Archive for June, 2006

Deserve it

June 25, 2006

At the end of day 4, the West Indians have a slight upper-hand in this game. Disregarding Jerling’s incompetence and without going into the previous games, it’s clear to me that the Windians don’t deserve to win. They somehow conjured a 219-run lead, and then failed to enforce the follow-on. Memories of India’s Sydney Test in 2003-04 abound. Then, Ganguly’s singular defensive decision had laid to waste a golden opportunity. If you want to beat a better side, you need the conviction to go with it. You need to be courageous and not be afraid to attack. If you don’t have the heart for it, you don’t deserve to win.

Apart from that, enforcing the follow-on in such a situation is just a better decision from all perspectives. Consider what could’ve happened had the West Indies enforced the follow-on today.

  • They bowl India out before the end of the second session on the 5th day. In that case, a lead of 219 would’ve been more than enough. Considering the Indians would’ve been staving off defeat for most of the innings, their run-rate wouldn’t have been very good. The West Indians wouldn’t have been required to bat again, or if they were, they would’ve likely needed less than 80 runs. Even on a wearing 5th day pitch, they would back themselves to score 80 runs in three hours (the worst case scenario). The result: West Indies win.
  • India bats through the 5th day. The West Indians couldn’t get them all out. Fine. They’re not going to be able to do in two and a half sessions tomorrow what they wouldn’t have been able to do in four sessions anyway. The result: draw.
  • West Indians bowl India out in the last session of the day, and now require a 100 runs from 15 overs or so. The Windians would’ve had a realistic chance of chasing that, but even if they lost a few quick wickets, they know they can play out the remaining overs. The result: draw or West Indian win.

Enforcing the follow-on virtually ensures that the West Indians wouldn’t lose, while significantly enhancing their possibility of a win. Consider their current predicament now. They lead by 332 runs today with 6 wickets in hand. What is the minimum number of runs required to ensure West Indies don’t lose? Nobody knows, for you can’t entirely discount the possibility of a Sehwag special or a late Dhoni blitz. With every over that the West Indies bat, the chances of India not losing keep going up. If they declare too early, India will have a small chance of winning, as opposed to no chance of winning had they enforced the follow-on.

I can imagine those who disagree with me making two counter-arguments:

1) Making India feel that they can get to the target would increase the odds of West Indians getting them all out quickly.
Not really. The assumption here is that the Indians will play more aggressively (and thus provide more chances) then they would’ve had the follow-on been enforced..

  • Playing too defensively (especially for the natural aggressors) can have a similar effect. Plus, as soon as India loses a wicket, they’re going to go in the defensive mode anyway.
  • Also, consider the reality of the situation. Sehwag’s going to play his natural game no matter what, and anybody who saw India’s recent Tests against England will know what their approach is going to be. They will be circumspect early on, and if they still have enough wickets in hand towards the end, they might have a go at the target.
  • Even if this assumption were true, the West Indians then could’ve employed extremely attacking fields which would have increased their chance of getting wickets. Remember the 3rd Test against Pakistan in India last year? India completely shut-down shop, Pakistan attacked by having 6 men close in, and ended up winning the game with about 6 overs to spare (if I remember correctly).
  • And let’s not forget that this scenario violates the one pre-condition that has been set up by Brian Lara: West Indies cannot lose. So, are they going to give India a “realistic” chance at the target? No. Even if they do, is India going to fall for the trap? No.

2) Batting again gives the tired bowlers a chance to rest.
This is where the bit about having a heart for it comes into play. If the West Indies can have Bradshaw bowl 23 overs on the trot in a game they had little hope of winning, surely they can conjure the energy to bowl again here. Plus, with Gayle and Samuels in the team, they can give their main bowlers a rest when needed. Also, if the bowlers were effective early on and did take a few wickets, they would need no encouragement: they would all be eager to run in and finish the job off. The situation itself would’ve been the motivating factor.

3) They have a better chance of bowling India out on a wearing, 5th-day pitch.
Let’s not even consider the fact that the West Indies have no specialist spinner. But surely they realize that they’ll get the use of the pitch for most of the 5th day anyway. The pitch is not going to be that different between the second and third sessions on the last day.

I rest my case here.

QED

Million Dollar Baby

June 25, 2006

So, I saw this movie last week. And only half-way through it did I realize that it was starring Clint Eastwood, and not Greg Chappell.

mdb.JPG chappell-90.jpg
mdb2.JPG greg2.jpg

Chinaman

June 22, 2006

Time to demystify another term. What exactly is a chinaman? I’m not quite sure, but my guess would a left-arm off-spinner’s doosra? Any of you know?

Gray areas

June 18, 2006

I wrote about ICC having to clarify the rules a couple of posts back. I’ve now created a new “Gray Areas” category where I’ll post of any weird situations that I can think of. I’ve thought of several in the past, but never wrote them down, so I can’t remember them all off the top of my head right now. Here’s one to start off though.

Say the batsman gets an inside edge and ball then goes to nestle between his knee and pad (this has happened surprisingly often). Can a fielder then reach in and claim a catch?

