Archive for July, 2006

Blast from the past

July 29, 2006

I couldn’t help but burst into laughter when I read how the Barmy Army sledged Murali back in 2003.

Throw, throw, throw the ball, gently down the seam
Murali, Murali, Murali, Murali, chucks it like a dream
Bowl, bowl, bowl the ball, gently through the air
Murali, Murali, Murali, Murali, here comes Darrell Hair … No Ball!

Even the great man himself must’ve chuckled when he first heard this. Bloody brilliant. Here are Cricinfo’s best quotes from 2003.


Bye, bye Gilo

July 29, 2006

England just won the second Test against Pakistan emphatically, thanks in no small part to some brilliant performances, one of which came from Monty Panesar. Panesar seems to have gone from zero to hero in no time, and has firmly ensconced himself in the English squad. After a tough international baptism in India (avg. 62.4, strike rate 141.6 from 3 Tests), he’s turned things around in England (avg. 22.8, strike rate 45.95 from 5 Tests), and this against two subcontinental teams that are traditionally good players of spin. Giles never came close to bowling like that even in his dreams. Along the way, I hear, Monty’s gathered a cult following among the fan base for his mannerisms and idiosyncracies. Having been nicknamed Monty helped as well. When I first saw him a few months ago, I remember thinking that he wasn’t ready for international cricket. He was diffident, unsure in his appeals, and exuded all the nervelessness of an off-balance tight-rope walker. And then there was his fielding. A few months on, his shortcomings have endeared him to the British crowd, and the team management feels he’s making up for them in the bowling department. I don’t remember the last time England unearthed such a spin prospect. We can be certain that come November, it will be Panesar, and not the aging Giles, taking the field against Australia.

Tendulkar & Dravid

July 11, 2006

Excerpt from Rahul Bhattacharya’s Pundits from Pakistan (describing a game during India’s historic tour of Pakistan in 2003-04):

In Dravid, he found a sharp, hard-running ally, and who played a cracking reverse sweep which may have plucked a string of nostalgia in Tendulkar’s heart. Tendulkar used to play it just like that half a decade ago, and then he gave it up. Half a decade ago, Dravid would have scolded himself and performed twenty push-ups if he had attempted that stroke even in a dream.

The greatest bowler of all time?

July 2, 2006

Were it not for umpires’ tendency to not give batsmen out LBW when they take a stride forward, Kumble could very well have the most tally of wickets in cricket at this point. I’ve noticed this a lot. Kumble gets batsmen out LBW a lot, but only a small fraction of those are given (mostly because the batsman takes a step forward). Kumble’s habits don’t help him much either: he appeals just as vociferously for balls pitching outside leg or clearly missing the stumps, which is just plain ridiculous. Kumble doesn’t impart too much spin or bounce on the ball, so he’s hitting the stumps a lot. On all kinds of pitches, against all kinds of batsmen. While watching on TV, I can tell that; and Hawkeye usually confirms that. So, he has so many valid LBW shouts that aren’t even entertained by the umpires.

Technological assistance will help him, whenever it gets here. Hawkeye’s not going to be offiicial anytime soon, so Kumble might never have the benefit of that technology. But just being able to re-appeal against the on-field umpire’s decisions should help.

Sehwag or bust

July 2, 2006

When chasing 350+ totals on the last day, India’s attitude is summed up by the title of this post. If Sehwag plays really well and manages to take India very close to the total, then they’ll have a go at the target. Otherwise, not really. As well all know, that has never happened for Sehwag’s record in the second innings is quite ordinary: an average in the mid-20s and no centuries.

But what if Sehwag does just well enough? India scored at four and a half runs per over in the first session on the last day of the 3rd Test against the WI without losing a wicket. Isn’t that a good enough start to be a little positive in the second session? Yes, they lost two wickets, but that’s no reason to throw in the towel. And what’s with tea being the magical point where they decide whether or not to have a go at the target? When you’re only two down with twenty minutes to go to tea, isn’t it obvious to have a go at the target? Why then play out 5 overs for very few runs at that point?

India’s had a few opportunities to chase 350+ totals in the last 15 months. They’ve made good starts in all. Against Pakistan in Bangalore, they were 103/1 at lunch chasing 383; against England in Nagpur they were 63/1 chasing 368; and against West Indies in St. Kitts they were 109/0 chasing 392. Yet they’ve failed to chase any of them. The good thing is that they didn’t repeat the mistake they had made against Pakistan: shutting down shop completely after losing two quick wickets post-lunch and thus allowing Pakistan to go on all-out attack. Lara wanted to do the same, and tried if after Sehwag was out, but India kept the scorecard ticking and he had to start worrying about saving runs.

But what bothers me is that India had a realistic chance of chasing down the targets in the other two games and they just didn’t react quick enough. They were far too negative early on, and ended up requiring more than 200 runs in the last session. Sehwag is not the only one who can get them to that target. I think that if Sehwag gives us a decent enough start, we need to drop Dravid to no. 5 in the batting order. That way, we can keep the run-rate going and if a few wickets fall, then we have the best defense in the world to see us through to the end of the day.