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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Looking ahead at Trent Bridge

After India's humiliating loss at the home of cricket, I had decided to lie low for a while.  However with less than 24 hours to go for the next test match at Trent Bridge, I'm back!  Hopefully India can put on a better show this time and hopefully come back from behind and level the series.

With the first match lost, the Indian batsmen must be wary of their failures and look ahead for a new start.  It was good to see Raina, Dravid, Mukund and VVS showing some resistance at Lords.  Hopefully this time that will translate on to the other batsmen too.

Also Harbhajan Singh better look into his bowling and start picking up wickets.  He has 6 wickets in his last 6 encounters overseas at an average of over 100.  That's simply not good for a strike bowler!  The pitch should not be ideal for spin at Trent Bridge but unless Harbhajan Singh starts to look threatening, I don't see India winning that.

With that I'll wind this post up.  I'll be away the next week so there won't be much blogging.  However look for my updates on twitter.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 4 of the Lord's Test - England push their dominance

Yesterday's day was the day when perfect test cricket was played by the universe.  India attacked and fought back well in the morning session with Ishant Sharma bowling a beautiful spell, however post lunch, England took the game away and finally ended their innings after Prior scoring his century with England with a lead of 457 runs.  

Further more, India now have an injury worry after Gambhir was hit on his elbow when he was fielding at short leg.  It might be a fracture and Sachin Tendulkar did not take the field in the first two session as he was struggling from a viral fever.

Ishant Sharma was back to his best and it seemed like he took a leaf from Broad's book and pitched the ball up.  He was rewarded with the wickets of Trott, KP, Bell and Morgan.  He bowled the short ball and followed it up with the fuller length.  He swung the ball well and if only he had done this in the first innings, then India wouldn't have been in this predicament.

Matt Prior once again proved his worth while Stuart Broad his all-round capabilities.  The duo took away the game from India in quick time with a century partnership.  Prior was counter attacking after starting off slowly and along with Broad helped England recover from a troublesome 107 for 6.  India saw of the day well but not before losing Mukund.  Dravid opened in Gambhir's absence and along with VVS Laxman must now build a big partnership if India are to see this through.

Sachin as he was off the field would be able to bat only after 5 drop so it remains to see if he has a final chance to score a century at Lords.

If the Indian team manage to draw this match, then surely it would be a match to remember.  If that happens then it would be an epic performance from the world's number one team and only prove that.  This Indian team never gives up and hopefully they can fight back with their backs against the wall and salvage a draw.  A little help from the rain gods would be nice.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dravid - India's biggest impact player in Tests?

After Dravid scored his 33rd century yesterday, I tweeted the following,
"Would I be right in saying that Rahul Dravid has been a bigger impact player in Test cricket for India over Sachin and Gavaskar?"

As expected the statement was met with mixed response and I write this article to further explain my above statement.  However before I go further into my article, I must warn that this is my opinion alone and no gospel truth.  The only facts presented are the stats and numbers which you are more than welcome to cross check and refer.  Also I must say that I mean no disrespect to Sachin Tendulkar or Sunil Gavaskar and in no way am I stating that anyone of them is greater than the other.  I am a Sachin Tendulkar fan and that would be the farthest intention in my mind.  With Wisden Cricketer having already named Sachin Tendulkar as the second greatest test cricketer ever in 2002, why should I go against them?  All this article is that it tells of my point of view on the positive impact Rahul Dravid has had playing test for India over the other players.  I am not measuring their greatness, so please don't be mistaken.  So having said all this let me proceed to answer my question, 'has Rahul Dravid been a bigger impact player for India in test cricket over Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar?'

I answer that question as yes.  But before I explain I feel I must define what I mean when I say the word 'impact'.  According to me, Impact is a positive impact which is playing well and scoring in a match where the team has achieved a positive result (Wins and draws).  So I'm taking into account of the valuable contributions in all the wins and draws that the player has been part of.  Also I tend to neglect minnows such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Bangladesh as they aren't really competitive sides as compared to the other test playing countries.

So here's my thoughts on the topic.  I'm comparing the performance of three main Indian players and their positive impacts, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sunil Gavaskar here.  The stats for their performances in winning causes clearly show Dravid and Tendulkar ahead of Gavaskar.  This is expected as India didn't win many test matches during Gavaskar's time.

