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Saturday, January 30, 2010

IPL back in India - (KKR & RR)

In this post, I've put up the IPL advertisement featuring Kolkatta Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals .  Sit back and enjoy the short videos.

Kolkatta Knight Riders (KKR) featuring Sourav Ganguly -

Rajasthan Royals (RR) featuring Shane Warne - 

IPL back in India - (DD & RCB)

In this post, I've put up the IPL advertisement featuring Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore.  Sit back and enjoy the short videos.

Delhi Daredevils (DD) featuring Gautam Gambhir -

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) featuring Anil Kumble - 

IPL back in India - (DC & KXIP)

In this post, I've put up the IPL advertisement featuring Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab.  Sit back and enjoy the short video.

Deccan Chargers (DC) featuring Adam Gilchrist -

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) featuring Kumar Sangakara -

IPL back in India - (MI)

In the next few posts, I'm just posting the various television advertisements by DLF IPL and Set Max ahead of the IPL.  The theme is a simple but strong theme.  IPL back in India.

I loved the way, the advertisements were shot.  Each franchisee captain talks about IPL back in India and a small line just what it means to them and their team.  The videos will be posted according to the teams, so just sit back and enjoy the videos.  You can watch the videos, match highlights, live streaming of matches and other videos such as interviews in the IPL channel found in YouTube.

Here's the first video,  Mumbai Indians featuring Sachin Tendulkar.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A study of sledging.....

Recently Bangladeshi wicket keeper Mushfiqur Rahim said that India indulged in alot of sledging and that he was called a school boy by Zaheer Khan.

The new India under Dhoni consists of a fearless batch of men who never back down from a challenge and look to excel in all departments of the game.  This is a key trait of excellent sports management. It is little surprise that this aggressive never say die team has achieved a task that no other Indian team has achieved before.  By being the number one test team in the world, India must look not only to be the best and stay number one but also to promote the game and set high values for others to follow.

Sledging has been in cricket since it was begun and it continues to be a nuisance. Sledging is the art or rather the practice of verbally taunting and abusing a player in order to disrupt his concentration and dent his confidence thereby which the person sledging gains the upper hand or an advantage over his rival. It is not unlawful but it is very much unspotsmanlike. Call it verbal disintegration or something else, sledging remians sledging and an ever present weed taking away the beauty from the cricket, just like a weed in the midst of a garden.

A very interesting thing I've noted is that sledging is predominately done by the world's best sides.  Viv Richards and his West Indian team did it and Australia under Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting did it, and now India under Dhoni look like taking forward the trend.  Is it a coincidence that the world's best teams in their respective times took active part in sledging?

I think it is much more that a mere coincidence. Sledging is generally done by a aggressive team and normally the aggressive teams are powerful or strong teams.  A powerful team ranked number uno won't be short on confidence and they believe that the world is theirs for the taking.  Such teams play aggressive cricket and take even those small half chances that come their way. Their unique body language sets them apart, and for a warrior who knows that he is the best, there is always that respect he commands from his opponents and he fights just to show the world his might.  To be the best team, one must play an aggressive game and sadly sledging is part of showing aggression.  This is not to say that only the good and powerful teams take part in sledging.  Even small and mediocre teams take part in sledging, and further destroy the beauty of the game.

Sledging, I feel is bad but must not be banned as it would be practically impossible to ban it.  How can one prevent a person from talking?  It's simple as that.  Sledging can't be banned, but it can and should be controlled.   Unless it is controlled, there will be allegations that a comment was racist or offending sentiments.  It will be a repeat of the 2007 monkey gate saga in Australia, leading to confusion and ill feelings between teams and players alike.

Fining a person for sledging is another thing I am against even though I detest sledging.  How can a casual comment said in the heat of the tension and competition in a matter of seconds warrant 10 or 20 per cent of match fees as a fine.  Sledging might be part of the game, but it's only to a lesser degree and must be curtailed there so that it doesn't get out of hand.  In the recent Ranji Trophy finals Karnataka versus Mumbai, the tension was very high as was the prize and alot of sledging took place between the teams.  Agit Agarkar even went on record saying that he hoped that his son hadn't watched the match as it was so ugly.  But the lessons were learnt or at least heard as Mumbai and Karnatka skippers Wasim Jaffer and Robin Uthappa agreed that such foul mouthed talk disrupts the game than do good.

Surely, Sledging leaves a lot to be undesired for and hopefully India will not take that road, and start to set new standards for sportsmanship.  I won't be surprised if that doesn't happen as it really is a huge ask, not only for the Indian team but for any team, be it the Australian national team or a petty secondary education school team in Chittagong.

Kolkata Knight Riders - Preview

So, this week it is going to be the Kolkata Knight Riders. They have got a real new approach to everything this years after two really dismal seasons....

