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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dr. Dhoni

Captain MS Dhoni is now a doctor!  India’s cricket captain has been bestowed with that title by Leicester’s De Montfort University.  So now what are the implications of such a move?

The Name's Dhoni!  Doctor Dhoni!

1. Ravi Shastri must be fuming! Now everything Dhoni does, good or bad, will be 'just what the doctor ordered'. (via digoneb)
2. From now on, the people in the red light areas in Chennai will stop Dhoni and talk to him in Tamil for different reasons!
3. Yaaaaay! Now that Dhoni is a doctor, what does he do with his patients? Make them well, of course. (via Ramesh Srivats)
4. Dear Dr. Dhoni, can we now expect an injury free Team India? (via Purnima Malhotra)
5. Can he cure the ailing Indian team and restore some lost dignity by winning the ODI series?

[Note - 1-4 was compiled by LoL-Sports.]

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A study of the ICC Test team of the the year

The ICC test team of the year is a reflection of the state of cricket in a country.  The team which selects the best 11 players from the world are the 11 players whom performed exceptionally over the year and generally belong to the teams that have been winning that year.  It's common sense that when a player performs his team does well and thus the number of players from a particular team that make it to the ICC test team of the year shows the performance and the quality of the side.

This year with England dethroning the Indians as the number one test side in the world have 5 players in the team!  4 South Africans are on the list with just a lone Indian and Sri Lankan.  Dale Steyn has made the team for the 4th consecutive year, while Sachin Tendulkar for the 3rd consecutive year!
The ICC Test team of the year: Alastair Cook, Hashim Amla, Jonathan Trott, Sachin Tendulkar, Kumar Sangakkara (capt/wk), AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Dale Steyn, James Anderson, Zaheer Khan (12th man)
 When comparing this team to the ICC test team of last year, there's some drastic changes.  Last years list includes three Indians which now has been cut down to one (showing the back tracking that India has done in Test cricket by losing their number one status), while England from two players have gone up to 5!  This clearly reflects the ascendance of the English supremacy or rather the start of such a supremacy.  South Africa have also added an extra player as the Australians, Simon Katich and Doug Boulinger miss out this year (clearly showing that Australia's decline in test cricket is now all under water as not one player has failed to make it this year).  So last year's team reads as,
ICC Test Team of last year: Virender Sehwag (Ind), Simon Katich (Aus), Sachin Tendulkar (Ind), Hashim Amla (SA), Kumar Sangakkara (SL), Jacques Kallis (SA), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Ind, capt & wk), Graeme Swann (Eng), James Anderson (Eng), Dale Steyn (SA), Doug Bollinger (Aus).
Comparing the two teams we can see clearly that India and Australia have gone down hill while South Africa has managed to hold its place.  England have climbed the mountain and now look pretty with the number one rank.  But the jokes on them!

Cause England don't really have 5 English cricketers in this years list!  Remember Trott is a South African!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Story of the Secret Cricketer - Gary Watson

ECB and Natwest whose history go long back have now started the NatWest Cricket Club which aims at helping cricket at the grass root levels.  Followed by this move, they started a campaign called 'NatWest Secret Cricketer' where a cricketer in disguise helps a small team by playing for them!

This is the story of a team called Goldsborough Cricket Club 2nds (a club in north Yorkshire) and how Michael Vaughan (yes!  the former English skipper who uses Vaseline) helped them out by playing in disguise as Gary Watson.

Goldsborough CC have been part of one of the worst defeats in cricket's history in 2006 at the hands of Dishforth Cricket Club.  In that match all 10 of the Goldsborough batsman failed to get off the mark and the 11th player too remained not out on zero.  They however managed 5 runs thanks to extras.  As expected they lost that match, so when after 5 years, they faced the same old enemy that humiliated them, Goldsborough CC turned to their secret weapon (rather secret cricketer), Gary Watson to help avenge their loss and leave nothing to chance.