So looking at the table, we can clearly see Sachin Tendulkar leading the others.  However Rahul Dravid is not very far behind and the few innings gap could explain the difference.  Also the above table includes performances against minnows.  If the performances against Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh are taken out then the table takes a different format, as given below.

I've included all matches before 2000 against Zimbabwe
Now, you can see Rahul Dravid with a slightly better average than Sachin.  Also the 2 extra centuries and half centuries for Tendulkar can be attributed to him playing 10 extra innings as compared to Dravid.  Also the percentage of the centuries in winning causes support Dravid.  Dravid has 14 centuries out of 32 (I haven't included yesterday's one at Lord's) in winning causes which is just a little under 44%. In the same way Tendulkar does with 20 from 51 instances with a win percentage of 39% which is quite close to Dravid's.  Neglecting the big scores against the minnows, Dravid has 10 out of 18 which is 36% while Tendulkar's 11 from 41 is a low 27%.  There's a significant difference here.  The percentage for half centuries is interestingly the same for both players with 33%.  However the difference in the percentage for centuries - a huge 9%  shows that Dravid scores more against competitive opponents when India wins than Sachin Tendulkar.  

I'm not going to spend much time on the drawn matches, however I'll put up the table with the scores.

The tied test is also added here in Gavaskar's stats
Here the percentages of centuries for Rahul Dravid is 53% while Tendulkar's is 43%. Taking out the minnows (Dravid has a century against Zimbabwe, while Tendulkar against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe).  The percentages don't differ much with Dravid's being 50% and Tendulkar's being 40.8%.  The difference is yet again close to 9%.  Here Gavaskar comes ahead of the other two, but looking too much into the figures of drawn matches is futile.

So when comparing the lost matches, Dravid has just one century there so the percentage is a small 3%,  while Tendulkar's is 21.5%.  So here is the negative impact that we should be avoiding.  So the positive impact would be 97% for Dravid and 78.5% for Tendulkar.  However since we're neglecting the scores against the minnows Dravid's percentage comes down to 86% while Tendulkar's comes down to 66.8%.  The difference among them being a big 19.2%.

Also interesting is to see where Sachin was after 154 innings where Rahul Dravid is now at. And surprise, surprise!  Dravid is ahead of Sachin.  Here are the 4 batsmen who have played 154 tests or more at the point of their 154th test match.

So what does all this prove?  Well very little.  All it proves is that 86% of the time when Dravid performs, India end up with a win or a draw while for Sachin that number is lower at 66.8%.  Does that make Sachin a lesser player?  Not by any stretch of imagination.  All it shows that Dravid has been a bigger impact player than Sachin.

Also I ran the same numbers on the explosive Indian opener, Virender Sehwag and he came right between with Tendulkar and Dravid with a percentage of 77%.  So even Sehwag falls short of Rahul Dravid.  So without a doubt, in my opinion at least, Rahul Dravid has been India's biggest impact player in test cricket.

Day 3 of the Lord's Test - England on Top

So with the England having scored 474 in the first innings, it was now time for the famed Indian batsmen to show the world just why they are rated so highly, but as the third day went by, the highly rated Indian batting failed to click.  India managed 286 runs before being bowled out, and managed to avert the follow-on thanks to a brilliant undefeated century by Rahul Dravid.

A very un-dravidian celebration for a very dravidian innings!
The Indian openers started of well by putting on a 50 run opening stand, and the English bowlers looked harmless until Stuart Broad got the ball in his hand.  He pitched up the ball and swung it brilliantly. He got Gambhir with a peach of a delivery and soon after young Mukund walked back.  Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar then proceeded to do what they have been doing for the last decade as they strung together a partnership.  Sachin looked deadly despite being circumspect with the moving ball.  However when he fell driving a Broad delivery, India were in trouble.  The 100th 100 would have to wait.  The next Broad over had both VVS Laxman and Dravid dropped and denying Broad what would have been a well deserved 5 wicket haul.  However Tremlett soon removed VVS and Raina followed thanks to Swann.  Dravid once again battled hard and was the lone figure standing as wickets all around him fell.  He scored his 33rd test century and took India to a certain level of comfort as they averted the follow on.

Straight out of the text book
Dravid was the star for India yesterday.  His innings was a brilliant study for any youngster watching the game and he looked in control except for that one edge that Swann dropped.  Dravid played the short ball and the fuller swinging ball well alike and his celebration when he reached his century displayed just how much this knock meant to him.  Even he said later that it was one of his best knocks.  The man who was denied a century at Lord's in 1996 finally has exorcised the ghosts and has his name up there in the honours board.

