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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why cricket must have runners

Runners are an integral part of cricket, and taking them away is a crime.  Runners for starters help injured batsmen play without too much discomfort, add to the confusion we call cricket and finally provide some very memorable moments of pure comedy.  So here are three incidents that show just why cricket must have it's runners and why ICC have sinned by removing them from the game.

1.) Stranded - When Mark Waugh left his brother, Steve Waugh stranded on 99* (Australia versus England in 1995)

Steve Waugh who played a gritty and scratch innings found himself with last man, Craig McDermott. McDermott who injured his back earlier in the match walked out with a runner - Mark Waugh.  So the younger twin brother anxious to help his brother reach three figures (Steve was on 99) took off as soon as Steve Waugh hit the ball straight to Gooch.  Despite Mark realizing his misjudgment and turning back, he fell short of the crease making Steve Waugh the second person in cricket to be stranded not out on 99.  So from this incident, scientists have figured that there is no telepathic link between brothers; not even among twins!  So runners in cricket help science!

2.) Quick feet - When an injured David Gower outran a cheetah

England batsman, David Gower in a ODI match against Australia, asked for a runner after he had apparently sprained his leg.  So he was awarded a runner and in the very next ball he faced, he hit the ball into the off-side and took off.  In fact he sprinted so fast that he left his runner eating his dust, and when Gower finally realized that he had a runner to do his running, he was half way down the pitch.  A Gower with a sheepish smile returned back to his crease amid the spectators rolling in the stands laughing their hearts out.  Even the Aussie captain was in splits!  The runner was sent back to the dressing room by the umpires.  So what did we get out of this?  Entertainment!  An English comedy to be precise.

3.) The classic four runners - When 'Eccentric' Bomber Wells ran along with three others

Bryan 'Bomber' Wells known for his running antics (he seldom used to run singles and his career consisted of running his partners out. Denis Compton once said of Bomber - "When he shouts ‘YES’ for a run, it is merely the basis for further negotiations!") was involved in the most comical incident involving runners. Once, while batting with a runner for Gloucestershire, Wells' partner, a number 10 batsman was also injured and ended up using a runner.  So you have two batsmen and two runners, in the middle.  So when Bomber played the ball to mid-off, he called for a run and took off, along with three other players.  In the middle of this confusion, one of the runners thought there was a possibility for a second run and shouted aloud 'two'.  So with constant shouting between the four running 'runners', 'Yes' and 'Nos' and the 'Two' of course, it was no surprise that all four of them ended up at the same end.  As one can imagine, the events taking place in the middle left the crowd, the umpires and the fielding team rolling in the grass laughing.  A fielder eventually picked up the ball and took off the bails. Umpire Alec Skedling, who by now had tears rolling down his cheeks, informed the four in a 'serious' tone, "One of you buggers is out. I don’t know which. You decide and inform the bloody scorers!"  

Do you need any more reasons for why cricket needs runners after this incident?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Episode 5 - Technology and Changes within New Zealand

Episode 5 of Verbal Slogs is finally out!  Sorry for the delay!

In this episode, Michael Wagener and I look at the Simon Katich axing and Michael presents some stats on just how succesful he has been for Australia. We also look at the DRS debate and the BCCI stance against it and discuss the various changes in New Zealand Cricket. Also on the show is why we feel Ross Taylor is the man for the job and previews for the India - West Indies tests and Sri Lanka - England ODI series.

Panelists - Michael Wagener and Christopher David 

If you wish to download the podcast click here. You can also subscribe to it via iTunes or any other podcatchers.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The man we call 'The Wall'

Rahul Dravid a few days ago completed 15 years of International service to the Indian Test team. And a couple of days later he stood and played one of his most technical innings taking India to a winning position. Yesterday, when I was watching Rahul Dravid play that vital innings on the telly, past midnight (Indian time), I started to think of the qualities that has made this one man so influential with the willow at first drop.

Dravid in the last couple of years has been not at his usual level of brilliance and the runs haven't been flowing as they once did, but the man still is India's man for crisis. Rahul Dravid as we all know is often overlooked and he almost never gets his proper due, but despite that the man doesn't make any fuss, and just goes about doing the job that only he knows - bat the opposition out.

There are two things I've always admired about Dravid.  The first is his ability to show no or minimum expression; his face and body language is always the same.  He is composed and I sometimes doubt whether he feels any pressure or tension below that emotionless face. Well of course he does, but the ability to cover that with a expressionless blanket and give nothing away is a skill diplomats and negotiators desire. This quality however reflects the man that Dravid is, and that he feels at ease controlling his emotions under a calm and composed exterior.

