of the best articles of the year and one of the all time best on cricket..

 

 

Sarfaraz Ahmed can turn around world economy!

June 4, 2019

Being supporter of Pakistan cricket team is not for faint hearted. It requires strong hearts as one is never sure what the team can do and not do. It can lose easiest of matches from a winnable position and win the toughest of them against mightier oppositions.

Yesterday’s WC match was no different as Pakistan defeated the English cricket team, which is not just the No.1  team but also tournament favorites. Givent eh tournament is being played in England, the case for home team is even stronger. Moreover, the previous match Pakistan lost to West Indies was like club cricket with all batters falling miserably to short pitch bowling.

The win got interesting comments but one by Ian Bishop, former WI fast bowler caught my eye:

Sarfraz Ahmed could turn around the World economy of you allow him, surely. What confidence, character and inner strength he must possess.

Haha. Interesting to see cricketers following world economy trends.

Given how quickly the turnaround has been, Sarfaraz surely makes a case for leading world economy. But then, we all know Pakistan’s next match (against Sri Lanka) could be just the reverse.

Infact, one may not go to world economy stage. How about reviving Pakistan’s economy to begin with which is doing even worse than world economy? They already have former Pakistan cricket captain, Imran Khan who as Prime Minister is trying to resolve the crisis.

Some lessons from cricket to tackle development constraints

May 15, 2019

Niranjan in Mint writes on how fast bowling has emerged and risen in India.

He compares the rise to development economics:

The dominant view in India during our long decades of fast bowling drought was that it was a lost battle. All sorts of pessimistic explanations were bandied about. The Indian weather is too hot for fast bowling. A country where meat eating is uncommon will be unable to produce the muscular young men needed to hurl the ball at opposing batsmen. A culture rooted in the principle of non-violence does not have the attitude needed to bowl a bouncer aimed at the head. Indian soil is too loose to have pitches that support fast bowling.

Many of these cultural or geographical explanations may have seemed convincing back then, very similar to how experts were pessimistic about Asia’s development prospects after World War II. A couple of American academics even wrote in 1967 that the US should send food aid only to countries that could be saved; it was prudent to let overpopulated countries such as India starve. This was just years before India broke the hunger barrier with the Green Revolution.

The Indian fast bowling renaissance in recent years would have been impossible if the cultural or geographical explanations had indeed been so potent. An editorial published in this newspaper in May 2018 rightly pointed out that the turning point was the emergence of Kapil Dev—the sort of historical accident that economists write about when thinking about economic development. He proved that it was possible to match the best in the world.

Then policy took over. One important milestone was reached when the MRF Foundation got Lillee to coach young fast bowlers after 1987. Think of this as technology transfer. Many of the best Indian fast bowlers after 1990 came from within this system. Suddenly, you had Indian opening bowlers who could make good batsmen duck in a hurry. More youngsters followed the path as they saw Indian quickies getting their due. The pitches in some recent Ranji Trophy seasons got greener. The IPL opened another window of opportunity for young fast bowlers in India.

An entire ecosystem is now in place to nurture Indian fast bowlers. The role of cultural or geographical factors are indeed important—but they can be overcome if there is effective policy support, the spread of new ways of doing things and an initial big push to overcome the older path dependence. The broader lessons of development economics are actually not very different from the broader lessons from the Indian fast bowling renaissance.

Just hoping we don’t lose sight over our potent weapon of spin bowling…

The 10 greatest cricket world cup matches….

March 19, 2019

ESPNcricnfo.com has been running a series of 10 best world cup matches. Here they go:

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20 years of Indo-Pak classic at Chennai

February 8, 2019

This column by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan takes one back to the classic test match between India and Pakistan at Chennai (28-31 Jan 1999). What a match it was and what quality of players on both sides.

Siddharth manages to get views of few special people who watched the test match.

Absolutely fascinating walk down the memory lane….