Back in business!
Stuart Broad - the English star of the day was unlucky not to have a five wicket haul but what he did by his brilliant performance is that, he has kept himself in the playing 11 for the next match.  He came into the match with plenty of question marks and on him being the enforcer while Tremlett who is more lanky and has a steeper bouncer would be a better option.  However yesterday, he pitched up the ball and it paid rich dividends.  A lesson for Ishant Sharma to learn?

So with India still trailing by 193 runs the odds are against India.  However if the Indian batsmen can take a leaf from Dravid's knock yesterday, then surely India have a chance of saving this test.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 2 of the Lord's Test - KP and PK

The second day of any test match is supposed to be the day for the batsmen and yesterday proved to be no different.  England piled on the runs against an hapless Indian bowling attack minus Zaheer Khan.  Kevin Pietersen brought up his third double century of his career while Praveen Kumar made it to the Lord's honours board for his five wicket haul.  In short day two was the KP-PK show.


Kevin Pietersen (202*) who ended his drought with a century in English soil after three years struggled early on and was very circumspect.  His century was the slowest he has scored in his career, and it was a mature, unimaginative, and gritty century that we don't associate Kevin Pietersen with.  However his second century was scored the usual KP way as he raced to his second 100 runs in just 110 balls.  It was a treat to watch KP, and as an Indian supporter there is nothing worse than knowing that you're enjoying the knife that is cutting your team apart.  KP along with Trott, Bell, Prior and Swann turned the Indian bowling to pulp and with a daunting score of 474 on the board, India have a mountain to climb.


Praveen Kumar, the lone bowler in the Indian camp who looked good, bowled his heart out.  And I mean that literally!  He bowled a total of 40.3 overs (more than the Indian spinners) and managed to scalp 5 English wickets.  He swung the ball like a banana and one couldn't help but wonder just how much more effective PK would be if he just had a yard of extra pace.  With an economy of 2.61, he kept the flow of runs tight and has been the lone positive in the Indian bowling.

Captain Cool - MSD bowling

The Indian team without Zaheer Khan (who according to a press release should be available for the second innings, though that looks highly unlikely) looked like a toothless tiger and the bowling from Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh was anything but average.  Ishant bowled short on a pitch that offered swing while Harbhajan was having a day to remember.  MS Dhoni being the lone medium pacer in the team decided to take the role of the fourth seamer (the role that Ganguly used to do in the past teams) and he almost got KP out with his first ball after lunch.  Must say that Dhoni bowled much better than Ishant Sharma and looked more likely to pick up a wicket.  Dhoni now has evolved into the ultimate all-rounder with the task of wicket-keeping, battting, captaining and bowling on his shoulders!  Watching Rahul Dravid keep wickets when Dhoni bowled was like going back through time, and it was one of those days when all the interesting things happened in cricket.

Dravid with the keeping gloves
India finished the day 17 for no loss still trailing by 457 runs.  So with the third day being a bright sunny day and looking to be ideal batting conditions, the Indian batsmen must surely enjoy it.  So with the task being cut out for India, we have a spectacular test match on our hands.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Lords match so far...(The beginning)

As I write this, there is a slight drizzle and play has been suspended.  England are looking pretty at 127 for 2 and what is even better for the Poms is that Zaheer Khan who bagged the only two wickets to fall is suffering from a leg injury (looks to be a hamstring injury).  So as an Indian supporter, things are not going well.

Dhoni won the toss as expected and with the condition being ideal for bowling, put England in.  England wanting to surprise the fans named an out of form Stuart Broad ahead of Tim Bresnan.  Zaheer got the better of Strauss, yet again and also removed danger man Alastair Cook.  With the ball swinging like a banana, it was the ideal condition for India, however I feel they failed to make the most of it and specially Ishant who bowled a little too short.  India dropped Trott twice with the first being of Harbhajan's first ball and the South African born went on to score yet another 50!  Zaheer trotted of the field holding his hamstring and then the light faded and the rain started.  The day so far has been a mixture of everything and looks to be the start of a wonderful series.

The commentary was brilliant with Nasser Hussain and Saurav Ganguly taking on each other, and Harsha Bhogle comparing their wife's.  During one of their tussles, Ganguly responded in a serious tone to a Nasser jibe saying,
They are offering me honorary membership, and rightly so. 
Nasser had commented that he was bemused how Ganguly is allowed into Lords after his shirt-waving incident.  Classic!