According to the KKR website, the team culminated due to the efforts to two brave knights ( read Shah Rukh Khan and Jay Mehta ) and a daring lady ( who else but Juhi Chawla ). The team which was lead by Brendon McCullum last season, is back under the reigns of our dear Sourav Ganguly, the charming Prince of Kolkata. They did make a lucrative buy at the auctions this year, snapping up New Zealannd pace spearhead SHANE BOND in a silent auction. There are rumours around suggesting that they might rope in Pakistani All Rounder ABDUR RAZZAQ too. Also, Ricky Ponting was bought out by KKR on the eve of the auction.

Let us now have a look at their Indian Stars :

Aakash Chopra
Ajit Agarkar
Ashok Dinda
Cheteshwar Pujara
Debabrata Das
Iqbal Abdulla
Ishant Sharma
Laxmi Ratan Shukla
Murali Karthik
Manoj Tiwary
Sourav Ganguly ( Captain )
Wriddhiman Saha
Yashpal Singh

Among these 13 players, an interesting fact to note is that 9 players have been part of the National Squad at some time or the other. Aakash Chopra is an accomplished opener and he, in the company of Sourav Ganguly can give a steady start. Ishant, Agarkar and Dinda together make a brilliant pace attack. Saha's showing behind the stumps also has been good of late. Manoj Tiwary and Shukla can finsh innings very well.

Moving on to the Foreign players,

Ajantha Mendis
Angelo Mathews
Brad Hodge
Brendon McCullum
Chris Gayle
David Hussey
Mark Cameron
Mashrafe Mortaza
Morne van Wyk
Owais Shah
Shane Bond

One look and you'll know it is a star-studded team( the reason for its failure is still a mystery though ). Hodge, Gayle , McCullum are all explosive players and can single-handedly win matches( not many of us will forget McCullum's assault in the very first IPL Match , and will we ? ).  Add to them David Hussey, Bond and Mendis ( who cares if people have sorted him out now. He's still dangerous) and you'll be looking at probably THE BEST Team in terms of Foreign players.

They've changed their jersey colour, their coach ( its Dav Whatmore now... not Buchanan) , and even the team to a certain extent. So, we'll just have to wait and watch if they actually become champions :)

Next week, it'll be the First champions, Rajasthan Royals :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

The controversy of the auction...

The IPL auction that took place on January 19th was all but smooth sailing that everyone hoped it would be.  What was supposed to be a small glamorous affair where 11 of the 67 players on sale would be bought turned into a diplomatic feud that left the IPL, the franchisees and the Indian government in a rather uncomfortable position, and the Pakistani public raging mad.

Of the 67 players on sale, 10 players were from Pakistan and players such as Afridi was expected to be the toast of the day.  In a recent article for the IPL, I put him as the 'Big three of Auction 2010'.  The poll in the IPL website also agreed with my assumptions, but was Afridi, the world and I in for a shock!  The very first name to go under the hammer was the explosive batsman from Pakistan and not a single bid was made for him!  Things looked ominous for the Pakistani players and in the end none of them were bought.

Who do you think will be the top pick in DLF IPL auction 2010?
 Kieron Pollard   21%(2190 votes)

 Shahid Afridi   70%(7445 votes)

 Shane Bond   9%(935 votes)

Total Votes : 10570

The Paksitan public screamed for blood and many stars from Pakistan such as Afridi and Razzaq stated that this was all a conspiracy against Pakistan to humiliate them.  The Pakistan government stepped in and demanded explanation and the people in India found themselves in the hot seat.  The question arises whether these allegations hold any solid base.  The answer is simple no.  The allegations are false and hold no claim whatsoever, but then again it is very much natural.  A country that has been named the T20 world champions, and where cricket is followed with just as much fanaticism as India, found it's players being not bought.  Call it a 'snub' or a 'conspiracy', but the plain matter of fact is that the events are just a grim reflection of the times we live in.

The anger over the auction result is natural considering that the players were made to undergo various procedures and were asked to submit their visas and papers within a particular date that was later extended just for them.  The Pakistani players must have felt like rats running around in a maze, that has no exit.  True, the Pakistan public and the players have the right to be angry, but calling the auction an conspiracy against Pakistan is crossing the line.  After all the IPL is a private body and the franchisees are owned by individuals.  The franchisee idea is based on business, and any business decision is made with the motive of making money.  The franchisees considered Pakistani players a shaky and risky investment considering the strained relationships between India and Pakistan and didn't want to gamble their money in an investment that may not pay them any dividends.  The plain fact of the matter is simple as that.  The loss of Pakistan players in the IPL is not a loss for Pakistan alone, but very much a loss for India and world cricket.  But, there is no use crying over spilled milk and the IPL will have to make do without them.

Just last year, after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai, when asked the citizens of India and Pakistan, they felt that cricket was probably the best channel to bring about peace between the two countries.  Cricket is seen as a diplomatic channel, so therefore any small blemish between the countries is seen as as an attempt by the government to put down the other government.  The 2004 Samsung series between India and Pakistan in Pakistan showed us that cricket can speak a language, diplomats can't, but since then things has taken a turn towards the worse.  Sports have always been intermingled with politics, and history shows us that.  The summer Olympics of 1936 with Hitler and Jesse Owens, and the 1969 war between El Salvador and Honduras after El Salvador beat Honduras in the 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifiers bear witness to the sad reality that sports and politics coexist together.  Cricket is no exception and the grim result of the auction is just a sad reflection of the reality in the times we live in.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kings XI Punjab - Preview

Starting this week, I plan to have a look the the teams before IPL starts.... I'll be doing one every week and am starting with Kings XI Punjab this week.

