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‘Chatter-box’ Steve Smith finds Virat Kohli ‘too emotional’ to handle (Updated)


Does using an on-field microphone to interact and engage with the telecasters make you a chatterbox?

Virat Kohli certainly thought so when he gave Steven Smith a fiery send-off in the first T20 against Australia.

The Test skipper—relieved of captaincy duties—was back to being the animated fury on the ground he usually is.

The Delhi cricketer is all aggro as a player and mouths expletives at the drop of a hat.

Kohli saw red when his opposing Test counterpart lost his wicket cheaply while commentating live for Channel 9.

Australian viewers were not amused with the manner of Smith’s dismissal blaming the broadcasters for disturbing his concentration.

They took in hordes to Twitter to deplore the broadcaster’s unwelcome intrusion.

What’s really going on?

Do fans really need insights from batters about what’s happening on the field?

This kind of circus is part and parcel of the Big Bash League and the Indian Premier League.

The purported purpose is to make the the viewers and the expert commentators feel part of the action.

It would be better if mic’ing up players was restricted to fielders and umpires. Bowlers and batters need to be able to focus and concentrate on how they’re to be delivering or playing the next ball. Fielding is a much more instinctive chore consisting of reacting to on-field events as they occur. Similarly, umpiring.

Batters and bowlers, however, need to plan and pace their innings and overs.

But what was the actual reason for Kohli’s acrid mouthing off and signing?

Could it be that the Indian was not pleased that Smith was shielded from the banter fielders engage in when rival batters are at the crease?

Kohli has mentioned that he sees nothing wrong with sledging the opposition.

His young Indian side is not known to hold back unlike previous Indian sides.

He said:

“The opposition has every right to sledge as long as it doesn’t not cross the line and you have every right to reply as long as it is doesn’t cross the line. There have been lot of smart comments of late and mine turned out to be a perfectly timed one.

I did not intend to do that. I just said what came to mind. It was actually not far from the truth. That banter is enjoyable but at the same time, you need to focus on the game.”

Sledgers wouldn’t enjoy their choicest jibes drowned out by commentary from the press box.  Why would they? Additionally , they would have to be careful around the boffin with the microphone lest their tomfoolery be caught by the sensitive microphones.

Not much fun for the fielders. The boot would be on the other foot with them forced to be silent around a jabbering Steve Smith.

Can you see the irony in the situation?

And assuming that what the fielders said did carry to Steve Smith, how would he be able to focus with three or more sets of sounds in his eardrums?

Fielders’ banter, experts’ questions, noise from the crowd and finally the sound of his own voice.

That sounds like a lot to take in—even for a man who has scored a mountain of runs in every format over the past two years.

Kohli was the man who had a hand (and mouth) in Smith’s dismissal. Steven Smith was out for 21 off 14 balls caught by Kohli bowled Ravindra Jadeja.

Smith immediately shut up giving no further feedback to the Wide World of Sports commentary team.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni had earlier criticised Spider Cam and intrusion from TV gimmicks.

Spider Cam obstructed Virat Kohli’s first scoring shot in the final ODI preventing a sure boundary. The ball was declared dead.

The operators of this novelty are known to thrust the lens right under the face of departing batsmen hoping to capture their visible disappointment for television viewers. Aussie players are accustomed to such paparazzi-like behaviour from cameramen but Indian players are disturbed and irate.

Dhoni said:

“I am quite a traditional guy. I have always felt that… anything that disturbs the game of cricket I don’t like it. It all started right from the T20 where people would be like, ‘Why don’t you wear a mic?’, ‘Why don’t you wear a camera?’

I have always felt there is a need for balance. At the end of the day it is a spectator sport, people watching on television, but at the same time four runs can matter, especially when it is a close game. Those four runs can be crucial. Everyone gets penalised, why not have the same system for the spidercam? Say, ‘Okay if you get hit, 2000 dollars per hit.’ Let’s make it interesting.