And speaking of Test cricket, Dhoni has said that he feels there's bound to be 2000 more Tests.  Cheers to that!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A look at the Greatest Test Team

ICC yesterday released the results of the online poll that had fans voting for the greatest test team of all time.  The list features four Australians, four Indians, two West Indians and one Pakistani.  And not one Englishman finds himself on the list.  The players who made it are,

ICC's Greatest Test XI
Virender Sehwag
Sunil Gavaskar
Donald Bradman
Sachin Tendulkar
Brian Lara
Kapil Dev
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
Shane Warne
Wasim Akram
Curtly Ambrose
Glenn McGrath

Now this list is selected by the fans after a voting process. The poll received more than 250,000 votes and as expected the results show varying demographic of the electorate.  However with some true legends such as Jack Hobbs, Viv Richards and Gary Sobers left out, one can assume that this truly isn't the world's greatest test team.  So now you ask me then what was my team?  Well my team though not conventional was a far better one than this even if I did leave out Brian Lara and Gary Sobers.  I'm sure the English reader would be happy to see that both my openers wore the three lions.

My Greatest Test XI
Click to enlarge the picture
My list consists of two Englishmen, five Australians, two West Indians, a Indian and a Kiwi.  So we both have 5 players in common so definitely the places of Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath is undisputed.  It's the others that worry me.  I can understand Gary Sobers for my Richard Hadlee but Kapil Dev?  Wasim Akram for Denis Lillee makes sense and I think Ambrose for the whispering death is also acceptable.  However I still maintain Lillee and Holding at their prime were the best!  The place for Lara and Richards can only be chosen by a coin toss as they are both equally good.  What I can't understand however is Sehwag over someone the quality of Jack Hobbs.  Sehwag is still not into the legendary strata.  Gavaskar over Sutcliffe might be seen as acceptable and I probably can live with that.  So the real greatest test XI should be,

The merger of ICC's and My Greatest Test XI
Jack Hobbs
Sunil Gavaskar
Donald Bradman
Sachin Tendulkar
Brian Lara/ Viv Richards
Gary Sobers/ Richard Hadlee
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
Shane Warne
Wasim Akram
Curtly Ambrose
Glenn McGrath

According to this we have one Englishman, two Indians, four Aussies, three (four if Sobers is included) West Indian players and one Pakistani (and one Kiwi if Sir Hadlee is chosen).  So now we have a universal mix of players.  If you noticed in all the three lists, the players who find themselves in the lists belong to a particular period when their team was the best.  The Bradman of the 30s and 40s, the West Indian players of the 70s and 80s, the Australian players of 90s and early 2000s and the Indian players of the latter 2000 who feature in the list, prove this.  The occasional player such as Hadlee and Akram do sneak in but still the core remains players who have been part of the greatest team during their respective eras.  So by looking at the lack of English players it's not difficult to come to the conclusion that the English have never dominated the game.  Likewise for the newer countries like Sri Lanka and South Africa who still are competing for the highest spot.

So as expected all three lists above hold some truth, and the most accepted truth is the common overlap of all these lists.  With the lists being not all that reliable I think the best would be to take the best players from the dominant team in each era.  So that list then would be,

According to the age wise classification - The Greatest Test XI

Virender Sehwag
Jack Hobbs
Rahul Dravid
Donald Bradman
Sachin Tendulkar
Gary Sobers
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
Shane Warne
Micheal Holding
Curtly Ambrose
Glenn McGrath
Note - Dravid misses out in the previous list as he wasn't an option given in the ICC's poll.

This list is probably the closest to the greatest XI, but the drawback in this is that players like Gavaskar and Akram who weren't part of the dominant team during their era miss out.  While others such as Sehwag who still is not fully there at the top level makes it.  By looking at the repeated names we can say for certain that players such as Bradman, Tendulkar, Warne, Gilchrist and McGrath are indispensable and should be certainly part of a all time greatest test XI.  If they happen to be missing, then the list sadly is not the greatest test team.  Whatever the case, choosing a list of the greatest XI is no easy task and there's definitely more than one greatest XI, all depending on your perception.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The embarrassing part of the Taunton tour match

Everyone knows that the Indians always start a tour slowly, losing the first couple of matches before becoming the true power they are.  And that theory was put to test and proven to a certain extent yesterday as the Indian batsmen and bowlers alike suffered against Somerset in the tour game [SCORECARD].