The team , as most of you know , is jointly owned by Ness Wadia ( Joint MD , Bombay Dyeing ) , Mohit Burman ( Director , Dabur India ) , Karan Paul ( Chairman , Apeejay Surrendra Group ) and , of course , the bubbly Preity Zinta who is also the Chairperson of the team.They have changed their skipper for this season. Yuvraj Singh will be making way for Kumar Sangakkara ( Yuvi took his team to the semis in the first season, but failed to lead by example as a captain in the second season - one of the possible reasons for his removal ).They have bought Mohd. Kaif ( the lone Indian in the auction ) and also retained South African Yusuf Abdulla ( who had played a few matches for them in IPL 2 ).

Lets have a look at the team members. The Indians in thier team are :

Yuvraj Singh
Irfan Pathan
Shanthakumaran Sreesanth
Ramesh Powar
Vikram Raj Vir Singh

Mohammad Kaif
Piyush Chawla
Karan Goel
Uday Kaul
Wilkin Mota

Ajitesh Argal
Tanmay Srivastava
Sunny Sohal
Ryan Ninan
Ravikant Shukla

Ranadeb Bose
Vikramjeet Malik
Taruwar Kohli
Amanpreet Singh

This team has got probably the best Indian Bowling Line-up, boasting of the likes of Irfan , Sreesanth , V.R.V.Singh , Ranadeb Bose , Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar. The batting is also very strong with Big-Hitters like Yuvi , Wilkin Mota and Mohd.Kaif ( yeah , he can hit big ones at times ).

The Foreign players contracted with this team at present are :

Brett Lee
James Hopes
Shaun Marsh
Jerome Taylor
Simon Katich

Kumar Sangakkara ( Captain )
Mahela Jayawardene
Burt Cockley
Ravi Bopara
Yusuf Abdulla

Nuwan Kulasekara
Adrian Barath

They have great openers in the Aussie pair of Shaun Marsh and Simon Katich. James hopes, the Aussie all-rounder is another asset given his ability to bat anywhere. Mahela Jayawardene is a very experienced player and delivers when needed.  Ravi Bopara and Nuwan Kulasekara are all exciting players who have achieved stuff in the recent past.

On the whole, it is a good team, coached by Tom Moody , having the potential to go the distance and become champions. We'll have to wait and see....

Up Next ( probably by coming wednesday ), the Kolkata Knight Riders.

A new world order

This article was written by me when India became the number one test team in December 2009.

December 6 2009 turned into one of the proudest moments in Indian sporting history, as India clinched the test series against Sri Lanka to become rank number one in test cricket.  This was a rare title that had eluded the team in the past.  Now as the team heads into the new year wearing the crown of champions, the question arises, whether India deserves such a prestigious title and whether the team is capable of holding it.  

India's rise to domination has been steady process that had been started in the beginning of the millennium with  Ganguly and John Wright laying the founding steps and since then, the team has come a long way.  India at present possess the most stable and flexible team it has possessed in recent times, despite the absence of an all-rounder in the team.  The Indian batting is very strong and probably the strongest test batting line up at present.  The batting is strong, stable and at the same time is very flexible.  It has a mixture of youth and experience, combines aggression with caution, and there is no shortage of confidence.  In this current team, there is no such thing as an unattainable target and a draw is looked down as a loss.

One of the major reasons for success has been the fact that India have found their best opening pair.  Quality openers are a rarity in Indian cricket, and more often talented openers after a few glittering performances fade away into the background.  Permanence in the Indian opening slot was an unanswered prayer from the days of Sunil Gavaskar.  Even he didn't find a permanent partner.   But in the Delhi lads of Sehwag and Gambhir, India have perhaps not only the greatest openers of modern times, but also the most feared openers of our times.  Sehwag's unorthodox, naturally aggressive style is well complimented by the grace and sublime playing style of Gambhir.  The two have a natural understanding with each other and keep each other motivated and focused.  Many of India's great victories have been set up by these two openers.  The run chase at Chennai against England and the last match against Sri Lanka bears witness to this fact.

Rahul Dravid at first drop has been doing what he has done for the last decade and continues to do that job with great success.  The man who has a text book defense is more often the spine of the team.  In the past Dravid along with Sachin used to walk the valley of despair alone as the batting all around would crumble, but nowadays with so many great run-accumulators in in the team, the lone batting hero knocks is a thing of the past.  But he still remains the go-to man in times of struggle.  It must come as no surprise that Dravid is the leading run scorer for India in 2009.  The little maestro at four provides the already strong middle order with an aura of legacy and the team with the runs.   Laxman follows Sachin and the man from Hyderabad has proven time and time again just why he is in the team despite numerous calls for his head.  The silken grace of Laxman is an absolute treat for the eyes and on his day, Laxman can make any international team look like a school team.    The 2001 Calcutta test was the start of the Indian dominance and it was Laxman who started the celebrations.