People [broadcasters] are striving for more. When you have got out and walking off, the cameraman goes right under your face. The same way the spidercam is right next to you. You have seen players, they are like, ‘What is happening?’ It makes a lot of noise. At the end of the day it is also about the spectators. If spectators are not there, cricket won’t be played. It is a mix and match; 2000 dollars per hit is a good option.”

Steve Smith called the Spider Cam “his best fielder.”

Smith was unrepentant about his mode of dismissal in the first T20 denying that his on-field commenting had anything to do with his early exit.

He said:

“It [the commentary] was on at the time, but for me it was just a bad shot.

I tried to chip one over the top for two rather than trying to hit him for four or six.

It was my fault and I got to do better next time.”

Of Kohli’s send-off, he added:

“He gets pretty emotional out there, doesn’t he?

I don’t think you need to do that kind of thing when someone gets out.

It’s fine to have a little bit of banter when you’re out in the field, but when someone’s out I don’t really think that’s on.”

Virat Kohli finally disclosed the reason for his heated reaction at Steve Smith’s dismissal.

It had nothing to do with Smith’s on-field commentating but his verbal targeting of young Indian pacers after hitting a boundary.

Kohli felt it added  to the pressure on them and was simply not on. He felt that he had to step in and make his displeasure known.

Hence, the expressive ‘farewell‘.

Is Ravi Shastri now an MSD clone?


Is Ravi Shastri transforming into an MS Dhoni clone?

Sample his recent statements about Team India’s performance Down Under:

Whether Indian batsmen were too focused on milestones:

“If they were focusing on milestones, Virat Kohli wouldn’t have been the fastest to 7000 runs; he would have taken another 100 games. If that was the case, Rohit Sharma would not be having two double hundreds, and a score of 264.”

On the bowling performance:

“Finishing touch is better bowling, and being more consistent as a bowling unit. As MS mentioned, there were too many easy boundaries. It is not like the batsmen had to earn it, they were given. That should be eliminated. Even if you cut that by 60%, we will have tighter games. Those are the areas. Attention to basics. If we do that right, who knows…

What you want to see is the bowlers learning from what has happened in the first three games. If that happens, that will be the biggest plus irrespective of the result. That is what I said last year when we played cricket in Australia. We might have lost the series 2-0, but deep inside I knew the way the boys played there was only going to be improvement.

It is a young side, there have been three debutants, we have been plagued by injuries. No excuses, I am not giving any excuses here, but it is an opportunity for the youngsters to learn. In Australia nothing comes easy. It’s one of the hardest places to play. You are playing against the world champions. The fact that you are competing, and they have competed right through this one-day series, is very good. “

On whether the team needs a psychotherapist:

“I am the shrink, don’t worry about that.As far as extra bowlers are concerned, yes we do need (them). We need bench strength. If you look at the last six days, we have been in three time zones. It is not often you go through that.

You play in Perth, get on a flight to Brisbane where the time is different, then to Melbourne where the time is different. All in a matter of six days. When you consider all that, I think the boys have done extremely well.

When it comes to bowling, what I would suggest in the future to the BCCI is to have extra players. Instead of 15 on a tour like this, probably 16 would be advisable. Somewhere in the subcontinent 15 is fine. Here, when you travel so far, and suddenly you get injuries, that is something I will suggest. At least 7-8 bowlers have to be there with the amount of cricket.”

Compare these statements against MSD’s:

 “It is not about the leader. I am captain at the moment and somebody else will come later. It is more important to see the areas we are lacking, the departments which have to improve when it comes to shorter formats. We don’t have a seaming all rounder so let’s not even go to that topic. If you see this series it is a relatively inexperienced bowling lineup. Ishant Sharma has played a lot of international cricket but he is not someone who has been consistently part of the format. Umesh Yadav has been on and off and there are others who have made their debuts here. So we have to assess right now is how good the individuals are and what are they doing and what’s their rate of development.”

Don’t the duo sound about the same?

Is this the gung-ho Ravi Shastri we are all accustomed to?