The second and the biggest admiration I have for Dravid is the levels of concentrations that he is capable of. I've always maintained that players who can club the ball for sixes at will and play small cameos are a dime a dozen while players like Dravid are worth their weight in gold (The world with the IPL and other T20 leagues doesn't agree with me here).  However the thought process remains the same that big hitting players who come and go can never compete for a place in a Test team (look no further than the Pollards, and Afridis).  And a place in the 11 wearing whites is the highest honour in cricket a player can have.  Rahul's powers of concentrations is simply out of this world.  Batting for over 400 minutes (402 to be exact) and facing 274 balls (that's nearly 46 overs!) takes immense levels of concentrations and will power.  On a pitch that wasn't suitable for stroke play, and where the ball is takes off from odd areas, surviving itself is a task.  Facing fast bowlers on a pitch that has un-even bounce and assists lateral swing is a nightmare for any batsmen.  Added to this is young Bishoo who though quite young and new has made himself look like an incarnation of a younger version of the blonde magician Shane Warne.  With each ball doing something extraordinary or nothing at all, it takes more than a super human effort to stay at the crease.

It takes concentration, very good technique and the mindset to see the storm through.  I love what Rahul said at the press conference after scoring his 32nd Test century.  He said that it was important to weather the storm, and that was one of the things he always says to the younger team mates.  And very importance is personified to the extent that his wicket becomes equated to the value of a nearly a life!  The price that he puts on his wicket tells even a newbie who doesn't know a word about cricket just how important Dravid considers it.  The little emotion he showed after being dismissed yesterday, clearly indicates just how much this man values his wicket!  It's just not enough to consider your wicket precious!  One has to actually take the efforts to safeguard your wicket so that the wicket is not given away.  Ball after ball for 402 deliveries, this man did that!  Braving the conditions, and the thought of quitting.  In modern day, only three names come to my mind who can do this day in and day out and they are Shiv Chanderpaul, Paul Collinghood and Micheal Hussey.  Of these Collinghood has called it quits, and no longer plays for England wearing whites, and Chanderpaul and Hussey are still not as consistent as Dravid.

Talking about his concentration, I forgot to mention one of Dravid's most successful elements.  His technique is second to none and in modern day cricket, I'd say that the world's oldest Test player is indeed the world's most technically correct batsman.  Technique is often overlooked if not under-rated and in today's performance driven world, a boundary of an edge through third man and a boundary of a straight drive down the ground is treated as the same.  However when playing on a pitch such as the one at Sabina Park, Kingston technique is almost everything.  Yesterday the commentary on Cricinfo when Dhoni got out to Bishoo read as,
Dhoni has been positive because he knows he doesn't have the technique to defend on this wicket.

For me that line is everything that is needed to explain the worth of the man we call 'The Wall'.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

DRS - The way forward

Last November I had written an article titled 'UDRS? No, Thank you!' for an e-magazine. In the article it I argued why the DRS was unnecessary, it's many glaring faults and how it takes away the tradition of two men wearing white coats deciding the fate of the players. However now, I write another article which contradicts almost everything that I wrote eight months ago.

The Decision Review System is one of cricket's best invention in the last decade, and is a brilliant addition to the sport.  It brings in a new sense of fairness and also a complete new world of strategy and thinking.  The DRS though not 100% perfect is still one that works well and takes away from the game the errors committed by umpires.  The BCCI's stand against the DRS is unjustified and just plain arrogance.  N Srinivasan, the BCCI secretary has said that BCCI won't endorse the product, until it's 100% fool proof.  Now Mr. Srinivasan, please tell me one thing that is 100% fool proof?  Not even an airplane that takes off is 100% certain to land safely at it's destination, despite all our advancement in technology.

The DRS takes away some of the glaring errors that have the effect of turning over the match on it's head.  A well set batsman wrongly given out, could result in triggering a collapse and with it cost the team the match, and likewise a batsman given not out, when he is, might have an irreversible impact on the match, the series, the player's career and the game itself.  Eight months ago, I argued that such a reversible of decision takes away the human nature (ie. the ability to commit a mistake) from the game.  I still believe that it is a vital part of the game, but not to the extent of changing the course of events such as the very result of the match.

The perfect example of the effect of the technology and how it impacts a game is the Serena Williams quaterfinal loss to Jenifer Capriati in the 2004 US Open.  Williams suffered from some very poor line calls and judgement from the line umpires and eventually went on to lose the match.  Williams had to suffer a loss and the chance at a grand slam and all because of a few erroneous decisions.  The chair umpire during the match, Mariana Alves was dismissed off, and became the sacrificial lamb.  It was this incident that had the Tennis Federation look into the Hawk Eye, and ever since it's introduction in 2006, the amount of errors has come down, and major points aren't being won or lost due to a bad call, but due to good or bad play.  In tennis, not everyone is a fan of the system, and the results don't always go your way, but it has been accepted as the right system and also a fair one and is being used.