Yuvraj Singh is a dazzling south paw who has never found a permanent test place, but with Ganguly's retirement, Yuvraj has done everything possible to cement his place and fill the gap left by Ganguly's retirement.  Dhoni, is one of the best wicket keepers of India, and added to this is his highly adrenaline style of batting makes him one of India's most talented players.

Dhoni as a captain is prolific with his judgments and his record so far shows that.  Dhoni provides India with an counter-attacking wicketkeeper that Adam Gilchrist provided Australia down the order when they were in their prime.  The reserves have also been doing great with Dinesh Karthik and Murali Vijay performing whenever they are given a chance.  Overall the batting looks like an absolute gem and surely is the main reason of India's success.

You cannot win a test match unless you take 20 wickets.  The bowling unit therefore plays a major role in securing a victory in a test match.  The batting unit can ensure a drawn result but it is the bowling unit that ensures victory.  India with Zaheer has a very good spearhead.  Zaheer Khan is nippy, consistent and can swing the ball both ways.  Added to this is his accuracy and his ability to mix the length and line well, provides India with a genuine match winner.  Zaheer has been influential and has been a large part of the success in England, New Zealand and South Africa.  The only problem is that the left arm pacer doesn't have a 'permanent' partner to share the load with.  Ishant Sharma emerged as an International sensation but in just two years, his pace has dropped, and is very inconsistent.  The run away talent who with his long hair became an national 'rock icon' now struggles to find a place in the team.  Sreesanth made a great comeback this year, but he still has a long way to go.  But Sreesanth does show promise and looks like a more complete bowler than before.  Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan are in the selector's radar but have not impressed them much.    If India are to hold onto the number one spot, then the pace department must be rejuvenated and fresh.

The spin department looks steady with Harbhajan Singh assuming the senior spinner role in Kumble's retirement.  Pragyan Ojha, and Amit Mishra have been impressive, and contributed to the team with steady wickets.  Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar seem to have dropped of the selector's radar, but they do have the talent and will be hoping for a comeback.  The part timers Sachin, Sehwag, and Yuvraj also provide the much required variations and flexibility.  The Indian bowling is not the best but it is good, aggressive, and does the job of picking up wickets.   The bowling unit combined with the devastating batting unit makes up an hell of a team.

India has finally achieved the status of the best test team, and has once again put test cricket in the limelight in India.  India's rise to dominance is not an over night success, but an building process that had started a decade ago with John Wright as coach and Ganguly at the helm.  Wright and Ganguly had to rebuild a team after world cricket was in shock with the match-fixing controversy.  Since then Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and M.S. Dhoni have built the dream, brick by brick in the presence of Greg Chappel, and Gary Kirsten.  Indian cricket has come a long, long way and has finally scaled a new peak.  But, does this team deserve such a mighty title as 'test champions'?  Definitely, it deserves the title and at present without a doubt, India is the best test team.  Now the question arises 'whether India can hold onto the title?'  After all becoming number one is just half the process completed.  'Getting there is the easy part; being there is the hard part'.  But, I do not see why this Indian team cannot hold onto the title and be included among Bradman's 'Invincibles', Viv Richard's 'Thundering Caribbeans' and Steve Waugh's 'Mighty Kangaroos'.  A new era of dominance has begun and hopefully the reign will put a new world order in place.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cricket for Dummies

Wondering what is this blog all about?

Wondering what is cricket?

The definition of Cricket as explained to a foreigner

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.

Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

There are two men in white coats called the umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game! Simple!

More Information 

If you still want to more about cricket, pick up your encyclopedia and look it up or visit Wikipedia.  Also try the book 'Cricket for Dummies'.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

IPL 3.0

IPL season three is just a couple of months away and already the excitement and the expectations are hanging around in the air like the aroma from some freshly prepared delicacy.  IPL is back in India and the passion and love of India has engulfed it even before starting off.  The Indian Premier League is a one of a kind and the whole world watches just how it will unfold this year.  The cynics and the critics have been proven wrong so far and probably will yet again while the players, fans, and the viewers will  be up for some serious dose of cricket, and entertainment.  Here's what we can expect from the grande spectacle....

IPL 3.0 looks to be a great success already, for the basic fact that it is back home in Indian soil.  The Indian crowd will once again be able to see their stars and idols perform not only on their television sets but also in the various venues.  The 'home' and 'away' matches will now hold much more meaning than it did in South Africa with the home crowd doing everything possible to cheer on their team.  The atmosphere of the Indian public is an amazing indescribable feeling.  The passion and the love for the game in India is unlike anywhere.  The land of billion people will dance to one beat come this March.
A thing to watch out this year are the new stars that will be emerging from the auction.  With big glittering names such as Kieron Pollard, Shahid Afridi and Shane Bond up for grabs, it will be interesting to see how they perform for their franchisees.  The regular players will also be up for the competition and Ross Taylor, Mathew Hayden, Brendon McCullum, Adam Gilchrist, Virender Sehwag, and Yuvraj Singh are a few of the dazzler's who can very well send IPL 3.0 soaring.  Expect to see some big sixes and great boundaries.  Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, Fidel Edwards, and Muralitharan will be the bowlers to keep an eye out for, and also the ones who'll prove once again that cricket is still not completely a batsman's game.  The players look great and if their performances are anything like it has been in previous editions, then we got ourselves a cracker of a contest.