Does India Need a Caste-based Quota in Cricket? Drawing Parallels from South Africa

May 30, 2018
Gaurav Bhawnani and Shubham Jain students at National Law School Bangalore in this paper look at caste representation in Indian cricket.
In India’s 85-year-long Test history, only four of the 289 male Test cricketers have reportedly been Dalits. While concrete steps have been taken to address a similar under-representation of non-white players in South Africa, Dalit under-representation in Indian cricket has received scant attention. There is a need to understand this as a function of systemic barriers arising from corporate patronage post-independence and the urban stranglehold of the game, instead of attributing it to choice, inherent inability or upper caste “tastes.” The grass-roots development approach of Cricket South Africa can serve as an example to address this anomaly.
The authors are aware that this proposal will invite huge criticism:
Before we conclude, we would like to note our own hesitation in authoring this piece. As cricket fans, we worried that a quota would lead to a deterioration in the quality of the Indian team. However, our own hesitation made us realise how ingrained the idea of merit has become today. Without going into the value of the idea of merit—and there are several arguments against it—objective merit has often been extremely flimsy in the context of cricket. There have been as many as 41 players (Lynch 2017), Hardik Pandya being the most recent example, who scored their maiden first class century in a Test match. While first class statistics often form the primary basis of selection, these players show that quite often quality cannot be measured “objectively” by numbers. Players such as Marcus Trescothick were selected despite very ordinary domestic performances and went on to lead great Test careers. Such players are picked for their “grit,” “potential,” “spark:” any number of qualities which ensure that selections are not carried out solely on the basis of statistics. If our argument results in the selection of a Dalit batsman with a slightly lower batting average, he might, in fact, go on to become the next Trescothick. Even if he does not, and merely scores a single century, that century may inspire millions, as Temba Bavuma’s first, and only, century by a black South African did.
The paper is quite a read and covers many aspects of Indian cricket which are barely known and have been forgotten.

CSK win proves instincts still alive in the age of analysis..

May 29, 2018

The win of Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2018 is the talking point of the season. The squad with most players in their 30s was consistent throughout the tournament with several match winners. It is not just the win but the manner in which they won which also surprised one and all.

This piece by Siddharth Monga deconstructs the strategies deployed by the Chennai franchise. Their win was more about mental games and human behavior than laptop based data crunching:

Chennai Super Kings’ latest triumph was reinforcement that T20 is still a sport played out in the middle, by humans who react differently to pressure. That when all is said and done, a human being has to rock up and bowl a final over to him or Dwayne Bravo. That at these times it is not enough to know that the wide yorker is the ball to bowl to Dhoni; you have to actually execute it. That when you respect and play out one or two bowlers, you are at the same time letting the others – inexperienced Indian bowlers in the case of the IPL – know that you are coming after them, which brings pressure on them.

The whole campaign of Super Kings was in effect a reminder that while analysis is instructive, it is not set in stone. That the numbers we have for analysis come from what these players do, and not the other way around. Dhoni left alone 25 balls in this IPL, way more than any other batsman. In a format that starting quickly is fast becoming the holy grail, especially for those who bat in the second half of the innings, Dhoni had the fourth-worst strike rate in the first five balls and ninth-worst over the first 10 balls this season. Yet he was just outside the top 10 smart strike rates for the season.

In a chase of over 200 against Kolkata Knight Riders, Dhoni ends up with 25 off 28, slowest innings of 15 balls or more. Super Kings win. In a chase of 198 against Kings XI Punjab, he is 23 off 22. Super Kings come within a blow of winning with Dhoni unbeaten on 79 off 44. In the high-pressure qualifier against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he takes nine balls to get off the mark, scores 9 off 18, and tells his partner Faf du Plessis, who is himself going at a strike rate of 50, to just play out Rashid Khan. Du Plessis wins them the match with time to spare. In the final, against the same opponents, Shane Watson takes 11 balls to score his first run before scoring a match-winning century. These are the times when cameras pan to the dugout for anxious faces. Not with Super Kings because they don’t have anxious faces; they have taken after their captain.