What about the rest of the story?  Well just play the video and watch....

The look on the Dishforth CC player's when Gary Watson's secret is revealed is simply priceless!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anna Hazare - A threat to democracy?

My take on Anna Hazare and his fight against corruption.


Anna Hazare - A threat to democracy?

Anna Hazare is being hailed by some as the messiah who will deliver India from the hands of the corrupt and evil. While others call the man Gandhi and some even call him, Gandhi himself reincarnated who will rid India of corruption. But really who is this man who has made India to come to a standstill? And just what is he doing?

For starters Anna Hazare is an Indian war hero but the same man who once fought for this great country is now keen on tearing it down. A man who has helped India tremendously in the past, upholds a righteous cause as he stands against corruption that is so prevalent in the India, but in the act of working towards a uncorrupt India, he is shaking the very foundations of the country and has been in the last few weeks more successful in doing what the Pakistan insurgents and the Naxalites have been trying to do for years.

Yes! I just equated Anna Hazare’s efforts to the same level as that of the Pakistan terror and the Naxalites. Don’t get me wrong here. I appreciate the man’s cause and I would like nothing better than an uncorrupt India with all its government officials being upright and trustworthy. Also I awe the fact that Anna Hazare who at the age of 74 is doing what his convictions tell him is right and is actually standing up for them, but here I also disagree when I see the methods employed by him. He has the support of the public (half of them who have no clue what the real issue is with the Lokpal), and the media who are more than happy to improve their TV ratings and flare the public’s emotions rather than present the facts and the truth. With these two as his main weapons, Anna Hazare is misleading the public into revolting against their own country!

The general public sees Anna Hazare as a hero who stands for a righteous cause, and they support him blindly. They are ignorant of the real issue with the Lokpal (a friend of mine who is studying law went to a rally in Bangalore supporting Anna Hazare’s campaign asked a few people there what they thought about the Government’s Lokpal and the Jan Lokpal. Most of them were surprised to hear that there was more than one bill.) and the opposition has wasted no time in making this a mudslinging opportunity to tarnish the already fragile public outlook of the present government. Where does team Anna gets the money to run such a huge campaign? With big political parties such as the RSS and public figures supporting him of course, and isn’t it ironical that most of these organizations and public figures themselves having allegations of corruption leveled against them? The public believes that the Lokpal bill would be the answer to the problem called corruption, and the truth is far from it. Nothing can erase corruption completely and the Lokpal bill is no magic wand that can be waved to make the menace disappear. It is a work in process and slowly the system will be cleansed. However the public is misguided in thinking that the Lokpal will help them as they seek jobs, financial security, economy, and battle inflation. The Lokpal bill even if it does become law will do none of these or at least not in the near future. Its effect will only be felt in the longer term of things. I pity Anna Hazare in a way as his campaign has become the battle ground for a political slugfest. Just look at the BJP criticize the government’s Lokpal, however when it comes to taking a stance it is undecided and won’t comment. The pawn caught in the crossfire still however remains as the king in this game and calls the shots.

I find Anna Hazare extremely immature and undemocratic. I say that by looking at his actions. Instead of trying to sit down, talk and work out or at least try to work out a solution, Anna Hazare sits in a stage in front of thousands (and millions thanks to the media) refusing to eat until the Government passes his bill in the parliament! Now does this not resemble a small boy crying for a toy he possibly can never have? You might ask what is undemocratic in protesting peacefully in the way that Anna Hazare has done so far. It is undemocratic as he challenges the very principles of democracy! Not only does he attack the government and call for its head but also is adamant on having it wiped out if it doesn’t listen to his desires. He’s openly blackmailing the government of India and daring them to fight him. With the public support and the backing of the media, Anna Hazare has the two things that keeps democracy in check and now by trying to become the government or rather enforce and exhort the government into passing his Jan Lokpal bill, I’d say that Anna Hazare or rather his methods are everything but democratic!