5 for 50!
The bowlers struggled to pick up wickets and Somerset managed a mammoth 425 in 96 overs for the loss of oly three wickets!  So naturally the thinking was that the pitch was a soft feather bed, but the Indian batsmen proved that line of thought wrong as they crumbled to be 138 for 8 at stumps.

However the embarrassing part is not being asked to follow on today but being bowled out by a 36 year old bowler by the name of Charl Willoughby.  Yes, he's not English as expected and yes, he's South African!  You can expect the English to let the South Africans, Irish and whoever not from England do their work!

Sachin Tendulkar as expected gifted yet another cricketer his first wicket.  This time it was Craig Meschede who dismissed Sachin Tendulkar for his maiden first-class wicket.

If this is the Indian batting that plans to turn up for first test, then I better start praying for rain.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The much awaited series

The England versus India Test series is without a doubt the most awaited series this year.  And the high profile series has all the necessary things to make it a cracker of a contest.

100th century?
  • For starters it's another chance (maybe his last) for Sachin Tendulkar to finally get his name up there at Lords by scoring a century.  So during the Lord's test if Sachin is in the 90s, you can expect the entire world to stop and watch the proceedings.
  • Another reason would be that India - the number one team will be taking on their colonial masters in their backyard hoping to prove to the world that they are indeed the World Champions.
  • Also there is the celebration of the highest form of cricket - Test cricket as the 2000th Test will be played in the series.
  • Watching how the Indian batsmen tackle the English pace attack on green tops with bounce and overcast conditions is something everyone will be looking out for.
  • And finally watching the Indian bowlers go about their business will be interesting to watch. They struggled against Somerset at Taunton, picking only three wickets in the first innings.  This is a certain worry.  Watching how over-weight players such as Sreesanth go about their business would indeed be interesting to say the least.  The pacer's belly looks more lethal and likely to pick up wickets!
Sree and his belly!
So with all these reasons and tons more, the series is sure to be great!  I so can't wait for 21st, when the series kicks off!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Episode 6 - A few changes

In this episode, the Verbal Slogs podcast undergoes a couple of changes as Michael Wagener joins me as the co - host of the podcast. Michael discusses about two players who have been having it against their cricket boards in his newly christened segment called Statistic Class. In the discussion we discuss about the various decisions made by the ICC in the annual meet, the West Indies - India test series and the England - Sri Lanka ODI series. Also we look at Kumar Sangakara and his spirit of cricket lecture.

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.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Turbanator - In a class of his own

Harbhajan Singh who became the 11th man in history of the game to take 400 wickets a couple of days ago, is probably one of the most criticized bowlers in the world.  With Warne, the public accepted his childish behavior and the controversies along with his genius.  Whereas Harbhajan who had his fair share of controversies still has a question mark next to his name, and his ability with the ball has always been under a shadow of doubt.

Bhajji's 400th wicket!

Half the world is convinced that Harbhajan Singh is an exceptional spinner who is yet to leap over the distance from being a good bower to becoming a great bowler.  While there's the other half who refute the former's claims saying that Harbhajan is a decent spinner who does well at home where the pitches suit him.  And that has been the kind of mixed reactions and recognition that Harbhajan has received in the 14 years he has played for India.

His greatness has never been stamped and the world sees him with a question mark.  What is my view on this?  It's simple.  Harbhajan Singh is definitely beyond any shadow of doubt one of the premier spinners in modern day cricket.  I would only rate Daniel Vettori among the spinners who still play cricket above Harbhajan.  Even Swann who has been doing exceptionally well for England and always manages to get a break through in his very first over is second to Harbhajan Singh in my book.  I rate Harbhajan Singh highly and I've never seen anyone else who can spin the ball as much as he does except for Muralitharan and Warne.  John Wright once remarked that Harbhajan can turn an onion on ice.

Harbhajan Singh - Any captain's ideal weapon
Harbhajan has all the weapons a off-spinner needs in his arsenal.  He flights the ball well, allowing it to dip quite steeply and then spin off the pitch.  He manages to exact bounce from the flattest of pitches and along with his variations in a bowler to watch carefully if your the batsman.  Armed with subtle variations such as over spin, side spin, and top spin, Harbhajan is a mater in the art of spin.  However his recent preference of the top-spin over the doosra is one that confounds me.  I always thought he had a good doosra, and felt that it would yield him the most wickets even if it wasn't his favorite delivery to use.  With an unorthodox and flamboyant approach to the crease, the Singh is a treat to watch on his day.