More than analysis, what is important for Dhoni is to realise in that moment what the opposition is trying to achieve and look to deny them. If Bhuvneshwar Kumar is bowling an extra over at the top, Dhoni wants his side to show knowledge that the opposition is desperate for a wicket. If you feel the scoreboard pressure and try a silly shot in this extra over of Bhuvneshwar, that annoys Dhoni more than any slow strike rate. Ride the storm, minimise the damage when things are not going for you, take the game deep, make the opposition close it out. And when your time comes – and it does come – take full toll.

Hmm..

Nice bit of writing.

Why is there an urge to play the cricket ball outside the off-stump? The two contradictory forces at work…

January 3, 2018

There is huge hype around the upcoming India tour to South Africa. The media is trying to cash in with continuous stream of advertisements. The Sony Six is trying to invoke nationalistic feelings resulting in an advertisement which is really bad in taste. I mean just treat it as a game.

Anyways, came across this nice interview of Sachin Tendulkar. He gives many insights from his long career.  For instance, he explains how the urge to play the ball outside the off-stump is two forces at work:

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Economics alone cannot dictate Test cricket..

December 18, 2017

It is not very often that we hear the words economics and cricket in one article/interview.

BCCI CEO – Rahul Johri – in this interview speaks about the need to keep test cricket going even if economics do not support the 5-day version:

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Remembering Patrick Patterson: The fearsome fast bowler from West Indies

July 24, 2017

One thing you surely miss about being a cricket fan is missing following the great West Indies team. This is because by the time one became cricket conscious in late 1980s, West Indies team was already on its decline. One especially misses tracking the fast bowling machines from the region.

Despite the decline in late 1980s, there were still some sparkling performances now and then. My recollection of West Indies igniting fear in opposition dressing room was Patrick Patterson. One still has vague memories of reading how Patterson created havoc against Indians in India. But he was not around very long and quickly disappeared from the scene.

Thus, this piece on Patterson by Bharat Sundaresan of Indian express brought back some amazing memories. But as one read the piece, one was taken aback to figure how things and time have been really tough on Patterson. So much so, he hardly remembers most of his performances:

This is not easy for me. Believe you me…believe you me…” Those are the words I hear before the door opens. After six years and three trips to the Caribbean, searching and scouring the entire Jamaican island for Patrick Patterson, the moment has finally arrived. I’m outside his residence and he’s just about to step out. But somehow, I’m not sure of what to expect.

For years now, I’ve only heard grave and dire speculations about Patterson’s present state — that he’s lost in the bush or is in an asylum; maybe, even roaming the streets as a destitute. Patterson has only added to the ambiguity. Earlier in the day, he had sounded rather cryptic over the phone. “I find moving around tough and I struggle with my daily functioning,” he had said. At some point, Patterson also mentioned not having his own shelter. And, as I stand near the gate of this rather spacious but slightly unkempt one-storey house, which I later realise has been home the former fastest-bowler-in-the-world-turned-recluse for nearly 25 years, it’s difficult not to fear the worst.

Those fears are put to rest, though, as soon as I see him walk out. Patterson, 55, is tall as ever, but a lot frailer than before — almost gaunt. He walks out wearing a loose, long shirt, khaki shorts, a cap and a disarming smile. The eyes still have the twinkle of yesteryears and the middle tooth is still conspicuously absent.

He thanks Bharat for meeting him and talking to him:

The sudden transformation in his life affected all his relationships and turned him into a recluse. The raging speculation over his condition only aggravated Patterson’s manically depressed state and fed his paranoia about what might happen to him. It’s even convinced him over the years that those trying to help him are putting themselves in harm’s way. “I am always scared for whoever reaches out to me, that they’ll get to them too and ensure that I’m stuck here. You should be careful too,” he says. It takes nearly two hours to somewhat get him to believe that there might not have been any “external forces” out to get him, that he might have ended up becoming his own enemy. He reluctantly agrees as we are about to get done.