He was arrested and that was termed as undemocratic. But now with him holding the government ransom, no one seems to care about this latest threat of terror. Anna Hazare has said that he is willing to die to see that his Jan Lokpal bill is passed in the parliament. Now, is that even in his control? No! In a democracy it is elected representatives that take the decision on behalf of the people who vote them! So why kidnap and try to enslave the entire system in the name of an upright cause and hold the government ransom?

The government who has not been making the smartest of decisions when it involves the Lokpal issue has been partly to blame for tearing and destroying itself, but is the government really as unreasonable as team Anna says it is? Hasn’t the government passed the three Lokpal bills (the government Lokpal, Aruna Roy’s Lokpal and the Jan Lokpal) in front of the standing committee and has tried to work out a compromise? Haven’t the government and the PM personally even now appealed to Anna Hazare to end his fast and try to work out a solution that will be beneficial for all? So when all this has been done, why is team Anna so keen on just their point of view and their bill alone? Why can’t they settle for a compromise?

Is it because the Jan Lokpal is stronger than the other bills and will enable the fight against corruption in a better way? That’s what Anna Hazare and his team preaches, but the truth is far from it. The Jan Lokpal is totally undemocratic with total powers of investigation (can sanction tapping of phones, intercept communication) executive, and prosecution and even to some judiciary powers (can impose fines, and sentences) vested to it. With such powers resting in the hands of a few, it is highly unstable. Everyone in India from the Prime Minister to the peddler in the streets would be under this and the misuse of such great powers would have irreparable damages and the very concept is unethical to say the least. The Roman poet, Juvenal once said, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" which translated states, "Who will guard the guards?" or "Who watches the watchman?".  With the Lokpal allowing such definite power in the hands of few, who or what system will monitor the Lokpal panel?  Such ultimate powers violate every freedom that democracy gives and shouldn’t we oppose such a bill? Also many parts of the bill though sounds very good as it promotes strong actions is just impracticable. This is not to say that the Government’s version is any less faulty. It also has glaring flaws and needs rectification. However with the Government wanting a strong Lokpal and Anna Hazare wanting the same, isn’t it logical that they both sit down and work out a compromise taking the good from the three bills?

The means must justify the end, and I can say that what Anna Hazare and his team are doing at the moment doesn’t justify their noble intentions. A wise man once said that politics is the art of compromise. I think it’s time someone reminds Anna Hazare that. You cannot be having an adamant all-or-nothing attitude. Now with more than 200 hours of fasting, I hope team Anna finally see the light and call off the fast and truly start working for a better India in a more civilized, organized and democratic way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The whitewash is complete!


4 - nil!  Yes, that's the final scoreline as England decimate India and grab the number one test ranking.  A sad day for Indian cricket, and as I'm well heart broken and can't write all that went wrong so I'll just quote Rahul Dravid during the presentation ceremony.  He was the joint MOS.

Atherton: "Do you know why India have had such a poor tour?"
Dravid: "It might take half an hour."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

On Dravid and a couple of videos

It's a boring Sunday evening as I watch India for the first time in the series against breach the 300 mark, thanks to a brilliant ton by Dravid.  The man has three centuries in the series and yet will be part of the losing side.  Tough break!  Should the series be named as England versus Dravid?

And speaking of Rahul Dravid - he has faced 30,000+ (he breached the mark today) deliveries in test cricket!  A record of sorts as it is the highest by any batsman!  I didn't feel like writing much, so I decided to put up two videos.

Chappell is stupid!
The first video is Sourav Ganguly laying it all out in the open by calling sacked Greg Chappell stupid.  In the classic arrogant Sourav way he tells Harsha that Chappell is a good player and nothing more.  Don't even think about his roles as coach or talent scout.  Super hilarious!