Cricket at the Taj

June 17, 2006

Cricket at the Taj

From Flickr.

Quiz No. 4

June 15, 2006

This one’s about nicknames. Aloo, Beefy, Turbanator, Punter are all too well-known, but do you know who the following are?

A little warm-up first (not part of the quiz).

Tugga
White Lightning
Pigeon
The King of Spain
Mr. Cricket

Ready now?

Bumble
Super Cat
Caddyshack
Atlas
Shrek
Colonel
Diamonds
Whispering Death
Razzler
Swampy
Virgil
Salami

Answer as many as you can. And no cheating.

Drunk and naked

June 15, 2006

Imagine your manager came to work drunk and naked, staggering all over the place and his mouth spewing obscene filth. Now imagine he gets promoted to be the CEO of your company. Unlikely? That’s exactly what’s happening to Percy Sonn.

Am I the only one concerned that the man who wanted Cronje back in the fold of cricket and questioned BCCI’s action against Dalmiya is going to become the next ICC president? Here’s what Dan (of the notorious Dan’s World) has to say about all that.

Looking forward

June 14, 2006

The second Test is done and dusted, and while we dominated them both, we failed to win either (although luck played a huge part in that). Here’s what we need to do moving forward:

  • Drop VRV – Even if Sreesanth, Pathan and Patel all fall sick before the next Test. He’s dead-weight as far as I am concerned. I was suprised when he played in the first Test, let alone the second. And his batting makes McGrath seem like a top-order batsman. Personally, I’m not impressed with Sreesanth either and can’t understand what all the hoopla surrounding him is. At best, he seems mediocre. Munaf Patel on the other hand clearly has a lot of potential and will probably be a permanent member of the Indian pace attack for the next decade. The same can’t be said about Sreesanth. And don’t even get me started on Powar. That means we need to get some bowling back-up. Agarkar, Nehra and Balaji are worth another chance.
  • Develop Sehwag’s bowling – Sehwag is certainly an under-rated bowler. A lack of control and variation holds him back, although his accuracy is acceptable. Bowling huge, ripping, off-spinners is not enough. Under-spin, top-spin, doosra and varied pace can turn him into a full-time bowler. Imagine that.
  • Five bowler strategy – I’m a huge advocate of having five bowlers, especially when we usually have a couple that come cropper. Eventually, Sehwag could be that fifth bowler, but until then, we need to have enough firepower out to go that last mile and finish off the opposition. That’s another reason to get some back up pacemen. Inability to bowl out a half-decent batting line-up on the last day of a Test match doesn’t bode well for us. Plus, we seem to be doing alright in the batting department at the moment as it is.

Marginally outside off

June 14, 2006

Looking back on today’s play, you get the feeling that it could’ve gone either way. Not because of the players, but because of the umpires. So many appeals, so many close calls, and so many poor decisions. And that is why we need technology. ICC claims that their umpires get about 96% of the decisions right. As Mark Twain once said, there are lies, damned lies and statistics. The only way the umpires are getting 96% of their decisions right is if the ICC is considering all the flat-out ludicrous appeals in their numbers. Anybody who’s seen Kumble bowl knows what I’m talking about. The ball lands a mile outside leg, hits the pads and he starts appealing. Just plain ridiculous — both the appealing and the statistic peddled by the ICC. Let’s look at that from another perspective. Assuming there’s about one appeal every two overs (including the obviously misguided appeals), that makes 45 appeals a day, and 225 appeals in a Test match. Going by ICC’s statistic then, the umpires make about 9 wrong decisions in a Test match. If 5 batsmen in your team are wrongly given out, would you call that a high standard of umpiring?

Anyway, I don’t want to turn this into a war against the Luddites (or the ICC). Apparently, ICC is taking some steps to get more use out of the technology. What concerns me now is that the ICC is now going to have to come out with clearer rules on how to read technology. There were several LBW shouts today which the commentators dismissed as the ball having struck marginally outside off. Well, I beg to differ. If they’re partially outside off, then they are partially on off, right? The middle of the ball might not be on the off stump, but some part of the ball was well within the line of the off stump. And if you think about it, that’s enough to bowl a person out: the middle of the ball doesn’t have to strike the stumps. In any case, there will be a need for clarification on this issue, for “marginally outside off” means different things to different people.

To give credit to the ICC, after my initial scathing critique, they’re ringing in the crucial changes. Apart from experimenting with technology, they moved with surprising swiftness to clarify the whole Lara-Dhoni faux pas of the first Test. There are lots of such gray areas in cricket though, and ICC needs to weed them out rather than waiting for them to create a problem before clarifying on it. And as the game continues to evolve, more of these gray areas will pop up.

Wha..? (Part II)

June 12, 2006

Doesn’t moisture in the pitch mean that it’s going to assist the pace bowlers? What’s all this talk about moisture smothering sideways movement? I’m not saying the pitch wasn’t better to bat on the first day than it was the second, it certainly was; but how is moisture to blame for that? Did I miss something?