Patterson admits to have gotten out of his shell slightly of late. He can go to the supermarket without worrying about what people might say. Over time, his estranged family has patched up with him, too. His children, a 27-year-old daughter and a 24-year-old son, who live in Canada, now visit him often. Last year, he even took them to meet their grandparents in the country. The children provide him with basic provisions every month to keep him afloat.

We get picked up by Locks that night. As he’s about to get out of the car, Patterson holds my hands and says, “I haven’t spoken like this to anyone from the time I can remember. I’m so glad I came. Money can’t buy this. I’m so glad I came…”

Really sad..Thanks a lot Bharat for all the effort to find Patterson and what a poignant piece…

The league of global T20 brands

June 28, 2017

One just read how IPL brand has become ten times more valuable in just 10 years. It has not just risen in brand value but shaped so many global T-20 leagues across the cricketing world.

Firdose Moosa in this superb piece tells you about future of cricket which is unravelling at a quick pace. Just like Football, the future of cricket is more like the club cricket:

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‘Batsmen win you games, bowlers win you tournaments’

June 19, 2017

Pakistan victory over India is all over the physical and internet media. Open any paper/website today and you cant help but get carried away in discussions.

One just hopes the victory springs Pakistan cricket to action in shorter format of the game. Their test performances are not all the bad by the way but post retirement of Misbah and Younis they will be tested once again. There is not a better sign than Pakistan bowlers testing batsmen across the world with their guile and pace.

So this interview by Azhar Mahmood, former Pakistan player and now the bowling coach is an interesting one. In this age of batters where all rules are being designed to glorify them even more, one just forgets the role of bowlers.

In this interview, Mahmood makes the statement that ‘Batsmen win you games, bowlers win you tournaments’. He talks one through what it takes to create a bowling unit, right length to bowl, conditions and so on:

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Indian cricket’s Minsky moment…

June 2, 2017

Just so much happening in Indian cricket against all odds. They were winning so much with all kinds of amazing camaraderie stories/photos reported by media. Who would have imagined that there would be simmering tension between coach and captain? We all thought that Indian cricket was onto professional ways after a committee was appointed to look into affairs. And how all these have come crumbling down?

I can’t help but connect all this fallout with Minsky moment. Minsky said the chances of a financial crisis are highest when all things are going fine and the cycle is on an upswing. Thus both Great Depression and 2008 crisis came when all things were going fine just a while ago. Not many anticipated a crisis and those that did not anticipate the depth.

We have a near similar Minsky moment in cricket as well. Just unbelievable to see how the house of cards is just collapsing. Ram Guha’s outgoing letter has opened a can of worms with no holes barred. Here are 8 takeaways from the letter.

In case you think, India is the only one. Australia had its Minsky moment a while ago and has still not recovered.

Plenty happening.

World Cricket’s harsh reality: No India, no cricket…

May 5, 2017

Governance of International cricket is a really interesting topic.

Indian cricket team for Champions Trophy is not yet announced due to tiffs between International Cricket Council and BCCI. BCCI was recently snubbed in the ICC meeting leading to this delay. Champions Trophy was announced by ICC as the Council wanted to have a seperate competition under its own name apart from World Cup which started much earlier.

But without India, there are no takers for Champions Trophy. Star TV the sponsor is obviously worried:

With the ongoing tussle between the ICC and the BCCI making India’s participation in the Champions League doubtful, Star Sports has made it clear to the international body that the mega event will have few takers as far as advertisers are concerned if Virat Kohli and his boys are not a part of the event.

Speaking to Cricketnext, a source in Star India said that the host broadcasters were forced to write to the ICC after major multinationals started sending feelers to the broadcasters that they weren’t willing to buy inventories unless India’s participation was confirmed.

“It is unethical and so I won’t take names, but one of the major multinationals wrote a mail to us asking about whether India would indeed participate in the tournament or pullout because they would decide accordingly on investing money in buying ad time in the tournament,” he said.

He went on to further explain that it was a clear case of demand and supply and there was nothing wrong on part of the advertisers to feel the heat because very few people in India would have interest in the tournament if India is not a part of it.