It will interesting to see how the different franchisees go about this year's IPL.  Rajasthan Royals will be desperately hoping to reciprocate their IPL season one results and Shane Warne will only know that very well.  The team sans big stars will try to capture everyone's imagination just like it did in IPL -1 and will hope that it's romance with India will continue.  Time is fast flying for Warne and this may be the last time that we may see the blonde magician weave magic.

 Kolkata Knight Riders will be hoping to turn the tide and will want to surf up this time.  With Ganguly back at the helm and a few drastic changes made in the Kolkata camp, the Knight Riders look like a serious fighting machine.  It will be interesting to watch this team as Ponting returns to the team.  Shah Rukh Khan will be counting on his boys to deliver the goods this time.  IPL 3.0 maybe Kolkata's redemption song.

Delhi Daredevils have started a trend of reaching the semifinals but failing to carry on from there.  Gambhir will try to make sure that this trend is reversed.  Delhi look great and have amazing talent and will try to use their newly acquired player - Moises Henriques.  Delhi will be trying to win this year's IPL and will be banking on Sehwag, Dilshan and Gambhir.

Punjab will also be trying to enter the finals this year.  Last year they came close but lost the semifinal slot, but under a new captain the team looks ready to make some amends.  Kumar Sangakara takes over the helm this year from Yuvraj Singh and it will be amusing to see how the team and Yuvraj respond to the new skipper.  Preity Zinta will be praying like Shah Rukh Khan that her team will come out on top.

Mumbai Indians is another team that has failed to qualify for the semifinals so far and will be trying to cross that hurdle this year.  Sachin Tendulkar has yet to start going in the IPL, but rest assure he will, and this just might be the year.  Mumbai Indians would certainly like 2010 to be the toast for all Mumbaikers, and Indians alike.

Chennai Super Kings look like an amazing team made for T20 and under Dhoni's leadership and Fleming's guidance the team looks almost like an invincible fort.  But this year one of their big warriors in Flintoff will be missing and Chennai will look to fill the void.  But rest assured that Dhoni and his lion pride will not settle for a semifinal or a final slot this time.  They have their eyes set for the crown.

Deccan Chargers will be a team that will try to repeat their incredible charge to victory in South Africa and provide their loyal supporters in India something to cheer about.  Gilchrist will be asking his boys for a stalwart performance and will look to lead from the front.  Rohit Sharma will also eye the 2010 IPL as an chance to return to he national team and don the blue colors again.  Deccan look good and for a team who went from last to first, who knows what they may do?

Finally, there's Royal Challenger's Bangalore.  Bangalore has experienced some good times recently and was successful like the Deccan Chargers in reversing the tide.  The Challenger's look like a powerful team that packs quite a punch.  A well oiled and balanced unit with Kumble at helm might be the winning formula for Bangalore.  With Kevin Pietersen back, Bangalore will hope to go one better than last time.

IPL season 3 looks like a fantastic and fascinating tournament and by the looks of things so far it will be very very interesting to see how the tournament results.  With eight teams fighting for glory, money and fame, IPL 3.0 looks like a highly competitive dog fight.  But the question remains, who will walk away with the big bone?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ponting - Player of the Decade?

Cricinfo asked some 30 odd  (38 to be exact) players (current and former), and cricket writers, the question "Who is the Player of the Decade?".  The player's performance from 2000 to 2009 was taken into account and the jury announced the results today.  The results declared Ponting as the player of the decade.
The Jury

Jonathan Agnew, BBC cricket correspondent; Mushtaq Ahmed, former Pakistan legspinner; Sambit Bal, Cricinfo editor; Scyld Berry, editor, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack;Rahul Bhattacharya, writer; Harsha Bhogle, writer and TV presenter; Geoff Boycott, former England opener;Alex Brown, deputy editor, Cricinfo; John Buchanan, former Australia coach; Ian Chappell, former Australia captain; Tony Cozier, writer and commentator; Martin Crowe, former New Zealand captain; Peter English, Australasia editor, Cricinfo; Graham Gooch, former England captain; Tony Greig, former England captain, and commentator; Gideon Haigh, writer; Rob Houwing, chief writer for; Athar Ali Khan, former Bangladesh opener; Rashid Latif , former Pakistan wicketkeeper; Geoff Lawson, former Australia fast bowler;David Lloyd, former England coach; Ranjan Madugalle, ICC match referee; Pradeep Magazine , writer; Sanjay Manjrekar, writer and former India batsman; Neil Manthorp, broadcaster and writer; Ayaz Memon, writer;Suresh Menon, writer; Andrew Miller, UK editor, Cricinfo; Tom Moody, former Australia allrounder, former Sri Lanka coach; Dileep Premachandran, associate editor, Cricinfo; Ramiz Raja, former Pakistan batsman;Mark Richardson, former New Zealand opener; Peter Roebuck, writer; Christian Ryan, former editor of WisdenAustralia; Osman Samiuddin, Pakistan editor, Cricinfo;John Stern, editor of the Wisden CricketerJavagal Srinath, former India fast bowler; Daniel Vettori, New Zealand captain