Contrast these statements against those he made last year when India toured Sri Lanka.

When Team India suffered a shock defeat in the first Test in Galle under Virat Kohli:

“Let’s hope lightning doesn’t strike twice, because we will not change our style of play. Our mindset will be the same. But to close the deal you have to walk the distance and we made that mistake in the first Test. They are getting closer and for this team, it is a case of getting one on board. Then it will be the start of many. It was not a question of buckling under pressure. They go out with intent. The endeavour of this team is to play fearless cricket that comes with mindset. These boys have enough talent. I am sure they must have thought after the match why I didn’t play this shot, why I didn’t play in this manner.”

On changing their losing away record:

“You don’t come to a cricket ground to draw a match so you play a brand of cricket where you look to take the game forward and you look to take 20 wickets, that is paramount. You have got to think how you can take 20 wickets to take the game forward and win the game.”

While the Indian batting has delivered and in spades, the bowling has left a lot to be desired.

But has the Indian side really played fearless cricket in the past four games?

Can Ravi Shastri respond?

Are tennis players tainted?


Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko during th...

Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko during the 2008 Tennis Masters Cup final (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are tennis players cheats?

An expose by BuzzFeed and the BBC would have us believe so.

An investigation into a match allegedly tanked by Nikolay Davydenko in 2007 against a lower-ranked Argentine opponent, Martin Vassallo Arguello,

uncovered a series of anomalies in games lost by top-ranked players in both men and women’s tennis.

Eight of the top-50 men’s players at the Australian Open are under the scanner.

In the past, match-fixing was felt to be restricted to the lower echelons of the tennis hierarchy where journeymen lost games in exchange for cash which they could hardly hope to see in their journeymen careers.

But now, the scourge of cheating appears to have spread its tentacles all over the pristine sport.

Novak Djokovic—amongst other players—disclosed that he was approached in 2007 but he refused. Roger Federer and Serena Williams have called for names to be revealed.

The investigating team indicts gambling chains across countries such as Russia and Spain. But they have no real luck pinpointing guilty players as they had neither the authority nor permission to access players’ phone and bank records.

There exists no definitive proof of collusion with punters and guilty players can continue to bluster their way through this crisis.

It is up to the tennis authorities to ensure more transparency in the way the game is played.

Perhaps, it would help if more lower-ranked players were able to earn a living from the game. This view is opposed by Federer again who feels that cheats exist at every level and increasing prize money at lower rungs is not the solution.

Whatever the outcome of these new revelations, it is certain that upsets will be looked upon with suspicion in the future and not simply considered a glorious uncertainty of sport.

It’s a pity, really, because everyone loves an underdog.

Players have been calling for a reduction in the number of tournaments they participate in a season. They claim that the unrelenting touring takes a toll on mind, body and spirit and they are unable to be consistent and motivated enough throughout the arduous season.
The authorities would do well to look into these complaints but the players do themselves no favours by opting to partake of the bounties of exhibition games in their off-season.

Greed certainly greases the wheels, one way or the other.

Pink ball, pink ball: Sunny does the honours (Humour)


The pink ball made its Test debut in the recently concluded day-night encounter between Australia and New Zealand.

The match ended in three days with no one complaining about the vagaries of the pitch.

No sand trap there.

It was all about the ball—a pink one shining under the lights with a thin film retaining the shine.

It sparkled all night—a bright orange on the television screen with a luminescent glow.

The makers of Hate Story 2 could rededicate their hit number ‘Pink Lips’ starring the gyrating Sunny Leone and sung by Meet Bros, Anjjan and Khushboo Grewal.

The reworked lyrics could be as follows with a different Sunny ushering in Pink Ball cricket in India.

Pink Maiden deserves a fresh version of a hit. Every batsman, bowler and fielder needs to welcome the Pink Ball thus.

The red cherry could soon be a creature of the past.