“See, the companies will buy inventories because they want to reach the consumers through Star. But then, the reality is that the Indian market and the Indian viewers will be interested in the tournament only when you have the Indian boys in action.

“Hypothetically speaking, if a company like Maruti wants to buy inventories for the Champions Trophy, they will only do so if India is playing. Otherwise, their quarterly target will not be completed and in such a scenario, they will want to invest in other companies. So the concern on whether their investment is secure is normal,” he said.

And the source says that the broadcasters were forced to write to Star as investors want clarity on the issue.

This takes you back to the time when few good men decided to bring World Cup to India and changed the location of global cricket forever. It will be interesting to see how ICC coaxes India to send its team. Eventually it will be sent but not after the usual drama of ego battles..

Are batting collapses becoming so common in test cricket?

April 17, 2017

Superb analytical piece via Tom Eaton (HT Gulzar). There is one argument one keeps having with younger followers in cricket. We argue that batting collapses are becoming way too common and one does not anymore see fights from batters. The younger lot does not agree and says test cricket is becoming more result oriented. As a result we are seeing both sides going for wins/losses than mere draws. We argue saying it is more due to lack of skill/application which is leading to lack of well fought draws and rise in one sided results. And the debate goes on.

Eaton points to statistics showing batting collapses have indeed risen. Also test scores are rising:

Confused, I went to the record books, where I discovered three peculiar facts.

The first was that I wasn’t wrong about batting pile-ons. Test teams are scoring huge totals much more often than they used to. Between 1960 (more or less the start of the current era of covered pitches) and the end of 1999, one in 18 innings would see a team rack up 500 or more. Since the start of 2000, that rate has almost doubled to one in ten. Last year, teams amassed 500 or more on 19 occasions: one in nine.

The second discovery seemed sharply at odds with the first. It was, startlingly, that sub-100 totals have also become much more frequent. From 1960 until 1999, the dreaded double-figures dig happened roughly once every 70 innings. Since 2000, that figure has jumped to one in 47.

The third discovery was perhaps the most curious of all.

For most of Test history, sub-100 debacles have been a sign of technical inadequacy and inexperience. Here and there, a top team has had a bad day, but the teams most regularly rolled for less than 100 have overwhelmingly been those that have not yet grown up and built a solid batting culture. Not surprisingly, the worst offenders in the 2000s were Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and the wildly erratic Pakistan.

But here’s where it gets very peculiar; because since the start of 2010, it’s not the minnows that have been the most prone to collapse. Yes, Zimbabwe were rolled for 51 by New Zealand in Napier in 2012, and yes, they might have had a few more debacles had they played more Tests; but their 51 is the only blot by a “bottom three” team this decade. The last time Bangladesh were dismissed for double figures was 2007. West Indies? Back in 2004.

Instead, the repeat offenders are startlingly pedigreed. It won’t surprise anyone to learn that Pakistan – part enigma, part flake – lead the field of failure, helped largely by their abject summer in 2010, during which England dismissed them for 80, 72 and 74 inside a month. But the next two most collapse-prone teams? Wobbly Sri Lanka or understaffed New Zealand? Neither. Since 2010, the two most frequently catastrophic teams after Pakistan have been giants: Australia and South Africa.

Why is this happening?

I could have guessed Australia seeing its so many collapses in recent memory. But not SAF for sure.

The main reason is lack of a good 4 down batsman:

The historical averages paint a telling picture. In all sub-100 innings since 1960, the specialist batsmen contributing the smallest proportion of runs are the openers and the No. 5. This makes sense: the openers have been snuffed out by the new ball, and the No. 5, selected to play shots and without the defensive nous of a No. 3 or No. 4, has found himself in a world of pain at 10 for 3, facing a new, spitting ball.