Ponting was named the player of the decade with 60 points.  His closest competitors was Kallis who trailed him by more than 20 points.   The list of contenders are, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Rahul Dravid, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mahela Jayawardene, Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara, Mohammad Yousuf, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara, Graeme Smith, Sachin Tendulkar, and Shane Warne.  Does Ponting deserve such high acclaim?  Is he really better than Kallis, Tendulkar, and Muralitharan?  Well, the numbers show that Ponting is the best of the decade and rightly came out on top.  But what does it prove?   (The result below shows the number of points each player got.)

The Top 10

Ponting came out on top due to the sheer weight of his numbers.  Ponting has scored 9458 runs at 58.38, and 32 of his 38 centuries in the 107 matches he played in 2000's.  A great achievement, but what does it show?  It shows that since his debut, for the first four years, Ponting scored only 2103 runs.  In that time, he scored only 6 centuries in 34 matches.  Further more he played in 47 innings at an average of touch above 44.  The average is great, but the runs came against lesser teams and Ponting struggled averaging in the twenties in 1996 and 98.  In 1996, he played against India, Sri Lanka and West Indies and failed miserably, while in 1998, South Africa and England probed him.  Ponting did mature and evolve and from 2000 he started to be a indispensable player of the team and took over the helm from Steve Waugh.  Ponting's best moment came soon after as he won Australia the 2003 and 2007 World Cup.  2003 was a dream year for Ponting as he scored 1503 at an average of 100.20, with three double-centuries.  Ponting has performed well all over the world except India where he averages just 21.85.  But overall, the decade has been good for Punter as he scored more than 9000 runs in both forms of the game and averaged over 55 in tests.*

The question arises whether Ponting will be remembered for all the runs he scored in the last decade or being the second Australian captain to concede the Ashes to England.  Will he be remembered as an hero who brought great success to his country or go down as an villain who would do anything to win?  Will he be remembered as Australia's most successful skipper, or the one of world cricket's controversial leaders.  Will he be known as a player who can score at will in England and Australia, or as a player who struggled in the sub continent specially India.  The questions rage on, but one thing is sure, he will be remembered for all of the above.  Ponting is loved in Australia and hated elsewhere, but no one can deny his presence and place in world cricket.

Now the question arises yet again, whether Ponting is truly better than Tendulkar, Lara, Kallis or Muralitharan.  After all figures don't mean everything.  So is he greater than the rest?  The answer is a complicated answer that will fuel more arguments than results.  It is impossible to arrive at an complete answer.  So instead of comparing these legends let's just enjoy their performances and contributions to world cricket.

*All figures are taken from Cricinfo - Stats.

My article is in the IPL website!

My previous article, Player Auction for IPL 3.0 has been published in the Indian Premier League's (IPL) homepage.  The article is titled The Big Three of Auction 2010.

Do have a look at the article.  The article can also be found on Facebook.  Here's a huge thank you for all the comments;

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Player Auction for IPL 3.0

IPL season 3 is all ready to roll out and create a blast.  A jittery electric bolt of excitement is all over the world as India prepares for it's finest moment.   The franchisee's are getting their agenda's ready, the player's have started to hit the nets for their franchisees and the world waits with baited breath.  The fireworks don't start till March 12th, but the animated action that has become synonymous with the IPL has already kick started and is accelerating fast towards the player auction for IPL 3.0.

The IPL auction is less than a fortnight away and the expectations and excitement only grows as each day arrives.  With $750,000 purse for each Franchisee, the players under the hammer, the team owners and the public have every right to feel jumpy.  There are numerous main attractions and bidding is expected to be a big dog fight.  Kieron Pollard will be the hottest player and will surely be on every Franchisees must have list. But there are other eye catching T20 stars such as the Pakistani T20 captain - Shahid Afridi, Pakistani tearaway sensation - Mohammad Aamir, and New Zealand's speed demon - Shane Bond.  Here are some of the huge sensations that will surely be on fire on Auction day.

Kieron Pollard captured everyone's eye during the Airtel CLT20 and must have definitely be the top commodity to buy on all the bidder's list.  The explosive batsman can send the ball out of any stadium and his big hitting makes him a 'must have'.  Added to his ability to clear the ball at will, is his bowling.  His right arm medium fast may not be the most intimidating bowling in the world, but sure is a handful to cope up with.  He mixes his pace well and uses plenty of variations, and always tends on keeping the batsman guessing.  He also has a safe pair of hands and is 'the perfect all-rounder for T20'.  Pollard was made for T20 and the team managements know that only very well.  Pollard is sure to be the Big Bang explosion of the auction.