Pink Ball Lyrics

Oh come to me
na na na na..
I came to see
Na na na na..
Honthon pe beimaaniyan
Karle karle, thodi nadaaniyan
Honthon pe manmaaniyaan
Karle karle, thodi nadaaniyan
Mujhe aadhi raat ko sataane lage
Mujhe apne saath tadpaane lage
Tu aaja paas, ye bulaane lage
Tujhe chhoona chaahe
Mere ye, mere ye, mere
Pink ball, pink ball , pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pal-pal tujhko karte miss
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
I know you want my new ball
Na na na na..
Hello-hello bol ke
New ball khol ke
Harqataan kare naughtiyan
Missing tenu whole day
Love you menu bol de
Adaavan teri hegi naughtiyan (x2)
Meri khwahishon ko talab hai teri
Aa qareeb aa, ab kar na deri
Meri khwahishon ko talab hai teri
Aa kareeb aa, ab kar na deri
Tere faasle muje jalaane lage
Raftaar saanson ki badhaane lage
Tu aaja paas ye bulaane lage
Teri baat maane
Mere ye, Mere ye, Mere..
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pal-pal tujhko karte miss
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
I know you want my new ball
Na na na na..
Oh come to me
na na na na..
I came to see
Na na na na..
Dil baarishon mein tarasne lagaa
Teri pyaas mein ye dhadakne lagaa
Dil baarishon mein tarasne lagaa
Teri pyaas me ye dhadakne lagaa
Tere seam mein haath jo aane lage
Mere soye armaan jagaane lage
Tu aaja pas ye bulaane lage
Tere hona chaahe
Mere ye, Mere ye, Mere..
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pal-pal tujhko karte miss
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
Pink ball, pink ball, pink ball
I know you want my new ball
Hello-hello bol ke new ball khol ke
Missing tenu whole day
Love you menu bol de
Pink Ball..

 

The Why and Que of Kumara Sangakkara and Michael Clarke – II


If Sangakkara is the quintessential gentleman beyond the game, Michael Clarke is the bright young upstart turned elder statesman and guardian of its values.

The transformation occurred under intense public scrutiny where every move and misdemeanour was analysed and dissected.

Pup’s metamorphosis would not have been possible without the support of his partner and wife, Kyly Boldy.

Clarke’s previous choice, Lara Bingle, was an equally high profile personality.

Their three-year relationship which began in 2007 and ended in 2010 was always in the news and not for the right reasons.

It was, perhaps, no surprise that the relationship ended around the time Clarke began his ascension to the throne of Australian cricket.

The ostensible reason for the break-up was an exclusive tell-all interview that Bingle sold to a women’s magazine.

And that’s when the current Mrs. Clarke and then Kyly Boldy boldly stepped into the frame.

From ‘just friends’ to an ‘item’ within months, the former schoolmates fast forwarded to the present with Boldy proving to be an able and capable First Lady of the national obsession.

Just who is Kyly Boldy?

According to her:

“I’d hope that people would think I come across as classy and that’s just because I like to hold myself that way. I guess that’s what I like to embrace and I think that’s a really nice quality in a woman.

And I hope people see me as a fun-loving ‘girl next door’. I’m a lot more of a jokester than everyone thinks – a lot more. I’m always cracking some kind of a joke or having a laugh, and I think people will be a bit surprised to see that really down-to-earth Kyly my family get to see.”

The comparisons to Bingle were evident, at first. They are both models and media personalities in their own rights.

Boldy, however, decided to shun the limelight post her marriage to Clarke in 2012.

The wedding was low-profile.

Boldy certainly has no time or place for the WAG tag used to euphemistically describe sportsmen’s partners.

She says:

“I’m not sure who started it, but they should get a slap on the wrist. Every single wife or girlfriend I’ve met who has been a part of the cricket community has always stood on her own – they have their own jobs, they have their own careers, they all do very, very well for themselves. I wonder what the husbands could be called? I wonder if we could swap this around?”

And she certainly would not like to take any credit for her husband’s success.