Also this system brings about a fair result with the technicians analyzing and tracking frame by frame, millisecond by millisecond to get the most accurate if not the accurate result possible.  So there's no need for any player to feel hard done by the umpires.  This leave no place for the word 'bad luck'.  In tennis, players can clearly see whether the ball crossed the line and fell outside or stayed within the court, better than the line umpires on most occasions.  They almost instinctively know whether the ball is in or out and the high rate of 46% successful challenges show that.  That is 46 times in 100, the line umpires had been wrong and the system right.  That figure in cricket is bound to be much lower, but nevertheless plays a huge part in a game.  Even a 1% success rate matters, does it not?

It is the very same ball tracking system used in cricket, and the results therefore must be similar, at least that is what logic tells us.  But as experience as showed us, that is not to be and the system lacks consistency when used in cricket.  However with the implementation of the Hot Spot, such inconsistencies have been ironed out to a great extent.  So the DRS system is as fool proof as it can ever be or become, and it's BCCI who are hiding behind the same old outdated excuses not to implement it.

The Ashes series and the current Test series between England versus Sri Lanka has shown how the use of the Hawk Eye and the Hot Spot goes hand in hand and brings out the best of results.  As Tendulkar said, that the DRS needs consistency and these two technology together provide just that.

Another problem cricket faces is with the sponsorship of such a system.  The television sponsors and the others are not willing to put in their money as it will cut into their profits and rightly so.  Why should ESPN or Sky Sports pay for the system?  It should be paid by the boards and the ICC.  Isn't it the boards responsibility to guard and promote the game?  So shouldn't the task of paying for a technology that makes the game fault free be on their shoulders?

It's time the BCCI rethink and think hard on their stance opposing the system.  Nothing in the world can ever be 100% fault free and if that is what the BCCI expect, then that day will never come.  We can always find a million excuses but doing that will get us nowhere and the development of the game is only hindered.  It's time for the highly arrogant BCCI to change it's autocratic stance and admit for once that they will indeed be doing the right thing for the masses by supporting the DRS and not opposing it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ugliest Batsmen in the World?

Charged with the crime of batting ugly!

Pretty boy doing it the ugly way!

Ashes Grotesque Captain Marvel!

The hairless ugly!

Graeme Swann said that the English top three are the ugliest players of modern day cricket and that he wouldn't bother to pay and watch them bat.  He said,
"If there is an uglier top three in the world than Andrew Strauss, Cook and Trott, I don't know of it." 
So that makes us all stop and wonder, is it that these are the only modern day cricket's ugly batsmen......

I can think of a few more in Ian Bell, Hashim Amla, Daniel Vettori, Thilana Samaraweera, Shiv Chanderpaul, Misbah Ul Haq, and finally the axed Simon Katich!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Zaheer's take on the Chappell era (Douche bag = Greg Chappell)

Greg Chappell, the brother of Ian Chappell is one of cricket's most brilliant brains, yet he is one of cricket's most foolish and hated names.  Why?  Well for a number of reasons such as that he never did play cricket like a gentleman, as a skipper, he led his team thinking he was a mafia leader, as a coach his ideas and thinking was termed as radical or just plain insanity (Only John Buchanan can match Chappell's 'out side the box' thinking) and now as a selector he believes himself to be the God's chosen executioner for Australian cricket.  So who and more so what exactly is this man named Greg Chappell?  Well, he's a douchebag or a genius in disguise!  Maybe the the picture below can clear this question.

Zaheer Khan in an interview with NDTV, has said that the worst time of his career was under (no prizes for guessing) Greg Chappell's tenure.  He explained his worry and thought proccess during the time as,
"It was as if you've been framed. It was like 'we (Greg Chappell and his team) don't want you in the team. It's not about performance, we don't like your attitude, you're stopping the growth of cricket in the Indian team'. I felt it personally because I was dropped straight after the Sri Lanka tour, even though I had not performed badly."

 This one of the few times that Zaheer Khan has spoken so openly and candidly about his career and some of the revelations made are truly shocking.  He explained the infighting within the team and the uncomfortable dressing room atmosphere and the difficulties because of it.  He said,
"It was always a struggle. When you're fighting within the team, when you have a war to fight in your own camp, it is always difficult to win."
Zaheer also talked about Chappell's love for young players and hatred for the seniors and said,
"A youngster coming in is a good sign but not at the cost of a cricketer who is doing his bit."
On the other hand he showered praises on the last Indian coach Gary Kirsten and termed him as a friend and not as a coach.  I believe that can be the highest accolade a coach or a teacher can receive from their players or students.