The next video is of an incident that took place between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the fifth ODI.  Zimbabwe's medium pace bowler Keegan Meth is knocked down by a straight drive and he loses two of his teeth!  Who said cricket was for pansies?  (*parental guidance advised due to graphic violence*)

Friday, August 19, 2011

CA does the clean up job after Argus' report

Cricket Australia has started with it's clean up job in order to improve and better Australian cricket by restructuring the entire set up after the Argus' report was released today.  The report that was to look into Australia's dismal performance in the 2010-11 Ashes and suggest areas of improvement has come up with some very interesting analyses.  According to the report the current Australian team 'Can't bat, can't bowl and can't field'.  Isn't that something?  Imagine what we would have all thought if that statement was said about the Australian team some 5 years ago.

Australia's chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch who for the most part has been blamed by fans for Australia's dismal performance is out and along with him Greg Chappell also has been shown the door.  Chappell has been removed from the panel and the selection panel is to be restructured with the captain and coach getting selection rights.  Sounds something similar to what the mad Aussie, John Buchanan did with New Zealand a few months ago?  Chappell who was banned from the Australian dressing room after a few players found his presence uncomfortable now loses his job!  So it wasn't just the Indians who found his presence annoying.  Even his own people do!  However Chappell does have the opportunity to apply for his old job and maybe he might get it back.  Who knows?  Sure would be funny (and highly unlikely) if not the best thing for Australian cricket.

Tim Nielsen who will remain as the coach till the end of the Sri Lankan tour might also lose his job.  He can apply for the job but with the restructuring in the team management., I don't think that CA will be keen on giving his old job back.  However he has supported the Argus;s report saying that he was 100% behind the report and that he welcomed CA's move to reinvigorate the system.  Now will that Nielson job be save due to his statement is left to be seen.

Kissing the guillotine?
With some big heads rolling and many more set to roll in the coming weeks, I'm sure Australian cricket has finally recognized the need to take some tough decisions in times of crisis.  I'm sure that this is just the beginning and that this incident will leave a lasting influence on Australian cricket.  I'm just not sure if it is positive or negative for Australian cricket, but it seems to be positive and it's good to see a board taking such drastic steps to try and correct it's past failures.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beginning of the End for India?

India in the last 30 days have been going through one of it's toughest phase in the decade.  And the difficult scenario that the Indian team finds itself in right now has raised many questions and brought out criticism from all corners of the world (most of them justified).  In the last one month, the number one ranked test team not only has shown the world that it doesn't deserve that title but also has gone to the very extent of relinquishing it.  Having held it for 19 months, the end of the road is near for the Indians.

The new world no.1 team - England!
The the current test series against England, India have played like a bunch of school boys.  The batsmen have played some horrendous shots and showed lack of basic sense of any kind of judgement.  Added to this is the bowling unit that has failed to make any sort of impact.  The edges of the English bats look good as ever, with the Indian pacers sans Praveen Kumar bowling rubbish.  The fielding too has fallen with catches, and some of them being sitters!  The body language of the Indian players has been bad, and this is expected when your going through the lowest period in a decade and the mental make-up and strength of many players seems to have evaporated.  True fate hasn't been kind to India in this tour with injuries to some key players, but you'd expect the number one ranked team to at least put up a decent fight while going down.

Let's start with the Indian batting.  Sure Sehwag was missing the first two tests and he is a huge influence, but that doesn't change the fact that India failed to cross 300 four times!  6 times if counting the third test!  Gambhir has looked out of touch and his injury at Lord's only added to the woe.  Sachin Tendulkar who skipped the West Indies tour has also looked out of sorts and one can't help but ask if the pressure of the 100th century getting to the master?