New Zealand pacer Shane Bond has been in scintillating form and would be the speedster that teams would look at.  Bond has got his second chance at redemption and would be raring to go.  His retirement from test cricket will also enable him to spend more time with the shorter format of the game.  Bond is a sneaky customer who bowls at tearaway speeds, has a great line and can swing the ball both ways.  He mixes up his pace and has variations of every kind in his armory.   Bond will be another player to watch out for.

The Pakistani T20 skipper Shahid Afridi is another player like Pollard who was born for T20.  He is a live wire in the field and add that with his big hitting and his accurate leg spin, you got a hell of a player!  Afridi is made for glamor and the big stage.  A person who always is chirpy and in the midst of limelight on and off the field will be more than a catch prize for the IPL teams.

All rounder Abdul Razzaq is another man like Bond who is looking for second chance, and what better place than the IPL extravaganza!  Abdul Razzaq is a seasoned campaigner who with his all round efforts of big hitting and his stump to stump nagging line makes him a player to watch.

Mohammad Aamir has been a tearaway pace bowler, who is donning his county cap at such an young age!  The talent, energy and potential is there, and with proper channels Aamir can become the McGrath of Pakistan.  The bundle of raw energy and talent has definitely raised more than an eye.

Justin Kemp of South Africa is also another big hitting all-rounder who will be looking for the redemption song. The tall man can hit the deck hard and bowl an amazingly teasing line, that is not very easy to score off.  He also is one of the players to whom the distance of the boundary does not matter, because when Kemp hits the 'white snowball' it goes into the orbit.

Bangladeshi captain Shakib Al Hasan will be another interesting player to watch out.  He is a good batsman and revels in the subcontinent, but a far better spin bowler and probably the best in Bangaldesh.  Shakib would provide a good stable middle order and it would be interesting to see how he fares.

Brad Haddin, and Adam Voges will also be notably fought over.  Voges is a class act who is a T20 specialist in every sense.  His efforts for Nottingham in the English county will speak volumes for him.

It will be interesting to see if a team 'buys' Damien Martyn, considering that his playing days are over.  Nevertheless Martyn has fond memories of India and his bat may speak yet again.

Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Nuwan Kulasekera, Sulieman Benn, Imran Nazir, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Akmal, and Grant Elliott are other notable figures who can make a big splash.

One thing the IPL has taught us is that cricket like life is unpredictable, and I will not be surprised if a few names above go missing or if some other new names appears.  Whatever the case, come Tuesday the 19th, all our speculations, and expectations will be put to rest.  IPL 3.0 is all ready to start and on 19th, we'll know what exactly we're in for.  Here's hoping for a grand IPL 3.0!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Great Escape!

England have found have another interesting way to keep everyone interested in test cricket and amuse their fans.  The English team is now remaking the famous John Sturge's movie, 'The Great Escape', with the usual 'English humor and grit'.

In the past twelve months alone, there have been three viewings of the English version of 'The Great Escape'. Cardiff,  Centurion, and just yesterday Cape Town witnessed an amazing draw.  Yes amazing draws that were truly much more enthralling than a victory.  James Anderson and Monty starred in Cardiff, and Collingwood, Graeme Swann and Onions played as the heroes in the other two viewings of the 'Great Escape'.  Ian Bell finally turned out as an hero and starred alongside, Collingwood in yesterday's 'The Great Escape - Part -3'.

[SCORECARD] England have a truly incredible and sensible player who knows how the tail responds to pressure and plays.  Collingwood has achieved a new sense of maturity and it was clearly seen in his two innings at the Centurion and Cape Town where he stayed at the crease, whiling away the time, and calmed the tail batsman nerves.  Collingwood's 26 and 40 in the two games in Sou Africa were just as valuable as an century considering the state of the game.  He managed to consume 188 balls and bat out 276 minutes.  That is 276 minutes of utter concentration, knowing that without you the team's doomed.  276 minutes of pure defense, and very very selected shot selection.  In other words Collingwood had to concentrate as if he was juggling a few knives and playing hopscotch.

Ian Bell also impressed mightily and showed glimpses of what we might expect in the future.  Bell with his baby like face has done enough to earn a place in the team, but he always is up against tough critics.  It's as if the whole world hates the kid.  But the 'kid' did do everything right and must have made the many journalist who write trash stories on him, eat their words.  Bell was a picture of composure and concentration, as he played an hell of an innings with Collingwood.  His 78 of 213 balls was surely one of his best efforts, and he lasted 286 minutes curbing his naturally attacking intentions and showing the world that he can play at the very top level.

Bell was involved an virtually no stroke partnership with Collingwood as the scored 112 runs in 57 overs.  The partnership was full of maturity and a perfect lesson on 'how to save a test match'.  Bell and Collinghood were unremovable as they applied themselves and were more than happy to leave majority of the balls.  Attacking strokes went into recession.  Actually any stroke other than an defensive stroke was seldom seen.  The duo looked like finishing the job, but they didn't, adding a thrilling end to the match.