If anyone doubts the turbanator's skill, I just show them the 2001 India versus Australia series when he became a star over night.  However ever since that dream start, his career has been on highs and lows.  Harbhajan who has managed to trouble the best with his flight, dip, and spin, often has found himself struggling for wickets.  From January 2006 till February 2007 he managed to pick up only 37 wickets at an average of 52 in 13 matches.  It was during this, when he went wicket-less in a series for the first and only time in his career.  However those days are long gone as he came back strongly in 2008 picking up 63 wickets in 13 matches.  Since then, he has been doing a decent job with 144 scalps to his name.

Bhajji picked up 32 wickets against Australia in 2000-01

Muralitharan said named Harbhajan Singh as the player who could break his record of 800 wickets.  That seems a little far fetched considering that he is 31 years of age, but the point is that spin wizard Muralitaran rated Harbhajan so high.  So the skill and temperament was never in doubt.  It's just the ability of exceeding all those expectations and performing to his talents, that comes under scrutiny.  Harbhajan Singh is a rhythm bowler, who is a different bowler when he manages to pick up a wicket early in his spell.  When he does get a wicket early, he then is transfers into another realm.  He bowls much slower, tosses the ball up and invokes more revolutions on the ball.  Harbhajan becomes a very big threat and with the all the close in fielders waiting for the smallest of edges, the batsmen knows that it's only a matter of time before he gets undone.  However the same aura of invincibility disappears when he fails to get a break through early.  Harbhajan then tends to fire the ball in rather than tossing it up and hence gets little turn.  Sometimes, he gets carried away that he rarely turns the ball more than a few centimeters.  This is the Harbhajan Singh that often does him and India bad.  If he manages to tame the latter version of himself, then I have a feeling that he will surpass Warne.

Being a big turner of the red cherry, people often say that the turbanator fails to make a mark outside India.  This is as false as a possum playing dead.  Then again, the numbers (An average of 28 at home against an average of 37 away) do hold some truth pointing to the fact that he is better at home.  No doubt there, that Harbhajan at home is more lethal than a Harbhajan away, but Harbhajan Singh away is still a notable bowler to subdue.  All his, 6 Man of the Match awards have come at home, but who can forget his 7 for 120 at Cape Town last year against the South Africans in the second innings?  Harbhajan Singh is still a force to reckon with, be it in India or outside.

Many more to come...

So with 400 wickets, Harbhajan stands among with a special few - the elite eleven players.  He's the fourth spinner to join the list and in the future soon surpass Kumble.  400 wickets is no small achievement.  It's an honor and a monumental milestone. Let's hope that Bhajji will add plenty more to the 400.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kumar Sangakkara Roars!

I never really thought of former Sri Lankan skipper, Kumar Sangakara as an orator but after listening to him delivering the Cowdrey Lecture at MCC, Lords, I have no doubt of his oratorical skills.
Fans of different races, castes, ethnicities and religions who together celebrate their diversity by uniting for a common national cause. They are my foundation, they are my family. I will play my cricket for them. Their spirit is the true spirit of cricket.            
- Kumar Sangakkara 

In the lecture, Sangakkara talks about Sri Lanka and cricket in Sri Lanka and it's evolution through the ages.  He speaks about the importance of cricket in the Emerald Isles and the role of the game in the country.  Sangakkara beautifully takes you on a journey as he presents Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan cricket in a never before heard way.

He brings out the terror, civil war and the way the Sri Lankan team has acted as a harmonizing and uniting factor.  He also took on the current Sri Lankan Board asking for a change in the administration and to stop the corruption.  He called for accountability, and clarity in the administration.

With his mesmerizing way of expressing himself, Sangakkara captured me at once.  With his accent and way of articulating, I'm sure Sangakkara the orator would have even made Mark Anthony as second best.  No wonder he got a standing ovation at the end.  A lovely lecture which shows the man they call the Lankan lion in the true light.  This is a must listen for any cricket and sports fan.

The lecture is an hour long and is a true delight to hear.  So here's the link for the audio of the lecture.  Go ahead and have a listen.  The transcript can be found here.

And of course as expected, Sangakkara is in trouble with the Sri Lankan board over his comments.