“That is so funny. But, nah, I don’t take any credit for any of his success. I see Michael wake up every single day, trying to be the best cricketer he can be, to be a better captain than the day before. The dedication and the passion that he has for his job is something I’ve never seen before and something I really admire. He should get every little bit of credit.

Sure, his family life or his home life might be more suitable for him, and maybe he’s just more comfortable that he feels like he can just go to cricket and do his thing – but that’s not a question I can answer. I am just happy that he is doing so well, and I know he will continue to do well because he wants to.”

She sums up her life with Clarke in these words:

“You have to wake up every single day with your own goals and dreams in life, love, family and career. You can’t take that away from anybody and I think that’s what our family is about.”

Kyly took her job as captain Clarke’s better half seriously enough to learn the rules to the game.

“As everyone keeps reminding me, it (being cricket captain) is the second most important job in Australia so obviously being alongside Michael, that is a huge thing. I’ve matured with age, a girl that has turned into a lady, and I’m trying to do everything the best way I can by learning as I go. I’ve had to Wikipedia the rules because I wanted to go into it knowing something. It makes it so much more enjoyable when you know exactly what is going on. And then you really do start to love the game because you can appreciate what is happening.”

Perhaps, it has helped that Clarke himself was a more mature person when he started dating Kyly.

An older, wiser Clarke refused to talk about his personal life and focused media questions on his cricket.

Clarke also has nothing but praise for his wife’s workout ethic especially her diet.

“I can’t believe how disciplined she is with her diet. She’s got that self-discipline to not touch the junk food if she doesn’t want to, whereas if I see it in the cupboard it’s gone, I eat it! I can’t have two pieces of chocolate and put it away, I’ve got to eat the whole bar.”

(Funny how this jells with my personal view that if sportsmen need to watch their diets, they should date or wed models or actresses who do that all the time. Look at Shane Warne’s new, slim, look since teaming up with Elizabeth Hurley—now apart.)

A bad back and an indifferent Ashes series hastened Pup’s early retirement. It, however,  gives the couple ample privacy and time to welcome the first addition to their family with Kyly expecting soon.

While two greats exit the field, they begin anew a home life that demands much more from them than just runs, wickets, catches and wins. It is a second innings away from glory but will require guts nonetheless.

Sanju Samson is allegedly the Abominable Salivator


Sanju Samson has allegedly behaved badly.

The India ‘A’ keeper has been accused of salivating spitefully at his Australian opponents’ feet.

The incident occurred in the tri-series final between the home side and the visitors.

India ‘A’ clinched the title, registering their first victory in the series against their counterparts from Down Under.

The Kerala player claimed a catch that the Australians felt was illegal.

This led to an exchange of words when the 20-year-old came out to bat.

Usman Khawaja, the Aussie skipper, said:

“Obviously the guys in our team were disappointed that he claimed he had taken the catch.

Today he spit in front of our player’s foot three times. If you do that the boys are going to get worked up and the umpires were not understanding it. We did try to calm the boys, but they just went on and on.

I am happy if the batsman happens to talk back but spitting is not on. He spit on one of our players when he came onto the field.

If one of our players said something to him, he can say something back but not spitting.”

Khawaja added:

“I do not want to make a big deal about things that happened on the field. I do not want to take away any credit from India. They really played well today and were the better team to have won.

Unfortunately, incidents like that happen. Some incident happened the other day with one of your bowler (Sandeep Sharma). He was coming back and it was fine. I was happy with that. I have seen it all, it is another game, it does not affect me too much.

It is always tough to defend a total of 220 runs. We had our chance when the fifth wicket fell but we have to take wickets to win the game. India just batted sensibly. The wicket was up and down and it was not turning massive. If we had few more runs we could strangle them on that kind of wicket.”

The match umpires and other officials should be filing their report with the BCCI.

An investigation into this kind of unwarranted behaviour and its antecedents should be launched to prevent any such recurrence.

Players behaving badly—spittle-less or not—can only lead to more bad blood in the future and should be nipped in the bud.