Swann, Broad and Onions showed just how a should tail wag much to Smith's displeasure.  Even a really exited dog would have been pleased at the way Swann and Onions wagged their tail in the end.  The penultimate over from Morkel to Onions is what thriller movies are made of.  And in the end Onions survived yet another last over and was hailed as an hero.  Watch the penultimate over at Test Match Sofa.

I pity Graeme Smith.  The South African skipper is under huge pressure and despite his heroics earlier, he still didn't win.  How heart breaking!  But what is a movie without heartbreaks.  The joy on the faces of the South Africans was so evident when Bell was dismissed that you'd think that the team had won their first World Cup.  Talk about tension and just how much a victory meant for the South Africans!  So close yet so far away!  I've never seen a more desperate team than Smith's boys.  They gave it their best, but still fell short by just a few millimeters from the finish line.  There's still one more match and South Africa would surely be looking to throw every last ounce of energy in their body at the tourists, and hopefully salvage a draw.

Who says test cricket needs epic victories to stay alive?  Epic draws are just as good or even better.  One thing is for sure after the match: test cricket is still very much alive.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A match that only Pakistan could have lost....

The third test match at the SCG was what test matches are all about as a wonderful match ended in a result which Australian supporters would call as 'The miracle at SCG' [SCORECARD]. The match was won by Australia or rather lost by Pakistan.

Pakistan did all the right things by bowling Australia out for a miserly 127 runs and scoring 333 in their first innings to get a valuable lead of 206 runs.  Asif bowled with heart and gave his team everything in the first innings as he picked up 6 of the 10 wickets.  Australia scored 381 thanks to Watson's 97 (He has been making it a habit getting out in the nineties chasing his second ton), Mike Hussey's brilliant unbeaten century and Peter Siddle's effort with the bat.  Needing just 175 runs to win the match, Pakistan did the unthinkable and started to self destruct.  The end result was that Pakistan was bowled out for 139 handing Australia a victory by 36 runs, thanks to a Haurtiz magic and the Pakistani batsmen.

Credit must be given to Ponting's men for putting up a  great fight and showing amazing character when the chips were down and the result looked deadening.  The Australian team showed their steely resolve and the usual 'Aussie never say die' spirit was evident.  A lot of parallels can be drawn between this match and the 2001 Calcutta match between India and Australia, where India came from the jaws of defeat to stun the then mighty Australians.

But Australia cannot be given all credit, as Pakistan also helped Australia every bit.  After all 'how can a team lose when they bowled out the opposition for a little over hundred and have a lead of over 200?'.

Yousuf's captaincy was what Boycott would call as 'incredibly stupid'.  His field placing and bowling changes were as bizarre as a penguin in the middle of the Arabian desert.  Yousuf  was defensive, unimaginative and was totally disinterested at entertaining the prospect of a victory.  The field placement was so defensive that up to eight men were patrolling the boundary.  Even when Peter Siddle was batting, the field was just as defensive, and one would think that Peter Siddle was surely Bradman batting on a hundred, if one just glimpsed at the field.  Captain's aren't only the 'big man' who decides what happens, but also the player who stays positive with his body gestures and talks.  He must upkeep the team morale, and instill belief of the the unattainable being attainable.  Looking at the match, Yousuf, definitely doesn't qualify as a captain.
I wouldn't be surprised if there was yet another new name as captain in the scorecard in the next test series that Pakistan play in.

The Pakistan fielding also let down and dropped Hussey thrice.  But why blame the fielders, when their player with gloves behind the stumps dropped four catches.  Catches win matches, and this match has shown the world of the consequences of sluggish fielding.   Pakistan would be hurting and hopefully will learn their lessons soon.

Another problem with Pakistan is their batting.  Their batsman, are not short on talent and definitely have the ability to score runs, but they lack the commitment and concentration to do it.  In the first innings, all the Pakistani top order batsman had starts but threw it away.  They bat out the difficult, initial phase and get their eyes well set in, and their mind tuned with the pitch only to throw it all away with a reckless shot or loss in concentration.  Lack of application seems to be their number one problem.  Blame it on T20 or whatever, but as a batsman, basic application and shot selection is what batting is all about.  Pakistan's batting is strong and on it's day can score 700 briskly, but they also have the days when they just self destruct and fall like a pack of cards.  The SCG witnessed that today.  Consistency and the Pakistan team must be as far as east from the west.  Surely Pakistan, if they consider themselves as a test team, must not panic and stop pressing the self destruct button.  The batsman must also understand that test cricket is about scoring big, and must learn to convert their starts into something fruitful.

Teams learn to win matches, but Pakistan look to have learnt how to throw away a match.  Pakistan must be hurt, and bitterly disappointed at themselves and would surely be humiliated at the prospect of losing a match that was well and truly theirs.  They would like to forget that the SCG witnessed an amazing match that only Pakistan could have lost....but hopefully learn from their mistakes.