Enter the fail-safe: the backup opener, No. 6. Between 1960 and 1999, this lynchpin made 13.5% of his team’s runs during a collapse – by far the highest proportion. For 40 years he tried to dig in and stem the tide, at least for a few minutes. Sometimes he stonewalled. Dravid’s 27 not out in Durban in 1996 was as heroic as any back-to-the-wall hundred I’ve seen. In 1973 at Trent Bridge, as John Snow and Tony Greig ran through New Zealand for 97, the No. 6, Vic Pollard, a Baptist lay preacher, put aside childish things and hung around for over an hour and a half for his unbeaten 16.

…..

What they revealed was this: in sub-100 collapses since 2010, South African and Australian number sixes have plumbed depths so low that they are possibly unrivalled in the entire history of Test cricket. Not only have they contributed only 6% of their respective teams’ runs (less than half the historic average) they have contributed less than any other batting position, No. 11 included. Ramparts have been outscored by rabbits.

A gaping hole at No. 6 seems to be a compelling explanation for why Australia and South Africa have become so prone to implosions. But then, how to account for the increase in huge scores at the same time? Since 2010, South Africa have passed 500 once every eight innings; Australia, once every seven. How can batsmen be getting simultaneously more dominant and more fragile?

I believe that this phenomenon can be explained by new selection criteria.

Now that openers and number sixes have become attacking weapons rather than defensive insurance, they are much better equipped to take advantage of helpful conditions and to rattle up vast scores; but when things get hairy, they simply don’t have the technique or the grim bloody-mindedness to hang around. This isn’t just a curmudgeonly generalisation about the spineless youth of today. Unfortunately, the numbers back it up.

Cricket is increasingly becoming a basher batsman’s game. Increasingly, we see players succeeding in one days and T-20s now being pushed in test league with questionable technique.

Superb stuff from Eaton.

How to be a stock markets expert (or sound like you are)

March 20, 2017

Dhirendra Kumar of Valueresearch just nails it with this piece.

He says like cricket commentators who try and show their expertise with empty talk, same applies to stock market commentator as well:

On social media, there is an entire subgenre of jokes about the cliche-heavy commentary that a certain well-known cricket commentator delivers. There are lists of some ten to fifteen phrases, which are said to make up almost everything that he says. There is even a downloadable sheet of the Bingo game, with each of his favourite phrases in a square. Presumably, his fans print these out and as he says something like ‘that went like a tracer bullet’ or ‘all three results are possible’, they cross out the square of that phrase.

However, cricket and cricket commentators are far from being the only guilty parties when it comes to creating commentary out of a stream of cliched phrases. When a cricket commentator says something like ‘the batting side will be looking to make runs and the opposition will be looking to take wickets’, then the statement is at least factually correct.

However, no such limitation appears to hold back the stream of cliches that makes up news and views about the financial markets. The other day, I came across a list of such cliches that are incessantly used by everyone who talks or writes in the media about stocks in the US. I realised that while some of those were universal and also used in India, there was some more that were unique to India.

So here’s my list of meaningless cliches that are used by investment analysts when they are talking about the equities. But first, an obvious mea culpa–I find that I have either used, or accepted as meaningful almost all of them.

The list is:

  • There’s a x per cent probability of the markets rising
  • The easy money has been made
  • I’m a bottom up investor / I’m a stock picker
  • Markets are down because of profit taking
  • More buyers than sellers

The last one just nails it. 🙂

There has been an explosion in cricket commentary and analysis. In earlier cricket matches, you were lucky to have one commentator. This grew to two and now there are three. There is pre-match analysis, toss analysis, pitch analysis,  lunch break analysis, tea time analysis and post match obviously. Then there is late evening entire day analysis. This is followed by entire match analysis followed by series analysis. If India in involved the series always are billed as some revenge series and there is this feeling of a war around the corner.

Similarly, we have for stocks. There is analysis every second, then at the middle of the day, followed by a wrapping in the evening. Late night sums up what went up and down. Then there is monthly data, quarterly results, mid-year review and then the annual one.

In both cricket and stocks, one has to appear as intelligent and keep coming out with newer ways/adjectives to dissect the game. Much of it is over the top and most of the time people go wrong. But despite that craze for expert views keeps going and becoming larger with each cricket series and new financial year.


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