Dravid has been the sole Indian batsman at ease for most parts and also India's highest scorer with two centuries.  VVS Laxman and Raina have looked good in parts but have failed to impress anyone.  Dhoni has also been having an horror series till the last test where he managed two fifties.  All in all, it has been a pitiful showing by what I would rate as the world's greatest batting line-up.  Try to think  a better middle order than Dravid, Tendulkar, VVS.  I'm sure you can't.  Dravid and Tendulkar - the two highest run scorers in test cricket are titans in every right!  Yet, with such an impressive batting unit the team has struggled.  True the English seamers have been terribly good and that Broad and Anderson have been unplayable at times.  Aided by the overcast conditions and the green pitch the ball does move around and poses a huge threat, but is that is that an excuse for world class batsmen to use?  Also more times than not, it's been the Indian batsmen who have led to their downfall.  Sehwag chasing after a wide delivery in the second innings at Edgbaston would be the ideal example.  Well that's Sehwag, you might say.  Even VVS Laxman has been out driving a wide delivery, or by pulling the ball into the air when there was no need to.  Raina being a left hander has been troubled by Swann and the batting looks like a pale shadow of the great batting jewel that we Indians are so proud of.

The bowling has been pathetic.  That is an understatement!  The Indian bowling without Zaheer Khan lacks teeth and is a toothless saber tiger.  Zaheer Khan's absence has probably been India's biggest cause of reason.  He is one player who can take the match away by himself and has the ability to out-think and outfox the English batsmen into capitulating.  Harbhajan Singh who has been going to a bad phase has failed to make any impact in the two tests that he played and now that he has gone, the huge burden is left on the shoulders of Mishra and Ojha.  Mishra is one of those bowlers who will every now and then surprise the batsmen, but at the same time goes around the park.  Also he is one of the few spinners in the world who can bowl a no-ball at will.  Ishant Sharma has looked good in parts and it seems that he might never be the force that he was a couple of years ago.  Sreesanth has been rubbish and it's high time he starts to think about playing proper cricket or calling it a day and bowling 4 overs in the IPL.  Specially to left-handers, he has been utter rubbish.  The Indian bowlers who have failed to pick up wickets - which is the most vital in test cricket, have also been on the expensive side with their runs.  They are leaking runs at an hemorrhaging rate and the English batsmen find themselves under no pressure of any sorts.

Praveen Kumar has been India's only positive in the bowling unit, and he has been the lone bowler who has been picking wickets for India while keeping the run rate under 3 for most parts.  If only he had a couple of extra yards, then I'm sure PK would be a bowler that can really make a difference and have a very successful test career.

The injuries, controversies, and the run of bad luck has probably done the Indian players in.  Despite being professional  I'm sure they are all feeling depressed and are mentally fatigued.  With the loss of the number one status would have been the last nail in the coffin.  Being no more the number one team in the world might actually help the team play with no pressure, but I'm sure the loss would be quite hurting.  I'm sure that the thing that Tendulkar, Dravid, and Laxman (the three Indian players in the final leg of their career) find most precious in their career was playing as the number one team and now sadly that is no more.  This defeat will surely hurt India the most and as an Indian fan, I know it hurts me much.  I feel for the players but the case remains that, India surely doesn't deserve to number one after it's recent performances in England.

Will India regain the number one spot?  Well I would like to think so, but I just don't see that happening with India in the next couple of years going through a transition phase.  It will be a new and exiting time for Indian cricket as they try to rebuild the team and I'm sure that defeats such as the one we're witnessing might be just a little more prevalent in the future.  What we;re seeing now is just a small glimpse of what might happen after Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman bid adieu and I must say that I'm not really looking forward to that.  So is this the beginning of the end for India?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Life can be a bitch! (The story of Cook and Sehwag)

Alastair Cook who batted for a little over 13 hours (803 minutes to be exact) scoring 294 runs after facing 545 balls was the backbone of England's innings.  Cook played one of his best knocks, that was for most part the usual boring and chanceless knock one associates Cook with.  Having scored his highest in test cricket, Cook looked well set for the big triple when he fell agonizingly short by 6 runs to a wide delivery that he slashed to deep point.  So despite batting for all that time. accumulating all those runs, there was a bit of regret for Cook in the end.  It was a shame and a pity that he missed the mark, but that's how cricket works.  It's cruel like life.