It is a gentleman’s game after all.

Lalit Modi wishes to take over the cricketing world


Lalit Modi is a megalomaniac.

The former czar of the IPL wishes to take over the world—the cricketing world.

And that too in style.

Modi and his cronies have envisaged a new world order that does not require the sanction of the ICC, one that affiliates itself with the Olympic movement. The blueprint will do away with ODI cricket altogether and consist of only Test and T20 tourneys.

Modi said:

“We’re talking about another cricketing system. There is a blueprint out there, it’s got my rubber stamp on it. I have been involved in it. I say it for the first time, I’ve been involved in putting that (blue)print together. We could take on the existing establishment, no problem. It requires a few billion dollars, I don’t think it would be a problem to get that … into action.

The plan that I have put together is a very detailed plan, it’s not a plan that’s come off the cuff, it’s been taking years and years and years in the making.”

International Cricket Council

International Cricket Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fugitive from justice has termed the big three of international cricket, India, Australia and England “snakes”.

Speaking to ABC Network in its documentary, ‘The Great Cricket Coup’, Modi said:

“They are the three snakes of cricket. You’ve got to take their neck off, you’ve got to chop their head off, otherwise cricket will not survive.”

(Modi apparently does not understand that snakes have no necks.)

Modi added:

“For me to get players would be…a switch of a button. There was a report that ran on the front of The Australian newspaper that said $100 million pay cheque for two of your players. I think that’s an easy cheque to write and if that cheque is easy to write then ‘would I get the players or not?’ is a question you should ask the players, not me.”

The heartening aspect of this extraordinary plan is that Modi does not intend to do away with Test cricket.

Also, he does see the need to gain approval from another body, if not the ICC, the IOC.

That is going to be an onerous task.

The ICC is unlikely to relinquish control over a sport that is a money-spinner for the powers-that-be without a fight.

It would be interesting to see how Modi’s plot pans out.

Kerry Packer and his ‘pyjama cricket’ improved cricket telecasting and was the harbinger of fatter pay packets for the players and commentators.

Not that the sport needs more; at least, the Indian players would differ strongly.

But an offshoot of any such attempt might mean that more cricket is played all over the world and the profits redistributed to many more nations much like Sepp Blatter’s FIFA, perhaps, without the endemic corruption and powerplay(s).

More power to Modi.

The Great Cricket Coup‘ is available for viewing here.

 

 

Michael Clarke bites the Ashes dust


“Another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust

And another one gone, and another one gone

Another one bites the dust

Hey, I’m gonna get you too

Another one bites the dust

How do you think I’m going to get along, 

Without you, when you’re gone

You took me for everything that I had, 

And kicked me out on my own

Are you happy, are you satisfied

How long can you stand the heat

Out of the doorway the bullets rip

To the sound of the beat”

The above lines are the chorus to Queen’s famed song, “Another One Bites The Dust.”

How much must it mimic the state of Michael Clarke’s mind as he bid adieu to international cricket on the back of yet another Ashes loss in England?

Clarke would have loved to win in England as skipper and would certainly have believed that the urn would be his at the outset. They had just won the World Cup and were on a high.

Steve Waugh never conquered the Final Frontier that was India. He never captained the Aussies to a series win on the sub-continent.

A cricket shot from Privatemusings, taken at t...

A cricket shot from Privatemusings, taken at the third day of the SCG Test between Australia and South Africa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Similarly, the Ashes remained Clarke’s bugbear, his Waterloo.

A bad back, a sore hamstring, an injured then retired Harris, a missing Haddin and a lackadaisical Johnson all added to his woes.

The cup overflows and not with Ashes.

The skipper’s out, stumped.

Clarke leaves behind a great legacy as a batsman and skipper. Many believed that he did a wonderful job of rebuilding the side after the departure of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and later Ricky Ponting.

But the replacements were not quite bunnies and thus the task of rebuilding anew falls on the young shoulders of Steve Smith.