So if an award was to be handed to the most hated man in cricket, then I'm sure the Indians, the Kiwis, the English and even the Australians (Simon Katich in particular) will vote for Greg Chappell.  I mean who else would be stupid enough to pick a fight with the man (Saurav Ganguly) who just lead India to a World Cup finals after 20 years in 2003 and tell the world that Sachin's time is up.  Who else but Greg Chappell have the perverted thought to order his brother to bowl under-arm and drop proven and performing players in favor for untested young blood?  If only we could see how Greg Chappell's mind works, I'm sure we'll all be surprised and naturally disgusted.  Watching Greg Chappell makes me wonder if he really is a genius in disguise...

Tickets for IPL 2012

The IPL 2011 saw Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings being two sides who went in, retaining four of their players from the previous season. And it was no surprise that they were two of the three to have qualified for the Champions League T20 this year – thanks to their consistent performance in the IPL this year.

The Chennai Super Kings went on to win this fourth edition though, and this was the second time that they did that in successive years. They were by far, the best team in the competition and it was no surprise to see that most of the IPL games involving them this year went full house.

The IPL tickets may not have been priced too economically and yet the Super Kings were welcomed with huge crowds in each and every game that they played at home. On the other hand, the other stadiums were relatively empty and the teams will need to do some drastic planning in order to get the crowds into the stands.

For the fifth edition of the IPL that will be played in 2012, the IPL tickets booking will start only next year but the updates for all of it can be found on this website.

So whether you are a Pune Warriors supporter or from Mohali, gunning for the Kings XI Punjab, we will have all the updates on this site for all the ticketing related queries.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Quotes from the Simon Katich Saga

These are a few quotes said by the people involved in the Simon Katich story.

"If you pay peanuts you get monkeys". 
- Simon Katich on the selection panel and the need for the post of a full-time selector who can be held accountable.
"Sachin was written off a couple of years ago by one of our selectors" 
- Katich again taking on Greg Chappell.
"This panel puts on the ground what it thinks is the best team to win every game of cricket it plays in, it doesn't bat and bowl. Yes it has [been] accountable for selection and for outcomes once performances have been made but to say that the selection panel has lost Ashes series, that's incorrect."
- Michael Brown (CA's head of cricket operations) - surely even he doesn't believe that statement.

"Simon Katich has the resolve and the determination that you want to have during hard times. So it's an extraordinary decision. If he's not in the top 25 Australian cricketers - and I can't find one better opener than him on that list, let alone two - then I'll go hee for chasey."
 - Australia's Defense Minister joins the fight. Stephen Smith on why dropping Katich is an atrocity.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Katich Strikes Back!

Simon Katich after having name dropped from the Central Contract, has struck back at the Australian selection panel in grand style.  He ripped apart the selectors and their decisions, with typical Katich gusto.

Katich voiced many player's voice as he called for a full time panel of selectors saying,
"when you talk about money you get the best in the business for paying. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys".
Strangely John Buchanan at New Zealand has just implemented this, by getting full time selectors who can be held accountable for their decisions.

Katich has been one of Australia's few batsman who scored consistently in the recent times.  Shane Watson and Katich together formed a formidable opening pair, despite the former being run-out often by Watson.  Katich has said that he will continue to play for New South Wales and looks determined to prove to the selectors just what they will be missing when Australia plays the Ashes.

So for now it's Katich leaving on a high, with the Aussie selectors left scratching their brains.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Episode 4 - Stats, IPL and the PCB Crisis

In this episode, Michael Wagener joins me from New Zealand to talk about some pretty interesting statistics. Also Karthik Kannan joins the discussion on the IPL - where we look at some star players and the teams, the crisis in Pakistan, and the India's tour of West Indies and Sri Lanka's tour of England. Also we discuss breifly about South Africa's new coaches and captain.

Panelists - Michael Wagener, Karthik Kannan, and Christopher David

If you wish to download the podcast click here. You can also subscribe to it via iTunes or any other podcatchers.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Ball of the Century!

On this very day - 18 years ago, a young blonde leg-spinner shook the world of cricket with this one delivery.  Here's the magician's 'ball of the century' to Mike Gatting.

Gatting a good player of spin bowling and a natural attacker of the slow stuff was bamboozled by an over weight young man playing his first Ashes series as the ball pitched outside the leg stump line, only to spin viciously to come back and clip the off-stump.   Seeing a spin bowler triumph over Mike Gatting who offers perhaps the perfect defense to the ball by covering his stumps is a sight to marvel.

So here's Shane Warne and the ball of the century.