However all about Cook's exploits with the willow was forgotten within the span of a few minutes as India's opener, Virender Sehwag managed to edge Anderson to the slip cordon to be out on a king pair.  So the man who was supposed to save India in this match faced just two balls and was in the middle for 8 whole minutes.  The thirteen person to bag a king pair in cricket traveled all the way from Delhi to Birmingham, over four thousand miles for just 8 minutes of action and managed to get more recognition than Cook's mammoth 294!

Life can be a bitch, can't it?  A person getting two golden ducks is talked about and hogs the limelight when the real hero of the day who played a marathon innings is overlooked?  So for all the young cricketers out there who want attention, just remember that a king pair will get you more publicity than scoring 294 runs!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Episode 7 - Discussions on test cricket from an Anglo-Indo-Kiwi perspective

The latest episode of Verbal Slogs is finally out!  Sorry for the delay, but we decided to make up for it by making this episode a special one.

Recorded on 9th August 2011; Duration 63 minutes.

In the seventh episode of Verbal Slogs, Michael Wagener presents some interesting test stats in his 'Stats Class' as David Siddall a writer at World Cricket Watch and host of the One Hand One Bounce Podcast joins us in the discussion as we talk about the England versus India test series and see who really is the number one test team in the world.

Panelists - Michael Wagener, David Siddall and Christopher David

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

Monday, August 8, 2011

Zimbabwe return to Test cricket in style!

Zimbabwe who played test cricket for the first time after 6 years in exile managed to conjure a memorable win against Bangladesh [SCORECARD].  Bangladesh who over the last few years have shown massive improvement were dominated for the most part by the host and it raised the question whether Bangladesh really do deserve to play test cricket?

On the other side, it's great to see a country with such a violent and sad history doing well once again and the celebrations after the match showed just how much the win meant to the players.  Captain Brendon Taylor who played a gem of a knock in the second innings was ecstatic after the match.  Cricinfo's correspondent, Firdose Moonda, reported:
"I have never seen a team so overjoyed to win a Test. They are playing a traditional zim song on the speakers, shona language. And people are just going bananas, there are vuvuzelas as well. "

Will today be remembered as the day of the Zimbabwean resurrection in cricket?  Well maybe that's a big claim to make, but today might be the start for all that.

Bangladesh on the other hand must start to rethink their cricket and specially address their bowling.  Their bowling just doesn't look capable of picking up 20 wickets and that puts their fragile batting order under even more pressure.

Happy Birthday Federer!
On a totally random note, today is Roger Federer's 30th birthday!  So here's to the Swiss maestro!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And then Dravid retires

Rahul Dravid who was the surprise name in the Indian ODI squad that was named has announced his retirement from the ODI and T20 squad.  This series will bring to end the limited overs career of 7th highest run accumulator in ODI cricket and an end of one of India's legends.

Dravid who made a shock comeback admitted that he he himself was surprised, 
"Since I had not been picked for one-day cricket for the last two years, I was obviously a little surprised,"
Dravid who had already planned to concentrate on test cricket said that he didn't inform the selectors about his decision, since he wasn't considered for selection before.  Dravid however in his typical Dravidian style said that he would be committed as ever to the team and the series.  With Dravid bidding adieu, the selectors won't have a man to fall back on when everything goes haywire like the situation at present.

In other news, Zaheer Khan is out of the series and requires surgery.  RP Singh replaces him, and hopefully RP can do something the Indian bowlers been failing to do till now.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dravid makes it back to the ODI team!

Rahul Dravid is back in the Indian ODI squad after a wonderful last few weeks in the English conditions.  Dravid who has been one of the few Indian batsmen who has done well this tour with two centuries in the two tests and in the absence of Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh would be looked upon as a senior player providing stability to the team.

Dravid who makes it to the limited overs format after 2 years looks like the ideal man in the team with the batting unit looking very fragile.  I was surprised at the Indian selectors' decision and for once think that they should be lauded.

Here's wishing all the best to the wall in blue now!