The Pup is an old dog.

Clarke will always be remembered for his tact and sensitivity in tackling the shocking demise of Philip Hughes. He was the epitome of a gentleman and statesmanlike in his demeanour. His emotional oration moved his listeners to tears.

He will be missed on the cricket field.

He will always be welcome everywhere else.

Australia versus England: Who shall have the Ashes?


I really didn’t want to write this article; I haven’t been catching the Ashes—the war of the English roses  and the Australian wattles—a tradition itself within a traditional game.

It’s not that I don’t like cricket or that I’m overly patriotic and catch mostly India games (which I do) but I simply cannot bring up any passion for watching this series.

The Ashes—on television—are a visual treat; the commentating is excellent and there’s everything very attractive about the packaging of a historic rivalry that evokes memories of battles past.

I wish Indian television were able to come up with a better presentation of the  Indo-Pak rivalry but aside from the jingoism it revisits, there’s little to recommend for couch aesthetes.

The five-match series began with the Aussies favoured by one and all. After all, they were the ODI world champs and had thrashed their Trans-Atlantic foes comprehensively in the series Down Under. The pundits predicted that Alistair’s goose was Cooked.

England surprised one and all by winning the first Test. But the Aussies were out for blood in the second and prevailed in a somewhat one-sided encounter.

Steve Harmison in action at the Oval for Engla...

Steve Harmison in action at the Oval for England’s One Day International side against Bangladesh on 16 June 2005 Image created by the author with Nikon D70 + 70-300mm Nikkor G lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To everyone’s surprise, the third Test ran along similar lines. Except this time, it was the home side that dominated from Day One. The return of Steve Finn implied that England now had three wicket-taking pacers; the weakness of this side has been that the support pacers are  there simply to make up the numbers; they never were strike options.

Can Finn be the Steve Harmison of this side? Remember Stevie, from the 2005 Ashes in tandem with Freddie Flintoff pushing the Aussies on the backfoot in the absence of Glenn McGrath and the first signs of what was to come once  Warne and he exited the greats.

England , not too long ago, were number one; they ascended to that pole position when they beat India at home in 2011. It is a number they have since ceded to South Africa.

Can they lay the foundation for another push at that supreme figure?

The next two Tests are crucial. Has the momentum shifted in England’s favour?

Will the Aussies bite back with venom?

The urn beckons.

 

Voges and Chanderpaul: A matter of timing


Much has been made about Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s unceremonious ouster from the West Indian side. The veteran left-hander was left out from the Caribbean outfit for the series against Australia following a poor run of scores against England recently.

Was it the right thing to do? The southpaw is 40+ and is not getting any younger. Age should never be a criteria and rightly so. Form and class play an important role. Australia are a top side and playing an out-of-sorts Chanderpaul, however, would not have been fair to the rest of the side.

Sachin Tendulkar was given a farewell Test series by the BCCI against a weak West Indian side at Mumbai; he was able to go out on a relative high. Many would have preferred if the great had called it quits after the 2011 World Cup. The Master Blaster lingered on. It is a human failing fans have witnessed in so many wonderful sports persons. They do not know when to bid the game goodbye.

Ironically, the first Test saw the resurgence of a wonderfully talented Australian batsman Adam Voges making his Test debut at 35. Australian selectors are ruthless when cutting out-of-form or aging players to make room for younger champions.

Little credit is given to them for their bravery in choosing older players who would be considered journeymen in countries in India or Pakistan.

Thus, Matthew Hayden made a comeback at 32. Look where he finished!

Michael Hussey made the best of the chances that came his way the second time around.  Adam Voges is probably another of this breed. Team coach Darren Lehmann himself was a beneficiary of the selectors’ long memories.

Should Chanderpaul have played and contributed a ton à la Voges, he would have been lauded by one and all. But, alas, that is wishful thinking reflected upon by the mawkish.

Sports, like business, has no room for sentiment. Winning is serious business; so is modern sport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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